How to spend 48 hours in Petra

How to spend 48 hours in Petra

If anyone asks us “What’s the most special place you have ever visited during your travels?” Without thinking we would say Petra. For us, it’s by far the most special, stunning, interesting, and mysterious place we have ever visited. 

The lost Nabatean City of Petra with tombs carved out of sandstone cliffs is a world wonder. It lay forgotten for centuries, known only to the Bedouin who made it their home until Swiss explorer Jean-Louis Burckhardt rediscovered it in 1812.  

Petra was partly built to honor the dead but remains still a mystery due to its location in the heart of a wind-eroded landscape.

We explored Petra by hiking from dusk till dawn, which was amazing. If you have a lot of time we recommend you to stay 4 days in Petra to explore the whole Ancient City and take time to relax after the long hikes.

In this post, we will share our 2-day itinerary to explore this amazing world wonder. We recommend you to buy the Jordan Explorer pass; it includes a two-day entrance to Petra and various other attractions.

Wadi Musa

The town around Petra is called Wadi Musa (Valley of Mozes). It’s a little town full of hotels, restaurants, and shops. We stayed in the Family House hostel, we recommend this hostel to everyone that doesn’t need luxury. It was very cheap and only a 15 minute walk to the Visitors Center.

Day 1

Visitors Center 

Start your day at the Visitors Center. We recommend you to go as early as possible, we were there at 6 am when the park opened and were not alone. Around 8 am it gets really busy. 

Just know that even when you have the Jordan pass you have to go to the ticket counter to grab your entrance tickets. Here you can get maps and also arrange an official guide if you like. We explored Petra without a guide and for us, it was very doable.

Bab El Siq Path 

Continue your way downhill to the Siq. On the way, you can see the Djinn blocks and the Obelisk Tomb. The Djinn Blocks or God Blocks were built by the Nabateans in the 1st century AD, little is known why they were built and wherefore. The Obelisk Tomb is a tomb with four pyramidal obelisks, built as funerary symbols by the Nabateans in the 1st century BC. The four obelisks, together with the eroded human figure in the center, represent the five people buried in the tomb.

You will be approached by locals who will offer you a horse, donkey, and camel ride. We don’t recommend taking any of these rides. Most of the animals are mistreated. If you really want to do it negotiate the price before accepting the ride.

The siq

The Siq is the main entrance to the ancient Nabatean City of Petra. The Siq with its 200m high walls is not a canyon, but a single block that has been rent apart by tectonic forces. The original channels cut into the walls to bring water into Petra are still visible. Don’t miss the carving of a camel and caravan on the left wall. 

The Treasury

The Treasury or Al Khazneh is a tomb carved out of sandstone. The treasury derives its name from the story that an Egyptian Pharaoh hid his treasure in the facade urn while pursuing the Israelites. Some locals believed the tale because the urn shows some bullet holes.

Although the original function is still a mystery. Some archaeologists believed it to be a temple, others thought it was a place to store documents. The most recent excavations here have unearthed a graveyard beneath it.

You can climb the stone stairs to your right to get a better view of the Treasury. This viewpoint was a bit too crowded for us but don’t worry there is another trail with an even better view which we tell you about later.

Street of Facades

The walk from the Treasury to the center of Petra leads first through the narrow Outer Siq. Where the gorge widens, high tomb facades carved out of the rock on the left side stand next to each other like a row of houses, that’s why this part is called the Street of Facades. 

High Place of Sacrifice

The High Place of Sacrifice is one of the highest accessible points in Petra. The altar area served as the venue for religious ceremonies. Here took animal sacrifices place and maybe humans as well. Historians are not sure about this. All of the sacrifices were dedicated to the Nabatean Gods Dushara and Al’Uzza.

You can reach the High Place of Sacrifice by going up the stairs beside the only souvenir shop before the Street of Facades. The hike to the top will take more or less 50 minutes. The steps are well maintained and the views from the top are breathtaking.

Wadi Farasa

Walk your way back to Petra’s City Center through a less-visited part, this will take you around 2 hours. Ask for directions at the drink stands. This hike will reward you with magnificent rock formations and gardens. You will pass by the Lion Monument. The monument looks like a lion carved into the wall. This may have been a drinking fountain, it looks like water was channeled to pour out of the lion’s mouth from the rock face above, a perfect example of Nabatean engineering. The fountain was probably used by devotees on their way up to the High Place of Sacrifice.

Continue your way down by taking the stairs behind the Lion Monument. These stairs will bring you down to the Garden Tomb which is the remains of a temple and a giant water cistern. A little further down on the left, you will find the Roman Soldier’s Tomb named after the statue above the door. Almost opposite is the Garden Triclinium a hall used for annual feasts to honor the death placed in the soldier’s tomb. The hall is unique in Petra because it has carved decoration on the interior walls. The tomb and triclinium were once linked by a colonnaded courtyard. 

Continue till the path forks, take right. This path will lead you past some colorful tombs. Follow this path until you arrive at the Colonnaded Street. The Colonnaded Street marks the center of the Ancient City. The street was built around AD 106 and follows the standard Roman pattern. There are a lot of interesting things to see around this street but those are for the second day. 

This is the perfect place to take a break, you can buy fresh juices en snacks in one of the little shops. We had our own picnic with us that we bought the day before in one of the supermarkets in Wadi Musa. 

Al Khutbah Trail – Treasury Viewpoint

This trail will take about 2 hours return and is off the main road. Ask for directions to get to the start point at one of the many souvenir stands. This trail involves a lot of climbing steps, not all of the steps are in great condition. You will be rewarded with stunning views of the Theatre. The theatre was built by the Nabateans more than 2000 years ago and can hold about 8500 people.

On the way, you will pass a lot of Bedouin-style tents where you can buy drinks and ask for further directions to get to the Treasury viewpoint.

Continue your way to the Treasury viewpoint by following the marked signs. To get there you will have to do some effort because there is no real path that leads to it. You will have to climb rocks and ask for help from the Bedouins.

We arrived at the viewpoint because of the help of a very friendly Bedouin who lead us to the right place. To enjoy the view of the Treasury you have to go inside a tent where you have to buy a drink. We had some tea and enjoyed the magical view. We loved to see how the colors of the rocks were changing and could sit there for hours.

Walk back to Wadi Musa after enjoying this amazing view to have some dinner in one of the restaurants.   

Day 2

Little Petra to Petra Trail

Enjoy some good breakfast and arrange a Uber to bring you to Little Petra. You will start the day by visiting Little Petra and walk your way through the backdoor to Petra.

It was only a 10-minute drive from our hostel to Little Petra. We arrived there around 8 am. Again we did everything without a guide, but if you need one you can find official guides at the entrance.

Little Petra

Little Petra is one of the first settled villages in human history. Today you can see the remains of houses and walls. At the Beidha Neolithic site, you can view scientific reconstructions of what the Neolithic dwellings may have looked like.

After visiting, you can go to the start point of the trail. The trail starts at the left of the car park, behind the souvenir shops. From here the path goes out into the desert. You will pass some bedouin tents. The path will take you through mountains to Petra’s Monastery. This trail involves climbing and walking in a hot open area. After 2 hours you will get your first glimpse of the Monastery, this view blew us away. Again we asked for directions to the lovely Bedouins we passed on the way because it’s easy to walk in the wrong direction. 

The Monastery

The Monastery is hidden high in the hills of Petra. It’s similar in design to the Treasury but far bigger. It derives its name from the crosses carved on the inside walls, suggestive of its use as a church in Byzantine times. Here we took a break and admired the Monastery from the teashop in front of it.

Back down to Petra

Continue by going down the 800 stairs that will lead you to the city center of Petra. Along the stairs, you will see a lot of souvenir stands and you will be approached by locals who offer you a ride down on a donkey. Please don’t do this, these donkeys are mistreated and you will enjoy more by walking.

Once down you arrived in the Basin Area. This area houses two restaurants. Once you pass by these two restaurants you will see Qasr Al Bint at your right-hand side. Qasr Al Bint was a temple that was built as a dedication to the Nabataean Gods and was one of the most important temples in Petra.

Walkthrough the Temenos Gate and now you will find yourself on the Colonnaded Street where you passed by yesterday. At your right, you can see the remains of the Great Temple. On the left, you see the remains of the Temple of the Winged Lions and Petra’s church. 

Main Road

After passing the Colonnaded Street you will find yourself on the main road from where you have a great view of the Royal Tombs. 

To reach the Royal Tombs you will have to climb the stairs near the Theatre. The tombs worth visiting in our opinion are the Urn Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb, Palace Tomb, and Sextius Florentinus Tomb. 

After visiting the Royal Tombs you can walk back to the Visitors Center this takes around 40 minutes. On the way back you pass the Street of Facades, the Treasury and the Siq. This is the best time to take pictures of the Treasury because it’s less crowded in the afternoon

We recommend you to have dinner at The Cave Bar. You will find the Cave Bar next to the Visitors Centre. In our opinion, it’s almost a crime to visit Petra and miss the oldest bar in the world (2000 years old).

Petra by Night

If you want to see the Siq and Treasury by moonlight you can go by Petra by Night. The Siq and Treasury will be lit by hundreds of candles. You can sit in front of the Treasury where they will serve you tea and can listen to traditional Bedouin storytelling and music.

The entrance for Petra by Night is not included in your 2-day entrance pass, it will cost you 17 JD.

If you want to do it, just take in mind that it’s only on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

For us, it was amazing to see the Siq and Treasury at night. But it was too crowded and we didn’t like the storytelling.

Visiting Petra was so much more than we thought it would be. We are still obsessed with it! We hope that this post will help you during your visit to Petra.

Let us know what you think of this post in the comment section below.

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3 Comments

  1. Martine
    March 28, 2020 / 7:11 pm

    Prachtige foto’s echt wow 😲

  2. Sahar
    March 28, 2020 / 8:45 pm

    Damn by just reading all that, I really to travel and visit Petra! Y’all described it so well. Love the work, keep it up👽

  3. Justine
    March 28, 2020 / 10:44 pm

    wow guys! Really loved reading this post. Jordan is on our bucketlist. We can’t wait to visit it. Stay safe!

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