Deciding on the perfect Jordan itinerary, that would cover all of the important places is not an easy task. With an overload of things to see, it’s hard to fit it all in 10 days in Jordan and at the same time, to spend enough time in each of the places. Spoiler alert: there is a lot to do in Jordan! We tried to balance all Jordan has to offer from mesmerizing historical sites to breath-taking hikes to visiting the Sea(s). You can find our exact route in Jordan with an explanation of places and additional alternatives below.
Jordan, the country of red rocks, white salty cliffs, orange sunsets, and amber canyons. Home to one of the New 7 Wonders of the World – Petra, the country of Jordan is famous in the world of travel. However, this corner of the Middle East has much more to offer than only the Pink City. It has it all, from interesting historical sites to stunning hikes, from 2000 years old buildings of Petra to modern hotels of Amman. Our 10 days Jordan itinerary was jam-packed and I can easily say, that we could have stayed for even longer. Jordan was also my 14th country of the year, and I loved every minute spent there.
All in all, I was really happy with our plan as I felt we spent the right amount of time in each of the places. We didn’t feel that rushed and we focused on the most important places to see in Jordan for us. We wanted to balance the historical sites (that Alex loves), with rewarding hikes (that I’m obsessed about) with wonderful views, immersing in the local culture and not forgetting any of the important highlights.
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Driving in Jordan
We did the below Jordan itinerary in 10 days in winter using the rented car. I was so eager to share this with you, as I really loved our trip. The proof lies in the number of photos, that I took. Over 2500 photos in 10 days, which gives 250 photos a day! Jordan is a really picturesque country.
I would recommend renting a car in Jordan. It gives you flexibility and is not that expensive. We used rentalcars to compare the prices and to choose the best car rental option. More about driving in Jordan coming soon.
There is public transport available in Jordan, but it doesn’t go everywhere. For example, it’s hard to use it around the Dead Sea. It can also be unreliable and take longer. However, on the main roads and in between main sites like from Amman to Aqaba, to Petra and Wadi Rum, there are daily buses going according to schedule. The biggest one is JETT and we met people who were using them. If I was to use public transport, I would probably use it together with the below…
Another great option to travel in Jordan is hitch-hiking. We were strongly considering it, as many of my friends were recommending it. The Jordanians are extremely helpful and friendly, so I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem. I’m planning to try it there the next time we are around. The only things you need to account for is time, and places you want to see. With hitch-hiking, you can never be exactly sure where you are going to end up at what time and you typically spend a lot of time with local people drinking tea or being invited for meals (which is a great way of discovering the country in itself). If you’ve never tried hitch-hiking before, I suggest to always go with another person, preferably someone experienced who knows how to do it safely.
Jordan itinerary – 10 days in Jordan
Our Jordan itinerary starts from the north and is designed for people arriving in the country to the Amman airport. Of course, if you are coming from Aqaba or crossing the border from Israel, you can juggle things around and make it work, depending on your needs.
Also, we decided, that we don’t want to drive in Amman as big city driving is too stressful, so we started our road trip from Madaba and finished it in Amman, dropping the car off a day earlier and visiting the capital without it.
We chose the most important and most interesting (in our view) Jordan sights. If you spend less time in some of the places, you can also use this Jordan itinerary in 7 days. If you have more than 10 days, you can extend your stay in your favorite areas, or add a few more Jordan attractions on the way.
Below is the exact itinerary we followed. I added some extra suggestions in each of the days below, in case you have less/more time or want to change things around. Now you have everything you need to plan your perfect Jordan itinerary 😉
DAY 1 – Madaba, Mount Nebo, King’s Highway, Kerak Castle
After arriving in the Amman airport, pick up the rental car and drive towards Madaba.
Madaba lies only 20 km from Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan. This ancient place is famous from a 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land, that can be found in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. It’s a small town, so visiting it shouldn’t take more than an hour. We spent much longer than this, talking to locals, being invited to the shops and offered free food and generally felt very welcomed to the country.
The entry to the church is not included in the Jordan Pass, but it costs 1JD.
The northwest from Madaba lies the biblical hill of Mount Nebo. That is where, according to the Bible, Moses was granted the view of the Promised Land. On top of the hill lies little church with stunning views overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. It’s worth to go inside the church and admire the beautiful mosaic patterns on the floors.
The entrance to Mount Nebo is not included in the basic Jordan Pass but is only costs 2JD.
Alternative: Dead Sea drive and Ma’in Hot Springs
From Madaba and Mount Nebo, there is a road going down towards the Dead Sea. It’s a beautiful drive and if you want to go to the Dead Sea after arrival, you can swap the order in the plan below.
On the way lies Ma’in Hot Springs. It’s mainly a luxury resort, where you can bathe in the pool of the hot springs. To try some other hot springs around you also need to pay a fee. We decided to skip it, but later on, near the Dead Sea, we encountered another hot spring coming down to the beach with free access. We came back on the Dead Sea route on the way back to Amman.
If you follow our itinerary, you can drive down from Madaba using the King’s Highway (Route 35). It’s a very scenic route through the mountainous landscape. It takes 2h from Madaba to Karak and then 2h from Karak to Dana. Just mind the time for stopping for pictures – we took our time a bit and ended up driving the last part of the road in darkness. The sunset is much earlier in winter and driving at night in Jordan is not something I would recommend.
Almost on the King’s Highway from Madaba lies Kerak castle. It’s a Crusader castle located in al-Karak. Most of the castle is ruined, but on a sunny day, you can capture some beautiful photos. If you want to visit it, you can do it in under an hour.
Where to stay in Madaba?
You can either stay in Madaba, Karak or go directly to Dana Reserve.
Queen Ayola Hotel – we didn’t plan to stay in Madaba, so when we arrived in the hotel, it was just one room left. The guy working there was extremely nice, he offered us delicious tea and helped with the plans for the next day. The hotel was nice enough and located in the very center of town. Traditional breakfast was included.
Where to eat in Madaba?
There’s plenty of local cafes, that serve shawarma meals (chicken wrap with salad and fries) for 2JD, falafel sandwiches for 0,5 JD. Prices in the restaurants are much higher, but you also have a bigger choice of dishes. Prices are similar in other places in Jordan.
DAY 2 – Dana Biosphere Reserve
Dana Biosphere Reserve is a gem in the Jordan’s (already stunning) landscape. The area of rich biodiversity, history and natural beauty is the only reserve in Jordan, where you can find four different bio-geographical zones. There are many plants and animal species that are very rare. Apart from the fauna and flora, the reserve is a great place for hiking. This is what we focused on.
Hiking in Dana Reserve
Having two days in the reserve you can easily do two hikes in Dana.
There is a lot to choose from, depending on which time of the year you travel to Jordan. Because we were there in winter, it was harder to do hikes in the Wadis, because of the risk of flash floods. Initially, we wanted to do the Wadi Ghuweir hike, that goes for 7 km one way and back (total 14 km). However, due to the rainy weather, it was not possible to go down there.
Instead, the first day, we went to the part of the Wadi Dana Trail.
The hike stretches from the Dana Village down to the Feynan Eco Lodge and takes around 7 hours one way. During the walk, you cross different biozones. From the Eco Lodge, you can return by pre-arrange car, which would take around 2 hours and cost around 45 JOD. It’s also possible to just do a part of the hike and come back to Dana village. However, there is a quite a big terrain drop from 1500m above sea level at Dana to below sea level beyond Feynan. If you want to go back that way, account for a lot of uphill walking.
DAY 3 – Dana Biosphere Reserve, Shobak Castle
Another great hike in Dana Reserve that we did in the morning the next day is the Feathers Canyon Trail (3km, 3hours). Also called Shaq ar-Reesh (“Canyon of the Feathers”), is a hike allowing for spectacular views and the walk on the sandstone and limestone boulders creating interesting shapes.
After the hike, drive towards Petra, stopping by in the Shobak castle. The castle is included in the Jordan Pass. It lies on the picturesque hill and even though it now remains only ruined, it’s still a good stop for the exploration of the area.
Where to stay in Dana?
In winter there was limited accommodation in terms of campsites, but one of them Al Nawatef Camp was open. The camp is located around 20 min drive from Dana village, directly on the cliff edge over the Dana canyon. The views are stunning. I can highly recommend stopping there while you are in Dana. Check prices and availability here.
DAY 4 – Petra
Petra Archeologic Park is definitely a top of all the Jordan tourist attractions. It was also one of the things to see in Jordan, that I was looking forward to the most and definitely a bucket list item.
Petra is believed to be settled as early as 9000 BC and became the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom of nomadic Arabs. The city is famous for its carved architecture and also called a “Pink City”, because of the color of the sandstone it was carved in. It is purely magical. Petra is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”. Since 2007, Petra became one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
Do you know that feeling when you know something from the stories, movies, TV, books, history and then you actually visit that place? It doesn’t feel entirely real and a bit like in a dream. I had that with pyramids in Egypt, the Himalayas in India and going to Svalbard or Masai Mara. And I felt that, an early morning when I was entering Petra for the first time.
How many days in Petra?
Should you stay in Petra for one or two days? I can tell you with great certainty – two. If you have Jordan Pass, the difference between the entrances is only 5 JD and you would miss out a lot if you just spend one day in Petra. Petra is so much more than just a Treasury and Monastery. I will write another post specifically about Petra site to tell you more about this wonderful place and hiker’s paradise.
The first day, start early and aim to be at the gates just at the opening (6 am in winter). You will be grateful for that advice, as if you enter the site any later the place will be flooded with tourists. The site looks magical in the pink shade of the sunrise with only a few people around.
In the first day, you can focus on the main trails – the Siq, the Treasury, Street of Facades, Theatre, Nymphaeum, Colonnaded Street, Qasr al-Bint, Lion Triclinium, and the Ad-Deir Monastery. Visit all the viewing points around the Ad-Deir Monastery. You can finish the day with the High Place of Sacrifice. I recommend hiking the whole trail and staying on the top just before the sunset. The color of the mountains is just breathtaking.
You can pick up a free handy Petra tourist map in the visitor center before entering the site.
DAY 5 – Petra
This day, visit some of the other sites in Petra. Go to the Royal Tombs and through the green trail to the viewing point to see the Treasury from above. You can also visit the Church and the start of the Sabra trail. The trail will lead you through the beautiful valley.
A great viewing point is Al-Habis Mountain, located just over the Great Temple. The climb to the top doesn’t take too long and offer amazing views. However, do not attempt it if you have a fear of heights.
Petra by night
Another activity in Petra is Petra by night. The Treasury is lit up with hundreds of candles and the whole site turns into the magical kingdom. We didn’t manage to do it, as the first day it was cancelled and another time, we were too exhausted to walk back and then it started to rain. If you decide to go for it, we’ve been told by the worker in the Visitor Center, that you can actually stay within Petra site and wait for the night show (with pre-booked tickets), instead of walking back and forth through the Siq. I haven’t tested it, so double check again before trying it, since in general, staying Petra at night is forbidden.
I can also recommend visiting Little Petra (Siq al-Barid). This smaller archeological site is located north of Petra, 10-minute drive from Wadi Musa. We were there just after the sunrise (since we were staying in Little Petra for the night) and the place looked very peaceful. In Little Petra, you can also find carved buildings, temples, and tombs but on a much smaller scale than the Petra. Little Petra is part of Petra park, so there is no extra fee for visiting it.
There is also an option of hiking from Little Petra to Monastery in Petra. The hike is 8 km and can be done by anyone with regular fitness level.
Where to stay in Petra?
The biggest choice of accommodation around Petra is in Wadi Musa. It’s a nearby town, where most of the tourist accommodation is located. That’s where we spent 2 from 3 nights in the area.
$$ Rocky Mountain Hotel – centrally located and very nicely decorated hotel. I loved their lounge/restaurant area with a balcony and a traditional Jordanian design.
$$ Cave – For something a little bit different you can actually stay in the cave in Little Petra. Wild camping in Petra in the caves is illegal, so don’t even try that. However, on Airbnb, you can find an over 2000 years old cave, rented by Ayman, whose parents used to live there.
DAY 6 – Wadi Rum
In the morning we drove to Wadi Rum area. Wadi Rum is truly a place out of this planet – the Martian movie wasn’t made there without a reason. The red sand, eroded rocks, and the long shadows give this place an incredible feeling. It’s worth to stay there at least one night (we spent two), to truly immerse in the environment and Bedouin culture.
If you leave early, you’ll manage to catch the daily jeep tour, that will take you around all the important sites in the desert. The company organizing the tours would normally communicate with you about the times of departure. We agreed to meet with Nadjah from Wadi Rum Green Desert at 10 am and it was good timing.
The jeep tour includes: Lawrence Spring, Khazali Canyon, Red Sand dunes, view to the Burdah Arch, and climb to the Um Frouth Arch, Lawrence house, Anfishieh rock Inscriptions, and it ends by the sunset in the famous sunset spot.
In the evening, immerse yourself in the Bedouin culture drinking tea by the fire under the stars or in the tent and admire the millions of stars above. And you can also be sure, that delicious (!!) dinner will wait for you after the tour in the camp.
DAY 7 – Wadi Rum & Jabal Umm ad Dami
Start the day early and catch the sunrise on the desert. The sun rising from above the red mountains is a spectacular view.
Another great activity to do on the desert is a hike to the highest mountain in Jordan – Jabal Umm ad Dami. The mountain is located on the other side of the desert. It takes around a 1-1,5 h to drive to the starting point.
After the drive, you go up the mountain. The elevation is of 1854m. The hike takes around 2-3 hours return. From the top, you have amazing views of the Jordanian desert and also Saudi Arabia on the other side.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum?
We stayed in the camp with Wadi Rum Green Desert. The camp was really nice, tucked to the side of the mountain, with not too many tents, which made it more quiet and intimate environment (as it should be in the desert!). They also organized our tours.
DAYS 8 & 9 – Aqaba, the Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib, Bethany the Beyond Jordan
If you haven’t seen the Dead Sea earlier, now it’s the time to go back north (unless you have the return flight from Aqaba or you’re going further into Israel).
The fastest way to go from Wadi Rum to Amman and visit the Dead Sea on the way is using the Jordan Valley Highway that also goes through Aqaba, so you can stop by the Red Sea and spend a day there. There is plenty of accommodation in Aqaba and around. The beaches are quite small and it’s better to go to the south of the city for a better one. There are, however, great diving opportunities.
After catching some sun in Aqaba, head to the Dead Sea. It’s a hot and dusty ride, especially at the beginning passing mostly the desert and some little towns in the middle of nowhere. After you enter the area around the Dead Sea the landscape becomes greener and more interesting with many fruit and vegetable plantations on the sides of the road.
Dead Sea shore is mainly occupied by the five-star hotels and the resorts, however, there are some places, where you can go down to the water and swim (and even clean yourself after, which is very important after the very salty water). I will include the exact locations of the free beaches soon.
In the summer, the adventurous ones can try the Wadi Mujib trail involving canyoning with ropes and in the water. It sounds like so much fun, and the trail looks amazing. Unfortunately, it’s closed in winter, so we couldn’t try it this time.
For those of you who also visit in the colder months, there are some other smaller Wadis around that you can try to access. Remember to always consult the local before doing so and checking the water, as the flash floods happen frequently in Jordan and can be deadly. Some other hiking trails to try in the area are Wadi Bin (Ibh) Hammad or Ibex trail.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan
The Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) is a UNESCO Heritage site and important archaeological and Christian pilgrimage site. The site is believed to be the place where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist, as described in the Bible. You can find there the Roman and Byzantine remains with churches, chapel, and caves.
The site is included only in some of the Jordan Passes, so if you are interested in visiting it, make sure you add it during the process of buying the Jordan Pass. When you want to buy a ticket at the place, the price is more expensive. The entrance includes the bus journey that takes you down to the river and the visiting takes around 3 hours. We didn’t have enough time to do it, because of the limits of the bus trip up and down and waiting for the bus to arrive.
Where to stay in the Dead Sea area?
Accommodation around the Dead Sea is not cheap as it’s mostly catered for luxury travellers, not budget backpackers.
$ Luckily, we managed to find one place, that wasn’t that expensive and it was located very close to the free beaches (one with showers). It was Thara Real Estate. We got exact directions to those beaches from there. The apartment we got was massive and included a huge living room, bedroom, mini kitchen area, and bathroom. No breakfast though. Check prices and availability here.
$$ Mujib Chalets – for a bit more enclosure and access to the private beach in the Dead Sea you can try Mujib Chalets. We visited the site to check the amenities and the rooms looked very nice with the hammocks hanging outside and beautiful views directly to the Dead Sea. Check prices and availability here.
Dead Sea, Jordan
DAYS 9 & 10 – Jerash, Amman
After visiting the Dead Sea is time to go back closer to Amman. You can go directly to the city or head to Jerash.
Visit the historical Roman ruins of Jerash. The city is located north, around a 1h drive from Amman (but when calculating time take also traffic into consideration that can extend your journey).
An ancient city of Jerash is one of the most famous historical places in Jordan. The site dates back more than 6500 years and is said to be one of the best-preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Interesting is the fact, that it was hidden in the sand for centuries. The old city is quite extensive, but if you are short in time, you can visit it in 1,5-2h. Jerash is also included in the Jordan Pass.
After Jerash, make your way back to Amman or go back to the airport to drop off the car and go to Amman without it (that’s what we did). There’s an airport bus going to the 4th circle in Amman for 3JD, from where you can take a taxi to old town for 3JD.
In Amman don’t miss the Citadel, Roman Amphitheater, Rainbow Street and many of the wonderful street food places and restaurants.
Where to stay in Amman?
$: Hostel 1930 – They didn’t have a room available when we were in Amman, but for a budget traveller, Hostel 1930 offers the most for the price. It has a perfect, central location, and a rooftop (!). It’s also very popular, so make sure to book in advance. Check the best prices and availability here.
$: Hamoudah hotel – that’s where we stayed in Amman. The room was nice enough, with clean sheets and great, hot shower (we were visiting in winter when it can get a bit cool). The location was also perfect, just next to the Roman Theatre and the steps to Amman Citadel. Check the dates and availability here.
Map of the Jordan itinerary
Know before you go
When to go to Jordan?
Temperatures in Jordan can vary greatly and it can go from very hot in the summer to cold in winter. The best months to visit are between March and May and October to November. However, it’s perfectly fine to visit it also another time – you just need to account for the temperatures or closures. We went to Jordan for New Year’s Eve in winter and still enjoyed our time.
Visa and entrance costs
Entrance costs and visa costs in Jordan can add up, I recommend getting Jordan Pass, which reduces the costs. One other tip about the visa is, that if you cross the border in Aqaba or you arrive in Aqaba within a specific time after getting to Jordan, you don’t need to pay visa costs. I haven’t tested it myself, so I would recommend double-checking it with the embassy.
Jordan packing guide
Some of the must-have items for Jordan are:
- sunglasses – either summer or winter, the sun will be strong, so you need to protect your eyes. Check UV sunglasses in good price here.
- suncream – as above, some people in our camp got sunburnt in Wadi Rum (and it was winter). I always take this suncream as it has great protection, good skin care and is perfect for kids and adults on face and body.
- Universal power adapter – Jordan uses different power sockets and in some places, the normal adapter, that Alex had, didn’t work, so I recommend a universal adapter – I take it with me everywhere. I especially recommend power adapter like this one, with additional USB plugs. You can charge your camera batteries and phones at the same time.
- reusable water bottle – save plastic waste and fill in the small reusable bottle from bigger water bottles. I love insulated bottles like this eco-friendly one to keep the drink hot or cold for longer.
Cost of 10 days in Jordan
Jordan is not an expensive country and can be travelled on a budget (with the exception for the entrances to the tourist sites, of course ;-)).
Below are the estimated costs of our 10 day Jordan itinerary per person, while travelling with 2 people. This could be lowered if you camp with your own tent instead of using hostels, or if you book hostels in advance. We didn’t book them for all of the nights and we ended up with limited availability in Petra and around the Dead Sea.
Car rental: 100 JD
Jordan Pass (explorer): 75JD
Hotels + home-made dinners in some of the guest houses: 100 JD (can be lower)
Additional trips (Wadi Rum) & entrances: 60JD
Food – example prices below:
5l water – 1JD
falafel sandwich – 0,5 JD
10 falafels – 0,3-0,5 JD
hummus in the restaurant– 0,75-1 JD
hummus or mouttabal (aubergine paste) in the shop – 0,3 JD
traditional cardamon coffee – 0,5-2 JD
dinner in a nicer restaurant – 7-10 JD
chicken shwarma meal with salad and fries – 2 JD
a big bag of freshly baked bread in a bakery – 1 JD
Would you like to visit Jordan? Which of the Jordan must see places and other sites would you like to visit? Would you add something else to the list? Let me know in the comments!
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