With its age-old carved canyons, the Nabataean city of Petra—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and its nearby attractions will easily fill a 3-day itinerary. Here are our ideas for spending three days in and around this ancient, pink-hued city.
Dedicate your first day to the main Petra site with a full-day tour. If you’re staying in Petra town—known locally as Wadi Musa—most tours are private, with a personal guide to show you the must-sees and provide historical perspective. Most also follow the main trail through the Siq canyon to view the stunning 1st-century Treasury and along the Street of the Facades to the Roman Amphitheater and Colonnaded Street. Some tours offer an optional Siq horseback ride. Consider climbing to the High Place of Sacrifice, a Nabataean ceremonial altar perched high above Petra’s valleys, or delve further into what’s known as the Petra Basin, where the cliffs contain royal tombs hewn by the Nabataeans. End the day with dinner at Petra’s Cave Bar, a candlelit Nabataean rock tomb.
The protected desert of Wadi Rum, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, is about a 2-hour drive from Petra, so take advantage of its proximity by booking a day trip. Many 3-day tours from places such as Amman and Tel Aviv combine a visit to Petra with a stay in this glorious wilderness. Most day trips and longer tours feature 4WD expeditions through Wadi Rum’s valleys and sometimes include an overnight stay at a Bedouin camp. Other multi-day journeys cover Petra and Wadi Rum along with other Jordan highlights, such as the Dead Sea, Aqaba, the Dana Nature Reserve, and Amman and Roman Jerash.
If you’re based in Wadi Musa, use your final day to inspect previously missed sights at Petra. Otherwise, head for Little Petra, reputedly Petra’s ancient suburb. See its rock-cut facades and triclinium dining halls—one still coated with colorful murals—on a 4WD safari or guided walk. Later, sample some Jordanian cuisine with a lunch or dinner experience at a local family home. Wrap up your stay with a classic Turkish bath, enjoying a steam room and invigorating-yet-relaxing massage. Alternatively, join a candlelit Petra tour to see the Treasury at its most magical—its sandstone pillars, portal, and statues softly illuminated against the darkened canyon.