Travel Tips

The Best 9 Petra Hiking Trails from the Main Trail to the Monastery

It goes without saying: Petra is a must-visit during any Jordan itinerary. Whether you’re visiting for a short time – like 5 days – or have plenty of days in Jordan, you simply must give yourself time to explore the once-lost city of Petra. And the best way to discover this top Jordanian sight and world wonder is by setting out on one of the many Petra hiking trails.

Petra has a number of set trails, that range in difficulty from easy to strenuous. Depending on how much time you have, you can definitely hike at least of them – the Main Trail – or you can amp up the intensity by heading out to the Monastery or one of the other, lesser-trod trails to Nabataean and Roman ruins.

On my own first visit to Petra, I stuck to the easier Main Trail; when I head back next time, I’m hoping to do 2-3 more trails to some of the best viewpoints in the area. No matter your level of fitness, you can enjoy exploring Petra. Read on to learn about the best Petra hiking trails and choose one – or more – to trek during your trip to Jordan.

Note: For all Petra hikes, you should check-in at the Visitor Center before setting out; several hikes on this list require an official guide and you can be cited for failing to register and hire a guide.

The Easy, Best Petra Hiking Trail

With more than ten trails, Petra truly is a hikers’ paradise. Let’s begin our list with the most popular (and easiest) trail in the 102 square miles that make up the Ancient Nabatean Kingdom. 

1. The Main Trail (incl. the Treasury)

  • Distance: 5 miles 
  • Estimated Time: 3.5-4 hours
  • Difficulty: easy 

Thanks to being mostly flat, The Main Trail is the easiest and most common Petra hiking trail. The Main Trail starts at the visitor center and goes past all the must-see sites in Petra, including the Siq, Treasury, Street of Facades, Roman theater, Royal Tombs, and Great Temple. Once you’ve reached the trail’s end, just after the City Complex, you’ll find many other popular trails branch off from there, like Wadi Farasa Trail and the Umm Al-Biyara Trail.

As this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Petra, the chance that it will get crowded fast is high. So, try to start your journey as soon as Petra opens to the public (6 am). You’ll be thankful to start early if you visit Petra during the summer, too, when the heat makes this trail much less comfortable.

Note: If you want the easiest possible hike to see just one sight in Petra (the Treasury), it is a 1.5-mile out-and-back hike along the Main Trail through the Siq to The Treasury. This hike takes about 60 minutes.

Moderate Hiking Trails in Petra

Petra Hiking - Monestary

Ok, time to go up the difficulty ladder. Below you’ll find some of the day hikes in Petra that’ll make you sweat a bit more when you hike them.

2. The Main Trail to Ad Deir (Monastery)

  • Distance: 2.5 miles 
  • Estimated Time: 4.5-5 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate 

Like we said before, The Main Trail’s ending is the starting point of many other Petra hiking trails. Ad-Dier, mostly known as the Monastery Hike, is a challenging path that takes you to Petra’s second most beautiful wonder, the Monastery. While this hike takes only one hour, it includes climbing up 800 steps to get to this architectural wonder. But your efforts are well rewarded when the hike ends.

At the top, you’ll witness the second marvel, after the Treasure, that the Nabateans carved. There’s also a small café in front of the site, where you can recharge your batteries while admiring the surroundings. Besides the excellent views of the monument, the Ad-Dier trail offers the best vistas of the valley below. So, have your camera ready for some postcard shots!

If climbing up 800 steps sounds like a little bit too much to you, keep reading because there’s another less taxing trail that takes you to the Monastery. 

Petra Hiking - Old Ruins

3. Al-Madras Trail

  • Distance: 0.9 Miles 
  • Estimated Time: 90 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate 

Any Indiana Jones fans out there? Well, good news! You can actually hike the exact same path that the famous archaeologist did while filming the movie. Starting just before the entrance of the Al Siq, the spectacular Al-Madras Trail takes you west of Petra, passing the Obelisk Tomb, and traverses an ancient bridge built by the Nabataean to cross the Wadi. At the end of the trail, you will find an oil press, cistern, and several sacred relics, including a high place and a meeting hall for a Nabataean religious association.

Although short, the many slopes visitors find along the path make the Al-Madras one of the trails in Petra that requires a bit more effort. Also, keep in mind it can be hard to find your way around, so it’s not advised to attempt this trail without a guide.

4. Sabra Trail

  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Estimated Time: 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate 

If you’re looking for a hike that’s different than the traditional touristic route, then the Sabra Trail is a must. Set on the tracks of the old trading routes, this Petra hiking trail will lead you to the suburbs of the city complex named Sabra. There are several starting points, but the most popular one is at the Petra Visitors Center entrance (where the Main Trail also starts.) Along your trek, you will see many un-excavated tombs and houses, Roman theater ruins, a Nabatean sanctuary, and petroglyphs carved on walls.

The difficulty of this trek doesn’t lie in the geography but in the length. Since the trail is not well-posted, finding and following the path can also be a bit tricky.

Strenuous Petra Hikes

Petra Hiking - Treasury View

You might have noticed that hiking in Petra is actually the best way to get a good view of the Ancient Nabatean Kingdom. If you’re an experienced hiker and want to make the most of your day in Petra, the hikes mentioned below are for you.

5. Al Khubtha (Treasury Viewpoint) Trail

  • Distance: 2.2 miles 
  • Estimated Time: 2.5-3 hours
  • Difficulty: hard 

While the Al Kubtha Trail guarantees the best views of Petra, getting there means hiking an arduous uphill path. But hey, the best views come after the hardest climb. Right?

The Al Khubtha starts from the end of the Main Trail, right after the Street of Facades, where you’ll see the first sign pointing you in the right direction. From there, you’ll walk until you approach a sign that says the “best view in Petra,” near a small house. While the arrow points forward, you should turn left. After walking 15 more minutes, you’ll finally find the best views of Petra: the Treasury Viewpoint! The actual viewpoint is in a small store, where you can buy some tea or soft drinks while you enjoy the view.

Given its considerable difficulty, the trail is far from crowded, so you’ll have all the astounding views to yourself. 

6. High Place of Sacrifice Trail

  • Distance: 1.9 miles 
  • Estimated Time: 3.5-4 hours
  • Difficulty: hard 

The High Place of Sacrifice Trail is fairly vertiginous, like many other hiking trails in Petra. The High Place of Sacrifice Trail trailhead is across the Tomb of Unayshu, and the beginning is ALL stairs. So, be ready for a challenge. Along the way, you’ll walk past plenty of Nabataean architecture that you’d otherwise miss.

The good thing is that you can combine this trail with the Wadi al-Farasa Trail on your way back. Located behind the High Place of Sacrifice, Wadi al-Farasa is a secluded canyon that takes you to less-visited monuments, like the Lion Fountain, the Garden Temple, and the Renaissance tomb.

Petra Hiking - Donkey Climbing Stairs

7. The Back Route to Ad Deir (Monastery)

  • Distance: 6.2 miles
  • Estimated Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: hard

Like we mentioned in The Main Trail to Ad Deir (2), there are two ways to get to the Monastery. Here’s the second one. The Back Route to Ad Deir trail takes you off the main track through the back-door route. This trail starts at the Kharrubat al-Fajja, 50 meters west of the main road to Beidha. You then begin an upward climb to the Monastery passing by the Lion Triclinium. On your way back, you’ll take the trail that passes by the Umm Sysaban, where you will see the remains of an ancient walled settlement. 

Even if you still have to climb a little bit, The Back Route to Ad Deir saves you the 800 steps (and the crowds).

8. Umm Al-Biyara Trail

  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Estimated Time: 4.5-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard

Although Umm Al-Biyara Trail is on every map at Petra, very few people actually know about its existence. Starting at the Main Trail, the trailhead of the Umm Al-Biyara is next to Qasr al-Bint. From there, the trail is very steep; you’ll have to hike an uphill path and climb up lots of steps to the top.

You can also access the Umm Al-Biyara Trail if you’re coming from the High Place of Sacrifice Trail. Instead of turning right to get to the Main Trail, continue left to get to the trailhead. The reward is stunning views of the Ancient City and sighs of ancient village ruins you wouldn’t see otherwise. 

9. Jabal Haroun Trail

  • Distance: 5.2 miles
  • Estimated Time: 6.5-7 hours 
  • Difficulty: Hard

Starting next to the Qasr Al-Bint, the Jabal Haroun Trail is probably Petra’s most strenuous hiking trail. The Jabal Haroun Trail is mostly known for being considered the biblical Mt. Hor – the burial site of Moses’s brother Aaron.

On top of Jabal Haroun, there’s a white shrine Built in the 14th century. For Muslims and Christians, the shrine is still a sacred place, and the trail leading there is often hiked as a way of pilgrimage. For tourists, the trail is a way to get one of the best views of the Ancient Nabatean Kingdom.

Even if you don’t have religious motives, you can visit the shrine marking the burial site as long as you let the caretaker know.

Bonus: Vaux Moise Crusader Castle

  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Estimated Time: 60-90 minutes
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The last trail in our list is an unofficial one, the Vaux Moise Crusader Castle trail. 

Lying between Wadi Musa and the Bdul village of Um Seyhun is Vaux Moise Castle, or as the Jordanians call it, the al-Wuʿaira. After the bloody conquest of Jerusalem in 1099, Baldwin I of Jerusalem had ordered to build the crusader castle in 1116 on the remains of a Nabataean predecessor to control the trade and communication route between Cairo and Damascus. The castle remained unbeatable until 1189 when Saladin’s army defeated The Lordship of Oultrejourdain in the Crusades and the Vaux Moise passed onto the hands of the Ayyubids dynasty.

The remaining ruins of the castle are still impressive and in excellent shape. And the good news is you can visit anytime. While it’s possible to hike to the castle, you should know there’s no official trade nor signs that lead you from Petra’s visitor center to the Vaux Moise. This said you must check in to get a guide at the visitor center before hiking this trail.

Have any questions about these Petra hiking trails? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

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