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The Temple of Hercules in the Citadel, Amman, Jordan
Aleksandar Todorovic | Adobe Stock

How to Do Jordan in Nine Days

SmarterTravel

Editor’s Note: Exodus Travels hosted the author on its Desert to Dead Sea Jordan trip.

The small Middle Eastern country of Jordan is a dream trip to many travelers. Home to bucket-list sights like Petra and the Dead Sea, this destination is worth the journey. Limited on vacation time? You can still see the highlights of the country in just nine days. Exodus Travels’ Desert to Dead Sea Jordan trip is designed for travelers with limited time who still want to get a comprehensive overview of the country. 

This tour seamlessly takes adventurers across almost the entire country, from the north to the south, stopping at all the must-see spots along the way. 

Day One: Amman

Jordan’s biggest international airport is Amman (AMM) / Queen Alia International Airport, and its proximity to the capital city, Amman, makes it a great place to fly into to start your tour. 

Spend your first day getting to know Jordan by wandering around this vibrant city. There are historic sites to explore, like the Citadel and Roman Theater, or modern day restaurants and cafes to immerse yourself in, like the ones on colorful Rainbow Street.

City of Amman, Jordan at night
Ayman | Adobe Stock

Day Two: Jerash & Ajloun Forest

Ajloun Forest as seen from the Roe Deer Trail in Jordan
dadamira | Adobe Stock

Parts of the ancient Roman city of Jerash date back as far as AD 129. In this sprawling, well-preserved historical site, you can see imposing ruins that give a sense of how grand Jerash was during its heyday. 

Located just an hour’s drive from Amman, Jerash is a great introduction to Jordan’s varied history.

After Jerash, head a bit further north to the Ajloun Forest, a tranquil nature reserve that is a popular vacation spot for locals looking for some greenery. 

Day Three: Mount Nebo & Petra

The drive from Aljoun to Petra takes over four hours, but there are plenty of places to stop along the way. No matter your religion, Mount Nebo makes for a worthwhile break during the road trip. 

This holy site is believed to be the place where Moses saw the Promised Land—and today offers expansive views of the Dead Sea, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Inside the site, there are impressively intricate historic mosaics on display. Stop at the nearby Arts River Center for Mosaic & Handicrafts to purchase your own handcrafted mosaics, made by artists with special needs.

Caroline Morse-Teel

Leave plenty of time to arrive in Petra before 8:30pm. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Petra reopens in the evening to visitors for Petra by Night. The path to the Treasury, and the Treasury itself, are illuminated by thousands of candles. Take your time meandering along the softly lit path and enjoying seeing this stunning site at night. There’s also a performance held in front of the Treasury, with music and stories, which can be skipped if you’re hoping for an early bedtime to get back to Petra for sunrise tomorrow.

Day Four: Petra

The monastery at Petra in Jordan
dzain | Adobe Stock

To make the most of your time in Petra, plan to arrive by 6am, when the gates open. This will also give you a chance for an unforgettable experience—watching the sunrise over Petra, as well as the added bonus of having a few cooler hours for hiking before the heat of the day sets in (especially if you’re visiting in warmer months.)

All visits to Petra begin with a walk down the Main Trail, a lengthy stroll through sandstone cliffs that eventually opens up into a stunning view of the Treasury, one of the most famous sites in Petra. 

Depending on your fitness and motivation levels, a full day in Petra is enough time to see the three most popular sites—the Treasury, Monastery, and High Place of Sacrifice. However, this will be a long day, and much of Petra is exposed to the sun, so be sure to drink lots of water and wear sun protective clothing.

Day Five: Wadi Rum

Today, it’s time for another iconic Jordan adventure—a trip to the Wadi Rum desert. Take an off-roading tour along the sand, stopping at movie filming locations and stunning rock outcroppings, before finding a secluded spot to watch the sunset.

There are numerous camp-style accommodations throughout Wadi Rum, but the Wadi Rum UFO Camp is one of the most unique. These clear geodesic pods offer guests the ability to stargaze all night without leaving air-conditioned, ensuite comfort. 

After dark, take a guided walk out into the desert for unforgettable stargazing away from any light pollution.

Hooded trucks running through the desert in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Caroline Morse-Teel

Day Six: Red Sea

View of the Red Sea from Aqaba in Jordan
Caroline Morse-Teel

After a packed itinerary, you’ll be ready to unwind and get in true vacation mode, and the Red Sea is the place to do it. Spend the day relaxing and soaking in the sun at Berenice Beach Club, a private sandy beach with its own coral reef for snorkeling.

Time your trip back into downtown Aqaba to coincide with sunset, and get a cocktail on the roof of the Doubletree Aqaba for the best views. 

At night, the lively town of Aqaba offers plenty of spots to choose from for dinner. Pull up a chair at a sidewalk table at Khubza & Seneya, one of the city’s most popular restaurants, which serves up Jordanian mezze alongside great people-watching.

Day Seven: Dana Biosphere Reserve

Dana Biosphere Reserve and surrounding nature at sunset
lhboucault | Adobe Stock

The views at the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan’s largest nature reserve, are worth the detour on your way back north. Stunning views of the Wadi Dana and towering canyon go on for miles from many vantages here.

You’ll also have the opportunity to dine at a local family’s house in Dana, enjoying traditional homemade dishes like maklouba, a decadently spiced platter of meat and rice.

Day Eight: Dead Sea

Salt shore along the dead sea with desert mountains in the background
vvvita | Adobe Stock

No need to pack your floaties—a dip in the Dead Sea will be unlike anywhere you’ve ever swum before. The lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea is almost nine times saltier than the ocean, which creates a buoyancy effect for humans. You’ll find it a struggle to swim, but you’ll be able to float effortlessly here. 

After floating for a bit, take some mud from the Dead Sea and slather it all over your body. Allow it to dry before wading back into the water, and then finishing with a freshwater rinse. Your skin will feel incredibly soft and smooth, thanks to the rich minerals found in the mud.

Day Nine: Wadi Mujib

This little-known trail might just be your favorite stop in Jordan. Climb down a ladder into the Wadi Mujib, where a river rushes between towering slot canyons. Wade through the crystal-clear water as small fish nibble at your feet. Follow the ropes to take the Siq trail, which involves rock scrambles, adrenaline-pumping slides down slick rock face, swimming, and climbing before ending at a powerful waterfall. On the way back, the current will be in your favor, and you can float on your back while staring up at the blue sky and reddish pink walls. 

River running between two cliffs at Wadi Mujib in Jordan
Caroline Morse-Teel

The Best Group Tour Company for Jordan Trips

Crisscrossing Jordan and seeing the most of this beautiful country requires a fair amount of driving to fit it all in nine days. Leaving the driving to someone else is definitely the most relaxing option, especially given that the country’s roads aren’t the most well-signed, and they’re also riddled with speed bumps that are hard to see. 

On Exodus Travels’ Jordan trip, you’ll have a comfortable, air conditioned minibus and a personal driver to take care of the navigation. 

Taking Exodus Travels’ trip also opens up opportunities to connect with locals that you wouldn’t get as a solo traveler. A local guide will helm your trip, and teach you about what it’s like to grow up and live in the country. He’ll be able to give historic facts as well as offer insight into what modern day life is like in Jordan, as well as to advise travelers on local traditions and cultural norms. 

Exodus Travels’ trip also focuses on connecting with locals, opting for activities run by locals, shopping opportunities at Jordanian-owned businesses, and incorporating meals with local families in their homes. 

Exodus Travels’ nine-day Desert to Dead Sea Jordan trip starts at $2,699 and includes accommodation, airport transfers, activities, and most meals.

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