If you plan on coming to Petra for only a day, you’re missing out on most of the experience.
One day in Petra is not enough. In fact, you could spend a whole week in Petra and still find new things to do! Petra is a relic of the past, a living city that transports you hundreds of years back in time. Read this guide to find out the ten best things to do in Petra and hidden secrets of the city that most tourists (unfortunately) miss out on.
1. Visit the rest of the attractions
Okay-you’ve seen (or are going to see) the Treasury! But did you know Petra is home to a vast array of diverse and unique cultural and historic sites, landmarks that are often just as inspiring and magical as the more famous sites? Make time out of your day to visit the Corinthian Tomb, Palace Tomb, Urn Tomb, Winged Lion’s Temple, Cardo Maximus, Great Temple, and the Columbarium. It’s easy to spend days lost here, exploring and walking along the etchings and splendors of ancient civilizations. When you visit these sites, you often have more privacy and alone-time, causing these visits to feel even more unique and personal.
2. Explore Petra at night
Petra changes at night. Come to the Treasury during the evening and you will be bedazelled to an amazing and unique experience. Don’t just take our word, hear what David Hoffman had to say in his blog on the subject:
What to do in the evening in Petra? During the night, why not check out the oldest bar in the world, a spirit-filled tavern built into an old Nabataean rock tomb? The “Cave Bar” offers spirits, drinks, and shisha, a famous water pipe that is also an Arabic cultural staple.
3. Go on a romantic getaway
What’s more romantic than getting lost in a land before time? Petra is brimming with romantic excursions and the ability to intimately experience wild nature with your beloved. Try the Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp in Little Petra, where you can sleep under the stars in the style of the Bedouins. Or read below for the opportunity to go on unique hikes to breathtaking areas of Petra where most people don’t visit.
4. Do a hike
Feelings more adventurous? Petra and the broader Wadi Musa area brims with dozens of hikes and trails that take you off the beaten track (no pun intended). We recommend hiking to Aaron’s Tomb, the brother of Moses, a long adventure that exposes you to the serenity, peace, and profoundness of Wadi Musa’s red sandstone mountains. For a comprehensive list of different
hiking possibilities in Petra, check out BucketListly’s blog on the subject!
5. Meet local people and exchange culture
Jordanians are famous for their hospitality. Strike up a conversation with the locals, and there’s a very strong chance you will end up being invited to their house! You may even find yourself having the chance to try Mansaf, the famous Jordanian dish that is also very popular in Petra. The sites you visit throughout Petra are magical and mesmerizing, but there’s nothing quite like the experience of truly interacting with and understanding another culture.
6. Explore and camp in Little Petra
Little Petra, or “Al Beidha” in its original Arabic, was an ancient suburb of Petra where the ancient Nabataean people used to trade and engaged in commerce. Like it’s bigger counterpart, Little Petra has plenty of tombs, ruins, and caverns and is only a ten minute drive from Petra. At night, visit the Little Petra Bedouin Camp, where you can get artistic Henna on your hands, enjoy traditional Bedouin dishes, and enjoy a night camping under the stars.
7. Stay for a night and feel the old, authentic-style village at Hyatt Zaman.
You probably won’t ever experience anything as immersive as the resort village at Hyatt Zaman. Located on the outskirts of Petra, this hotel was built in and around a traditional 19th century Jordanian village. Less of a hotel and more of a cultural experience, visitors can freely explore this village while still having access to modern amenities like a swimming pool, modern Jordanian restaurant, coffee shop, and terrace. The serene and calming location also provides a sense of profundity and is a perfect way to spend one’s evening and night.
8. Chill with a relaxing Turkish bath after your afternoon adventure
Petra is right next to the desert, and it can get hot. After whatever you choose to do throughout the day, what better way to unwind and calm down than a world-famous Turkish bath? A Turksh bath consists of a steam bath, lying down on a hot stone slab, a full body scrub and massage, and then a relaxing rinse afterward. It’s a detoxing experience that leaves you feeling amazingly fresh and new. There a couple Turkish baths in Petra, but we recommend Al Yakhor Turkish Bath based on what we’ve heard from people who went there!
9. Meet the author of “Married to Bedouins”
In 1978, New Zealander Marguerite van Geldermalsen fell in love with a local Bedouin souvenir-seller while traveling to Petra for a vacation. She stayed with him, married, and raised a family amongst the Bedouins in Petra. Publishing her evocative book “Married to a Bedouin” in 2006, she is still found around Petra and is known as “Um Raami”. You can find her in Petra selling jewelry at her stall, and we are hard pressed to think of a more interesting person to talk to.
10. Learn how to cook Jordanian food.
Only ten minutes away from the Petra Visitors Center is the Petra Kitchen, a culinary center that offers not only fresh authentic Jordanian food to satisfy your hunger cravings but also group communal cooking classes. Learn how to make famous Jordanian dishes like Mansaf and Maqloubeh. It’s a great way to not only experience new foods and cooking styles, but also make new friends.
Final tips for Petra before you go
Set on going to Petra? If so, you would be well advised to pre-purchase the “Jordan Pass” that allows you to save money, time, and peace of mind. Normally, tourists pay $70 USD each day they enter Petra, but the Jordan pass allows you to stay up to three days for the one-price of $113. Furthermore, it pays for your tourist visa fee ($56.5) and entrance to over 40 other world heritage and historic attractions in Jordan. How can you “pass” on this??
Given all these sites, you might be asking how long to visit Petra? How many days in Petra is best? Even if one day is too few, is 2 days in Petra worth it?
Because the Jordan pass gives you such a great deal for the first three days, we recommend you plan for three days in Petra, and two days in Petra if you are in a rush. Petra is a city that continually gives; the longer you stay there the more hidden secrets you unravel. Make the most of your vacation and truly appreciate the splendors, sights, and mysteries of this ancient and awe-inspiring city.