Are you planning to visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site Petra in Jordan, wondering if it’s possible to cover and see everything? The answer is definitely yes. And everything is so easy and smooth. By visiting Petra on your own, you can get there whenever you want, choose where to go first, roam freely inside the sight and discover everything at your own pace.
If this is your first time in Jordan and you want to gather more information about this incredible country, check my article:
Table of Contents
Things to know before visiting Petra on your own
Best time to visit Petra on your own
The best time to visit Petra is during the spring months, between March and May, and between September and November in the fall months. This is because the temperatures are pleasant during the day, the chances of rain are low, and the days are longer, meaning enough time to explore.
It gets freezing during the winter months, and you might experience instant floods or even snow. Hiking is not an option, and the best you can do is walk through the narrow dim until you reach the Treasury, take some photos, and return. And worst, the site can be closed for a while, and visiting Petra might be hazarded. So make sure to avoid this season.
The summer months are scorching, making even breathing difficult. Hiking under the burning sun is not a good idea for sure, so avoid the summer.
How many days do you need for visiting Petra on your own?
Petra is enormous, and there is so much to see! When buying the Jordan Pass, you’ll have to choose from three options: visiting Petra in one, two, or three days. Depending on your type of holiday, the eighter option is acceptable, although I would highly recommend visiting Petra on your own in two days!
But you can see almost everything in only one day. Just be there first thing in the morning, at the opening hours, to avoid the masses and experience most places alone.
One day in Petra
You can discover Petra on your own in only one day, but you’ll have to get to the entrance gate first thing in the morning, do a lot of walking around the area, and get out at closing!
Go through the Siq in total silence and be prepared to be amazed by the magnificent Treasury. The groups won’t be there yet, so you’ll have the whole place only to yourself.
Then follow the path to the Royal Tombs and hike up to the Treasury viewpoint around noon, when the light hits perfectly. It’s not a challenging hike but a longer one. I’ll talk about it later in this article.
After that, hike to the most beautiful and quiet part of the site, the Monastery. Here, you’ll have time to admire this gorgeous masterpiece by serving a cold drink on the nearby terrace.
Remember, visiting Petra and Little Petra is not possible in one day. No need to worry; you may stop at Little Petra on your way to Aqaba or Amman on the next day.
Two days in Petra
If you choose to visit Petra in two days, you can split those days between visiting the Treasury and hiking to the viewpoints on day one and getting to the Monastery on day two. The trail until the Royal Tomb will be the same every day, but you will have more time to absorb and understand the beauty of the place without time pressure.
You then have plenty of time to visit Little Petra during the afternoons.
Three days in Petra
The excitement of visiting Petra on your own in three days wears off a little, but if you want to hike more remote trails, then you’ll have plenty of time to do it in three days.
Plan for the first two days to visit the Monastery, the Royal Tombs and the Treasury viewpoints and for the third day, explore the off the beaten paths to discover more distant tombs, such as the Aaron’s Tomb.
You’ll also have plenty of time to drive to Little Petra and spend a couple of hours discovering the site.
In the evening, join the incredible light show at Petra by Night!
Do I need a Guide for Petra?
Depending on your expectations, you might or might not need a guide. If you stick to the main trails and pick up the information from the internet or guidebooks, you should be fine. But if you want to discover the off-beaten parts of Petra, a guide would be a good idea.
Discover the highlights of the historical city of Petra on a day trip to the archaeological site from Amman!
Or see Jordan’s top sights on this 3-day trip from Tel Aviv. Spend two nights under the desert skies in a Bedouin camp, explore the iconic Petra, and drive through the vast desert of Wadi Rum.
Why should I purchase the Jordan pass?
The Jordan Pass is a sightseeing package that includes the cost of the tourist visa and the entrance to over 40 tourist attractions such as Wadi Rum, Petra, Kerak Castle, Citadel of Amman, and Jerash. However, some popular sites such as Mount Nebo, Wadi Mujib, or Petra by Night are not included in the Jordan Pass.
You’ll get to choose one out of three packages: Jordan Wanderer, Jordan Explorer, and Jordan Expert. The only difference between the three is the number of consecutive days you plan to spend at Petra: one, two, or three days. The number of attractions you get free access to is the same, over 40.
Is it worth it? Think about that: even if you only get to visit Petra, you would still save money by purchasing it. The more tourist attractions you visit, the more it is worth it.
Where to stay in Petra?
Aqaba and Amman are far from Petra; therefore, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Petra on your own on a day trip. You’ll be exhausted by the time you get to the ancient city and you’ll most likely walk through the Siq and see the Treasury only.
Instead, head to Wadi Musa, the closest city to Petra and spend a minimum of 2 nights. There are many options to choose from, so there is no need to worry.
You can stay close to Petra’s entrance, close to downtown, or spoil at a luxury hotel outside the town. We chose a boutique hotel for our stay in central Wadi Musa, only to try different restaurants in the evenings. Well, I’m a foodie, what can I say!
Tip. Visiting Petra on your own is a full-day activity so make sure to arrive the night before at Wadi Musa, enjoy a delicious dinner and go to bed early.
How to dress when visiting Petra on your own?
When looking at pictures of Petra, you may notice beautiful girls wearing dresses or skirts with sandals. While this makes the perfect photo at Petra, it’s not the outfit you’re aiming for. Why? Simply because Petra involves a lot of hiking.
Of course, if you enter Petra to see the Treasury only and return, then wear your best clothes since the path is flat. But, if you want to explore more and understand the beauty of the place, wear your comfortable clothes!
Grab a hat and a scarf, as you will get a lot of sun exposure at Petra.
A pair of sneakers will do the work, so there is no need to pack heavy hiking boots. Instead, you can wear your lovely dress with your favorite sneakers and get incredible pictures.
I am all for exploring, so I picked some long-sleeved shirts and my cozy Arabic pants to keep me away from the heat while visiting Petra and Little Petra! Along with a hat, a pair of sneakers, and my rucksack, visiting Petra couldn’t have been more enjoyable!
What to expect from visiting Petra on your own
There is so much to see and do, so be prepared for a full day of walking! While you may have seen pictures of donkeys, horses and camels carrying tourists around, I would highly recommend not to take advantage of this opportunity. The animals are fragile, kept, and fed in precarious conditions, so don’t encourage this type of tourism.
Another thing to keep in mind is the local guides offering their services. They can be pushy, misbehaving and sometimes even aggressive. I am not trying to scare you; I tell you to be vigilant, ignore them and let them be. It’s so simple. The cautiousness of the tourist visiting Petra should be one thing that Jodan authorities should pay more attention to!
Depending on the time of visit, prepare to face the heat. Hiking under the scorching sun can be challenging, so make sure to bring a lot of water and wear a hat and long sleeves. You can easily find people selling water and refreshments along the way, so there is no need to panic if you don’t bring enough.
Is the terrain suitable for a wheelchair or the elderly?
I knew I wanted to answer this question since I saw a couple with the husband in a wheelchair, and they were a little bit lost while trying to get some pieces of information.
The terrain in Petra is pretty rough and varies in difficulty, and a regular wheelchair would have significant issues getting to the Treasury. However, there are some paved paths along the way.
The only option would be riding golf carts from the Visitor Center, but those are not wheelchair accessible. So the person should be carried on the golf cart and the wheelchair stowed in the back. Consider paying around 100USD for the two people in a golf coach.
Are you elderly and afraid you might not get to the Treasury due to the steep terrain? Don’t be! The path to the Treasury is smooth and well maintained; just wear some sturdy shoes and don’t rush! You can even explore Colonnaded Street and the Hadrian Gate. To get to the Royal Tombs, you’ll have a few steps up, but manageable. The only part I wouldn’t recommend is getting to the Monastery. There are many steps involved, and it’s pretty far from the entrance.
How can I get from Amman Airport to Petra?
The easiest way to get from Amman airport to Wadi Musa is by car. You can easily rent a car and explore Jordan at your own leisure. If you don’t want to hire a car, book a taxi or transfer, but expect to pay around 90USD one way.
Another way to reach Petra is by bus. Take the JETT buses, which are more luxurious than the local buses. The trip takes around four hours.
A complete guide to visiting Petra on your own. The best places to see in Petra
There are many things to see and places to go, and visiting Petra on your own can be overwhelming. Of course, you won’t see everything as the area is enormous, with many trails and hiking routes. But one or two days of Petra will give you a glimpse of this unique UNESCO site. If you follow my itinerary, you will be able to say that you saw the best places Petra has to offer!
The entrance to the Lost City of Petra
First thing, if you want to have the Treasury for yourself, you’ll have to get up early. Unfortunately, you won’t be serving breakfast at your accommodation on this day. However, that’s not a problem since almost every host will pack a breakfast box that you can carry with you.
Find out Petra’s opening time and be there first thing in the morning. Usually, it is 6 am. There is plenty of free parking if you’re not staying close to the entrance and wondering where to leave the rental.
By the time we got there, it had looked like a ghost city, and somehow we got the impression that everything was closed. The merchandisers were not there, and we hardly noticed the man sitting inside the ticket office. So finally, embarrassed, we asked him if it was open, and he was like yes, of course, what do you think? So we showed him the Jordan Pass, he gave us the proper tickets and we got inside the Lost City. It was so quiet and serene, no one around except us. I will never forget that feeling!
Getting to the Siq
To reach the Treasury, you have to walk on a smooth path approximately 2 kilometers from the Visitors Center. The first part is wide and open, with sightseeing on both sides. The most famous structure is probably the Obelisk Tomb.
To reach the Treasury, you have to walk on a smooth path approximately 2 kilometers from the Visitors Center. The first part is wide and open, with sightseeing on both sides, but the most famous structure is probably the Obelisk Tomb.
Soon you’ll reach The Siq, a narrow and beautiful 1.2 km long natural gorge! Don’t hurry; take time to observe the colors, listen to the silence, and feel the energy of the place. If a stray dog greets you, don’t freak out. They are used to people, and the only thing they are looking for is some food.
At the end of the Siq, prepare to be amazed by the most brilliant view: the Treasury! The 40m tall symmetrical building carved into the sandstone with detailed ornaments is the most famous attraction in Petra.
However, the name is misleading, as this wasn’t a treasury but a tomb for a Nabatean king, also known as Al-Khazneh. Sculpted in the first century, the Treasury is decorated with mythological figures and Nabataean deities.
The entrance leads to the tomb of the Nabataean King Aretas III, being a place of worship as well. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside, but you’ll have enough time to take photos of this magnificent place.
Don’t forget to head to the rock on the right-hand side of the Treasury for the best Instagram photos 🙂
I won’t forget that moment: the Treasury in front of us, the stillness of the area, the lack of people, the magic! That’s what should motivate you to get out of bed so early.
We were lucky to have this place for about half an hour before locals showed up. They call themselves bedouins, and I have doubts they have anything to do with bedouins. They use make-up to get that bedouin feeling and they can be very pushy and annoying. Very!
The first Viewpoint of the Treasury, accessible with a guide only for a fee
If the Treasury blew your mind already, it’s time to head to one of the viewpoints for a better view. There are two viewpoints over the Treasury, one accessible with a guide only for a fee and the other free to access, but it requires more time.
On the left-hand side facing the Treasury, the first viewpoint is only accessible with a local guide for a cost. It is the shorter but more challenging and steeper way.
Don’t try to get there on your own cause the locals can be very territorial and aggressive. There are daily conflicts between tourists and so-called guides, and the police do nothing about it. And what intrigues me the most, this viewpoint is off-limits, but the Jordan Tourism Board shares photos from this prohibited place all the time.
Anyway, if you choose to go to this viewpoint, consider hiring a guide and paying around 10 JOD per person. The local guys will approach you as soon as you get to the Treasury. Even if they’ll convince you the hike takes only 10 minutes, keep in mind that it will take longer to get up there. And beware of the slippery rocks. I’ve seen people literally crawling on their hands and knees on those rocks.
Street of Facades
Once you’re done admiring the Treasury, join the Street of Facades, lined with souvenir shops and the famous toilet carved in stone on your right-hand side. It’s the last toilet until you return from the second viewpoint of the Treasury, so make use of it! You can also buy water or enjoy the breakfast box on one of the benches here.
The Royal Tombs
After this short break, turn right after the shopping stalls. Don’t look for signs, as the bedouins erased those to make finding the path harder. Instead, follow the stairs, and you’ll witness the gorgeous Royal Tombs.
Almost as impressive as the Treasury, the Royal Tombs are easy to reach. One next to the other, the four tombs have detailed facades carved into the rock, similar to the Treasury.
Palace Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb, and Urn Tomb are some of the best reasons for visiting Petra on your own. If you wish, you can hike to every tomb separately if you’re spending more than one day in Petra.
The second viewpoint of the Treasury, free
To get to the second viewpoint of the Treasury, you’ll need to get to the Royal Tombs first. Getting there is more accessible than the first one, but it takes a little bit more time. If you would love to get to one of those viewpoints, and you’re not short on time, go to see this one, as it’s the most beautiful one, in my opinion!
Continue following the path passing the Royal Tombs and climbing the stairs. You’ll be on the Al Khubta Trail now. The trek takes around 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
The views along the way are incredible, and from the top, you will be able to witness the whole valley of Petra and the gorgeous Treasury! Don’t worry about getting lost, just follow the path and look for the Treasury. You can’t miss it! And you might be the only one there! The only disadvantage is that you’ll have to walk the same route back; however, it will be easier.
Once you’ve made it to the top, you can witness the Treasury from the rocks in total silence! It was well worth it, don’t you agree?
You will spot a tent with the best view of the Treasury. Step inside the small Bedouin tent and enjoy the views from here. It’s totally worth it! Pay the owner some respect by buying something from his shop and enjoying the fantastic views here! We opted for a delicious tea and spent more than an hour here!
From the viewpoint, follow the same path until you reach the Street of Facades once again. You might need to use the toilet once again, buy some refreshments or some local delicacies. Then, the Street of Facades turns into Colonnaded Street, the main shopping street of Petra. Its name comes from the remains of the Romans who took control in 106 Ad over Petra.
Here you’ll find a few restaurants and it’s the place where tourists take a break before going back or start climbing to the Monastery. It’s also where you’ll meet many Bedouins trying to convince you to get on a donkey, horse, or camel. I highly advise you not to, as those animals are mistreated!
The High Place of Sacrifice
As the name suggests, it is a spot where they used to carry out sacrifices. There are several steps to climb to reach this place, but the trail is well marked, and it takes around 30 minutes to ascend to the top. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views over Petra!
The Monastery (AD-DEIR)
Ad Deir is one of the most iconic monuments in Petra. Its main purpose it’s still unknown, but it’s speculated to have been a royal tomb at first, and later, a church in the Byzantine period.
The Monastery is breathtaking and just as impressive as the Treasury. In my opinion, even more beautiful. Even though the hike up is not easy, it is a must for everyone visiting Petra and Little Petra.
From the Royal Tombs, you’ll have a 2-3 hour return walk(4.5km) through the lost city, and some climbing is involved (800steps). The views along the way are impressive, but the Monastery is absolutely stunning, so make sure not to skip it! While it is doable in one day, you can leave this hike for the second day!
Climbing the 800 stairs to get to the Monastery took approximately one hour. Depending on your fitness level, it can be more.
By the time we got back, we met a few tourists asking how much longer they had to reach the Monastery.
Fortunately, not many decide to reach the Monastery, and the chances of being alone here are high. The views along the way are impressive! The path is lined with souvenir shops. You can sit in a Bedouin tent and have a refreshment if you feel tired.
Once you reach the last stairs, prepare to be amazed! The Monastery is even wider and higher than the Treasury!
There is a lovely terrace nearby where you can sit, savor a refreshment in total silence and admire the best view of the site!
The best views of the Monastery
Are you looking for the best insta-photo of the Monastery? Above the restaurant, you’ll spot a rock and maybe people waiting in line to get the famous photo.
We were alone at the Monastery, so we didn’t have to worry about people, but the smell was awful. Why? Some donkeys decided to rest in the shadow before our visit and felt inspired to leave their marks.
If you’re looking for a better view of the Monastery, away from the crowds, you’ll spot a sign pointing in the direction of the best view. Actually, several paths say that it will lead to the best viewpoint. It’s up to you which one you choose and there is only a short hike uphill! If your legs are still working, hike there for more incredible scenery!
Monastery to Little Petra
You can get from here to Little Petra, also called the Back Door to Petra. However, the hike is not easy and not marked. And then you need a ride back to Wadi Musa. So I might say you need a guide for this challenge. But there is an easy way to see Little Petra and I’ll talk about it later.
Great Temple and Hadrian Gate
The walk from the Monastery all the way to the main path is easy now, with no hike involved. Make use of toilets or have a refreshment on your way to the exit.
Once you get back to Colonnaded Street, you’ll have time to notice the Great Nabataean Temple, built in 100 BC, the largest freestanding building in Petra. Here you’ll notice the Hadrian Gate also, or better said, the remaining pillars of the gate. Take some time and snap some photos.
One of Petra’s holiest places, Aaron’s Tomb, is a place we, unfortunately, skipped from our complete guide to visiting Petra and Little Petra. The hike takes around 6 hours, and the views are amazing. But to get there, a guide is highly recommended. Although I’ve read that hikers from different parts of the world go on this hike without a guide, I assume it is something we could have mastered on our own also.
You can’t leave Petra without admiring the Treasury for the last time! This image will stay with you forever!
Petra by Night
Petra by night is a special event and not included in the Jordan Pass or any other day ticket. Held every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 8.30 pm, you need to buy a different ticket. This is a unique way to see Petra, but the sentiments are different. Some described it as magical, while others found it commercial as locals were highly vocal and annoying.
You’ll walk one mile from the entrance in the dark. Once you get to the Treasury, they’ll deliver a site presentation while locals play instruments. After this show, the lights are turned on to highlight the Treasury.
As we’ve witnessed the Treasury at different times of the day, we wanted to see Petra by night also. And we choose not to care about others anymore. So we found a cozy spot to see the lights and admire this incredible masterpiece!
Everyone heard about Petra in Jordan but did you know there is a similar ancient city called Little Petra, only 6km away? It is another incredible place to see in Jordan and is well worth visiting!
Here are a few things to know about this place:
There are no entry fees, so don’t get in the trap of paying someone who asks you to. It’s an easy place to roam around, less crowded, so you don’t need a guide to explore the site.
The site is small, and you only need one hour and a half so you can visit it on your way to/from Aqaba.
The Siq al Barid leading to the Treasury is much narrow and shorter than Petra’s siq; actually, it only measures 400meters. After some rock climbing, you can reach a panorama terrace where you can enjoy a delicious tea and buy some souvenirs. The stone-carved structures and the landscape are impressive.
It is possible to reach Petra from here, but the hike is 6km long and not well signposted.
Interactive Map of visiting Petra on your own
Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations you will visit in Petra. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open up, and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!