There is perhaps no better way to get "off the beaten path" in Jordan than to walk or ride the trails that traverse its spectacular landscapes and diverse communities. The Jordan Bike Trail takes you behind the scenes and away from the crowds, on a challenging and rewarding journey from ancient Greco-Roman ruins in the north to refreshing Red Sea waters in the south. Here are some tips to get you started.

Stretching the length of Jordan — from Um Qais to Aqaba — the 447-mile (720 km) mixed-track Jordan Bike Trail provides a unique opportunity to combine physical activity with eco-adventure and cross-cultural interactions. Matt Loveland, founder of Experience Jordan, was inspired to initiate the trail's creation after living in Jordan for almost a decade, connecting with locals working in adventure tourism, and participating in the development of the Jordan Trail (the bike trail's trekking counterpart). His vision was not simply to map out the best or toughest biking trails in the country, but rather, to create a long-distance, mixed-terrain trail that would bring cyclists closer to the true treasures of Jordan: the land, people, history, and hospitality.

Why Cycle in Jordan?

Mountain views from the trail in Jordan (Photo courtesy of the Jordan Bike Trail)

Escape the crowds. Jordan is a small country, and biking is one of the few ways to still get “off the beaten path." The trail traverses the length of the country, taking cyclists through a variety of terrains, towns, and ecosystems by way of new roads, old roads, dirt roads, single track and technical trails.

Discover lesser-known sites. Everyone knows Petra is a must-see when you visit Jordan. And while the Lost City certainly lives up to the hype and is a favorite stop on the Bike Trail, there is much more to explore beyond tourist hot spots. Greco-Roman ruins of Um Qais in the north, Wadi Hidan in the central region, and Shobak Castle in the south are just a few of the treasures to enjoy along the way.

Connect with local communities. Imagine breaking bread with Bedouin around a campfire, cooking a meal with a local family, or learning a traditional craft from a local expert. The Bike Trail brings you closer to the people, land, and culture of Jordan. It’s a win for the communities as well; community-based tourism initiatives like the Jordan Bike Trail and the Jordan Trail are facilitating cultural interaction and creating economic opportunities - a much higher percentage of tourism dollars stay in-country when visitors contribute to local communities.

Ride through a real-life postcard. From the olive groves in the north to the expansive desert in the south, and the wadis, forests, and sparkling sea in between, the views along the trail are nothing short of spectacular.

When to Go

Riding the quiet roads of Um Qais (Photo by Roddy Boyle)

You’ll be spending most of your days outside, so it’s important to keep the weather in mind when planning. Summers in Jordan can be unbearably hot — with temperatures exceeding 100°F (37°C) — and winters can be quite cold. Spring is perhaps best, with wildflowers blooming in the north and temperatures at a comfortable 50-70°F (10-21°C). 

Which Route to Choose

Kerak Castle, one of the many intriguing historical sites found along the Jordan Bike Trail

The entire trail takes about 15 days to complete and is designed to be biked from north to south. For those that want to give the Jordan Bike Trail a try but aren’t keen to ride the entire length of it, there is the option to bike sections. The trail is divided into northern, central, and southern sections — each of which can be completed in about five days, with sub-sections that can be done as one-day trips.

The northern section boasts the most climbing, including the biggest single ascents and descents of the entire trail. The central section is not for the faint of heart; the canyons and valleys that make this part of the trail so stunning are also quite challenging. Those that are looking for a smoother ride and historic visits should opt for the southern section, where the flattest trails and several significant tourist sites (like Petra) can be found.

Keep in mind: the Bike Trail is not intended for beginners and doesn't claim to include every great ride in Jordan. Rather, this trail is for those looking for a unique adventure and the chance to experience a variety of culture, terrain, and history along the way. It is highly recommended that you consider booking a guide to ensure safety as well as transport of equipment and luggage, particularly if you are not an experienced, off-road rider.

What to Bring

Jordan Bike Trail
Rocky terrain along the route (Photo courtesy of the Jordan Bike Trail)

In addition to your cycling and camping equipment, here are some recommendations for a few other essentials. Keep in mind this isn't a comprehensive list - do your research and consult a specialist before you go!

  • Passport (and necessary visa). You may be stopped at checkpoints, particularly in the north.
  • Bike helmet
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen and other sun protection
  • Phone
  • Power bank
  • Camera
  • Protein-rich foods
  • Water

If you plan to ride independently, be sure to educate yourself on water and food sources, accommodations, terrain, language, and wildlife well in advance of your journey. Better yet? Book a guided tour and leaving the planning, navigation, translation, accommodations, meals, and transportation to the experts — so you can simply enjoy the ride.