Jordan Middle East Petra

Petra: 10 essential places to see in the Nabataean capital

A travel guide to organizing your visit to Petra and not miss one of the surprising places in this beautiful destination in Jordan.

Petra is undoubtedly the most known and visited a place you can see in Jordan. Declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World, this Nabataean city carved into the rock itself is a delight and a labyrinth for the visitor.
To correctly organize your visit to Petra and not be caught by surprise, the first thing you want to know is that you must have four kilometers of walking to enter and leave Petra every day. They are the ones that involve going back and forth through its famous Siq or access canyon, and to which must be added what you move later inside. The first kilometer is the least attractive, and it is full of shops and vendors who will want you to ride a camel, a donkey, or a horse.
We advise starting your visit to Petra as soon as the ticket offices open at 6 am. If you want to enjoy the Treasury without being surrounded by hundreds of tourists and avoid being harassed by vendors, you have no choice. It is worth getting up early, and you will have the best of Petra for yourself and a few other travelers for a few minutes.
And now, there are 10 places you should not miss in Petra. We have divided the post into three sections, depending on how many days you have to visit Petra. Only if your fitness is very good will you be able to see everything in two days or concentrate in one what would normally be seen in two. In parentheses, you will see the numbering of each place according to the official map they give you at the entrance. As they rarely have stock in Spanish, we have chosen the English version, which is the one that you should surely use.

What to see in Petra in one day? About 10 km round trip.

1. The Siq

It is the famous entrance canyon to the city of Petra, which is one kilometer long and barely four meters wide in some places. The height of the walls is variable but reaches 80 meters in the most impressive part. The water erosion has left beautiful wavy shapes in the sandstone rock, where several small temples have been excavated. They will be your appetizer to the enormous facades that await you from the Treasury.
Don’t miss the life-size relief depicting a caravan of camels with their guide. It is located about 400 meters before reaching the Treasury, in a curve to the right but on the left wall, next to a small ravine.
You will also easily see, at a low height from the ground, many sections of the aqueduct that supplied the city, which is as if it were not cut into the rock.

2. The Treasure

Few views are comparable to that of the Treasury facade shortly after sunrise. If you have managed to beat the dream, you will enjoy a unique place in the company of a few. Only in the quiet first hour of the morning can you experience the magic of this gigantic façade, which, although not the largest in Petra, is the best preserved and most famous.
Starting at 8 am, the pilgrimage of vendors, moneychangers, camel drivers, carters, and Jordanians in Roman costumes begins, and the endless groups of cruise passengers start a little later.
Before you have time to go up, on the right, to a small viewpoint about ten meters high that puts you face to face with this work of art. The Bedouin who exploits it doesn’t get up very early, so it may be free, or you can settle for taking the photo from a little further down if you don’t want to queue to pay.

3. The street of facades

As soon as you take the Siq that leaves the Treasury towards the center of Petra, you will begin to see facades carved into the sandstone rock on both sides. The most modest and discreet ones are used by the Bedouins as stables for their donkeys or even to sleep in them since from here, an infinite market begins where they will want to sell you all kinds of souvenirs.
The facades correspond to noble tombs between 15 and 20 meters high that are numbered and identified with a sign. One of the most spectacular is 67, which you will immediately see on the left. It is known as the “Tomb of the Thief,” not because of its owner but because, according to tradition, a friend of the alien hid in it for a while. It is followed by 70, where the rock was excavated on three sides and which is also crowned with beautiful battlements. A little further on and to the right is 825 and climbing to the top is the tomb of Unayshu, named after an inscription in Nabatean that presented its inhabitant.
Many tombs are closed with bars, but you can go to other open ones and see the dozens of niches and graves they house.

4. The Theater

Before reaching it, you will see many modest tombs that even invade its space, forming a kind of graveyard on various levels.
The theater is entirely cut into the rocky slope and has about 40 rows that came to house 4,000 people in Nabataean times and perhaps more than 6,000 with the Roman extension. It can only be seen outside to prevent someone from falling from the stands.
So far, what everyone sees that will have already consumed a few hours of your first day. From now on, you have three options to enjoy Petra fully. There’s no problem if you’ve got the ticket for three days, and you can divide it up however you want. If you are in shape, want to see everything, and only have two days, you can combine the first two as long as you get up early because they close at 6 pm (at 4 pm in summer and Ramadan).

5. The Royal Tombs

There are four that are more impressive. The first one you will see is the Urn Tomb, and it stands out for the two floors on vaults that support its patio, the size of the anterior chamber, and the views over much of Petra.
The Tumba de la Seda is the most modest in size, but the alternating colors of the rock on which its façade was sculpted are precious.
The Corinthian Tomb was thus named for the flowers on its capitals, which can still be seen despite being the most eroded of all. After all, it is 2,000 years old. It is almost 30 meters high but is dwarfed by being next to the gigantic Palace Tomb. The columns, tympanums, and friezes follow one another on five floors that rise 46 meters above the ground. It is so big that they overtook the rock at the top and had to build stone on stone instead of carving.

6. Ascent to the viewpoint of the Treasury

Also known as the Jabal Al-Khubtha trail (green on the map), It is linear and begins and ends at the Royal Tombs. Although it is only a 2.5 km round trip, you will need more than three hours to complete it first because the ascent consists of hundreds of steps, which seem never to end, until reaching the highest part of the north side of the Siq. Second, the views are increasingly impressive, topping off with a splendid view of the Treasury façade. To calculate how much time you will want to spend taking photos.
Once upstairs, you will see that they have built a bar where you will find the best views. Where they charge you 2 JD for a drink …and take a photo. If you don’t feel like taking anything or paying for that snapshot, or you’re allergic to cats (there were quite a few in the makeshift store), you can have the same image a few meters before. Right, where are the remains of what must have been another abandoned business due to the success of the one that was placed closer? We thought it was more original, clean, quiet, and with views that did not detract from the ones at the top, a bar we found halfway dedicated to Bob Marley (no kidding).
Up here, people are arriving with droppers due to the effort involved in climbing, so the tranquility that is breathed contrasts with the bustle of “ants” that move much further down next to the facade.

Petra in two days: 5 km circular route from the Theater

Remember that to reach the height of the theater, you have already traveled 2.7 kilometers from the entrance, and you will have to repeat them tomorrow to continue where you left off. It is more than half of what this trail (orange color on the map) entails in its entirety, so if you feel strong and it is still early, you can do it all in one day, but then do not complain because you will leave Petra with 15 kilometers in the legs.

7. Ascent to the Altar of Sacrifices. orange path

The ascent begins next to the huge store bar a few meters before reaching the theater. You will recognize it by the noise of its electric generator. The steps save 200 meters of difference in level, but it is worth it. The views of all of Petra next to the Jordanian flagpole are a privilege. You will also be able to see the place where the sacrifices were made, in an excellent state of conservation, including the channel through which the blood of the slaughtered animals descended, the altar of the offerings in the center, etc.

8. The Tomb of the Roman Soldier

Instead of going down the same path, you can do the circular route going down the Tomb of the Roman Soldier. Although we liked the Garden Triclinium better for the perspective, it offers from the inside between its two columns and for its well-preserved cistern.

9. Qasr al Bint

The Castle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter was the largest temple in Petra. It was built without leaning on any rock, superimposing sandstone blocks. It is thought that it was only accessible to priests. You will not be able to do more than go around it due to the archaeological excavations still being carried out next to the entrance. It also offers a good perspective of the rows of columns of the Great Temple, which rises just 300 meters away.
What to see in Petra in three days?

10. The Monastery – Ad Deir

On the third day, we leave one of the most famous places in Petra but the furthest from the entrance, about 5.5 km. After climbing a drop of 200 meters. Unfortunately, the climb up the steps on the backs of donkeys, often guided by children, has made it more visited than it should be due to its difficult access.
The 2,500 m2 façade is splendidly preserved. However, it was not a tomb but a place of worship that was reached in procession by the difficult staircase that you still have to go down (in theory). Do not worry. The views of the entire region from the highest part of the plateau that Petra occupies will make you forget about the pain in your knees.
Although we suggest you do something that only a small part of the visitors here do: walk through Little Petra. There are three reasons for this:
The distance (6.5 km) is only one kilometer more than returning to the Reception Center.
You already know Petra’s main road from yesterday and have used it again today.
The views and solitude of the landscape are worth it on their own.
Eye! Doing it in the opposite direction from Little Petra to the Monastery is not allowed without a guide since October 2020. I don’t know if it’s a fad or here to stay since we never had a problem doing it alone, and the only time they prohibited us was a buddy with the local police. Heal yourself to health and use Little Petra as your starting point.
During the first half of the tour, you will walk through a ridge in the middle of the ravine with views of the stone desert that surrounds the city. The last two kilometers cross a sandy desert where it is easier to get disoriented. You must pass a control booth with a bored police officer inside.
Little Petra is a small Siq of about 500 meters with more modest carved tombs on both sides. It runs linearly to a viewpoint on the rock and has a total kilometer. The Painted House stands out, and you can climb up a stone staircase to observe the frescoes on the ceiling, which are unique in the entire excavation. Taxis to return from here to Petra cost 10 to 15 JD depending on your negotiating skills.

How much does the entrance fee to Petra cost?

As you can see, there are three types of tickets. Although it is normal to visit Jordan, you get the Jordan Pass, which we have already explained in this other post. For starters, you save 20 JD (€23 / $28) because it includes the visa, which will cost you 40 JD. In addition to the visa and the entrance to Petra, it allows you to access 36 more tourist attractions.

Fee in JD (Jordanian Dinar)Entrance to Petra without Jordan Pass
 (+ 40 JD of visa)
 With Jordan Pass(Visa included)
1 dayfifty70
2 consecutive days5575
3 consecutive days6080

Where to sleep in Petra?

Wadi Musa is a modern city that has grown out of ruins. In Wadi Musa, there is everything: hundreds of accommodations and restaurants, shops, exchange houses, travel agencies…
Considering that you will leave Petra exhausted, it is best to stay in the center of the entrance, although there are always taxis at the door and the fare without leaving the city is around 5 JD.
The Cabin Hostel has shared rooms just a five-minute walk from the entrance for low budgets. It also offers breakfast and dinner at affordable prices, and the kitchen use is paid for.
For medium budgets, Petra Rest Home. The rooms are private, and the bathrooms are shared. It is only 750 m. from the entrance but uphill.
A whim Of the good ones, the least expensive is the Petra Palace Hotel. Next to the entrance and with a small pool, breakfast is quite complete.

How to get to Petra?

The ruins of Petra are located 230 kilometers south of Amman, the Jordanian capital, and from Queen Alia International Airport, it is only 200 kilometers. The fastest way to get to Petra is to rent a car and drive for 2.5 hours on Highway 15, which is still under construction in 2020.
Without a rental car, you can easily get there with the Jett company buses, which have a daily departure from the capital at 6:30 am. There are several bus stations in Amman; one of these companies is also known as Abdali. It is not expensive; about €15 for more than 3 hours of travel and on modern buses.
Cheaper is to share a Jordanian-style van. These leave from the far south station as they fill up, from 9 am to 3 pm. You’ll be tight, but it’s half the price of the European-style bus. There are no lockers, but a guy who collects at the entrance of the minibus. They likely want to charge you “an extra” for being from outside, so wait to see what the person in front pays, and don’t hesitate to protest if they ask for more. Remember that sitting next to strangers of the opposite sex is frowned upon.

How is the weather in Petra?

Although it seems that Jordan is a warm place all year round, the reality is that the climate is very cold in winter, so much so that it snows in some years and very hot in summer, easily exceeding 40 degrees. The most pleasant dates to visit Petra are spring and autumn.
If you travel from June to September, take the necessary precautions so as not to suffer heat stroke. Many stores in Wadi Musa sell frozen water bottles and snacks so that you can stock up well. Remember that compared to the outside, the restaurants you will find inside are of two types: the expensive ones and the very expensive ones.
Now you know how to organize your visit to Petra and what to expect from one of the world’s seven wonders. We are sure that you will not be disappointed and will become one of those who think it deserves at least one visit in your life.
If you want to visit this impressive corner of the world in the company of travelers like you, do not forget to look at our travel to Jordan section, where we periodically make group outings to explore this beautiful and welcoming country on an adventure.