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?