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Are you planning to visit Petra Jordan and are you an avid hiker? Then you’re going to love Petra! The archaeological site is pretty vast and has countless sights to be explored. There are eight official hiking trails in Petra which let you walk in the footsteps of past civilizations.
As a local expert in Jordan tourism, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Petra many times. I’ve compiled an overview of the best hiking trails in Petra so you can make most of your time here.
Hiking in Petra
Before we move on to the actual list, let me tell you a thing or two about hiking in Petra.
Petra is much larger in size than you’re probably imagining. In fact, the entire area stretches over 264 km² (102 sq mi) which is roughly the size of 50,000 football fields.
As per today, over 500 ancient monuments have been found and reconstructed. It’s believed that only a small portion of the treasures has been excavated yet. The Nabateans, Romans and Byzantine have definitely left some remarkable heritage for us to witness.
Petra is a true paradise for anyone who loves hiking and exploring. If you have a day or two to spend in Petra, you want to choose the right hiking trail. I’m going to tell you which one you should take, depending on your fitness level and schedule. Let’s dive right in.
Petra Hiking Trails
There are eight official hiking trails in Petra. However, not all of them are interesting for first or second-time visitors. Some of them lead through the surrounding valleys and mountains, beyond the actual sights in Petra. If you’re a first-time visitor, I definitely recommend you to do the first two trails of this list, spread over one or two days. If you really love hiking, you could do all three of them, spread over two or three days.
As the name suggests, the Main Trail is the most popular hiking trail in Petra. It starts at the Visitor’s Center, the entrance to the archaeological site. It will first lead you downhill, past the Obelisk Tomb, through the Siq and then to the Treasury, the most iconic building and symbol of Jordan. You’ll probably want to spend some time here to admire the truly impressive building carved in stone, and take some pictures.
However, the Main Trail doesn’t stop at the Treasury. It continues further downhill towards the ancient heart of Petra. The good thing about this trail is that it covers all major sites of Petra. You’ll get to see the Nabatean theater, the Royal Tombs, the Colonnaded Streets, Petra Church and the Great Temple.
The trail ends at the end of the Colonnaded Street. It’s about 4.3 km (2.6 mi) long and takes about 1 – 1.5 hours to complete IF you walk at a normal to fast pace. However, I recommend that you plan more time, ideally 3-4 hours. That’s because you won’t walk at your regular pace at all. Allow yourself enough time to admire the sights. Don’t stick to walking paths but make a detour to see the Royal Tombs from closeby (don’t forget to go inside), and take plenty of pictures. Due to the weather (which can be really hot during summer), you should also allow yourself some time to drink water too.
So, no rush on the Main Trail. Enjoy the special feeling of experiencing one of the world’s most impressive cultural heritages.
Once you have completed the Main Trail (end of the Colonnaded Street), you can choose to hike the Monastery Trail. As its name suggests, the trail will lead you up to the famous Monastery of Petra (Ad Deir), which is another iconic building in the ancient city.
The Monastery is truly impressive and worth the effort. You should absolutely go for it. If you have decent fitness, you can totally do the Main Trail and the Monastery Trail in one day without rushing. That’s totally possible if you get up early and start your visit to Petra early in the morning. You don’t have to be there at 6 a.m., but try not to make it later than 8 a.m to allow enough time.
The Monastery trail consists of 850 stairs through an impressive rocky landscape. The walk will be tiring, but you’ll certainly take a small break at one of the viewpoints on your way up. The walk uphill will take about an hour to complete. Plan another hour at the Monastery (you’ll get the best view of the building if you climb uphill a little further).
If you don’t feel like doing both trails the same day, you can do the Main Trail on day one, and the Monastery the next. The only inconvenience is that you’ll have to cover the Main Trail again (as the Monastery Trail starts where the Main Trail ends). Since you’ve already completed the Main Trail the day before (which takes 3-4 hours if you want to see all the sights from closeby), you can walk it at a faster pace the next day.
Calculate 1 hour to walk the Main Trail (at a fast pace), 1 hour for the Monastery Trail, 1 hour to spend at the Monastery, and another 1.5 – 2 hours to walk back to the Visitor’s Center (about 5 hours of hiking).
These are the two hiking trails in Petra that you should absolutely do, whether in one or two days.
Treasury Viewpoint Trail
Looking for a more intensive hiking experience in Petra? Here comes more inspiration.
If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen those pictures of people sitting on a rock and overlooking the Treasury. Yes, that is really the best view you can get in Petra. In fact, there are multiple Treasury viewpoints, three in total. However, only one of them is part of the official hiking trails in Petra.
The official trail is called the Al Khubtha Trail, also known as the Treasury Viewpoint Trail. It leads you all the way up to the mountain Jabal Khubtha which is located opposite to the iconic Treasury.
It starts at the Street of Facades (opposite to the Nabatean Theater), about a 5-minute walk from the Treasury. That said, you’ll first do a part of the Main Trail and then quit it to continue on the Al Khubtha trail. You’ll need around 45 minutes to get from the Visitor’s Center (the entrance to the site) to the starting point of the Treasury Viewpoint trail. The actual trail is about 1.7 km (1 mi). Note that it’s quite steep, and therefore takes 1 – 1.5 hours to complete (uphill).
The view of the Treasury from the viewpoint is truly amazing! Although the hike is a bit challenging, it’s worth the effort. Not many people complete it so you’ll definitely not have any crowds here.
While the official Treasury Viewpoint is on the hilltop, there are two lower viewpoints in the center of the mountain. As they are not official trails, they are not allowed to access. So far the theory. In reality, it’s tolerated. Local Bedouin guides will offer to accompany you there for a small fee. It’s definitely a shortcut (the one on the right side of the Treasury is just 10 minutes). But there is the risk of injury due to the rocky paths and unsecured cliffs. Whether you’d like to take one of these hikes is up to you (at your own risk). If you want to stay safe, just stick to the official hiking trails.
Any Questions or Feedback?
Have you ever been to Petra or are you planning to visit soon? Share your experience and questions in the comments section down the page.
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