Undoubtedly, if you are planning to visit Jordan you are planning a day trip or a few days in Petra. Petra consists of a beautiful ancient wonderland, filled with some of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.
Petra is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and without question, one of Jordans most iconic tourist destinations. I had the pleasure of visiting this magical place over 2 days; once at night and one during the day.
This blog post will contain all the information you need to plan your trip to Petra, including transport, a rough itinerary, ticketing and more.
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The city of Petra is the capital of the Nabataean Arabs, located 240km south of Amman, the capital of Jordan. It is not known precisely when Petra was built, but the city began to prosper from the 1st century BC. It was later annexed and thrived with the Roman Empire, until an earthquake in 363 AD destroyed a lot of the city. This amongst other factors eventually left the city to be abandoned.
In 1812 a Swiss explorer set out to ‘rediscover’ Petra; he dressed up as an Arab and convinced his guide to take him to the city. It has since become an increasingly well-known site in the west.
On December 6, 1985, Petra was designated a World Heritage site.
There are a few ways you can get to Petra, by bus, tour, taxi or minivan. I travelled through Jordan on a tour, so this stop was included in my tour package (and should be on majority of tours).
Jordan has a public bus system, which has buses that run from Amman and Aqaba.
- JETT bus leaves from Abdali station in Amman at 6.30am and arrives in Petra around 10.30am. It does run back on the same day at 5pm (summer) and 4pm (winter).
- There is a public bus that leaves from the public bus station, it takes approximately 2hrs to reach Petra.
As I mentioned before, if you choose to go on a tour in Jordan, you will have a trip to Petra included in your tour. There are plenty of tour packages out there from day trips to multi day tours through Jordan.
I personally went with TravelTalk tours and had a fabulous time. I did explore Petra completely by myself, but the tour did give the choice to do it by yourself or with the tour guide.
Petra is about a 3-hour drive south of Amman, along the desert highway. You can usually book this form of transport from your hotel front desk.
There are public mini vans that leave for Petra from Amman’s southern station from 9am till 4pm and from Petra to Amman from 6am to 1pm. You can ask your hotel front desk about this transportation.
Its highly recommended that you get a Jordan Pass when visiting Jordan, as this includes your visa and entry fees into most of the tourist sites throughout Jordan (including Petra). You can buy a one-off ticket to Petra on the day at the ticket counter, but I would recommend a Jordan Pass.
Prices for Jordan Pass:
- Jordan Wanderer (one day visit to Petra) 70 JD
- Jordan Explorer (two-day visit to Petra) 75 JD
- Jordan Expert (three-day visit to Petra) 80 JD
Prices for once off ticket:
- One day pass 50 JD
- Two-day pass 55 JD
- Three-day pass 60 JD
How many days do you need?
I would buy a ticket for at least 2 days. I was able to explore Petra in 1 day, but it took over 8hrs and involved a lot of walking. With two days, it would give your enough time to explore the whole area at a steady pace and you would be able to beat the heat.
What Will You Need for Your Visit?
- Passport (this is needed for ticketing)
- Water – at least 3 litres
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing
- Camera gear (no drones)
- Small backpack
- Money (small shops and restaurants inside)
A Couple Things to Keep in Mind
Before I discuss a suggested itinerary and discuss some of the best photo spots in Petra, I would like to give a few tips/recommendations.
- There are horses/donkeys which you can take to certain points throughout the area. You will need to pay for these services, and I would go against it, as from what I saw these animals are not treated well.
- Once you reach the treasury, you will probably be asked by the locals if you want to go to a high point that’s only 5 min walk. This spot is illegal, and they aren’t allowed to force you to pay to go here. I was also told by my guide not to, as they are mostly children, and this stops them from going to school.
- The only approved guides will be booked at the visitor centre. Anyone inside isn’t an approved guide.
I recommend staying close to the visitor centre, this means you won’t need to walk far to get inside the complex. Accommodation does book out fast in peak times.
This was the hotel I was meant to stay at with my tour, but unfortunately was booked out. It is only a 5 min walk to the visitor centre and 20min walk to the town centre.
This is the Luxury version of the above hotel if you want a few more creature comforts. It is only a 2min walk from the visitor centre and hosts a good breakfast, comfortable beds, swimming pool and many other facilities.
This is the hotel I stayed at, as Petra Moon was booked out. It’s a new hotel and had a good breakfast, and great facilities. You will need to catch a taxi to the visitor centre from here, which is 8 JD one way. You can also walk to the town centre, which takes about 20mins or to the visitor centre, which will take about an hour. Besides the distance from the visitor centre, it was a nice place to stay.
I suggest starting as soon as they open, which was 6am – I actually got to the ticketing office at 5.45am and was first in line. If it’s possible, I’d recommend getting your ticket the day prior to arriving, which means you won’t need to line up in the ticketing office.
First Stop – The Treasury
This is the ‘main attraction’ in Petra, and what most tourists go to see. Although it is incredibly stunning, I do recommend you explore the many other sights Petra has to offer. Start off early in the morning visiting here, as there will be less people and it’s easier to take photos and admire.
Second Stop – The Theatre
Explore the low and high points of this part of Petra. You can get some beautiful viewpoints of the theatre. Follow the small trail on the right when walking towards the theatre – which crosses a small bridge.
Third stop – The Royal Tombs
This was one of the most spectacular places I saw in Petra, and unlike places like the Treasury and Monastery – you can walk inside. The acoustics are incredible, and the ceiling is this beautiful, marbled colour of reds and oranges.
Fourth stop – The Treasury High Viewpoint
This is the green path on the Petra map. It involves a lot of stairs but is well worth it for the end view. It will take you about 1.5hrs to complete this section, and this is the legal high viewpoint (not like the one I mentioned above). You must pay for a drink to sit here, as its someone’s home, but it’s a nice spot to sit and take everything in. There is another viewpoint along the way which gives another great overlook of the theatre.
Fifth stop- The Church
Once you’ve followed the green path back down from the viewpoint, follow the high path from the Royal Tombs to the Church. The church itself is small, but worth a visit as it has plenty of history and some beautiful decorations on the floor.
Sixth Stop – The Monastery
If you’ve started this route early in the morning, it will be about 10am when you start walking to the Monastery. This is equally as beautiful as the Treasury and stands much larger. The walk is all uphill, with limited sun cover – but this should be okay if completed before midday. Make sure to explore the lookout points behind the Monastery, as it gives beautiful views over the valleys. There is a small café behind the Monastery., where you can stop for a cold beverage if needed.
Seventh Stop – The Museum and more
You will walk down from the Monastery, along the low route back towards the Treasury. Where you can visit the attractions that are along this strip.
Eighth Stop – Back to the Treasury
Continue walking back to the treasury where you can visit the attractions towards the park entry, like the Siq. It will be busy at this time, and you can see the chaos that you would have missed at the Treasury by arriving early.
Petra By Night
I did go to Petra at night which costs 17 JD. It involves a light show and some traditional music being played. The whole experience goes for about 3 hrs. You will also be served some tea.
In my opinion, I wouldn’t recommend this experience if you are short on money. As I am a photographer, I was in the front row with all the other photographers, trying to get a decent shot. Even when the show started and its clearly stated ‘no flash photography’, we found a lot of people didn’t listen to these rules. We also had heaps of people walk in front of our cameras constantly when they were told not to.
The last and first hour of the show are people fighting to get a decent shot, it was quite manic. From my experience, during these moments people also tend to lose their manners.
The lightshow and music were great to experience, but I think the Treasury is better observed during daylight hours. This really is just a show for tourists.
Petra is an incredible place and worth visiting once in your lifetime! Take your time to visit here, over two days would be ideal. I would recommend spending a night or two in Petra, so you can explore at a reasonable pace. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of water!
Any questions, please ask away in the comments box. Thank you for reading!
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