Once upon a time I lived and worked in Jordan. During that time I was able to explore a lot of the country. And let me tell you, Jordan is INCREDIBLE! There are so many beautiful places to visit throughout the country. Here are some of my favorite spots for two weeks in Jordan + some tips for getting around.
Arriving in Jordan
Most flights from Europe to Amman arrive in the middle of the night. The airport is still very much alive at 2 am and you will be able to easily find transportation into the city at any hour. For the majority of passports, you can get your visa on arrival. It’s around 40 JD ($56) and lasts 1 month. There is a spot to change money before customs, so don’t worry if you don’t have any JD when you arrive!
Once you are through customs, you can catch the express bus (runs every 30 mins from 6:30 am – midnight) into Amman for about 3.50 JD ($5), but this will leave you at a central bus station from where you will still have to navigate to your hotel. I’d recommend taking a taxi from the airport straight to your hotel – DO NOT pay more than 20-25 JD, as the prices are fixed by law.
Tip: If you will be visiting several sites while you are in Jordan, I would recommend getting the Jordan Pass before you start your trip. You can get the pass online and it costs between $99-113, which covers the cost of your visa, and entry into petra (which is 50 JD on its own) and other places around the country. Whenever someone came to visit me I always encouraged them to get this, and it was more than worth it.
For getting around the country, I would recommend renting a car, which is around $25-35 a day, depending on the time of year. I will say that driving in Amman is HECTIC and an adventure, but completely doable. Once you get out of the city, driving is really easy and the sites are well marked (for the most part). See my video of a road trip I took around Jordan here. If you are too scared to rent a car, there are buses everywhere or you could take a taxi to and from places, but this will get expensive.
I’ve read a variety of crazy misconceptions about Jordan on some other blogs, and I often get asked if it is safe to visit Jordan given that it is situated in a part of the world that is currently fraught with political challenges and humanitarian needs. In my experience, I’ve felt very safe living in and traveling throughout the country. Jordan has a strong culture of hospitality – and from the hectic streets of urban Amman to the quieter more rural villages, I’m sure you’ll feel welcome wherever you go.
How to spend two weeks in Jordan:
Day 1: Amman
Many people will say to skip Amman, but I lived in the city so it has a soft spot in my heart. If you know where to look there really is a lot to see, do and eat! The city itself is 3,300 feet above sea level, so contrary to what people think about Jordan, it get’s cold! If you’re visiting anytime outside of summer, bring layers (it can snow!). I will also say that Amman has a lot of stairs, and I mean a lot. If you are seeing the city by foot be prepared for a good workout and some tired legs.
Eat: Have coffee at Rumi in the trendy Weibdeh neighborhood, lunch at Shams El Balad, eat Kanafeh at Habibah Sweets and falafel at Hashem, drink cocktails at Copas, and try fruit smoothies at any of the stands downtown.
Do: Visit the Roman Theatre ($1) and the Citadel ($1) – sunset is particularly good from the Citadel. Wander the chaotic streets and shops of downtown, and keep an eye out for all the amazing street art! The Duke’s Diwan is a hidden gem downtown, which is easy to miss but if you manage to find the uneven stairs that lead up into the house you will find yourself in Amman as it was in the 1920s. Visit the Trinitae Soap House in Jabal Amman (near Rainbow Street). There are also so many beautiful mosques in Amman to see, but my favorite is the black and white Abu Darwish Mosque.
Day 2: Day trip to Ajloun (72 km) and Umm Qais (60 km)
Ajloun and Umm Qais are both a short drive north of Amman, and you could easily visit both as a day trip from the city. In Ajloun, I would visit the Ajloun Castle which provides a sweeping view of the area. If you are up for some walking, the nearby Ajloun Nature Reserve is a beautiful spot to have a picnic (which is a Jordanian favorite – you’ll see people on picnics everywhere!). Umm Qais is a bit more off the beaten track, in the northwest corner of Jordan with views of Jordan, Palestine and the Golan Heights in Syria. It’s a great spot to end the day, because the sunset from there is incredible.
Day 3: Day trip to Al Salt (32 km) and Jerash (43 km)
Al Salt and Jerash are also an easy day trip from Amman. Al Salt is a nice town to just wander around in – check out the main street of the market, Hamman Street, the many churches, and a view of the city from Al-Qala’a Lookout. Jerash is an incredible city filled with Roman ruins that you could spend the whole day wandering around in.
Day 4: Dana Nature Reserve (198 km)
Dana Nature Reserve is one of my favorite spots in Jordan, and a must see on your way south from Amman to the more known Petra, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. The easiest and fastest way to drive south is on the Desert Highway, but if you’re navigation skills are high and you are up for an adventure the King’s Highway is the more beautiful and interesting way to go.
Stay: Rummana Campsite ($60-90)
You can read my specific post on visiting Dana Nature Reserve here.
Day 5 and 6: Petra (55 km)
After a morning hike in Dana, head south to Petra. If you get there on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday go to Petra by Night. This is a pretty magical experience – the Siq and the Treasury are lit by over 1,500 candles. If you aren’t in Petra on one of the Petra by Night days, I would spend the afternoon at the lesser known, Little Petra.
There is so much to see in Petra – from walking the Siq, to the famous Treasury and even more impressive Monastery, and the High Place of Sacrifice – but I manage to only spend one-day in Petra every time I visit, and usually find it’s enough. Entry into Petra for one-day is a whopping 50 JD ($60), which is why the Jordan Pass is great if you have Petra on your list.
Stay: Petra Moon Hotel ($90), which is near the main gate to Petra. When booking a hotel, I’d keep in mind that Wadi Musa is the main area where hotels are located, and it’s a 15-20 minute walk from the main gates of Petra, which after a long-day of walking can be a struggle to walk back to.
Day 7 and 8: Wadi Rum (114 km)
Glorious Wadi Rum – see my specific post on this magical desert here. Spend as much time as you can here because it is unreal – the most amazing sunsets, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs, and topography that makes you feel like you’ve landed on Mars (the movie Mars was even filmed in Wadi Rum!). If you have the time (and money!) you could also see the desert from above in a hot air balloon.
Stay: Jordan Tracks Campsite. Depending which trip you do with them, this can be from $150-250 a person (covers food, accommodation and a guide). I recommend the Bedouin Summits trip, which was well worth every penny! There are some other cheaper companies to go with in Wadi Rum if you are on a budget.
Day 9 and 10: Aqaba (71 km)
From Wadi Rum, Aqaba is a short drive away and is a great spot to spend a day or two on the beach or go scuba diving in the Red Sea. I’d spend the first day on the beach – if you plan to be in a bikini and want to feel more comfortable I’d recommend going to a private beach or stay at a hotel with a pool and beach access.
Day 11: The Dead Sea (272 km)
On the way back to Amman from the south, stop at the Dead Sea – the lowest spot on earth at 400 meters below sea level and a must see in Jordan. Don’t shave before going to the Dead Sea or get water in you eyes because it will burn and I mean really buuuuurn!
Stay: Kempinski ($200), Dead Sea Spa Hotel ($100). Like in Aqaba, it’s easier to be in a bikini on one of the hotel beaches. The public beach is free but tends to be less clean, and I’ve generally not enjoyed being in my bathing suit so publicly there.
Day 12: Amman (50 km)
Finish the trip with some down time in Amman before leaving beautiful Jordan!!
If you have any specific questions or feel I missed something, please drop me an email or comment below!