Petra is the ancient city known from the movie “Indiana Jones”, located south in the beautiful Kingdom of Jordan, close to the border of Israel.
Getting to Petra?
The easiest way of getting around in Jordan is by car. To get to Petra it takes around 3 hours drive coming from the capital Amman or 2 hours from Aqaba in the south.
There is plenty of parking around which is free of charge. As far as I know there is no public transport around the main town, so I highly recommend a rental car. Otherwise you can check with your Hotel, if they offer free transport to the entrance of the ancient city of Petra.
Arriving at the main entrance in Petra you are provided with a map to get an overview about the whole area, which is actually quite big. You can choose yourself, how far you want to go or how high up you want to hike. It takes around 45 minutes walking through the Wadi (gulch) to see the first main site – the famous Treasury known from “Indiana Jones”.
If you keep walking (which I would highly recommend) you can walk up to the Monastery at the very end of the area. It takes about 2 hours and it is not very easy, but after arriving there you will not regret the long hike up the stairs. It is absolutely stunning and you will be one of the few people to make it there.
You should definitely bring some water and food because it is ridiculously expensive inside the Wadi-Area. Your head will be super grateful for a hat and your skin for some sun care, as it is really hot and there is limited shade.
Where to stay in Petra
There are plenty of Hotels around Petra; almost all of them have a beautiful view over the area, as the city is set up on a hill.
We stayed in the Seven Wonders Hotel – which was the best accommodation stay during our Jordan trip. There was a rooftop pool with an amazing view, extremely nice staff, perfect breakfast, parking right in front of the door, clean and well equipped rooms and all that for only 35€/night for a double room.
Prices in Petra, as already mentioned, are a little bit higher than the rest of Jordan, as many tourists, including from Israel, pass by. That may also be the reason for the varying entrance fees – if you stay at least one night in Jordan/Petra, the entrance costs 63€ (or 70€ for two days), if you only pass by for one day (like most of the Israeli tourists do) you pay 114€, which is quite a lot in comparison.
My main advice is to buy the Jordan Pass (95€), which includes two days of Petra, no visa fee at the airport and many other entrance fees around Jordan. So it is definitely worth the money.
There are also many tour-guides around, but to be honest, you would only need them if you want to hear more detailed information about the history of Petra.
How much time will you need there?
To get an impression of Petra I would definitely recommend you allocate at least 2 or even 3 days. The first day we hiked all the way up to the Monastery, which is quite a long way and then all the way up to see the Treasury from the top – this is called the Al Kubtha Trail. The guides advise it takes 4-5 hours, however, while it sure is quite an exhausting hike because of the heat and the rocky stairs, you do not need that long to do the trail. Still, I recommend you plan and prepare the whole day because when you are up there, experiencing the amazing buildings and landscape you really want to sit down for quite a while to simply enjoy the view.
That is also what we did on the second day. I suggest you wake up really early to walk to the Treasury and see how the morning sun lights up the whole Wadi in a beautiful red. Take some time to just sit down and enjoy this beautiful moment without any hurry.
When is the best time to visit Petra
The best time to go is around spring or autumn, because during summer it can get extremely hot. But apart from this you can visit Petra all around the year.
Although Jordan is probably not the main tourist-country, Petra is still quite well visited. But the thing is, that the whole area is so big, that sometimes for hours you do not even see people. Especially if you hike one of the trails or if you walk all the way back to the Monastery.
What to do in Petra
You should not miss out on walking to the Monastery, even though it is quite a distance. As soon as you reach it, you will know what I mean. Sit down there, have a cup of tea and enjoy the beautiful surrounding.
Also hiking the Kubtha Trail to see the Treasury from the top is a Must-do. Get enough water, cover your head and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views.
Another recommendation is see “Petra by Night”. Not included on the Jordan Pass this costs 21€; takes two hours; and is run every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This experience includes the entire Wadi back to the Treasury being lit up with candles while some typical Jordanian music is played and the story about Petra is provided. Personally, in my opinion, an experience that should not be missed.
What not to do
As I said before, bring your own water and food, as it is ridiculous expensive in there. I also would not go on a donkey or camel ride because as I have seen the people in there do not treat animals very well, which was sad to see to be honest.
It is also not really necessary at all to get a guide, when you walk trough Petra, unless you are interested in the history of the city. They also say that you need a guide for the Kubtha Trail, but actually, if you always head in the up direction, you cannot really miss it.
Another tip useful for girls: keep in mind that as Jordan is a very conservative country regarding clothes, even though I always wore respectfully long clothes, for my hike in Petra I put on some shorts. For the people in Petra, I experienced it as absolutely ok as they are used to tourists.
Why should Petra be on my bucket list?
Jordan itself is way underrated and not on many bucket lists, but it should absolutely be. I have visited many countries and Jordan, especially Petra, blew my mind and stole my heart. The landscape is absolutely stunning; the people are extremely friendly and welcoming; while the culture is unique.
Many people were concerned when I told them about my travel plans to Jordan because it is bordered by Israel and Syria. But at no time did I felt unsafe. Jordan is an absolute peaceful place and Petra, because it’s one of the main tourists’ sites, is even more so.
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