My last trip to Petra was at a much more leisurely pace than the single afternoon I spent there when I first visited more than a decade earlier. I hope this guide will help you best determine how much time you need to spend in Petra.
How Long In Petra Jordan? Days Are Better Than Hours
As I mentioned when I discussed dealing with the Bedouin touts, any time spent in Petra is better than no time at all. By that I mean that Petra can be magical for an afternoon or even for an hour. If that is all the time you have, it is still worthwhile and worth the hefty entrance fee (currently 50JOD).
But since I’ve now spent three hours on one trip and three days on a second trip in Petra, I do think the extra time is well worthwhile.
You can do the “highlight” tour in 4-5 hours, perhaps even less if you rush. That includes The Treasury, The Monastery, The Great Temple, the old Byzantine church, and the Nabatean amphitheatre. But you can also easily spend a morning exploring the hillsides adjacent to the Outer Siq.
I found just limiting myself to this area on the first day and then returning the second day to hike up to the Treasury in the coolness of the morning was invigorating. That is a strenuous hike on foot (donkeys are also available for hire), but quite satisfying once you reach the top. Along the way, I was invited for tea by two locals (and stopped on the way back and enjoyed a simmering cup of mint tea). The distance is two kilometers from the base, which does not seem like much, but when you are going up it is a workout.
I took the back trail from the Treasury to the city entrance. It was well worthwhile, but quite a hike. That was a whole half-day.
I also hiked up to an amazing little tea house high above The Treasury, that afforded great views of the canyon below (and nice tea as well).
There are even things I missed. Although I saw it from a distance, I did not hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice (where Nabatean animal sacrifice took place). I also did not have time to hike up to Aaron’s tomb or to the tomb of Sextius Florentinus. The city of Petra is 263 square kilometers. There’s much to see if you have the time.
When you have multiple days, you can go early in the morning or alter in the afternoon and avoid the worst heat and sunlight of the day and the heaviest crowds. This is the most important reason why multiple days are best.
2-3 days is much better than one in Petra, though by all means take one if that is all you have. Spacing out your day and traveling earlier or later in the day is the smart way to maximize you visit by minizming the heat and crowds.
How many days did you spend in Petra?
Pics fire again, especially the first one
We spent 3 days there (Marriott) in July 2020. It was magical. Almost no tourists. Petra (and the rest of Jordan) is an incredible place. Any REAL traveler must go there at least once.
That’s subjective and elitist.
I spent one full day. I was wrecked at the end but had a guide and thought it was plenty of time to “see” it. I had 6 days in Jordan and visited jeresh, Petra, wadi rum the Dead Sea, and had a full day tour to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Also had two half days in Amman which is a really nice city. I wouldn’t have sacrificed a day in those other sites to have an extra one in Petra.
Visiting Israel for one day was a push with the border crossing but great experience. Hard to be away longer with kids at home so I have to cram things in a bit. Although jordan so relaxing otherwise.
Great Petra report. We stayed for 2 nights at the Mövenpick Hotel, right by the entrance for two nights. It was August. August means 120F heat. We melted! At least 6 qts of water each. We got to the Treasury, too. An awesome day.
After that, we had 2 days of beach time at the superb Intercontinental Aqaba before crossing into Israel. Taxi to border, formalities…mined strip…formalities..taxi to rent a car.
Folks, that trip is a highlight for most bucket lists. Strenuous!
This past summer I spent 4 days in Jordan as part of a larger Middle East trip.
One day in Petra was plenty for me, but I wished I spent more time in Jordan overall. Wonderful sites, friendly people, and lots of history and culture. And very safe.
Looking at the comments, seems like most other visitors really enjoy their time in Jordan
Very safe? A few years ago a Canadian lady was murdered by ISIS in a crusader fort. A while ago bombs went off in more than one hotel.
How did you travel around Jordan – by renting a car? If so, what was that experience like? I plan to be there at the very end of May and am trying to figure out the logistics.
I had a driver.
There is a really good trip report involving car hire from Tiffany at OMAAT. Cannot believe it was 6 years ago it is a really good read
Tiffany’s trip report was excellent.
I’m still reeling from the entrance fee of €65! The equivalent in Israel – Caesarea – has an entrance fee of €10.
I’m not sure Caesarea is really the equivalant of Petra which is rightfully considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Caeserea is more like Jerash in Jordan: entrance fee JD 12.
Matthew, I really loved your beautiful photos and was very interested in how long one would want to stay in Petra. From the various comments read, seems one’s length of stay is quite subjective. Just as beauty is in the eye if the beholder, one’s duration of stay in Petra depends on the value you place on carved red rock. My first trip there was back in 2009, one overnight and a quick 6 hour visit in Petra. We had about 2 hours to get up to the monastery, take a few pix, sit just briefly before running down to meet our appointed time to meet the bus returning to Eilat. I left constantly looking back wishing I could stay another 6 hours! It’s not just walking through the place – taking some decent photos take time.
SO-OOO, I’ve always wanted to return someday and the opportunity came up to organizing a trip to Petra and Israel for interested friends. I found a 3 day tour in Petra and wondered if it seemed too long for those that aren’t as fanatical about Petra as I am. However, after seeing your photos and reading your report (which I totally agree with), I didn’t know there are some back trails that one could hike on the second day. Would appreciate any links to accessing those trails you used. Like you, I have to return as the first time there was like a teaser; this time will be my last as spending 2 full days will give me my fill of Petra to last me.
Thanks for sharing everything as it has given some great options to explore for the second day to those in my group who are up for it.
We had a very long single day at Petra and it was perfect. There were things we didn’t see but we also didn’t push ourselves very hard. We had hired a guide and a driver which meant we condensed travel somewhat, we weren’t wasting time figuring out driving directions or what was it wasn’t valuable to see.
We had one day for Petra, half day for the Dead Sea (and the baptism site), and a half day for Amman. We could have used more time in Amman plus another day or two for places like Jerash but overall it was a great time.
We’re in Egypt now and, while it’s a bucket just thing, we won’t need to ever come back here. But I’d go back to Jordan in a heartbeat. Expat family in Saudi are with us and agree that Cairo is now checked off their list and they won’t be back. But Jordan was an amazing country, Amman an amazing city. The people are warm and friendly and welcoming. Early March everything is beautiful and green.
Make sure you’re downtown Amman for prayer call, it’s a beautiful experience!