Petra Monastery Hike

A must see on any trip to Jordan

The hike to the Petra Monastery

The Petra Monastery hike was the highlight of my day in the rose-coloured city of Petra. The Monastery, called Ad Deir in Arabic, is half-carved, half-built out of rock.

It was completed sometime in the 1st century by the Nabateans, a group of nomadic Arab people. The impressive facade of the Petra Monastery measures approximately 45 metres high by 50 metres wide.

While it resembles the Treasury, the most famous of the many impressive sights in Petra, it’s not nearly so ornate.

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The Monastery in all its glory
The monastery in all its glory

Petra is an ancient city made of red sandstone in southern Jordan not far from both the Red Sea and the Dead Sea. Its home to numerous elaborate temples and tombs – many of which you can visit as you walk through the city.

It’s also famous for its early water engineering. A sophisticated network of aqueducts, cisterns, water channels and a diversion dam were built over several hundred years with the project complete sometime around the first century AD.

The Treasury in Petra
The Treasury in Petra

The Petra Monastery hike

The monastery is likely going to be one of the last places you visit on a day trip to Petra on account of its location.

First you have to hike in 4 km from the main Visitor Centre. There’s nothing hard about the hike though it might be stinking hot (35°C plus), depending on the time of the year you visit.

Along the way you’ll want to stop at some of the many highlights including the Treasury and the Royal Tombs.

If it’s hot, get something cold to drink at the Basin Restaurant and Museum, located at the start of the trail to the Monastery.

A lot of people don’t do the hike to the Petra Monastery which is a real shame. Leave time and energy so you can do it. Allow at least an hour to do the hike up – less if you’re in great shape, more if you’re not. An afternoon hike is perfect for much of the trail is in shade – and the Monastery itself is in full sun.

Although it’s less than a mile to the Monastery from the restaurant you must climb approximately 850 oddly spaced steps.

The trail is in great shape but be prepared for a donkey- squeeze in a few tight spots. There are lots of places to rest and reportedly a tranquil holy spring two-thirds of the way up.

Even if you’re suffering from temple fatigue by the afternoon, do the hike for the fabulous views of the entire Petra basin and the Wadi Araba.

Loads of shops on the way up to the monastery
Loads of shops on the way up to the Petra Monastery
The 800 steps wander by loads of stalls with the locals selling scarves and knick-knacks
There are 800+ steps on the Petra Monastery hike – wander by stalls with the local Bedouins selling scarves and knick-knacks
Shopping and hiking are not mutually exclusive in Petra
Shopping and hiking are not mutually exclusive in Petra

Can you ride a donkey to the Monastery?

Not interested in the Petra Monastery hike? It is possible to ride a donkey to the Petra Monastery but I have my doubts about how well they are treated.

Walking is the preferable way to go as the donkey’s hooves are damaging the sandstone steps. If you’re able-bodied, enjoy the hike and the views that go along with it.

You'll see lots of donkeys on the trail to the monastery
You’ll see lots of donkeys on the trail to the Monastery

What can you see near the Petra Monastery?

If you’re into monuments and carvings there is plenty to explore around the Petra Monastery. Nabatean caves, cistern and tombs can be found in a cliff to the north of the Monastery.

There’s a cave and stone circle behind the restaurant and there are superb views – both calling themselves the best view in the world, above the Monastery.

I recommend hiking to both as the views are quite different. The one on the right as you’re heading away from the Monastery offers a cup of tea along with a rugged mountain panorama.

The viewpoint on the left provides a great overview of the Monastery itself.

Mountain views on the way up to the "best view in the world"
Mountain views on the way up to the “best view in the world”
Tea with a view
Tea with a view You sure lose the crowds when you hike to the viewpoint above the MonasteryYou sure lose the crowds when you hike to the viewpoint above the Petra Monastery
Grand view of the Monastery
Grand view on the Petra Monastery hike Return the same way you came; don't forget that you have another 4 km to hike out when you get downReturn the same way you came; don’t forget that you have another 4 km to hike out when you get down

Where to stay in Petra, Jordan

Petra is a tourist hub and as such offers hotels across a full range of price points. You’ll find everything from hostels to luxury.

If you’re after luxury the Petra Moon Luxury Hotel should fit the bill. It’s rated as wonderful.

The Old Village Hotel and Resort offers an outdoor swimming pool. It’s in a beautiful setting.

The Petra Sky Hotel is a lot less expensive and it’s rated as excellent.

Final thoughts on my visit to Petra

On my bike trip to Jordan with Exodus Travels, a full day in the itinerary was allotted to Petra.

You need that amount to do the city justice so I’m glad it was included. Many people miss the Petra Monastery hike. Don’t – it’s one of the highlights of a visit.

The only other thing I would personally have liked to have done is The High Place of Sacrifice Trail. The views from the top look amazing in any photos I’ve seen.

Further reading on what to do in Jordan

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The incredible hike to Petra Monastery in Jordan

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