Before travelling to Jordan we had seen so many photos of Petra from above, wondering how to get to the best viewpoint overlooking the Treasury of Petra, Al-Khazneh.
Since there are different ways to see Petra from above, but a little confusion once you get inside the archaeological site among the many “bedouins” who offer to guide you, we’ll explain how in this article.
You can use Google Maps to get the distances between various points of interest in Petra. On this map we created, you’ll find the viewpoints we mention below and how to get there (zoom in to see elevation details).
Be mindful that your phone may not get reception away from the main trail. We recommend downloading the Maps.me app at the hotel and using it to orient yourself once inside the Petra site.
HOW TO SEE PETRA FROM ABOVE
Let’s start with the cheapest way, or even better free. Having already paid a hefty amount to purchase the Jordan Pass which includes access to Petra, we didn’t want to spend any more money.
On the first of our three days in Petra, we spotted the beginning of the Al-Khubtha Trail, just beyond the Royal Tombs, and decided to hike it the next day. (This is viewpoint #1 on our map).
Referring to the official Petra map, the Al-Khubtha Trail is marked in the hardest category, but in our opinion anyone can make it. For those less trained it could take an extra 15 minutes, however the 1.7 km-walk is not prohibitive.
Having passed through the entrance gates as soon as they opened (6.00 A.M.), we crossed the Siq at a fast pace, walked through silent Petra at dawn, and entered the trail shortly after 7.
HIKING THE AL-KHUBTHA TRAIL
The first part of the Al-Khubta Trail is a steep ascent made up of steps carved into the sandstone. Here the stairway is spacious and safe, no passages are over-exposed. The beauty of the colours typical of the Pink City is proportional to the effort made in this stretch, it’ll leave you panting!
You can take a break after about 20 minutes as soon as you see the Nabatean Theatre, one of many wonderful views of Petra from above. There is also a nice tent/bar here where you could stop on your way back.
Then continue along the path, it’s well indicated by the signs “Panoramic View of Treasury“. Early in the morning this walk is really peaceful. We only met another guy, and a bedouin on the back of a donkey, who we later discovered was the owner of the tent with the most famous view of Petra.
At this point you are already at the top of the mountain. From here the path does not climb further, just carry on towards the canyon. You’ll see a couple more signs pointing the way, and you’ll soon be there.
Well done, you’ve reached the best place to see the Treasury of Petra from above! This is also the highest viewpoint over Al-Khazneh.
THE TREASURY OF PETRA FROM ABOVE
It’s almost 8 in the morning, it took us about 45 minutes of hiking. At the end of the path is the tent perched on the top, where a sign reads: “The most beautiful view in the world”.
Here you can enter the bedouin tent to drink a typical Jordanian tea or a pomegranate juice (2 JD), looking out the famous window over the Treasury from above.
Alternatively, if the tent is too busy (as it will become after 9) or if you don’t want a drink, you can also photograph the Treasury without entering the tent. Stop a little earlier, on the right side of the mountain, being careful not to lean too far. From here the Treasury is visible from the side, and it is possible to capture it from different angles.
Having arrived early, we were lucky enough to be able to spend half an hour quietly with the owner, who told us a little about his life and his family of bedouin origin, his daily work in this incredible place, and also about the two surreal years with no tourists during Covid. He was the one who took these unforgettable photos of us!
Although in the images we seem to be on the edge of the precipice, don’t worry because it’s not like that. There’s a large flat rock about a meter below, which doesn’t obstruct the view. Perfectly safe!
OTHER VIEWPOINTS OVER THE TREASURY
After 9 A.M. the situation starts to get quite hectic, people jostle to conquer the corner for the much desired photo, so we gladly give up the space.
The way back is the same, faster downhill, and by 9.30 we are already back at the Tombs. We’re eager to continue the exploration of Petra up to its furthest monument, the Monastery.
Now we’ll explain about viewpoint #2, which the most attentive of you will have already seen in the previous photos! In fact, zooming in you can see the very steep ascent that starts from the base of Al-Khazneh and climbs up the opposite side of the canyon.
A Jordanian flag and carpet mark the exact spot for the best photos.
This panoramic point is on the left side of the canyon, very close and almost frontal to the Treasury.
“It seems closer and more immediate to get there” you may think. You’re right, but in fact the climb you see is not free. Meaning that this is one of those climbs that the fake bedouins will try to sell you at prices ranging between 5 and 15 JD per person.
PAID CLIMB WITH THE BEDOUINS
Once in front of the Treasury (and elsewhere too), you’ll be asked all kinds of questions by the touts, most of whom claim to be bedouin. For example, whether you want to ride a camel, horse or donkey, take a souvenir photo, buy a kefiah or other souvenirs, and so on.
Of course, like any tourist spot in the world, everyone is here to sell something! Try to be patient and answer or bargain with a smile.
From below, two climbs can be seen on either side of the Treasury, points 2 and 3 on our map.
But as soon as you get close, the “bedouins” will block you. “Climbing is forbidden and dangerous” is their mantra, and in fact we have read and heard stories of even fatal accidents. That’s why official warning signs have been put up too.
However, suddenly it’s all good if you go up accompanied with one of them, for a fee… Arguing is useless, they won’t let you pass without paying, and they’ll be ready from early in the morning.
Many tourists accept to pay and go up, clearly to save time. To be fair, at rush hour these paths were hyper crowded and did not seem that easy seen from below.
WHERE TO PHOTOGRAPH PETRA FROM ABOVE?
We also specify that the two panoramic points to be reached for a fee with unofficial guides offer a more limited experience from a photographer’s perspective. In these narrow places you could risk having to queue, having just your 30 seconds to have your quick photo taken, and then immediately having to give up your spot. Here too, starting early is essential.
As mentioned, the second viewpoint on the left side is almost overhanging Al-Khazneh. To get up here you need a real effort, the high steps alternate with stretches of pure scrambling. Even if the bedouins escort you, it is not recommended for those suffering from vertigo.
After about twenty minutes you’ll reach the top, the red carpet awaits you for your moment of glory! Still, always pay attention to where you put your feet, don’t get distracted.
This is clearly the most difficult path to see Petra from above, where even bumping into other people becomes a problem. The descent is in fact just as long and risky. In our opinion complicated and not very safe.
Instead, viewpoint #3 on the right side is lower, at the same height as the Treasury. It offers a beautiful frontal view, even if it’s not exactly from above. As a matter of fact this is the easiest to reach being the lowest, it takes just ten minutes. For the same reason it is also the busiest, here we have seen queues already forming in the morning. Try not to pay more than 5 JD to access the path here.
That’s why we preferred to take the long way on our own, avoiding negotiations, discussions, or risking unpleasant situations.
If you still decide to go up paying the bedouins, negotiate the price and get help during the climb, be careful.
ALTAR OF SACRIFICE PANORAMIC POINT
Finally, it is also possible to get to the second viewpoint for free, going all the way around from above. This is path #4 on our map.
Still full of adrenaline after seeing the Treasury in all its beauty, we decided to take advantage of the temperature while it was still cool and headed straight for the Altar of Sacrifice, another of the highlights not to miss in Petra. We talk about it in the article How to visit Petra in 2-3 days: map and tips.
The climb to the Altar of Sacrifice is demanding, also made up of steps carved into the rock. Longer and tiring, you need 40 minutes just to climb the stairs. Here you may find more traffic than the Al-Khubtha Trail as many go up, even with donkeys, to reach the hill.
Before getting to the top, turn left and continue towards the canyon. There is no real path, you have to improvise. About twenty minutes later you’ll be at the canyon where you’ll rejoin the place with the carpet and flag, visible in the previous photos.
After the effort, you’ll be free to spend as much time as you like here, without rushing down with the guide for the return journey. We also advise not to go down the steep climb that leads directly to the base of the Treasury, which is risky for the reasons described above.
SO, WHAT’S THE BEST PETRA FROM ABOVE VIEWPOINT?
These are therefore the three best viewpoints to see the Treasury of Petra from above.
Near or far, safe or dangerous, free or paid, each has its pros and cons. But all of them are beautiful, for the simple fact that the magnificent Treasury of Petra is a monument of rare beauty!
We personally believe that viewpoint #1 at the end of the Al-Khubta Trail is the best viewpoint in Petra.
It allows not only to have different angles to see the Treasury from above, but also to rest in the cool bedouin tent, to have a pleasant and safe hike, and also to admire multiple sights of Petra from other points of view.
All in peace and independently if you decide to leave early in the morning. Trust us, it’s worth it!
Happy exploring in Petra!
HOTEL – WHERE TO STAY IN PETRA/WADI MUSA
You can book all your accommodation in Petra and Jordan with free cancellation here.
- Nomads Hotel Petra, modern property, the most beautiful hotel facade in Wadi Musa!
- Movenpick Resort Petra: elegance and location, you can’t get closer to Petra than this.
- Sunset Hotel Wadi Musa: in Tourism Street, at walking distance from Petra Visitor Centre.
Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Better safe than sorry! Request a quote with World Nomads here. Get up to 20% off for A Million Travels readers with Heymondo insurance at this link.
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