As one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, visiting Petra in Jordan is on many people’s bucket lists. No wonder, the so-called Rose City boasts a rich tapestry of historical and architectural wonders.
However, before embarking on your Petra adventure, there are some important things you should know for a well-prepared visit.
To help you plan, I compiled this blog post including the 12 most essential tips for your trip to the ancient site, including where to stay, must-see attractions, recommendations on what to skip, clothing tips, and more.
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Important Things to Know For Visiting Petra in Jordan
1. Get The Jordan Pass
Before you plan your visit to Petra, or even better, before you plan your trip to Jordan, make sure to get the Jordan Pass.
There are three main options for the Jordan Pass based on the duration of your visit to Petra. The 1-day pass costs JOD 70, the 2-day pass is JOD 75, and the 3-day pass is JOD 80.
Don’t worry if you don’t know in advance how many days you want to plan for Petra. As you can see, the price differences are very small so I recommend you get the 2- or 3-day option – just to be on the safe side. 🙂
Another benefit of the Jordan Pass is the fact it not only gives you free access to many of Jordan’s sights but also includes a tourist visa!
2. Arrive Early
To ensure the best and most authentic experience in Petra, it’s crucial to arrive early – very early. And with that, I mean at 6:00 am when the visitor center opens.
I know, arriving that early can be hard or even impossible, for example, if you visit Petra as a day trip from Amman. I guarantee you tho, it’s absolutely worth it!
The morning hours offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, allowing you to explore the ancient city with a sense of tranquility.
When we entered the site shortly after 6:00 am, there were barely any other people and we were among the first to enter the Siq and see The Treasury.
It was a truly mind-blowing experience seeing this fascinating ancient place without all the crowds!
Moreover, considering the diverse array of activities and attractions in Petra, you might want to start your day early to fit everything into your itinerary.
3. Stay Nearby
As previously mentioned, timely arrival at Petra’s opening hours can be challenging, especially if you have a bit of a journey ahead. Hence, I highly recommend staying near the site.
You can find several accommodation options for every preference and budget in the town of Wadi Musa, the gateway to Petra.
We stayed a few nights at the Mövenpick Resort Petra that’s located just across the street from the entrance.
The hotel offers a pool (much needed after a long, exhausting day exploring Petra), gorgeous rooms with balconies, and a breakfast buffet starting at 6:00 am.
Of course, other accommodation options in Wadi Musa offer proximity to the site and other conveniences as well, and depending on your criteria or budget, you might want to book another place.
In our experience, the Mövenpick Resort provided an excellent stay and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone in search of a hotel near Petra!
4. Wear Comfy Shoes
Another important tip for an enjoyable Petra adventure is to wear comfy shoes.
Exploring the extensive archaeological site involves quite a bit of walking and hiking, thus comfortable footwear is a must – even if you stick to the main trail.
Be prepared to walk a lot if you plan to see the Monastery (you absolutely should). The entire way from the entrance up to the imposing building takes around two hours and includes numerous stair climbs, particularly towards the end.
The day we visited the monastery, we walked nearly 25,000 steps, conquered 100 floors, and covered a distance of 20 kilometers.
If you don’t wear suitable shoes here, your feet will almost certainly hurt a lot the next day!
5. Use Sun Protection
No matter if you visit Petra in summer or winter, it’s crucial to protect yourself from the sun.
Put on sunscreen to keep your skin safe, wear a sun hat for shade, and don’t forget sunglasses to shield your eyes from the bright sunlight.
The intense strength of the desert sun, especially around noon, shouldn’t be taken lightly. You certainly don’t want to end up with sunstroke.
6. Plan More Than One Day
If you don’t just want to follow the main route but also want to discover Petra off the beaten track, I advise you to plan more than one day.
The archaeological site is very expansive, featuring numerous remarkable structures and hidden gems. Besides the main trail leading to the Monastery, there are several other hiking trails you can follow.
Options include the Al-Madras Trail to the High Place of Sacrifice, the route to the Monastery from Little Petra, and the trek to the viewpoint overlooking the Treasury.
Find out in advance which hikes you would like to do and then plan your time accordingly.
7. Don’t Miss Important Places
Probably the worst thing you can do while visiting Petra in Jordan is missing the best and most important sights.
Yes, we all know the iconic photos of the Treasury and the Monastery but Petra is so much more than that. There’s a wealth of other hidden treasures waiting to be discovered!
Make sure to include lesser-known places like the Royal Tombs, the Great Temple, or the Qasr al-Bint on your Petra itinerary.
Allow yourself enough time at each of these places to get a comprehensive understanding of the city’s historical and architectural significance.
8. Hike to The Monastery Viewpoint
Standing in front of the 45-meter Monastery is a truly mind-blowing experience.
However, what’s even more captivating is seeing it from a higher vantage point, seamlessly blending into the surrounding landscape.
There are a couple of viewpoints around but you’ll get to the best one if you follow the trail leading from the back of the restaurant to the left.
There you’ll find a small, roofed place on a rock plateau where you can sit down on pillows and enjoy an epic view.
You don’t have to pay or consume anything there, but the very kind owner will of course be happy if you give him a little something.
9. Pack Enough to Drink & Eat
Although there are tons of souvenir stands and a few cafés and restaurants along the main path, I advise you to pack enough to eat and drink yourself.
The expansive site, coupled with the desert climate, can be physically demanding, especially if you do the hikes off the main trail. You won’t find any restaurants or similar there.
Being well-prepared with your own supplies makes your visit more comfortable, ensuring you can fully enjoy Petra without any worries.
10. Don’t Ride Any Animals
Something you can’t avoid in Petra, no matter what time of day you are there, is people trying to encourage you to ride their donkeys, camels, or horses.
DO. NOT. DO. THAT.
Many of these animals are not properly cared for or, in the worst case, mistreated. Unfortunately, we observed an incident of animal mistreatment on our way back when a donkey got extremely hard hit with a stick by his owner.
So please, prioritize the well-being of these animals and choose alternative ways to explore the site, either by simply walking or taking a golf cart, available at the entrance.
11. Pack Extra Food & Water For The Animals
Unfortunately, Petra has a notable population of stray animals, including cats and dogs. You’ll most likely encounter many of them as they roam freely around the archaeological site.
Some local initiatives try their best to take care of the animals and bring them water and food, however, they heavily rely on the tourists’ kindness.
Packing pet-friendly food and water to share is not only a considerate gesture but also a way to contribute to the well-being of these animals
Initially, we didn’t bring extra food and water for the animals because we didn’t expect the situation to be that bad.
It was a super hot day and many of the stray animals seemed very thirsty (a heartbroken sight) so we bought additional water at the restaurant opposite the Monastery.
We poured the water into a plastic bowl provided by one of the employees and shared it with every animal we encountered on our journey back. The way they eagerly drank the water showed how extremely thirsty they were.
For me as a huge animal lover (I’m not vegan for no reason), it was very disturbing and sad to see the suffering cats and dogs that live in Petra.
12. Skip Petra by Night
Last but not least, the final tip I want to give you for visiting Petra in Jordan is to consider skipping the event “Petra by Night“.
Yes, you read that right: I suggest to SKIP it.
Why? Because – in my opinion – it’s just not worth it.
First of all, it is not covered by the Jordan Pass and requires an additional payment of around JOD 17 (around $24) per ticket.
Second, it is way overcrowded and not as quiet and magical as I read on some websites. Of course, I was kind of aware of that, but it was just 10 times worse than I thought it would be.
It’s quite surprising that there’s no limit to how many people can join each evening. So imagine hundreds, if not thousands of people in the narrow Siq or standing in front of the Treasury square.
The evening we went, it even got to the point where there was no more room and people took a seat amidst the candles, right in front of everyone else. Some even took the courage to go up to the Treasury and stand right in front of it.
In no time, the entire space got crowded and the once-prominent candles were nearly obscured.
In general, everything just felt extremely badly organized. It’s a real pity tho, because the whole thing could be done a bit differently. Think of limited tickets or not allowing people to sit among the candles.
So, save yourself the $24 and instead choose an early morning visit to truly have a serene and enchanting experience at the Treasury!
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Do you need more info for your trip to Petra or have other questions?
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Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!
Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.
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Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.
Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.