The Best Way to Visit Petra
Whether you are planning a day trip or an extended stay, Petra is the perfect location for an unforgettable journey. It's a must-see destination for travelers looking to explore the world and experience its history and culture. On my most recent trip to Jordan, I was able to experience Petra firsthand and I can confidently say that it is an experience unlike any other. In this blog, I will share my tips and advice on how to best visit Petra, including information on transportation, accommodation, the sites you must see, and more.
What is Petra
Petra, the beautiful and awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Jordan, is one of the most incredible places on earth. Not only is it one of the 7 wonders of the world, it has also been described as a "lost city" because of its unique location among towering mountains and deep gorges. Petra is home to ancient monuments and artifacts, as well as mesmerizing natural beauty. Its main attraction is the Treasury, a majestic building carved into a sandstone cliff. Other popular sites include The Siq, a narrow gorge that leads to the entrance of Petra; the Monastery, an incredible structure perched high atop a mountain; and Street of Facades, lined with tombs and colonnaded streets.
How to Get to Petra
Getting to Petra is the first step in planning your trip. Whether you’re traveling from nearby or further away, there are many transportation options available. The most common way to get there is by car, which can be rented at the airport in Amman, Jordan. This is how we experienced Petra, and I highly recommend it. If you are unsure about driving in a foreign country, check out my guide on driving in Jordan. A less expensive option is to take a bus from Amman to Petra; buses run daily and generally take around three hours. There are also many private transport options that you can find through websites like Get Your Guide or Viator, as well as taxi services, although those will probably be more expensive than renting a car.
Things To Do in Petra
Once you get to Petra, there are plenty of things to do and see in the area. The most popular activity is exploring the ruins and monuments, including the majestic Treasury, Street of Facades, Siq, Monastery, and more. Additionally, visitors can take a hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice, where you can get incredible views of the city. If you’re looking for something more unique, there are plenty of activities like horseback riding, camel riding, and even overnight trips in Bedouin camps.
My favorite thing to do in Petra was to explore the ancient city and learn about its fascinating history. Since we did not have time to go to the museum, we looked up a bunch of information about Petra on the drive-in so we could really appreciate everything that we were seeing. Here are some of the amazing things we learned about the city:
It was built by the Nabataean civilization in 312 BC.
Around 600 tombs and monuments have been discovered in Petra.
It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Petra was also known as Rekem by the locals.
It is believed that Petra served as a major trading and commerce center in ancient times.
Visitors can still see traces of the ancient water systems that were used to manage the city’s water supply.
The ruins have survived for over 2,000 years in extreme temperatures and unforgiving terrain, including massive floods and earthquakes
Also, when visiting the Treasury, there are plenty of people that will offer to take you up to a viewpoint. They typically charge 5 JOD per person, but we were able to haggle them down to half the price. I do think it's well worth it though for the view!
Planning Your Visit
When it comes to visiting Petra, the best way is to plan ahead. It’s important to know what sites you want to see, how long you will be staying in the area, and any transportation or accommodation needs that you might have. Additionally, I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes, bringing plenty of water, and sun protection as the area can get quite hot. Visiting Petra is an incredible experience, but it can also be overwhelming. So plan ahead and make sure to take your time to really explore this amazing city!
The Best Way to Visit Petra
Since we only had one day to spend in Petra before going back to Amman, we wanted to get through Petra as easily as possible while still seeing as much as we could. We parked in the free car park and took a taxi to the new entrance by little Petra, and took the shuttle in from there. It was only 50 JOD for the entrance fee and another 5 JOD for the shuttle, which saved us a ton of initial walking. From the shuttle drop off point, it was still a good 30-minute hike in before you reached the Monastery. We decided to opt for this way so we would only have to walk through Petra once, instead of coming in from the entrance, and walking back out. Also, getting from the Treasury to the Monastery is a very uphill climb, so I was glad we went the way we did to avoid that. This way, we were able to walk right out of the typical entrance to our car at the Free Car Park.
Other Ways to Visit Petra
The usual way to visit Petra is to start at the visitor's center/museum and walk in from the main entrance. It's about a 1.5-mile walk to the Treasury, so if you are up for it and have enough time, this is a great way to experience Petra. From there it's another 1.5 miles to the Monastery, so be sure to wear good shoes and bring plenty of water. Along the way, there are shorter hikes that go off the main road, which will add to the distance but is well worth it if you have the time.
If you want to go from the main entrance but are short on time or just don't want to walk that much, you can take authorized golf carts for 20-25 JOD to and back from the Treasury. There are also horses, donkeys, and camels that are available from the bedouins throughout Petra, but those can also be quite costly. But definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Where To Stay in Petra
If you plan on staying longer than a day, there are plenty of accommodation options in and around Petra. There are many hotels and resorts to choose from, as well as camping sites for those looking for a more authentic experience. There are also Bedouin camps that provide a unique way to stay in the area; these camps offer tents fully equipped with blankets, pillows, and chairs. Additionally, the Bedouin camps provide a fun cultural experience with activities like camel riding, stargazing, and campfires. Here are some recommendations on where to stay:
Petra Marriott Hotel – offers luxury accommodations, spa facilities, and local sightseeing trips
Nomads Hotel Petra - budget-friendly accommodation with a host of amenities
For more places to stay, check out the Petra website!
Regardless of how you choose to visit Petra, it is sure to be an unforgettable experience. From the stunning views of the Treasury and Monastery to learning about the history and culture of this ancient city, Petra has something for everyone! So make sure to plan ahead and enjoy your stay in this amazing place.