How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Petra

Going to Petra, Jordan? This guide will help you plan the perfect trip to Petra so you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Petra. Use our suggested itineraries to make sure you get the most out of your time at Petra!

Petra Jordan

About Petra Jordan

Petra is so much more than just the famous Treasury you always see! It was an entire ancient city with massive tombs and temples carved directly into pink sandstone cliffs. Approximately 10,000 people lived there in the 1st and 2nd century AD, when main monuments were first created. Petra is now considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

What can you see at Petra?

If you’ve never been to Petra before, it’s probably MUCH bigger than you imagined! In this post I’m going to show you all the main sites that you can see at Petra, Jordan. There is a “main path” you follow and I will show you all the sites in the order you will see them if you follow that path.

Hiking at Petra Jordan

There are also so many hikes you can do with amazing views over the entire ancient city of Petra. I will share a few of my favorite hikes with the best views of Petra, Jordan.

Suggested Itinerary for Petra Jordan

Finally, I will share suggested itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days in Petra to help you plan your trip and make sure you see everything Petra has to offer!

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan Site #1 — Obelisk Tomb

The Obelisk Tomb is the first main structure you will see on your way from the Petra Visitor’s Center to the entrance of the canyon.

You can see two doors, one on top and one on the bottom. It is believed that there are five people buried in the tomb up top, and the chamber below was used for holding banquets in honor of the dead.

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Petra Jordan Site #2 — The Siq

In Arabic, Siq means Canyon.

To get to the ancient city of Petra, Jordan you must first walk 1.5 miles (about 30 minutes) from the Visitor’s Center through a narrow, winding, slot canyon. The canyon is stunning! It is the first of many sites you will see at Petra that could be a tourist attraction all by itself.

The first glimpse of the Treasury through the narrow canyon walls is truly a magical experience.

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Petra Jordan Site #3 — The Treasury

The Treasury is the iconic symbol of Petra. It’s the first thing you see after you come out of the canyon. However in reality it was never actually used as a Treasury. It was more likely a temple or royal tomb.

Can you go inside the Treasury at Petra?

No, you can’t go inside the Treasury, but there’s nothing to see. It’s just an empty chamber. The Nabataeans, who carved the ancient city of Petra into the cliffs in the 1st century AD, were much more focused on the facade. There are other similar structures at Petra, Jordan that you can go inside if you want to see what it looks like.

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Standing in the doorway of the Treasury shows the massive scale of this towering temple

Tips for Visiting the Treasury at Petra Jordan

If you want to have the Treasury all to yourself, try to get there first thing in the morning (sunrise) or be there at the end of the day, right before closing. During the middle of the day it will be crowded with tourists and camels.

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Petra Jordan Site #4 — The Theatre

After viewing the Treasury, take the path to the right of the Treasury. On your left you will see a white trailer with bathrooms and the Why Not Cafe. On the right are the Royal Tombs. Then directly in front of you, on the left side of the path will be the Theatre.

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This massive rock theater was carved directly into the mountainside and could accommodate approximately 8,500 people. The architecture of the Petra Theater resembles Roman theaters and was designed to enhance acoustics.

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Petra Jordan Site #5 — The Royal Tombs

If you are looking at the Theatre, directly behind you are the Royal Tombs. The Royal Tombs are a row of multiple large tombs with impressive facades carved into the mountain.

Pictured above is just one of the tombs. There is a better picture of the full row of tombs further down in the post. You have an excellent view of the Royal Tombs from the Byzantine Church.

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Urn Tomb

This tomb was probably built around 70 AD for a prominent king. In 446 it was redesigned into a Byzantine church.

Go up a few flight of stone stairs to get a closer look at this tomb. You can go inside and see the large, empty chamber. This is probably very similar to what the Treasury looks like inside.

Petra Jordan Royal Tombs

Corinthian Tomb

The Corinthian Tomb is very ornate, similar to the Treasury and Monastery. Unfortunately it is also very eroded, possibly because it is much more exposed to the elements than the Treasury.

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Palace Tomb

This tomb is called the Palace Tomb because the facade looks like a palace. If you go inside you can see the graves carved into the walls!

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Inside the Royal Tombs

There are many other smaller tombs and caves in this area. You can wander inside and check them out. Be sure to look up at the ceilings and walls to see all the colors!

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Petra Jordan Site #6 — The Colonnaded Street

With your back to the Royal Tombs, and the Theatre on your left, directly in front of you will be the Colonnaded Street.

The Colonnaded Street was one of the main shopping streets of ancient Petra. It was the heart of the city, lined with markets and residential homes.

At the beginning of the street on the right side is a public fountain that provided water for the ancient Nabataeans. Throughout the city of Petra there are hundreds of underground water tanks. The ancient Nabataeans stored rainwater and piped water into the city. If you look closely as you explore Petra, you can see many pipes and channels that were used to bring water into Petra, Jordan.

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Petra Jordan Site #7 — The Great Temple

As you walk down the Colonnaded Street, on the left you will see the Great Temple.

The Great Temple is one of the largest archeological sites in Petra, Jordan. It is unsure if it was actually used a temple, or perhaps a senate hall for the Nabataean government.

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Ruins of a column at the Great Temple, with the Royal Tombs in the background

Definitely take some time to fully explore the temple. There’s a small theatre at the top. If you look around the outer walls, you can spot a pile of smooth, round stones, perhaps for use in a catapult for defense.

Keep an eye out for the well-preserved plaster on the walls. You can see the vibrant colors, still visible almost 2000 years later.

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan Site #8 — The Byzantine Church

On the right side of the Colonnaded Street, across from the Great Temple, is a path up to the Byzantine Church.

The Byzantine Church was built in 450 using ruins from Nabataean and Roman buildings that had been destroyed in an earthquake 100 years prior. Inside the church look for the remains of a baptismal tank.

The most impressive feature of the church are the two large mosaics aisles covering 750 square feet on each side of the church. The mosaics depict everything from everyday objects to exotic and mythological animals.

Also discovered inside the church was a room full of burnt scrolls, known as the Petra Scrolls.

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View from the Byzantine Church

It’s worth hiking up to the church just for the view. Here you have the best view of the Royal Tombs and the Great Temple.

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Petra Jordan Site #9 — Qasr al-Bint

At the end of the Colonnaded Street is the Temple of Qasr al-Bint.

Qasr al-Bint was the main temple of the ancient city of Petra, Jordan. The name means “Castle of the Pharaoh’s Daughter“. There was a large alter in front of the temple for offerings.

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Petra Jordan Site #10 — The Monastery

After the Qasr al-Bint, the Monastery is the last main site to visit at Petra.

The Monastery is one of the largest and most impressive monuments in Petra, Jordan. It is also the farthest from the main entrance and requires the most effort to reach. But the Monastery is incredible and should not be missed!!

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How to Get to the Monastery

The Monastery is approximately 1.5 hours walk from the main entrance of Petra, Jordan. That’s if you walk straight there and don’t stop and look at any of the other monuments along the way. The last 30 minutes of the walk (past the Qasr al-Bint) are 800 stone steps going up to the Monastery.

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After you reach the top, there is a cafe right in front of the Monastery where you can have a rest in the shade and take in this dramatic view.

When you’re ready to start walking again, there’s an even better view of the Monastery from an overlook behind the cafe.

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This is the stunning canyon you walk through on the way from the Qasr al-Bint to the the Monastery.


Hiking at Petra, Jordan

There are several hikes you can do at Petra with amazing overlooks of all the monuments. Keep reading below for our favorite hikes at Petra, Jordan.

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The Treasury Overlook

This first hike has the best views of all the main monuments: The Treasury, the Theatre, the Colonnaded Street, and the Great Temple.

It starts at the Royal Tombs. There is a path that goes right underneath the Palace Tomb (pictured above). With the tombs on your right, keep walking past the Palace Tomb.

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The path will do a U-turn around the mountain, and you will see stairs going up.

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Follow the stairs and you will reach an overlook of the Colonnaded Street, Great Temple, Byzantine Church, and Qasr al-Bint (pictured above).

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If you keep going you will come to a cafe with a great view of the Theatre surrounded by the mountains.

After this, the path levels off. The path is fairly well worn, but there are a few places where you have look for the trail.

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At the end of the trail is another cafe. From inside the cafe you have this view of the Treasury, pictured above.

The cafe requires that you buy something before they will let you in to see the view, so be sure to have 1-3 Jordanian dollars with you. If you don’t want to pay there are a few places nearby where you can scramble up the rocks for a view, but the cafe is definitely the easiest (and safest).

Petra Map Hiking Trails

Treasury Overlook — Trail Map

If you use Maps.me (a free app on your smartphone) you can use the map to follow the trail. You do not need internet to use the map, just be sure to download the map to your phone first when you have Wifi.

Trail Info:

Start: Palace Tomb (Royal Tombs)
End: Treasury Overlook
Distance: ~1 mile
Time: ~1 hour (one way)
What do you see: Overlook of Colonnaded Street, Great Temple, Theatre, and the Treasury

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Treasury Overlook 2 — The Instagram Photo

When you first arrive in Petra, Jordan, as you’re walking through The Siq, before you even reach the Treasury, the local Bedouins will come up to you and ask if you want to go to the Treasury Overlook.

They are talking about the overlook pictured above, the classic Petra “Instagram” photo.

The trail is a 10-15 minute scramble up the rocks, with a cafe at the top. To reach it, you need to negotiate with one of the guides to take you there. Then you will also need pay 1 Jordanian dollar (per person) to the cafe.

We negotiated 10 Jordanian dollars for the guide for 2 people, but hopefully you will have better negotiating skills than us! You don’t technically need a guide, but the trail is not super well marked, and there are so many Bedouins trying to take you there, I’m not 100% sure they would let you go on your own.

How to get to the Treasury Overlook 2?

If you want to try to go on your own, here’s how to get to the beginning of the trail: As soon as you come out of the canyon, with the Treasury in front of you, turn left and walk past the cafe. Just beyond the cafe is a path up the rocks. There are tons of people going to the overlook, so just watch where they go and you can follow them.

Petra Map -- Treasury Overlook

Treasury Overlook 2 — Trail Map

Again, you can use the Maps.me app on your phone to find and follow the trail to the Treasury Overlook.

Trail Info:

Start: The Treasury
End: Treasury Overlook 2
Distance: 0.2 mile
Time: 10-15 minutes (one way)
What do you see: Instagram view of the Treasury

Petra Jordan

The High Place of Sacrifice

The official trail to the High Place of Sacrifice starts at the Why Not Cafe, near the Theatre. From the cafe, it is 700 stone steps up to the High Place of Sacrifice. You do not need a guide, the trail is well worn and well marked.

Pictured above you can see the altar where the sacrifices were performed.

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View from the High Place of Sacrifice

From the High Place of Sacrifice you have a view of the Royal Tombs, pictured above.

Petra Jordan

The High Place of Sacrifice — The Back Way

If climbing 700 steps up to the High Place of Sacrifice doesn’t sound appealing to you, there’s another option.

The benefit to hiring a guide to take you to the “popular” Treasury Overlook is that you can then negotiate with him to take you on to the High Place of Sacrifice. From the Treasury Overlook it’s much easier to reach the High Place of Sacrifice rather than climbing up all those steps!

There’s a trail through the mountains from the Treasury Overlook to the High Place of Sacrifice with many scenic overlooks along the way. It only takes about 45 minutes to get there.

As we were coming down the steps from the High Place of Sacrifice and watching everyone struggle to climb up, I was so glad we took the back way!

Petra Map -- Hiking Trail -- Back Way to High Place of Sacrifice

Back Way to High Place of Sacrifice — Trail Map

Again, you don’t technically need a guide to go the back way to the High Place of Sacrifice. The trail is fairly well worn, and if you have the Maps.me app you can follow the trail on the app. You don’t need Wifi or an internet connection to use the map if you download it to your phone first.

Trail Info:

Start: Treasury Overlook 2
End: High Place of Sacrifice
Distance: 1 mile
Time: ~45 minutes
What do you see: High Place of Sacrifice, Overlook of Royal Tombs, Beautiful views of the valley along the way

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Little Petra to the Monastery Hike

There’s also a back way to the Monastery, if you don’t want to climb all those steps! It’s also called the Back Door to Petra.

The trail starts at Little Petra. From there it’s about a 5 mile hike on a mostly flat path through the valley to the Monastery. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours.

The benefit of doing the Little Petra hike is that you don’t have to go the same way twice. If you climb up the stairs to the Monastery, you have to go back down also.

Petra Map -- Little Petra Hike to Monastery

Little Petra Hike — Trail Map

You definitely MUST download the map on the Maps.me app or you will get lost in the desert! The path is well worn, but there are multiple paths and they are NOT marked. Follow the trail on Maps.me to make sure you are taking the right path! If you are concerned at all, you can hire a guide to take you.

Trail Info:

Start: Little Petra
End: The Monastery
Distance: ~5 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
What do you see: Little Petra, The Monastery, views of the valley along the hike


Petra Jordan

Petra by Night

Petra By Night is a magical way to complete your Petra, Jordan experience. The entire Siq to the Treasury is illuminated with over 1,500 candles. After walking through the candlelit canyon, you arrive at the Treasury, where there is traditional music, a light show, and Bedouin tea served.

Petra Jordan

Petra by Night requires a separate ticket and is only available on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

If you want to experience Petra by Night, be sure to plan your trip around one of these days.


Suggested Itineraries for Petra, Jordan

If you’re wondering how to fit it all in, here are our suggested itineraries for 1, 2, or 3 days at Petra, Jordan.

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Petra Jordan Itinerary — One Day

Get ready for a long, busy day with lots of walking! You will see all of the main sites mentioned in this post, but skip some of the hikes.

  • Start at the Visitor’s Center at sunrise, 6 AM
  • Walk through the Siq
  • Find a guide to take you up to the Treasury Overlook 2
  • Continue to the High Place of Sacrifice
  • Take the stairs down
  • See the Theatre and Royal Tombs
  • Walk down the Colonnaded Street
  • Explore the Great Temple
  • Walk up to the Byzantine Church and take in the views of the Great Temple and Royal Tombs
  • Walk past the Qasr al-Bint and take the steps up to the Monastery
  • Take the steps back down and head back to the Visitor’s Center
  • Return at 8:30 PM for Petra by Night

Petra Jordan

Petra Jordan Itinerary — Two Days

You will see all the main sites mentioned in this post, and also have time for all three hikes if you wish. Plan to do Petra by Night on one of these days

Day 1:

  • Start at the Visitor’s Center at sunrise, 6 AM
  • Walk through the Siq
  • See the Treasury
  • See the Theatre and explore the Royal Tombs
  • Hike up to the Treasury Overlook from the Palace Tomb
  • Come back down
  • Find a guide to take you up to the Treasury Overlook 2
  • Continue to the High Place of Sacrifice
  • Take the stairs down
  • Exit to the Visitor’s Center through the Siq

Day 2:

  • Start at Little Petra at sunrise, 6 AM
  • See Little Petra
  • Hike from Little Petra to the Monastery
  • Take the stairs down to the Qasr al-Bint
  • Take the path up to the Byzantine church and take in the view of the Royal Tombs and Great Temple
  • Explore the Great Temple
  • Walk down the Colonnaded Street
  • Arrive at the Theatre, from here you can exit to the Visitor’s Center through the Siq

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Petra Jordan Itinerary — Three Days

The Three Day Itinerary is a more relaxed version of the Two Day Itinerary. You will see all of the main sites mentioned in this post, and also have time for all three hikes. Plan to do Petra by Night on one of these days, we recommend Day 2.

Day 1:

  • Start at the Visitor’s Center at sunrise, 6 AM
  • Walk through the Siq
  • See the Treasury
  • See the Theatre and explore the Royal Tombs
  • Hike up to the Treasury Overlook from the Palace Tomb
  • Come back down and exit through the Siq

Day 2:

  • Take a bit of an easier day, start at the Visitor’s Center at 9 AM
  • Walk through the Siq, arrive to the Treasury
  • Find a guide to take you up to the Treasury Overlook 2
  • Continue to the High Place of Sacrifice
  • Take the stairs down
  • Sit at the cafe in front of the Treasury and people watch
  • Exit to the Visitor’s Center through the Siq
  • Recommended to do Petra by Night tonight if possible.

Day 3:

  • Start at Little Petra at sunrise, 6 AM
  • See Little Petra
  • Hike from Little Petra to the Monastery
  • Take the stairs down to the Qasr al-Bint
  • Explore the Great Temple
  • Take the path up to the Byzantine church and take in the view of the Royal Tombs and Great Temple
  • Walk down the Colonnaded Street
  • Arrive at the Theatre, from here you can exit to the Visitor’s Center through the Siq

Tips for Visiting Petra, Jordan

Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect trip to Petra!

Petra Jordan
View from the steps to the High Place of Sacrifice

Get the Jordan Pass

The Jordan Pass is your Tourist Visa to enter Jordan and also gives you entry to over 40 attractions in Jordan, including Petra. It’s the easiest, most economical way to visit Jordan. There are options for 1, 2, or 3 days at Petra.

Buy the Jordan Pass online before you get to Jordan from their official website.

You can print it out or show it on your phone. Have it ready to show at the airport when you land in Jordan.

Bring Your Passport

You need to show your passport along with your Jordan Pass. Usually one passport per group is sufficient. At least have a picture of your passport on your phone in case you forget your passport. Everywhere we went in Jordan they accepted the picture of my passport on my phone so I didn’t have to carry my passport with me.

Be prepared for the long walk into Petra

Summer in Jordan is very hot during the middle of the day. We planned on going to Petra in the morning, relaxing at the hotel in the hot middle part of the day, then going back in the afternoon. But because of the 1.5 mile walk into Petra, that wasn’t really feasible. Plan for at least a 30 minute walk from the Main Entrance at the Petra Visitor’s Center to the Treasury, the first main site at Petra, Jordan.

Go in the off season

If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Jordan is in the off season. Jordan’s peak season is in the spring, from March to May and in the fall, from September to November.

We went in June, and it was not too crowded, but it was very hot.

If you go during the peak season be sure to book hotels well in advance and expect prices to be higher.

Bring water, snacks, and cash

Bring as much water as you can carry, snacks, and maybe even a picnic lunch. There are many nice places in Petra to stop for a picnic lunch with a great view. There are many, many cafes all over Petra, Jordan that sell water and snacks, but I didn’t see too many “real food” options. Be sure to have cash for the cafes.

Wear sunscreen and good walking shoes

You will likely be walking on dirt and rocks all day, so wear good, comfortable walking shoes. There are not too many places to escape the sun at Petra, so be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen, and bring some with you to re-apply during the day.


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Petra Jordan Hotels

If you are looking for the best hotel in Petra Jordan, I highly recommend the Petra Marriott Hotel. It is without a doubt one of the nicest hotels in Petra. The rooms are clean and spacious with all the modern amenities.

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View from our room at the Petra Marriott Hotel

The staff is extremely helpful and professional. They went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed or wanted.

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The hotel is surrounded by the Petra mountains. The panoramic views are absolutely stunning.

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Whatever you do, don’t miss the Bedouin Tent dinner. It’s an incredible opportunity to experience authentic Bedouin culture and cuisine.

Zarb is a style of traditional Bedouin cooking. Zarb is cooked in a cast iron pot buried underground, in the hot desert sand, with hot coals on top and bottom. Chicken and lamb are placed on an upper grill inside the pot and the drippings flavor the rice below. It is literally some of the best rice I have ever had in my entire life. It’s served with a table full of traditional Arabic appetizers and bread. You will not leave hungry!

It’s such a unique experience you definitely shouldn’t miss in Jordan!

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Plus you get to sit outside by the fire with the most incredible mountain sunset view for dinner.

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The Bedouin Tent is only open during the summer, from May through September.


Questions about Petra Jordan?

Have you been to Petra? Did I miss any of the best things to do in Petra? Do you have any tips for visiting Petra? Let me know in the comments!

If you have any questions about visiting Petra Jordan, please let me know in the comments! I’m happy to try to help in any way.


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