Whether you’re on a whistle-stop day trip to Petra from elsewhere or staying nearby with 24 hours to take in this age-old rock carved by the long-ago Nabataeans, planning ahead is essential. Read our tips for what to see and do in a day at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With only limited time, it’s best to focus on Petra’s highlights. Most half- and full-day trips from the town of Petra (Wadi Musa), Amman, Tel Aviv, Eilat, Aqaba, and the Dead Sea include a guide or let you hire one at the main entrance gate. From here, you’ll walk through the Siq, the canyon into the city, to marvel at the showpiece Treasury before continuing along the tomb-lined Street of the Facades to inspect the other must-sees: the Roman Amphitheater, Colonnaded Street, and Qasr al-Bint Temple. Many day trips end here before lunch at a Petra hotel, while longer tours usually let you explore further and include an optional lunch within the site.
If time allows, continue deeper into Petra this afternoon to see another of its highlights—its legendary Monastery. Climb the 800 steps up to this spectacular edifice—originally a Nabataean tomb and far larger than the Treasury—and absorb its Hellenistic frontage and views over the surrounding mountains. Alternatively, hike to the High Place of Sacrifice, ascending steps from the Roman Amphitheater to this once-holy clifftop site, a Nabataean sacrificial platform. Soak in the bird’s-eye views over the gorges below and perhaps descend through Wadi Fasa—one of Petra’s most scenic trails.
Petra is especially magical after dark, so if you’re staying in the area, book dinner at the Petra Cave Bar, a restaurant set inside a lantern-studded Nabataean cave tomb. Alternatively, enjoy an evening walk through the candlelit Siq canyon to the Treasury, where a blanket of candles illuminates its façade. Sit on carpets and sip tea as you take in the sense of timelessness and listen to live Bedouin music—a once-in-a-lifetime experience.