Wadi Musa and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra is an experience like few others and I would highly recommend visiting. I honestly waffled on the appropriate number of nights to stay and ultimately settled on 3 nights which I think was the perfect number: I wouldn’t recommend anything less and anything more might leave you searching for things to do.
Every room type one could need is available in Wadi Musa: there are the 5-star Movenpick Hotel and Petra Moon, as well as the Bubble Luxotel to a couple of hostels and everything in between. Ultimately, I chose the Petra Guest House (https://www.petraguesthousehotel.com/) which is now managed by the IHG group but still independently owned. The PGH is located right next to the Visitors’ Center and the entrance to Petra but honestly, many of the other hotels are no more than a 5-minute walk to the entrance to Petra so don’t let location be your guiding reason. We were upgraded to a chalet room which was spacious and lovely, and the breakfast, although chaotic, had all the various options that one would need to start the day.
Note to my readers: be careful when choosing your hotel and be sure to confirm that the hotel is located in the center of town. Wadi Musa and Petra are located in the mountains of Jordan so things are very hilly, and rather strenuous when walking around. For example, there are two Movenpick hotels: the Movenpick Petra is close to the entrance to Petra whereas the other, the Movenpick Nabatean is located on Kings Highway well outside of Petra so walking isn’t feasible and a car rather useful. (The Movenpick Nabean does have a pool, which I don’t think any hotels in the center do.)
There aren’t a lot of options in Petra and most hotels probably offer a Half Board or Full Board so that is one option to undertake.
The Al Ghadeer Rooftop restaurant at the Movenpick Petra was gorgeous. Although definitely not cheap – you are in the mountains and once you get to Petra, you will see how challenging it is to navigate deliveries and supplies – the food was lovely, the local Jordanian wines good (not award winning but still potable), and the staff truly outstanding. And because the nights cool down very quickly once the sun sets behind the mountains, the staff provides blankets for those who didn’t come prepared.
Another options, but more on the fascinating front, is My Mom’s Recipe (https://mymomsreciperestaurant.com/). We were initially to dine elsewhere but after walking 30 minutes and still hiking up hill, we decided we’d never make it and since we had passed Mother’s, and read about it, we decided to try. It is nothing fancy but the food is good, the staff great, and the views over Wadi Musa beautiful. As this is a Muslim run restaurant, alcohol is not available,
You come to Wadi Musa for the sites and I assure you that you will not be disappointed. But reader beware: it’s hot, and can be crowded, and you will be pushed just to see the top things on your list. That’s said, there are two entrances to Petra, the primary being that located next to the Visitor’s Center. I would recommend planning on two days to explore Petra simply because there is a lot of walking and things are not flat, so you will be challenged. On your first day, start at the main entrance next to the Visitor’s Center. Tour Guides can be arranged for varying tours, but the typical tour to the Treasury and the Great Temple will cost you 50JOD at the time of writing.
The walk through the Siq to The Treasury is a truly stunning walk and depending on the time of day, the variations in colours will astound you: the colours will change between the walk in and the walk out so be sure to take your time and marvel at this pathway that leads to The Treasury (made somewhat famous as the final scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
After the Treasury, your guide will take you the Great Temple, an archeological site still under excavation, and then leave you to explore on your own. There are numerous hiking trails available and I would encourage you to do those which your fitness level can accommodate.
On your second day – AND THIS IS MY FAVOURITE AND RECOMMENDED HIKE – start from Little Petra and hike to The Monastery and then hike out through the main entrance. Opened in September 2022, this is a new approach to the archeological site of Petra and definitely worth the effort.
To get to Little Petra, take the free shuttle from just outside the Visitor’s Center. The shuttle begins around 7am and goes approximately every 30 minutes until about 2.30pm. The shuttle will depart only when it is full so be patient and plan accordingly. When you arrive at Little Petra, you can either walk 5km to the start of the official trail, or pay 5JOD for a shared “jeep” to the start of the trail. Take the “jeep”! That 5km trail is very sandy and will feel like more than 5km before you even begin your actual hike.
The hike will be challenging but the approach to The Monastery worth it: not only will it save you walking up 950 steps to get to the Monastery, but the views on this hike are not to be missed. But be prepared: you may not walk up 950 steps but you will definitely walk up A LOT of steps on this hike so it is not easy in any stretch of the imagination. But from everything that I’ve heard, this is a more doable hike than that coming from the Treasury.
And starting this hike early in the morning means that you will virtually have the Monastery to yourselves before the crowds coming from the other direction arrive. And trust me when I say that it is absolutely breathtaking. (Oh, and that walk DOWN 950 steps is so much easier, especially as you see other struggle up and up the steep climb.)
If you want to learn more about Jordanian cooking and the use of spices, I can highly recommend the Petra Kitchen cooking classes (https://petrakitchen.com/). Knife skills aren’t really that important as it is more about the experience and learning about foods and typical mezze can be. But more importantly, at least to me, I appreciate the ethical approach that Petra Kitchen takes to their food: you will make far more than you could ever hope to eat, but rather than wasting the food, the food is donated to local communities in need, something near and dear to my heart.
Note to my readers: everything that I read in preparation for my trip to Jordan said that there would be an exit fee of 10JOD upon crossing the border into Israel. To my surprise, and delight, there were no fees when we crossed the border: I don’t know if things have changed, or if this was because of our Jordan Pass, but when we asked, they just smiled and said that there are no fees.