I just got back from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Usually, people refer to it as Jordan (do not confuse it to the famous basketball player, as Google does). I spent 8 days and 7 nights in this beautiful country and I want to share with you my insights, while I have everything fresh in my memory. Here is my 7-day Jordan road trip itinerary.
The internet is full of nice pictures from the Middle East and from Jordan. So far I’ve visited Lebanon and Jordan and I can say I love the Middle East culture and food. Their food is vegans’ food heaven. But more on that later.
Before heading to Jordan, you have to keep in mind some essential information about Jordan.
Now let’s talk about my suggestion for a 7-day Jordan road trip itinerary. I’ve planned everything by myself, but to be honest, the most part of it wasn’t planned and it was just as perfect.
My advice would be to rent a car. It’s not cheap, but still is the cheapest way to get around and explore as much as you want. It’s worth it!
Day 1: Arrive in Jordan, rented car at the airport, Airbnb in Madaba.
We arrived about mid-day in Jordan. Everything was pretty smooth. We showed out Jordan Pass and got the visa. Right after you exit the duty-free area, you will find a shop to buy a mobile sim card. We bought each a sim card with 3GB of data for 15JD. Paid by card.
Next to it are the car renting offices. You need to rent a car online before you arrive there. Many people were arguing with the people from the office because they had no car. They are always in high demand since public transport is usually bad and if you want to visit the entire country, you need a car.
Visited Amman in the evening. Cantaloupe is one rooftop bar that has a beautiful view of the city.
Tip: Rent your car online, at least a few days ahead of your arrival.
Day 2: Exploring the sand castles
The second day we had some breakfast in Madaba, got some snacks and water from the local supermarket and headed for the desert castle:
- Qasr al-Kharaneh
- Quseir ‘Amra
- Azraq Castle.
10 minutes from Azraq castle is the Azraq Wetlands Reserve, which is not included in the Jordan Pass. It costs 8 JD (Nov 2018). We didn’t visit it since it was already late and too expensive for our daily budget.
Heading back to Amman, you can stop at Hammam As Sarah, if you want to see more ruins. On this highway was a huge refugees camp, it even had an exit sign on the side of the highway.
A piece of advice, don’t spend too much time in any of these since the last stop is in Jaresh, which is pretty big.
To keep in mind other places to visit in Madaba: Madaba Archaeological Park and Madaba Archaeological Museum.
Tip: Bring water with you! Always. Maybe buy a pack and put it in the trunk!
Day 3: Mount Nebo – Jordan river – Dead Sea – Al Karak Castle
Wake up early and start exploring some of the religious sites of Jordan. Out first stop was Mount Nebo.
Mount Nebo rises for 710 metres, but what brings people to this place is its religious perspective. Mount Nebo is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the place where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. The view from the summit provides a panorama of the Holy Land and, to the north, a more limited one of the valley of the River Jordan. The West Bank city of Jericho is usually visible from the summit, as is Jerusalem on a very clear day.
The second stop was the Jordan river. You will need to pay for a 1h guided tour to visit it. This is the only possibility since the river marks the borderline and it is not allowed to get there unattended. When you book your Jordan pass you can also pay for this tour, which is an extra 8 JD (but still cheaper than if you would pay on the spot – 12 JD).
The Jordan river is the place where Jesus of Nazareth was baptised by John the Baptist. It’s unbelievable how the two countries have come to an agreement and both take tourists to the same spot, on the opposites side of the river. Some come just out of curiosity, while others get in for a swim or a baptism. On both sides, people were buying white dresses to wear as they would go in the river for the “baptism”.
Then we continued our way to the South of Jordan, on the Dead Sea highway, which provides some beautiful landscapes and will make you want to stop a lot. We stopped for lunch at the Samarah Mall. You will find local and international restaurants here. Everything is very touristic, and you might feel more like your home country, rather than in Jordan.
We were in a bit of a hurry, trying to get to Al Karak Castle, before sunset. My piece of advice is to hurry and have at least 1 hour to spend here, as it’s a beautiful castle, located on top of a mountain. The city is all around the castle, and the sunset is beautiful from there.
From there, we were the last tourists to be kicked out of the castle and we continued all the way to Petra.
We reached Wadi Musa around 8 pm. The distances are not really big in Jordan and the roads are good. The problem is that it gets dark fast, around 5 pm in November and then you will need to drive during the night. I did that a lot, trying to see as much as possible.
Day 4: Visit Petra
Wake up early, since most tourists will be walking all over Petra after 8 am. The site opens at 6 am. If you get there between 6 and 7, you will have no problem taking pictures and enjoying your time. However, after 8 you will get dizzy with the number of sellers and camel/donkey offers, local guides offer and the hundreds of groups of tourists.
My advice is to wake up early (around 5 – 5 30 am) and be there in the first opening hour. Even the salesmen are not going to care about you that early. Trust me, it’s for your own good.
Petra is the most touristic site in Jordan and that’s why it’s more expensive than anywhere else. It’s full of locals trying to rip you off, and if you don’t get away from them, they might even ruin your experience, as they won’t leave you alone to explore. I was so tired telling them “no” to all their offers. It wears you out.
Otherwise, Petra is amazing. Wear comfortable clothes, walking shoes, bring water and some snacks. Once you get off the main trail, you will have more space for yourself and you will love it. A low/moderate level of hiking skill is required if you plan to really explore it. I did it all wearing sandals. So you can do it too.
In the evening, it gets chilly. You will need at least a sweater. Some people had a jacket. Most hotel rooms have airconditioning which you will need to keep a warm temperature in the room.
More on Petra, how to organize your trip there, where to stay and other tips, will come soon, in a Guide to Petra article.
Tip: Book a hotel with good reviews and parking! There are many bad hotels, but with high rates. As at least pay for a nice one.
Day 5: 2nd day of Petra. Night in Aqaba
We spend 2 days visiting Petra and it was enough for me. When you buy your Jordan pass online, you have 3 different options, depending on how many days do you want to spend at Petra. You can choose between 1, 2 or 3 days. We got the Jordan pass with 2 days at Petra and that’s why it was 73JD.
If you have enough time in Jordan, it’s worth spending 2 days at Petra. During your first day, you will barely get an idea of how this site is organized and how it looks like. The second day gives you time to explore more trails which have fewer tourists and really get into that atmosphere.
on our second day, we got at Petra at 7 am and left at 1 30 pm. Then had a touristic lunch at Zawaya Restaurant & café (which wasn’t so impressive as the reviews were) and then left off for Aqaba to spend the night.
When we arrive around 7 pm to Aqaba, you could feel the warm breeze of the Red Sea. Everything was much more relaxed than in the North of Jordan. The temperature during the evening was around 20 degrees and we went for a walk on the beach and around the downtown. We stayed at Weekend Hotel Aqaba and it was really nice.
Tip: Walk around the dock at night. You can see Israel and Egypt at the same time!
Day 6: Aqaba and Wadi Rum
This was the morning I felt the laziest in Jordan. After 2 days of walking more than 20 km in Petra, I felt like I want to sleep for one entire day. Woke up at 10 am. We went to eat and explore a bit the city for a couple of hours.
In Aqaba, everything seemed cheaper than in the rest of the country. The locals were more used to tourists, since many cruise ships stop there, for tourists to visit Petra. I saw many female tourists wearing shorts and everyone was relaxed about it. We had lunch at Hashem Son’s and then visited the Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque. It’s worth it.
After a last walk on the beach and a quick swim, we drove to Wadi Rum. It’s a 1-hour drive to the Wadi Rum Visitor Center. Here you will have to stop and buy a ticket for the natural reserve (5jd) or show your Jordan Pass. THen you can continue your drive until you reach the Wadi Rum Village.
This is a village situated almost in the middle of the desert. From this place, many of the desert camps pick up their customers and drive them to their desert camp with their 4×4 cars. You will have to park your car there since there are no more roads to the desert. Here you will see many busses, rental cars and backpackers roaming around.
Our host from Candles Camp met us there, in the village. We parked the car in front of his house and then hopped in the back of his off-road Toyota. I think business is going well around the desert since there are many off-road cars going all over the place. You might think it’s a far away place, but it’s full of people.
After we had dinner and spend the night in the desert, we had breakfast and took some pictured. By 8 30 am we were on our way out of Wadi Rum and heading for the Dead Sea.
Tip: If you book your desert nigh last minute, you might get better prices! I booked it 3 hours before arriving and it was half the price. But this is also risky. It can be full.
Day 7: Swimming in the Dead Sea. Night in Amman
Because we did some exploring of the Dead Sea area before, I went directly to a nice place that I had spotted before. We parked the car next to the road and then walked through some sand and rocks, just to get to a perfect salt beach.
There are many resorts with a private beach but none (that I know of) have those salt beaches and that’s what I was going after. So I found the place and walked there. It was more like a 20 min hike but it was worth it. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Took lots of pictures, floated for a while and then got back to the car. This is something that you can’t miss and one of my highlights of the 7-day road trip guide to Jordan.
Next stop was Wadi Mujib Adventure Center. Unfortunately, we got there around 4 pm. It was already closed (although you should be open until 4 30 pm). The adventure centre is included in the Jordan pass and it looks beautiful in pictures. Next time, I will visit it for sure.
After that, we set the GPS for Amman, our last stop for the day. We stayed in the centre at an old and rusty hotel. It was at a walking distance from the Citadel and the Roman Teatre.
Tip: Find a place to stop around Wadi Mujib and walk down to the sea. It’s perfect and it’s free!
Day 8: A trip to the Airport
Because our place was around 1 pm, we had a couple of hours to explore the ruins of Amman in the morning. The citadel was beautiful. And already full of tourist buses. The Cafe from the Citadel is very expensive, I suggest you stay away. A coke is 6 times more expensive there than in the centre of the city, which is at a 15 min walking distance.
After all of that morning exploring, and buying some souvenirs, we got in the car and headed to the airport. On the highway, we saw Ikea and made a quick 30 min stop just to try the local Ikea food. Crazy, I know. For the record, they serve Arabic breakfast at Ikea Amman.
We had the classic falafel, hummus, pickles and pita. It was the cheapest meal in Jordan. It was 2.5 JD. And we couldn’t finish it. That was the moment I realized that we had been treating ourselves with some very expensive food for the past week. But I loved every single meal.
Tip: Don’t buy anything from the very touristic areas, since it can be more than double or triple the normal price.
That’s it. Hope that my 7-day Jordan road trip itinerary will at least get you an idea of what to do and where to go. The short version anyway. More details on visiting Petra and Wadi Rum will come in future posts. Let me know if you have any questions!
And here is a 1-minute video, to get a more visual feeling of Jordan. Enjoy!
The country of Jordan is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve been to and I loved it! I will visit it if I ever have the chance again. But then again, we create our own chances and opportunities, so keep an eye for cheap plane tickets.