Are you planning to travel to Jordan and would like to organize your own trip? Then you have come to the right place. The tour presented here will help you plan your own trip.
Drive, dive, snorkel, swim or relax in the Dead Sea. And of course you will visit the new wonder of the world 'Petra', the Unsesco World Heritage Site with its unbelievable 2000 year old buildings.
Although Jordan is surrounded by some crisis states, it is considered a safe travel destination (link to the website of the Federal Foreign Office on the security situation). In addition, since the road network is well developed, the country is very well suited for a self-organized trip by rental car. Below I give tips on choosing a rental car and suitable navigation apps.
English gets you through almost everywhere, we were amazed how well most Jordanians speak English.
Recommended duration of the trip: 14 - 16 Tage
Number of places of accommodation: 10
Travel time: We made the trip in April, around Easter. The climate is optimal during this time and parts of the country are even green (we have never seen so many butterflies as in northern Jordan). However, Jordan is no longer a tourist insider tip and just around Easter is especially in the world heritage site Petra and also in the desert Wadi Rum already a lot going on. But with the right planning and the right tips you can also handle it well.
Start and finish e.g. in Amman
Amman is with almost 2 million inhabitants a modern and in parts also hectic city in which there is a lot to see and which has the best restaurants and sweet bakeries of the country ready. It is worth spending here 2 nights.
In Amman I recommend to leave the car and to go on foot or by taxi. There is mostly heavy traffic and the Jordanians don't think anything of flashing :-) Better get used to the Jordanian way of driving outside the capital.
To get around by taxi is absolutely no problem. For about 2 to 4$ you will be driven across Amman (if you can persuade the taxi driver to use the taximeter it will usually be cheaper) and taxis are practically ubiquitous.
This new museum houses the most important archaeological finds in Jordan. It is simply the museum in Amman to visit. Among the exhibits are the oldest statues in the world (8000 and 6000 BC). On the second floor, the museum is home to many interactive installations that are especially aimed at children and bring scientific phenomena closer to them in a multimedia and often simply witty way. The museum is unfortunately not included in the Jordan Pass (admission 5JD).
From the citadel you have an impressive view of Amman in all directions. Up here there is a small but fine museum, a snack bar and a Byzantine church with impressive acoustics. You can take a taxi up the hill and if you want you can walk back up the stairs to the city.
Jerash (also called Jerasch and Gerasa) is located about 40 km north of Amman and can also be visited as a day trip from Amman. Since we will have another station in the green north of Jordan, Jerash is a good place to stay overnight. And of course the sunset in Jerash is easier to integrate into the day. The day tourists are then already on their way home and the light for photographing is better than at noon.
Jerash is considered to be the best preserved Roman settlement worldwide and is therefore also on almost all Jordan round trips on the program. The Roman buildings are close to each other, but as there are many, one should plan at least half a day for the visit.
Tip: Since there is little shade, one should not forget a headgear and sunscreen and start the visit at best in the early morning or in the afternoon.
What is especially nice about Jerash is that you can move around the Roman city as you like. You can climb around between the columns and experience the 2000-year-old history up close, so to speak.
The fortress of Adschlun (Qalʿat ar-Rabad), enthroned at just under 1000 metres above the city, is considered one of the most beautiful Muslim castles. Climbing around in the many corridors of the castle is fun and the side trip on the way to Umm Quais is worth it just because of the view from up here.
In spring a sea of red poppy blossoms forms and during the drive we admire shoals of butterflies. The ancient city of Umm Quais is much less touristy than Jerash. In addition to the fantastic view of the Jordan Valley, the site also offers an antique theatre with 3000 seats in black basalt stone.
In addition, Umm Quais has a restaurant with a beautifully situated terrace where you can enjoy afternoon tea or coffee.
The Dead Sea is the deepest accessible point on earth and bathing in it is unforgettable. As the water level decreases from year to year, the shore moves away from the hotels and therefore practically all hotels offer a free shuttle service that will take you to the hotel's own beach in a short time. Once there you can smear yourself with the mud of the Dead Sea and float almost weightlessly in the water. The skin will feel a bit greasy but also totally pleasant.
The water tastes disgusting because of the enormous salt content and you should be careful not to swallow any of it. This danger is however small, since there is no swell in the Dead Sea and one actually only lies lazily around in the water anyway. Longer than 1 or 2 nights you don't have to stay here despite the unique experience.
Tip:Bring bathing shoes, the ground is partly a little sharp edged and slippery. And of course: Wrap a newspaper in the hotel for the photo :-)
We were a little sceptical about the mixed ratings but then positively surprised by the clean room, the delicious breakfast and the super working shuttle service to the private beach of the hotel. The Ramada Resort Dead Sea, link to booking.com is one of the cheaper Dead Sea hotels.
From the Dead Sea you can make an excursion to the baptismal site of Jesus in 20 minutes. Here 'John the Baptist' is said to have baptized Jesus over 2000 years ago. By minibuses the tourists are driven to the river Jordan and a dedicated guide shows convincingly that the baptism must have taken place on the Jordanian side and not on the Israeli side.
Interesting is that Isreal is only 10 meters separated by the Jordan and we see many Christian pilgrims who are baptized in the Jordan a second time. The atmosphere is worth experiencing because of the religious significance and the songs of the pilgrims.
'Dana' is the name of a unique nature reserve in Jordan. It is also the name of a spectacular village on the edge of the canyon. Unfortunately, the often recommended 'Dana Guesthouse', link to booking.com was fully booked, so we stayed at the simple 'Dana Tower Hotel'.
We spontaneously booked a short hiking tour at the hotel. Unfortunately the guide was changed at short notice and our new guide spoke almost no English and was busy with his smartphone. After all he organized a stylish tea break and a goat herder with his herd joined us and we were even allowed to milk goats and refine the tea with the milk.
The bizarre rock formations in Dana offer many photo motifs and shimmer in bright colors towards evening.
The next morning we drive to the 'Rummana Camp', where we will take the shuttle bus for the last kilometre. The camp is spectacularly situated on the edge of the Dana Gorge and also offers tents for overnight stays. Before here there are 3 short hikes, which are explained by a guide and marked by wooden signs.
And then we see this blue something in the middle of the hike and seriously ask ourselves if a tourist with a plastic animal has taken a joke here. We approach carefully and recognize that it is really a living being, namely a Sinai-Agama. The male takes on this incredibly strong blue colour during the mating season.
Probably in my life I have never taken more pictures of any animal.
...you have to. Of course everyone who is involved with a trip to Jordan (or has ever seen 'Indiana Jones - The Last Crusade') knows the pictures of the Treasury carved out of the rock. But Petra has a lot more to offer, about 800! historical monuments and sacrificial places to admire. After all, Petra was the capital of the 2000 year old empire of the Nabataeans. Beside the Treasury the Monastery is one of the most impressive works of Nabataean architecture.
I recommend to plan at least two overnight stays to explore Petra on two days. Since we arrive in Petra only on the afternoon of the day, we decided to stay here for 3 nights, which turns out to be a good choice.
We often passed the Treasury during the 3 days and each time it seemed magic in a different light. Sometimes yellow, sometimes shimmering red I found the early evening, when most of the tourists are already on their way home, best for taking pictures. One gets to the view point where I can be seen by standing in front of the treasure house and going to the left. One looks for a local guide who helps one with the 15 minute ascent. Note: One should be sure-footed and a little bit free of vertigo.
In the morning of the second day we drive the few kilometres to 'Little Petra' which is much less touristy but more comfortable and also worth seeing.
For the afternoon we agreed in the hotel that we will be driven with a 4x4 car relatively close to the back entrance and then walk from the monastery through Petra to the front entrance. This saves you the 788! steps up to the monastery.
Tip: Don't start the hike until 2 pm or 3 pm, so you avoid the midday sun.
I can highly recommend a visit to the Petra Museum, which opened in 2019 and is located directly at the entrance to Petra. The exhibits are very well presented and also increase the anticipation of Petra on the second day. The museum is not too big and you are through in 30 minutes.
In the morning of the third day we start at 7 am for the hike to the 'High Place of Sacrifice'. Most of the way is shaded in the morning and there are only a few tourists on the way. We reach the highest point of the hike from the Treasury in about 45 minutes. From there it takes about 90 minutes back to the main square of Petra.
Tip: The hiking routes are shown in the map of Petra, which is available free of charge in the hotels and also at the entrance to Petra.
Hotel tip: We stay at the hotel 'Esperanza Petra', link to booking.com which turns out to be a perfect choice. The hotel is located a 5 minutes walk from the entrance to Petra and the nice boss of the hotel takes a lot of time for each guest and plans together the visit of Petra, gets the tickets to 'Petra by night' and also organizes the transfer to the back entrance of Petra (for the above described hike from the Monastery through Petra to the front entrance).
The Wadi Rum desert is one of Jordan's scenic highlights. The picturesque rocks of this desert shimmer in yellow and red tones. It was not for nothing that the film 'The Martian' was shot here. And of course it is worthwhile to book an overnight stay in one of the numerous desert camps.
A small warning in advance: as practically every tourist makes a detour into the desert, one is unfortunately not alone at the photogenic places. And since it was very hot in the tent (in the month of April) and also no fan is available, one night in one of the camps is enough in my opinion.
The classic desert tour that you can book at camp (or if you have not planned to spend the night at Wadi Rum at the Visitor Center) leads to a rock bridge (where you should be a little free of vertigo to climb it), Nabataean rock paintings, mushroom rock and some points where Lawrence of Arabia has lived. A tea break in a Bedouin tent and a sunset complete the tour.
To spend a night in a desert camp in Wadi Rum is worth it just to enjoy the Bedouin hospitality and to admire the starry sky by the campfire. You will get to know nice people during the desert tour and at the tasty dinner you will be able to exchange your holiday experiences and maybe already share some restaurant tips.
The Japanese Garden is a coral reef located a few km south of Aqaba at the Berenice Beach Club, directly on the public beach. Parking is available at the Beach Club. I could rent snorkelling equipment (diving goggles, snorkel and fins) at the hotel and the locals offer themselves for a small fee to show a sunken wreck and the coral reef. For me, who has only snorkeled in the Mediterranean so far, this was an incredible experience when Dorie and Nemo swim directly around you. I haven't seen so many fish in all colors and shapes yet and I couldn't get enough of them.
The beach atmosphere on the public beach is orientally different and I think it's totally exciting. Shishas, groups of boys singing Arabic songs and clapping rhythmically, women with headscarves and children standing completely dressed up to their hips in the water. Even the older women often have a swimming ring around their hips even when they are standing in shallow water (we were told that only a few Jordanians can swim outside Aqaba).
However, and this should not go unmentioned - the Jordanians don't seem to mind the garbage here either.
I didn't shoot the photo with the fish while snorkeling, but while visiting the Aqaba Aquarium (I didn't have an underwater housing for the camera with me).
Built in the 8th century, the castle is the best preserved of its kind and has unique frescoes inside, e.g. a bear playing the lute (top right picture).
The picture below shows the Qasr Al Kharana, also from the 8th century, where its use is still not entirely clear. Possibly it was used as a kind of desert hotel.
The third castle we visit is Qasr Al Azraq, built of dark stone, where Lawrence of Arabia spent the winter of 1917-18.
We spend the night here at the eastern tip of Jordan at Al Azraq Lodge, a former British field hospital that has been converted into a modern hotel.
Next to it, the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSCN) has established the Azraq Wetland Reserve, a unique marsh landscape in Jordan where you can take a look at the birdlife via wooden walkways. Also interesting is the affiliated exhibition, where you can find out about the destruction of the wetland when massive drinking water was pumped out for the capital Amman in the 1980s.
Madaba is worth a detour because this city has dressed up. There is a traffic-calmed centre and the sightseeings are close together. Madaba is the capital of mosaics and the most famous is the 'Mosaic Map', the oldest historical map of Jerusalem. The processing in the church 'Saint George' seems however a little provisional, a big carpet is rolled away half, so that the view to the old mosaics is released.
In addition, there are still mosaics in the 'Madaba Archaeological Park' and in the 'Church of the Apostles' located a little outside.
Madaba is also interesting because the inhabitants are composed approximately half each of Muslims and Christians.
Madaba is also well suited for an excursion to 'Mount Nebo', the memorial from which Moses is said to have seen the Promised Land. There you have a great view from the Dead Sea to Amman as well as some very interesting mosaics in the museum. We found Mount Nebo worth seeing, but unfortunately quite overcrowded. (Admission 2JD, not included in the Jordan Pass).
If you enjoy snorkelling or just want to relax on the beach, you could also spend 3 nights at the Red Sea and maybe cancel the North (Umm Quays) from your tour instead. Alternatively, you could also visit the desert castles or Madaba as part of a day trip.
We have planned a long 4.5 hour tour from the Red Sea in the south to the desert castles. If this is too long for you, you can also plan the round in such a way that, for example, you do not choose Dana on the way to the south, but as an intermediate stop back on the way to the north.
I've never seen people waving at you from driving cars and shouting 'Welcome to Jordan' like this before. Taxi drivers, who use every ride to tell something about the country and stop at worth seeing spots, so that the tourist can take pictures. The taxi drivers are friendly by the way and try not to cheat you.
No Jordanian even comes close to speed limits, unless a speed bump or police check is in sight. Jordanians are also creative at spontaneously opening a new lane.
In our vacation I had a 'Maggie Simpson' moment: A 5-year-old boy sitting on his father's lap on a two-lane, winding country road steers the car all by himself.
Jordanian desserts are brilliant. Try 'Knafeh' (ask the baker to drizzle only a little bit of sugar water over the Knafeh). In the 'Habibah Sweets' in Amman, link to Google Maps the locals unanimously agree that the best is found.
Tip: Bake at home: There is thread dough in the Turkish supermarket to buy.
The Jordanians don't seem to mind the garbage. Even some excavation sites are not free of it. At least some Jordanians seem to have changed their minds: In the Wadi Rum we have seen some garbage collection actions. In the less touristic north there is unfortunately still nothing to see of it.
Repair is only done in Jordan if something is completely broken. So the tires are probably changed only if the old one has burst or falls from the rim (as the tattered tires at the roadside of the Desert Highway show).
Rarely that in the bathroom of the hotel really everything works: Either there is only lukewarm water for showering, the water pressure is miserable, the drain works more bad than right or the fittings wobble so that one hardly dares to change the water temperature.
For navigation I recommend the app "Here we go" or "Google Maps". Here we go also works offline, if you have downloaded the map of Jordan before - for Google Maps you need an internet connection for navigation. Since I made the better experiences with Google Maps, we navigated very often with it.
The price of the pass depends on the number of days you want to visit Petra. Most of Jordan's other attractions are also included in the pass. We were almost always waved through at the ticket booth after saying the magic words 'Jordan Pass'.
... we wish you many great impressions and experiences during your round trip through Jordan! Kirsten & Thorsten
... and if you have any suggestions, improvements or criticism about this website or the tour, we would be happy to hear from you.