Visiting Petra on your own for the first time, useful tips

Who I am
Aina Martin
@ainamartin
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Defined as one of the 7 wonders of the modern world and almost always among the top 10 destinations in the rankings of things to see at least once in a lifetime, visit Petra it always remains one of the greatest dreams of every traveler.

Unlike many other destinations in the world, visit Petra on your own it is quite simple, with fairly frequent air connections, moreover it is a safe country where you can safely rent a car, the people are extremely kind and the wide choice of accommodation facilities is able to satisfy any request, from the backpacker who wants to travel low cost for those who prefer to indulge in a luxurious resort.



Update! For those looking for a guide in English: Atef: 00962 795181278

Visit Petra: the Treasury

Although even among the tour operators the proposals to visit Petra are wasted, every day offers for all tastes, the pink city remains an easy destination to visit even for independent travelers.

ATTENTION: Always take out travel insurance.

We went DIY and in this article you will find some tips after my first visit to Petra: what hotel to stay in, where to eat, how to get there and when to go.

  • Where to sleep in Petra
  • How to get to Petra (from Amman and Jerusalem)
  • How much does it cost to visit Petra
  • When to visit Petra
  • Petra by night
  • Where to drink and where to eat in Petra
  • How to dress and what to bring to visit Petra
  • 1 day tour itinerary

Where to sleep in Petra

The village of Wadi Musa it arose in the area surrounding the city of Petra simply as a function of tourism, so the choice of hostels, guest houses and hotels of all categories is really wide.



There are three very beautiful hotels immediately at the entrance to the archaeological site and close to the Visitors Center: the Petra Guest House with its Cave Bar, a bar housed in a Nabataean house from the 1st century AD, the Crowne Plaza (which also has a nice pool) and the Movenpick (which also has an ATM inside the hall from which you can withdraw).

Other hotels follow one after the other and if you have a car there are very nice hotels on the top of the hill from which you can enjoy beautiful views from the top of Petra.

How to get to Petra

To get to Petra da amman there are mainly 3 streets. The freeway, called Desert Highway, on which also public transport passes, the Kings Road, certainly the most scenic but only accessible by rental car or driver, and the road that runs alongside the Dead Sea.

arrive at the archaeological site of PetraUnless you are staying in a hotel from which you can walk, some hotels organize shuttle services. Alternatively, if you do not want to be forced to have fixed timetables, taxis are very convenient and do not cost much (about 2 or 3 JD from the center of Wadi Musa to the entrance of the site).

If you are with a car, there is a parking space in front of the Petra Moon Hotel, near the station where the JETT bus, which operate a regular service between Petra and Amman (JETT Bus leaves from Abdali station in Amman at 6.30am and arrives in Petra around 10.30am).



If you travel by public transport, find out about the timetables.

Monastery

The most efficient way to visit Petra from Jerusalem, is undoubtedly to take part in an organized tour: it is perhaps more expensive (but it is worthwhile if you are traveling alone), but it's the easiest and fastest way.

There are several to choose from with varying lengths. In my opinion, spending more than 2 nights in Petra is not necessary. Taking a full-day tour, on the other hand, could be too tiring.

Below I will put you 2 sample tours, but there are many others you can choose from:

  • 2 days tour from Jerusalem with a visit to Petra, Jerash and Amman
  • 3 days tour from Jerusalem with Petra and Wadi Rum

If, on the other hand, you decide to get to Petra from Jerusalem do it yourself, you can do it either by bus or by rental car (I always recommend compare the prices of car rental companies on Rentalcars.com)

By bus: The best choice to get to Petra by bus from Jerusalem is to get to Petra first Eilat since there are regular buses between the two cities. From Eilat you cross the border into Jordan and from there the best choice is to take a taxi.

With rental car: there are 3 border crossings between Israel and Jordan. The Jordan River pass (Sheikh Hussein) in the north, the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge in the central area and the Terminal Yitzhak Rabin (Wadi Araba) in the south.



Please note: that each of these has different rules. For example, in Allenby they do not issue a visa at the border (so you have to get it first), while at the Sheikh Hussein crossing point it can be obtained, but the crossing is not open every day.

PRO tip (2019 Update)

If you pass by Allenby Bridge, unlike Eilat, you need a visa, you can't do it there. There is indeed a way around this, and that is to buy the Jordan Pass, which in addition to allowing you to enter without a visa also gives you access to a lot of attractions.

See here what the Jordan Pass includes.

How much does it cost to visit Petra

The ticket to visit Petra is quite expensive, but if you decide to spend a couple of days then it becomes cheaper since the ticket to visit the site for one day is currently 50 JD, while for two it is 55JD. Little petra it's free, but to get there you have to take a taxi (15 JD), Petra by Night instead it is a separate ticket and costs 17 JD.

Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor's Center: they do not accept ATMs and therefore you have to pay cash, plus they will ask you for your passport and the name of the hotel where you are staying.

When to visit Petra

The best times of the year to visit Petra are spring and autumn when the temperatures are milder: we went in late June and the temperatures were already very high, around 40 ° C, but thankfully it was windy so the cool breeze made us feel less heat. The very high temperatures make it difficult and tiring visit Petra in August because there are long and exhausting climbs to face.

The ticket office is practically always open, from 6 in the morning until 18 in the evening in summer while in winter it closes at 16. The closing time of the archaeological site also changes according to the time of year, but always around the hour. of sunset.

The best times of the day to visit Petra are early in the morning before the invasions of tourists from organized trips begin to arrive and at sunset when the sun's rays caress the red sandstone making it soft as if it were living. The Treasure at that hour leaves you breathless for its beauty.

Petra by Night

Petra by night (credit Nick&Margherita www.thecrowdedplanet.com)

The show is not to be missed Petra by Night, for which you pay a separate ticket (17JD) but which is absolutely worth it. Try to plan your visiting days in advance because Petra by Night is not held every day, but only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The show is very engaging, we meet at the entrance of the site around 20,30 pm and at 22 pm we are back.

Beware that times and days can change: always check from OFFICIAL SITE the most up-to-date information!

When you arrive in front of the Treasury, illuminated only by the light of hundreds of candles, your breath takes your breath away: you sit in silence, until the notes of the flute fill the space around you. During the show it is also told how life must have been at the time of the Nabataeans and the attempt is to recreate the atmosphere in a certain sense.

A tip: despite the 1800 candles, the way through the as up to the Treasury it can be very dark at times and in some places the path is bumpy. If you don't have a smartphone with a flashlight then it's better to get one: you will spoil the atmosphere a little and maybe some other tourist will ask annoyed to turn it off, but a little argument is always better than breaking an ankle stumbling in the dark.

Last precaution: if you can eat something first because afterwards you will risk finding everything closed (as happened to us), having to settle for the first (and only) restaurant open and catch the biggest rip-off of all your trip to Jordan.

Where to drink and where to eat in Petra

Near the entrance of the archaeological site there is a row of tourist restaurants one next to the other where the quality is not exactly the TOP and the prices are high, but which allow if you have the hotel nearby you do not have to take a taxi and tackle the climb to get to the top of the hill.

Avoid like the black plague the first one you find near the entrance: do not worry you will not struggle to recognize it is the only one that is always empty. There I took the biggest rip off ever: we asked for the menu with the beautiful prices indicated in English so as not to be fooled, but for a drink I took something that was not on the menu and they made me pay 15 euros.

I cried all evening, if I could have choked the little boy: he was also resentful when he asked me for a tip and I refused to give it to him (counting that in other parts the same drink costs 3 euros, I think his tip if it had already been widely procured).

If, on the other hand, you want to take a taxi (about 2/3 JD), let them take you to Wadi Musa where there are many local restaurants and apart from the fact that everything is written in Arabic on the menus, at least you will eat well. The chicken is sold either half or whole: go for the whole chicken, they are so lean that you won't mind sucking two more bones.

Also inside the archaeological site there is a refreshment area with bars and restaurants: the prices are high and at lunchtime tourists from organized trips meet, but it is the only way (besides the self-service restaurant) to eat inside the archaeological site if you have not brought the necessary for a picnic. Large bottled water costs 1 JD upwards, while the classic mint lemonade costs around 3 JD.

How to dress and what to bring to visit Petra

Mistakes sometimes pay dearly, but they are used to learn: this is how I made a nice list of what it is essential to bring and that I, of course, as an unconscious traveler, did not have with me.

Sunglasses: when you leave your hotel room in the morning it is difficult to keep your eyes open because of the light, imagine what it can be like at two in the afternoon in the middle of the desert. The sunglasses they will avoid you having to walk with your eyes half closed so as not to be blinded and they will protect your eyes from the sand that is inevitably raised with each gust of wind.

Sun hat or scarf: Covering your head in hot weather is one of the best things you can do to avoid sunstroke and sunstroke. When the sun beats at 90 ° on our head, you can wet the hat or the scarf to stay a little cooler.

Other things to take with you are the cocoa butter, a beautiful sunscreen e a lot of water (although you can buy it almost anywhere). Shoes must be comfortable and for trekking, there is a lot to walk and in some places the sandstone is slippery and you risk slipping; sand enters everywhere so I would not recommend sandals even if they are sporty.

How you dress clearly depends on the period you go to. In winter it can be windy and in the evening it can get cold so bringing a sweater and jacket is not bad.

I always do not recommend shorts and tank tops because the desert sun can really be deadly: in case cover yourself with tons of sun cream. In my opinion, light cotton trousers and a t-shirt with 3/4 sleeves are the best clothing because in addition to protecting you from the sun's rays, they also avoid boring insect stings.

At the Visitors Center there are free maps of the site in various languages, but personally I recommend that you buy a guide.

I got along very well with the Lonely Planet of Jordan that you can find on Amazon at this link.

Colonnade and the Royal Tombs

What to see in Petra

You can visit Petra in one or two days and unless you are among those who want to visit every single ravine of the archaeological site, in my opinion 1 day is enough.

Clearly, if you visit Petra in the summer season, it is better to leave early in the morning so that you can rest in the shade during the hottest hours of the day.

1 - Siq and the Treasury of Petra

From the entrance to the as you walk for about 5 minutes under the scorching sun so the shadow of the impressive gorge carved into the rock will be a blessing.

The Siq is about 1,2 km long, it takes about twenty minutes to cover it, and at the end of which the Tesoro.

You may have seen thousands of photographs, but the one that will appear in front of you will still leave you speechless: all the photos in the world are not able to do justice to what, not surprisingly, has been defined as one of the 7 wonders of the world modern.

The itinerary continues through the street of the facades, about 4oina of tombs of the Nabataeans dug into the soft sandstone up to the Roman Theatre. From here begins a series of bars and restaurants where you can stop for a drink and a bit of cool: all have wi-fi and in the middle there are, as usual, the ubiquitous stalls selling souvenirs.

2 - Royal tombs

After the row of restaurants, if you look up to the right, the T's are raised above the roadask Reali: here the sandstone has incredible colors, as if it were painted with waves from red to purple to blue thanks to iron, calcium, manganese, copper and other metals, contained within the rock, which over the centuries have oxidized generating these stunning colors. Continuing on, you reach the colonnaded street at the end of which there is a small museum and a self-service restaurant.

3 - Colonnaded Street

The Colonnaded Road is what remains of the remnants of the Romans who took control of Petra in 106 AD Those Romans were masters of construction and their road still remains nearly intact today, along with several columns flanking the side of the road.

4 - Monastery (Ad Dair)

The climb is really tiring if you decide to go up to Monastery (Ad-Dair) without being carried on the back by a small donkey, but it is absolutely worth it: bigger and more majestic than the Treasury, the Monastery is also one of the recurring photo images of a visit to Petra and the views from up here pay off the 800 steps (and km ) that are needed to get there.

Monastery

4 - Palace of the sacrifice

If you are good walkers, before leaving the site you can give your last energies to the bottom and embark on the strenuous climb that leads to the top up to the top Palace of the Sacrifice: in reality it is a rock where the victims were sacrificed, nothing transcendental anyway but the view from the top of the Canyon on Petra below is worth every drop of sweat that is squeezed to get there.

Visit Petra it is not just a visit to an archaeological site, it is a discovery that is made at every step under the scorching sun, with every drop of sweat and with dust in your eyes: planning your visit well will help you to better enjoy the discovery of one of the 7 wonders of the world.

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