It may be the most tumultuous of times in the Middle East but the tiny nation of Jordan is having none of it. A few months ago, we embarked on a road trip through Jordan and were pleasantly surprised by its incredible landscapes, stunning monuments, rugged nature, and friendly locals. Given the size of Jordan, it is possible to pack in most of its key places in a week’s drive. Here’s how you can spend an amazing week in Jordan, driving from the North all the way down South.
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Day 1 – Dead Sea
Arrive at the Queen Alia International Airport and head straight for the Dead Sea, the lowest point on our planet. The Dead Sea coast is lined with high-end resorts that offer private access to the beach and provide all necessary facilities like sunbeds, towels, et al. Smear your body with therapeutic mud of the Dead Sea and float effortlessly while reading a book – one among the many photographic moments that you’ll have during your trip. The feeling of floating in the sea is an incredibly special one.
Where To Stay
The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Dead Sea – Awash with infinity pools, deluxe suites, and multiple restaurants, you’ll enjoy the most luxurious of your stays in Jordan here.
- There are barely any restaurants or eateries outside the resorts. If you want to grab a bite outside of the resort, head over to Samarah Mall on the main road.
- Wearing a bikini/ shorts is allowed only on the private beaches of the resorts. The public beach requires you to cover your body fully.
Day 2 & 3 – Petra
Embark on a spectacular drive from the Dead Sea towards Petra, around 120 miles away. Through the drive, the landscape changes from the blue waters of the Dead Sea to the rugged mountains along the King’s highway. Petra is one among the new seven wonders of the world. Situated in the valley of Wadi Musa, Petra is an old city once inhabited by the nomadic Arab tribe called the Nabateans. They built their city into the rocks and mountains, giving Petra a unique feel to it.
On the evening you arrive, head over for a Petra by Night tour where a thousand candles light up the incredible facade of the ‘Treasury’. Bedouin music plays, stars pop out on the sky one by one, and you will be transported a few hundred years back in time.
After experiencing the lost city in the dark, spend the entire next day exploring it under the sun. Take the 10 km long trek up to the Monastery, feel your hair rise staring at the royal tombs, walk up to High Place Of Sacrifice for a top-down view of the Treasury, and admire the architectural marvel of this pink-hued city.
Where To Stay
Movenpick Resort, Petra – Located right outside the entry gates, it is the perfect place for your tired body to get some rest before the onward journey.
- Petra is a humongous city, not just a monument. Carry shades, caps, water, and snacks for your day there.
- Wear sturdy shoes as the route can get tricky at a few places. The hikes are easy for people of all age groups, albeit lengthy.
- Your visit to Petra is included in the Jordan Pass but the Petra By Nights tour is not. The latter is available only three days of a week.
Day 4 – Wadi Rum
Petra may be the main attraction in Jordan but Wadi Rum is the real winner. The vast rocky desert of Wadi Rum is just an hour and a half’s drive away from Petra. Its Mars-like landscapes have been the setting for many movies, including the likes of ‘The Martian’ & ‘Lawrence Of Arabia’.
Wadi Rum is best experienced through an arranged tour. We took the 1-night bivouac camping experience with Wadi Rum Nomads and were left wanting for more. During the day, drive through the desert in the open jeep exploring a bunch of special spots while hearing stories from your Bedouin guide. Enjoy a freshly cooked Bedouin lunch in the middle of nowhere and watch the sun paint the desert in its colors during sunset. When night falls, head over to a little cave in the desert where you’ll sing songs, drink Bedouin tea, cook food under the sand, and sleep under a gazillion stars.
- It is also possible to include a camel ride on to your package.
- If open camping is too adventurous for you, book yourself into a tented camp. Obeid’s Bedouin Life Camp is one among the highest rated. They’ll also take you around for a tour.
Day 5 & 6 – Dana Biosphere Reserve
Located on the route to Amman from Wadi Rum, Dana is a bit of a Jordanian secret. Known mostly to adventure lovers and peace seekers, Dana is one among the few places in Jordan that play host to desert creatures. Offering multiple hiking trails, Dana is best experienced over two days at your leisurely pace. The ‘Wadi Dana’ trek that lasts 7 hours is one among the most popular ones, offering everything the valley has to offer. Above & beyond hiking, indulge in a cooking class with Bedouins or learn how to make eyeliners like the locals do.
Where To Stay
Feynan Ecolodge – This award-winning eco-hotel is situated in the lap of nature and runs completely on sustainable sources of energy. The stunning hotel is sure to be a top highlight of your time in Jordan
- Dana is a small historic village perched by the hillside, looking down into the valley. The eco lodge, however, is located down the hill in the village of Feynan.
Day 7 – Amman
On the final day, drive to the atmospheric capital of Jordan – Amman. While most travelers tend to skip it from their itineraries, we strongly recommend spending at least a day in the city of two faces. On one side is the conservative downtown of Amman, with its bustling souks, hookah joints, and crowded eateries. On the other, right above the hills from downtown, is the trendy modern metropolis with hipster cafes, trendy pubs, and glamorous restaurants. Visit the Roman amphitheater, get a 360-degree view of Amman from its citadel, and indulge in a sit-down at the popular Sufra restaurant.
Where To Stay
Four Seasons, Amman – A no-frills luxury hotel in the city center with an award-winning spa.
- The airport is equally close to both Amman and the Dead Sea, giving you the freedom to start and end your trip at different points.
- Shawarma at Reem, Knafeh at Habibeh Sweets, & Falafels at Hashem are must-try items to eat when in Amman.
Plan Your Logistics
A Jordan visa is available on arrival for all nationalities at around $55 USD. However, recently, the Jordan Tourism department launched the Jordan Pass that waives the visa fee, while giving you access to almost all of the sights you’re likely to visit in the country. The pass can be bought online here.
The best way to experience Jordan is by car. It gives you the freedom to stop anywhere along the way (and trust us, you will want to!) and enjoy the spectacular landscapes. It also is possibly the cheapest way to go around, given the laughable fuel prices. The local car rental company, Monte Carlo, is highly-rated and provides the best value for money.
Unlike its neighbors, Jordan is an extremely safe country shielded from most of what is going on around. Dress respectfully by covering your body when you’re in the main city or exploring the countryside. Tourist sites like Petra and Wadi Rum, however, are full of foreign nationals and your dress code barely matters.