Dabbling in Jet Lag
Jordan is a place that will welcome you with open arms and take you on a journey through time. Its food will tickle your taste buds and its landscapes will leave you mesmerized. A visit to Jordan will, no doubt, captivate your senses and leave you wanting to return. And, despite lying between more tumultuous nations, Jordan, like Oman, is one of the rare stable countries in the area.
Of course, there are many ways to tour Jordan, but the easiest and cheapest is by car. The roads are well-maintained and gas costs next to nothing. So, if you’re looking for an unforgettable road trip, then you’ve come to the right place. I spent 10 days in Jordan, and it’s a trip that I will never forget. So, I’ve put together the ultimate road trip itinerary to inspire you and help you plan your next trip!
Table of Contents
Jordan Road Trip Map
For an interactive map of Jordan that includes all the highlights as well as driving directions, click here.
10 Day Road Trip in Jordan
Here is a general overview of my 10-day road trip around Jordan:
Amman (0 days) – Wadi Rum (2 days), Aqaba (Lunch Break), Petra (2 days), Little Petra (afternoon excursion), Shobak Castle (afternoon excursion), Madaba (3 days), Jerash (1 day), and Amman (1 day).
Day 1: Amman to Wadi Rum
Follow the Desert Highway from Amman to the Wadi Rum. On arrival, you will need to stop by the visitor center and book your Wadi Rum tour. A guide here is mandatory, but don’t let this deter you. There are several options available including day trips, overnight stays, and luxury excursions. I chose the 1-day 1-night visit. This is the most cost-effective option, and you will be able to see most of the main sites.
Once you’ve selected your tour, you will be on your way to one of the most awesome natural wonders of the region. Here sun-scorched deep orange-red limestone rock formations create a surreal scene. And, even if it’s nicknamed the Valley of the Moon, you will feel like you’re on Mars.
Of course, the stunning landscapes are not the only attraction. Caves containing petroglyphs from ancient Nabataean peoples are hidden throughout the desert. It’s an impressive sight, to say the least.
After you tour the sands, you will head to your abode for the evening. Here you’ll indulge in a delicious homemade meal from a local family and spend the night gazing at the stars.
Cost for 1-day 1-night Wadi Rum Tour: 135 JOD (~190 USD)
Distance from Amman to Wadi Rum: 285 km (177 miles)
Driving Time: 3.5 hours
Day 2: Wadi Rum to Wadi Musa (Petra)
On the second day, you will wake up from a deep sleep and eat one last meal in the Wadi Rum. Then you will return to your car and begin your journey to the most visited place in Jordan, Petra. But before you do, I recommend stopping in Aqaba for lunch on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. It’s a chance to experience one of the lesser-known spots in Jordan!
And, for the rest of the day, you’ll be driving. If you stop for lunch in Aqaba you will arrive in Wadi Musa, the closest city to Petra, in the evening.
- Wadi Rum to Aqaba: 57 km (35 miles)
- Aqaba to Wadi Musa: 125 km (77 miles)
Total Driving Time: 3 hours
Days 3-4: Petra
Now, for the most anticipated site of the trip, Petra. Head down to the visitor center to buy your ticket. There are several options, but I would recommend the 2-day ticket. Like the Wadi Rum, this is the most cost-effective option.
Useful Tip: Wadi Musa is the closest city to Petra, and most hotels are within walking distance. So, you won’t have to drive.
After you have your ticket, you will wander down a narrowly carved cavern that opens to the most well-known image of Petra. This awe-inspiring view is only the beginning. The next two days will be spent walking the roads of this ancient city and touring intricately carved temples and monuments. In fact, evidence shows that Petra was first inhabited in the 4th century BC. And it even served as the capital of the Nabataean civilization. At its peak, Petra was the most important trading outpost in the region. The sheer size of the city shows just how important it was.
Admission to Petra: 50 JOD (~70 USD) (Passport or a government-issued ID is mandatory at the time of purchase.)
Day 5: Wadi Musa to Madaba
After spending two magical days in Petra, you will drive down King’s Highway to Madaba. And, along the way, you’ll stop at two sites: Little Petra and Shobak Castle.
Little Petra (Siiq al-Bariid)
Little Petra, also known as Siq al-Barid, is a Nabataean site like Petra. Here temples and caves are carved into the walls of the sandstone canyons. You’ll climb up, over, and through a thin canyon, finishing with a spectacular view. While much of its history remains unknown, it’s thought that Little Petra was built sometime in the 1st century BC.
Admission to Little Petra: Free
Sitting at the edge of the Dana Reserve, the Shobak ruins offer insight into the fortification structures of the 11th and 12th centuries. These were once-great palisades that have fallen victim to the harsh desert conditions. Much of the ruins are crumbling and are under restoration, but it’s still a must-see in Jordan.
Admission to Shobak: 1 JOD (~1.4 USD)
- Wadi Musa to Little Petra: 10 km (6 miles)
- Little Petra to Shobak: 30 km (19 miles)
- Shobak to Madaba: 190 km (118 miles)
Total Driving Time: 4 hours
Days 6-8: Madaba
Madaba lies on the edge of King’s Highway surrounded by dusty desert hills in the historic heart of Jordan. Its defining feature is a glorious, gold-gilded mosque topped with spiked minarets. Madaba is also home to ancient mosaics that date from the Umayyad era. You could easily spend a day wandering the streets and touring the ancient relics. And down the road, there are two world-renowned wonders: Mount Nebo and the Dead Sea. Each of which warrants their own full day. Mount Nebo will wow you with its magnificent unobstructed views. This is, after all, where God granted Moses a view of the Promised Land. And a swim in the Dead Sea will give you the chance to cross off a bucket list item! Who doesn’t want to take a dip in the world’s saltiest body water? It’s even said to have healing properties.
There are a few other noteworthily things to do near Madaba. If you have extra time, make sure to check these out!
- Dead Sea Panorama Complex
- Wadi Mujib
- Ruins of Umm Ar-Rassas
Useful Tip: It’s difficult to find parking in Madaba. You will need to navigate through small one-way streets that are always full of traffic jams. But there are several free parking lots throughout the city. Avoid parking on the street at all costs.
Day 9: Jerash
From Madaba, you’ll drive north to Jerash, your final archaeological wonder. This ancient site attracts almost as many visitors as Petra. Here you’ll find towering colonnades, old forums, temples turned into Byzantine churches, and massive plazas. Inscriptions show that Jerash was built during the time of Alexander the Great. And it’s, perhaps, one of the most remarkable Roman provincial cities still on the planet today.
After you’ve spent the day touring this magnificent site, head to Amman for the night. There are more affordable accommodation options and it’s closer to Queen Alia International Airport.
Admission to Jerash: 10 JOD (~14 USD)
- Madaba to Jerash: 78 km (48 miles)
- Jerash to Amman: 50 km (31 miles)
Total Driving Time: 2.5 hours
Day 10: Amman
This is your last day and you’ll be spending it in one of the liveliest cities in the country. Amman, the capital of Jordan, is brimming with life. And there are quite a few things to do here. Depending on your schedule, the best things to see include; the Roman Amphitheatre, the Grand Husseini Mosque, and the Amman Citadel. If your flight is early in the morning, you could also visit Amman on your first day. Either way, it’s definitely worth it!
Tips for Visiting Jordan
- Most nationalities can get a visa upon arrival. For a complete list of Jordan’s travel requirements, click here.
- The best time to visit Jordan is April-May and October-November. Temperatures are cool and it’s outside the rainy season. Beware! The summers (June-September) in Jordan are scorching!
- Renting a car is the easiest way to get around. And most major rental companies can be found at Queen Alia International Airport.
- Before returning your rental car, you’ll need to be sure it’s clean (inside and out). There are plenty of low-cost places that will clean your car in Amman.
- Respect the culture and dress modestly. This means knees and shoulders should be covered in public.
- Driving in Jordan is, for the most part, safe. Traffic jams and hairpin turns are the biggest worries. But, if you pay close attention and take your time, you won’t have a problem.
- Not every car will have GPS. Make sure to have some form of offline navigation, like maps.me.
- Entrance fees are controlled by the tourism board in Jordan. Make sure to visit their website before touring a site.
A trip to Jordan is an escape to another world. From ancient wonders and UNESCO World Heritage sites to sweeping desert landscapes, it’s a country that won’t disappoint. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate 10-day Jordan itinerary then use this guide to plan your next adventure!
Check Out My Other Travel Guides
Hope you enjoyed my post on 10 days in Jordan and found it useful. Here are some of my other road trip travel itineraries that you might find interesting.
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