Jordan is one of those destinations that conjures up wild fantasies. Images of Hollywood-inspired bounty hunters and lost treasure initially come to mind. Add to that the fact that Petra is one of the “New 7 Wonders of The World”, and it’s easy to see why so many travelers dream of seeing this amazing country.
A visit to Jordan is has been on my bucket list ever since I watched Indiana Jones as a kid. The mysterious walk down the Siq, anxiously awaiting that first view of the Treasury at Petra, was one of my most anticipated travel experiences ever! And Petra is just barely scratching the surface of what there is to do here. Jordan is a fantastic country to visit, whether your traveling solo, as a couple or with a family. Almost every activity can appeal to everyone, so no one gets left behind!
We spent an obsessively-planned, amazing 10 days in Jordan. For all the planning, we did some things right, and some things wrong. Based on our triumphs and our failures, I can confidently recommend the ideal Jordan itinerary for 5 days, 7 days and 10 days.
Jordan is an incredibly diverse country with a lot to do!! If you have a week in Jordan you’ll be able to hit the major tourist sites; Amman, Jerash, Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea. You’ll be on the move, with no down time, but 7 days in Jordan is enough to do it all if you want. So sit back, grab a pen & paper, and plan your incredible trip to Jordan. Also, check out this Jordan country guide for all the logistical information before you go!
Buy a Jordan Pass
I got the best piece of advice prior to visiting Jordan, and I’m passing that piece of advice on to you. BUY A JORDAN PASS!!! If you’re wondering whether it’s worth it or not, read up on what it is and why you need a Jordan Pass. It will surely confirm that you should buy one!
If you plan to visit most of the sites in this itinerary (which, if you’re traveling to Jordan, you should be!), the Jordan Pass will save you money. It’ll serve as your Visa into the country, and provide access to most of the important tourist sites. You’ll choose your pass based on the number of days you want to spend in Petra. I suggest getting the Jordan Explorer (2-day Petra pass), as 1 day in Petra just isn’t enough.
The only catch, is that you have to purchase the pass BEFORE you enter the country, which you’ll want to do anyways as it’s also your entry Visa. You also have to spend 3 nights (4 days) in Jordan. The Jordan Pass is quick and easy to purchase online, and you can download to your mobile phone (and save a tree!). Just show the pass at the border when you enter, and then again at all the sites along the way.
*expert tip – Take a screen shot of our passes then added it as a “favourite” in your phone. It’ll be much faster to find when you’re at the various attractions.
*kid tip – Children under 12 don’t pay for entry into the tourist sites, so they won’t need a Jordan Pass. Instead, you’ll just pay the 40JD Visa fee for them at the border, and they get 2 cool stickers in their passport!!)
Jordan 1 week itinerary
This Jordan one week itinerary begins and ends in Amman. This is where the Queen Ali international airport is located, and is where you’re most likely to enter and exit. Of course, you could also come across the border from Israel, however the main crossing is close enough to Amman that it’s still a great place to begin and end. You can also mix this itinerary up a bit and work your way North to South; Amman, the Dead Sea, Petra and Wadi Rum or vice versa from South to North. However you do it, 1 week in Jordan is sure to leave a lasting impression and make you want to come back for more!
Amman: 2 days
Day 1 – Amman
Spend the morning slowly wandering around the city. Visit Rainbow Street if you’re looking for souvenirs (so you don’t leave it to the last minute!) and stop for a coffee or Mint Tea at one of the many cafes. Work your way towards the center of town and the base of the hill housing the Amman Citadel.
Stop for lunch at Hashem restaurant. Fill up on traditional salads (Hummus, Tzatziki & Tahini) veggies, falafel and chips. Of course, your meal wouldn’t be complete without mint tea! You’ll need all the energy you can get before starting your uphill walk to the entrance to the Citadel.
*expert tip – Amman is a VERY hilly city, so the directions on google maps can be misleading. If you’re planning on walking, give yourself extra time, because something that looks close on google might be over 2 hills and take much longer than you anticipate!
The Citadel of Amman is considered to be one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited places (link to Wikipedia). It’s located on top of Jabal al-Qal’a, the highest of the original seven hills to make up Amman. Wandering around the hill top you can see remnants of a Hercules Temple (including his giant hand) and a Byzantine Church, amongst other ruins. These were built during the Roman occupation of Amman, during the time of Marcus Aurelius.
Even if you don’t care about the ruins, you should visit for the view! The location is spectacular, perched on top of the hill overlooking the entire city. There are 360’ views, worth the entrance fee alone. The best part, it’s included in the Jordan Pass, so you can go just for the views if you want! It’s worth taking your time to read the info-boards, thoroughly explore the ruins, and wander through the Jordan Archaeological Museum. Finish with a cold drink or ice cream from the café near the entrance. Also, take the opportunity to go to the bathroom here because you won’t find one again easily until dinner!
*kid tip – Once you enter the Jordan Archaeological Museum, turn left and start by examining the various items on display. Talk about their features and characteristics (hint: they’re very basic to start!). As you make your way clockwise around the museum, talk about how the items are changing. Discuss the lives of the people who made and/or used these objects.
As you exit the Citadel, circle around to the right and follow the stairs down the hill to the Amphitheatre and Hashemite Square.
The amphitheatre was built in the second century and is large enough to house 6000 people. Visiting as the sun is starting to lower in the sky gives it a beautiful ambience. There are two small museums as part of the complex, the Jordan Museum of Popular Tradition and the Jordan Folklore Museum. Both are worth a quick visit before climbing up the stairs for a view from the top.
By the time you’re done exploring it’ll be time to eat again. You have two options. If you want something less-Middle Eastern you can head to Oliva for yummy pizza or pasta. Or, if you’d like Jordanian food, and to support a good cause, go to Wild Jordan instead. Both are walkable from the Amphitheatre, but they’re both uphill, tiring walks. If you’re up for it, go ahead and walk! If not, call an Uber to pick you up in front of the Amphitheatre.
*kid tip – The Family Café at Wild Jordan is incredibly well set up for kids. There are bean bag chairs, games and a tv loaded with kids shows. While you’re waiting for your food, parents can enjoy a drink with the view while the kids play. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day of walking around Amman!
Total Drive Time Day 1: None (other than a few taxi rides if you’re smart!)
Day 2 Amman Day Trip
If you only have 5 days you’ll have to skip this, but if you have more time you’ll want to head north to Jerash & Umm Quais.
Jerash is an incredible ancient city spanning a large area just an hour North of Amman. There’s history of human settlement here as far back as 5500BC, although the ruins themselves date to the first century AD.
Start your visit to Jerash by walking under Hadrian’s Arch, then stop by the Church of Marianos ahead on the right to see the mosaic floor. If you’re interested, you can buy tickets for the twice-daily performances at the Hippodrome. Secure your seat prior to continuing your visit.
Stop in at the Jerash Museum for a quick look at the small collection of artifacts, and use the toilets here if you need! Then, follow the walkway to the Oval Plaza/Forum, the heart of the Ancient City of Jerash. From here you have 2 options. If you have a bit of time, I’d suggest taking a short detour up the hill to the temple of Zeus. If you’re pressed for time, walk straight up the Cardo Maximus. The most notable stops along the Cardo are the Nymphaeum (fountain), the Temple of Artemis (which requires a decent climb up some uneven stairs!), and the Northern Theatre. As you walk, try to picture the sides of the cardo lined with small shops selling pottery, cloth and spices. In a few places you can see the stone wall that would have divided each shop.
By the time you’re done it’ll be time for lunch. There are lots of options, but I’d recommend Lebanese House. It’s a bit touristy, but the food is great and the location is about as close to the ruins as you can get.
*kid tip – Lebanese House has a small play area so the kids can blow off a bit of steam while waiting for food. That is, if they’re not too tired from walking around the ruins!
After lunch, it’s back in the car for the 1 hr 20 min drive to Umm Qays.
Umm Qays (Umm Qais)
Umm Qays is the site of the ancient Decapolis city of Gadara. Gadara was the center of Greek culture in the region, although the city spent a lot of it’s life passed back and forth between Syrian and Egyptian rule before finally being liberated by the Romans in 63BC. The site features beautiful black basalt theatre steps, creamy limestone columns, and an abandoned Ottoman Village. The site is generally quiet in the late afternoon except for Friday (when it can get busy), so time your visit accordingly!
The other striking thing about Umm Qays is the view. It’s perched on the top of the hill looking out over the Sea of Galilea, the Golan Heights and Syria. Take a few moments to contemplate how lucky you are to be free and able to travel, and say a silent prayer for those suffering across the border in Syria.
Rather than rush into town, sit down on the lovely terrace and enjoy dinner at the Umm Qays Restaurant. Watch the sun set over the Sea of Galilea, and the lights start to come on across the Syrian side of the border.
Total Drive Time Day 2: 240 km taking 4 hr total (divided into 3 stretches)
Amman: Know Before You Go
Where To Stay in Amman
Budget – Hostel 1930
With a fantastic location in central Amman, and informative, friendly staff, this is the best budget accommodation in Amman. The rooms are all small dorms, so if you’re in a group of 4 (or 6) you can book an entire room for yourself. There are board games in the common room and breakfast is included.
Click here to check the latest prices at Hostel 1930
Mid-Range – Nomads Hotel
Located close to Rainbow Street and Hashem’s restaurant, this is a newly renovated hotel in a great location in central Amman. The staff is helpful and continental breakfast is included! There are double rooms, dorms and family rooms.
Click to find Nomads Hotel’s most current pricing.
High-End – Fairmont Amman
I’m always a sucker for Fairmont properties, and although the Fairmont Amman isn’t a beautiful historic property, it has a great location with a commanding view of the city. The rooms are crisp and modern, and the staff is incredibly helpful.
Click here and look up today’s Farmont Amman prices.
Family Friendly – Arabian Suites Amman
This is a small apartment building with a handful of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments. It’s located in a quiet residential neighbourhood within walking distance to restaurants and shops. The owner is incredibly kind and full of great information about Amman.
Click here to book Arabian Suites Amman
Where To Eat in Amman
Hashem Restaurant Down Town
This restaurant is an Amman staple, and a must-do if you’re in the city! It’s busy most of the day, but it’s large enough you shouldn’t have to wait too long for a table.
Wild Jordan Center
This center offers delicious food, an incredible view, and a socially responsible gift shop. A purchase here supports a good cause, whether you stop in for dinner or just a drink. The Hub is a great space to sit and work on your laptop, The Trail is ideal for a couple to grab dinner, and The Family Café is packed with stuff for the kids to do. It’s nice that the spaces are all a bit separate, as no one feels like a bother to anyone else.
If you’ve just arrived in the Middle East the you likely won’t have had your fill of local cuisine, but if you’ve been in the area for a while this Italian restaurant offers a pleasant change from the usual kebab and hummus.
Where To Eat in Jerash
Located nice and close to the ruins, this restaurant is air conditioned and has a small play area (if you’re traveling with kids). The food is good, even if a little expensive, but the location makes it worth the stop.
Where To Eat in Umm Qais
The restaurant at the viewpoint offers a delicious meal at a fair price, and a phenomenal view over the valley below.
Getting Around Amman
Amman is a complex city to navigate, so even though I recommend renting a car for the rest of your time in Jordan, I don’t recommend driving yourself in Amman! You can walk (although see my tip above, Amman is VERY hilly and everything is further and more difficult to get to than it looks!), but I’d recommend using taxis and Uber. Prices are reasonable and it sure beats walking in the heat!
Wadi Rum: 1 day
Day 3 – Wadi Rum Desert
Staying overnight in the Wadi Rum desert should be at the top of any Jordan itinerary! Famous for being the location for movie The Martian, it truly looks like you’ve entered another planet.
The Wadi Rum Village is about a 4 hour drive from Amman. You should plan to arrive around noon so you can have the entire afternoon exploring the desert with your guide. You’ll spend the afternoon drinking mint tea beside a sand dune, searching for petroglyphs in a ravine and riding camels in the desert (only if you want to, of course!). The program differs slightly based on which tour company you use, but they tend to all hit up the same general sites.
*expert tip – plan to either eat lunch at the village, or arrange for your driver to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the desert. It’s a long time from breakfast to the evening meal, and you’ll only get a small snack upon arrival to your desert camp late in the afternoon.
After a few hours in the desert you’ll arrive at your camp for the night. There should still be lots of time for more desert exploration. Grab a snack and a drink (of water) and then explore the rocks and cliffs surrounding the camp. Find the perfect spot to perch yourself and watch a magical sunset over the desert. Make sure you bring a phone or headlamp with you in case it’s dark once you’re making your way back to camp.
You’ll still likely have time to relax in the dining tent for a bit before dinner’s ready. Enjoy a glass of mint tea, smoke a Hookah and visit with the other travelers staying at the camp. Depending on the camp you’ve chosen, you might have the opportunity for a quick shower as well to wash off the desert sand. If this is a possibility, do it sooner rather than later as the hot water probably won’t last through everyone!
After dinner, grab your flashlight and go for a short stroll out into the desert. Find a rock to sit back on, and enjoy the brilliant night sky unencumbered by city lights. Soak it all in, this may be one of your most memorable nights in Jordan!
*expert tip – It is DARK at night so you’ll want a flashlight or headlamp. I suggest these great USB charging black diamond headlamps. They’re our family favourite!
Total Drive Time Day 3: 319km, taking 4 hrs to the Wadi Rum Village.
Know Before You Go To Wadi Rum
Where To Stay
Wadi Rum Bedouin Tour With a Camp
There are a lot of options for staying overnight in the Wadi Rum desert, but this one is locally owned and authentic.
Click here to book the Wadi Rum Bedouin Tour with a Camp or check booking.com for other great options in Wadi Rum.
Petra: 2 days
Day 4 – Petra (The Treasury)
The next morning you’ll wake with the sun and enjoy a breakfast of eggs, cold meats, cheese and bread before heading back to the Village with your driver. Ask to be back at the Village no later than 10am so you’ll still have lots of time to explore Petra this afternoon! The drive to Wadi Musa (the city where Petra is located) takes about 2 hours. Once you arrive, grab some lunch and head straight to Petra for the afternoon.
*kid tip – if you want to save your kid’s energy for walking around the actual site of Petra, you can hire a carriage for 20 JD ($37 CAD) for 2 people, to take you down the Siq from the Visitor Center to the Treasury and back. You don’t have to return immediately, you can make an appointment to return later in the day. Alternatively, if the kids are walking, make sure they’re listening for the clip-clop of the horses so they stay off to the side when the carriages come past.
The first day in Petra is all about the anticipatory 1.2km walk down the Siq and the first view of the Treasury. Take your time enjoying that first view because once you step out of the narrow canyon the tourist onslaught is full-on!! There are dressed up and decorated camels and donkeys, and touts selling all sorts of unnecessary knick-knacks you’ll think you might need. Do your best to avoid these if you want, and head straight to the front to attempt a people-free picture with the famous Treasury.
Once you’ve taken your time to admire the beautifully carved reliefs of the Treasury, wander along the Street of Facades to the Theatre. Consider the similarities of the Theatre in Petra with that of the Amphitheatre in Amman. Just past the Theatre there’s a small shop with refreshments if you need to sit and have a short mid-afternoon break! Ahead on the right is the way up to the Urn, Silk and Palace Tombs. The facades of these are fascinating, and the veining of the internal rock is beautiful. You can either visit these tombs or go with a guide up to the Sanctuary before making your way back towards the Treasury and out through the Siq.
If today is a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, you’ll want to drop your things off at your hotel, grab dinner, and then go back to the Visitor Center for Petra by Night. The program starts at 8:30, but you should show up half an hour earlier to secure your tickets. Tickets are unlimited, so you don’t have to worry about it selling out, but you don’t want to be late!
If it’s not a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, go to your hotel before heading out for dinner. If you haven’t already done so, arrange a Bedouin guide for your tour to the Monastery tomorrow.
Total Drive Time Day 4: 112km taking 1hr 45min from the Wadi Rum Visitor Center to the Petra Visitor Center
Day 5 – Petra (The Monastery)
The Monastery can be accessed from the front way and the back way! The “front way” requires walking about 4km from the Visitor Center, including climbing about 900 stairs at the end. It’s possible to take a camel or donkey if you don’t want to walk the whole way!
The “back way” starts either at Little Petra, or after a bit of a bumpy car ride from Uum Sayhoun into the hills. You can only access this path with a Bedouin Guide, and you’ll still need your valid Petra ticket. It’s a beautiful hike through the multi-coloured mountains, and you’ll arrive at the Monastery before most people who access it from the Visitor’s Center. I highly suggest going the back way, if you can!
*expert tip – To arrange a guide for the “back road” to The Monastery, you can ask at your accommodation, or find someone when you’re at Petra the day before.
The first glimpse of the Monastery is equally as breathtaking as the view of the Treasury from the Siq. At first, all you can see is the highest tip extending above the hills in front of you, but as you round the last corner the small pinnacle extends into a giant façade covering the entire mountainside. It’s larger than the Treasury, and every bit as incredible! Wander down to the entrance and peer inside, then take some pictures while there’s still only a few people mulling around.
Once you’ve gotten your fill and snapped all your photos, find a seat at one of the tables at the café, order a cold drink (or mint tea!) and watch the sun rays slowly illuminate the front of the façade. (The sun will start to reach the Monastery between 10:30 and 11:30am depending on the time of year).
*kid tip – Bring some snacks to enjoy while you’re having your drink at the café. As long as you’d purchase a drink, they’ll have no problem with you hanging out eating your own snacks while you relax and enjoy the view!
*expert tip – the bathroom is a well-used outhouse around the back of the café. I’d suggest wandering back down the path to find a secluded area to do your business rather than using the bathroom. When we were there the door was broken right off, so really it wouldn’t be much different relieving yourself behind a bush! The bush might actually offer more privacy!!
Once you feel like you’ve sufficiently enjoyed the view, it’s time to make your way DOWN those 900 stairs to the main Petra area. If you’re hungry, there are two restaurants at the base of the stairway. I can’t vouch for either of them as I was too cheap to eat here!! If you’re pinching pennies like me, you can pack a lunch and find a shady spot to eat your sandwiches instead! After lunch, and a visit to the toilets, spend the afternoon visiting any of the sites you missed yesterday, then make your way back to your hotel for an early dinner. You’ll be tired!
*expert tip – There are TWO sets of washrooms at the base of the stairs. The one closest to the stairs (and restaurant) is often crowded with a line-up of people. If you continue past this you’ll find a second set of washrooms ahead on your left. These ones are usually much quieter with a shorter line!
Petra covers a massive area, with an incredible variety of things to see. Beyond the main sites (The Treasury, Street of Facades, Tombs, and Theatre) everyone will be interested in seeing something different. If you’re interested in something a bit more atypical, check out Elena’s account of her incredible second day in Petra and her experience in the Dark Siq. Also, if you didn’t make it to Petra At Night last night, you should consider going tonight (if it’s a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday!).
*kid tip – If you’re bringing your kids to Petra, especially small kids, you definitely want to check out Keri’s guide to Petra with Kids. It’s full of useful tips including what to bring and when to visit!
Total Drive Time Day 5: None!
Know Before You Go To Petra/Wadi Musa
Where To Stay In Petra
Budget – Esperanza Petra
Esperanza is a short walk from the visitor center, and the best location in this price range. Breakfast is included, and there are good sized family rooms.
Click here to check the latest prices for Esperanza Petra.
Mid-Range – Petra Guest House Hotel
This hotel is located right AT the entrance to Petra. The rooms are spacious, and breakfast is available (at a cost). The best part though, is the Cave Bar. It’s the perfect place to relax with a drink at the end of a busy day exploring Petra.
Click here to find the best price for Petra Guest House Hotel.
High End – Movenpick Resort Petra
This is an incredibly popular, high end hotel located right across the street from the entrance to Petra. Breakfast is included, and there’s a beautiful pool to relax in after spending the day walking around the ruins.
Click here for the latest Movenpick Resort pricing.
Family Friendly – Petra Family House in Uum Sayhoun
This is a basic apartment in the local Bedouin village just up the road from Wadi Musa. It’s still within very easy access to Petra, and gives the opportunity for a more local experience. The family that owns the apartment lives across the hall. If you can, ask Rizek to cook you a meal one night. If you manage to coordinate your trip so that one of your Petra days falls on a Sunday, Rizek is a well-known and competent guide to the Monastery. If he’s not available, he’ll be able to arrange a guide for you!
Click here to book the Petra Family House.
Kerak: 1 day
Day 6 – Kerak Castle & The Dead Sea
This is one of the places where we made a mistake!! We spent the night in Petra, but the next morning we drove to the Dead Sea for the day, then high-tailed it into Amman that evening for our flight. We bought a day pass for the Dead Sea Resort, but it ended up being almost as expensive as just staying the night! Don’t make our mistake! Follow this itinerary instead!
Start your day after an early breakfast and drive 2.5hrs along the King’s Highway, from Wadi Musa to Kerak. The highlight of the trip is Kerak Castle, one of the great crusader castles found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Built in 1140, with a commanding presence at the top of a mountain, this imposing complex warded off invaders in centuries past.
Have lunch in the city of Kerak before spending the early afternoon exploring the castle. If you’re interested in the history, it’s worth taking the time to wander through the Kerak Archaeological museum on site.
From here, you have two choices. You can either veer West and drive along the Eastern edge of the Dead Sea, or you can continue North and turn off the Highway at Madaba to visit the Memorial Church of Moses at Mount Nebo. Whichever you choose, you’ll want to ensure you’re at your hotel in time to watch the sun set over the Dead Sea.
Tonight you’ll be sleeping at one of the many resorts at the Northern edge of the Dead Sea. There are a few to choose from and they all offer similar access to the Dead Sea.
*kid tip – The Dead Sea Spa Hotel has a great kid’s pool with a large shallow area and lots of things for the kids to play on!
*expert tip – If you decide not to stay overnight at the Dead Sea, I’d recommend getting a day pass to one of the resorts for your visit. There is a public beach, however for a tiny bit more money the resort day pass will give you access to their pools. Since you only need about 30-60min for a dip in the Dead Sea, it’s nice to have the ability to lounge by the pool for the rest of the time.
Total Drive Time Day 6: 177km taking 2.5hrs from Petra to Kerak, 82 km taking 1hr 20min from Kerak to Dead Sea
Know Before You Go To Kerak & The Dead Sea
Where To Stay At The Dead Sea
Budget – The Dead Sea Spa Hotel
There are many options, but this one ticks all the boxes at the lowest price. It also has a great kid’s pool, and a separate area reserved for overnight guests only (the rest of the pools are available for day pass users).
Click here to book the Dead Sea Spa Hotel.
High-End – Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
The Kempinski is by far the nicest hotel on the Jordan side of the Dead Sea. It has numerous outdoor pools, a first class spa, and stunning view over the Sea. Breakfast is included, and babysitting is available (for a fee) if you’re traveling with your kiddos. If you’re looking for a splurge, or something special to end your time in Jordan, this is definitely the place!
Click here to check the most up to date prices for Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea.
Dead Sea: 1 day
Day 7 – The Dead Sea
Enjoy a bit of a sleep in this morning, you’ll be ready for it after the crazy amounts of site-seeing you’ve been doing over the past week! Once you’re ready to face the day, grab breakfast and then put on your bathing suit and head down to the pool. Spend a bit of time bathing in the sun or swimming in the pool before making your way down the path to the Dead Sea.
Prepare yourself for the initial burn of the salt, and make sure you don’t get any water in your eyes! The water is incredibly concentrated and stings any open wounds, excessively dry skin and, of course your eyeballs. If you’re able to get over the initial burn, your body will get used to it and you won’t feel it anymore. After a good, thorough soak in the Sea, head to one of the basins full of Dead Sea mud. Lather your body into a muddy monster, let it bake on (if it doesn’t start itching like crazy first!), then wash off with one of the showers before dragging your new body back to lay beside the pool.
Grab lunch at one of the pool-side bars, and chill out until it’s time to get ready to leave for the airport. If you had to check out of your room early, use the well set up public bathrooms to shower off and change before heading back to Amman to the airport. The drive is about 1 hr without traffic, but I’d allow for 2 hours in case traffic is bad.
*expert tip – You’re not allowed to bring any food into the resort area, they even have a metal detector and bag check at the entrance! The food on site is a bit overpriced, but not that bad. I’d suggest just sucking it up and paying for the necessary meals. However, you can still leave some food in your car in the parking lot, and sneak out if you need a quick snack-break between meals!
Total Drive Time Day 7: 80km taking at least 1hr 30min (depending on traffic)
Jordan Itinerary: 10 days
With 10 days in Jordan you’ll have a bit more flexibility and time to spread things out a bit. I’d suggest adding on 2 days in Aqaba, so you can snorkel or dive in the Red Sea. Alternatively, you could spend an extra day in Jordan (visit Mt Nebo or some of the sights around Madaba), and only have one day in Aqaba.
Aqaba 2 days – Red Sea snorkeling/diving
Rather than going straight from Amman to Wadi Rum, go all the way South to Aqaba instead. Aqaba is an easy 4 hour drive from Amman along a well maintained highway. I’d suggest spending the morning exploring more of Amman, and then drive to Aqaba in the afternoon so you’re spending the hottest part of the day in the air conditioned car!
Activities in Aqaba center around the Red Sea. Book a snorkeling or diving trip for your full day in town, and spend the rest of the time relaxing on the beach. Make sure you make time one evening for a stroll along Al-Hafayer Park. Once the sun goes down it’s full of locals eating, visiting, playing and smoking Hookah.
Petra – 3 Days (rather than 2)
With your extra time in Jordan I’d suggest spending 3 nights in Wadi Musa rather than 2. I’d still suggest making your way to Wadi Musa (from Wadi Rum) early in the day, but don’t rush to Petra that afternoon. Instead, drop your things at your hotel and visit Little Petra instead. You’ll then have the next 2 full days in Petra, plus you’ll be able to enter first thing in the morning so the initial view of the Treasury will be much quieter.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana Reserve is a 320sq km nature reserve packed full with a massive variety of flora and fauna. Wild Jordan offers accommodation, hiking and various other activities in the Dana Reserve and at other locations throughout the country.
Feynan Eco Lodge
Located within the Dana Bioreserve, this lodge has been named one of National Geographic’s Top 25 Eco Lodges in the world! The lodge itself is worth a visit, but there are also a variety of activities available to keep you entertained for days.
5 Days in Jordan
If you only have 5 days in Jordan you can still hit the biggest sites!! A Jordan 5 day itinerary will be extra-jam-packed, but you can do it.
Amman – 1 Day
Follow day one in Amman, but skip the day-trip to Jerash.
Wadi Rum – 1 Day
This will be exactly the same as the 7-day Jordan itinerary!
Petra – 2 Days
Follow the itinerary for the first day in Petra, heading into the site as soon as you arrive from Wadi Rum.
Get up early the second morning, and take the back road to the Monastery as mentioned above. You can spend a few hours in the early afternoon exploring, but you’ll need to leave yourself enough time to drive the 3 hours to the Dead Sea Resort.
Dead Sea – 1 Day
Follow the Dead Sea itinerary above as well. Spend the day floating in the salty Sea then make your way to the airport for an evening flight.
Getting Around Jordan
Jordan is a small country but there’s minimal public transport. In my mind, you have three options for visiting this incredible country. You can either book an organized tour, book day-trips (or overnight trips) from Amman, or rent a car. My suggestion would be to rent a car!
Renting a Car in Jordan
Renting a Car in Jordan is similar to renting one in North America or Europe. There are many different car rental companies, so I’d highly suggest checking rentalcars.com or Expedia. We ended up renting with Enterprise (twice) and both times were straightforward. Randy just brought in his Canadian driver’s license, a credit card and his passport. He did have an international driver’s license with him, but no one ever asked for it. If you’re looking at getting an international driver’s permit, e-ita should be your first stop online! We lucked out not needing it, but it sure gave us peace of mind to have it.
The roads in Jordan are in great shape, and once you’re out of the city the highways are easy to navigate. If you don’t have a GPS, download an offline version of Google Maps before you hit the road, and save your accommodations and major attractions. This will make it easier to navigate and you won’t have to rely on cellular data.
Tips For Visiting Jordan With Kids
Jordan is an incredible country to visit with kids. There’s so much to do, from climbing ruins to exploring the desert and floating in the Dead Sea. A trip to Jordan with kids can be action packed or incredibly relaxing. It’s up to you and how much you want to fit in! One thing’s for sure though, you won’t be bored!
- Kids under 12 enter most of the sites in Jordan for free (yeah!!!)
- Kids don’t require a Jordan Pass (because they enter the sites free), but they’ll still need a Visa. This can be purchased on entry for 40JD ($80 CAD) at airport immigration.
- Visiting many of the tourist sites in Jordan requires a fair amount of walking. Ensure your kids are capable of walking long distances, or plan to have a back-up plan. A carrier is best (you won’t want a stroller!), or just count on frequent breaks.
- The sun is intense in Jordan, so everyone will be happier with a hat. We also love our UV Buffs (like these ones here!). We use them as a head-band, as a scarf in the mornings, and wear them wet around our necks to keep us cool.
- In Petra you can hire a chariot to take you to most of the main sites. Some of the animals seem to be well kept whereas others are not. Be picky when choosing your animal. Remember that many of the men are local Bedouins who’s families were kicked out of their homes in the Petra archaeological site in the 1970’s. They might be pushy, but they’re just trying to make a living!
- The Dead Sea is SALTY (duh!!), but it’s honestly not super fun for kids. Just be prepared for this, and don’t expect to frolic for hours. Our kids last 10min max!! And they spend a good majority of the time complaining that the salt was stinging. When Kacela tells people about it, the first thing she says is that the salt “stung her vagina” (seriously, it’s a thing, and it obviously made an impression on her poor little 5 year old mind!). Prepping the kids will make your visit a LOT more enjoyable. But to be on the safe side…get the camera ready BEFORE you get in so you can at least get one floating family picture before everyone breaks down!
- It gets HOT in Jordan, so you’ll definitely want to carry water. Check out my favourite filter-water bottles if you don’t have one already.
- Even though it gets hot during the day, Jordan is in the middle of the desert so it does get cold at night (and in the morning). You’ll definitely want to layer your clothing. Make sure the layers are light weight and easy to stuff away in a daypack. We visited in April and wore toques (beanies) or hooded sweaters most mornings and evenings.
- The kids will spend a lot of time climbing over rocks, so make sure they have sturdy footwear. Our kids wore their crocs (they wore them pretty much the entire year), but I wouldn’t recommend this! A good pair of hiking shoes or sandals would be much better.
- Food in Jordan is fresh and delicious! It consists mainly of pita, salads (hummus, tahini, tzatziki, babaganoush, etc), falafel, kebabs, fresh cucumber and tomato. If you don’t have an adventurous eater, there’s usually French fries available everywhere!! The grocery stores in Amman and Wadi Musa carried a good variety of Western food, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding something for the kiddos.
If you’re thinking of heading to Jordan, check out these other related posts to make the most of your trip planning!
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