10Best Reasons to Hike Into Petra

  • The Monastery, Ad-Deir, at the top of Petra

    Petra Back to Front

    The crowds move from the main gate and narrow Siq, past the Treasury, temples and tombs to cliffs at the valley's end. Most never make the long climb to the Monastery, missing one of Petra's most striking features. Hike in and it's the Monastery, shown above, that welcomes you to this city carved from sandstone thousands of years ago. Exploring back to front, hikers are rewarded at day's end with Petra's most famous façade–without the crowds.

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Stalls at Little Petra

    The Small Start

    Although it doesn't have the grand scale of its larger neighbor, Little Petra, most likely an ancient caravan staging area for Petra, shouldn't be missed. Small façades and narrow stairways cut into the hillsides lead to intriguing interiors. Stalls near the entrance offer Bedouin art and wares. 

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Nabatean ceiling painting, Little Petra

    Inside Little Petra

    In the second wide-open area, steep steps on the left lead to the exquisite Painted House. On its ceiling remains one of the only Nabatean paintings to survive the centuries, a work of delicate flowers and vines. A cherubic Pan, showing Hellenistic influence, is among the images. 

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Above the canyons leading to Petra

    Jordan Spreads Out Before You

    The trail from Little Petra to Petra takes three to four hours and winds through starkly grand terrain, up and down steps, along high ridges with panoramic views and through occasional groves of trees. Good hiking shoes, layers of clothing and plenty of water are a must. 

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • The trail into Petra

    Not for Everyone

    The trail isn't extremely difficult but neither is it for the faint of heart. There are places to test even an experienced hiker's nerve, places where the trail all but disappears into narrow rock ledges with harrowing drop-offs. That's just one reason to hire a good guide. 

  • The entryway to The Monastery, Ad-Deir

    Into Petra

    Around the last bend in the trail as it enters Petra, the imposing façade known as the Monastery, Ad-Deir, seems to rise from nowhere as part of the mountain it's carved from. You must stand in front of it to appreciate its enormity. The doorway alone rises 26 feet.

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Donkeys high above Petra

    Cliffs Above the Valley

    The trail here is high above the main city, where most of the façades, ruins and tombs sit. More than 800 ancient steps lead down to the valley floor. The best way to preserve them is to walk, but donkeys will carry you for a price. Stop to take in the views.

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Cardo Maximus, the Roman road in Petra

    In the Footsteps of Romans

    Petra was created by Nabateans but also inhabited by Romans, Christians, Crusaders and Bedouins. This wide Roman road, Cardo Maximus, was once lined with graceful columns. Here it faces Petra's East Cliff and four burial chambers known as the Royal Tombs. The Silk Tomb's waves of colored sandstone should be viewed up close.

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • Roman temple, Petra

    Venture Off the Main Path

    There's every reason to leave the main trail within Petra. There are steps to climb, side paths to explore and natural or man-made features that grow more impressive the closer you get. These steps lead to the ruins of a Roman temple above Cardo Maximus, hints of its former grandeur still visible.

  • Camel for rent in Petra

    Your Camel Awaits

    If you yearn to ride a camel in a memorable setting – who doesn't? – or can't do all the walking Petra requires, hire a camel. Bedouin camel drivers wait along the main drag to pick up fares. These odd desert beasts are part of Petra's history and seem as natural here as the rose-colored stone.

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

  • The Treasury, Al-Khazneh,, Petra

    The Treasury, A Grand Illusion

    In "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," vast caverns and treasures lay hidden beyond this doorway. In reality, the Treasury is a mostly intricate façade hiding nothing. Its stunning craftsmanship is the true treasure. When you hike into Petra, you reach the Treasury after the crowds have departed, giving you the gift of time and space to ponder it. 

    Photo courtesy of Christine Loomis

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