Jordan may be a small country, but the Hashemite Kingdom sure packs a punch. The Middle Eastern country is home to some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, ancient cities, citadels and castles, fortresses, one of the new Wonders of the World, wildlife sanctuaries and a sprawling desert valley. Most first-time visitors opt to spend 1 week in Jordan, taking in the country’s wondrous sights.
I fell in love with Jordan when we visited earlier this year – I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it managed to surpass everything I could have ever imagined. If Jordan isn’t on your list of places to visit, why the heck not?! If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, read on for some of the best places to visit, an easy-to-follow Jordan 7 day itinerary and some must-know tips for your epic journey.
Is it safe to travel to Jordan?
Though the country shares borders with Iraq and Syria, Jordan has been relatively immune to the instability plaguing the region with the exception of a few isolated events. Terrorists have mostly targeted local security forces, though foreign tourists have been caught in the crossfire in the past. You can read more about safety and security in Jordan here and here.
We travelled to Jordan in mid-2019 and experienced no issues whatsoever. In general, tourism in Jordan is straightforward and the country has managed to make it easy for visitors to get around and discover the best of what is on offer. There is a high security presence in many hotels throughout Jordan, and tourist police patrol most major attractions and their surroundings.
If you purchase the Jordan Pass, a multi-day ticket that grants you entry into most tourist attractions, you don’t need to worry about queuing up to buy entrance tickets, and Uber rides in Amman mean that you don’t have to haggle with taxi drivers. There are a handful of common scams in Jordan, but we generally felt safe and free from any hassling when travelling around.
Essential Jordan travel tips
- The major international airport is located in Amman, though Aqaba also has its own local airport. As an international visitor to Jordan, you’re most likely to fly into Queen Alia International Airport, located about 45 minutes outside of Amman’s city centre.
- There’s no need to stress about your Jordan visa, because it’s possible to buy a visa on arrival in Jordan for 40 JOD (approximately US$56) for nationals from over 100 countries. If you are spending 1 week in Jordan then you should purchase the Jordan Pass. A Jordan Pass grants you entry into over 40 attractions across Jordan, including Petra, and costs between 70-80 JOD (US$99-113) depending on how many days you want to spend in Petra Archaeological Park. The great thing about buying a Jordan Pass is that you do not need to buy a separate visa on arrival – your entry into Jordan is covered by the Jordan Pass as long as you spend more than 3 nights in Jordan.
- The Jordanian Dinar (JOD) is the major currency and the exchange rate is 1 JOD: US$1.4, or 1 JOD: 1.24 Euros. You can exchange money at the airport or at your hotel.
- Stay connected by purchasing a SIM card at the airport in Amman. This way, you can get around easily using Google Maps.
- The best time to visit Jordan is when the weather is milder from March to May or September to November, as the temperature can be blazing hot during the summer months and freezing cold in the winter. If you visit Jordan during the month of Ramadan (a holy month observed by Muslims), some tourist attractions may close early or open later – you should check the operating hours here. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and alcohol is not sold (except in some larger hotels and restaurants). As a sign of respect, you should try to avoid eating and drinking (even water) in public.
- Arabic is the most spoken language in Jordan, and most people (especially those in hospitality or food & beverage) speak English well. You shouldn’t run into any major problems with communication.
Planning a trip to Jordan? Read this article for 11 things to know before you travel to Jordan!
How to get around Jordan
There are a number of options to get around Jordan, but we opted to rent a car for convenience and flexibility. If you are on a budget, it’s also possible to get around by public transportation. Within Amman, we left the car parked at the hotel and took Ubers everywhere.
Driving in Jordan is very manageable – the drive between each of the stops on our 7 day Jordan itinerary took no longer than 3-4 hours, and the highways are in fairly good condition. Google Maps gave accurate directions and parking was free in most cities and hotels (with the exception of Petra, where we chose to park in a secured lot for a small fee).
We rented a small car through Budget and paid around US$210 for 7 days of rental – the pick up and drop off process was easy peasy at the international airport in Amman, and the car had a low excess/deductible of 350 JOD as Budget purchases basic insurance for their fleet. We did not have to stop and pay any tolls in Jordan, and there were a number of gas stations along the freeways. Click here to check current car rental rates in Jordan!
Looking for the best prices for rental cars around the world? Click here to book your rental car in Jordan. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
If you, for example, want to fly from Amman to Aqaba or vice versa instead of driving, it’s possible to drop your rental car off at a different location – you just need to pay a 1-way fee to the car rental company.
1 week Jordan itinerary
Note: We travelled from north to south – this itinerary is also do-able in reverse and is a rough guide to help you decide how many days to spend in each city. We did it this way to minimize our time on the road and to cover as much ground as possible in just 1 week in Jordan. Wondering where to go in Jordan? Keep reading!
Days 1 and 2: Amman
Start your Jordan itinerary in Amman, the country’s capital city. Amman is more than just a gateway city to the rest of Jordan, and has incredible archaeological wonders of its own to offer so plan to spend at least 2 nights in the city.
There are a handful of places to visit in Amman that you won’t want to miss including Amman Citadel, one of the most incredible archaeological sites in the country; the Roman Theatre which dominates the landscape of the old city; and the King Abdullah I Mosque.
I would also recommend that you set aside 1 day to do a day trip to Jerash, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world, and tour the Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary which rescues and rehabilitates animals from poorly-run zoos in war-torn neighboring countries and the illegal animal trade.
Hotel recommendation for Amman: Stay at the Amman Rotana, a luxury hotel just outside Amman’s city centre and a stone’s throw from the King Abdullah I Mosque. The hotel offers incredibly spacious and beautiful rooms with a view of the city, free valet parking, a rooftop pool, fitness centre and a number of in-house restaurants. Click here to check availability at Amman Rotana, or check out some other highly rated hotels in Amman!
Days 3 and 4: Petra
Head south towards Petra from Amman. The drive will take just over 3 hours but there are 2 quick pit stops that you should make on your way, the first being Um ar-Rasas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site about an hour away from Amman.
Don’t skip the beautifully preserved mosaic floor of the Church of Saint Stephen – entry is covered by the Jordan Pass. When we visited, we were the only tourists walking around – Um ar-Rasas is one of the most underrated Jordan tourist attractions!
Another must-visit attraction on your way to Petra is the Shobak Castle, a towering fortress at the top of a mountain. Also known as “Montreal”, Shobak is a Crusader castle dating back to the 12th century. Including these 2 quick detours, you should be able to get from Amman to Petra in less than 4, 4.5 hours.
Petra could be considered to be Jordan’s “Crown Jewel”, as it is the country’s most-visited and well-known tourist attraction and also one of the best preserved archaeological sites in the world. It is an essential stop during your 1 week in Jordan. The world-famous Petra Archaeological Park features spectacular rock-cut architecture set in a vibrant red sandstone as well as towering mountains lined with deep passages and gorges.
You could easily explore Petra on foot in 1 day, just make sure you get an early start so that you can walk through the Siq, see the Treasury, explore the Royal Tombs and hike to the Monastery.
Here’s my biggest tip for visiting Petra: try to time your visit so that you can attend Petra By Night, a thrice-weekly evening event where musical performances are held under the moonlight in front of the Treasury. The landscape changes when you visit Petra at night, and the magical experience is not to be missed! Petra By Night takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. I don’t recommend visiting Petra during the day and attending Petra By Night on the same day – it’s a tad too much walking, so try to spread it over 2 separate days.
*Petra By Night is not included in the Jordan Pass – you need to purchase a separate ticket for the event.
Hotel recommendation for Petra: Though most people opt to stay right next to the Petra Visitor Centre, I actually recommend checking yourself into the Petra Marriott, a 5-minute drive away. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and some even offer a stunning view across the valley. The sunset view from the pool can’t be beat, so grab a seat (and a beer) in the late afternoon. Click here to see current rates and availability at Petra Marriott, or head on over here to see some other highly-rated hotels in Wadi Musa.
Day 5: Wadi Rum
You’re more than halfway through this 1 week Jordan itinerary! Wadi Rum is a scenic desert valley in southern Jordan and located only about an hour’s drive from Petra. The 74,000 hectare protected area was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 and features narrow gorges, sandstone arches, towering cliffs, rock carvings and previous archaeological remains. It’s no wonder that Wadi Rum is one of the top places to visit in Jordan.
You can stay overnight in traditional bedouin camps or luxury glamping tents, and go on desert jeep tours with a local Bedouin guide. I would highly recommend that you do a 2 hour Wadi Rum jeep tour in the late afternoon, and ask your guide if you can stick around to catch the fiery desert sunset. The Wadi Rum safari was a definite highlight during our 1 week in Jordan, and I recommend staying no more than 1 night in Wadi Rum.
Hotel recommendation for Wadi Rum: We stayed in a “Martian Dome” at Sun City Camp, one of the best camps in Wadi Rum. The air-conditioned rooms are spacious with a transparent panel at the front for stargazing, and each of the tents have en-suite bathrooms. But here’s what you need to know: glamping in the desert comes with a hefty price tag, and you might not feel that the experience is worth the (fairly significant) nightly rate – ultimately, this is for you to decide! You can check current rates and read more reviews here, or explore the other options for glamping in Wadi Rum.
Day 6: Aqaba
Aqaba is Jordan’s port city in the south, and a popular resort destination for travellers looking for some sun and sand. It is a 1-hour drive away from Wadi Rum. Unfortunately, I caught a stomach bug and didn’t get to do much outside of the room – my 1 day in Aqaba mainly consisted of shivering in bed and trying not to puke my guts out.
Nevertheless, most (healthy) visitors to Aqaba opt to spend the day snorkeling or diving in the Red Sea. The coast is teeming with vibrant marine life and is one of the best diving destinations in the world. Had I been feeling better, we likely would have gone on a half-day boat trip out to sea to do some snorkeling or try to spot some dolphins in the wild.
Hotel recommendation for Aqaba: We spent 1 night at the seriously fantastic Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort in Aqaba – everything is brand new, stylish and modern, and the facilities are top notch. I only wish we had more time there! You can make use of the hotel’s man-made private beach, multiple pools and fitness centre. The food & drink is also very reasonably priced and tasty. Click here to check current rates at the Hyatt Regency Aqaba or head on over here for more hotel options in Aqaba!
Day 7: Dead Sea
From Aqaba, make your way back to northern Jordan – the drive from Aqaba to the Dead Sea area will take just over 3 hours. The Dead Sea is one of the best places to visit in Jordan, and totally lives up to the hype. The salt lake is over 400 metres below sea level, and the mineral-rich water means that you are buoyant when swimming in the Dead Sea – it’s pretty much impossible to sink! Floating in the Dead Sea is one of the most unique things to do in Jordan.
If you want to take it a step further, rub some mud from the Dead Sea onto your body to complete the experience – the mud is known for being extremely soothing and makes your skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Beyond swimming in the Dead Sea, there’s not a whole lot to do in this area so 1 night is more than enough.
As the Dead Sea region is only 1 hour by car from Amman, you can opt to visit the Dead Sea at the beginning of your Jordan trip, at the end, or as a day trip from Amman.
Hotel recommendation for the Dead Sea region: We stayed at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort for 1 night. There aren’t a ton of hotel options in this area, and the Hilton was one of the higher-rated properties offering private access to the Dead Sea, a swim-up bar and a number of dining facilities. The location really can’t be beat – the hotel itself is only 2 years old and offers modern, spacious rooms as well as beautiful gardens adorning the grounds. However, I have to mention that the staff service was fairly inconsistent when we stayed, though other travellers did not have the same experience and found the entire team to be very helpful. You can click here to check out other guest reviews and current rates, or head on over here for more options in the Dead Sea region. Alternatively, alter this itinerary by staying 3 nights in Amman and doing a day trip to the Dead Sea instead.
Other suggestions for your Jordan itinerary
7 days in Jordan will give you a pretty good taste of what the country has to offer, and you will be able to cover plenty of ground. If you have more time, there are some other places to see in Jordan such as the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Wadi Mujib and Umm Qays, or you can turn this 7 day itinerary into a 10 day Jordan itinerary by extending your stay in Petra (if you want to explore some of the lesser-visited hiking trails) or Aqaba (if you want to do more diving or snorkeling). Ready for your Jordan road trip? I hope this Jordan 1 week itinerary helps you to better plan your dream trip, and gives you an idea of how long to stay in each place, what to do and where to stay.
Need more help planning a trip to Jordan? Head on over here for even more Jordan destination guides!
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