Jordan is one of those country's that is small enough to cover in a pretty short time. Whilst we'd recommend at least two weeks if possible, you can cover the major sights in just ten days.
Starting in the capital, you'll see a mix of ancient history and incredible natural wonders. We loved our month in Jordan and would highly recommended it as a great place to get acquainted with Middle Eastern travel.
The people are incredibly friendly, the scenery is breathtaking, and Petra is worth the trip alone. We left this county completely wowed and still can't stop talking about it months later. Get there before the rest of the world wakes up to the fact Jordan is a safe country for travel, right now tourist numbers are down and it's the perfect time to travel.
Here's our 10 day Jordan itinerary, guaranteed to give you the trip of a lifetime.
Day 1 - Amman
AM - The Citadel
It's likely that you will fly into Queen Alia International, so head into Amman after landing. After checking in to your hotel, head to the Citadel. The ruins are the perfect place to start your trip to Jordan, giving you a glimpse of the country's diverse history.
As the Citadel was built on the top of one of the highest hills, you'll also get a great view of Amman city. We loved taking in the the city from up here and seeing how houses and shops were built into the steep hills.
If you are a photography lover, switch the Citadel with the Amphitheatre so that you arrive at the Citadel late afternoon and you can stay and photograph the ruins at sunset (not possible during Ramadan when the Citadel closes early).
After taking in the Citadel, you can either grab a taxi or walk down to the Amphitheatre, which will take around 20 minutes.
PM - The Roman Amphitheatre
The Roman Amphitheatre in Amman is another impressive remnant of Roman rule in Jordan. Whilst it isn't quite the Colosseum, it's an interesting place to take in for an hour or so. You can also visit the strange museums that are in the Amphitheatre, that showcase Jordanian history with creepy wax figures. We loved that there were no crowds and you could get the whole place to yourself, now that's definitely not like the Colosseum!
Dinner - Hashem's
Our favourite restaurant in the whole of Jordan was Hashem's. This local place serves up amazing falafel, hummous, flat bread and all kinds of other Middle Eastern staples for incredibly cheap prices! We visited during Ramadan and experienced Iftar where people break the day's fast together. It had a really festive feel, and we loved having the chance to share in this experience.
Where to stay in Amman
We stayed at the Gallery Guest House, the best budget to mid-range choice you can get in Amman. For $40 USD a night we had a comfortable en-suite room on a quiet street with air-con. Breakfast is included in the price and is served on the roof terrace overlooking the city.
It is walking distance to many of the city attractions and we can't recommend this place highly enough. It was probably the best value stay we had in Jordan and after looking for ages online and seeing lots of horror stories about the cheaper hotels we were really pleased with this find. The guys that run it are lovely too. There isn't a lift though so check in advance where your room will be if stairs are an issue.
Day 2 - The Dead Sea
AM - Wadi Mujib
It's time to head into one of the most popular parts of Jordan: the Dead Sea. The journey from Amman can take up to two hours in a hire car and is a pretty straightforward drive (just look out for the speed bumps, even Jordanian motorways have them!).
Start by heading to the Siq Trail in Wadi Mujib. This hike through a canyon was one of our favourite things to do in the whole of Jordan and is said to be the easiest of all the canyon trails. The walk starts in ankle deep water and you can go as far as you choose. The entire trail takes around one hour each way if you don't stop too much.
The canyon is absolutely breathtaking and wading through it was one of the most incredible walks we have ever done.
Check out our blog on the Siq Trail for more information on how to do this.
PM - Mud up and float in the Dead Sea
The perfect way to spend the afternoon in the Dead Sea is to head to the water! If you are staying in one of the luxury hotels, all offer free and easy access to the Dead Sea for guests. However there are also public beaches you can go to as an alternative (for a fee). Most hotels will also offer free Dead Sea mud so you can give yourself a bit of a spa day.
The mud and Dead Sea itself are reported to have health benefits, especially for those who suffer from skin ailments such as psoriasis. If you go at sunset, you'll miss the crowds and also be able to float at the coolest part of the day (and won't have to worry about sunburn). So head down to the shore, cover yourself in mud and then float while the sun goes down.
If you think you can squeeze a bit more in, then check out the other things to do around the Dead Sea.
Where to stay in the Dead Sea
We loved our stay at the Movenpick, a beautiful hotel with its own private beach on the Dead Sea. The hotel looks like a Middle Eastern town as the rooms are set in traditional buildings designed to keep the interiors cool. The resort has two infinity pools and one of the best spas in the Middle East.
The rooms are really comfortable and are the perfect retreat from the heat of the Dead Sea.
Day 3 - Dana Biosphere Reserve
AM - Dana Hike
After floating in the Dead Sea, head two hours south to the Dana Biosphere Reserve, one of Jordan's best kept secrets. You'll feel the air get cooler as you wind your way up through the mountains and you'll see the stunning views on the drive.
To start, head to Rumana Village. This camp site is the start of several short, but beautiful walking trails that offer views of the canyon below. It is best to go as early as possible as the whole area has virtually no shade, making the middle of the day a pretty sweaty affair in the warmer months.
You can find out more about the individual walks on our blog all about Dana.
PM - Exploring Dana Village
A pleasant way to spend the afternoon is to explore the gorgeous Dana Village. This old sandstone settlement is perched on the top of a hill and has the best views of the Wadi Dana, a magnificent canyon. Whilst walking the streets you'll bump into the occasional donkey as well! It truly feels like stepping back in time. Make sure you don't miss sunset!
Where to stay in Dana
We stayed at the stunning Dana Guesthouse. It has the best views in town and all of the rooms have balconies facing the canyon. The rooms are really comfortable and clean and the views even extend to the shower! It may be a little expensive, but it is by far the best choice in Dana and the wifi was the best we had in Jordan.
It was a real relief to find as we had originally booked to stay at the Dana Hotel. If you value cleanliness don't make the same mistake we did. The Dana Hotel was filthy and despite the fact we've stayed in many $4 hotels in Nepal and India, we just couldn't stay in this one!
Day 4 - Feynan
AM - Wadi Dana Hike
The Wadi Dana Hike is one of the best things to do in Dana Biosphere Reserve and the perfect way to explore the area. The trail starts from Dana village and immediately heads down hill into the barren valley.
You'll pass through this stunning canyon whilst also meeting local bedouins and huge flocks of goats along the way. It is one of the few times where you can easily get out of the tourist areas in Jordan without a guide and see a bit of rural Jordan.
The 14km walk takes between 4 - 6 hours and we'd recommend leaving early. Wadi Dana gets very hot during the day and the walk offers virtually no shade. Take a lot of water and food, and enjoy the walk!
PM - Feynan Eco Lodge & Sunset Hike
When you arrive at Feynan, you feel a long way from anywhere, and it's a truly magical experience. The Eco Lodge is situated in the middle of a dried up river bed and is completely off the grid. It generates its own power, harvests a local water source and does everything possible to reduce it's carbon footprint and waste.
Even though we'd walked for over four hours to get to Feynan, we chose to do the sunset hike as well! It took us to a beautiful look out where we could see the sky turn orange as the sun set through the desert haze. Partner this with some Bedouin tea and you have a perfect evening. Read this for more thoughts on Feynan Eco Lodge.
Day 5 - Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is the home to many famous stories and it's hard not to get carried away when you visit this incredible place. Whether you choose to be Lawrence of Arabia or Matt Damon in The Martian, it's hard not to feel like you've strayed on to a movie set, a million miles away from western civilization.
A trip to Wadi Rum will be one you remember for the rest of your life and we recommend spending at least one night in this incredible place.
The majority of the morning will be taken up with the journey to Wadi Rum. You will need a taxi from Feynan to your car in Dana (this takes up to three hours) and then it's another two hours to Wadi Rum.
Before you arrive, organise a tour (sadly this is the only way to explore Wadi Rum unless you are highly skilled in map reading and 4x4 driving) and plan to meet up in the afternoon. Make sure you put in a request to be taken to a sunset view if you're camp doesn't have one, the view is spectacular as the sun turns the desert a dark red.
The night sky in Wadi Rum is also stunning, so try to stay up as late as you can. Snag a camp site that is far from Wadi Rum Village's light pollution and stare in awe as you see hundreds of stars appear. Most camps will offer the option to sleep outside if you like.
Day 6 - Wadi Rum
AM - Sunrise on a rock bridge
There's no rest for the wicked, so get up early to see a beautiful desert sunrise. This is the best time of day to be out exploring as the air is blissfully cool. We chose to watch the sunrise at Little Bridge, a small rock arch, which offered a stunning view across the desert.
After this it's time to explore the many sights in Wadi Rum. We enjoyed seeing the ancient enscriptions on the Kharzali Canyon and the many viewpoints around the desert.
Make sure that you clearly communicate with your tour the kind of things you want to do unless you are totally happy to have them lead. Although we enjoyed seeing Wadi Rum, we tried to organise a walking tour which was underwhelming. Before booking your trip, make sure you read our blog all about organising your trip to Wadi Rum.
Day 7 - Petra
AM - The Treasury
It's time for the showstopper: Petra. Can you visit Jordan without exploring this incredible city? We had wanted to see the Treasury in Petra for decades and were blown away as soon as we saw it. It is one of those places which lives up to the hype and more.
It takes two hours to get to Petra from Wadi Rum by car. Head straight to the Treasury to get that 5 star view. The best way to see it for the first time is to walk from the Visitors Centre down the stunning Siq (a huge canyon) and wait to be awed as it opens out to this iconic place.
After taking it in from every angle on the ground, why not head up to the top to see the Treasury from above. You'll need a guide, but there's plenty of people who will be trying to sell their services in front of the Treasury.
The climb up is pretty precarious and not for the faint hearted. The path is carved out of rocks and will require some clambering but is very short at only 10-15 minutes. Once you're at the top, the view will blow you away.
Note: This itinerary is based on limited time in Jordan, ideally we would recommend that you visit The Treasury first thing in the morning (sunrise) to avoid the crowds, so if you have the luxury of a bit more time then aim for this. Here are some tips on how to avoid the crowds at Petra.
PM - The High Place of Sacrifice
After a hectic morning, if you're staying nearby we recommend heading back to your hotel for a few hours and avoiding the busiest time of day. After a break head back in to Petra via the Treasury (any excuse to see this icon 😉). Walk round to the Why Not Cafe and find the stairs leading up to the High Place of Sacrifice.
As the sun goes down and the temperature drops, there is no better place to be in Petra. The views from the High Place of Sacrifice are stunning, especially for sunset.
It takes about 30 minutes to climb up to the top (and the path is virtually all uphill), but is worth the effort. If you want to read more about the walk up (or any other part of Petra), then check out our guide to planning the perfect trip to Petra.
Where to stay in Petra
You'll be doing a lot of walking and a lot of going in and out, so the Movenpick is a great choice!
Firstly, it is directly opposite the main gate (tick). This means you'll not have to add even more distance to your walk.
Secondly, it is the best choice in Wadi Musa for style and comfort. The breakfasts were delicious and great fuel for exploring, we were able to recharge after each visit to Petra so we could keep exploring!
Day 8 - Petra
AM - Little Petra to Petra Walk
The best way to see the Monastery (a must do in Petra) and avoid the crowds is the Little Petra to Petra Walk. This 8km hike takes you from the beautiful Little Petra to Petra, the back way, allowing you to see a side of Petra that very few others do.
There are uphill sections, but it is a walk that most people of a modest fitness can do. We recommend starting early to walk in the cooler weather and you should ideally finish by about midday.
PM - Petra By Night
Petra By Night is a magical experience, especially if you do it during low season. Seeing the Treasury and the Siq lit up by candlelight with live Jordanian music playing was very special.
It is only on three nights per week, so make sure you plan your trip to Petra to coincide with a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday to see this spectacle.
To ensure you get the most out of Petra By Night, check our guide all about making the most of your experience.
Day 9 - Road trip
AM - Kerak Castle
After Petra, drive 2.5 hours north on the King's Highway to Kerak. In the centre of the town, you'll find Kerak Castle, one of the largest crusader castles, which is an interesting place to explore for an hour or so. It was besieged twice before Saladin finally took this important stronghold.
There isn't too much of it left, but walking around the walls will show you why this was an important place to capture. From the walls, you can see for miles in all directions as the castle is perched on the top of a very steep hill. You'll get more out of the visit if you have read up about it ahead of time.
PM - Stop off at the upper part of Wadi Mujib
Continuing north, you'll soon reach the northern end of Wadi Mujib. The views of Jordan's answer to the Grand Canyon are breathtaking and well worth pausing for some photos.
Just before the dam is an obvious viewpoint. If you stop here you will no doubt meet Sam, an eccentric but super friendly man who has set up a stunning tea lounge with an epic view.
He's also developing accommodation (which will be listed on Airbnb) so that you can stay here if you choose, waking up to this epic view every morning. You'll probably find you stop for far longer than you planned but it will definitely be memorable.
Day 10 - Madaba
AM - St George's Church
The final stop in Jordan is Madaba, the mosaic city. Here you'll find some of Jordan's Christian History and an interesting change to what you have seen elsewhere. The best place to start is St George's Church which is in the centre of Madaba.
This church is home to one of the most detailed and oldest maps of Palestine in existence. You'll need to cover your legs or wear one of their gowns to enter the church.
It is worth going to the visitor's centre to understand the map in more detail as we struggled to understand what we were looking at first time round!
PM - Church of the beheading of St John The Baptist
After St George's head 10 minutes down the road to the Church of the Beheading of St John the Baptist. This church has some old photographs of Madaba throughout the years as well as information about Christian settlement. You can also go to the foundations and explore some of the older parts of the church.
The final part of your visit it up the bell tower to get a terrific view over the city. You will have to climb some staircases and ladders amongst the bells to get up there!
Where to stay in Madaba
The Mosaic City Hotel
A comfortable and good value option in Madaba is the Mosaic City Hotel. It is centrally placed and the rooms are clean, comfortable and quiet. It also has free parking and includes breakfast.
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Are you planning a trip to Jordan? Have you been and think we missed somewhere? Let us know in the comments below!