Jordan Road Trip Itinerary
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A Jordan road trip is full to the brim of amazing historic sights, beautiful scenery and delicious food a making it the perfect spot to take a road trip. From floating in the salty Dead Sea to marvelling at the iconic Petra, Jordan is definitely one our most memorable trips! We loved our time spent exploring Jordan and, to help with your Jordan planning, we’ve put together our ultimate Jordan itinerary to help you plan your trip. From its unmissable historic sights to the best places to stay, this itinerary will help you make the most of your journey through Jordan!
Planning a Jordan Road Trip
Arriving in Jordan: Amman is the main point of entry to Jordan whether it be on an international flight or by an overland crossing from Israel via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing (you can read about how to cross via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge here). From Eliat in Israel, the Yitzhak Rabin/Arava border is another popular entry point as it offers the opportunity to get a free Jordan visa for visitors from a number of countries.
Visas: Make sure to check the visa requirements prior to arrival. Some middle eastern countries are visa exempt while much of the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific are subject to a visa on arrival. Most of Africa and a select number of other countries are required to obtain a pre approved visa.
Jordan itinerary tip: visas on arrival are not granted at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Crossing so make sure you secure a visa prior to the crossing. We didn’t realise and had to make a last minute jaunt to the Jordanian Consulate in the Palestinian City of Ramallah in the West Bank. We really enjoyed seeing Ramallah (check out the details of getting a visa in Ramallah here) but you might want to organise your visa in advance!
Accommodation: There is a good selection of hotels in Jordan and we opted for three bases during our stay: Amman, Dead Sea and Petra. Agaba is a great fourth base if you want a resort type stopover or want to enjoy some scuba diving. We used booking.com for our Jordan accommodation as it has an amazing range of options and offers the best prices we could find in Jordan– you can hotel prices on booking.com here.
Clothing: clothing is more relaxed in the more touristy resort and beach areas but it is considered respectful to cover up when out and about. 3/4 length pants and long sleeved tops covering cleavage worked well for us.
Route: Most Jordan road trips start and end in Amman and we used the city as an entry and exit point. If you are entering from Eliat, you can start your trip in Aqaba and still hit all the main stops from there so feel free to adjust the itinerary accordingly.
The route: (A) Amman – (B) Day trips to Jerash and (C) Umm Qais – (D) Petra – (E) Wadi Rum – Kings Highway – (F) Dead Sea – Aqaba – (A) Amman
Renting a Car in Jordan
Renting a car in Jordan is the best way to explore the country plus driving is relatively easy in the country. The roads are very good quality and fuel is cheap. Having your own car gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace a see places that are simply not possible on group tours or public transport.
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with RentalCars.com, where you will find the best rental car prices
Jordan Road Trip Itinerary
1 | Amman
Jordan’s capital city is a heady mix of modern and ancient and is the perfect balance of chaotic and charming. Often used as a stopover en route to the rest of the country, it’s worth spending a few days exploring if you have some time. Amman is also a great base for taking a day trip north to the incredible ruins of Jerash and Umm Qais.
Jordan itinerary tip: Amman traffic is notorious so be prepared for traffic jams. As we arrived by taxi from the border we arranged our car rental to be delivered to our Amman hotel. This is a great option if you want to avoid the crazy city traffic.
Where to Stay in Amman
- Marriott Amman – we opted for the Marriott Hotel in Amman. The hotel was modern, rooms well appointed and the swimming pool a welcome relief from the city heat – Check prices now!
- Amman Pasha hotel – an excellent budget option located across from the Roman Amphitheater with a lively cafe next door – Check prices now!
Recommended stay: 3 nights (including day trip to Jerash and Umm Qais)
What to see in Amman
- The Citadel and its beautiful views of the city
- Souk Jara market for some local shopping
- The Roman Amphitheatre
- Rainbow Street and its plentiful souvenir shops
2 | Day trip from Amman to Jerash and Umm Qais
Amman is a great base for a day trip to both the incredible Roman ruins of Jerash (45 minutes north of Amman) and the hilltop settlement of Umm Qais (2 hours north of Jerash). The 12th Century Ajloun Castle, a hilltop castle, is an interesting stop between the two sites.
Jordan itinerary tip: if you are combining Jerash and Umm Qais in a single day trip make sure you leave your hotel early in the morning as this will involve 6 hours of driving in total there and back. The roads north are good roads making it doable in a single day. An alternative, if you prefer shorter sightseeing days or wish to spend longer exploring the expansive Jerash, is to split the sites over two separate days. If you prefer to sit back and relax and take a tour, check out some options here.
Jerash: the Roman ruins of Jerash are among the best preserved Roman ruins in the world. Highlights of Jerash include the hippodrome which once hosted chariot races watched by up to 15,000 spectators, cardio maximus, once the main thoroughfare through the city, and Hadrian’s Arch, built to commemorate a visit by Emperor Adrian. The site is so well preserved it’s easy to imagine the grandeur of this city that once was and the history of the site really comes alive.
Jordan itinerary tip: remember to bring sunscreen and water. The sites, especially Jerash, are vast and exposed to the blazing Jordanian sunshine .
Umm Qais: On the border of Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Syria, the ancient city of Umm Qais has sweeping views over the Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights. Originally known as the Decapolis city of Gadara, the present day Umm Quais represents the ruins of a Roman town built on an old Ottoman village. The ruins, while much less well preserved than Jerash, include a theatre, the main street and buildings once occupied by shops, temples and houses. Umm Qais is also touted as the site of a miracle where, according to the Bible, Jesus cast demons from men to pigs.
Jordan itinerary tip: Driving north to Umm Qais you will approach the border of Syria and Jordan and this means frequent checkpoints along the road. We were stopped at multiple checkpoints, where the police were very friendly and simply checked the car, our documents and my driving licence.
Jordan itinerary tip: We enjoyed a delicious fattoush lunch (our favourite Jordanian salad) in the Resthouse Restaurant located within the ruins and both the food and the views of the surrounding countryside were incredible.
3 | Petra
The quickest route from Amman to Petra is via Route 15 and the journey takes around 3 hours. Umm Ar-Rasas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its spectacular, perfectly preserved mosaic (the largest in Jordan) is an unmissable stop along the way. The site hosts extensive Roman, Byzantine, and early Muslim ruins as well as the mosaic floor in the Church of Saint Stephen. The mosaic depicts the major cities of ancient Jordan as well as the hunting and fishing techniques of ancient times.
Where to stay in Petra
- Marriott Petra – We stayed at this fantastic hotel located just a few minutes drive from Petra and loved the panoramic views across the Petra Mountains. Our highlight of the stay was a traditional Jordanian meal served in a Bedouin tent overlooking the Petra Mountains – our meal was served over an incredible sunset accompanied by traditional Bedouin music – Check hotel prices here!
- Mövenpick Resort Petra – Located right at the entrance to Petra, the Movenpick Resort is an excellent choice for those without their own transport and boasts good rooms and an impressive breakfast spread – Check hotel prices here!
- Candles Hotel – a great budget friendly option just a few hundred metres from the entrance to Petra – Check hotel prices here!
Recommended stay: 3 nights
What to see in Petra
Plan to spend at least two nights, ideally three, at Petra: there is lots to see within the ancient site itself and exploring it fully requires at least two visits. Petra by night, a candlelit visit to the Treasury of Petra, was one of our favourite events and only runs on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. We visited Petra on four occasions: two sunrise hikes, a daytime visit and our evening at Petra by night. Little Petra, a much smaller and quieter version of the main Petra site, is also worth a visit.
Jordan itinerary tip: A visit to Petra is as stunning as it is exhausting. Vigorous hikes in unrelenting heat require lots of water and sunscreen and be sure you bring your hiking boots as the terrain can be rough at times.
4 | Wadi Rum
Having experienced one of the New 7 Wonders of the World at Petra it’s time to experience the aptly named Valley of the Moon, otherwise known as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wadi Rum. Spending the night in a Wadi Rum desert camp is truly a once in lifetime experience and exploring the desert in a 4x4 during the daylight hours brings the magnificent landscape to life.
Where to stay at Wadi Rum
- Wadi Rum Luxury Night Camp: if you want to experience the harsh desert conditions of Wadi Rum while still enjoying the luxury of beautiful tents and comfortable beds then this is the camp for you! For an extra special Wadi Rum experience book the Full of Stars tent and watch the stars sparkle from your bed – Check latest prices here
- Salman Zwaidh Camp: for a more traditional camping experience this authentic Bedouin camp lies within the protected area of Wadi Rum and is excellent value for money – Check latest prices here
Recommended nights: 1 night
What to see Wadi Rum
- Lawrence’s Spring and the ruins of Lawrence’s House
- Sand dunes
- The Rock bridges/arches
- Khazali and Burrah Canyon
- Ancient rock drawings
5 | Aqaba
Jordan’s only coastal city, Aqaba is the perfect access point to the diving and snorkelling of the Red Sea. We skipped Aqaba as we weren’t planning on indulging in any diving or snorkelling but it’s one to add to your itinerary if you’re a fan!
Where to stay in Aqaba
- Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea: luxury 5 star hotel on the Red Sea with a private beach and a maze of pools – Check latest prices here!
- Costa Marina Hotel and Suites: budget friendly and the perfect clean and modern base for an Aqaba diving trip – Check latest prices here!
Recommended nights: 2 nights
6 | The King’s High Way
The 280km King’s Highway is one of the Middle East’s most scenic drives and the winding road takes visitors through the ancient trade route which once connected vast amounts of the Middle East. It’s known as the longer and more scenic route between Amman and Petra. There is lots to see on the King’s Highway and we recommend splitting the journey and spending the night at the Dana Biosphere Reserve to indulge in some hikes in the incredibly beautiful surroundings.
Jordan itinerary tip: we choose to incorporate the King’s Highway into our drive north to the Dead Sea. If you prefer, you can drive the King’s Highway en route from Amman to Petra.
Where to stay on the King’s Highway
- Dana Guesthouse: an excellent option with cosy and clean rooms and excellent views, the guesthouse is located within the Dana Reserve – Check latest prices here!
- Dana Moon Hotel: another great choice within the Dana Reserve, the hotel is well maintained, clean and reasonably priced – Check latest prices here!
Recommended nights: 1 night
What to see on the King’s Highway
Day 1: Aqaba to the Dana Biosphere Reserve
- Shobak Castle: a 12th Century Crusader Castle perched on the side of a rocky mountain in barren surroundings
- Dana Biosphere Reserve: Jordan’s largest nature reserve sits along the face of the Great Rift Valley and boasts spectacular landscapes and hikes. Check out Dana Village, a stone village occupied since 4,000BC
Day 2: Dana Biosphere Reserve to the Dead Sea
- Kerak Castle: the largest and most well preserved of the Crusader Castles. The 12th Century Castle is perched atop a hilltop in the town of Kerak
- Wadi Mujib: a spectacular river canyon known as Jordan’s Grand Canyon. The river enters the Dead Sea over 400 metres below sea level and Moses is believed to have once walked through
- Madaba Map: an incredible mosaic map of the Middle East created in the 6th Century located in the early Byzantine church of Saint George in the town of Madaba
7 | The Dead Sea
Swimming in the Dead Sea, Earth’s lowest elevation point, is a bucketlist moment in any Jordan itinerary. It’s aptly named the Dead Sea as the water is devoid of life and, with salt levels 4 times higher than the rest of the world’s oceans, it’s a case of floating rather than swimming! The water contains 35 minerals and these, together with the rich mud on its shoreline, make it a spa treat for the skin.
Jordan itinerary tip: only float on your back and don’t try to swim in the Dead Sea, wear beach shoes to protect your feet from the rocks and don’t shave before entering the water as the salt will sting!
Where to stay at the Dead Sea
- Marriott Dead Sea Resort: on the shores of the Dead Sea we loved this resort style hotel where we had direct access to the Dead Sea. Our highlights were the fantastic evening happy hour, the views from our balcony and the resorts swimming pools – Check latest prices here!
- Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort and Spa: another great option with direct access to the Dead Sea, the Crowne Plaza is the must budget friendly of the luxury options lining the Dead Sea – Check latest prices here!
Recommended nights: 2 nights
8 | Day trip to Mount Nebo and the Baptism Site of Jordan
Mount Nebo is, according to ancient tradition, the place from which Moses saw the Promised Land before he died and, at 700 metres above sea level, the views of the Holy Land and the Jordan Valley are spectacular. It’s the reported death and burial site of Moses and the church with the mosaic is a highlight of a visit.
The Baptism Site, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, is a relatively recent addition to the UNESCO World Heritage List and is considered to be the original location of the Baptism of Jesus and the site where John the Baptist resided. It’s surreal being beside the narrow waters separating Jordan and Israel and it’s common to see baptisms taking place on the Israel side of the site.
9 | Return to Amman
After leaving the Dead Sea we made our way back to Jordan where we were departing from the Queen Alia International Airport. If you have some extra time, Quseir Amra is an excellent stop about 70 minutes east of Amman. The well preserved 8th Century desert castle built as a royal desert oasis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its incredible frescoes.
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