Petra, fondly called ‘Rose City’ is a honeycomb comprising of hand-made caves, tombs and temple carved out of blushing pink sandstone. Built over 2000 years ago and hidden due to shifting sand, Petra tells the fascinating story of a lost civilization.
The city depicts the life of the lesser-known Nabateans, a tribe of nomadic desert inhabitant whose kingdom rose from the peaks and cliff of this region. Petra was the most prominent city in the Nabatean kingdom and the primary link between the Arabian and Mediterranean Seas.
With the arrival of the Romans in 63 B.C., a new series of grandiose constructions and expansion began. It was during this period that some of the major facades were built including the giant theatre seating 6000 spectators, the Monastery, and the Treasury.
Visiting the ‘Lost City of Petra’ will give you an insight into the various sophisticated engineering phenomena used in these ancient cities. For instance, the sophisticated water system, the irrigation channel and underground cisterns in use here were much ahead of their times.
It is these amazing factors, along with the raw beauty of its façade that attracts millions of visitors from around the world to Petra every year.
If you are planning to visit Petra, take a look at this itinerary for a perfect 2 day holiday in Petra Jordan to help you plan your time in this unique city. Petra is perfect stop as part of week vacation to Jordan or as a day trip when visiting Amman.
On the first day in Petra, we will knock off some of the most iconic locations in the lost city. We will enter through the Siq and visit the most iconic structures in the ‘rose city’. These include the Treasury, the Monastery and Qasr al-Bint.
Fuel up for a long day of walking and exploring by having an early breakfast at Feu La Bedouin Restaurant in Wadi Musa. The restaurant offers traditional Jordanian and Arabic dishes at an extremely competitive price.
The service at the restaurant is amazing, and the ambience makes you feel like you are eating in a traditional Bedouin Tent.
Just grab a quick bite or fill yourself up before beginning the day. The restaurant offers all local dishes freshly prepared and delicious. After breakfast, head to the city of Petra for an unforgettable day.
The anticipation of walking into the gorgeous city of Petra through a narrow gorge leading up to the magnificent façade of the Treasury (Al Khazneh) is unbeatable. Try to start the journey early in the morning if you want to avoid heavy crowds.
Literally translating to ‘Gorge’, the Siq is the primary entrance into Petra. Not only this, but it is also the most dramatic feature of the city. The path of the Siq leading to the city has numerous turns and twists between gorgeous eroded cliffs.
The pathway lasts for more than a kilometre. In some places, it widens to reveal picturesque sunlit piazzas whereas, in other places, it closes to just a couple of meters. Walking through the gorge, you can hear the echoing of sounds in the wider areas, whereas, in the narrower areas, the sunlight and noise are reduced.
After an unforgettable walk through the dark and narrow alley of the Siq, you end up in an area of amazing classical architecture. Once you step out into the sun, the beautiful façade of Petra’s Treasury will be in front of you.
Carved out into the cliff and standing tall at the height of forty meters, the gorgeous edifice has featured in a number of movies like the Last Crusades and Indiana Jones. The sight of this magnificent portico is nothing less than divine.
The carvings on the Treasury facade, though much damaged by vandals, are still discernible and show to what extent Nabatean culture was a combination of elements from the Hellenistic and Middle Eastern worlds.
Two large eagles frame the upper storey, depicting the Nabatean’s chief deity, Dushara. The rounded tholos under the urn depicts the Egyptian goddess Isis. The ground level houses two mounted riders Pollux and Castor – sons of Zeus.
After admiring the gorgeous Treasury, we will move on to Street of Facades. After passing the Treasury, the Siq starts widening gradually and reaches an open area. Here both sides of the street are lined with numerous Nabataean burial interfaces embellished with grindstones and various other decorations.
The tomb tower "BD 70" stands tall at more than 15 meters in height. It is carved out on its three sides and holds a wreath made with bricked-up crenellations. After passing some buried facades, next, we will reach the restored tomb "BD 825" containing 17 graves. This tomb has some remarkable details like the nefesh on its door frame. These details are a treat for archaeology lovers.
Another notable tomb is the tomb of Anesho – the Minister to Queen Nabatiyeh Shaqilh II, ruler of the kingdom between 70 and 76 AD. This tomb overlooks the external Siq.
Moving forward on the main path, you will reach the City Centre. Here you will see the only freestanding structure in Petra – the Temple of Qasr Al-Bint.
This Nabataean temple is standing on a vast paved area and stands at the height of 23 meters. It is surrounded by peribolos - an enclosure wall with seats built during the time of King Aretas IV. The northern façade comprises of 4 columns framed by pilasters. The temple also houses an altar meant for sacrifice. This altar faces north towards the cultic chapel.
The idols are kept on a raised platform inside the central chapel. According to legend, these temples were dedicated to Dhu-Shara as well as his virgin mother al-Uzza-Aphrodite.
Next, we will start our hike towards the Monastery. It will take you around 40 minutes to reach the top through the path having about 800 steps. On the way, you will come across a number of distractions like old ladies offering delicious traditional tea. You can enjoy a cup if your heart desires on the way up or down.
The Monastery is considered to be the most important and awe-inspiring location in the city. However, it is also the most taxing one to reach.
It comprises of a massive façade measuring over 50-meters square carved from the mountain rock. The hour-long climb may sound daunting; however, the architecture of the Monastery, the view from the top, and the tranquil holy spring located there make the climb worth it.
After the taxing hike to the Monastery, take a break and enjoy a traditional Jordanian lunch at the Basin Restaurant. Start with a lemon-mint drink to beat the heat outside. Sitting in the restaurant air conditioning also brings welcome relief from the outside heat!
Located right in the heart of the Rose City, the restaurant is surrounded by the magnificent ruins. It offers fantastic views of the Monastery and Qasr al Bint as well.
After a lot of walking in the morning, reward yourself with some delicious local food. The restaurant offers a Buffet comprising of numerous different salads along with Arabic and western dishes. You can end the meal with an array of delicious fruits and desserts.
The High Place of Sacrifice is one of the highest points in the city that is easily accessible. Perched on top of a high cliff, it drops to more than 170m to reach Wadi Musa. The location houses a 6m wide and 15m extended platform where religious ceremonies were held back in the day. This platform is oriented towards the altar built on four steps. There is also a socket that is believed to have helped a stone representation of the deity and a basin on one side.
The ridge extends more north of High Place of Sacrifice, going directly above the theatre. From there, you have a gorgeous view of the Outer Siq below. On the way down, take a different route and go down the western cliff of Attuf ridge. The road directly leads to the ruined Crusader walls.
Partway down the valley, you will see a Lion Monument carved in the wall. This monument is believed to have been a water fountain as a pipe seems to be feeding water to it. The creature represents al-Uzza, and the monument was believed to be used by devotees to refresh themselves on the way up for ceremonies.
Give your legs some much-needed rest, you have already done quite a lot of walking and there is more to do in this 2 day Petra itinerary. Enjoy some well-earned relaxation with a strong Petra Beer at Wadi Musa’s iconic ‘The Cave Bar’. The Cave Bar is said to be the oldest bar in the world.
It is housed inside a 2000-year old cave and is now a part of the adjoining Petra Guest House Hotel and Crowne Plaza resort. The cave was originally built by the Nabataean people as a tomb.
The bar itself offers the usual roster of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. But of course, the biggest attraction of this place is its space. With rough texture walls of sandstone, huge load-bearing rock columns, glowing lanterns and dramatic shadows everywhere, the ambience is something that you will not find anywhere else.
Today we will take the path less beaten and explore the lesser-known areas of the Rose City. There are few parts of Petra that receive less tourist attention but are no less amazing than the popular points such as Monastery and Treasury.
We will go into some nooks and crannies of the city and get a chance to see unique perspectives that are often missed by most one-day visitors.
Before heading out on your excursion for the day, head to the grocery store to get supplies for your picnic later today. You can also visit Sanabel Bakery to pick up some Arabic sweets as well. You can also get in touch with your hotel staff to book a lovely Turkish Bath experience to recover your sore muscles in the evening.
Kick-off your second day in Petra with a sumptuous buffet breakfast at Al Saraya Restaurant in Wadi Musa. This is an all-day dining joint offering breakfast buffet comprising of local delicacies as well as international classics. They also offer buffet and a la carte options for lunch and dinner.
The restaurant believes in serving local cuisine with a global appeal. The chef offers traditional recipes revisited to entice today’s palate. You can try classic dishes like Beef tartare, Riz Casimir Curry and Swiss carrot cake cooked to perfection.
The breakfast buffet comprises of a great spread of salads, soups, continental breakfast options as well as specialized dishes like chicken mushroom and variety of pastas. You can also find fresh fruits and fresh pastries on the buffet that will leave you fulfilled.
On the second day after breakfast, you can experience the Siq one more time if you wish. The experience is truly magical, and I think it is worth experiencing again.
However, there is another option which is to enter the city of Petra from a different way – via Wadi Muthlim.
This hike is a bit more complicated, and it would be a good idea to get an experienced guide for the journey. Travelling via Wadi Muthlim will take about 2 hours.
Most of the tourists in Petra visit a steep and treacherous lookout point above The Treasury to experience the glory of the vista below. However, I would recommend you to go for a self-paced, self-guided hike known as Treasury Vista II.
You need to follow the Al Khubtha trail to reach it. This trail comprises of 600 well-preserved steps carved from rock. The trail starts just after the Royal Tombs and is appropriately marked with a sign. You will find numerous Bedouin people selling souvenirs along the way. You can ask for their help if you need some navigation on the way.
Eventually, as you reach the top, the rock steps transform into a dirt path. Once you reach the top, you will have a gorgeous view that you will remember for life. There is a cosy Bedouin hut on the top as well where you can relax for a while and enjoy the best tea with the most stunning view ever.
Hopefully, you have packed a nice picnic lunch for yourself in the morning before heading out on your adventure.
While descending on the Al Khubtha trail, find yourself a nice slice of rock, perhaps with a beautiful view of the theatre at the bottom. Sit down and enjoy the packed lunch while savouring the tranquil view at the same time.
We will again return to the Street of Facades today to explore the area to the fullest. It is not easy to explore the entire area in a single day. So today, we will explore the parts you missed on the first day.
There is so much to explore in this area, especially if you are fond of exploring archaeological sites. You can enter numerous ominous caverns as well as traverse the steep walls. Take your time and take a stroll in the area, exploring it the way your heart desires.
The Royal Tombs, the Silk & Urn Tombs and the Theatre are all worth taking closer looks. The area near the souvenir shops near Outer Siq is also quite interesting.
Before heading out and ending the exploration of the magnificent Petra, sit down near the theatre and watch the sun setting over the Royal Tombs. The light from the setting sun light up the Royal Tombs and give it a delightful look.
As the sun is going down, head to the Treasury and give it one last look before heading out through the Siq. This will be one of your last chances to enjoy this view during your 2 days in Petra Jordan.
In case your legs have given up by now, take this opportunity to enjoy exiting Petra via chariot or on horseback. The locals offering these rides use their great persuasive talents during this time to convince you for a ride.
Negotiate an agreeable price for a short ride and use the ride to add to your experience. However, if riding an animal is not your thing, simply pet the stray dogs on the way out and head back to your hotel on foot.
After 2 days of exploring Petra, it is time to relax and ease your tired muscles by indulging in a hands-on Turkish Bath experience. Ask your hotel to arrange this experience for you well in advance.
The Turkish Bath, also known as Hammam, is a Middle Eastern version of a steam bath.
Hammams originated in Arabia and were considered to be an essential part of Roman Life. The tradition gained popularity in Turkey when hammams were made available to people of all statuses.
The ritual at a Turkish bath is quite simple – it revolves around cleansing and relaxing. The treatment lasts about 40 minutes, but the visitors can lounge in the cooling areas afterwards for as long as they like.
The treatment involves laying on a large navel stone or marble belly and relaxing in high humidity for a while, followed by vigorous scrubbing by an attendant. After this, the body is cleansed using a special soap. The entire experience leaves you feeling cleansed and relaxed.
After the relaxation session, it’s time to end the day with a Jordanian dinner at one of the best restaurants in Wadi Musa. Al Qantarah is one of the favourite restaurants of both tourists as well as locals, serving delicious local and international cuisines.
Offering a huge spread of dinner dishes in buffet style, the restaurant offers a myriad of dishes with no fixed menu. The diners here are spoilt for choice with over 15 different varieties of mezze and salads, 8 varieties of soups, numerous meat dishes as well as over 8 kinds of desserts on offer.
Not only this, but the restaurant also offers live cooking stations to customize the dishes to your taste. The live music performance done here is like a cherry on top of a delicious cake. The buffet rates offered here are quite a bargain and ensures a fantastic dining experience.
Petra is the primary reason why most people want to visit Jordan. Visiting Petra gives you the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of the ancient Romans and the explorers.
It is a place where you cannot plan the best experiences. Sipping a cup of tea with the Bedouins or stepping into forgotten monuments and getting lost in their world is something that cannot be put on an itinerary. However, to ensure that you get the most of your limited time there, this itinerary will serve as your local guide.
Make sure to keep an open mind and your schedule flexible to make your trip to the Rose City of Petra memorable for life.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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