1 Day in Petra (Jordan) – truly magical world wonder

1 Day in Petra (Jordan) – truly magical world wonder

Long story short – Petra is magical. It was one of the most beautiful historical places we have visited. It would have been even more magical without ever-present hawkers but that’s part of the experience, I guess. There are many ways to explore this beautiful area and this was ours.

Our day in Petra

  • 8.5 hours
  • 29,000 steps
  • 20,97 km walked

We stayed at Petra Heart Hotel, a cute family-run hotel in the middle of Wadi Musa. We woke up very early in the morning (I never thought Anna would agree to set her alarm at 6 AM!) to reach Petra as soon as we can – and it was absolutely worth it! The hotel was obviously petra-tourists-ready as it is not usual for breakfasts to start at 6 AM and they even mentioned they can give us a lunch box if we want to leave earlier! We arrived at the main gate (Petra Visitor’s center) around 7 am, purchased a daily ticket (50 JD / person – they have discounts for some friendly nationalities – Czech Republic is not one of them 🙁 ) and went straight in.

Intermezzo: Jordan Pass is an easy way to save money on entrance fees
If you’re planning to spend a minimum of 3 nights in Jordan and planning to visit Petra, it’s worth getting yourself the Jordan Pass. For 70 JD (99 USD) you get free visa (we paid 40 JD per person) + 1 day entrance to Petra (we paid 50 JD per person) + free access to another 40 attractions (including Wadi Rum, Jerrash and others).

Important thing: get yourself ready that the whole time in Petra, you’re going to be bothered by locals trying to sell you something (the average frequency in the first part is around 1 irresistible offer per minute) – horse ride, donkey ride, camel ride, photo with camel, tea, “guided tour”, or I don’t know what else. They will make up stories, distances, and whatever they can just to make you buy their stuff. The good thing is – you don’t need any of that to enjoy Petra, quite the opposite.

Petra Entrance
Entrance to Petra. You can see the remains of the old gate on both sides of the rock.

Al Siq

We were extremely lucky (to travel during covid and wake up early) as there was literally no one! It took around 10 minutes from the visitor center to reach Al-Siq (narrow channel in between rocks) which is truly magical if you’re alone there. Make sure you don’t miss the sculptures of camel caravans in the rock around midway through Al-Siq.


The Treasury

In around 10 minutes, you’ll reach the instafamous spot – The Treasury (which actually is not a treasury but a tomb of one of Nabataeans kings). Enjoy the beautiful moment when it starts appearing in between the rocks before it gets highjacked by the local “guides”. Instead of enjoying one of the most beautiful buildings you can see here, you’ll get to rid of all the offers first. They will try to get you for some walking tours or hikes to get a better picture. Trust me, you can get a way better picture by yourself if you walk up to the Monastery. But if you can’t resist, make sure you bargain them down to 5 JD. Anything more is a rip-off.

Treasury in Petra
I’m still surprised we didn’t pay anything for this picture
Treasury in Petra
It wasn’t easy but we managed to get some pictures on our own!


Royal Tombs

After The Treasury, we passed some souvenir shops and turned right towards the Royal Tombs (green line on the map above). It is a little trail that takes you away from the main road and we absolutely loved it! Not only you can see many tombs from inside here but on top, you’ll get a great view of the amphitheater and other ruins around the main road.

The Monastery

From the Royal Tombs, we went to the Winged Lion Temple and back to the main road – that’s where it actually ends which you will know by the presence of other donkey guides trying to explain to you that you definitely can not walk to the Monastery by yourself. We heard anything from 2-3 hours and that the donkey can make it in 20. It took us around 30 minutes all the way up and it is around 800 steps up Jebel Al Dair (there’s no climbing involved). So again – no donkey needed and again – it’s super worth it. The views are stunning and the Al-Dair tomb is as beautiful as the treasury. There are many viewpoints on the top, just walk around and go a bit higher. When we were there, only the big coffee shop near Al Dair was open but they served surprisingly good sandwiches, snacks, juices, etc. for OK prices.


High Place of Sacrifice

If you’d feel you had enough after the Monastery, you can go back to the visitor center by the main road – it would take probably around 45 minutes. We headed toward the Wadi Al Farasa trail to the High Place of Sacrifice (blue line on the map above). The trail goes on the other side than the Monastery, you should easily find its start behind Qasr Al-Bint.

The pathway will lead you through a beautiful valley before it starts climbing slowly up. On the way, you will meet many open tombs, some of them a bit scary. 🙂 After the Garden Temple complex, a small stairway takes you all the way up to the High Place of Sacrifice. As the name suggests, it’s a well-preserved place for sacrifice rituals on top of the mountain. If you continue walking, you’ll get rewarded with beautiful views of the Royal Tombs and other parts of Petra around the main road. From there, we just walked down and headed slowly back to the visitor center.


Some frequent questions about Petra

How much time do I need for Petra?

We spent a whole day here (around 8 hours). We saw everything we wanted to see with no rush, lots of pictures, and 2 coffee (or beer) breaks. There are definitely more trails you can do, museums to see so I can imagine spending there one extra day but we didn’t find it necessary.

What to wear to Petra?

Unless you decide to use golf carts, camels, or donkeys, you will walk a lot. Since we went early morning (in early December), it was quite cold – thus the jackets. You will definitely take them down on the way up to the Monastery 🙂  You will be walking a whole day, especially the trail to the Monastery or High place of sacrifice needs solid shoes as it gets very narrow or slippery sometimes (but as you can see, we – again – hiked in our running shoes).

What to eat or drink in Petra

There are plenty of coffee shops (tea shops to be more accurate) alongside the main route as well as on the way to The Monastery. It’s easy to buy water or find toilets near them. We carried a few protein bars and fruits as snacks and had a small sandwich in the As Deir Restaurant in front of Al-Dair. There’s also The Basin Restaurant at the end of the main road offering lunch – if I remember well, it was around 25 JOD for an all-you-can-eat buffet. We went for a late lunch on the way back to the hotel to Palm Court Restaurant.


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