If you are planning your trip to Jordan, we are a little jealous. There is such a great journey waiting for you! Magical nights in the desert, floating in the Dead Sea, hiking through the most beautiful nature reserves, climbing monumental desert castles and visiting the ancient monuments of Petra? Jordan has it all. We give you the best tips to make the perfect Jordan road trip itinerary for this impressive desert country.
Is Jordan safe?
In short: yes!
Jordan borders on troubled countries such as Israel / Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Many travellers therefore think that Jordan is also not safe to travel. But that isn’t true at all! Jordan is one of the few countries in the Middle East where it has been quiet and safe for years. The country is therefore not only popular among travellers, but also has a large influx of refugees from neighboring countries. At the moment (2019), the Dutch government’s travel advice is therefore to only stay away from the northern borders with Syria and Iraq. But that area would probably not on any travel itinerary in Jordan anyway.
14 other things you should know before heading to Jordan – from the price level to the right travel plug – we wrote down for you in this blog!
How much travel time do you need in Jordan?
Jordan is a very flexible destination when it comes to the time you need to explore the country. For example, the highlight Petra is already visited on a day trip from Israel, but you can also spend two months in the country because of the beautiful multi-day hikes.
We recommend you to visit the country for at least a week. That way you can see many other beautiful destinations in addition to the famous city of Petra. Do you prefer to travel at a leisurely pace and explore the entire country? And are you planning to make many beautiful day bikes in the impressive nature reserves? Then take at least two weeks.
The best-known hike in Jordan is the Jordan Trail. Do you want to walk it all the way? Then about 40 days are said to be needed for that. You can of course walk part of the trail. Just make sure you have set aside enough time for that.
How to get around Jordan: get a rental car
There is public transportation in Jordan, but it is not recommended for travelling around the country. Public transport is not frequent and does not reach many places.
Jordan is therefore the ultimate destination for a road trip! The roads are of good quality and rental cars are not particularly expensive. The freedom to visit smaller towns and beautiful viewpoints along the way made our trip unforgettable.
The best travel time to visit Jordan
The temperatures in Jordan are the most important factor in planning your travel time. During the winter it is very cold at night. In the desert, it can even freeze. But in the summer it can be extremely hot. Spring and autumn are therefore the most popular moments to visit the desert land.
But bear in mind that Jordan can also be quite busy at that time. You will notice this difference especially at the Dead Sea and Petra. In Petra, the crowds in the high season can be overwhelming, so consider carefully whether the crowds or temperatures are more important to you. By the way, you can avoid both the crowds and summer heat by getting up early. That is why we eventually simply let ourselves be guided by our own agendas to pick our time.
That eventually led to us travelling to Jordan during Ramadan. This was strongly discouraged in many travel guides, but we had little trouble with this. Ramadan will only be a factor when booking a guide for your hike. During fasting, it is too hard for a guide to make a long day hike without any food and drinks. Besides that, tourist attractions are open. The restaurants there as well, but in most villages they only open after sunset. Supermarkets are open during the day, so you can just buy lunch there.
A final tip for choosing the best moment is another one for the hiker. Not all trails are open throughout the year. For example, many of the trails in Wadi Mujib are closed for much of the year. So check this well in advance.
Tips for creating your Jordan itinerary
A travel itinerary for Jordan is easy to put together. The distances in the country are limited and because of the shape of the country, each travel itinerary will simply lead you from north to south and back (or vice versa).
The basis for your travel route is where you arrive and depart. Do you combine a trip through Jordan with a trip through Israel? You can cross the border in both the south and north. It would then make sense to enter the country in the north and cross the border again in the south – or the other way around. Is Jordan your only destination, as it was on our trip? Even then you have the choice between starting and ending in the north or south. Both in Amman in the north and in Aqaba in the south have international airports.
We chose to fly on Amman. We would have preffered to start in Amman and fly back from Aqaba, but those tickets were much more expensive. Our trip therefore became a round trip. Because of the limited distances, it wasn’t a big deal to drive back to the north at all. We made sure that we took a different road than when we drove south.
Our other tip is to include the right roads in your travel plan. For us, a road trip is certainly not just about the destination, but also about the journey. A number of roads in Jordan lead you through such a beautiful landscape that these roads are a must itself. We recommend that you include at least the Kings Highway and the Dead Sea Highway in your travel itinerary.
The ultimate 1 or 2-week road trip itinerary for Jordan
Because we flew on and from Amman, our travel itinerary is a round trip. Are you arriving in the north and depart from the south (or vice versa) without making a round trip? Add the stops on our return trip – the castles Shobak and Karak and the capital Amman itself – to the itinerary from north to south.
You can do our itinerary in both 1 and 2 weeks. That depends entirely on your pace and how many days you want to spend at every destinations. Unlike other travel itineraries on this blog, I will therefore not give you a daily schedule. Just make sure you take plenty of time at each stop. But if have you set aside only 1 week before your trip? If you still want to spend enough time at all the destinations, I will give you some tips to shorten the itinerary as well.
1. The Roman ruins of Jerash and a road trip through the north.
Welcome to Jordan! We arrived early in the morning in Amman, picked up our rental car and set off immediately. We recommend that you drive directly to beautiful Jerash. Start your road trip through the north of the country right away by visiting castle Ajun and – if you have time – the small and authentic town of Salt after Jerash. We ended the day in Madaba, just south of Amman.
2. The town of Madaba and the Dead Sea.
In the morning, visit Madaba itself and then take the beautiful drive to the Dead Sea. Enjoy the rest of the day floating in the water and this unique environment. In this blog, we give you 15 tips for your visit to the Dead Sea, including the most beautiful spots for the sunset!
3. Hiking and canyoning at Wadi Mujib.
Continue early the next morning to Wadi Mujib, on the south of the Dead Sea. It is not that far from the resorts in the north actually. This is the moment to let your adventurous side take over as you can do some great activities here. We did the Siq Trail in a beautiful gorge with waterfalls and rapids, but you can also make beautiful guided hikes here (but beware: some only part of the year). Spend the night here at Mujib Chalets overlooking the Dead Sea.
Tip to shorten the route: drive directly to the next destination after your activity at Wadi Mujib. The travel times are quite short. So if you do the Siq Trail in the morning, you can be in Dana early in the afternoon for a hike. We took it more slow and spent the afternoon at our chalet and at the Dead Sea. We drove to Dana on the next day.
4. Hiking in Dana Nature Reserve.
Jordan is truly a paradise for the hiker and Dana is without a doubt the number one place to do so. You can spend a week in this village and nature reserve to enjoy the most impressive trails. We left Wadi Mujib early in the morning and made a beautiful hike in Dana in the afternoon. Accommodation tip: one of our favourite places to sleep in Jordan was Wadi Dana Eco Camp.
5. Magical Petra.
Time for probably the reason you even decided to visit Jordan in the first place. You can visit the highlights of Petra in one day, but the area of the ancient city is huge. We therefore recommend you to set aside two full days before your visit. Here you will find all our blogs about the ancient city, including tips for buying your entry tickets (spoiler: get the Jordan Pass) and for the best itinerary to visit the monuments.
6. The desert of Wadi Rum.
After the Dead Sea and Petra, Wadi Rum is probably the most visited place in Jordan. And we get why. Without any light pollution, you can see the clearest starry sky ever at the night! The desolate atmosphere, the beautiful landscape and the hospitality of the Bedouins are unique. Tip: one of our favorite places to sleep in Jordan was Wadi Rum Nature Tours and Camps.
Tip to expand the itinerary: are you crazy about snorkeling? And would you like to add a beach destination to your Jordan trip? Then drive a little further south to Aqaba on the Red Sea.
Tip to shorten the itinerary: drive back from the south to Amman without any stops. It is only a 4-hour drive from Wadi Rum.
7. The castles Shobak and Karak.
As our trip was a round trip and we needed to end up at Amman, we traveled back to the north after spending the night in the desert of Wadi Rum. But not without an extra stop and night near Karak and a visit to the impressive desert castles of Karak and Shobak.
8. Capital of Amman.
Our trip ended in Amman, a place where old and new come together. You can visit the ancient ruins of the citadel and the amphitheater that is still used today. But you also enjoy some coffee at the modern and hip coffee shops! Tip: go for the best hummus with falafel to restaurant Hashem.