The Petra Monastery Hike: A Guide From a Non-Hiker

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Petra was a place I dreamed about visiting for as long as remember (well, since I first watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). While I couldn’t wait to walk through the Siq and seeing the Treasury appear, I kept being told over and over about an even better part of the City of Petra: The Petra Monastery.

Outside of the Petra Monastery

As excited as I was to check out this ‘epic’ and ‘amazing’ spot, I was also a bit hesitant. After all, you can’t google the Petra Monastery without getting articles and photos of the route to get to it: 900 wonky, uneven, shit-coated steps through the mountains.

Awesome. Steps are my favourite.

Said no one ever. Especially not me.

That being said, I’m a sucker for good viewpoints and even though I only had 1 day to visit Petra, I didn’t want to miss anything. However, I was also nervous about the hike. I don’t shy away from hiking, but I’m not exactly the fittest or in the best shape. I also had a bad asthma incident the week before climbing the Snake Trail in Masada and my lungs, still feeling tight despite taking my inhaler every day, weren’t working at peak performance levels. So, my confidence level going in? Not so great.

Looking down at the Petra Monastery from nearby mountain

In fact, it wasn’t until the day of that I decided I was actually going to go for it. Since we only had one day in Petra as part of our 3 day Jordan tour with Abraham Tours, we really only had time for one hike (at least, for me). At first, I thought I’d try to do the Treasury viewpoint but then our guide indicated that it wasn’t exactly the best hike and that the shortest way was also the most dangerous. He said ‘at your own risk’ a couple dozen times which was enough to convince me that maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t exactly my best idea. Especially since our morning started with a warning and a story of another female tourist who had fallen to her death hiking only a couple days before our visit.

So at lunch, as our group shoved their faces with rice, chicken, and veggies from the buffet I pulled out my phone and frantically searched the internet for articles telling me just exactly how hard the Petra Monastery hike really is. Let’s just say I didn’t like what I read so I quickly put my phone away, shovelled some food fuel in my mouth, and prepared myself for the fact that I was likely going to be a wheezing, red, sweating mess really, really soon.

And so, with 2 litres of water bouncing against the small of my back, I joined my group and headed for the start of Petra’s monastery hike.

Wondering what to wear in Petra? Check my post: Jordan Packing List for women.

Hiking Up to the Petra Monastery

Donkey on hiking trail to Petra Monastery

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy, but honestly, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected. Granted, I took my time and took breaks every 100 steps or so to catch my breath and have some water, but I was pretty pleased that climbing up took me 50 minutes when our guide told us 40. Not too bad for someone who figured she’d probably die halfway up.

The steps were, for the most part, pretty low. However, they were uneven and some were small; like just half of my foot would fit on them. On top of watching for the unevenness of the steps, I also had to keep my eyes open for the massive donkey turds splattered along the way. There was a lot of donkey shit and, with it, a lot of donkeys. I felt AWFUL for all the donkeys forced to run up these stairs with lazy tourists bouncing along on their backs. Please, for the love of God, if you don’t think you can do the Petra Monastery hike, then don’t. Don’t hire a donkey and make it carry you.

Despite reading that the Petra Monastery was more secluded and not crowded, there were a ton of people coming up and down those stairs which just added something else to dodge. I did have to stop a few times to let people pass, but the traffic flow was pretty consistent so it wasn’t too bad.

Another thing to definitely keep in mind is the sun. I visited in November and it was about 22 degrees Celsius which isn’t too hot, but it was full sun and that sun beats down on you up the whole trail. I was glad for my multiple water bottles bouncing around in my backpack, and despite the fact that I reapplied sunscreen after lunch, I clearly sweat it off and burnt a little bit anyway.

View from the path hiking up to the Petra Monastery

Along these 900 or so stairs, there are plenty of local Bedouin vendors selling souvenirs and cold drinks. They will hustle you a little, ask you to do some shopping and tell you that they have had a very bad day to try to guilt trip you into making a purchase, but just smile and say no thank you as you pass and you won’t have an issue.

The last stretch is the hardest. Here’s where the stairs get steeper so take your time if you need, and stop for breaks. Know that when you hit the steeper stairs you are on the last leg- the end is near! The last set of stairs is actually downhill (YES!) and from there you come off the trail and, in the cliff face to your right, you will find the treasure at the end: the Petra Monastery.

The Petra Monastery

Sitting on the ground looking at the Petra Monastery in Jordan

When I reached the flat ground that was the end, I was red-faced and sweaty, but I wasn’t about to collapse. Which is good, because it turns out I wasn’t quite done climbing.

The end point is the Monastery. You can walk right up to it, take your photos and go back if you want. Or, you can follow any of the seemingly never-ending ‘best view here’ signs and climb up on a smaller mountain across from the Monastery for some pretty great views. I hit a couple of these viewpoints, but not all of them. I did get some pretty great shots though.

I recommend wandering around a bit, checking out the angles. Higher isn’t necessarily better, so just take a look around and see where looks best to you for photos. One of the great things about the Petra Monastery is that it isn’t as cramped as other parts of Petra, like in front of the Treasury. There’s lots of space and since most people walk further up the next hill you won’t get the crowds.

I recommend taking about 15-30 minutes up here to walk around and take a little break then head back down. Because, if I’m being honest, going down is the scary part.

Hiking Down from the Petra Monastery

Climbing up is always what everyone worries about, but climbing down somehow always manages to be worse. Remember those tiny uneven stairs I mentioned? Yeah, those are extra scary going the other direction. I ended up having to awkwardly step sideways on a bunch of them. Not to mention that they are still full of donkey dung and just plain slippery thanks to being so worn down. Definitely not something I would ever want to have to climb down in the rain.

Going down took about the same time as going up and involved a lot of dodging donkeys and other hikers. By the time I got to the bottom, my knees felt like they belonged to a 90-year-old woman, not a 29-year-old one, but it was done. I did it!

So, is Hiking the Petra Monastery Worth it?

Standing on a til looking down at the Petra Monastery

Hell yes! It really is spectacular and I honestly would have felt like I missed out if I didn’t go. No, it wasn’t easy but it wasn’t as hard and terrifying as I expected it to be either. So if you are worried about it, just remember to take your time, take breaks as required, and bring water. Hiking to the Petra Monastery is not a race- so do it at your own pace. Just plan your timing accordingly (It takes 1-1.5 hours to walk back to the visitor centre from the base of the Petra Monastery hiking trail) and you will be fine.


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Wondering if the Petra Monastery is worth 900 steps of sweat? I'll tell you why it is in my non-hikers guide to see this amazing site in the lost city of Petra


  1. Aarti on January 10, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    Oh wow, the place looks beautiful… Am exactly like you, just that I don’t have wheezing . I have learnt that being a dick helps me maintain balance and be less afraid of steep climbs/ steps & losing my balance/ tumbling down (Am 6ft tall and big built… )

    • joanne on January 26, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      I want to take my 85 year old husband who does not believe in exercise to Petra. We have a guide who told us about the horse and donkeys. Do you recommend this as an alternative way to see Petra They should put bags on the back of the donkeys etc to collect the bowel movements.

      • Hannah Logan on January 26, 2020 at 7:02 pm

        Honestly, no. As I say in the article, the animals are treated terribly and look very unhealthy. If you two are animal enthusiasts at all, I think you’d end up feeling incredibly sad and guilty.

  2. […] For more on the Petra Monastery Hike, check out my non-hiker’s guide to the Petra Monastery. […]

  3. […] spots in Europe (like the 1300 crumbling steps to the fort in Kotor, Montenegro), as well as the Monastery Hike in Petra. But I’m not a hiking enthusiast and I’m definitely not the most in shape and fit person out […]

  4. Ramanan on March 17, 2019 at 6:53 am

    HI this is very informative to read and so helpful. I am planning Jordan trip on August. I will reach Petra from Amman by JETT bus, which will reach by 10:30. I might reach Petra visiting centre by 11:30 after check-in the nearby hotel.
    From 11:30AM to 6:30PM we will have time to roam around Petra. Will this be good enough to Hike for Monastery also?
    Relaxed Petra tour including Monastery hiking, how long it will take? Will 6Hrs including lunch time sufficient?
    Based on your answer, I might plan Petra for single day/two day trip.

    • Hannah Logan on March 17, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      It would be really rushed. It’s about 1.5 hour walk from the visitor centre to the start of the Monastery hike. Then you’ll probably want 2 hours to go up/down and look around a bit at the top.Then you have that 1.5 hour walk back which doesn’t leave you with much time to see anything else. I’d either do a 2 day in this case, or maybe just wait until the following day and make a full day of it. I have a 1 day Petra guide here on the blog too that you might find helpful

      • Ramanan on April 2, 2019 at 6:03 am

        Thanks for the suggestion. I changed my schedule to reach Petra by Taxi instead of JETT bus. I planned to reach Petra by previous day evening and planned to utilise the complete next day in Petra.
        Thanks a ton. 🙂

  5. […] for more tips. For those who don’t consider themselves to be avid hikers, you might also enjoy my non-hikers guide to the Petra Monastery. Spoiler alert: It’s worth the climb and definitely one of the best things to do in […]

  6. Ginny on June 5, 2020 at 8:01 am

    That is just so awesome! I love your humor and makes me even more excited to do this! Thank you for the details!!

  7. Dale on January 11, 2021 at 4:37 am

    I did this hike in 2011 and struggled all the way up to the Monestary, almost giving up several times but my husband encouraged me to finish it or I would regret it, once at the top I was so glad I had continued up as it was one of the best things I had ever done, totally worth all the pain and crying 😂. Once home back in Australia I found out that a little further up past the monestary was another short hike to reach the highest point in Petra, I was so annoyed that I had missed that so actually went back to Jordan 2 years later and repeated the whole hike up again and made sure I reached the highest point, once again totally worth it and the most awesome pictures of Petra, a truly unforgettable memory.

    • Hannah Logan on January 11, 2021 at 8:01 am

      hahah oh no!! You went all the way to the monastery the first time and didn’t get that last bit in? Dang! I’d be mad too! Glad you went back for it. I remember looking and being like do I really need to… but I pushed myself to get to that highpoint and, like you, glad I did it!

  8. Jenny Grayburn on July 13, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Hannah, great article and from the heart. Just want to add that I have done the entire climb on 2 occasions since 2015, at the age of 58 and 61! I am not super fit. Just walk daily when I can. I am also under 5’ so those steps were challenging, but the whole climb was awesome and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. And the views are to die for! If I could do it, then most of you could. You won’t regret it. I plan to do it again when Covid allows!!

    • Hannah Logan on July 13, 2021 at 4:56 pm

      Definitely worth it, I agree but I’m sharing the details for everyone so they can make their own decision 🙂

  9. Bruce on November 10, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    You don’t have to start at the visitor center. Take the road up from the Parking lots, turn left at the next village and you can practically drive to the start of the hike as they will check your ticket near the Crowne Plaza restaurant. Congratulations, you’ve just saved 3 miles. But, if you only have one day, you don’t want to miss the main trail, so my advice is for those with 2-3 days

    • Melissa O on April 5, 2022 at 5:32 am

      I was at Petra two days ago (April 3, 2022), and apparently the Government of Jordan has closed a big portion of the road to the “back entrance”, so you still have to walk quite a bit and will need a guide to bring you to the correct spot. You won’t have to do the 951 steps up, but it’s not as much of a time saver as it used to be. I would check before planning to use the back entrance if it’s still accessible.

  10. Kris on December 26, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks for this. I’m not in great shape but really want to see the monastery during my trip to Petra next month. You gave me hope 🙂

    • Hannah Logan on December 27, 2021 at 7:57 am

      Just wear good shoes, bring lots of water, and take your time! Enjoy!!

  11. Melissa O on April 5, 2022 at 1:44 am

    Thank you so much for this! I visited Petra this weekend with a very fit friend, and was so nervous about the Monastery hike. Your blog gave me so much comfort and honestly reduced my anxiety about the whole thing. We had an amazing hike, and I felt great after (aside from some soreness—we did a lot of walking and rock scrambling the day before!). Thank you thank you thank you for your honesty and transparency and vulnerability in writing this. It helped me, another woman who isn’t traditionally fit, make it to the top!

    • Hannah Logan on April 6, 2022 at 2:39 am

      Aw yay! Glad I relieved some of your anxiety. I hope you had an amazing time!

  12. Jennifer Lautenschlager on February 17, 2023 at 4:18 am

    I’m off to Jordan in a few weeks and really hoping I can get the Monastery in. I’m 51, really overweight, and short, but in decent shape given the amount of weight I’m hauling around. I can hike 5 or 6 miles, and I climb our baby mountain (it’s only 700 feet tall) and a 600 step staircase near some nearby falls — but but in the same day! I’m also very slow.

    How is the walk from the Visitors Center to the start of the Monastery steps? Is it fairly flat or no?

    • Hannah Logan on February 18, 2023 at 6:01 pm

      It is pretty flat! It’s just far, but you will pass other amazing things to see en-route. So, take your time, take breaks as needed, and bring plenty of drinking water!

  13. Michelle on May 19, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    Thaaank you for your blog! I didn’t realize the Monastery is a hike YIKES! I’m a scaredy when it comes to heights and narrow passages, steps or anything cliffy. I really appreciate your article. It will help me to decide whether to do this or not tomorrow or the next day.

    • Hannah Logan on May 21, 2023 at 11:19 am

      Glad you found it helpful and hope that you had an amazing time whatever you decided!

      • Margy Moore on May 26, 2023 at 3:55 pm

        Did you do the hike Michelle? I’d love a trip report 🙂 I’m going in October.

        • Holly Papa on September 3, 2023 at 7:17 pm

          I’m going in October too! Will you be coming from Israel, Amman, or ??
          I’m trying to decide to spend the night before in Amman or Eilat.
          I’m definitely not a hiker, but hoping the cooler weather in October helps.

  14. Darlene on October 19, 2023 at 2:34 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for telling people not to ride on those poor mistreated donkeys! There is no excuse for animal abuse.

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