Julie Jordan 23 Comments

Petra is one of the most popular places to visit on the planet. Take a look at almost any traveler’s bucket list and Petra will be on it. Why? Because it really is amazing. But guess what. There is so much more to Petra than the Treasury, the iconic façade featured in every travel book and brochure about Petra.

Petra deserves two days to be seen properly. Yes, many people visit Petra on a day trip, spending only a few hours here, but they are missing a lot. To really experience Petra you need more time here.

We spent 24 hours in Petra, arriving in the morning. We spent the day seeing the best of Petra, and then we stayed the night in the town of Wadi Musa. The next morning we were the first ones back in Petra. By sleeping overnight in Wadi Musa, we were able to catch sunrise and sunset in Petra, the best times to be here. The lighting is awesome, the day trippers are gone, and if you are lucky, you could get the Treasury all to yourself.

Treasury Petra

We visited Jordan on a two day tour with Desert Eco Tours. We visited Petra with a guide, Mohammad. Normally, we are not huge fans of tours. In this case, having a guide was very worthwhile. Mohammad explained to us the importance of the sites as well as took us on a hike through Petra, giving us a view that most visitors never get to see. Yes, we loved seeing the Treasury, but the hike and the other side trips are what really made this visit phenomenal.

What is Petra?

Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans from roughly 300 BC to 100 AD. The Romans took over in 100 AD, then several earthquakes destroyed much of the city and Petra was abandoned. For centuries, Petra was left untouched, until it was discovered by a Swiss explorer in 1812. Petra became one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World” in 2007 and since then it has been making the bucket lists of travelers all over the world.

Best Things to Do in Petra

Stretching out in a line from the town of Wadi Musa, visitors enter the park and then follow the trail into the Siq, the legendary canyon where tourists get their first views of the Treasury. Continue the walk past the Treasury, visiting the Royal Tombs and Roman ruins. Those with enough time and enough energy can continue onto the Monastery, another monument that rivals the Treasury in its splendor. There are numerous other side trips and interesting things to see in Petra, as well as rides on camels and donkeys if you so desire.

Petra Map

Map of Petra, from Jordan Travels website.

Bab As-Siq

Every visitor’s journey starts at Bab As-Siq, the trail that runs from the ticket booth to the Siq. There are tombs and monuments to see along the way, such as the Obelisk Tomb.


The Siq is a gorge that was formed when tectonic forces broke the mountain into two pieces. It is a delight to walk through, a snaking path with rock walls towering high above your head. It is almost suspenseful…around every bend you expect to get that famous view of the Treasury.

Siq Petra

The Treasury

This is it, the view that draws so many visitors to Petra. Completely carved out of the sandstone mountains, the Treasury was built as a tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III. The Treasury is the highlight of Petra, but this is only really the start of a visit here. There is so much more to see.

Treasury View from Siq

The Treasury Petra

Street of Facades

From the Treasury, the journey continues. The path widens, taking visitors to a much more open area. Here are tombs and houses built into the sandstone mountains by the Nabataeans 2000 years ago.

Petra at Dusk is Beautiful

This is the view from the hiking trail to the High Place of Sacrifice.

Hike through Petra

Not far past the Treasury, Mohammad took us “off-road” to unmarked hiking trails. In no time we were hiking up and over the normal walking trails for some of the best views of the day.

From our highest vantage point we could look out over Petra towards the Roman ruins and the path to the Monastery. It was a short, somewhat strenuous hike, and worth it to leave the other visitors behind and get these unique views over Petra.

If you are interested in doing this, it is worth hiring a guide! The hiking trail was completely unmarked and almost impossible to follow if you didn’t know what to look for.

Hiking Petra

Overlooking Petra

Tombs on the hike

Goats in Petra

Petra Unique View

At the end of the trail, we descended back down in front of the Royal Tombs. It was here we met a lady cooking bread over a fire.

Making Bread

The Royal Tombs

Here lies a series of facades carved from the sandstone mountain, the tombs of Nabataean royalty.

Royal Tombs Petra

Cave Walls of Petra

These are the interior walls of the Urn Tomb, the most popular of the Royal Tombs.

The Colonnaded Street

The Colonnaded Street is the remains of the Romans who took control over Petra in 106 AD. Those Romans were masters at building, and their road still remains today, along with several columns lining the side of the road.

Colonnaded Street

The Great Temple

This Nabataean Temple was built in 100 BC and is the largest freestanding building in Petra.

Roman Ruins Petra

The Monastery (Al-Deir)

This you have to see. It is just as impressive as the Treasury. Good thing, because it requires quite a hike to get to it.

The hike to the Monastery has visitors climbing over 800 steps for a solid 20 minutes or more of hiking. It is an almost entirely uphill journey. Along the way visitors pass numerous stalls, worked by women, selling scarves, souvenirs, and jewelry.

Path to Monastery Petra

For Sale in Petra

For those not up to the hike, donkeys rides are an option, costing roughly 10 JD in one direction.

The Monastery is larger than the Treasury and just as well preserved. There is a small restaurant overlooking the Monastery, a great place to relax, grab a bite to eat or a cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, while enjoying the view.

Monastery Petra

Best View in Petra

From the teashop there were signs pointing us towards the “Best View in Petra.” Just out of curiosity, we had to see the best view. How can you beat seeing the Treasury from the Siq or the Monastery after a hot, tiring, uphill hike?

Best View in Petra

To get to the “Best View of Petra” required going on another short, uphill hike. Once at the top of a small mountain, this was our view. Now we were overlooking the Monastery and the nearby mountains. What do you think? Is this the best view of Petra?

Monastery Petra Best View

High Place of Sacrifice

Our hiking and climbing was not over yet. We walked back down the path from the Monastery, along the Colonnaded Street, past the Royal Tombs, and to the path to the High Place of Sacrifice. By now it was 4:30 pm. We were tired but we had one last thing to see.

This climb was a little shorter and a little easier than the path to the Monastery. Again, it was an uphill climb, this time the reward being a view over Petra from a different angle. And again it was worth it.

We are suckers for a good viewpoint, and from the High Place of Sacrifice we could see far out across Jordan.

High Place of Sacrifice Petra

Tim also loves freaking me out, standing on the edge of drop off to have his photo taken. And usually this requires me to find an almost equally unsafe vantage point to shoot the photo. This time we both made this pic…Tim looking out over Petra and my shadow at the bottom of the photo.

Dangerous View of Petra

Petra at Sunset

Petra closes around 6 pm. There does not seem to be an enforced closing time. At 5:30 pm there were no park guards ushering people towards the exit. Still, most people made their way to the exit on their own. Tim and I took this opportunity to spend as much time as possible in front of the Treasury while tourists filtered out of the park. Wait long enough and you can get photos of the Treasury without anyone else in them. And this is the advantage to spending the night in Wadi Musa…the chance to see Petra at sunset and sunrise.

Technically, we did not get to see Petra at sunset. We were here in April and the sun set past the 6 pm closing time. Still, to have the Treasury almost to ourselves in the fading light was still a fantastic experience.

Treasury Side View Petra

In front of Treasury Petra

This is the last of the visitors, camels, and horse drawn carts before closing time.


Julie Rivenbark Petra

Petra at Sunrise

The park opens roughly at 6 am. Again, there is no discreet time. It seems to change depending on the season and the mood of the person working the main gate. At 6:10 am, Tim and I re-entered Petra. The sun was already rising, just because of the time of the year, but our early start gave us 20 wonderful minutes in front of the Treasury all to ourselves. It really was an awesome experience. Of course we took more photos, but it was nice to grab a seat on one of the few picnic benches and just stare up at the Treasury.

Petra without people

Looking Up at Petra Treasury

Petra by Night

We missed this, unfortunately. Three nights a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 20:30) the Siq and the area around the Treasury are lit by 1500 candles. This is a unique way to see Petra and many describe it as “magical.” Tickets cost JD 17 and children under 12 years old are free.

Aaron’s Tomb

This is one of the holiest places in Petra, the tomb where Aaron, Moses’ brother, is buried. To get here it is a very strenuous, 6+ hour hike. Having a guide is strongly recommended. Most people come here for the amazing views. This is the highest point in the area, giving hikers a view of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time is needed?

At a minimum, 24 hours is needed to see Petra. Staying overnight allows visitors to catch sunset and sunrise. You will also be in Petra before and after the day trippers arrive. It is worth it to hike to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice. If you have time, hike to Aaron’s Tomb and spend some time in Wadi Musa.

We usually visit sites fast…we get in, see it, and get out. We are not ones to linger long. Petra was different. Do not underestimate how much there is to do here.

When is the best time to go to Petra?

Spring and Fall are the best times (March to May and September to November). Daytime temperatures are very pleasant. The winter can be bitterly cold at night and chilly during the day. During the summer months it can be unbearably hot.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Petra?

For one day in Petra the ticket price is 90 JD. For those staying overnight in a hotel, ticket prices are reduced: one day entry is 50 JD and two day entry is 55 JD. Children under 12 are free.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Petra Guest House in Wadi Musa. This is a three star hotel (although it seemed nicer than that!) operated by Crowne Plaza. It is the first hotel on your left as you exit the park, making it very convenient. In the hotel is a restaurant offering dinner and breakfast.

The best part of the hotel was the Cave Bar, the “oldest bar in the world.” Being 2000 years old, this once was a Nabataean tomb now converted into a bar. This is a great place to end the day.

Petra Cave Bar

Desert Eco Tours

We hired Desert Eco Tours to take us on a two day tour of Jordan. Our tour started on a Friday morning with a border crossing from Eilat to Aqaba. From Aqaba, we were driven two hours north to Petra. Mohammad, our guide for the day, spent several hours with us, explaining the history behind Petra and he took us on the amazing hike that we never would have known about on our own. After lunch, Mohammad left, leaving Tim and I to explore on our own. This is when we hiked to the Monastery and the High Place of Sacrifice.

We highly recommend Desert Eco Tours. Having a guide made our experience so much better. Plus, Desert Eco Tours took care of getting our Jordanian visas for the border crossing, booked our hotel in Wadi Musa, and the next day took us on a phenomenal hiking tour of Wadi Rum.

If you have any questions about things to do in Petra, let us know in the comment section below.

You Might Also Like:


Best Things Petra


Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 23

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing such helpful and useful information however, one cannot just say Israel. without mentioning Palestine. What you right next to Jordan is Palestine, Israel existed and became a part of it much later. When people travel the world and share their stories, they are also responsible for sharing the accurate history.


    1. Rosie, please tell me one King of Palestine, if what you say is true about Palestine existing before Israel. The first 3 Kings of Israel were Saul, David and Solomon. The first King of Israel where there is archeological evidence, i.e. proof and not just writings, is of David, who was King in approximately 1000 BCE. So please provide some evidence of your claim. Oh, and by the way, note that 2/3 of Palestine is….you guessed it…Jordan! (This is also proved). So I agree with you, when people travel they should know the history. That is, the correct history and not propaganda.

  2. Hi Julie, thanks for your reply and suggestions. After reading your article I’m thinking of booking a 1.5 day tour with Desert Eco Tours with pick up in Eilat early morning.. Do you remember how long it took to walk from the entrance to the Treasury and then from the Treasury to the Monastery? You mentioned your lie to the Monastery took 1.5hours round trip, was that from the Treasury or from the first step up? We are visiting in January and aware that sunset could be around 4.30pm (?). I think our tour ends with lunch, do you think that after lunch, we would have time to make a round trip to the Monastery and get back before sunset? Also I may consider taking a donkey to the Monastery as I have some arthritis in one of my feet. Thanks also for your Israel & Jordan itinerary.

    1. Post

      Hello Melissa. The 1.5 hours is from the steps. I think that you should have enough time after lunch to hike round trip to the Monastery. When we had lunch in Petra (part of the tour with Desert Eco), I think it was at the end of the Colonnaded Street, not far from the trail to the Monastery. With such an early sunset time in January, that’s great that you have a chance to catch the sunset. Should be wonderful! Cheers, Julie

    2. Please don’t take donkey or camel rides as it turns out these animals are horribly treated beaten and abused and they do not have sufficient food. For more information go to PETA….
      Or you can do research on your own about how the animals are treated in this region.
      I feel terribly guilty myself for being uneducated about the situation but at least I can pass on my knowledge to others.know. Their treatment is really horrific, I won’t go into details you can find out on your own, I hope you do and tell others. Thanks for listening to what I’m saying, I wish someone would’ve told me earlier. Safe travels, Robyn 🙏

  3. Hi Julie, I’m so glad I found your article online. It’s so informative.
    We will be spending 11 days in Israel in January 2020 and would like to include Petra, staying only 1 night. Do you have any thoughts about starting or ending our trip with Petra, as I’ve read how amazing Petra is. Would you recommend going direct (with no stops) from Jerusalem to Eilat and getting to Petra to join a night tour and then take a day tour the next day or would doing the day tour first be better and ending with a night tour, or would that be too much walking for a day? We may also hike to the Monastery, if time permits, how long is the round trip hike?
    Or perhaps flying from Tel Aviv to Eilat is a better option to save time in travel?
    Would love to receive your feedback. Thanks

    1. Post

      Hello Melissa. To get to Jordan, we flew from Tel Aviv to Eilat, hired a tour company for a private 2-day tour of Jordan (one day in Petra and one day in Wadi Rum). Then, we crossed back to Eilat, rented a car and drove to Masada and the Red Sea before ending in Tel Aviv to fly home. It was really amazing and highly recommend adding on Wadi Rum if you can. If you do it the same way, you get to see more of Israel on the road trip and the roads are very easy to drive. Take a look at our Israel Jordan itinerary for more details. If I remember correctly, the hike to the Monastery took us about 1.5 hours round trip. Cheers, Julie

  4. Greetings,

    I am writing to thank you for your website and your answer to my question above, from last August. I have just returned from an amazing trip to Jordan, which included a night and a day well spent inside Petra. It was an out of this world experience! Hiked the heck out of Petra. Started at 7:30 in the morning and ended at 4:30 in the afternoon.

    A hiking map for Petra is available at bucketlistly.blog. It will give your future readers a rough idea of what to expect, but no map or words can do justice to how magnificent one finds Petra in person. Please do visit bucketlistly.blog for more information.

    Again, thank you very much for your information and there is much more in Jordan to enjoy besides Petra. Keep that country on your bucketlist 🙂


    1. Post

      I am so glad you had a great time and thanks for writing back in! Yes, we love Jordan too…can’t wait to return again someday. Cheers, Julie

    1. Post

      In general, Visa and Mastercard is widely accepted. However, it’s always a good idea to have some local currency, especially for tipping and for smaller restaurants/shops that may not take credit cards. Cheers, Julie

  5. Hi Julie,

    How do you go about hiking up the mountain in Petra? I mean, where do you approach the trail? Is it close to the treasury? How much time is needed for a one way hike, at a normal pace? etc. etc.


    1. Post

      If you are referring to the hike that our guide took us on, I can’t explain it well enough to accurately guide you where the trailhead starts. And the trail is unmarked…he just knew where he was going. If you want to do this hike I’d recommend hiring a guide. And if you are referring to the lookout point over the Treasury that you see in photos, we were told that it’s not “legal” to hike on that trail, so we didn’t do it. I don’t know if that’s true but we didn’t want to break any rules. Cheers, Julie

      1. Hi Julie, can you tell me if I can rent the little buggy with the horse overthere and do you know how it works and how much it costs. Because of my condition some are telling me that I can go with that transportation. I am going in April and working now on my cruise shore excursions Thank you to help me

        1. Post

          Hello Johanne. I don’t exactly know how the horse and buggy works. I assume that it is easy to pay for one at the main entrance and ride it down to the Treasury (and then back up). You can inquire at your hotel. The staff should know more and should also be able to tell you the price. Cheers, Julie

  6. hi Julie
    Your article was an amazing read. My husband and I are planning a trip to Jordan, and we are looking forward to going to Petra. This sure is a good guide to our holiday and we are looking forward to the night sight seeing (though it sounds a bit scary). your pictures look amazing and im hoping i get some good clicks as well. cheers!!

    1. Post
  7. I wish I had read your article before I visited Petra, because it would be cleared all doubts and questions I would’ve had.

    To have the treasury “all to yourself” must have been quite a high.

    Petra by night is a surreal experience in itself. I saw it at night before seeing it in the day. Thousands of candles along the siq in the dead and black of night, people walking fast yet not wanting to be alone in that intimidating setting – and the the treasury revealing itself. Haunting music by live performances and pin drop silence otherwise. That imposing structure (or sculpture) dying to tell you stories of over two millennia. It’s worth every penny spent and did not disappoint my two years of planning.

    I do hope to visit Petra again.

    1. Post

      It sounds like you had a great experience seeing Petra at night. I wish we could have done this also, but we were here on one of those “off nights” when Petra by Night was not offered. Cheers, Julie

  8. What a great article, thank you for these valuable information, but let me correct something that you wrote about the tickets : Children under 12 years “NOT 15 ” are free of charge.

    For additional information please verify the details below :


    Sallah Faqeer – Head of Marketing at Petra Region Authority

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *