Jordan is a relatively small country with a deep and rich history. It has been the crossroads of civilization for centuries, where you’ll find the most beautiful Roman ruins outside Italy sitting alongside Arabic prayer towers. This 13-day luxury Jordan itinerary takes you from the green hills of the north to the Red Sea coast, with stops at Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea, and more.
I’ve adapted this itinerary from my professional press trips, adding additional time in key locations so everyday travelers can relax and enjoy themselves. It’s been optimized for routing efficiency and tested for logistic feasibility, so you can see the best of Jordan with less stress.
This itinerary focuses on authentic Jordan experiences, including:
- Best Jordan adventures
- Most luxurious hotels in Jordan
- Dishes you have to try in Jordan
- Essential Jordan history every traveler should know
What is remarkable is that you can do all of this at a reasonable pace with a two-week visit, but you might find yourself dreaming of returning to Jordan after you return home.
Before we get started on our 13-day Jordan itinerary, let’s pause a bit on getting around in Jordan. We designed this trip to be supported by a rental car. If you’re uncomfortable driving in Amman, it’s possible to forego a car until Day 4, when you head south into the desert. We’ll provide alternatives to driving for the first four days.
After Day 4, it becomes logistically challenging to follow this itinerary without dedicated transportation. There are multi-day tours you could book, especially to Wadi Rum and Petra, but it would be a significantly different experience. I found cell data to be remarkably available, but I would make sure that you take reasonable precautions before heading into the desert:
- Pack extra drinking water (~1 gallon/person)
- Check your fuel before heading out of towns
- Make sure the rental car has a spare tire and jack
- Have in-country cell service
- Download a regional map on your phone
- Download our specialized itinerary map onto your phone (maximize the map insert from the post from your phone)
With that, here’s our interactive Jordan itinerary map. It’s made with native Google pins containing reviews, and pictures, so take a moment and click around. We’ve included our recommended attractions and accommodations, including daily driving routes.
Day 1 – Arrive in Amman
Almost five million travelers a year arrive in Amman through Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), which is where our itinerary begins. Sariyah shuttle buses and regular taxi services connect the airport to Amman. However, we assume you’re picking up a rental car at the Amman Airport. The airport’s car rental page mentions that some companies can provide a vehicle and driver, which nervous drivers might particularly appreciate during the first few days. We picked a hotel with easy freeway access, so you’ll only be driving in Amman on the morning of day 3. You could rent a car and decide to use taxis to get to the Amman Citadel if you feel nervous later.
The Landmark Amman Hotel & Conference Center is our Concierge Choice hotel in Amman because it’s the only Jordanian-run 5-star hotel in the kingdom. It’s conveniently located a short walk away from the historic Jabal Al Weibdeh neighborhood and the new downtown area of Abdali. It’s a 30-minute drive from the airport with complimentary on-site parking. There are also six restaurants and lounges serving a delicious range of dining options, including Amman’s longest outdoor bar.
If you’re recovering from your flight, you can enjoy warm Jordanian hospitality and inspiring local influences without leaving the hotel (four US airports offer direct flights to Amman!). If you are raring to get out and explore, you can take advantage of the Landmark’s central location and venture out into the city as soon as you check-in.
Should you want to split the difference between staying in and exploring, take the 15-minute walk to the 13C Wine Bar, with a speakeasy-style restaurant in the back where you can try Jordanian wine paired with creative gastronomy, like molasses eggplant with sesame seeds. While you’re out and about, head a half-block down Arar Street to check out an Insta-worthy set of rainbow stairs.
Day 2 – Umm Qais
For your first full day in Jordan, you’re heading two hours north of Amman to explore Umm Qais and the ruins of the Decapolis city of Gadara. With four hours of driving ahead of you, make breakfast easy by dining at Colours Restaurant in the Landmark. It’s an all-day buffet that starts at 6:30 am, so you can have a feed-up and get rolling on the road.
Umm Qais is located in the far north of Jordan on a ridge 1,240 ft above sea level, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the Yarmouk River gorge. As you’d expect, the region has always been of strategic importance, including one of the most decisive battles in the history of the world, the Battle of the Yarmuk, which effectively ended Christian control of the middle east for over a thousand years.
We recommend hiring a knowledgeable local guide when visiting Umm Qais to enhance your experience. To fully maximize your day, you can book additional experiences from Baraka Destinations, including olive picking, beekeeping, basket weaving, and stone masonry. These activities were essential to ancient Umm Qais and are preserved today through eco-tours like Baraka.
I stopped in to use the restrooms at the famous Umm Qais Rest House. The food looked so good that I was tempted to stay, but I had booked a special lunch at Galsoum Kitchen, which was incredible. Our host, Galsoum Al Sayyah, cooked a full traditional Jordanian meal, but I fell in love with the Makmoura. The dish translates as “buried,” but our hostess described it as “Jordan lasagna.” Makmoura is dough with chicken and onions and slow baked to a golden brown. She said it takes five hours to prepare a meal like this, and she employs local women to keep these traditions alive.
You will split your Umm Qais day between touring the ruins and Baraka Destinations activities, but be sure to notice the start of the Jordan Trail. It’s a long-distance hiking or biking trail that takes you from the far north of Umm Qais to the Red Sea coast at Aqaba.
With four hours of driving time and a full slate of activities, this is a long day, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage of the six on-premise restaurants waiting for you upon your return to the Landmark Hotel in Amman.
Day 3 – Amman – Jerash
Day 3 is another full day, so make it easy on yourself with a buffet breakfast at the Landmark. Then, make the short drive (or taxi) up to the Amman Citadel for more historical exploration, including the Roman Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad Palace, the Byzantine Church, and the Ayyubid Watchtower. Also, at the citadel, you’ll find the Jordan Archaeological Museum, with artifacts chronologically arranged from prehistoric times to the 15th century, and the Roman Theater just down the hill.
Set your watch and plan to leave around eleven for lunch in Souf. Don’t worry if you didn’t see everything. There’s a window tomorrow morning to finish out your Amman visit. Why Souf for lunch? So you can experience the tastes and traditions of the Jordanian culture with the Batarseh family. They opened their hearts (and circa 1881 home) for the Beit Khairat Souf. It’s a social concept similar to Galsoum’s Kitchen in empowering local women, except it’s more of an outdoor restaurant setting with, in our opinion, the best hummus in Jordan.
After a delicious lunch, it’s time to finally experience Jerash, often considered the largest and best-preserved Roman site outside of Italy. You’ll have plenty to explore, from its 3,000-seat amphitheater to the thousand columns lining the Cardo Maximus. There’s a reason Jerash is the second most visited archeological site in Jordan (second to Petra) and a reason we saved it for last. Also, wear comfortable shoes for today because Jerash is huge.
After exploring Jerash to your heart’s content, return to Amman for dinner at the Jordan Heritage Restaurant. It’s a veritable tour of the diversity and richness of the Jordanian culture and geo-climatic landscapes through 95 dishes with eleven distinct flavors. Even though they use ‘Chipotle Math’ to expand the dish count, it’s backed by five years of intensive research.
Are you ready to work off your gastronomic tour of Jordan with a walking tour of Amman? After two days of learning about the history of Jordan, it’s time to learn about modern Jordan with a tour from Through Local Eyes. You’ll get a young and fresh perspective on this ancient city by learning about the challenges and achievements of local artists and visionaries while seeing parts of the city rarely visited by tourists.
Day 4 – Mount Nebo, Madaba, Arrive at Feynan Ecolodge
Day four says goodbye to Amman and hello to Jordan’s wild south. Today’s schedule is paced by a 4.25-hour drive to Wadi Feynan with stops in Mt Nebo / Madaba. You will want to be in Wadi Feynan before sunset for navigation and to enjoy the natural beauty, so plan accordingly.
That being said, day 13 of this schedule concludes with you returning to the airport directly from the Dead Sea, so this is your last chance to do that ‘one thing’ you didn’t get to do in Amman. It could be seeing the Roman Theater or the larger and modern Jordan Archaeological Museum that wasn’t co-located at the Citadel. Maybe you’ll begin the day by sorting out your car situation to self-drive the rest of the trip.
You’ll visit Mt Nebo and Madaba on the way to Wadi Feynan. Mt Nebo is where Moses first saw the Holy Land. It’s a chance to walk in history and imagine what this area was like 3000 years ago (spoiler alert, it was a lot greener). Madaba is known as the City of Mosaics, with several famous mosaics, including the Madaba Map (the oldest known map of the Holy Land) and the world’s largest mosaic in the visitor center (19 feet high by 98 feet long).
Day four is all about balancing time. How much time do you want to spend in Amman? Do you want to take the detour to Mt Nebo? How much walking will you do in Madaba between the Church of the Map, the Church of the Martyrs, and the Archeological Park? In addition to ensuring you arrive at the Feynan Ecolodge before sunset, you’ll also want to save time for lunch at Haret Jdoudna– restaurants, coffee shops, and a traditional Jordanian Souk and Crafts Market located in a historic property in Madaba. Haret Jdoudna is known as one of the best restaurants in Jordan, so you’re in for a treat. Their freshly baked bread is extraordinary!
After Madaba, it’s time to head to the Feynan Ecolodge for dinner and your overnight stay. It’s such a magical place that we added an entire day to the itinerary for you to experience it, so you’ll get those details in the next section. However, make sure that you locate the turnoff from the Jordan Valley Highway to Wadi Feynan. It’s rather subtle, so we added a waypoint to the map with a 360 photosphere to help
Day 5- Feynan Ecolodge
No trip to Jordan is complete without going to the wadis (canyons) in the Jordanian Desert. Most people think about Wadi Rum, which is amazing and coming up later on this itinerary. However, Wadi Feynan in the Dana Nature Preserve is a ‘must-see’ for discerning travelers looking for a more authentic and natural experience thanks to the Feynan Ecolodge, which ranks as one of the Best 25 Ecolodges in the World by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
The Feynan Ecolodge is a 26-room retreat set in the untouched desert of Wadi Feynan. It’s beautiful, sustainable, and unforgettable. Your days are filled with authentic Bedouin experiences like making traditional ‘Arbood’ bread directly in hot coals or weaving a goat hair tent. Alternatively, you can hike or mountain bike the remote canyons before returning to your candle-lit lodge for dinner under the stars. We recommend doing everything (or at least as much as you can), which is why we suggest two nights and nearly two full days at the Feynan Ecolodge.
Day 6 – Petra at Night
Let’s not kid ourselves. Despite the title, much of Day 6 will be spent adventuring at the Feynan Ecolodge. However, Night 6 is all about Petra. The big question is, how much time do you have to play a Feynan and still make it to Petra at Night? Which leads us to another obvious question, what is Petra at Night?
Petra at Night is an additional experience in Petra where you walk the Siq by candlelight and enjoy a sound and light performance at The Treasury. The music, lighting, and ambiance are so beautiful that you don’t want to miss them. It’s a fabulous appetizer for Petra before visiting all day. It only happens on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so we’re assuming Day 6 happens on Mon, Wed, Thur when building this itinerary. Still, since you’re spending two days in Petra, you can make modifications to experience Petra at Night on the second day.
I would stay through lunch at Feynan Ecolodge and then begin your two-hour drive from Feynan to Petra. Check into our Concierge Choice hotel – the Movenpick Petra Hotel, a 5-star resort located directly at the entrance to the historic Jordanian city of Petra. You’ll have time to drop your bags and freshen up before Movenpick’s Chocolate Hour- 60 minutes of complimentary chocolate indulgence every afternoon at 4:00.
From there, wander over to the Petra Visitor Center to pick up tickets and do a little tourist shopping. Return to the Movenpick for sunset dining at the Al Ghadeer Roof Garden restaurant and then head down to the visitor center for Petra at Night. You’ll want to be lined up at the gates by 8:00 for the best seats. Gates open at 8:30, and then the magic begins. Expect to be back at the Movenpick by 11:00 unless you stay a little longer to take pictures.
Day 7 – Petra
Some people say the seventh day is a day of rest. For you, it’s a full-on day in Petra, so bring comfortable shoes. Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most visited location in Jordan, and one of 7 New Wonders of the World. Many people spend three days in Petra for all the history and adventures, so if you want to add a day here, we wouldn’t blame you.
Every trip to Petra starts with a hike through a mile-long sandstone canyon called The Siq. The canyon ends at the old Nabatean city of Petra, famous for its carved rose-red sandstone facades. The first one you reach is the Treasury, which you’ve seen thousands of times in pictures and in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
After the Treasury, you can hike through another smaller canyon filled with artisan crafts to another large area filled with amazing sights. Be sure to grab lunch before heading up to the Monastery (it’s quite a climb) if you like adventure and want to see the area from a viewpoint sure to take your breath away! We could write an entire guide about what to do at Petra, but long story short, you have too many options to cover here. Also, don’t be shy about hiring a Bedouin guide to enhance the experience. It’s money well spent.
Day 8/9 – Wadi Rum
Days 8 and 9 are dedicated to Wadi Rum, the quintessential Jordanian Desert experience in ‘The Valley of the Moon.’ However, you could take the morning of Day 8 to finish out Petra experiences like Little Petra on your way out since you probably do not want to hike all the way into the Siq and back out again.
Wadi Rum adventures are based, literally and figuratively, on your choice of camp. There are a few notable luxurious camps to stay at, so here are our top 3 Concierge Choice camps:
- Memories Aicha Luxury Camp
- Sharah Luxury Camp
- Wadi Rum UFO Luxotel
You’ll love glamping in comfortable bubble tents that immerse you in the expansive desert. Plus, the food is always delicious, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
You’ll want to coordinate your Wadi Rum adventures through your camp because they’re integrated into the local Bedouin community. You can rumble through the canyon floor in jeeps or scramble up side-canyons on guided hikes; you might even take a go at sandboarding! If you want, there’s enough to do to justify a third Wadi Rum day, but two should be enough to catch at least one phenomenal sunset and an otherworldly sunrise.
Day 10 – Aqaba
The warm waters of the Red Sea are home to some of the most colorful coral in the world. Luckily, Jordan has 16 miles of shoreline, just enough for a sea day scuba diving, snorkeling, or just sailing around.
It’s only an hour’s drive from Wadi Rum to Aqaba, so you can make a morning boat if you want. You can also take a leisurely morning in Wadi Rum and plan for an afternoon boat in Aqaba.
Our Concierge Choice hotel for Aqaba is the Movenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba. It’s a modern and luxurious hotel with delicious on-site restaurants. It also has beach access and their sumptuous chocolate hour, which might be reason enough to catch the morning boat and hang out at the hotel during the afternoon. Fair warning, after getting a taste of diving the Red Sea, you may be tempted to extend this leg of the trip and book an extra day or two to blow more bubbles.
Day 11 – Swim in the Dead Sea
On day 11, you head back up the Jordan Valley Highway for a chill day of rest and relaxation. The Dead Sea is the lowest (-1,371 ft) and most salinated (34% salinity) lake in the world. Only Jordan and Israel border the Dead Sea, so you must try swimming in the Dead Sea while you’re in Jordan.
That being said, it only takes 15 minutes of floating effortlessly, lifting both arms and legs out of the water like an Olympic synchronized swimmer, to be satisfied and fully Zen. You definitely have to do it, but it will not take all day, which is why our Concierge Choice hotel is the Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa. It has private access to the Dead Sea, including mud baths. After your float and mud baths, you can shower and swim in the freshwater pools or book a treatment in their award-winning spa.
It’s only a 3-hour drive between Aqaba and the Hilton, so you could even book another morning dive if you wanted. That still leaves the afternoon for experiencing the Hilton and the Dead Sea.
In the spirit of chill days, plan your meals at either the Movenpick or Hilton and keep things simple and easy. The Hilton features Lebanese, Italian, patisserie, and international offerings across their restaurants and bars, including swim-up and rooftop options.
Day 12 – Bethany Beyond the Jordan / Wadi Mujib / Ma’in Hot Springs
Day 12 is a water day with canyoneering in Wadi Mujib, then on to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, and an overnight at the Ma’in Hot Springs.
For canyoneering at Wadi Mujib, you’ll want to start early and be lined up before 8:30. There’s a limited number of people allowed in the canyon, so if you miss the first wave, you’ll have a long wait until a space opens up. Once you’re in the canyon, it’s a splashing fun time with a couple of rope-assisted climbs up Wadi Mujib to a waterfall. The lower water-filled canyon is not open in winter, but a dry upper route is available.
Bethany Beyond The Jordan is a UNESCO site with a very legitimate claim as the baptismal site of Jesus. It’s a relatively newly developed site, so it’s subtle, but has an enormous historical significance.
The Ma’in Hot Springs are accessed through the Ma’In Hotel and Spa, so you’ll want to relocate hotels to go to the hot springs. It’s a beautiful property that’s an equal distance from the airport as the Hilton, so you might want to relocate anyway just to see something different.
You could plan to do all three activities and take advantage of the Ma’In Hotel’s exclusive guest access to the hot springs from 6:00 am to 9:00 am the next day if you have time before your departing flight.
Day 13 – Departure and Departing Thoughts on this Jordan Itinerary
Day 13 is your departure day, so let’s keep it easy. It’s only one hour from the Mi’an Hot Springs Hotel to the airport, and you don’t have to cross Amman traffic. That being said, the airport has a detached car rental building, and you don’t want to mess up your international flights, so leave yourself plenty of time. Spend the morning enjoying your hotel and leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport.
Our departing thoughts on this Jordan itinerary are that certain hotels and activities book out early, like the 26-room Feynan Ecolodge, Galsoum Kitchen, and Through Local Eyes, so make reservations where you can. Finally, even though we added extra time to our personal trip, this is still an action-packed itinerary, so bear that in mind when making plans. Add on extra days if you want or manage your FOMO, and don’t try to do-it-all all-the-time….but where’s the fun in that?