Last Updated on 07/03/2023 by Clotilde Passalacqua
If you want to visit Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, but don’t want to deal with the crowds at the main entrance, or you prefer a much easier trail to reach the farthest point, you should take the back entrance to Petra.
This route, being a bit less difficult, is also perfect if you are visiting Jordan with kids or you just don’t feel fit enough to climb the almost 900 steps leading to the Monastery from the main trail.
In this blog post, we will explain how to find the back entrance to Petra, and how long it takes to walk it. We will also give you some tips on hiring a guide for this hike.
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GOOD TO KNOW
Petra is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is an unmissable stop during any Jordan itinerary. It is an ancient city carved into the rocks, and there are so many things to see that you could spend days there and still not see everything.
Petra was built by the Nabateans, a nomadic Arab tribe that settled in this area more than 2,000 years ago (the exact date is unknown). The city was their capital and it flourished thanks to its strategic location on the trade routes between Arabia, Egypt, and Syria.
Some of the most popular attractions inside Petra include the Treasury which is the most famous building, the Street of Facades, the Royal Tombs, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the Monastery which is perhaps the most impressive but is also one of the farthest points from the entrance.
Most people enter Petra through the Siq, a narrow gorge that leads to the Treasury, and from there they become discouraged and don’t make it to the Monastery, but with the back entrance to Petra trail, you have an alternative.
BE AWARE: some people will try to discourage you from using this trail, arguing that you will lose the magic of walking through The Siq and seeing the Treasury appearing between the curved rock walls. I do understand this perspective, and so to overcome this issue we decided to visit Petra by Night on the previous evening before we spent the full day in Petra. This way we had an even more magical experience walking the path lit only by candles through The Siq, and admiring The Treasury in a completely different light.
WHAT IS PETRA BY NIGHT?
Petra by night is a show where you get to see the famous Petra Treasury ruins lit up at night. The tour lasts about an hour and a half and costs around 17 JOD. The ticket cost is not included in the Jordan Pass.
Is it worth the money? We think it is, the path that leads you to the Treasury and all the space in front of it is lit with 1,550 candles and even if there are many people around, it still keeps a magical feeling. The show with stories, songs, and music in front of the Treasury is not really what you are paying for, it is the atmosphere you can enjoy while sipping tea sitting on the floor (bring a cushion if you can!).
WHERE TO FIND THE BACK ENTRANCE TO PETRA
The start of the trail of the back entrance to Petra is located quite close to little Petra. I marked it on the map above so you don’t get confused.
You need to leave the main road and go down onto the sand. You can park your car there (then you will need to go back to pick it up at the end of the day with a taxi), or if you stay in Wadi Musa you can reach it directly with a taxi as you will end back in Wadi Musa at the end of the day. It is located 5.9km from Petra Visitor Center.
If you prefer here are the GPS coordinates: 30.3571593, 35.4514026
If you are planning to rent a car in Jordan don’t miss our driving in Jordan article.
BE AWARE: there are 2 little kiosks where they will check your tickets, but you can’t buy a ticket there. You need to buy your ticket at the visitor center before you make your way to the back entrance to Petra. Read these Jordan travel tips to decide if you need to buy a Jordan pass that includes your Petra entrance ticket.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO HIKE FROM THE START OF THE BACK ENTRANCE TO PETRA TO THE MONASTERY?
The back entrance to Petra is located about a couple of hour’s walk from the Monastery. Of course, this depends on your fitness level and how often you stop to take photos. Many people were much faster than us and did it in 90 minutes.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO HIKE THE BACK ENTRANCE TO PETRA?
Overall, the back entrance to Petra is a less difficult hike than the main trail, making it more accessible for a wider range of travelers. While there are some sections that are steep and require a little scrambling, the majority of the trail is relatively easy to navigate.
The trail is not mainly flat as I read somewhere, there is a variety of ups and downs and stairs.
However, the stairs are much better than those ascending from the main trail, making it much more manageable.
It’s a great hike for people of all fitness levels, as long as you take your time and rest when you need to. This makes it a great option also for those traveling with kids.
Looking to do something unusual while in Jordan? Don’t miss the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea!
SHOULD YOU HIRE A GUIDE FOR THE BACK ENTRANCE TO PETRA?
This is a tricky question, we did hire a guide but now have some reflections. We hired a guide that accompanied us from the start of the back entrance to Petra trail to the Monastery. It cost 50 Jod in total.
We did it because even in guide books there were suggestions that the trail could be confusing and you want to avoid getting lost.
To be honest I think we could have found our way quite easily. We met several people going by themselves without problem, even another family with a small girl. The Petra visitor center’s official website even states that you are obligated to have a guide if you enter this way, but we haven’t seen anyone questioning the people entering by themselves.
On the way, there are signposts and also several little bedouin kiosks, where you can stop for a coffee and ask to confirm directions.
It is a different story if you hire a guide that will be with you all day explaining the history and the different sites inside Petra: in this case of course a guide is worth it. If your main goal is just to hike the back entrance trail to Petra then I don’t think you need a guide, but if you prefer to have that extra level of certainty then hire a guide, they will certainly not decrease your enjoyment!
SCENERY FROM THE STARTING POINT OF THE BACK ENTRANCE TO PETRA TO THE MONASTERY
While hiking the back entrance to Petra trail, from the starting point to the Monastery, you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world without having to deal with too many people.
The scenery along the way is breathtaking with an expansive view of the Wadi Araba.
When you get to the Monastery, you will be able to see one of the most amazing views in all of Petra. If you start early you will also be able to enjoy the monastery with few people around. Keep in mind that even in Spring 2022 (shortly after Jordan had just fully reopened its borders) the site was really busy with tourists.
Reflection on the back entrance to Petra
I am really glad we took the back entrance to Petra. It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Petra.
I hope this article gave you all the info to find your way through the back entrance to Petra and that you will have an amazing time.
Write me a message if you want the contact of the guide we used.
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