What to see in Jordan and two travel itineraries

Who I am
Alejandra Rangel

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

With stunning landscapes, historic sites, delicious food and somewhat chaotic cities, the Jordan gave me new emotions every day: from the golden red colors of Petra to the blue (and salty!) waters of Dead Sea, from the bazaars full of people to the fertile fields of the Jordan Valley, the days of my trip were just enough and I returned home knowing full well that I had only had a taste of all the things to see in Jordan.


Rent a car in Jordan it is the best way to explore the country and one of the cheapest (yes Jordan is not a really low cost destination).

The roads are good and the fuel is cheap. Having your own car gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and see places that are not possible on group travel or public transport (like the Road of the Kings for example).

Check out RentalCars.com at this link to compare rental car prices.

When plan the itinerary, try not to be fooled like me by the fact that Jordan is a small country: only about 35.000 square miles of which about half is covered in desert.

I receive many emails with the question “what to see in Jordan in 3 days?”, Listen to me, consider at least 5 days or, better, 7 days.

At the bottom of this post you will also find two itineraries that you might need, but for now let's see a list of what to see in Jordan!

The best things to see in Jordan

1 - Petra

And how not to start mentioning you, probably the first wish of anyone who decides to organize a trip to this country: the Nabataean city of Petra?

It is one of the ancient cities of the world. Petra is one of those places that lives up to the fame it enjoys all over our planet.

Petra will literally leave you breathless when you enter the square that houses the Treasury after the 2km walk through the deep and narrow gorge of the as.

Dating back more than 2000 years, Petra was an important part of the Silk Road from China and by 'India, but around the 12th century it was abandoned: the West rediscovered it only in the early 1800s and films such as Indiana Jones have helped to publicize it and rightly get it the worldwide fame it deserves.

But let's see in detail the main things to see in Petra that alone would deserve an article.

1 – Petra by Night

Petra by Night, or a visit to Petra by candlelight, when the treasure is illuminated by thousands of small dancing flames.

2 - Treasury of Petra

Obtained from a sandstone rock, El Khasneh al Faroun, more commonly known as the "Treasury of Petra" is the most elaborate ruin on the site. It is the first monument that greets visitors as they step out of the long, narrow Siq gorge which marks the entrance to the city and really takes your breath away.

If you have time try to hike to the viewpoint above the Treasury which is accessed by following the path around the Royal Tombs. Keep left of the tea shop and ask the staff to point you in the right direction.

3 - Monastery of Petra

Il Monastery, the largest monument in Petra, dates back to the XNUMXst century BC It is a long uphill walk to get there but seeing the Monastery in all its grandeur is a great reward for the effort made under the scorching sun (bring some water)!

4 - Little Petra

La Little Petra it's a much smaller, quieter version of the main site, and it too has buildings carved out of the sandstone rock. It's a nice alternative for a free afternoon to explore somewhere quieter and off the beaten track.

You want to learn more? Read my post on how to visit Petra (if it's your first time)

2 - Rovine romane di Jerash

Le rovine romane di Jerash they are among the best preserved Roman ruins in the world.

Highlights of Jerash include the racecourse which once hosted the chariot races, the cardio maximum, once the main artery of the city, and theArch of Hadrian, built to commemorate a visit by Emperor Hadrian.

The site is so well preserved that it is easy to imagine the grandeur of this city it once was and the history of the site is truly alive (and it made me think so much on my visit to Palmyra, Syria)

3 - Road of the Kings

The most scenic way to get from Amman to Petra is by way of the Kings Road.

There is no public transport (buses run on the highway) and you can do it in three ways: by rental car, by taking a taxi driver (but it costs a shot because he will drop you off in Petra and then he will have to go back to Amman) or with a private tour like this you find on GetYourGuide.

What to see on the Kings' Road (in order from Amman to Petra)

1 - Map of Madaba

La Map of the Holy Land is an incredible mosaic map of the Middle East created in the XNUMXth century, located in the small Orthodox church of St. George and represents the itinerary to reach Jerusalem through the whole world known at the time.

2 - Monte Nebo

Il point where Moses saw the Promised Land it is a panoramic place from which you can observe a beautiful view of the area and which should be the point described by the Bible.

3 - Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib is a spectacular river canyon known as the Grand Canyon of Jordan. The river flows into the Dead Sea at over 400 meters below sea level.

4 - Shobak Castle

Il Shobak Castle is a XNUMXth century Crusader castle perched on the side of a rocky mountain in an arid environment.

5 - Dana Biosphere Reserve

La Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan's largest nature reserve that sits along the face of the Great Rift Valley and boasts spectacular scenery and hiking. Take a look at the village of Dana, a stone village occupied since 4000 BC.

6 - Kerak Castle

Il Kerak castle it is the largest and best preserved of the Crusader castles. The XNUMXth-century castle is perched atop a hill in the town of Kerak.

to know more, read my experience on the Kings' Road from Amman to Petra.

4 - The hillside settlement of Umm Qais

On the border between Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Syria, the city ​​of Umm Qais, known as the ancient Gadara, has sweeping views over the Jordan Valley, and the Golan Heights.

In the current Umm Quais you can see the ruins of a Roman city built on an ancient Ottoman village. The ruins, although much less preserved than Jerash, include a theater, the main street, and buildings once occupied by shops, temples and houses.

Umm Qais is also advertised as the site of a miracle where, according to the Bible, Jesus cast demons from humans to pigs.

5 - The XNUMXth century Ajloun Castle

Il Ajloun castle at the top of the hill is an interesting stop between the two sites of Jerash and Umm Qais. The castle is well preserved with very intact interiors and the incredible views over the Jordan Valley are worth the climb!

6 - Umm Ar-Rasas

Umm Ar-Rasas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its spectacular perfectly preserved mosaic (the largest in Jordan) is a must-see.

The site hosts extensive Roman, Byzantine and early Christian ruins as well as the mosaic floor in the church of Santo Stefano. The mosaic depicts the major cities of ancient Jordan and the hunting and fishing techniques of ancient times.

7 – Aqaba

The only coastal city in Jordan, Aqaba it is the perfect place for diving and snorkelling in the Red Sea. I spent a day there and after the dust and the heat I assure you that it is a great place to relax before resuming your journey.

There isn't much to do in this sleepy town other than seeing the local fort or museum. The city itself actually serves only as a port and base for visiting the Red Sea.

There are a few beaches in the city, but the best are to the south, towards the Saudi Arabian border.

Arriving at the beach you will notice a few things: 1) the beach can be quite stony 2) the women wear bikinis and 3) the water is perfect.

The swimsuit part is notable because many travelers expect the more traditional Muslim dress. But the beaches here are private and have their own dress code, so bikinis are welcome.

Bathers will have the unique opportunity to see four different nations at the same time. Across the Red Sea, you will see Egypt and Israel, while to the south is Saudi Arabia.

There are several diving centers around these beaches. Visit one of them and book a diving trip!

8 - Wadi Rum

The aptly named valley of the moon, otherwise known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wadi Rum. Spending the night in a Wadi Rum desert camp is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience and exploring the desert in 4 × 4 during daylight hours brings the magnificent landscape to life.

Beware that if you book a 4 × 4 tour on site you can expect some rip-off to get some money. My advice is to buy it online first like here on GetYourGuide, or if you're brave, contact my friend Audh (he's crazy as a horse, but you'll have a lot of fun with him)!

Read more on visit to Wadi Rum (and how the desert changed my life) here!

9 – Amman

I know that on the web we often read that everything is wonderful and beautiful, but to tell the truth I found the capital of Jordan quite ugly and in my opinion it is not worth spending more than a day or two there.

Amman is a mix of modern and ancient, it is chaotic, but here too there is something to see.

What to see in Amman:

1 - The citadel and the hand of Hercules

The ancient Roman ruins of the Citadel are one of the most famous sights in Amman. The hand of Hercules is a massive hand that was part of an ancient statue, believed to be Hercules.

2 – Duke’s Diwan
Duke's Diwan is one of the oldest and most well-preserved stone buildings located in the heart of Amman.

3 – Rainbow street

Famous for its colorful graffiti, Rainbow Street is a trendy street dotted with clubs and bars… and famous for its ice cream!

4 - King Abdullah Mosque

I don't remember seeing her (ouch) but I assure you I was so tired I couldn't do it. in any case from the photos it looks very nice, if you decide to visit it send me some!

10 – Dead Sea

Swim in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, is a must-have on any Jordan itinerary. Rightly called the Dead Sea because its waters are particularly salty with salt levels 4 times higher than the rest of the world's oceans, it is really fun to float on its surface!

The water contains 35 minerals and these, together with the rich mud on its coast, make it a particularly good place for skin treatments.

11 - Jordan baptismal site

The site of baptism, Bethany beyond the Jordan, is a relatively recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered the original location of the Baptism of Jesus and the place where John the Baptist resided.

It is surreal to be next to the narrow waters that separate Jordan and Israel and it is common to see baptisms taking place in the Israeli part of the site.

12 - Quseir Amra

Quseir Amra it is a little known stop and is located about 70 minutes east of Amman. The well-preserved 8th century desert castle, built as a royal oasis in the desert, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its amazing frescoes.

What to see in Jordan in 5 and 7 days

5 days: the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum and Petra

Solo five days? OK, time is not long so I recommend you focus on three of the most extraordinary places to visit in Jordan: Petra, Wadi Rum e Dead Sea.

This is a very common itinerary for those who are in Israel and want to take a few days' getaway to Jordan.

If you are from Israel, cross the border atAllenby Bridge and head straight to the Dead Sea. Experience one of the most disconcerting feelings in the world: weightlessness in hyper-salty water.

PRO tip

If you pass by Allenby Bridge, unlike Eilat, you need a visa, you can't do it there. There is indeed a way around this, and that is to buy the Jordan Pass, which in addition to allowing you to enter without a visa also gives you access to a lot of attractions.

See here what the Jordan Pass includes.

Be sure to visit the neighbor Wadi Mujib to do canyoning.

After the Dead Sea head to Petra, where you spend a whole day and a night and then spend a whole day (the next) in the desert of Wadi Rum.

Sleep in a tented camp under the stars and the next day head to Aqaba and from there back to Eilat in Israel, or take a flight back to Amman.

In practice the5 days itinerary I would do it like this:

Day 1 - Amman: visits to the Citadel, the Roman amphitheater, the center of Wasat Al Balad, the souk markets and the famous Rainbow Street.

Day 2 - from Amman to Petra: drive along the road of the kings and arrive in Petra in the early afternoon. In the evening, visit Little Petra.

Day 3 - Petra: classic visit to the Petra site.

Day 4 - Wadi Rum: from Petra leave early and visit for the whole day the wonderful Wadi Rum desert, better known as the Laurence of Arabia desert which was filmed right there. Sleep in a tented camp under the stars!

Day 5 - Dead Sea and Amman: depart in the morning from Wadi Rum and go straight to the Dead Sea. Spend the day floating in the salty waters. In the evening, return to Amman.

7 days: the best of Jordan

This 7 days itinerary it is ideal for those who want to spend more time in the deserts of Jordan. It includes most of the places of interest in Jordan: this is themore classic itinerary what you can do.

Travelers can arrive in both Aqaba and Amman. Those arriving from Israel can also enter via the comfortable Wadi Araba crossing between Eilat and Aqaba.

The 7-day itinerary is very similar to the 5-day itinerary but adding two more places of interest: Jerash e Aqaba.

Add a day to Amman to dedicate yourself to Jerash and leave for Petra the next day.

After the night in the desert at Wadi Rum before heading to the Dead Sea spend a day in Aqaba to relax on the beach and do some diving in the Red Sea.

Hope this article on what to see in Jordan was to your liking and that you found what you were looking for. In case I forgot something, write it to me in the comments!

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