Traveling to Petra – Jordan
I will be honest, it took me some time to go back to Petra. Actually, I haven’t managed in the last two-and-half years while I was living in Jordan. So it was 10 years back that I first visited Petra and Wadi Rum. And with small kids and the birth of our second son last year, it just didn’t feel right to go into the desert. However, this month my mom came to visit again and we definitively wanted to cover the highlights of Jordan. Last time we went to Jerash, Amman, and the Citadel and the Dead Sea. So this time, we decided to take a long weekend and explore Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. We were about to see various camels.
We left early on Thursday afternoon to Wadi Musa/Petra and stayed at Petra Palace Hotel – nothing fancy but OK. The desert highway towards the South is still under construction for many parts and the direction towards the North is a bit better. However, you should be careful when driving but at least progress is noticeable. Once in Petra, we decided to go to the Moevenpick Hotel for dinner and it was quite nice. They have one restaurant with a beautiful interior but that one was fully booked so we went to the other one and it had a good buffet with various international and Arabic food.
Where to stay in Petra
The location of the Petra Palace hotel is 3 mins walk from Petra visitor center and the rooms were spacey. We got a family room to accommodate all of us (3 adults, 2 kids) and that was totally fine as we only intended to stay for one night. The breakfast was below average I would say. However, location is king in that case.
Unfortunately, with grandma and kids, we did not leave very early and entered Petra on a Friday morning around 10.30…. worst timing… haha. I really wanted to be an early bird, but it just wasn’t possible this time. If you are alone, I mean without kids, do the effort to wake up early and enter as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you reside in Jordan and have residency (Iqama), remember to take it with you, as the entrance fee will be 1 JD instead of 51 JD. There is a nice new visitor center at the entrance and also recently they opened a new museum. Everything in Petra looked very different from 10 years ago – like 10 million times more people.
The Siq and the Treasury in Petra
We first went down through the canyon towards the treasury and it was really great. There is so much to see as the walls get closer and higher and tighter until you reach the place in front of the treasury. Again, 10 years ago, there was no cafe, no souvenir shop, no tourist police, and maybe just a few Bedouins with camels. But surely not that cramped and packed with commercial stuff, even though it could be way worse, as I experienced at the pyramids in Cairo. Anyway, the timing of the day was our fault, so I kind of expected some crowds. Titus happily took the chance to hop on a camel and I enjoyed taking pictures. Together with some Turkish coffee, we enjoyed our break at the treasury.
We continued further keeping in mind that we won’t do the complete experience until the monastery. If you travel to Petra with young children, be aware that it is nearly impossible to navigate with a standard stroller. Because of that, we took one with large wheels. I also wanted to take our baby carriers but honestly forgot them and actually, they would not have fit in our car with all the stuff and 5 people. But with our stroller, we were able to manage the way to the monastery and a bit beyond although the terrain gets rougher and rougher. I did not want to go on a horse, a carriage, or camel for a longer ride as I feel the animals are not in good condition. Later we took more time taking pictures of the kids and camels in Petra.
Petra Beyond the Treasury
You can easily spend two or three days in Petra wandering and hiking on different paths, climbing up to see the treasury from above, the high place of sacrifice, or other hidden treasures. You can go all the way up to the monastery or you can enter from the backdoor via Litte Petra, as we did on our last year’s road trip. With very young kids, however, we were not able to do all of that but we still enjoyed our time. If you look for a family-friendly stay over in a Bedouin camp near Little Petra, consider Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp. In pretty much each corner of Petra you can find some interesting shapes, colors, and structures.
Exploring the Monastery
As previously mentioned, the way to the Monastery is steep and exhausting. But each of the 800 steps or so are worth the view. Make sure to go early. Make sure to avoid donkey rides, as animals are not treated well. The building is just impressive and you cannot stop imagining how the Nabateans carved this into stone. You will find some rest spots that are of course a bit more pricey as this is a pretty rural place. But it should not be skipped on any visit to Jordan.
Around the monastery, you can go up a few more meters and have some of the best views ever. It feels like you reached the end of the world. The cliffs are rough and colors are somewhat between red and black. Plenty of small lookouts runs by the Bedouins offer seating in the shade accompanied by a tea.
Read on how our journey continued to Wadi Rum and Aqaba. See here if you are interested in further recommendations for places to stay in Petra. You also might enjoy a visit to Shobak or Karak Castle. If you are planning your Jordan itinerary then you will love my post on The Best Places and Experiences in Jordan and When to go.