Mostly known for having one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Jordan is a fantastic country to visit. This was my first experience in the Middle East and I can tell you that backpacking in this country is super safe and you can have lots of adventures no matter how short your trip is, you will have lots of things to do in Jordan!
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I spent a couple of weeks in the country and decided to make this 8 day itinerary as most of the people I met were coming for this amount of time. As usual, if you can stay longer the better!
Jordan has lots of historical places and natural treasures. Considering that the Jordan Pass gives you access to +40 different sites, you can get an idea of how many things you can do in Jordan!
On this itinerary you will see the highlights but will also have time to chill and enjoy the country. I find it pointless to try to do a million things in a few days as you don’t get to experience properly the country you’re visiting and end up exhausted.
Preparing to go to Jordan
Obviously, one of the things you need to check in advance is if you need a visa to enter Jordan.
Most nationalities do need a visa and it costs 40 JOD. What you should do instead of applying for the visa is to buy a Jordan Pass, note that you can only get the pass if you stay a minimum of 3 nights in the country.
The Jordan Pass is not a visa, but it will actually waive those 40 JOD. There are three different passes at a cost of 70-75-80 JOD, they all give access to the same attractions and the only difference is the number of days that you can enter Petra (1, 2 or 3 days depending on the pass you choose)
I recommend getting the two-day or “Explorer” pass as there’s a lot to explore in Petra!
To buy the Jordan Pass is a no-brainer as you will save quite a few bucks even if you only go to Petra. In the itinerary below there are a few attractions already included with the pass so you will end up saving a fair bit or money! 🙂
When looking for flights to and fro Jordan, you will find them from the two international airports at Amman and Aqaba.
Unless the price difference is huge, I recommend to go to Amman as Aqaba is just a touristy border town with not much charm.
Having said that! In Aqaba you can take a bus and go to nicer beaches outside of town and you can also go scuba diving in the Red Sea!
Things to do in Jordan: my 8 Day Itinerary
Day 1: arriving to Amman
The first day is good for a walk around the city to get a feel of the culture and try some of the local delicacies!
Arriving to downtown from the airport is not the easiest trip compared to other countries but it’s still very safe.
As the airport is 30 Km away, I took the local shuttle bus that costs 3.30 JOD, it will either leave you at the North Station (which is far from downtown) or they will drop you somewhere in the middle of the city and point you towards a cab.
I actually made it all the way to the North Station as I started talking with a local on the bus and he helped me get a shared taxi towards my hostel paying the local price, beware as the taxis will always want to charge you double or even more than to the locals and some “fighting” is required to negotiate this price down.
Once you make it to your hotel in Amman, it’s easy to go walking everywhere. I recommend going straight for the Roman Theatre and The Citadel, if you still have some more time to wander then check out my posts about things to do in Amman for some other suggestions, including a great place to eat!
Day 2: Visiting the ancient ruins of Jerash
The so called city of 1000 columns is a wonderful place to visit in Jordan.
During its golden age, this important city was part of of the Decapolis league of cities and nowadays is considered one of the largest and best preserved sites of Roman architecture.
A fair bit has been restored as the city was vastly destroyed in the year 749 by an earthquake, but it’s still worth a visit!
Although the impressive Roman ruins are the main sight, there are remains of settlements from 7500 BC. That’s one of the oldest in the world!
The archaeological site entrance fee is included with the Jordan Pass.
To visit Jerash from Amman you need to go to the North Bus Station, there are buses leaving from there regularly, but go early as there are no set times for departures, they just leave whenever the bus is full and it cost 1 JOD. To get to the North Station you need to take a shared taxi, expect to pay 1-3 JOD depending on your pick-up location.
The way back is the same, but you need to walk 5-10 min from the exit of the archaeological site towards the bus stop as it’s on a different place to the stop they drop you off in the morning. Ask around or check on maps.me as the bus stop is well marked on the app.
Day 3: Moving on to Petra
For the third day I can give you alternatives if you’re short of time (for example a 7 day trip or want to add something else to your adventure)
Option 1. Arrive to Wadi Musa, check-in to your hostel and go straight to Petra for half a day.
Option 2. On the previous day after Jerash, take a shared taxi with more people to Wadi Musa or rent a car. That will give you the full day 3 for exploring Petra.
Otherwise, just use day 3 to chill and prepare to walk a lot on the next two days!!!
If you’re travelling on a budget I recommend staying at Rafiki Hostel as it’s really good value and at a good location.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Day 4: Exploring a Wonder of the World
After chilling on the previous day, wake up at silly o’clock to get to Petra by 6 AM! this is super early!!! I hear you say…
Yeah! you really need to experience Petra without the crowds, it’s definitely worth it to go to bed early on the previous night as the sensation of entering The Siq and arriving to The Treasury without people is an incredible feeling.
There are so many things to do in Petra, lots of ruins and lots of hikes! make sure to check my (arguably long) post about Hiking in Petra for all my tips on where to go on this huge Unesco World Heritage Site!
Day 5: more Petra!
This is the continuation of all the stunning things that you didn’t have a chance to explore on the previous day.
I definitely recommend doing 2 days in Petra, this is one of the places in the world that deserve to be explored well! (not that in 2 days you will do, but is definitely much better than 1!)
Day 6: to the desert!
After two strenuous days hiking in Petra, it’s time to move to my favourite place in Jordan, the Wadi Rum Desert!
To go from Petra, take an early bus at 6:15 AM (ask at your hostel as they can book you a seat) and arrive a couple of hours later. Enough to check-in with your Bedouin Camp and do an afternoon hike on this alien-like landscape!
There are plenty of places to stay. I was staying at Magic Bedouin Star and loved my time there.
You don’t need to book any tours to go hiking, just take your water bottle, some snacks and wander around or find a way up on the stunning mountains that are by the Bedouin Camps.
Day 7: Wadi Rum Desert tour
The jeep tours in Wadi Rum are not particularly cheap, but they will take you through some really cool spots. Not in vain this desert has been used as a location for numerous films!
As I actually spent a week workawaying in Wadi Rum and was invited for a couple of tours, I can tell you that they’re worth it. The full-day tour is surely cool but the shorter ones will also work out well if you’re on a tight budget.
If you’re travelling solo make sure to team up with others as you will pay less.
Travelling in Jordan for a longer period? check my post about backpacking in Wadi Rum on a budget for my tips on how to spend a week or more at no cost at all!
Day 8: Back to Amman or Aqaba
The final day on the itinerary is to go back to either Amman or Aqaba to catch your flight. There are buses early in the morning to Aqaba and Petra. From Petra you can take an afternoon bus back to Amman (at 4 or 5 PM, ask around as I believe they change the times during the year)
Are you travelling for longer!?
There are many more things to do in Jordan! you can go to the Dead Sea from Amman, visit the Dana Biosphere Reserve between Petra and Wadi Rum, visit Ajlun Castle and Mount Nebo “near” Amman…and all the other 40ish attractions included in the Jordan Pass!!
If you need help deciding on places to go if you have less or a few more days feel free to drop a line below and I’ll happily suggest alternatives!
Happy adventures! 🙂