Middle East · Travel

Your 10 Day Jordan Itinerary – World Wonders and Wadis

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Jordan is the perfect destination for a 10 day holiday…I know, it’s a bold statement! Jordan has so much to see and do, and it’s all so varied, which makes it a great mini adventure. So how can you see the best of the country if you only have 10 days in Jordan? This is your guide to the top sites in Jordan, how to get around Jordan and more in the perfect 10 day Jordan itinerary.

This Jordanian flag in Amman is 60m by 30m; the pole is the tallest in the world at 126.8 metres!

DAY 1 : Amman

Amman is known as the city of seven hills (yes, another one). Its dusty charms take a while to adjust to if you have just arrived on a plane, but if you know where to look, you’ll uncover some wonderful history and …

…Roman Ruins

Amman Amphitheatre

Start your explorations by stepping back in history 2000 years to the Roman amphitheatre. When this theatre was built, the city was called Philadelphia and surrounding the amphitheatre you can still see the Odeon and city square.

The main seating section of Amman amphitheatre is wonderfully preserved and held up to 6000 spectators. Its north-facing aspect means the sun avoided the patrons and instead, hit the stage. You may be lucky enough o catch a music concert or other special event as it still used as a performance space…although they probably use electricity to light the stage these days.

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Amman Citadel

Atop one of Amman’s seven hills, you can explore the large complex of Amman Citadel. The highlight, other than the expansive views across the city, is the Temple of Hercules.

If you find yourself at the Citadel during the call to prayer, stop and listen The song emitting for the nearby mosque reverberates around the hills and it is exquisite.

Wander the Market for Some Local Flavour

Whether you re in the market for a plastic tub, fresh fruit and vegetables or aromatic spices, you will find what you are after in the local souqs. Squeeze through the stalls and try ut your haggling skills. If you are wearing appropriate clothing, you may be able to have a quick look in the Al-Husseini Mosque which sit between the two main sections of the markets.

Where to Eat in Amman

Hashem

The most famous place downtown for a tourist dinner is a very basic but very delicious backstreet falafel joint called Hashem. Take a plastic seat and you will be presented with a fluffy flatbread, houmous, and crispy falafel, accompanied by even more pickles and sauces. It’s a build your own meal; cheap, filling and scrumptious.

Wild Jordan Cafe

This café is perched on a steep hillside and the blissful air-conditioning and great views are rewards for the hot climb. Wild Jordan Cafe does fresh, zingy smoothies and international style sandwiches utilising delicious local produce. After you eighth shwarma and fizzy drink, you’ll welcome the change of pace here.

Look out for Juice Bars

Amman is full of juice bars and they are a great option for a vitamin and sugar pick me up. The fruit is fresh and the trade brisk. A combo of mango and orange is just perfect when it is hot outside and you’ve been sightseeing all afternoon.

Where to Stay in Amman

On a Budget – Jordan Tower Hotel

While definitely more of a hostel than a hotel, Jordan Tower Hotel is the budget traveller’s best option in Amman. It has plenty of private rooms, as well as some dorm rooms and for those on a super tight budget, you can even ask to sleep on the roof. Breakfasts are a combination of mezze with bread, olives and hummus but we loved that you are served a little cake as a breakfast “dessert”. Charming! They also run great value tours around Amman and further afield.

Splash the Cash – The House Boutique Suites

The House Boutique Suites, with its marble decor and clean lines, could easily feel impersonal but the staff are keen to ensure all its guests feel welcome. It is one of the city’s best boutique offerings. If you need a break from the bustle of the city, you can retreat to the outdoor pool or gym. Many of the rooms are actually suites with small kitchens but with Rainbow Street, the main strip for food, just 500m away and the buffet breakfast included, you probably won’t need it.

DAY 2 : Jerash and Karak

Jerash and Kerak are best explored either on an organised day trip from Amman or by hiring your own car. Reaching these areas by public transport isn’t that simple and you don’t waste your entire day trying. Jordan Tower Hotel runs a great value day tour.

The Ancient Jerash Ruins

The huge Roman ruins of Jerash are known to be the best-preserved outside of Europe, despite being hit by an earthquake in the 8th century. From the surprisingly complete Hadrian’s Arch to the collonaded plaza the size and conservation are astonishing. You will have to use your imagination unless you hire a guide, as there aren’t that many signs, but the quality of the site means you can enjoy it either way…and make up your own stories!

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Kerak Castle

As the Crusaders of the 12th century crossed this landscape, they fortified it (forget Disney, this was the age of castles). Actually, this castle was used from when it was built in the 1100s right up until 1917. Kerak castle has an interesting mix of Byzantine, European and Arab architectural features which hint at the places the crusaders occupied.

From the castle, you can watch the warm breeze rustle the grass as you gaze across into Syria.

DAYS 3 – 4 : Madaba

Madaba is an intriguing town, a little pocket of Byzantine and Umayyad-era history. With points of interest within easy walking distance of each other, you can easily hop from one museum to another. If you like a good mosaic, Madaba is perfect for a day of sightseeing.

St George’s Church and Madaba Mosaic Map

As ancient maps go, this is both accurate and a work of art. Stories, once read to you in school assemblies come flooding back. Place names that invoke long lost associations are displayed in this damaged but still brilliant mosaic. This is especially wonderful if you are travelling through the region as sights such as the River Jordan and Jerusalem are clearly marked. We used the Lonely Planet Jordan Guide to decipher everything we could see.

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Madaba Museum Hopping

Madaba has an abundance of great little museums, housed across several old churches and residences. There are plenty of beautiful examples of mosaic, and combining these museums give an amazing overview of the area’s history. Plus, they are a bargain to enter. Honestly, we think it is worth popping into all of them but it would bore you to tears to write a blurb about all of them. Particular highlights are:

  • Archaeological Park I and Virgin Mary Church
  • Archaeological Park II and Burnt Palace
  • Madaba Museum
  • Church of the Apostles
The labelling will keep you smiling wryly to yourself. Don’t miss “An Old Floor”.

King Hussain Mosque

The golden tops of this mosque glimmer across the city spotted from many of the other sights you’ll visit in Madaba. It looks particularly good from the tower of St John’s Church. This is a relatively new mosque, only constructed in 2005, and so the inside is not particularly ornate, but the outside is leasing enough.

Where to Eat in Madaba

Haret Jdoudna Restaurant

Live music, the splash of water from the fountain, and the gentle bubble of guests, Haret Jdoudna Restaurant is a little oasis of calm. Shaded by day and lit sympathetically at night, you may even be lucky enough to catch some traditional live music here too. In fact, the whole idea is to recreate the feeling of a traditional village. Food is themed accordingly with traditional mezze favourite alongside great choices from the grill.

Ayola Coffee Shop

For something a little more budget-friendly, Ayola Coffee Shop is more than just a spot to get a great cup of coffee (although, they will do that too). Ayola serves up great western sandwiches, fries and other comfort food until 11 pm and it is a firm favourite with backpackers so it is a good place to meet some fun new travel buddies. The best thing? They serve up a passable glass of wine, a local beer or a shot of fiery arak.

Where to Stay in Madaba

Madaba’s mid-range and high-end offerings are generally quite lacklustre so we recommend saving some pennies here and going for a bargain option.

Black Iris Hotel

A top pick for travellers for a good few years, Black Iris Hotel is a blend of modern and old school. Rooms are quite big for the price and it is wonderfully central. Take a seat in the large restaurant and enjoy the legendary breakfast, more than enough sugar to set you up for the day.

DAYS 4 – 5 : Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is a totally unique experience. Although it is possible to visit the Dead Sea as a day trip from Amman but you may be missing out on a highlight of the trip by doing this. Along the coast of the Dead Sea, there are some amazing hotels which offer a mini-break within your holiday. With a dip in the Dead Sea, the only fixed activity here, you can spend the rest of the time relaxing.

Check our top ten tips for visiting the Dead Sea.

A photo of an infinity swimming pool with the sun setting over the mountains in the background in Jordan
Swimming in the infinity pool, overlooking the Dead Sea after we had had our trip was glorious.

Where to Stay in the Dead Sea

There aren’t any decent budget options around the dead Sea so we recommend leaving into the “break within a break” aspect of this location. Splash a little cash and enjoy the luxury.

The Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea

The Movenpick Resort and Spa Dead Sea offers an almost Flintstones village aesthetic, a beautiful infinity pool that overlooks the Dead Sea (and across to Israel) and a killer breakfast buffet. Stuff yourself at breakfast and you won’t need lunch the following day. Plus, the fancy mini toiletries from the room will see you through the rest of the trip. There are nine bars/restaurants on it but they aren’t cheap. Mind you, there is an abundance of Movenpick ice cream so it is worth splashing out on.

Even if you don’t decide to stay here, a day in the Zara Spa is an amazing way to unwind. There’s a pool filled with water from the Dead Sea below, allowing you to try out the famous floating sensation with a freshwater shower close at hand. They also have a full hammam section as well as a large hydrotherapy pool which is a great place to cool off.

DAYS 5 – 7 : Petra

The lost city of Petra is one of the new wonders of the world and for great reason. Hewn from the orange rock of the desert, A city of up to 20,000 people remained undetected for years.

As you negotiate the 1.2km siq, walking between two towering rock walls, you start to imagine how explorer John Lewis Burckhardt must’ve felt in his disguise 200 years ago. After a steady 20 minute walk, the ground rock facade of the Treasury hoves into view, it’s columns and carvings indicating just got a proud civilisation this was.

You will need an entire day to explore and be prepared to be out of breath on more than one occasion. Bring lots of water and a decent hat!

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Top tip: the orange dust of Petra will stain your shoes orange forever so wear old trainers or hiking boots…or orange shoes!

Where to Stay and Eat in Petra

Petra Moon Hotel is just a hop, skip and jump from both the bus station and the entrance to Petra, making it the perfect spot for those visiting the site. Rooms are large and beds very comfortable. Oh and trust us, you will want an excellent shower with all that orange dust. After a long day in the heat, the rooftop is especially inviting with a pool, cocktail bar and pretty decent restaurant.

DAYS 7 – 9 : Wadi Rum

If you haven’t had enough of sand and rocks then you must spend a day and ideally a night in Wadi Rum. Wadi Rum actually means Valley of the Moon. Wadis (valleys) are usually flowing rivers in wet seasons but apart from Lawrence’s stagnant spring, it appeared very dry in the August heat.

There are two main ways to explore Wadi Rum. The first is the full Lawrence of Arabia fantasy. Traversing the desert sands with a traditional Bedouin scarf wrapped around your head and a sexy squint that would put Tyra Banks to shame permanently fixed upon your face.

Alternatively, jump on a 4×4 and zoom across the sand. If you are lucky, you will be provided with mint tea, full of sugar, surprisingly refreshing despite the heat. Your driver will take you from the small town of Wadi Rum into the desert, stopping at the main sights like the rock arch and mushroom rock, finishing at a secluded spot for sunset. You may even get a thrill ride as your driver flings you across the dunes. This may not be more comfortable but it is more efficient and lots of fun!

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Where to Stay in Wadi Rum

Midrange – Rum Stars Camp

However you travel through the desert, spending a night in a Bedouin camp is a must! Rum Stars Camp is a great option for everyone. Private canvas tents give privacy but the communal dinner means you can get to know your fellow adventurers.

Prepare for a huge dinner. We tried Mansaf, lamb cooked underground and served with a huge buffet of bread, dips, salads and desserts. Afterwards, we all sat chatting and listening to our hosts playing traditional music. It is a little bit of a show for the tourists but still a magical evening.

Before you head to bed, remember to look up, after all, this is the Valley of the Moon. There is so little light pollution in the desert that you’ll be able to see the whole Milky Way. It is breathtaking. We were lucky enough to time our visit with the Perseus meteor shower and it transfixed us for almost an hour. (Then, don’t forget to look down to make sure you are stepping on any scorpions).

DAYS 8 – 10 Aqaba

Yes, it’s time for more sand, but this is quite different. Aqaba is Jordan’s big beach town…well, its only beach town. Bright yellow sand leads down to the balmy Gulf of Aqaba. This inlet of the Red Sea is remarkably warm and still. It is ideal for paddling families and those hoping to explore the world below the waves.

Al-Hafayer Beach

The public beach at Al-Hafayer is free and open to all. However, this is not the Costa Del Sol and females in swimwear will attract a lot of attention, some of it unwelcome. It may not be the best place for a spot of sunbathing. Instead, head down at the end of the day for a nice place to relax and watch the sunset.

Berenice Beach Club

For those after a beach day, complete with sunbeds, cold drinks and itty bitty swimwear, Berenice Beach Club is a perfect day trip. Two freshwater pools, lined with sunbeds and shade canopies, sit behind a clean, bright stretch of beach. For 13JOD, visitors get a free transfer, a towel and a sunbed. If you want more excitement than just using the included wifi to scroll Instagram, snorkelling and diving can be paid for on the day. The water here is great so it a nice place to take a dip.

Sherif al-Hussein bin Ali Mosque

The gleaming white stone of this huge mosque is as impressive in the bright light of the midday sun as it is arresting in the glow of the setting sun. The 2011 renovation and extension of this mosque only served to improve on an already striking place of worship. Visitors are welcome, with male and female visitors entering from separate doors. Be sure to cover up including women’s hair, and remove your shoes! Look out for the golden passages from the Quran on the wall.

Underwater Activities

The Gulf of Aqaba has amazing visibility as the water is so calm. It makes exploring the underwater world extremely rewarding. If you just want to do your own thing, you can easily hire a cheap set of snorkelling gear.

As a beginner then the Japanese garden is incredibly clear and very shallow so you can enjoy the best of what reefs have to offer without getting out of your depth.

If you want to venture a little deeper, Aqaba is an excellent place to try scuba diving without breaking the bank. There are some excellent dive sites that are accessed from Aqaba for those with experience, and plenty of places to learn for those without. For a safe, great value and fun experience, we recommend these operators:

Where to Stay in Aqaba

On a Budget – Bedouin Garden Camp

This dive camp is reasonably basic, but very friendly and wonderfully laidback offering individual brick cabins. You’ll pay extra to activate the aircon in your room. Back when we visited, every room was graced with a bizarre “Disney” pillow but it seems to have grown up a little and the beds look more professional.

Bedouin Garden Camp has some nice additions like the pool. This is available for guests unless scuba lessons are taking place. If it’s occupied, take some time to lounge on a sunbed with the sea breeze tickling your toes.

Splash the Cash – Intercontinental Aqaba Resort

The Intercontinental Aqaba Resort offers affordable luxury by the sea. If you prefer your water fresh, there is a large, natural form pool that still offers sea views. Rooms are large and well-appointed, most of which have a little seating area for even more sea view! Sick of the sea? Hideaway in the spa for some serious indulgence.

Where to Eat in Aqaba

Syrian Palace Restaurant

For a feast that won’t cost a fortune, seek out Syrian Palace Restaurant for a blend of Jordanian and Syrian classics. Especially good is their cheap but fresh seafood and fluffy, flavourful rice. It is also great for vegetarians and vegans. The English-speaking staff can help narrow down the choices for dietary requirements.

Information for 10 Days in Jordan

The Jordan Pass

It is well worth buying a Jordan Pass before flying to Jordan. It give you free entrance to an insane amount of attractions throughout the country. But it also covers your tourist visa on arrival. The cheapest Jordan Pass costs as little as 70JD and when you consider that the one day entrance fee for Petra is 50JD and the visa is 40JD, you have already paid it back. To pick yours up, check out the Jordan Pass website.

Money in Jordan

Jordanian Dinar (JD) is readily available to buy before you travel to Jordan but you shouldn’t need too much ahead of time. ATMs are available in towns and cities but remember to have enough to cover the times you are not near a town. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted but a commission is usually added and these can quickly add up.

Religion in Jordan

92% of Jordan is Muslim so the weekend is on Fridays and Saturdays. expect shops and restaurants to be shut for Friday prayers. If you visit during Ramadan, many shops and restaurants will be shut until sunset, making travel a little more tricky. However, getting involved in the eid celebrations can be alot of fun.

Female travellers are expected to cover up in towns but in resorts, this is much more relaxed. When visiting religious sites, ensure your knees, shoulders are covered. For mosques, women must cover their hair. It is handy to have a scarf for this in your day bag.

Getting Around Jordan

Bus

Jordan’s bus system is cheap and well connected. Buses are smallish, usually seating around 18 people. There are loose timetables but often, buses don’t leave until they’re full so leave plenty of contingency time in your planning. Ask your accommodation for advice on where the bus will depart from and then ask locals when you arrive at the bus stop.

You will be able to take buses for almost all of this itinerary but you will need a taxi to reach the Dead Sea resorts.

Car Hire

The King’s Highway runs through most of this itinerary The road is clear, well surfaced and signs are often in English. Driving is a little more aggressive than in many Western countries but not dangerous. It is not advised to drive at night.

Most of the major international car rental firms have branches at Amman Airport as well as in town so hiring is easy enough. The best thing about having your own wheels is the flexibility to stop quickly at points of interest.

When to Visit Jordan

The best times to visit Jordan are spring and autumn. Warm days and evenings with a slight chill make sightseeing a joy, and hiking even better.

High Season, Spring – Wildflowers burst into bloom in Jordan’s spring months. Between March and May, you will have the absolute best of Jordan’s weather.

Shoulder Season, Autumn – The weather begins to cool a little but October sees the start of the rains so it is a little bit of a gamble the later into autumn you travel.

Low Season, Summer – June to August are Jordan’s hottest months. Down in Aqaba we saw temperatures of 45°C /113°F and sunbathing at the Dead Sea was too hard in the heat. However, the high temperatures meant low prices, with half-price hotels throughout our trip.

Low Season, Winter Jordan can get surprisingly cold in winter, with snowfall and extremely chilly nights, especially in the desert. This is the wettest time of the year, and although showers are short, the added chill of wet feet is always a little unpleasant. However, if you just plan on doing some beach time in Aqaba, temperatures can reach a balmy 23°C/73°F.

Final Thoughts on this 10 Day Jordan Itinerary

Only having 10 days in Jordan means this holiday is going to be fast and furious. That’s why it’s great to relax for a day at the Dead Sea and end with a little beach break in Aqaba. We hope you really enjoy this 10 day Jordan itinerary and love Jordan as much as we did.

Rosie xx


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