Jordan is an absolutely stunning country with some world class itinerary. This guide to the best Jordan Tourist Attractions and Jordan Itinerary covers a 7-night visit and includes Petra, Aqaba, the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum. You could easily change this to a 9 or 10-night itinerary and add in Amman.
The Best Jordan Tourist Attractions: Petra
Petra is an amazing archaeological city in Jordan. For many it is best known for its appearance in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – I highly recommend you watch this film before going! Petra is and old city rediscovered in the early 1800s by a swiss traveller.
Today it is a well deserved World Heritage Site with all the positives that come with that as well as one of the key Jordan tourist attractions. You can visit by day and/or experience the magic of Petra by candlelight at night. Visiting Petra does involve a lot of walking so take care with your footwear! Entry to the city is through the rather magical and very photogenic Siq. You can get a donkey/horse/cart etc but I would recommend walking as this felt the most magical way to arrive.
The entry into Jordan from the Siq is quite unforgettable – The Treasury emerges as you exit the Siq – have your camera ready! Once inside you can then explore the old city and do the hike up to The Monastery. It is a large site and there is much to see. If you are a photographer plan your trip around the light – it moves around a lot with all the buildings and has a massive effect on the quality of photos. The colours of the buildings – especially the Treasury – change throughout the day.
The two main buildings of Petra are the Treasury – the first building you see – and the Monastery – the building farthest away from the Treasury! In between, there are many royal tombs to explore. It is a good 75 minutes return from the Palace Tomb to get above the Treasury. Make sure you time this well as you would not want to have to descend down the stairs in poor light.
You can find your way around on your own but you will need a good guidebook. There are of course many guide options once you arrive. As it is such a large site I think it is worth getting a guide to make sure you don’t miss anything – or don’t walk randomly for a long period of time!
For more information visit the official Petra tourism site.
Petra is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget!
Heading to Jordan with kids? Make sure you read this great post on Family Travel in Jordan from Roaming Family.
The Best Jordan Tourist Attractions: Getting to Petra
Getting to Petra is not easy! The closest airport and major city is Aqaba but this is still 90 minutes away. Unfortunately there is not fantastic flight frequency to Aqaba either. The other option is to fly into Amman. There are many more flights and better deals but it is 3 hours away.
You could do a long day trip from Aqaba but it would be a lengthy day and you would miss both the morning and late afternoon light. Midday is hot and not the most pleasant for wandering around.
I would recommend either going to Petra on your way from Amman to Aqaba and spending a night there. Or going from either Amman or Aqaba and spending the night. This also then allows you to experience the Petra by night ceremony.
The Best Jordan Tourist Attractions: Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is the stunning desert area in Jordan. Made famous by Lawrence of Arabia it is a jaw dropping landscape of rich colours and shapes. It is photography heaven thus this post is a photo essay and one of the main Jordan tourist attractions.
The desert is a protected area in the south of Jordan. The Rum as it is known has been habited for thousands of years. Today the residents of the Rum are bedouins – they live on and around the area and tend to their goat herds. There are many sites to see within Wadi Rum. Quite a few were made famous by Lawrence of Arabia – such as the seven pillars of wisdom and Lawrence’s Spring.
There are also sand dunes and a rock bridge to climb if you dare! Your guide will take you to the best places to see the sun set or rise depending on the time of day and time of year. They are stunning displays in the desert.
When I went we hired a guide to take us out for a day and then slept at a camp in the desert hoping to see the sunrise in the morning. Instead, we had a terrible night where the guys who owned the camp decided to hold a party at midnight that involved loud music, kerosene, lots of liquor, some dwarves and a piano. It was like some bad David Lynch film. Anyway, we got out ok and that was some time ago but I highly recommend you do some thorough research on where you will be staying the night if you intend to sleep over!
Apart from that, we had had an amazing day driving through Wadi Rum. The scenery is stunning and it is so quiet and so big. The desert appears to stretch forever. I highly highly recommend a trip to Wadi Rum if you are heading to Jordan.
Jordan Itinerary Day One:
Arrive on overnight flight into Amman
Bus from Amman to Aqaba
Stay in Aqaba
Jordan Day Two:
Stay in Aqaba
Jordan Itinerary Day Three:
Visit Petra – day trip
Stay in Aqaba
Jordan Day Four:
Overnight trip to Wadi Rum
Day spend exploring Wadi Rum
Stay in Wadi Rum
Jordan Itinerary Day Five:
Back to Aqaba
Day by the pool and Stay in Aqaba
Jordan Day Six:
Day in Aqaba
Head to Petra for the night candle service
Stay in Aqaba
Jodan Itinerary Day Seven:
Head to the Dead Sea
Afternoon in the Dead Sea
Stay at the Dead Sea
Fly out of Amman
The Best Jordan Tourist Attractions – What I would have done differently:
Aqaba worked as a place to relax and as a base for exploring Wadi Rum. However, it was a real pain to get to Petra and back – nearly two hours each way. And it was not easy to find ways to get there that suited. In hindsight, I would have gone from Aqaba to Petra and stayed there for 2 nights. Petra and Wadi Rum are the highlights of Jordan. Aqaba is great for relaxing and as a base for Wadi Rum but there is little else to do there.
I did visit the Royal Diving Club in Aqaba which was good and went snorkelling on the Red Sea. If you like snorkelling and diving you may want to consider staying as long as I did in Aqaba – otherwise, I would reduce the time spent there. The odds are your hotel in Petra will have a pool anyway so you can relax there as well as exploring.
I didn’t go to Amman as there didn’t seem to be a lot there. However, I have read that things have moved on in Amman in recent years and that there are some good restaurants etc so it may be worth looking at adding a day in Amman into your schedule. Again you could remove another night in Aqaba although the trip will then get a bit full on in terms of time spent moving around. It may be better to add one more night to the itinerary.
Jordan Tourist Attractions & Jordan Itinerary Useful Links
Looking for some other off the beaten track destinations? How about:
And here’s my Pinterest board on Jordan
Jordan Tourist Attractions Accommodation:
For accommodation options in Amman click here
For accommodation options in Petra click here
For accommodation options in Aqaba click here
Looking for accommodation options in Wadi Rum? Click here for some options
Looking for accommodation on the Dead Sea? Click here for some options
Jordan Itinerary Flights:
Looking for flights to Aqaba? Click here for some great deals
Looking for flights to Amman? Click here for some great deals
Try my favourite Middle Eastern airlines – especially if you want a great business class experience:
Click here for Car hire
If you’re going to hire a car in Jordan check out this great post on 5 Things You Need to Know Before Driving in Jordan.
Looking for Tours to Petra? Click here for some great options
Looking for tours that are more enjoyable than mine was around Wadi Rum? Click here for some options
Interested in taking some tours while in Aqaba? Click here for some fun options
Interested in taking some tours while around the Dead Sea? Click here for some options
Jordan Group Tours:
If you’re travelling solo a group tour can be a great idea:
Need Travel Insurance? Click here
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Also published on Medium.