Jordan is a small country in the Middle East located in a historically important area, rich in culture and natural beauty, that has witnessed encounters and clashes between various peoples over the millennia.
It borders Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt (by sea), Israel and the disputed area of the West Bank, or Palestine.
Despite this, currently Jordan is a safe destination for travellers. Jordan is often said to be the quiet neighbour in a noisy neighbourhood.
The fact that mass tourism has exploded here over the last decade is testament to how much the country appeals to foreign visitors. Of course, this type of tourism also has negative consequences, but that doesn’t mean you should reconsider your trip to Jordan.
In this article we want to tell you about the unmissable spots, but also help you find the most authentic places in the country, less known than the famous and inevitably crowded destinations such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Amman and the Dead Sea.
READ ALSO What to eat in Jordan: 10 typical dishes
WHAT TO SEE IN JORDAN IN 10 DAYS
With so many fascinating attractions, it’s not easy to plan a comprehensive trip to Jordan. Our itinerary includes the essential sights plus some off the beaten track.
So here is our travel itinerary to visit Jordan in about 10 days.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Starting from the obvious assumption that everyone has their own availability of time and days, it takes at least a week to make a proper tour of Jordan.
However, it is possible to take short tours of 4-5 days to visit only the famous sites mentioned above. Or to stay over 14 days like we did. This way you’d have time to visit different areas of the country from north to south without rushing.
Luckily Jordan is a fairly small country. Its 400 km from north to south could be crossed in just half a day’s drive. A joke by the standards we have been used to living in Australia for the past 3 years, where we have made several 2,000 km or 3,000 km road trips!
DAY 1: AMMAN
The capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (a constitutional monarchy) is Amman, home to the largest airport, Queen Alia International Airport. Probably your arrival and “day 0” in Jordan will be right here.
Alternatively there are also daily flights to Aqaba in the south of the country. Follow this itinerary in reverse if starting from Aqaba.
Amman is a huge city of 4 million inhabitants, with many hills and ups and downs, and neighbourhoods that are very different from each other. We stayed in the old town, close to the Roman Theatre and not far from the Citadel. We were able to walk around the area with many bars and restaurants, which also includes the touristic Rainbow Street. Uber was helpful to reach the modern side of Amman, where many skyscrapers and shopping malls are, and to visit its most beautiful religious buildings such as King Abdullah I and Abu Darwish mosques.
We recommend staying 1-2 nights in Amman, depending on your arrival time at the airport. A full day is enough to see the ruins and monuments, and at least one of the city’s mosques. We recommend Nomads Hotel, comfortable and centrally located.
Read our related article here What to see&do in Amman, Jordan.
DAY 2: JERASH
After returning to the airport and renting a car (we weren’t sure about driving in the chaotic centre of Amman), we headed north to Jerash.
Jerash, or Gerasa, is an ancient Roman city preserved in an incredible way, so much so that it deserves the nickname “Pompeii of the Middle East”. Among temples, theatres, churches, baths and numerous historical elements, we spent almost 4 hours in the archaeological site of Jerash, which alone is worth the journey of about an hour from Amman.
Here too, spend 1-2 nights depending on your possibilities. We were hosted in the house of a very kind Jordanian family, where we ate excellent hummus and falafel: Full Panorama To Archeological Site Jerash.
If you have half a day left over, you could reach the northernmost end of Jordan up to Umm Qais. Also known by the Roman name of Gadara, here you will find other archaeological remains dating back two thousand years.
TIP: Access to the Jerash archaeological site is included in the Jordan Pass, a ticket that can be purchased online which includes admission to all of Jordan’s most important attractions. We explain in detail why it is convenient to buy the Jordan Pass here.
DAY 3: THE DEAD SEA
Heading back south, the Dead Sea is the next big spot. It’s about 100 km from Jerash, and just 50 km from Amman. From Jerash you can make a short stop at Ajlun Castle, a fortress perched on the beautiful surrounding valley. After Ajlun the road is a long descent to the depression of the Dead Sea, which at -398 meters below sea level is the lowest point on Earth!
Along the way, you might consider other stops like the local town of As-Salt, where we were the only tourists, and sites of religious-historical significance such as Bethany beyond the Jordan, a small spring by the river of the same name where Jesus was baptized; and Mount Nebo, the place mentioned in the Old Testament where Moses sighted the Promised Land and lived out his last days.
Once on the shores of the Dead Sea, there are two options: stay overnight in a hotel/resort with access to the small equipped beaches along the coast, which include sunbeds, umbrellas, beneficial mud from the Dead Sea, showers. Or stop along the way at the sparse public beaches, free and unequipped, where it is possible to swim and pay the small amount of 1JD ($1.50) to locals to have access to showers, essential after swimming in the very salty waters of the Dead Sea.
One night by the Dead Sea is more than enough. Although it is a suggestive place to be immortalized with the classic photo while floating in the water, the area is extremelyhot and dry, there is not much else to do.
TIP: If you’re visiting Jordan after the rainier winter months, nearby Wadi Al Mujib canyon will be filled with water and perfect for a breathtaking rafting session.
DAY 4: AL-KARAK CASTLE
The next day we get back to driving, and we leave the shores of the Dead Sea following Kings Highway, a winding and panoramic road that offers unforgettable views.
The major attraction in the area is the castle of the city of Al-Karak, or simply Kerak Castle.
A fortress-labyrinth that develops over 7 levels, including tunnels and underground passages in which to get lost, or rather not get lost!
Today Kerak castle appears in medieval style, but, as for the rest of Jordan, this fortress too has changed hands over the centuries under the dominion of the various rulers who have come and gone in the territory, including the Moabites, the Crusaders, and the Ottomans.
In the late afternoon continue south to Wadi Musa. This is the gateway to Jordan’s most famous place – Petra!
DAYS 5-6-7: PETRA
Rest well the night you arrive in Wadi Musa, because you need to be full of energy and leave early to face a full day in Petra.
We recommend purchasing the Jordan Pass option to visit Petra for at least 2 consecutive days. We have chosen 3 days, it doesn’t happen often to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
This for the following reasons: to leave once at dawn to avoid the crowds around the Treasury, and once late to stay until sunset. To go to the various more distant viewpoints such as the Monastery and the Altar of Sacrifice, and less easy to reach to admire Petra from above. To have more chances to get beautiful sunny days. And generally to enjoy all that the vast site of Petra has to offer.
Read our article where you’ll find our guide on how to reach less crowded places and visit Petra in 2 full days.
Spend at least 2-3 nights in Wadi Musa. This will allow you to visit Petra properly, from above too, and to have a place to stay for more than one night during your trip to Jordan. We stayed 4 nights at centrally located Sunset Hotel Wadi Musa, a short walk from the Petra Visitor Centre.
For an even more complete experience in Wadi Musa, consider visiting Little Petra, whose name explains it perfectly: a small Petra to be visited in a few hours.
TIP: Petra By Night is a show designed for tourists, which can be seen in the evening in Petra. The Siq area around the Treasury is filled with candlelights. The ticket costs 17 Jordanian dinars ($25) and can be purchased separately from the Jordan Pass. Reading and hearing different opinions we have chosen not to do it, therefore we can’t review it.
DAY 8: WADI RUM DESERT
After exploring Petra, get ready for a new unforgettable adventure: Wadi Rum awaits you! A spectacular rocky desert, full of mesmerising views and Martian-like landscapes. Stay overnight in a Bedouin camp for a unique experience. Even sleeping in a tent in the desert under the stars doesn’t happen that often!
We recommend Bedouin Nights Camp, the very kind Bedouins took care of us for 24 hours, from the return transfer (Wadi Rum is a protected area, with access included in the Jordan Pass), to the full day 4×4 jeep tour, the stops at the most sensational points such as the dunes, canyons and rock arches, lunch and dinner cooked in the traditional way under the sand, and finally the suggestive night in a tent under the stars. Contact them directly to communicate with owner Mohammad via email or whatsapp.
As for the specific costs, the available activities, and everything you need to know for an excursion to Wadi Rum, we talk about it in detail here.
A full-day tour with an overnight stay in Wadi Rum is perfect in our opinion. If you wish, you could also stay two nights, taking the tour on the central day. In any case it is worth spending one night in Wadi Rum, we guarantee that it will be an experience you will always remember!
DAY 9 – AQABA AND THE RED SEA
Some 70 km of road separates Wadi Rum from Jordan’s southern border – the Red Sea!
Aqaba is a relatively developed tourist centre with a decent sea, not as good as a Sharm-El-Sheik on the Egyptian side to be clear, but it’s nice to relax a day by the sea after the heat and the walks you’ve done during your trip to Jordan.
In addition to relaxing on the beach, it is possible to go snorkelling and scuba diving to see some interesting bio-marine projects, such as a military tank and an aircraft wreck that have been deliberately sunk a few meters off the coast of Aqaba, in order to create an underwater environment in which to admire the flora and fauna adapt.
One night in Aqaba may be enough, but if you still have some free days, rest for two nights and enjoy some sea: you deserved it! We stayed at Nice View Hotel Apartments Aqaba, we also suggest the good shawarma kebab restaurant just below the hotel!
TIP: We recommend Berenice Beach Club if you want to spend a day in total relaxation at the beach. The club is equipped with sunbeds, umbrellas, a bar and a restaurant. Admission is 13JD, info here.
DAY 10 – MADABA
Having extra time on our 14 day trip, we stayed 2 nights in Aqaba, and made one last stop in Madaba before returning to the airport. Depending on the time of your return flight from Amman, you will leave in the morning or in the afternoon to make the approximately 350 km that separates Aqaba from Amman.
If you are in a hurry, take highway 15, straight and fast, but boring. Alternatively, you could travel a section of the Kings Highway, or pass west again along the Dead Sea. Finally, you’ll reach Madaba, an interesting town not far from Amman’s Queen Alia Airport.
You might consider a one-way Amman-Aqaba trip in Jordan, to drop off the car in Aqaba. In this case you would pay more to rent the car and return it to a different location.
Madaba is known for its extraordinary Byzantine mosaics, including the famous Mosaic Map of Jerusalem. Visit the Madaba Archaeological Park to see the mosaics and explore the remains of the ancient city. We treated ourselves to cozy Aitch Boutique Hotel in Madaba, with excellent value for money and a fantastic breakfast.
ENJOY YOUR TRIP TO JORDAN!
We hope this post will help you plan your trip to Jordan. Write us in the comments if you have any other questions!
Remember to always have a hat, plenty of water, and sunscreen at hand. As you will see, the Bedouins cover their bodies as much as possible to protect themselves from the heat, and if you want to buy a kefiah like the ones they wear, don’t spend more than 4-5 JD for a kefiah you like!
We greet you with the phrase we’ve heard the most in Jordan: WELCOME TO JORDAN!
WHERE TO STAY IN JORDAN?
- You can book all your accommodation in Jordan with free cancellation here.
- Nomads Hotel Amman, cozy and central, next to famous Rainbow Street in Amman.
- Ramada Resort Dead Sea: perfect to enjoy the Dead Sea experience.
- Sunset Hotel Wadi Musa: just a short walk from Petra Visitor Centre.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
- Car: international car rental companies are present at the airport, slightly more expensive than the Jordanian ones which have offices 10-15 minutes away and pick you up at the airport. The cheapest options start at $25/day, petrol costs around $1.60 per litre. With an additional 20-30$ per day on average it is possible to hire a driver for your trip to Jordan.
Check out your options for renting a car in Jordan here.
- Plane: consider low-cost flights from Europe with Ryanair and Wizzair to the two international airports in Jordan: Amman and Aqaba.
WEATHER&CLIMATE – WHEN TO GO TO JORDAN?
Jordan has different regions and climates, with hills, sea and deserts. Although the sun in Jordan is very hot, the temperature is not always high. Amman is cool in the evening especially in the winter months, being over 1,000 meters above sea level. Even in Wadi Rum the thermal shock is considerable, you will need to cover yourself well as soon as the sun sets.
In the winter months there can be severe thunderstorms and flash floods, so as to flood Petra and its canyons. Snow is also not uncommon in January or February, although it melts quickly during the day.
The Dead Sea is an inhospitable and hot place, don’t stay more than half an hour under the scorching sun. In the same way, it is recommended to take baths of less than 15 minutes due to the extreme salinity of the water.
Bring comfortable walking shoes, long but light clothes, a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water!
DO YOU NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes, you always do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Better safe than sorry! Get 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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