Exploring Petra over 2 days

I’m just going to put this out there now- Petra is my all time favourite place to explore in the whole world! Aside from the insane beauty and history of the Rose City, the absolute freedom that you have to wander and explore the site makes this wonder of the world is like no other place on earth.

dsc08323.jpg

31250621_10160446043975145_3064572741811175424_n

I first visited Petra in 2010 and spent a packed day rushing around to take in as much as possible. I knew I’d be back- some places are just too awe-inspiring to visit once. I finally made it back to Jordan in January of 2018, and had an amazing two and a half days re-exploring Petra. If at all possible I definitely recommend more than a day to discover this unique archaeological site. So here is an outline of how I’d recommend spending 2-3 days exploring the site. I’ve also included some tips at the end to help you make the most of your experience.

Me in 2010 on the left and then in 2018 on the right… not much has changed in the background… clothing or pose!

 

 

Day 1: See Petra first by Night

This was a real novelty on my second trip and something completely different from my first visit. Tickets can be purchased from the visitor center and this is where the tour starts. The path leading into Petra is beautifully lit by lanterns and once you reach the Treasury building the lanterns become a sea in front of the famous facade. The Treasury is as far as you’re allowed at night, probably a good thing as it was extremely dark the night we were there and even with the lanterns you had to be careful not to trip over.

The Treasury building itself is lit up with rotating different coloured lights, which provide an interesting and somewhat eerie feel to the place. Sweet tea is served while you sit and enjoy some local entertainment in the way of songs and stories. Unfortunately, I found this aspect overly touristy and drawn out, but overall the evening was a unique experience. I definitely recommend this as a different way to see Petra and appreciate the spectacular sight even more in daylight the next day.

DSC08320

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Start early and explore the furthest reaches

Image result for map of petra

The main path

On your first full day, start early and visit the most popular sights on the main road before other tourists arrive. The site is open from 6am to 6pm daily in summer (6am-4pm in winter) and I recommend going as close to opening time as you can. As the day wears on these easily accessible sites will become progressively busier, so it’s much more enjoyable to explore first thing before the crowds arrive. Some popular sites on the main trail include the Treasury (now even more spectacular in daylight), the huge Theatre, the Street of Facades and Royal Tombs and then further along to the Colonnaded Street. It’s 8km from the Visitor Center to the end of the main trail, marked as the red path on the map below.

37778285_10160805348900145_3114441727344115712_n

31265416_10160446043775145_3388505634906308608_n
The Treasury by day
31317931_10160446041895145_4603253657595543552_n
The Theatre
31250623_10160446041755145_900203386937278464_n
The Theatre
31225508_10160446041150145_3411058718631002112_n
The Theatre from the Royal Tombs
31230401_10160446041310145_1232824393281830912_n
The Royal Tombs

31239345_10160446042960145_2565186856966684672_n

31229811_10160446041070145_4469311391618039808_n

31241576_10160446042830145_4635744973520633856_n
The Colonnaded Street

 

 

The Monastary

Once the main sites start to become busier it’s time to explore the more remote parts of Petra. I’d recommend first visiting the Monastery, as I think this is the most stunning facade in Petra and you don’t want to miss out on it! It’s also one of the most popular longer walks in the site, so again setting out relatively early will give you some quiet time in this beautiful place before others arrive. The Monastery trail is a further 2.5km from the end of the main trail.

Tip: continue on past the Monastery to the self proclaimed ‘best view in the world’. There are several of these signs pointing to high lookout places where locals also set up little gift stores and chai tea stops. They’re not lying about the view either- it’s spectacular and the cushioned cafes are the perfect spot to re-energise and take in the view.

37888955_10160805410355145_8972859934647517184_n.jpg

DSC08429

DSC08410

DSC08454

DSC08436

 

 

 

The Roman Soldier’s Tomb

Depending on your energy and enthusiasm, I’d then recommend exploring the lesser visited tomb of the Roman Soldier on the way back from the Monastery. From the exit of the Monastery trail at Qasr al-Bint, take the High Place of Sacrifice Trail to Wadi al Farasa. I loved this place, as it felt completely abandoned and like we were the first ones to discover the tomb. The High Place of Sacrifice Trail is 3km and ends between the Theatre and Treasury on the main trail. There are many steps, so this is one of the more challenging trails in Petra.

37804254_10160805359785145_2076483054003552256_n

31271236_10160446043255145_6384819453619601408_n

31290716_10160446043495145_8927185122118074368_n

31299997_10160446043430145_3949521534489460736_n

31250521_10160446043170145_8127266520007966720_n

 

Day 3: Climb high for incomparable views

Today is all about stunning views from above. These trails all require a good level of fitness, so if you’re not up for the climb in the heat, exploring further details of the main trail may be a better option. Again, it’s best to arrive before the crowds arrive and make a start on the Al-Khubtha Trail. This trail is 3.5km and is the hardest one we dd in Petra, as it’s pretty much all uphill. But the view from above is well worth the effort, as you look down on the Treasury from above. Again, there’s a cafe at the end of the path to reward your efforts and quench your thirst as you take in the stunning views.

31271220_10160446041085145_5814034891439865856_n

treasury from above.png

 

If you then have time and energy, and didn’t visit the High Place of Sacrifice on Day.2 then this would be another opportunity for stellar views.

ry view.png

31237160_10160440599125145_6630497239422730240_n.jpg

26240870_10159973615720145_3749873768540465811_o

 

 

 

Tips

If you are staying in the area the prices are as below, otherwise if you are only visiting for the day the entrance fee is 90 JD. You’ll need to show your passport when buying the tickets.

Entrance Ticket Price
One  Day 50 (J.D)
Two  Days 55 (J.D)
Three days 60 (J.D)

 

Stay in the town of Wadi Musa, up the hill from the archaeological site. Many hotels offer free shuttles to the site in the morning, and if not it’s about a 45min walk to the visitor center, depending on where your hotel is located. There are some expensive hotels right next to the visitor center, like the Crown Plaza and Movenpick Resort- so if you’re budget allows, then these are probably more convenient options. We preferred to stay up on the hill in the heart of Wadi Musa as it was both budget friendly and had more of a local feel to it.

It’s hot and glarey, even in the cooler months, so make sure you take a hat, sunscreen and some snacks and water.

If you can, go in low or shoulder season, as you’ll have many of more distant trails completely to yourself

Bartering- there are little market stalls set up throughout the site. If you want something then it’s customary to barter. Remember you have to carry everything with you, so ideally buy any souvenirs on the way out. Be warned- if you use this as an excuse not to buy something, the sellers will remember and pester you on the way out. If you’re not interested then just smile and say no thanks and walk on.

At the end of a long day exploring in the sun and dust, revive at one of the Turkish baths on the way back to the main town. We got scrubbed, soaked and massaged for an hour, which was not only a wonderful insight into the local bath culture but made the flight home that evening so much more enjoyable after the desert dust was scrubbed away!

For more information on Petra visit this official page.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my all time favourite travel destination, I’d love to hear about your experiences in Jordan!

Leave a Reply