Get the best out of bite-sized Middle-East: Our Jordan Itinerary covers how to get the most out of your Jordan trip – whether you have 10 days here, only a week or much longer. Despite Jordan being a (relatively) small country don’t think you can rush through! Jordan punches way above its size when it comes to history, culture, landscapes, welcoming locals and so much more. Get ready for an amazing trip!
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Header Photo Credit: Connor Guest
Jordan Itinerary: The Best of Jordan in 10 Days (or More).
Jordan is one of the best countries to explore in the Middle East – not only is it one of the most stable countries from a security and politics standpoint, but it is also home to some of the most impressive treasures of the region. Home to five cities of the Roman Decapolis, five UNESCO world heritage sites, and Petra (which needs no introduction), despite its rich heritage, Jordan is not only for history buffs.
Jordan is also a great destination for nature, hiking, wellness (at the Dead Sea) and for food & culture enthusiasts as well as anyone interested in ecotourism.
In this Jordan itinerary we include some of Jordan’s most popular spot, but we also try to take you off the beaten path, too. Many of Jordan’s most popular attractions are packed once the day-trippers arrive, so a great way to get the edge is to actually stay in a place and get there before the tour buses descend! It allows you to see a whole different side of a place, too.
The Best Time to Visit Jordan
Jordan’s high season runs from March – early June, and to a lesser extent from September – November. These times tend to have the best weather for visiting (and in Spring the north of Jordan is carpeted with beautiful wild flowers) but they are also when Jordan is the busiest and you’ll pay a lot more for your hotel rooms during this time.
We visited Jordan in Summer (August) which was very hot but refreshingly crowd-free. If you aren’t planning hiking or outdoor exploration too much, you could also consider visiting in winter (winter does get cold in Jordan and it has been known to snow in Amman).
How to Travel Around Jordan
There are many options for tours of Jordan which are great if you are short on time and don’t have time to plan your own trip. However we recommend travelling independently if you can, as unfortunately many of the tours all go to the same places and don’t allow you to get off the beaten track.
For independent travel in Jordan, the best option is to rent a car – the reason being there is little in the way of consistent public transport infrastructure in the country. Drivers take a more relaxed approach to road rules than they would do in Europe or North America, and we recommend avoiding driving in Amman as the traffic can be bad. Any easy way to avoid this is to take a taxi back to the airport after your time in Amman and pick up your rental car from there, or stay on the outskirts of Amman.
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If you need to take public transportation / transfers note that there are no railways in Jordan, so you’ll need to get around by taxi. We found it really hard to get information about public bus services as everyone involved in the tourism industry was trying to sell us private transfers (taxis) at huge expense! The best way to get information about public buses is from the main bus station of the city you are in.
We’ve also heard good things about JETTbus who offer express coach transfers between major cities and will save you a significant amount of money compared to taxis.
Responsible Travel in Jordan
Jordan is well-used to tourism, but that’s not to say that the impact from tourism in Jordan is always good. We’ve made sure our recommendations on this Jordan itinerary are as positive or minimal – impact as possible and gone out of our way to highlight community tourism initiatives that are worthy of your support.
Here are some things to be mindful of while travelling in Jordan:
- Jordan is a progressive country, but what you wear matters. Women should dress conservatively, ensuring that knees and shoulders are covered (full legs are even better) – you can wear light fabrics to beat the summer heat. There’s no need at all to cover your hair though. Keep bikinis for luxury beach resorts at the Dead Sea, if swimming on public beaches or at wadis, wear a t-shirt and shorts over your swimsuit.
- Water is extremely scarce in Jordan. Some reports (scarily) predict that Jordan may run out of water by the year 2020, so your water use really matters. Tourists are thought to use 7x the amount of water that locals do so make sure you take short showers, turn taps off while brushing teeth, shampooing, etc.
- Try to Support Local and buy your souvenirs from artisan focused shops that bring benefit to local communities (see our itinerary for examples). A lot of the souvenirs at Petra are mass produced and low quality. Eat at locally owned restaurants and enjoy the local cuisine (where ingredients can be sourced locally vs flown in from outside) as much as you can.
- Don’t use plastic. There’s no recycling in Jordan (at all) regardless of recycling bins that may have been put in hotels. Avoid plastic water bottles and cutlery. For water, tap water is not ideal to drink, so we suggest bringing a refillable water bottle and steripen UV filter (this is what we used in Jordan). Eating in vs taking away helps removes the need for plastic cutlery/containers, too. Coffee lovers, bring a Stojo with you.
- Show respect. Most locals you meet will go out of their way to make you feel at home and welcome you to Jordan, as in the Arab world people believe that guests are sent from god. Do your part to return the favour by being friendly and gracious. Learning a few basic words of Arabic such as Salaam Aleikhum (hello, muslim greeting); Merhaba (hello/welcome, general greeting) and Shokran (thank you); Afwan (you’re welcome) help too!
- Politics of the region / in the region are complicated at best: Jordan is surrounded (geographically and politically) by disagreements and wars, and has to do a refined balancing act. Politics (for example the neighbouring Israeli-Arab conflict) are emotional and difficult subjects for Jordanians, so do not bring them up in conversation unless invited to and be reserved in your opinions.
- During the holy month of Ramadan (April 24th – May 23rd in 2020 and April 13th – May 12th in 2021) most Muslims fast during the day. Although restaurants will remain open in touristic areas, be discreet if eating or drinking in front of those who may be fasting in the heat. There’s a sizeable Christian community in Jordan who do not observe Ramadan too, so you’ll likely always be able to find places to eat at during this time, depending on where you are.
10 Day Jordan Itinerary
We’ve put together this itinerary to give you the best of Jordan’s highlights as well as highlights of ecotourism in Jordan and sustainable travel options. If you have more time on your hands, see our additional section on how to spend it below! We recommend sticking to this order if you can due to the way the roads are laid out in Jordan.
Day 1-2 Amman
Many visitors to Jordan rush out of Amman and make a beeline straight for Petra, but we recommend spending at least a day or two exploring Amman itself.
Things to do in Amman
A visit to the Citadel atop Jabal Amman is a must, followed by some time at the Jordan Museum (the largest museum in Jordan), plus a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre.
Amman (which is built on the site of another of the ancient cities of the Decapolis) is spread over 17 hills (originally seven, but the city has grown and grown). Its hills make it beautiful with plenty of views but not the easiest city for walking. Its bus system is not the easiest to work out, we got around for longer hops by Uber or Kareem.
Explore Jabal L’weibdeh on a sunny afternoon before heading to the inspiring Beit Sitti for an amazing cooking class with views over Amman.
Rainbow Street in downtown Amman is the place to go for a sundowner with its upmarket bars and restaurants.
The Wild Jordan Centre cafe serves tasty, organic lunches from local produce. The centre is part of the wider Wild Jordan initiative which is present at all of Jordan’s national parks, and is run by the Royal Society for nature conservation.
Where to Stay in Amman
We stayed at the La Locanda Boutique hotel in the Lweibdeh area. This small boutique hotel is run by a charming Ammani lady who has lived in various countries around the world, and ensures that this unique hotel is spotless. Each of the rooms is named after a Jordanian artist or singer, the beds are big and comfortable, the wifi fast and the rooms bright and airy.
For more things to do in Amman read our full Amman guide here.
Day 3-4 Dana Biosphere Reserve
Head out from Amman today towards the beautiful Dana Biosphere Reserve, one of the top conservation and ecotourism in Jordan hotspots, not to mention home to the award winning Feynan Ecolodge.
Stop at the Womens’ Cooperative at Iraq al Amir on the way (it’s about 40 minutes out of Amman). The cooperative was founded by a group of women from the surrounding villages and communities of Wadi Seer in the hopes of providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for more local women. These days they sustain themselves largely through tourism, offering cooking, pottery and paper making workshops to visitors, as well as selling handicrafts on-site.
Things to do at Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana reserve is an area of outstanding national beauty, and one of the reserves looked after by Jordan’s RSCN. It’s the only reserve in Jordan that encompasses the four different bio-geographical zones of the country (Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Sudanian), making it a place to find a cross section of wildlife species as well as culture.
Most activities here include hiking, mountain biking, or simply walking to explore some of the ancient byzantine churches within its grounds. Your accommodation can arrange guided tours and information about the reserve, or you can just relax and soak up all the beauty at Feynan Eco Lodge.
Where to Stay in Dana Biosphere Reserve
Feynan Ecolodge was constructed in 2005 and became Jordan’s first Ecolodge. The concept and design of the lodge echoes that of a traditional silk road Caravanserai; where camel caravans would break their journeys en route to China in the days of the Silk Road.
The lodge was created to bring much needed work opportunities for the local Bedouin community, as well as create an example for low impact tourism in the country. Alongside working in collaboration with the local communities, Feynan is fully set up to save precious natural resources. The lodge is 100% powered by the sun, uses natural ventilation, and uses water from a local spring.
Day 4-6 Little Petra & Petra
For the next leg of the trip, it is possible to hike from Dana Biosphere Reserve to Little Petra, following the Jordan Trail. The hike is 12.6km and of medium difficulty, alternatively if you don’t feel like a hike, you can drive.
Things to do in Petra & Little Petra
Little Petra is known as the “back door of Petra” and needless to say receives far fewer visitors than Petra itself – which is why we recommend it! The surrounding area is picturesque and includes some of the oldest settlements in the world, including Al Beida.
The main “Petra” needs not much introduction, particularly for its infamous Treasury and Monastery. Petra by Night is a performance that is put on every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at 8.30pm and is worth it for the joy of seeing the Siq canyon that leads down to the monastery all lit up in candles as well as the front of the treasury itself. Wait until the end for the full effect.
Note that the Monastery is quite a hike and is best done later in the afternoon – we recommend avoiding Petra in the middle of the day in summer as the sun can get very intense – even in winter the sun can be strong. The Treasury is best seen in the early light of morning (come as early as you possibly can for fewer crowds) and we warn you against climbing up for the overhang views if you’re not comfortable with heights as there are non-existent safety measures and the paths are dangerous.
You could happily wander Petra for days as there are endless temples and buildings to discover! If you’re tight on time then you could dedicate half a day to little Petra and one day at main Petra.
We were warned that Solo female travellers should be aware of their surroundings at Petra and stick to areas with plenty of other visitors around where possible, as some men have been known to try their chances. Definitely decline any invitations to visit any local Bedouin man’s “cave”!
Where to Stay in Petra
We stayed at the Marriott Petra (the town adjacent to Petra is called Wadi Musa) and loved it for its incredible sunrises and sunsets over the canyons and views from the pool area.
Day 6-7 Dead Sea / Wadi Mujib
Head out early for the drive north east to the Dead Sea and prepare yourself for some stunning scenery along the way! This is a 3.5 – 4 hour drive but the views along the dead sea during the second half of the trip do something to make up for that. If you don’t have your own rental car, some hotels / travel agencies in Petra may be offering shuttle buses so ask around before committing to a private taxi.
Things to do at the Dead Sea & Wadi Mujib
You will likely only be able to fit one of these two in if you’re tight on time – so which one is really up to your tastes and preferences! Those looking forward to a salty soak and relaxing time at some of the region’s best spa’s shouldn’t pass up a stay at one of the Dead Sea’s luxury resorts (backpackers note that there are no budget accommodations at the Dead Sea).
Those who prefer a bit of action and nature should head to Wadi Mujib – a beautiful water-filled canyon in the area that you can hike along between April 1st and October 31st. It’s dangerous to hike in winter due to potential flash floods. Wadi Mujib is also managed by Jordan’s RSCN and there are chalets you can stay at on site. Alternatively, you could stay at one of the Dead Sea resorts and come here for a day.
Where to Stay in Wadi Mujib / Dead Sea
Check rates and availability for the chalets at Wadi Mujib here.
The Dead Sea is home to plenty of high end resorts, fortunately a few of them do have sustainability labels (eco labels) for responsible management of water, energy use (etc) which are important issues in the region. We stayed at the Marriott Dead Sea which seemed like a great option for families, or there’s the swankier (and brand new) Hilton Dead Sea next door.
Day 7 – 9 Jerash & Umm Qais
Travel north today from the Dead Sea, bypassing Amman to the northern town of Jerash, home to some of the finest Roman Ruins you’ll find today, before heading on to stay the night and discover one of Jordan’s most beautiful and undiscovered gems: Umm Qais. You can also pass by the Ajloun castle and beautiful forest reserve.
Things to do in Jerash, Ajloun & Umm Qais
Visiting the ruins at Jerash is the main draw here (once the Roman city of Gerasa and another of the Decapolis). Be left in awe by the stunning Oval Forum and Colonnaded Street. Explore the ruins here and wonder about the life that was once lived in these ancient cities that were so advanced for their time.
When your stomach starts to growl, head over to the womens’ cooperative Beit Khairat Souf – at this cooperative the ladies are involved in an array of environmental projects, from sustainable farming and re-forestation, to producing home-made jams, herbs, spices and other handicrafts that are for sale in their shop, and they run a cafe too. Call ahead to check they are open for breakfast / lunch.
A short drive away from Jerash is the hilltop town of Ajloun, home to a wonderful castle (which sadly we didn’t get to visit as the Jordanian Royal Family had beaten us to it on the day of our intended visit!), and the Ajloun Forest Reserve which is home to a beautiful visitor centre and restaurant. The restaurant has a terrace with views out over the reserve, and also runs cookie-making demonstrations (yum). The menu includes lots of fresh, organic options (ingredients grown on site).
Umm Qais is an often forgotten gem of a town right up in the far north west of Jordan, overlooking the River Jordan valley. Home the ancient ruins of Gadara, we spent several days here exploring the old town, cycling around the nearby countryside, learning to cook Jordanian specialities and visiting local families through our hosts at Baraka Destinations who run the charming Beit al Baraka guesthouse. Sitting above the ruins and watching the sunset over the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee was one of the most beautiful moments on our entire Jordan trip.
When travelling in Umm Qais keep your passport on you and be aware of security protocols. It’s perfectly safe to visit but given its location close to the Israeli & disputed Golan Heights borders there are multiple security checkpoints in place.
Where to Stay in Jerash / Ajloun / Umm Qais
We recommend staying at the Beit Al Baraka Guesthouse mentioned above in Umm Qais. There’s plenty to keep you busy in this charming town, and the owners (Baraka) can help you organise tours and activities with locals that are part of a local community tourism initiative, bringing more benefits to locals from tourism.
As an alternative, you could also stay at the lodge in the Ajloun Forest Reserve in one of their cabins and wake up to the call of nature around you.
Day 10 – Depart
It’s time to head home – hopefully with plenty of inspiration to return! Queen Alia international airport is about 3 hours or 2 hours from Jerash / Ajloun drive time (traffic depending).
Places to Visit in Jordan When you Have More Time
There are plenty of other places to visit in Jordan – but it’s impossible to fit everything in to just 10 days!
If diving and relaxing by the sea are your thing, we recommend a visit to Aqaba in Jordan’s far south (head here after Petra and before the Dead Sea on this itinerary, as you can head directly from Aqaba to the Dead Sea on one of Jordan’s new highways).
You can also combine this with a day or longer overnight trip to Wadi Rum, for a bucket-list desert experience. If you’d like to experience authentic life in the Desert at a Bedouin camp, we recommend the Ammarin Bedouin Camp, located near Little Petra, as the real deal.
If you have more time to go off the beaten track, we recommend a trip to Pella in Northern Jordan for an unforgettable experience – read more in our Northern Jordan blog below!
Where would you like to visit most on your ideal Jordan itinerary? Let us know in the comments below!
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