Despite Jordan being such a popular tourist destination, we were unable to find an itinerary for the length of time we had available, which we thought would have been comprehensive enough. Therefore, we’re going to put here the one we made up, for future travellers.
This itinerary covers just over two weeks (15 days actually) and will take you through all of Jordan’s major attractions. Links throughout the post link to the pages on this site describing the locations in greater detail.
Day 1, Amman / Desert Castles (260 Km)
Taking it easy on the first day, we visited the ruins of the Amman Roman theatre, the Citadel and the Umayyad Palace. After a leisurely lunch, we were driven outside the city to the Desert Castles. We had three on our list: Qasr Amra, Al Azraq and Al Kharaneh. We ended up skipping Al Azraq because of that leisurely lunch and prolonged photo-taking sessions at the other locations, which meant there was no way to reach it before sun down. For dinner, we went to Fakhr-El Din, a classic, legendary restaurant in the city. We spent our nights in Amman at the Four Seasons, an absolutely beautiful hotel, and a real city retreat.
Day 2, Amman / Um Qais / Ajlun / Jerash / Dead Sea (280 Km)
We departed in the direction of the Dead Sea and made a detour for Um Qais, a beautiful, ruined, basalt city overlooking Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights and Lake Tiberius (or the Sea of Galilee). From there, we continued on to visit the village of Ajlun, with its ancient fortress and magnificent views into the valley. After Ajlun, we drove to Jerash, one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities in the Middle East. We carried on towards the Dead Sea, driving through spectacular sunset views before reaching our hotel.
Day 3, Dead Sea
There’s not much to do at the Dead Sea, apart from floating around in it, which was what we did. As there’s nothing to eat or do outside the all-inclusive hotels, Day 3 was spent entirely in the Dead Sea Kempinski. A decent hotel overall, but it could have done with a design update, and maybe, a few less children. It was a “family” resort.
Day 4, Dead Sea / Madaba / Mt. Nebo / Wadi Mujib / Kerak / Dana (210 Km)
Driving towards the Dana Valley, our next destination, we passed the King’s highway, once part of the ancient Silk Road, pivotal to the trade of luxury goods throughout the ages. We stopped in the Christian Town of Madaba, the “City of Mosaics”. Here we bought some Mosaics from a workshop which employed people in the surrounding areas. We can’t recommend it, as the prices were hugely inflated, but it does, however, have some very nice pieces of artwork. If you want to buy, we suggest bargaining to at least 50% of the list price. The seller will act like you’re trying to rip him off, but we saw the same pieces of mosaics going for 30% less at top hotels in Petra. So, bargain!
If you like visiting ancient churches (we don’t), there’s the St. George Church, with its mosaic map of the Holy Land from Byzantine times, and the Archaeological Park, which houses the remains of several Byzantine churches, including the priceless mosaics of the Church of the Virgin. There was also a school for the restoration and conservation of ancient mosaics you can visit in the park.
After, we went to Mount Nebo, of Biblical fame. This was where Moses was granted a view of the promised land. And after Mount Nebo, we headed for Kerak via Wadi Al Mujib, a deep valley holding one of Jordan’s most breathtaking views. Kerak was actually quite interesting, despite me having had, by then, my fill of the day’s worth of ancient piles of rocks. It dates from the Iron Age and was an important city for most of history. The structures inside the Crusader castle of the same name were well preserved enough such that it was possible to determine the functions of the rooms inside by looking at how they were laid out.
That evening we were dropped off at the Dana Guesthouse. We had to take only what we could carry in a day pack with us to our next destination, Feynan Ecolodge, at the other end of the valley. The rest of our luggage was left with the driver, who would pick us up the next afternoon from Feynan. Bring along a warm sweater, as it will get cold at night.
Day 5, Dana / Feynan (14 km)
We hiked through the sandstone gorge of Wadi Dana towards Feynan. It was 14km, and took us about 6 hours.
Day 6, Feynan / Petra (120 Km)
After breakfast, we headed towards Petra and checked into the Mövenpick at around noon. We were given our two day passes to enter Petra and did so immediately. In the price of the entry ticket is a horseback ride to the main entrance of the complex, opening into the Siq, but I wouldn’t recommend taking advantage of it. The horses seemed pretty agitated, and we saw a few mishaps happening (in one, a horse kicked the chest of a man trying to climb on). We ended the day with a dinner at the Mövenpick, which was excellent.
Day 7, Petra
We climbed to the Monastery, which took us about an hour to get to from the bottom of the steps. It’s an exhausting venture, so be well rested. For dinner, we participated in a cooking class at the Petra Kitchen. The food was really delicious actually, and slightly different from the fare we had been getting at restaurants and hotels.
Day 8, Petra / Wadi Rum (120 Km)
We had planned to travel to Wadi Rum early in the morning, and begin the entire day exploring the desert, and taking a balloon ride early next morning to capture the desert sunrise. Unfortunately, a terrible dust storm blew up and we had to cancel all planned activities, including the overnight stay at a Bedouin camp. I’m still providing the original itinerary however, with the visit to Wadi Rum on the eighth day, as it is less time consuming to go from Petra to Wadi Rum, and then to Aquaba.
Day 9, Wadi Rum / Aqaba (50 Km)
We made our way to Aqaba, on the Red Sea in a couple of hours, checked into the Kempinski along the coast, and arranged our dives for the next couple of days. For a change, we decided to skip the hotel buffet and eat out in the town. It was okay I suppose, although most of the restaurants served the same dishes, cooked in similar ways. Also, most of the restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor in Aqaba seemed to have been hijacked.
Days 10 and 11, Aqaba
Diving around the Cedar Pride and in the Japanese Gardens.
Day 12, Aqaba / Ma’in (370 Km)
We drove from Aquaba, past the Dead Sea, towards Amman, stopping at Ma’in. The drive to Ma’in is spectacular, and the place itself is known for being a famous retreat and spa throughout the ages. Herod the Great was said to have bathed in its medicinal water. We stayed in Evason Ma’in, the only lodging available. To be honest, I can’t recommend the place – for a luxury hotel, it was in some disrepair and badly maintained, with dust coating the furniture and soiled coverings on the sofas. It would be better to skip Ma’in and head straight back to spend a couple of extra nights in Amman, which has a lot to offer.
Day 13, Ma’in / Wadi Mujib / Amman (70 Km)
On our second to last day, we “hiked” through Wadi Mujib. Not to be missed, it was a really fun experience that made me feel like a kid again.
Days 14 & 15, Amman
We spent the last two days in Amman, visiting museums, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts coming highly recommended, having some lovely food and generally unwinding from an amazing trip we have had.
So there you have it, Jordan in two weeks!