Amman to Petra in 3 Days.
A lot of people ask me “how many days do I need in Petra?” What are the must do’s of Jordan”? Can Amman to Petra be covered in 3 Days? I do understand Petra is on everybody’s bucket list as it is not only a UNESCO HERITAGE site but also one of the 7 WONDERS. I will try & answer all those questions & also try & make you a customized road trip from Amman To Petra in 3 days.
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Landed at Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, at about 4:00 pm, picked up our car from Hertz and headed straight to Petra. We reached Wadi Musa, a town adjacent to Petra at around 08:00 pm.
Distance from Amman Airport to Petra: Around a 3-hour drive and a total distance of 214 km/133 miles by the shorter route through the Desert Highway.
Hotel Stay: Candles Hotel.
This town is the only option for lodging has accommodations ranging from 5 stars to budget. We chose a budget hotel and got a good deal from for 2 nights stay at the Candles Hotel. The hotel location is a big thumbs up as it was literally a 5-minute walk to Petra. There are loads of other options to choose from to stay in Petra. While checking in, the hotel staff informed us about Petra by the night which runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of every week, starts at 08:30 pm at the Petra Visitor Center, ends at 10:30 pm at the same place and is a must see. Our hotel reception provided us with tickets for Petra by the night. As per Petra’s local website, children under the age of 10, had free access.
Cost: Petra by the night and it cost us JOD 17 each.
We had a quick dinner and headed to the start point, Petra Visitor Center where the tour started. It was a beautiful walk under a clear moonlit sky, following an unpaved road and through the Siq (a massive crack developed by tectonic forces) which was lit by candles on both sides. The candles are intelligently placed inside a paper bag with sand at the bottom so that minor gusts of winds wouldn’t extinguish the candle, nor will it topple the paper bag due to the weight of the sand. The candlelight was perfectly diffused through the paper bags, adding a perfect contrast to the moonlight. It cannot get any more romantic than holding your partner’s hand and walk through this setup in a cool breezy night.
After a 1.2 km/0.75 mile walks, half of it was through the Siq, we reached what the locals call, Al Khazneh, meaning, the Treasury. The courtyard here was again beautifully decorated by a very neat arrangement of candles illuminating the 40 meters high Treasury in the backdrop.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, a show started with a gentleman singing songs in the local language, followed by a bagpiper playing ancient Nabatean music, followed by a bedtime story about the Goddess of Petra. We were also served some super sweet tea, probably to keep us from falling asleep. Personally speaking, this was an absolute spoiler to the beautiful ambience that they had created. After the act was over, they turned on some colourful lights at the monument which was a good photo opportunity.
After some awesome photos, we headed back to our hotel for an early start the next day.
Woke up at around 06:00 am, had breakfast at our hotel and headed back the same way. If you intend to see a lot inside Petra, starting early is the best option. Bought our personalized day tickets at the Petra visitor centre. We also picked up a map of the trails of Petra which was immensely useful. There are 8 trails of different difficulty levels one can do inside Petra and they can be referred to on the map and as listed below. There was a long queue to book the tickets. If you prefer going on a day trip from Amman due to time restrictions or if you are not comfortable driving all the way there, Don’t you worry just book your tickets to save your precious time.
The cost to Enter Petra: 50JOD/person.
- Main Trail (easy) – 8 km/5 miles, takes about 3.5-4 hours.
- Al Khubtha Trail (hard) – 3.5 km/2.2 miles, takes about 2.5-3 hours.
- High Place of Sacrifice Trail (hard)- 3 km/1.9 miles, takes about 3.5-4 hours.
- Ad-Dier (Monastery) Trail (hard) – 2.5 km/1.6 miles, takes about 2.5-3 hours.
- Umm al-Biyara Trail (hard) – 4 km/2.5 miles, takes about 3.5-4 hours.
- Jabal Haroun Trail (hard) – 7.5 km/4.7 miles, takes about 5-6 hours.
- Sabra Trail (moderate) – 10 km/6.2 miles, takes about 6-7 hours.
- Al Madras Trail (moderate) – 1.5km/0.7 miles, takes about 1.5 hours.
We chose to do the Main trail + the Ad-Dier (Monastery) trail where we covered most of the attractions inside. If you choose to do all the trails, you will have to allow yourself a minimum of 2 days depending on your fitness level.
Our choice of trails got us to see,
BAB AL SIQ – ‘Bab Al Siq’ is Arabic for a gateway to the ‘siq’(a massive crack developed by tectonic forces). Here you will see three massive Djinn blocks, which are squared monuments carved out of the rock. Above the tomb are four pyramids as well as a statue in bas-relief that is a symbolic representation of the five people buried there. In the opposing cliff face, there is a double inscription in Nabataean and Greek that refers to a burial monument.
THE DAM – The dam protected the city of Petra by redirecting the flood waters into a tunnel, which was later titled the ‘Dark Tunnel’. Proving to be successful, the dam thus represented the Natabataean’s skilful and modern infrastructure. During the excavation, it was found that the original name of the old city was Raqeem. However, upon their arrival, the Greeks renamed the city ‘Petra,’ meaning the rock
THE SIQ – The Siq is formed by splitting of a huge rock due to tectonic forces and the crack measures about 1200 meter in length, 3-12 meters wide at places and is about 80 meters high. Most of this gateway to the remains of Petra was formed naturally and a part of it was carved by the Nabataeans Arabs. The Siq starts at the Dam and ends at the Treasury, Al Khazneh. Two water channels run along both rock sides to draw water inside the city from Wadi Musa(the Valley of Moses).
THE TREASURY (AL KHAZNEH) – The Siq opens up to Petra’s most magnificent structure, The Treasury, or as the locals refer to it, Al Khazneh. The purpose of the Treasury is unclear: some archaeologists believed it to be a temple, while others thought it was a place to store documents. However, the most recent excavation here has unearthed a graveyard beneath the Treasury. The Treasury comprises three chambers, a middle chamber with one on either side, the elaborately carved facade represents the Nabataean engineering genius.
THE STREET OF FACADES – It is a name given to the row of monumental Nabataean tombs carved in the southern cliff face that lies past the Treasury and adjacent to the outer Siq. When you pass the Treasury, the Siq begins to widen gradually as it reaches into an open area. On both sides, there are a number of Nabataean burial interfaces decorated with grindstones along with other decorations; and some of these interfaces were destroyed by natural factors, it is believed that these interfaces represent some of the senior officials in the city or princes.
THE THEATRE – Carved into the side of the mountain at the foot of the High Place of Sacrifice, the theatre consists of three rows of seats separated by passageways. Seven stairways ascend the auditorium and believed that it can accommodate around 4000 spectators.
THE ROYAL TOMBS – This is the name given to the four magnificent structures adjacent to each other on the right side at the end of the main path through the middle of the city. These structures are; Urn Tomb, Silk Tomb, Corinthian Tomb and the Palace Tomb.
THE NYMPHAEUM – This is a semi-circular public fountain near the junction of Wadi Musa and Wadi al-Mahata.
THE CHURCH – Petra’s main church is the second church in Petra. The church floor is characterized with mosaics paved in the north and south galleries as well as marble in the east hallway and mosaic imagery of geometric, animal shapes and graphics representing the four seasons, the gods of sea and land, with three inscribed apses and corresponding three entrances in the western wall. Some parts of the walls are preserved up to 3 meters.
THE COLONNADED STREET – The street represents an original Nabataean creation. Later refurbished during the Roman reign, it would have been one of the principal shopping streets of ancient Petra.
THE GREAT TEMPLE – Spread over an area of 7000 square meters, The Great Temple complex is one of the major monuments. The north and south entryways serve as enclosures for the temple itself.
QASR AL-BINT – The monument is almost square and is set on a podium. Standing a 23 meters high, the temple is approached by a flight of 26 marble steps.
THE LION TRICLINIUM – This can be seen on the way to the monastery and is so-named because of two lions carved on both sides of the entrance.
AD-DIER ( THE MONASTERY) – It is one of the largest monuments in Petra. It was built on the model of the Treasury but here the bas-reliefs are replaced by niches to house sculptures. A columned portico extends of the facade; the interior is occupied by two side benches and altar against the rear wall. And dates to the early 2nd century AD, during the reign of King Rabel II. In the hall was reused as a Christian chapel and crosses were carved in the rear wall thus the name “Monastery” (Dayr in Arabic).
On our way back, we had lunch at the only restaurant inside Petra, located at the foot of the Monastery trail. They served buffet style lunch and can get quite busy.
From here we were on our way back to the hotel, took our walk easy, clicking plenty of pictures. From the Siq to the Petra visitor centre we enjoyed the horse ride and got back to our hotel at around 05:00 pm. Rested for a while and went up to the main street at Wadi Musa to have dinner and called it a night. Enjoy a SLIDESHOW of the pictures we clicked
Woke up at 06:00 am, had breakfast and started early for our journey back to Amman.
This time on our way back to Amman, we took the long way which took us abeam the Dead Sea.
On the way, you will notice a lot of local farmers selling fresh produce for dirt cheap prices. We did pick up some vegetables and brought them all the way back to Dubai.
After we hit the coast of Dead Sea, we started heading north, running the whole eastern perimeter of the Dead Sea, taking plenty of photo opportunities. We stopped for lunch at one of the malls at the coast of the Dead Sea, just about an hour outside Amman city.
After we got into the city, we drove around the city centre which depicted a very old town design with busy and narrow streets, visited some of the attraction at Amman City, like the Roman Theater and Amman Citadel which preserves architecture from the Roman empire and also has a museum housing ancient artefacts. We also took some time to walk around at the market area, early dinner and then headed back to Queen Alia International Airport for our flight back to Dubai.
This post is dedicated to Peter, my physiotherapist. Peter, I hope you like the post & hope we have answered most of your questions. Along with Peter hope our other readers had their queries answered. We hope your search for a customized itinerary for Amman To Petra ends here. Please share your experience your comments your pictures below or #taletrips. We would love to be a part of your experience through pictures. To stay updated with our latest post subscribe & follow or follow us on any of the below social media links. Safe travels.