Petra is the first thing that comes to mind, but this country has so much more to offer. Bordered by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Palestine, it is a safe haven in an area surrounded by conflict. With many UNESCO World Heritage sites, bustling cities, the Dead Sea, and Martian-like desert landscapes, it should be on everyone’s bucket list. Read our guide to the best of Jordan in 7 days.
Travel Essentials for the best of Jordan in 7 days
Airline: BA and Royal Jordanian from London Heathrow (LHR) to Amman (AMM). From £300, return.
Things to note: Credit and travel cards work but use cash in small towns.
Flight time from London: Five hours direct.
Need to know
Visa: UK residents can buy a Jordan Pass before arrival for 75 JOD, including a visa and entry to 36 attractions.
Travel: See the FCDO website.
Currency: Jordanian Dinar (1GBP = 1 JOD approx.)
Tips: 10% although not obligatory.
Language: Arabic and some French. English is spoken widely.
Best time to visit: March until May. Temperatures drop at night in the desert.
Time: GMT +2.
First Impressions of Jordan
- The people are friendly and hospitable.
- The literacy rate is high and people are well- cultured.
- A European feel in places, despite being in the Levant region.
- The food is tasty with a strong Middle Eastern influence.
- Bread comes with every meal.
- The Jordanian Dinar is stronger than most currencies, so be aware with currency conversions.
Day 1 – Evening in Amman
If you arrive late, explore the local streets and grab some food. A good bet is Al Sarawat Restaurant for freshly made breads, hummus, and falafels costing less than five Jordanian dinars. For dessert, try the famous Habibah Sweets, reputedly the best in Jordan.
Day 2 – Jerash and Ajloun Castle
Jerash (جرش) is 50km (31.06 mile) north of Amman. Highlights here include Hadrian’s Arch, Colonnaded Street, The Oval Forum and the Temple of Artemis. Ruined by an earthquake in AD749, it remains the most preserved Roman site outside Rome, with two Jordanian tribes still living here.
Ajloun Castle (قلعة عجلون) built on the site of an old monastery is 20 minutes from Jerash. Both Christian and Muslim soldiers fought against the Crusaders here. Despite being a 12th-century castle, it has an advanced water irrigation system reaching every room.
Day 3 – Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Jeep Safari
Aqaba (العَقبة) is the only coastal town in Jordan. It is a commercial duty-free zone with an excellent dive resort – the population of 150,000 swells to about one million during busy periods due to tourism. There are a few things to see here. The next stop along the main desert highway is Wadi Rum.
After Petra, Wadi Rum (وادي رم) is the most famous attraction to visit in Jordan. Wadi means ‘valley‘, and Rum is the Hebrew word meaning ‘high mountains’. It is a mixture of granite and sandstone, covering about 700 hectares or the equivalent of 1,300 football fields. A railroad that used to go to Mecca (مَكَّة) and now transports charcoal runs through the Jordanian desert near here.
The British archaeologist, T.E. Lawrence has links with Wadi Rum. With a Mars-like distinctive landscape, it often features as a filming location. The desert is warm during the day but very cold at night, so extra clothes are necessary. The activities available at Wadi Rum include:
- A sunset camel ride – 75 JOD (includes camp stay, camel ride, walk and dinner).
- An evening desert walk – (included).
- Dinner with the Bedouins – (included).
- Tea around a Bedouin campfire – (included).
- An evening stargazing – 20 JOD (Adult Single).
Several companies, one of which is RumSky, offer an evening of stargazing. The excursion includes driving out to a quiet spot, followed by a 20-minute space presentation, looking at constellations with the naked eye, and finally through professional telescopic equipment. The tour lasts for a couple of hours, and it is both informative and fun. To keep warm, companies sell farwas, similar thick Bedouin-style overcoats for 20 JOD.
Day 4 – Wadi Rum and Petra
Wadi Rum (Morning)
The best experience at Wadi Rum is to watch the sunrise. Climb a rock for the best view of the landscape, said to resemble the planet Mars. This is possibly the highlight of the best of Jordan in 7 days.
Petra (ٱلْبَتْرَاء) is the best-known site in Jordan at more than 2,000 years old, serving as a major trading route connecting Mesopotamia and Egypt. Movies such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade have made it popular. The detail of this UNESCO World heritage site is impressive with the façades sculpted into the sandstone cliffs. This is another highlight of the best of Jordan in 7 days.
The map outside the visitor centre shows the eight trails. My route:
- Walk up to Ad-Deir (Monastery) – head here first and then walk back to the start to avoid the crowds.
- Stop at the Lion Tricilium. Climb over the blocks into the rocky gorge.
- Observe Qasr al_Bint. Petra’s main Nabataean temple built around 30BC.
- Walk along Colonnaded Street. See the Winged-Lion Temple and Trajan Market.
- Walk along the Nymphaeum. Explore all four Royal Tombs.
- Continue along the Street of Facades with the Theatre on your right-hand side.
- Stop at The Treasury (Al-Khazneh). Climb the rock for the best photo opportunities—cost 1JOD.
- Continue along As Siq past The Tunnel to the Dijn Blocks.
- Head back to the Entry Point to exit Petra.
- Visit the Cave Bar in Petra town, the oldest in the world at over 2,000 years old.
Day 5 – Petra (AM), Dead Sea (PM) and Amman (overnight)
- Walk to The Treasury (Al-Khazneh) rise early to beat the crowds for the best photo opportunities.
- The High Place of Sacrifice. A worship place on a mountain plateau reached by climbing steps cut from the rock.
- The Roman Soldiers Tomb on Wadi al Farasa.
- At the exit is the Petra Museum for a history lesson through the ages.
Dead Sea (PM)
- Entry to the resort – 20 JOD (Adult Single).
- Hire of towel and locker – 5 JOD (refundable).
- An all-body mud pack – 3 JOD (per person).
The Dead Sea (البحر الميت) is a lake, dividing Israel and Jordan. The water surface is 430m (1,410ft) below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land. Ten times saltier than the ocean means floating effortlessly on the surface, but the high salt content is too harsh for marine life, hence the name. Despite being 14km (8.69 mile) wide, it has been shrinking over the last century.
Day 6 – Around Amman (Citadel, Roman Theatre, Souk Jara)
One of the highlights in Amman previously named the ‘City on the Seven Hills’ is the Citadel (جبل القلعة), with extensive views in every direction. It is worth seeing the Gate of Ammon, Umayyad Palace and the ruined Temple of Artemis.
The 6,000 seat Roman Theatre built in the 2nd century, when Amman was called Philadelphia by the Greeks, is cut into a hill and is still relatively intact. The steeply tiered seating, or cavea, is graded according to the spectators’ importance, with those deemed the most important at the front. Inside the theatre are the Folklore and Popular tradition museums, both worth a quick look.
Wandering into downtown Amman, the next stop is Souk Jara. There are hordes of people, lots of noise, parked cars everywhere, resulting in well-organised chaos. As evening descends, the restaurants and rooftop bars come to life surrounding the Rainbow Street area.
Day 7 – Leave Jordan
On the final morning, explore the streets in the city’s north district. Based on local recommendation, try the Brazilian Coffee Town for morning coffee. The baristas are professional, the place clean, and the coffee is excellent. Next door is the Sultan Central Market, ideal for browsing or buying Jordanian goods.
Jordan possesses lots of culture and history with warm and friendly people, fantastic food, and an excellent climate. Understandably, Jordan consistently ranks near the top of traveller lists.
Moving around the country is trouble-free, and most things are straightforward. It is also safe for female travellers. With a sensory overload of spectacular sights and things to do, it entices you to return. The Jordanians welcome you with open arms, as hospitality is part of their nature.
Tourism is in decline because of socio-economic issues and political unrest in the surrounding region, making it all the more reason to visit and enjoy the best of Jordan in 7 days.
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