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The BEST Way to visit Petra in Jordan

Discover the ultimate guide to visiting Petra in Jordan! Avoid the crowds, explore must-see attractions, and plan a perfect trip to Petra.

The BEST Way to visit Petra in Jordan

What's the best way to visit Petra? How can you avoid the crowds? What are the must-see attractions in Petra? You'll find answers to these questions and more in this post, where we share everything about our experience at Jordan's number one destination. Our visit to Petra was fantastic, and we want you to have an equally amazing time. Here's everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Petra.

What is Petra in Jordan

Petra is a breathtaking archaeological site established over 2,000 years ago. This ancient Nabataean city in Wadi Musa in southern Jordan is famously carved into red sandstone cliffs. The journey to Petra begins with a walk through the Siq, a long and narrow canyon that dramatically opens up to reveal the Treasury, a majestic structure that remains remarkably well-preserved to this day.

However, the Treasury is just the beginning. As you explore Petra, you'll encounter a multitude of impressive structures scattered throughout the city. From the Royal Tombs and the Theatre to the Monastery and the intricate street of facades, Petra offers a rich tapestry of history and architecture that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

guide to visiting Petra in Jordan
The journey to Petra begins with a walk through the Siq, a long and narrow canyon that dramatically opens up to reveal the Treasury

How many days to visit Petra?

Recently Jordanian government started a program called Jordan Pass, which is basically a ticket which includes your visa and the entries to most of the tourist sights in the country. Of course, it also includes tickets to Petra. The cost depends on how many days you'd want to spend on visiting Petra. In our opinion, 2 days are perfect for visiting the lost city.

Petra is a large site, and you'll spend a significant amount of time walking around the lost city, especially if you want to explore all the ancient sites and capture photographs along the way. While it's possible to rush through Petra in just one day, it's certainly worth planning for a longer visit to fully appreciate its wonders. This is especially true if you're arriving in Wadi Musa from Amman on the same day as your planned visit to Petra.

Don't hesitate to allocate more time for your visit. If you finish exploring Petra earlier than expected, you can also visit another archaeological site nearby, known as Little Petra. This hidden gem offers additional insights into the Nabataean civilisation and is a perfect complement to your Petra adventure.

guide to visiting Petra in Jordan

What's the best way to visit Petra?

The best way to visit Petra is to start in the afternoon on the same day you arrive in Wadi Musa. We strongly suggest planning at least two days for your visit, and you'll soon understand why. When we arrived in Petra in the early afternoon, we encountered a massive crowd, but we noticed more people were heading out than going in. We visited Jordan in June when the weather was hot and sunny with clear skies every day. We made sure to bring water and something to cover our heads from the strong sun. While we're not particularly sensitive to the heat, we saw several people fainting from the intense temperatures. We made our way inside the canyon...

guide to visiting Petra in Jordan

The Monastery

The Siq was incredibly impressive; walking through it, we truly felt like we were heading to a very special place. Our amazement peaked when we reached the Treasury. Despite knowing it was large, standing in front of it made us feel incredibly small. Since the area was crowded with tourists, we decided to head straight to the furthest location—the Monastery. Though it was hard to leave the Treasury after just a brief glimpse, this proved to be the best decision.

The trail to the Monastery took longer than expected, primarily because we had to make way for large groups of tourists heading back. The path includes many stairs, but it's not particularly challenging. Comfortable shoes are a must; we wore sandals and managed just fine.

guide to visiting Petra in Jordan

After seeing the Treasury, we didn't think anything else could impress us more, but we were wrong. The Monastery seemed even larger and more majestic. The area around it is spacious and open, allowing us to enjoy the surroundings. The best part was that we were almost alone there. Most visitors had left Petra before closing time, giving us the opportunity to take photographs from various viewpoints around the Monastery at sunset. One particularly impressive spot is the cave house in front of it, which has a window carved in the wall offering a view of the Monastery. This would have been a truly magical moment if not for the intense smell of donkey poo inside.

The BEST Way to visit Petra in Jordan

The Bedouins in Petra

During our visit, we encountered the Bedouins who live in Petra. They were riding around on their donkeys, almost as if they were doing donuts. At one point, they approached Maria and invited her to see the Monastery. While it’s generally advised not to enter certain areas on your own, the locals insisted she take a peek, helping her climb up to the doorway. Later, they accompanied us on our way back. Shortly before reaching the Treasury, another group of Bedouins invited us for a cup of tea. Normally, they sell tea to visitors during the day, but this time they just wanted to share a cup of tea and their stories with us. By the time we returned to the Treasury, it was almost time for the Night Show.

The BEST Way to visit Petra in Jordan

Petra by Night Show

The Petra by Night show runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, starting at 20:30 from the Petra Visitor Centre. During the show, the Siq and the area in front of the Treasury are illuminated by over 1,500 candles, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere. The facade of the Treasury becomes a canvas for projected visualisations, accompanied by calming music.

We arrived before the show started and purchased our tickets directly from the event organisers. At that time, it was just us, the maintenance crew, and a row of photographers with tripods lined up to capture the unique view. Wanting a different perspective, we climbed to a viewpoint where we could later photograph Petra illuminated by candles.

We left before the light visualisation started, enjoying a very romantic, private walk through the candle-lit Siq without yet any other visitors around. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable day.

Petra Jordan Photography

The Treasury

The following day, we arrived at the Petra Visitor Centre 15 minutes before opening. Since we had our tickets included in the Jordan Pass, we didn't have to wait for the counter to open and were allowed to enter right away. We rushed to get to the Treasury as quickly as possible. Besides the residing Bedouins, we were the only visitors there. It was an unreal moment, like stepping straight into an Indiana Jones movie. We took our time to photograph this majestic site before being approached by a Bedouin who asked if we wanted to go to a viewpoint. Although we were bothered by the locals about the viewpoints all day yesterday, we now felt ready to see the Treasury from above.

Petra Jordan Photography

Petra Viewpoints

There are two viewpoints overlooking Petra: one higher with a more difficult approach, and one lower requiring only a short climb. It's challenging to find these viewpoints on your own. If you look around for the path, locals will approach you and claim you can only get there with a guide. Although your ticket allows you to enter all areas around Petra, the viewpoints are actually created by the Bedouins who live in the caves around the Lost City. It is respectful to pay to enter their home. Even if you could find your way to the lower viewpoint, the path to the upper one is a small maze and can be very confusing.

Petra Jordan Photography

The Bedouin initially requested 40 JD to guide us to both viewpoints. We tried bargaining and eventually agreed on a suitable price. Our first destination was the lower viewpoint on the right-hand side as you enter from the Canyon. The entrance was concealed under scrap metal, making it hard to find without guidance. The hike was short and straightforward, leading us quickly to the top platform, which was covered with carpets and unfortunatelly littered with trash. After taking a few pictures, we made our way down.

The path to the higher viewpoint starts on the left-hand side as you enter from the Siq. The climb involved scaling boulders, which was quite uncomfortable and slippery. With several paths forking from the main trail and no signs, having a guide was essential to navigate the route correctly.

Petra Jordan Photography

At the top, there's a simple tent where Bedouins sell their traditional tea. Access to the viewpoint requires purchasing a cup of tea. The views from the top are breathtaking and exhilarating, providing a significant adrenaline rush as you stand on the edge. After taking a few more pictures, we spent about an hour in the tent, chatting with our new friends about their life in the Lost City. They had fascinating stories to share! We returned the same way and left for our hotel by noon to continue our journey to the Wadi Rum desert.

Petra Jordan Photography

Our Experience

In total, we spent one afternoon and one morning in Petra, which was enough to see the top sights without feeling rushed. However, we wished we had at least one more afternoon to explore the Lost City further. There's so much to see. Many have asked how we managed to see Petra without crowds. The secret is simple: arrive early to stay ahead of the comfortable travellers.

We hope this guide helps you plan your perfect trip to Jordan, and that you enjoy your time in Petra as much as we did. We spent a week in Jordan, what allowed us to create these articles to assist you in planning your own trips. Be sure to check out our other posts about Jordan!



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