Are you visiting the Red Rose City of Petra? Then you will love our Petra Itinerary! We have included all the required information to visit Petra in one day or plan a 2 day trip to Petra. Craft the perfect experience and see all the highlights: the Treasury, the Royal Tombs, the Monastery, and the city center. Includes trip planning advice, when to visit, and where to stay during your one day in Petra.

Petra was my #1 reason for visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. While Petra was chosen to be among the 7 Wonders of the World as recently as 2007, the site has been well-known among travelers since long before. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Even film buffs know Petra since it was featured in the climax of the movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusades’ in 1989. (Spoiler Alert: It is the temple hiding the Holy Grail, in case you are wondering!)

Also Read: One week in Jordan Itinerary

Petra is also known as the Lost City: while the Western World knew of Petra till the 14th century, its location was eventually known only to the Bedouins by the 19th century. The Swedish explorer Jean Burkhardt then rediscovered Petra on 22nd August 1812. Historical and archeological records note Petra as one of the most compelling archeological sites in the world. I have always been a history buff and love visiting archeology sites (read about the time I visited Easter Island) and so visiting Petra was one of my dreams come true.

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“Nobody knows how old Petra is,
but it was a thriving city when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, and for a full five thousand years it has had but that one entrance, through a gorge that narrows finally until only one loaded camel at a time can pass.”
– Talbot Mundy in ‘The Lion of Petra

This is a collage of 3 photos taken inside Petra. The one on the left is of the Street of Facades taken from a coffee shop. The center image is of the Treasury, Petra taken from the Siq. The third one is of visitors exploring the Nyphaeum in Petra city center., Jordan. This photo serves as featured image for Petra Itinerary post on the travel website, Dotted Globe.
Left: The Street of Facades taken from a coffee shop. Center: The Treasury, Petra taken from the Siq. Right: Visitors exploring the Nyphaeum in Petra city center, Jordan.


In anticipation of our Petra trip, I read a lot about the city and saw Indiana Jones one more time. I checked out travel guides and then mapped our detailed Petra Itinerary with the help of our favorite travel guide Lonely Planet Jordan. We kept a special focus on Petra while planning our road trip in Jordan and enjoyed every bit of our time.

Petra – A Brief History

Time for a little Petra 101 before we delve into the itinerary. Petra is located in southern Jordan and is surrounded on all sides by the tall mountain ranges of Jebel al-Madhbah. Petra is almost like a hidden oasis within the mountain basin. The mountains served as a natural fortification to the city and kept its location secret. The entrance to Petra is through a narrow slot canyon called the Siq. The hike through the Siq is one of the most beautiful walks in the world. The ancient city of Petra was built approximately in the 5th Century BC by Nabateans, a nomadic Bedouin tribe. It was later occupied by the Romans. The entire city is rock-cut and carved inside the sandstone faces of the mountains. The Treasury or Al-Khazneh is one of Petra’s most famous monuments while the Monastery is the biggest. Petra is visited by about a million people every year with the actual numbers varying significantly depending on tensions in the Middle East. If you want to know more about the Rose Red City – including why it is called that – then check out the article on 13 Essential Things to Know Before You Visit Petra.

This is a collage of 3 photos taken inside Petra. The left top one shows Petra Monuments in the outer Siq. Left Bottom image shows Hiking trail through the outer Siq. The Right image shows Views through the narrow slot canyon of the Siq. This photo is located inside Petra Itinerary : How to plan a day trip to Petra post on the travel website, Dotted Globe.
Left Top: Petra Monuments in the outer Siq. Left Bottom: Hike through the outer Siq. Right: View through the narrow slot canyon of the Siq.

Petra Travel tips

How To Reach Petra?

The easiest way to reach Petra is by car from Amman. We rented a car at the Queen Alia Airport in Amman and drove the entire time we were in Jordan. Driving in Jordan is easy and we had great fun on our Jordan road trip. The King’s Highway, a stretch of twisting road that takes visitors from Amman to Petra / Wadi Musa, is very scenic and passes through many attractions in Jordan including Kerak Castle, Madaba and Mt. Nebo. You can also check out our detailed Jordan itinerary to plan your own road trip. If you are arriving by car there is a car park near the entrance in front of the Petra Moon Hotel.

If you don’t want to drive in Jordan, you can also rent a car with driver; you can find one easily in Amman. Public buses also take visitors from Amman to Petra and are a great option for backpackers and budget travelers. Jett Bus starts from the Abdali Station in Amman at 6:30 am and reaches Petra around 10:30 am. Many visitors also visit Petra from Aqaba. The archeological park is just 1.5 hrs drive from the coastal city. Public buses also leave from the central market in Aqaba and travel to Petra.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Petra?

Petra is located in Jordan which lies in the Middle-East. Petra’s climate is basically desert climate. Summers are stiflingly hot and winters are icy cold and windy. There is an extreme difference between day and night temperatures. Best way to enjoy Petra is to avoid these extreme seasons and visit during Spring (March to May) or Fall (September to November). The crowds are also lesser during these two seasons. In spite of whenever you are visiting, I recommend skipping Petra on Friday and Saturdays. These two days are weekends in Jordan and crowds are exceptionally high. We visited at the end of April and found the weather to be extremely pleasant. Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum in the south were tolerably hot while the Roman Ruins in North of Jordan were blooming with spring flowers.

This is a photo of the Kings Highway in Jordan. Taken by Ketki R S for Dotted Globe.
Views along Kings Highway in Jordan

How much time do you need to see Petra?

That’s almost a trick question. Let’s start by saying that Petra was a capital city of the Nabatean Empire and has over 500 different monuments, caves, tombs, and temples and new ones are being discovered even today. That said, most visitors visit only a dozen popular ones and so you can see the Highlights of Petra in a day or two. If you prefer to see things at a leisurely pace and prefer slow travel then you might need 3 to 4 days. We spent a little over one and a half day in Petra and if we were to go again, I will devote two full days. In this itinerary, we target time-poor travelers (like us!) and focus on a day trip with recommended ideas for Day 2.

One of the simplest reasons, we suggest you fit as much as possible in one go is that you need to walk about 2 miles to enter Petra. So if you are spending 3 days inside Petra, you are walking 4 miles round trip each day aka total 12 miles just to the entrance. Add walking time inside Petra and you are going to be walking a LOT! Just for reference, we walked 20 miles on our Day 1 in Petra and another 10 miles on Day 2. (There are options to walking but it is not something we recommend – you can read more about it below)

Where To Stay In Petra?

Even if you are planning to spend only one day in Petra, we recommend reaching the night before and staying at Wadi Musa which is the base for Petra. That gives you an entire day to see Petra. There are many hotels in Wadi Musa. Advance reservations are highly recommended for most hotels, especially in peak season.

For luxury travelers: Movenpick in Wadi Musa is located right outside the entrance to Petra Archeological Park and is a great place to stay with a pool, ice cream parlor and a great Arabian-style bar. Marriott is another great 5-star option. Petra Bed and Breakfast is another great local luxury option.

For mid-range travelers: Petra Guesthouse is a great boutique hotel with the right amenities, delightful ambiance and an easy budget. Cave Bar by Petra Guesthouse is really cool; it involves a 2000-year-old Nabatean Tomb converted into a bar. P Quattro Relax Hotel is also a comfortable option just 15 minutes walk from the park. These mid-range hotels often offer free shuttles to Petra.

For budget travelers: Wadi Musa has many hostels and budget accommodations that are appealing to budget travelers and backpackers. Most of these options are located at some distance from the entrance and visitors may need to hire a taxi costing 5JD to reach Petra. Al Rashid Hotel is a great budget option – it has the reputation of being clean and safe for female travelers. Rocky Mountain Hotel is another good option for budget stay.

This is a photo of Wadi Musa in petra taken by Ketki R S for Dotted Globe travel website.
Wadi Musa at dusk

What To Pack For Petra? What clothes to wear?

The key to seeing Petra without getting tired is effective packing and planning. While there are many cafes and a single good restaurant offering buffet lunch; very few of them serve wholesome meal options. We recommend taking a packed lunch from your hotel or buying fresh fruits, vegetables and supplies in Wadi Musa to make your own picnic lunches. We took sandwiches for both of us and had packed enough food for 4 people since I was eating for two. We also took a whole bunch of Luna Protein Bars (my favorite!) and chocolate bars like Snickers, Milky Way etc which were very useful when hiking.

For hiking gear, we packed hiking/trekking poles – we have the ones by BAFX and they were under ~25/pair and have lasted us through innumerable hikes in the past 4 years. C wore his favorite hiking shoes from Columbia. I just couldn’t imagine wearing socks and shoes in that heat so I instead bought a pair of Teva hiking sandals and didn’t regret it a bit. We also packed our favorite backpacks with water bladders and found them infinitely more useful than water bottles. Petra is located in the desert and not drinking enough water can cause dehydration – I recommend setting regular alarms to drink water if you do not usually drink enough water.

As for as what to wear, along with comfortable hiking shoes, great walking pants are a must. I love hiking pants with pockets, these are my favorite – for everyone. They can be converted into shorts too! Also breezy, cotton shirts and blouses are a must. Avoid dark colors since they trap heat. And just in case you forget – Petra and Jordan are in the Middle East, dressing style is conservative and showing skin is frowned upon. Just remember to cover up shoulders, waist, and knees and you should be good to explore Petra Indiana Jones style. Buy a matching hat to complete your look and don’t forget to slather some excellent SPF sunscreen.  Also must are sunglasses to complete your Petra attire. We also bought lots of change and local currency – cash is king inside Petra and Wadi Musa is one of the worst places to exchange currency. Don’t forget to bring a good reliable camera – we own the Canon T5i since last 5 years and absolutely love it for the price. Also, a sturdy tripod is must for taking photos of Petra by Night – the gorilla pod one folds down into a compact bundle, can be setup in anyway whatsoever, and can be easily carried around.

How Much Do Petra Archeological Park Tickets Cost? What Are Other Costs Inside Petra?

Petra Archeological Park has two extremely popular ticket options. One is the 1-day pass which costs 50JD ($70USD) and the two-day pass which costs 55JD ($77USD). You are going to need the 2-day pass, trust me! There is so much to see and do in Petra and the main sites are so far-flung that there is no way to properly see Petra in a day. The two-day pass is highly cost-effective and offers a chance to visit Petra at a more leisurely pace. You can also check our 2 day Petra itinerary post for more details. There is also a 3 Day pass for 60JD if you are visiting for a longer time. Tickets can be bought either by credit card or cash.

Other ticket options include a special 90JD day pass for travelers who are not staying in Jordan (these include those visiting on a day trip from Israel and cruise ship passengers). Jordanian citizens, residents, students and Arab nationals pay a basic fee of 1JD. Kids under 15 do not require a ticket and can visit Petra for free. The tickets for Petra by Night are extra and cost 17JD (~$25USD) per person. Visitors can also buy the Jordan Pass online which saves money, waives visa fees, and allows access to popular Jordan attractions.

Other costs include horse, donkey, and camel rides. Horse ride up to Treasury costs 20JD roundtrip and from Treasury to base of Monastery costs about 40JD. Donkey rides up the three major hikes (see below) costs about 5-10 JD per person depending on your negotiating skills.

This photo taken by Ketki R S shows the entrance to Petra Archaeological Park in Jordan.
The entrance to Petra Archaeological Park in Jordan.

What Are The Timings For Visiting Petra Archeological Park?

Petra’s visitor center remains open from 6 am to 6 pm every day in summer and from 6 am to 4 pm every day in winter. You can buy tickets at the visitor center. You will get a detailed Petra map with each visitor ticket. The ticket also includes a free horse-drawn carriage ride through the Siq, however, the ride is not really free as you have to tip the Bedouin guide about 7JD. The closing times are not strictly enforced and you can linger till sunset. If you are attending Petra by Night, you will still have to exit Petra and reenter before the show.

What Amenities Are Available Inside Petra? Can you Get Food And Drink Inside Petra?

Petra Archeological Park has many amenities. Horses, carriage rides, camels, and donkeys are available inside the park for those who prefer not to walk. Small cafes offer snacks, lunch, and tea to weary travelers; you can easily buy food and water in Petra. A full-size restaurant called ‘The Basin’ offering excellent buffet lunch and even serving wines by the bottle is located near the start of the Monastery hike. Many of the cafes even offer free Wifi to Instagram your Petra photos.

This is a photo of Bedouin cafe / souvenir shop inside Petra offering coffee, snacks, free wi-fi, and shopping! Taken by Ketki R S for Dotted Globe.
Bedouin cafe / souvenir shop inside Petra offering coffee, snacks, free wi-fi, and shopping!

Toilets are located and marked at regular intervals. Many toilets are located along the main entrance, near the Theatre and by the museum. You will receive a free map along with your ticket which will locate all important sites and amenities. Souvenir stalls selling a variety of knick-knacks are located throughout the ancient city. The stalls sell a variety of cute jewelry, Jordanian home décor, magnets, Bedouin silks, scarves and headgears, spices, ancient coins, colored sand bottles, and postcards. I couldn’t resist and bought a couple of magnets, colored sand bottle, some jewelry, couple of postcards and an Indiana Jones-style hat to take home!

Is A Guided Tour Necessary To See Petra?

Petra is a vast archeological site with many freestanding monuments. Exploring Petra on your own is fun and easy. We explored Petra on our own and thoroughly enjoyed the incredibly carved structures and monuments. However, the history behind the monuments is not clearly signposted and you will need a guide in some form. Our guide was our trusted Lonely Planet Jordan book; it had detailed information about each monument and a great map of the monuments inside Petra and the order in which to visit them. The book also has interesting anecdotes about Petra’s history and the Nabateans who occupied them. We highly recommend this book if you prefer a self-guided tour.

An alternative to self-guided tours is hiring an authorized Bedouin guide inside Petra. There are many advantages of hiring authorized guides: they are reliable, responsible and knowledgeable about Petra. They can narrate interesting facts and take you on less visited paths to see more monuments. Bedouin guides are proud of their Nabatean heritage and take every effort to show you a different side of Petra. Guides are also inexpensive and are a great way to explore Petra beyond the ordinary paths. Hiring a private Bedouin guide for the entire day (to see major sites on the main trail) costs about 50JD to 100JD. If you want to go off trail and explore deeper it might cost a bit more. Guides can be easily hired at the visitor center.

Is It Possible To See Petra Without Walking A Lot?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. If you have genuine mobility issues and seeing Petra is on your bucket list, then the easiest way is to see just the Treasury and leave. Admittedly, you will be seeing very little of the ancient city but it’s definitely better than not seeing Petra at all. Horse carriages take visitors from the Visitor Center through the Siq and back. This is really the least strenuous way to see the most famous building in Petra. If you can walk some distance, then you can walk through the main city and take donkeys up the steps to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice. The donkeys are really strong and hiring donkeys provide livelihood to the local Bedouins. The rides up the trails are 5-10 dinars ($10-$20) each depending on your negotiating skills. Camels also take visitors from the Monastery to the Treasury though I recommend saving your camel ride for the desert of Wadi Rum. I couldn’t really ride the donkeys or any other animals since the rides are extremely bumpy and I was pregnant but if you can then it’s a great option to walking in all that heat.

This is a photo od decorated camels taken inside Petra for travel blog Dotted Globe by Ketki R S.
You can see Petra by riding on donkeys, camels, and horse carts.

What Are Typical Walking Times Inside Petra?

If you want to explore Petra completely and are going to avoid animal rides, then you are going to be walking a lot. Very few of the walks are strenuous and most walking can be easily completed by a person in average physical condition. Understanding the walking times and accordingly planning your Petra itinerary is key to exploring Petra in comfort. The walk from the entrance through the Siq to the Treasury is around 30 – 40 minutes long. From the Treasury to the Monastery (including the 822 steps hike) it takes around 1 hour 30 minutes at a reasonable pace.

Are There Any Scams To Be Aware Of While Visiting Petra?

Unlike Morocco and Egypt, which are full of scams on unsuspecting travelers, Jordan does not have typical tourist scams. The entrance horse ride which is included in the ticket is thought of as a scam by many visitors. The ride is marketed as ‘free’; however, you still have to tip the horse owner for the ride.  One often repeated experience which has the potential to develop into full-blown tourist scam is targeted at solo female travelers. Members of a certain fake Bedouin tribe often invite single women for tea/coffee, lunch or dinner into their ‘caves’. These men claim to live inside a cave in Petra and offer a true Bedouin experience with meals by the fire and music. Reports of spiked drinks followed by assaults on women are common. Sometimes their entire family is complicit in the scam and the men promise to marry the women while fleecing them for money. If you are approached by one of these men who offer meals or opportunity to see a Bedouin cave home, politely cut them short and walk with a group of tourists till they leave you alone.

This photo shows a view of Petra City Center from the Royal Tombs. Taken by Ketki R S for Dotted Globe.
View of Petra City Center from the Royal Tombs

Bedouin stall owners try to sell their wares and can get slightly annoying but a firm no should get your point across. The other thing to be aware of are offers for ‘antique coins’ including coins from Nabatea, Roman Empire, Assyrian coins, coins from Saddam Hussein’s reign and so on.  At the best these coins are fakes and at the worst illegal to trade. I highly recommend not buying these coins and avoiding any legal tangles. Travelers, especially western travelers, are frequently quoted inflated prices and it does well to inquire prices at a couple of places and negotiating the price down before buying. Also do not be like me and promise a Bedouin that you will return to their stall – while hiking the Al Khubtha Trail, a Bedouin woman invited me for tea and I told her that I might take her up on the offer on my way down. However, on my way down, I stopped at a different stall for some tea and jewelry and the Bedouin woman was quite angry and upset with me for supposedly ‘not keeping my word’.

Petra Itinerary

One Day in Petra

Highlights of the Day:
Walk through the Siq at dawn to see the Treasury at sunrise. Hike the secret Al-Khubtha Trail to view the Treasury from above just as the sun rays light up the Treasury facade. View the Royal Tombs on your way to the Basin restaurant for lunch. Hike the Monastery Trail in the afternoon. See the Roman amphitheater on the way back to Siq and shop for souvenirs.

Walk through the Siq at dawn to see the Treasury at sunrise. Hike the secret Al-Khubtha Trail to view the Treasury from above just as the sun rays light up the Treasury facade. View the Royal Tombs on your way to the Basin restaurant for lunch. Hike the Monastery Trail in the afternoon. See the Roman amphitheater on the way back to Siq and shop for souvenirs.

The Siq

The Siq is the natural slot canyon entry to Petra. As I previously mentioned, Petra is surrounded by the mountains on all sides and the only entry to Petra Archeological Park is through the narrow Siq. The walk through the Siq is the most beautiful in the world – it is through towering pink-red mountainsides – and is exciting since you know what lies at the end.

This is a photo of the Siq in Petra as it narrows just before opening to reveal the Treasury. This photo is a part of Petra travel guide on the travel website Dotted Globe.
The Siq gradually narrows as you hike through the canyon

We started from our hotel in Wadi Musa (to see which hotels we recommend, check out our Jordan itinerary post) at dawn – we woke up at 4 am to be precise – and after purchasing our tickets, were walking through the Siq at 6 am. The first mile from the Visitor Center to the actual Siq is called the Outer Siq. Beyond this, we actually entered the Siq. It starts out quite wide. There are ancient Nabatean rock carvings and monuments inside the Siq as well. You can also see the water channels along the Siq edges. The Siq narrows considerably as you walk ahead until it is a narrow slot just before the end.

Since we started out so early, we had the entire Siq almost to ourselves. The air was thick with anticipation as the Siq started narrowing and I wondered at almost every turn if that was it and I will see the Treasury the next moment. Seeing the Treasury at the end was the ultimate reward. I could imagine myself in ancient explorer’s shoes as they traveled through Nabatean controlled Jordan and experienced the same sense of isolation, grandeur, and wonder on seeing the majestic monument that they did eons ago!

The Treasury

The Al-Khazneh or Treasury is the most well-known of Petra’s monuments; in fact, for most people the Treasury is Petra. Coming face to face with the dramatic Treasury facade after the simple walk in the Siq is Petra’s coolest moment! The Treasury is the most popular monument for a couple of reasons: it is the first monument that anyone entering Petra sees and it is also Petra’s most accessible. Also, the Treasury facade is awe-inspiringly majestic, ornate, and intricately carved.

Not even Burkhardt, who was the first civilized man to see the place in a thousand years, described that temple properly; because you can’t.
It is huge—majestic—silent—empty—aglow with all the prism colors in the morning sun. And it seems to think.”
– Talbot Mundy in ‘The Lion of Petra

This is a collage of 3 photos taken inside Petra, Jordan by Ketki R S. The left photo is of The Treasury at Petra. The top right photo shows Grecian column details. The bottom right photo shows the urn at the top of the Treasury which is rumored to contain hidden Treasure. This photo is a part of Petra travel guide on the travel website, Dotted Globe.
Left: The Treasury at Petra. Right Top: Grecian column details. Right Bottom: The urn at the top of the Treasury which is rumored to contain hidden Treasure.

The Treasury is over 40 m tall and carved with columns, figurines, and intricate patterns with dominant Greek architectural influences. Legend says the urn carved at the top of the Treasury contains a Pharaoh’s treasure; hence the name. Consequently, the urn has been the target of many invaders and ancient Bedouin thieves. You can even see bullet holes on the urn and the facade. However, it’s just a myth – and there is no real treasure. Archeologists believe the Treasury was the tomb of Nabataean King Aretas IV.

Since we started quite early, we were able to experience the Treasury in complete isolation before the crowds arrived. We walked a bit and admired it from different angles. The sheer size of the monument is astounding. We took a lot of photos and then drank some hot Bedouin tea at a souvenir stand while taking in its majestic facade. We certainly lucked out with the time –  there was absolutely no one there and we felt privileged to have the entire Treasury to ourselves. It was, without a doubt, one of my favorite travel experiences!

This is a collage of 4 photos taken inside Petra, Jordan by Ketki R S. Clockwise (1) Drinking hot Bedouin tea in front of the Treasury at Petra. (2) The iconic photo of decorated camels in front of the Treasury at Petra. (3) Petra souvenir stand. (4) Bedouin silver jewelry sold inside Petra. The photos are part of Petra Travel Guide on the travel website Dotted Globe.
Clockwise (1) Drinking hot Bedouin tea in front of the Treasury at Petra. (2) The iconic photo of decorated camels in front of the Treasury at Petra. (3) Petra souvenir stand. (4) Bedouin silver jewelry sold inside Petra

After spending a leisurely hour in front of the Treasury, we embarked upon our quest to discover another of Petra’s secrets – the Al-Khubtha Trail.

The Al-Khubtha or Treasury Overlook Trail

Hiking is one of the best ways to see Petra’s ancient sites. Most visitors know about the Monastery Trail and the hike to the Place of High Sacrifice; they are among Petra’s most popular trails. However, the Al-Khubtha or Treasury Overlook Trail is said to be one of the least visited secret hikes in Petra and is visited than fewer of 10% of Petra’s visitors.

We are Lonely Planet guidebook fans and after I read about this hike in the book, I knew that we had to attempt it. The book has quite precise instructions to this secluded trail. Basically, you need to follow the path to the Royal Tombs; the trail is clearly signposted early on. The official signpost reads Al-Khubtha trail while ‘Treasury overlook/view’ has been scratched on it by hand and is often covered with dust and illegible. There is a carved stone staircase just before the Sextius Florentinus tomb which takes you up the clifftop – we took about 20 minutes for this climb.

This is a collage of 2 photos taken inside Petra by Ketki R S. Left: Treasury Overlook Trail (Al-Khubtha Trail) stairs. Right: View of Petra City center from the trail. The photo appears on Petra Travel guide post on the travel blog, Dotted Globe.
Left: Treasury Overlook Trail (Al-Khubtha Trail) stairs. Right: View of Petra City center from the trail.

The stairs start wide and rise gently but become short and steep towards the clifftop. Then the trail becomes flat and skirts the cliff edges almost parallel to the main Petra thoroughfare below. From here you can see panoramic views of the Roman amphitheater and Petra city center. Then the trail dips into a ravine. We got lost a bit in the ravine but eventually found our way to the viewpoint by 9 am. We were standing on the cliff edge exactly opposite the Treasury and looking at it from above. It was a breathtaking experience and one of my fondest memories of Petra.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at the viewpoint – you can pick something up in Wadi Musa the day before. We could see people milling down from there and felt completely vindicated in our decision to wake up at dawn. The round trip trail from the Royal Tombs and back again took us about 2 hrs and 30 minutes including the leisurely picnic lunch and frequent photo breaks. We did not meet a single soul on the trail; even the Bedouin who manages the coffee shop near the viewpoint hadn’t arrived by then.

This photo taken inside Petra by Ketki R S. shows the Treasury at Petra as seen from above by hiking the Treasury Overlook Trail (Al-Khubtha Trail) stairs. The photo appears on Petra Travel guide post on the travel blog, Dotted Globe.
The view of the Treasury from above at the viewpoint is worth completing the Al-Khubtha / Treasury Overlook trail.

We recommend this trail for everyone with decent physical fitness level. It is not very laborious – I was almost 5 months pregnant when we hiked it – and I could easily complete it. You can read a more detailed trail description here. This is your chance to see a different side of Petra and it is completely worth the hike.

The Royal Tombs

The most impressive burial places for royals in Petra are a series of Tombs located outside the Theatre. As you hike the steps opposite the Theater, the tombs in the order as they are built are the Urn Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb, the Palace Tomb, and the Sextius Florentinus Tomb. The Royal Tombs look especially beautiful at sunset when the red rock cut cliff glows in the direct light. We enjoyed the spectacle from a cafe/stand located next to the Theater while enjoying another cup of Bedouin tea and it was incredibly beautiful.

This is a photo of the Royal Tombs at Petra Jordan taken by Ketki R S and published as part of Petra itinerary post on the travel website, Dotted Globe.
Bedouin Guard in front of the majestic Royal tombs

After hiking down the Treasury Overlook trail, we explored the Royal Tombs and walked down to the City Center and had lunch at the Basin Restaurant. While there are many cafes inside Petra offering tea and snacks, Basin Restaurant is the only full-service restaurant offering buffet lunch. It was pretty expensive but the only option to have a full meal inside Petra. If you do not want to spend on the lunch here, we recommend packing a full picnic lunch from your hotel/nearby restaurant before you enter Petra. After lunch, it was time for us to hike the Monastery Trail in the afternoon.

The Monastery

The Monastery is probably the most majestic and one of the most majestic monument in Petra. It is more majestic and larger than the Treasury and sits atop a cliff top. The Monastery can be reached by climbing a hike consisting of 800 steps and takes about 3 hrs round trip to complete. The trail has places to rest along the way and is best done late afternoon when it’s shaded from sunlight. Visitors can also ride a donkey up the steps to avoid the strenuous hike.

This is a photo of the Monastery after completing the 800 step Monastery Trail. Taken by Ketki R S for travel website Dotted Globe.
A view of the Monastery after completing the 800 step Monastery Trail.

The hike is worth the monument at the top of the cliff. The Monastery facade is impressive and less ornate than the Treasury. I couldn’t help but wonder at the Nabataean architectural vision and the immense efforts to carve the facade so far high up the mountains. There is a small cafe opposite the Monastery which is a perfect vantage point to admire the monument and rest in the shade. We greedily drank some fresh fruit juices to beat the heat and get rehydrated before the tiring hike down. Before descending we also walked around the Monastery to admire views around the valley and look at carvings and caves located in the rock facade.

Roman Amphitheatre

Originally built by the Nabataeans, this Amphitheatre was later extended by the Romans to sit more people. It is also called ‘The Amphitheatre’ or simply ‘The Theatre’. Even though the Theatre was originally built by the Nabataeans, it shows classic Hellenistic (Roman) Architecture which proves communication and exchange of technology between the two great civilizations.

Suggestions for Day 2 in Petra

Highlights of the Day
Walk through the Siq to the Treasury and hike the High Place of Sacrifice Trail. See the Petra Museum, the Nabatean temple, and the Byzantine Church. Explore the Colonnaded Street and the Street of Facades. Have a late lunch in Wadi Musa and relax before attending Petra By Night show.

High Place of Sacrifice Trail

This is a hike that takes visitors up a steep hill along ancient Nabatean staircases. While Petra has many high places, this is the most easily accessible one. The hike takes about half an hour to 45 minutes one way and can also be completed on donkeys. The hike begins just before the Roman Theatre and is well sign-posted. The altar was used to sacrifice animals before Nabataean gods and has channels for draining sacrificial blood. The sweeping views from the top are incredible; the sacred place is a great example of Nabatean sacrificial monuments.

This is a photo of a donkey waiting to carry tourists up the High Place of Sacrifice Trail inside Petra. Taken by Ketki R S for Dotted Globe.
Donkey waiting to carry tourists up the High Place of Sacrifice Trail

After that, we saw the rest of the sights inside Petra including Street of Facades, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Colonnaded Street, the Nabatean Temple, the Byzantine Church and other sites.

Petra Great Temple

A major part of the City Center was dominated by the Great Temple of Petra. Within the temple premises, there is a small theater and gardens. Located next to the Colonnaded Street, this is the largest free-standing structure in Petra and not carved in stone like Petra’s other monuments. Visitors can see the impressive columns of the Temple.

This is a photo of the Petra Great Temple Complex taken by Ketki R S for travel website, Dotted Globe.
Petra Great Temple Complex

Byzantine Church

Located off the Colonnaded Street is Petra’s Byzantine Church. It is built over Nabataean and Roman ruins, mostly after the earthquake that led to Petra’s decline. The church underwent subsequent remodeling under Byzantine rule and gained prominence as a major cathedral. Excavations inside the church have revealed over 150 papyrus scrolls, the largest collection discovered in Jordan and ongoing excavations still continue at the site. Visitors can see the church basilica and mosaics covered floors.

Qasr Al Bint or the Nabatean Temple

This was originally built as a Nabataean temple and had marble staircases and overlays, stone carvings, imposing columns, and a sacrificial altar used to give offerings to Gods. Today this is the only freestanding building left in Petra after the devastating earthquakes that destroyed the entire city.

This is a photo of Qasr Al Bint Or The Nabatean Temple inside Petra. Taken by Ketki R S for travel website, Dotted Globe.
Qasr Al Bint Or The Nabatean Temple inside Petra

Colonnaded Street

The Colonnaded Street extends from the Theatre to the City Center and is an excellent example of Roman Streets. The street is lined with sandstone columns, many of which now lie in ruins. During ancient times, the street was surrounded by shops and market area. The street ends at Temenos Gate, a grand structure with huge towers.

Street of Facades

Street of Facades starts from the Treasury and is lined with intricate tombs carved into the cliff sides of the outer Siq. The tombs have large facades, some are decorated with rock carvings while others are bare of details. The tombs represent the Assyrian architectural style. Archaeologists estimate that these tombs were for Petra city officials or lesser royals. Visitors can explore some of these Tombs on their own.

Petra by Night

It is an event that takes place from 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm and the entire Siq and the Treasury is lighted by hundreds of candles. You need to buy separate Petra by Night tickets which can be easily purchased anywhere in Wadi Musa. The event is said to be magical and a unique way to see Petra. After dinner, we ended up not seeing the show as being pregnant and all, I wasn’t feeling up to the mile-long walk through the Siq. However, we would recommend the show if you have time and can fit it in. You can also see Petra By Night immediately after you arrive, before your one day in Petra.

Petra by night Photo: JohnLast1990 [CC BY-SA 4.0] from Wikimedia Commons

I have to admit, our itinerary for the first day at Petra is hectic – no doubt. But I could complete it when 5 months pregnant with S-Boy and if you are physically fit – so can you!

What to do if you have less time or want a less hectic day?

First of all, skip Petra by Night or do it the second day or keep it for a later trip. Secondly you can also skip both the hikes – if you want to skip just one, I recommend the Treasury Overlook over the Monastery because of its off the beaten path and wild nature. Also you can take a horse carriage through the Siq and ride horses or donkeys most places inside Petra including the Monastery hike, which reduces a lot of walking. You can easily combine the Treasury and the main sights of Petra City center (aka Day 2) and see Petra in one day without completing any hikes.

Other things to do near Petra

While Petra National Park is itself a massive archeological and historic site, many other sites near Petra are equally impressive and less visited by travelers. Some of these popular sites include:

Al Beida (Little Petra)

Little Petra is one of the first settled villages in the history of mankind. Visitors can still see the remains of houses and retaining walls constructed around 7000-6000 BC. The site also has archeological reconstructions of the dwellings and is located inside Petra Archeological Park.

Aaron’s Tomb

Moses brother Aaron is believed to have been buried in the Petra National Park area. Aaron’s Tomb lies in a white-domed mosque on the peak of Jabal Haroun (Aaron’s Mountain). The mosque was built in the 14th century and is one of the popular biblical sites in Jordan.

Kerak Castle

Shobak Castle

After Kerak Castle, Shobak Castle is the most impressive Crusader Castle in Jordan. It was built to accommodate over 6000 people. It was attacked, captured, and destroyed by Saladin and later restored by Mamluks in the 14th century.

Dana Nature Reserve

Dana Nature Reserve covering over 320 square km is Jordan’s largest reserve. It is home to scenic mountains, beautiful flora and fauna and variety of wildlife including the Nubian Ibex, Syrian Serin, and caracal. The reserve also comprises the 19th century typical Jordanian Dana Village.

Wadi Rum Desert

Wadi Rum Desert, popularized in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, is a beautiful red sandstone desert about 2 hrs drive from Petra. Activities inside Wadi Rum include desert camping in Bedouin tent, desert hikes, 4WD safari, rock climbing, camel rides, and more.

Being a responsible traveller at Petra

Petra is an outstanding testament to the architectural and trade advances of the lost Nabataean civilization. It is undoubtedly Jordan’s Jewel and one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. While most of the important monuments and archeological remains are protected by Petra Archeological Park, many structures and monuments lie outside the city. All of these structures inside Petra and prone to erosion by wind, rain, and grazing animals including horses, camels, and donkeys. Visitors can do their part in protecting Petra and being a responsible traveler in the following ways:

  • Purchase the appropriate entrance tickets to Petra National Park. Never accept tours from Bedouin guides that offer to take you inside Petra through alternate, non-ticketed entrances. The cost of tickets goes towards protecting Petra’s monuments
  • Use only dedicated paths and walkways to monuments. Hike along established paths only. Stepping off dedicated paths can result in trampling over archeological remains and monuments
  • Do not touch any of Petra’s monuments. The erosion rate gets accelerated due to touching and accidental breaking by tourists
  • Reduce your imprint as a tourist by not littering the park, not inscribing on monuments and not stressing the local infrastructure
  • Use the animals inside Petra for rides only if you cannot walk. Report any cases of animal abuse to Petra’s authorities. Do not let owners beat or mistreat animals to improve their pace or for any other reason
  • Remember to drink enough water at frequent intervals to avoid getting dehydrated. You can do your bit to see Petra responsibly only if you stay healthy and fit
  • Part of being a responsible tourist is dressing to blend and not offend others. Remember to dress conservatively to respect local culture, not draw unwanted attention, and speak politely to local Bedouin people

Traveling to Jordan is easy – Amman’s Queen Alia Airport is modern and well-connected by air to most major international cities. Jordan also has a great visa on arrival scheme for many foreign nationals. Petra should be on all travelers’ bucket list and we strongly urge everyone to consider a Jordan road trip this year.