If you’re a fan of hiking and of archaeology, then hiking in Petra, Jordan is an experience you can’t miss. We’ve put together here a list of the very best hiking trails in Petra, including one that most people don’t even know exists, and that will make you really feel like Indiana Jones.
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Map of Petra’s Hiking Trails
As you can see from the Petra map, Petra is huge! Petra covers about 60 square km and even then, archaeologists believe that around 80% of Petra is still below the surface, waiting to be discovered. The Treasury is a big attraction, but aside from that are so many other spectacular sights. Initially, we were really overwhelmed with how much there was to see. We’ve cut down the trails to the four best hiking trails in Petra.
If you’re interested in learning about Petra’s rich history while taking in the sights, we recommend local guided tours on Get Your Guide. They’ll also help you steer clear of any scams along the way.
The Best Hiking Trails in Petra
The Main Trail
Stats for the Main Trail in Petra:
- Distance: 4km (one way)
- Time: 1-1.5 hr (one way)
- Difficulty: Easy
The Main Trail is the dark red line on the Petra Map. It starts at the Visitor Center and ends where the Ad-Dier trail starts. It’s an easy, flat well-marked trail. The Main Trail is the only trail into the park, so this is your gateway into Petra.
As soon as you start the trail, you’ll be asked by numerous Bedouin if you want to ride on a horse for the first part of the trail. They will tell you that it’s included in the ticket. The Visitor Center even told us this, but this is not true. We suspected this was the case, and it was confirmed when we overheard them demand a fee from some other tourists who had ended their horse ride. The cost for the horse ride will be about 20 JD.
The Main Trail passes through the Siq, a stunning long narrow gorge. You also have the option of taking a carriage through the Siq for an additional fee.
The walk along the narrow corners of the Siq leads to your first glimpse of The Treasury. Unsurprisingly, the Treasury is the most crowded spot in Petra. It’s the most recognizable place and everyone funnels through here. To avoid the crowds, make sure to come when Petra opens. We started the trail around 6:00 am, but there was still quite a few people there. However, with some patience, it was still possible to get a photo without any people. This would be impossible later in the day.
After the treasury, you’ll walk along the Street of Facades. As the name suggests, it’s a long row of facades carved into each side of the cliffs. The caves were once used as tombs. This street leads into the heart of the city.
You’ll continue onto the Colonnade Street. The street is heavily damaged due to multiple floods over the years, however there are still small columns lining the street and some original stones line the street. The Great Temple to the left is also great for exploring, as none of the rooms is roped off.
Ad-Dier Trail – Monastery Hike
Ad-Dier Trail – Monastery Trail Hike Stats:
- Distance: 2km (one way)
- Time: 1.5-2 hr (one way)
- Difficulty: Medium – Difficult
Ad-Dier Trail is the trail directly following the Main Trail, and is more well known as the Monastery Hike. It is a thinner red or pink line on the original Petra Map. The second half of this trail is mostly steps, about 800 steps to reach the Monastery. The completion time will depend largely on your fitness level and the heat. It was incredibly hot when we did the hike, so we took several breaks.
You also have the option to ride a donkey, however I would advise against this as there have been reports of animal abuse and cruelty in Petra. We saw people beating donkeys mercilessly with our own eyes along the trail. We highly encourage you to not support this type of tourism. Instead, walk slowly, enjoy the view, feel the atmosphere, and take as many breaks as you need.
Before starting up the stairs, there is a small side canyon to the left that leads to the Lion Triclinium. Because of its hidden location, it doesn’t get much attention, but it’s worth the short detour.
Some 800 steps later and you’ll finally arrive at the famed Monastery. There are several viewpoints all around the Monastery, including a shaded cafe just opposite the Monastery.
If you’re short on time, or aren’t excited by walking up 800 steps in the heat, there is also a back entrance to the Monastery. You can ask a taxi to drive you to the back entrance. From there, it’s only a 30-minute hike to the Monastery.
Al Khubtha Trail – Treasury Viewpoint
Al Khubtha Trail – Treasury Viewpoint Stats:
- Distance: 1.75 km (one way)
- Time: 1.5 hr (one way)
- Difficulty: Difficult
During our hikes we saw a few signs claiming to be the best view in Petra, but for me, this was definitely the one! It’s much more difficult to access, so unlike the Treasury entrance below, there were hardly any people and we had this view all to ourself for quite some time. The best thing about it is that you don’t need a guide to get here!
Note that there is another viewpoint to the left. It’s much shorter and only takes about 30 minutes to climb. However it isn’t an official trail and requires a Bedouin guide. I have heard rates from 20 JD to 40 JD and you will get LOTS of offers (repeatedly) from them from as you walk through the Siq to the Treasury.
The Al Khubtha Trail branches off from the Mail Trail. After the Street of Facades, you’ll see the Royal Tombs to the right, pictured below. There are also marked signs along the way to point you in the right direction.
The rest of the way is uphill. Continue to follow the stairs and the path. The path disappears (a bit annoyingly) when you approach a sign that says the best view in Petra, near a small house. The arrow points forward, but you should actually go slightly left, in front of the small house. You’ll see a small set of stairs. After walking about 15 minutes, you will start to see the first glimpses of The Treasury.
Continue forward and brace yourself for the best view in Petra — the Treasury Viewpoint! The actual viewpoint is in a small store. It’s shaded, and you can buy fresh orange juice, coffee, tea, or soft drinks while you enjoy the view (they actually require you to, but the prices were “tourist reasonable” at a couple of JD per drink). We were there for almost half an hour and had the whole place to ourselves.
Mystery Fortress Hike
Last but not least, my favorite discovery in Petra. As you might have guessed, this isn’t the official name. I haven’t been able to find any information about this fortress anywhere online, which is probably why we were the only ones here. We accidentally came upon this fort on our last day, as we had some extra time and wanted to check out some of the beautiful rocky landscapes just next to Petra. We couldn’t find any official trails around here, so we just hopped from rock to rock admiring the amazing views.
We spotted something that looked like some ruins in the distance. We wandered around to try to find the entrance, and we finally found the coolest little bridge leading to the fort.
Unfortunately this is where the exploring ends! Before we got to the fort, a park ranger approached us and informed us that [officially] we needed to get tickets from the Petra Visitor Center to go inside the fort. Fortunately it is included in the Jordan Pass. Because we had the Jordan Pass, he allowed us to explore the area for a limited time without going to the Visitor Center. Our time was up, and so we headed back.
As I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t find any information about this place anywhere online and there is no mention of it on Petra’s website.
If you’d like to explore this area, make sure to ask about this place and get tickets from the Visitor Center. The approximate coordinates of the fortress are 30.332923, 35.465842. The park ranger told us that it’s mandatory to have a guide with you because the ruins and the cliffs can be dangerous. If you do get to check it out and find out the name of this part of the park, please let us know via email or comments!