Jordan Travel Guide: The perfect 7 day itinerary for first timers

Treasury Petra

In March, three girl friends and I rented a car in Jordan and went on a road trip for one week. Main reason being of course to see Petra, a world wonder. But every day we spend in this country turned out amazing! See here below my Jordan travel itinerary that we planned before hand and executed without any problems.


Pssst… I summed up some main things you need to know about Jordan here, so give that a read before you go too!


Day 1  Amman

We started off our itinerary in Amman, as we flew in from the international airport. We picked to stay in an Air BnB in the city center. After arriving in the afternoon, we took a taxi to our place and dropped the luggage there. Then we started to walk around towards the Amman Citadel.

Amman Citadel

The Citadel is located in downtown Amman and is an important historical site. Archaeologists found evidence of occupation dat dates back to the Neolithic age (like 12.000 years ago). great civilizations occupied this mountain, such as the Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad. You can visit the Umayyad Palace, a Byzantine church and the famous Hercules Temple. On top of that, you will have GREAT views over Amman. Try to come around sunset time for amazing sun lights.

 

Streets of Amman

We decided to take a walk from our Air BnB to the Citadel and into town. It was about 40 minutes, but a nice way to get to know the local life. That is when we noticed that the locals are so friendly or not bothered at all with you. The streets are very hilly and sometimes we had to do a bunch of stairs up or down, but at least the views are there to make it up for.

 

Hashem Restaurant

After our visited in the Citadel, the sun was already down and we were hungry. A few people advised me to go to Hashem, a family business restaurant. We actually found it by chance when we were walking, so it was meant to be.

The waiters are very nice and they help you (in English) to make up your menu. The best thing you can do is let them bring the popular local specialties to share with everyone (mint tea included!). If you like Arabic food, or just not a picky eater, you will love it. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. It is one of the best meals we had that week.

 

King Abdullah Mosque

This mosque caught my eye because it has a beautiful blue mosaic dome. Tourists are allowed to visit for 2 JOD, but women have to cover up their heads, arms and legs. Men need to wear trousers. A hooded gown is provided free of charge if you need.

 

Day 2 : Jerash & Wadi Rum

Jerash

About 48km North from Amman, you find Jerash or Jarash. It is a big, historical site with many Greco-Roman period and Early Muslim period buildings and structures. Many are still very well preserved and you will need at least 2 hours at this place to see the main points.

After Jerash we headed to Wadi Rum on a long driving stretch, which was about 360 km or 4 hours and half to 5 hours.

 

Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum

There are SO many bedouin camps in the Wadi Rum Desert reserve. You can pick a very luxurious one (think about the famous bubble tent camps) or a more basic one. We picked the second option to fully experience the desert. It is better to book a camp in advance, so they will pick you up from the visitor center. Or else I am afraid you will not find your way in the desert!

Our camp was Salman Zwaidh Camp. The host was friendly and helpful but it was a very simple stay. With only tea to drink (although always available), simple shared toilets (that can be a bit cold at evenings) and basic breakfast and dinner (if you decide to take it, but being in the middle of nowhere I would suggest you to).

 

 

Day 3: More Wadi Rum

Jeep Tour

Wadi Rum is an area protected by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Association (ASECA) since 1988, The ASECA takes care of preserving the nature and the Bedouin living within Wadi Rum. It has also been protected by UNESCO since 2011.

We had one full day at the Wadi Rum desert and decided we wanted to do the longest Jeep tour our camp offered. All camps offer them, so that is very easy. If you book a tour through your camp, you will get a local bedouin driver/guide from the camp.

The tour can take up to 3 or 4 hours and makes stops at more famous points and views (especially places that has something to do with Prince of Arabia), but you can also ask them to stop once in a while when you see something.

It gets windy and chilly fast sitting in the back of the Jeep, so make sure to bring a jacket or scarf with you!

 

Special formations

Wadi Rum looks like Mars, or somewhere else out of this world. It’s no wonder it is used in so many films. Standing next to huge rocks formations can make you feel very small. One of the stops on the tour was this rock arch. You will have to climb up a bit, but the guide will help you. The mountains have this special structure that looks like they are melting, which is very interesting.

 

Camels

The animal that you will see the most at the desert is a camel. From a far they look to be wild and free, but when you come closer you will see that their legs are tied up together and that they belong to somebody.

We saw big herds and also baby camels! At this one point the guide noticed we loved camels and made a stop when we past by this cute camel family and we could interact with them for a bit. It was one of the best moments for me, as I love animals.

 

Sunset

When we got back to our camp, we decided to walk a bit further in to the desert and find a rock to sit and watch the sunset. After the sun sets, it gets pretty cold in the desert! We went in March and when we went to bed around 10 pm and it was freezing for us. We asked extra blankets and slept with long sleeves/hoodies. So be prepared for this as well.

 

Night sky

What I also liked about the desert, were the stars you see at night. You can see some shots I took with my camera (pardon me, it was my first time trying to capture the sky by night), but this is really what you see with your own eyes. it really is unbelievable!

 

Day 4: Aqaba

After our second night in the colder desert, we drove to hot Aqaba, which is a popular beach destination by the Red Sea.

Where to stay & to eat

Al Raad Hotel

We stayed at a basic 3 star hotel in the center Al Raad Hotel. Staying here after 2 nights in the (cold) desert felt like a resort for us. The rooms and showers were great and the breakfast was very tasty. Also worth mentioning is how friendly the staff was. They helped us with all our questions (like when my friend needed to go to a doctor and pharmacy) and offered us tickets to the private beach for 10 JOD.

Papaya

Just a 3 minute walk from the hotel, you can find what turned out to be our favourite place to eat and relax: Papaya. We went there for lunch when we first arrived before going into the private beach. We had delicious local food and juices. Dishes worth trying: kebeh, tabouleh, grilled haloumi, mutabal, sambosak and of course humus. (see picture)

It was so delicious and the boss was so cool with us that we returned at evening time. After diner we stayed many hours there just talking and drinking with shisha. Before we left, they offered us Kanafe, a cheesey Arabic dessert, to try from the house. Even though we were SO full, we all tried some of it and it was very tasty.

 

Private beach Berenice

Beach

So for 10 JOD, you can get a ticket to a private beach. This is perfect for foreigners (ladies) who would feel uncomfortable at a beach in a Muslim country. the Berenice Beach Resort has free beach chairs to use and the water is very nice!

 

Snorkel

The water is so nice and clear that you can (and should) snorkel there. Just rent some gear at the stand and enjoy some fish watching just at the beach.

 

Day 5 & 6: Petra

So after our beach break, we headed off to the main attraction of our Jordan tour: Petra.

Where to stay

We chose to stay at a guest house with locals. Our pic was Petra Bedouin Bed & Breakfast,.This guest house is owned by a Canadian lady that is married to a local bedouin and runs it with the family. It’s simple but clean and all of them are super friendly.

They also offer a full day Petra tour and home made dinners. We tried it the first day and it was so nice, that we joined in for the next day too after our tour. You can watch the sisters cook in the kitchen and even help out. Here in the pictures they were making Maqluba, which means upside down and is a rice dish with vegetables and chicken that is turned upside down from the pan on to a big plate. Very delicious!

 

Petra tour and trail

Many people think that Petra is just that one famous building in the rocks. Little do they know  Petra is actually A WHOLE ancient Nabatean city, well hidden in the mountains. The one day tour take sup 8 to 10 hours accordingly on how long you take to hike  (or in my case how long I stay at one place for photos haha!).

Little Petra

The first day we arrived it was too late to go to big Petra, but we could go see Little Petra. It is a very much smaller site close to our guesthouse, where you can see some buildings build in the rocks and where local bedouin live. At the end you will have to do a very short rock stairs climb and pass a cute bedouin shop/cafe to have a nice view over the rocky formations that is typical for that area.

 

Monastery

Our tour started off at the end of the city. And that is how I would suggest you to do it too. The Monastery, or in Arabic Ad Deir,  all the way to the back of the city isn’t that busy in the early morning. This is because most of the people start at the beginning. So when you arrive around 8 or 9 am, you can enjoy an almost empty monastery.

 

Petra city

After the Monastery we walked a lot! Our guide took us through rocks and mountains, up and down. We saw many other buildings and houses in the rocks.

It is obviously a day full of walking and stairs climbing. If you want to walk to the Monastery from the main entrance, there are about 800 stair steps to do up and back down before you reach it! Starting from the end, like we did, will give you the chance to just go down.

When you are at the site, you will see MANY tourists on donkeys. Just watching them made me feel so sorry! They are working hard to carry them up and down every day, couple of times a day. And most of times they carry way TOO MUCH for them. (A normal donkey can carry up to 50 kg max on its back). I could never support such mistreat, so needless to say I did not choose this option. So think hard before making that decision yourself please!

 

The Siq

When you enter the Petra site at the main entrance, you will have to walk through the Siq first. It is a narrow gorge, that is about 1.2km long and ends at the Al Khazneh. It used to be the main entrance for who lived there, and it is also believe to be a sacred place for them.

 

Treasury

Al Khazneh, or the Treasury, most be the most famous building of Petra. After walking the Siq, and arriving there, it gives you a super WAW feeling! This place gets very crowded by tourists! The moment we arrived there (so at the end instead of the beginning), most of tourists already left. So if you get there around closing time, you have much more free area for you the enjoy this amazing sight.

Here is also the start of some climbing paths to have a view from the top. There are signs and bedouin guides that offer help. We were lucky that our own guide took us to one. I wanted to do an other, but honestly was getting tired at that point and we still had to return back to the guesthouse village walking!

 

 

Day 7: Dead Sea

Why go to the Dead sea?

If you want to float on water duh!

The Dead Sea is not an actual sea, but a very big and salty lake. It is SO salty that there are no plants or fish living in it, hence the name. Because of the high quantity of salt, you can float when you get in the water.  Just be careful if you have any open wounds, because it stings a lot! Also try not to get any of it in your eye or it will burn badly.

The water and mud of the Dead Sea is used for many spa treatments and it is good for your skin. It removes impurities and dead skin and adds in elasticity to it. So after bathing in the sea (I didn’t stay a long time in, because I could feel the burn), rub yourself in some of the mud. You have to do it on your whole body, face included and then leave it in for like 10-15 minutes and rinse it off again.

Where to stay

I would suggest to stay at one resort that provides access to the Dead Sea. It is not only a nice way to finish off your holiday, but you can enter their own private Dead Sea part, rub yourself in the mud they provide in big churn take a proper shower afterwards. We stayed at the Mövenpick, but there are many choices!

You can also just stay somewhere nearby and just get into the Dead Sea by yourself to make the trip a bit cheaper. But that could be a bit uncomfortable without a shower around.

Day 8: Return Home

So after checking out of the resort, we drove straight to the airport and sadly flew back home.

Jordan surprised me in all the ways and went straight to my top 5 visited countries. I would definitely return and explore more of this amazing country.

 

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