Petra & Wadi Rum by bike

If you long to explore beautiful Petra and the wild desert landscape of Wadi Rum, but have wondered whether you can reach these Jordan gems on two wheels, the short answer is, yes. Jordan's quality Tarmac roads make this fabled area, but also the entire country, a perfect and very tempting option for cyclists. Secondary roads are extremely quiet and on some stretches you’re more likely to come across Bedouins on camels than you are cars or coaches.

In the north, around Amman, the countryside is very fertile with olive groves and hilltop villages in the foothills of Jordan's Rift Valley. Gradients are fairly flat although there are several decent descents and also an easy going ascent to the top of Mount Nebo, which is definitely worth the effort.

Further south, after a three hour drive on the Kings Highway, you’ll find Petra and Wadi Rum. Roads leading to both sites might have been recently resurfaced to a good standard or they might be pocked with pot holes and strewn with sand. If you're cycling with someone who knows what they're doing, this won’t be a problem.

Our top Petra and Wadi Rum Holiday

Petra and Wadi Rum by bike, Jordan

Petra and Wadi Rum by bike, Jordan

Cycling trip through stunning desert scenery

From £1699 to £1879 9 days inc UK flights
Small group travel:
2019: 25 May, 15 Jun, 12 Oct, 19 Oct, 2 Nov, 16 Nov, 21 Dec
2020: 7 Mar, 21 Mar, 11 Apr, 18 Apr, 16 May, 23 May, 13 Jun, 5 Sep, 10 Oct, 17 Oct, 24 Oct, 7 Nov, 14 Nov, 21 Nov, 12 Dec, 19 Dec
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Petra and Wadi Rum or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

How to see Petra & Wadi Rum by bike

Joining an organised tour allows you to pedal alongside experts who've cycled in Jordan many times before. They know what to look out for from a safety and also from a cultural perspective. A back up vehicle will carry your luggage and also offer a chance to opt out of any steep ascents. Just hitch a ride if you're not feeling it on the day.

The rest of the group will be made up of similar minded cyclists who are interested in Middle Eastern cultural adventures rather than racing, head down, from start to finish. The size of the group will be a maximum of 18 cyclists. This allows everyone to get to know each other as they pedal at a conversational pace.

Each night you'll stay in a locally owned hotel, breakfasts included, apart from on the penultimate night where you'll camp out in the desert and be treated to a Bedouin meal beside the fire and under the stars.

For more in depth info on cycling in Jordan, visit our Cycling in Jordan guide.

How fit do I need to be?

Not excessively. Obviously, the fitter you are the better, but the advantage of going on an organised cycling holiday is that you can jump in the support vehicle whenever you're not feeling the burn quite as positively as you could be. The weather, too, may also play its part in the pedalling pace. Don't underestimate how hot Jordan can get during July and August. There's a reason why responsible holiday organisers won't run cycling holidays at this time of year. If you're able to cycle 20-30km on consecutive days then you'll have no problem. The cycling parts of this route take place on 95 percent asphalt and 5 percent gravel or sand tracks.

“I would call myself a casual cyclist. I might do 15 miles at home and be comfortable. That was my biggest single concern before going on the trip. I didn’t know how closely calibrated the ratings of the holiday were to actual riding, and it was fine. I felt perfectly comfortable. I was wondering, before I went, if many of the other participants would be serious bike riders, and a couple of them were, but it turned out I fitted right in as a casual rider and in reasonably good shape. We were all there to see Jordan really, rather than do a big cycling trip. ” - Don Stauffer on a Petra and Wadi Rum by bike, Jordan

Read our full interview with Don about his experiences of cycling to Petra and Wadi Rum.

Route highlights

A typical small group cycling break that pedals to Petra and Wadi Rum actually starts in Amman and heads south, taking just over a week. This includes a couple of days exploring on foot in Petra as well as a night camping in Wadi Rum. A bus ride from Amman takes you to the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash before you get on your bike and cycle for around three hours to Madaba, the most important Christian centre in Jordan, nicknamed ‘the city of mosaics’.

After making the most of Madaba's mosaics, and baklava, pedal the seven kilometre ascent to the top of Mount Nebo that then descends all the way to the shores of the Dead Sea. Petra is then just a three hour transfer south on Jordan's famous Kings Highway.

A cycling holiday will allow plenty of time for exploring Petra on foot – at least a day and a half – before pedalling to Little Petra and on to Aqaba, on the Red Sea. The final ride of the route is into Wadi Rum, for a memorable stay here, camping with Bedouin hosts, the perfect way to round off the trip before transferring back to Amman.

Best time to cycle to
Petra & Wadi Rum

Any time outside of high summer, July and August, has benefits. March and April are comfortably warm although you might get a bit of rain as well as a touch of the khamaseen – a dry and dusty desert wind that blows through Jordan for a couple of days towards the end of April.

September is another best time to cycle to Petra and Wadi Rum although October will bring the rain, especially towards the end of the month. November and December can be quite chilly, especially at night, although the lack of tourists is definitely worth the additional layers and waterproofs. Cycling holidays don’t tend to run in January and February, when temperatures are a touch too chilly and wet.

Can I cycle on sand?

Andrew Appleyard from our cycling in Jordan holiday experts, Exodus Travels:
“You can't cycle on sand. I tried it once, much to the bemusement of my local Bedouin guide who ended up shouldering my bike and climbing on his camel before we both headed back to base.”
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Mario Micklisch] [Intro: Mario Micklisch] [How to see Petra and Wadi Rum by bike: Mario Micklisch] [Route highlights: Andrew Appleyard] [Can I cycle on sand? : Andrew Appleyard]
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