Planning a holiday to Jordan? This is the perfect itinerary for 1 week in Jordan to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sights, or must-visit places in this incredible country. 7 days is enough time for the highlights, but as always I would recommend longer. I guarantee you’ll be standing open mouthed at some of the sights for quite a lot of the time!
Read on for information on where to go in Jordan, the visa requirements, the best way to get around as well as where to stay and eat on your trip.
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The Best Itinerary for 1 Week in Jordan
Day 1 – Explore Amman
Many people are tempted to forget Amman and drive straight down to Petra – please don’t do this! Amman is a fascinating and absolutely beautiful city, and you haven’t really done Jordan unless you’ve done Amman. There’s plenty of things to do in Amman, ranging from cultural tours of ancient Roman sites, to exploring the bohemian and artistic neighbourhoods around Rainbow Street.
The Roman Citadel sits high on a hill above Amman, and is a fascinating place to wander. Spend the morning climbing up the steep hill before it gets too hot, and then pay for your ticket at the gate. It should cost around 3JD. Take in the view from the top, admire the ancient Roman columns and pay a visit to the museum to cool off.
Retrace your steps back down the hill to the Roman Amphitheatre. Pick your tickets up from the booth to the right of the steps in the main square and then head inside! Spend some time climbing up the steps to the seats, and imagine what it was like for locals to watch dramatic plays back in ancient Roman times.
From here, walk back to downtown Amman to visit the famous umbrella art installation for some pretty instagrammable pictures. Choose one of the nearby cafes for lunch before heading up to Rainbow Street. There are plenty of shops along this street, but why not make a stop off at the Wild Jordan Center while you’re in the area? The centre aims to generate an income for Jordanian rural communities that need it, through selling ethical souvenirs and promoting ecotourism. The centre’s cafe also serves yummy food and drink to visitors, and there’s a fantastic view over Amman from the balcony too.
Where to eat in Amman
There are plenty of places to eat in Amman. Try Jafra for delicious food and a lovely ambience, just around the corner from the umbrella art installation. The menu is full of choice for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. It’s quite expensive compared to some of the places in Amman, so it’s mostly full of tourists and businessmen smoking shisha. Yes, really.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit cheaper, try Hashem for a real local experience! Don’t be put off by the plastic tables and chairs, this place is super cheap, friendly and clean. And the food is absolutely fantastic. Ask for a selection of everything, and they’ll bring you two different types of falafel, hummus, pitta bread, salads and plenty more. Vegetarians don’t need to worry – I couldn’t see anything that had meat in it at all. I could have eaten there for the rest of my life and been happy!
Where to stay in Amman
To be within walking distance of most sights, I recommend staying in the Downtown area. We stayed in the Art Hotel, which was in the heart of the city. Its facilities were basic, but it was clean and comfortable, and had everything you need for a couple of nights in Amman. Breakfast is included in your stay, and it gives you a selection of salad, hummus and pitta bread. Welcome to Jordan!
Day 2 – Tour the ancient Roman sites and the Dead Sea
Today, head 30 miles north of Amman to Jerash, one of the most important Roman cities outside of Rome. Now, you weren’t expecting that from Jordan, were you? Once there, spend a few hours exploring the area to find an impressive amphitheatre, ruined buildings with mosaic floors, and original columns lining the Forum (the main square). I recommend taking a guided tour of Jerash if you can, as a guide will really help bring the place to life. There are often guides available in the visitors centre if you didn’t arrive as part of a tour group.
After Jerash, head south back past Amman to the Dead Sea. Find a resort that will take day guests, such as the Marriott (50JD per person) or Ramada (25JD per person), and you’ll get a lunch, changing rooms and showers included in the ticket price. You can usually also rent towels from the bar if you need one.
You’ll have seen photos of people floating on the Dead Sea – probably reading a book or a newspaper. The water is so incredibly salty that everything floats in it, but nothing at all can grow. The sensation is very strange at first – you have to let yourself lie back and trust the water will carry you – and it will. Make sure to not get any water in your eyes, as it will hurt like hell and you may need medical attention. Also, be careful if you have open cuts or particularly sensitive skin, as the salt can irritate it and make it very painful.
Use the showers to wash off and once you’re completely desalinated, head back to Amman for dinner and then sleep.
Day 3 – Visit a Crusader Castle and Little Petra
Prepare for a packed day today, with an early visit to Mount Nebo, located high up in the hills overlooking the Dead Sea. Mount Nebo is said to be the place where Moses finally saw the promised land before he died, so there’s a church featuring beautiful mosaics, a statue dedicated to Moses and a museum with other religious artefacts inside. If you don’t come here for the religious significance, come here for the view. Mount Nebo is, obviously, a mountain, so it has some pretty awesome views out over the Jordanian landscape.
After your visit, head to the Crusader castle of Karak. It’s one of the original castles built by the Crusaders to protect their fledgling empire in the Levant, so it has a fascinating history. Spend an hour or so wandering through the tunnels, makeshift prison cells and other rooms, and look out for the kittens that play in its halls.
Then it’s time to head to the desert. This drive through the mountains and down into the valleys of Wadi Musa is pretty darn special. Don’t let yourself fall asleep as you’ll miss the impressive panoramic views out over this alien landscape – so alien in fact, it’s said to be where the movie The Martian was filmed. Once down in the valley, stop off at Little Petra for your first sight of intricately carved stone buildings and caves.
It’s called little Petra for a reason – it is on a much smaller scale than Petra, but still treats tourists to beautiful sights. Most tourists bypass this area, instead only visiting the main attraction, but this means it’s a lot quieter, especially at the end of the day. You won’t be fighting other tourists to get the perfect view. Best of all, it’s free.
Once you’ve finished exploring, head up into the hills above Wadi Musa for the evening.
Where to eat in Wadi Musa
Supermarkets offer the best value food and drink in this part of Jordan, but hotels often serve well-priced buffets and set menus too. There are also plenty of falafel shops dotted about, where you can pick up a cheap falafel sandwich served with salad in pitta.
Where to sleep in Wadi Musa
There are loads of places to sleep around Petra. As you can imagine, the hotels closest to the entrance charge the most and can be part of international chains. For something a bit cheaper but equally as nice, head up in to the hills above Petra to find somewhere like the Seven Wonders Hotel. The rooms here are big and comfortable, and it also has a rooftop bar from which you can watch the sunset over the desert, which is pretty special.
>> Find your perfect place to sleep in Wadi Musa for Petra
Day 4 – Petra
Prepare for an early start as you’ll want to get to Petra before anyone else. The gates open at 7am, so make sure you’re there then if you want to avoid huge crowds blocking your view. Once you’ve bought your ticket to go in, make your way down the Siq to reach the Treasury. I was too excited to see it that I practically ran down, but feel free to take your time and admire the canyons and caverns on the way down.
Once at the Treasury, pick your mouth up off the floor (yes, it’s that beautiful) and spend a while admiring it from different angles. Then, when you’re ready to move on, there are two must-do trails – one that ends up at the Monastery, and the other that overlooks the Treasury. Make sure you take food and plenty of water with you to keep you going, as no-one is going to admit these trails are easy! Pick some up from a supermarket or a corner shop in Wadi Musa. Food and drink can be very expensive inside the Petra site itself.
The first recommended trail in Petra is the trail that ends up at the Monastery – a building that is equally impressive as the Treasury. To start this trail, head to the right of the Treasury, and follow the main trail all the way down, past the theatre and the colonnaded street. The path then begins to snake up high into the mountain, so it’s best to be reasonably fit and healthy before attempting this trail. Saying that, we saw plenty of people in Petra with kids who made it up safely. Plus there are plenty of places to rest, and there are often locals selling souvenirs along the way if you want an excuse to stop.
For the Al Khubtha trail, follow the main path to the right of the Treasury until you reach the Royal Tombs. Spend some time looking at the Royal Tombs, and then take the staircase that goes up and behind the last Tomb. Keep climbing up until you reach a point that overlooks the theatre, and then follow the path downwards (not in the direction you’ve just come from!) for about 20 minutes to reach the viewpoint. A savvy businessman has set up a little bar here to encourage tourists to buy drinks in exchange for the view, but of course you don’t have to buy.
After a rest and dinner back at your hotel, consider heading back to Petra for Petra by Night. Petra by Night was easily the highlight of my trip to Jordan. It’s what it says on the tin – a visit to Petra after the sun has gone down and the candles have gone up. Make sure you have your day tickets to Petra with you, and then buy Petra by Night tickets from the visitors centre. Petra by Night is a must for incredible photography of Jordan, so it’s definitely worth the extra money!
Walking down through the candle-lit Siq is over all to quickly, so make sure you hang back to avoid the crowds who will try to push you along. The staff put on a little show with traditional Jordanian music and stories in front of the Treasury, but the real reason everyone was there was to see the Treasury all lit up and looking magical (just ignore the part when they change the colour of the lights – Petra shouldn’t be a disco).
If you want photos like this one, stay until the end when most people are out of the way (the staff will try to usher you out) and set up your tripod ready for a long exposure shot.
Day 5 – Head deeper into the desert at Wadi Rum
Have a lazy morning this morning – you deserve it after your trek across Petra yesterday! From Wadi Musa, head south to Wadi Rum – a desert wilderness in the southern tip of the country. Wadi Rum was the filming location for The Martian, thanks to its beautiful but rather alien landscape.
Stay at a Bedouin camp like Captain’s Desert Camp (more information below!) that can take you on excursions, such as a balloon flight or a 4×4 ride into the desert. If you go on a jeep safari, ask your driver to take you over the sand dunes for a bit of an adrenaline rush before stopping off at the natural archways. It is possible to climb them, but do be careful – they can be incredibly slippery and there’s no safety barrier 🙂
After a few hours exploring, try to find somewhere to watch the sunset. The whole desert turns even more golden than it already is, and it’s really quite magical. Then, return to your camp for the night.
Where to eat and sleep in Wadi Rum
You can’t come to Wadi Rum and not sleep at a Bedouin camp! There are loads of these traditional camps dotted about the desert, all characterised by accommodation in goat hair tents set around a central campfire. We stayed at Captain’s Desert Camp, which was good, clean, simple living and as comfortable as you’d expect a goat hair tent to be in the middle of the desert! Embrace the local culture of drinking tea, eating dinner with your fellow guests, stargazing around a bonfire and falling asleep to the sound of silence.
>> Find your accommodation in Wadi Rum
Day 6 – Wadi Rum/Aqaba
Aqaba is the place many visitors come to see the Red Sea – an inlet of the Indian Ocean that is renowned for its clear waters and ample opportunities to see tropical fish and coral.
It’s a typical resort town, so most of the attractions revolve around the water, such as snorkelling and diving. There are plenty of companies that can take you out to the Red Sea, ask at your hotel for recommendations. Most offer lunch as well as all equipment you’ll need for the day, including towels, life jackets, snorkel masks and flippers, but do check before you go.
>> Check out Viator’s top picks for trips from Aqaba
Once you’ve exhausted the town’s water sports, you could visit Aqaba Archaeological Museum or the Aqaba Fort for a bit of culture, or simply relax on the town’s beaches.
Where to eat in Aqaba
This is the easiest recommendation for 1 week in Jordan. Forget the fancy restaurants and resorts that Aqaba is full of. Instead, head around the corner to a little falafel stand called Falafel O Bas for the best falafel I have ever had in my life. The best part? It’ll cost you less than 50p. There are also plenty of gelato stands if you fancy a sweet treat too.
Where to sleep in Aqaba
Al Raad Hotel (El Rae’d Suites) is in a great location in the centre of town, just minutes’ away from some of Aqaba’s historic sights and the beach. The rooms are large and have everything you’ll need, including a fridge to keep drinks and snacks cool. The wi-if is intermittent in the rooms, so you might find yourself huddled around other tourists in the lobby catching up on their social media!
>> Check the latest prices for places to stay in Aqaba
Day 7 – Aqaba/Amman
Today, head back to Amman ready for your flight back home. Sorry it had to come to an end at some point 🙁 What a great itinerary for 1 week in Jordan, though!
Visa requirements for 1 week in Jordan
Of course, Visa requirements vary depending on where you’re from, but for the UK it was very simple. You don’t have to do any pre-planning, other than make sure you have 40 JD (at the time of writing) per person to give to border control. The Visa is a little postage stamp sized sticker, that they’ll then stamp over upon arrival and exit, so make sure you have at least one full page in your passport free.
What’s the best way to get around Jordan?
There’s a few different options on how to get around Jordan, including taking public transport, hiring a car and driving yourself or taking an organised tour. Read my advice on the best way to get around to see which you’d prefer…
Taking public transport in Jordan
Jordan’s public transport is primarily there for the locals, hence why tourist attractions are rarely covered by the country’s bus network (excluding the big ones, of course). That said, there are buses between cities available for barely any money at all. I just honestly couldn’t tell you where to find them.
We were rather unlucky with our taxi drivers in Jordan. We must have looked like a pair of mugs with “will pay anything for a ride” on our foreheads, but we were too tired to argue. If you do get a taxi, make sure you agree your price upfront and make sure your driver knows EXACTLY where he is going. We showed our driver our hotel on a Google Map and we agreed a price, but it was only once he’d taken us to another hotel nearby that he added another 10JOD on top of his price because he argued we’d given him the wrong address. Uber is available in Amman and is much preferable to hailing a taxi off the street.
Renting a car in Jordan
Upon arrival into Jordan, we saw plenty of tourists at the car hire desk, making the point that renting a car for 1 week in Jordan is both accessible and doable. Of course, driving in a foreign country is always at your own risk but comes with the added benefits of being able to set your own course, taking your time and an element of privacy too.
Riding animals in Jordan
Whilst climbing and hiking along the trails in Petra, you will get tired but please don’t ride the donkeys or camels, no matter how exhausted you feel. The poor animals don’t get to make that choice. They’re not treated particularly well and, sadly, yours won’t be the first lazy arse they’ve had to carry up the mountains that day.
In front of the Treasury at Petra, camels spend the entire day getting down on their knees just so tourists can take photos on their backs. What a waste of a beautiful animal… Please remember that animal cruelty may not be obvious, but it is there.
Travelling on an organised tour in Jordan
My preferred way of travelling in Jordan is on an organised tour, where the whole itinerary is laid out for you. In a country where I could barely any of the lingo, I felt much more comfortable with a guide and minibus all laid out for me. As a vegetarian, this was also a god-send when it came to trying to explain I couldn’t eat meat. Guides will save you from tourist scams – such as the bedouins in the desert and the handmade souvenirs that were definitely made in China.
There are plenty of tour companies around that lead tours to Jordan, including Intrepid, On the Go Tours and G Adventures. I can personally recommend the G Adventures tour, Highlights of Jordan, but there are plenty more available.
When to visit Jordan
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Jordan, with daytime temperatures around 25c and cooler nighttime temperatures. Summer can get particularly hot – sometimes well in to the 40s, so this time of year is best avoided in Jordan. During winter, the skies can be heavy with rain and sometimes even snow, but I bet that’d make for some awesome shots at Petra…
The shores of the Dead Sea and the Red Sea tend to be the hottest parts of the country, while Amman is said to be the coolest. It’s good idea to pack layers for every eventuality!
What’s Jordan like during Ramadan?
Visiting Jordan throughout the holy month of Ramadan is nothing to be worried about. In fact, it can be a wonderful time to visit Jordan! Find out all about it in my dedicated post on Ramadan.
Is Jordan safe to visit?
As a Middle Eastern country, Jordan has found itself (unfairly) in the ‘dangerous countries’ list of some travellers. Yet, we found Jordan to be completely safe to visit. In fact, the locals in Jordan were some of the friendliest we have ever met! The country is doing an incredible job at promoting its culture, sights and natural wonders that you’d be mad not to want to see for yourself.
Of course, there are risks in any country, but much like my advice for visiting Istanbul, personal safety is mostly about common sense. Dress appropriately for a conservative country, avoid demonstrations and listen to the advice of the local police – your visit to Jordan will be a breeze!
Are you planning to spend 1 week in Jordan? I’d love to hear your plans or questions in the comments below!
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