Some destinations beg for a long, leisurely visit; others can be enjoyed equally in a short time. Jordan is more of the former than the latter – but if you’re short on time and want to visit Jordan, that’s no reason to skip planning a trip!
I’ve been fortunate to visit Jordan repeatedly, and love exploring new parts of the country each time I visit. While I normally recommend spending no less than five days in Jordan, I understand that your travel circumstances might not allow that and you might only have 3 days in Jordan. Even with a shortened timeframe, you still want to visit to do and see as much as you can – and I want to help.
You certainly won’t be able to see everything Jordan has to offer in just three days – and don’t be surprised if you end up inspired to make a return visit. However, having only three days in Jordan should not deter you from planning a trip at all; you can fit a lot in with three days even if not everything.
If you’re ready to make the most of your time and plan your three-day Jordan itinerary, read on to discover three different routes I recommend and how to do each one.
3 Days in Jordan: A Quick Glance
Before jumping into the three itineraries in detail, I want to start by giving you a quick breakdown of each itinerary I suggest. You can see them in the table below, with basic details of each day and where you’ll visit:
|Day||Itinerary #1||Itinerary #2||Itinerary #3|
|1||Amman to Jerash & Ajloun||Amman to Petra||Amman to Petra|
|2||Amman to Petra||Petra to Wadi Rum||Petra to Dead Sea|
|3||Petra to Amman||Wadi Rum to Amman||Dead Sea to Amman|
If any or all of these sound interesting to you, read on! Soon you’ll be able to pick which one you want to do and maximize your time in Jordan.
Itinerary #1: Amman-Jerash-Petra
Here’s my first alternative for your 3 days in Jordan itinerary. In this itinerary, you will concentrate mainly on exploring the capital and its surroundings. The only “detour” you’ll take is to visit Petra. I think this Jordan 3-day itinerary will suit people who don’t want to rush from one place to another, and instead, they will be able to enjoy each place they visit a bit more. Let’s take a look.
Day 1: Amman to Jerash & Ajloun
Rise early and grab breakfast at your hotel. Today, you’ll focus on Amman’s peripheral attractions: Jerash and Ajloun Castle. The drive to Jerash takes 45 minutes. The historic site houses some stunning Greco-Roman ruins. You can explore the place on your own or book a Jordanian who’ll happily show you around.
Your next stop is Ajloun Castle, a 12th-century Muslim castle that served as a fortress under the rule of the sultan and military leader Saladin. Make your way back to Amman and try to explore the city’s downtown. Also, grab dinner at one of Amman’s restaurants to get a glimpse of local life.
Day 2: Amman to Petra-by-Night
Rise and shine! Have a rich breakfast at your hotel, and you’ll be ready to drive or walk to your first stop of the day, Amman Citadel. Sitting atop Jebel Al Qala’a, the Citadel is a complex of Roman ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. The place is quite compact, and you should try to see the main sights: The Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace, whose ancient buildings are the best-preserved structure at the Amman Citadel. There are plenty of information boards around, so you don’t have to book a tour to explore the place.
Grab lunch in Amman and get ready to hit the road. Your next stop is Petra, the ancient capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. The drive takes around three hours, depending on traffic and unexpected delays. As soon as you arrive in Petra, go to your hotel, check-in, and head straight away to the visitor center to purchase your tickets for the Petra-by-Night experience.
Day 3: Petra to Amman
Yesterday, you got to see Petra under the moonlight. Today, you get to see the Red Rose City in full daylight. Try to get up as early as possible to win some time. You’ll likely only get the opportunity to hike the Main Trail, which covers the most significant locations within the site, some of which you saw yesterday, like the Treasury.
You have to be back at your hotel by noon to embark on the journey back to Amman. Remember Jordan’s traffic can be hectic and unpredictable, so try to spare time if eventualities occur.
Itinerary #2: Amman-Petra-Wadi Rum
If road trips are something you’re willing to do, you can fit a lot more into your 3 days in Jordan. While Jordan isn’t a huge country in terms of size, you have to hit the road if you want to visit its most famous sights. You get to see Amman, Petra, and Wadi Rum in this itinerary. I know it sounds a bit ambitious, but it’s definitely doable.
Day 1: Amman to Petra-by-Night
On day one of your three days in Jordan, you’ll explore Amman Citadel and Downtown Amman, and then head to Petra.
Get up early and make it to Amman Citadel. You can spend 2-3 hours here, depending on how much you want to see besides the main sights, The Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace.
From Amman Citadel, drive to Al Balad in Downtown Amman. This area is highly commercial, with restaurants, souks, and stalls selling exquisite Middle-Eastern delicacies. Have lunch in Al Balad and then make for Petra. It’s a 2.5-hour drive, so you’ll arrive in time for dinner and to grab tickets for the Petra-by-Night experience.
Petra-by-Night starts around 8:30 pm on evenings it’s offered; you’ll get to walk the Siq trail to the Treasury, enjoy Bedouin music by candlelight, and have time to take iconic photos.
Day 2: Petra to Wadi Rum
As I said in the previous Jordan three-day itinerary, you have to get up as early as possible to explore Petra by day. Follow the Main Trail, and if you’re feeling ambitious (and are a fit person), you can climb up to the Monastery or visit other sights within Petra. Wadi Rum is only two hours away, so there’s no need to rush.
The best-case scenario would be that you arrive in Wadi Rum in the afternoon. When you get to Wadi Rum, find your camp and purchase a jeep sunset tour to get a first glimpse of the stunning desert. Then, come back to your camp’s common room and enjoy a delightful dinner.
Day 3: Wadi Rum to Amman
I know you’re tired, but this is the last effort you’ll make. On day three, you have to get up before sunrise. You’ll say goodbye to Wadi Rum on a sunrise camel tour. Believe me, watching the sun come out and cover the desert in sunlight is a magical experience.
Camel tours take 40 minutes, leaving you enough time to grab breakfast at your camp. Pack your things, and get in the car to make for Amman. It’s a four-hour trip, so try to leave on time.
Itinerary #3: Amman-Petra-Dead Sea
If spending two of your 3 days in Jordan in rocky or dusty landscapes sounds like too much, you’ll want to check out this itinerary. Instead of visiting Wadi Rum, you’ll visit the Dead Sea, another mind-blowing (and much more relaxing) location of Jordan.
Day 1: Amman to Petra-by-Night
Day one of this itinerary is the same as day one from itinerary 2. You’ll rise early, visit Amman Citadel, explore Downtown Amman, and then drive to Petra.
You’ll spend around 2-3 hours in Amman Citadel. Try to cover the main sights first, and then see if you have extra time to wander around the site. From Amman Citadel, drive to Al Balad in Downtown Amman and explore the old commercial area.
Downtown Amman is home to delicious restaurants, souks, and stalls. You can browse souvenirs and have lunch before hitting the road to Petra.
Leave Amman after lunch; you’ll arrive in Petra just in time for dinner and to buy your tickets for the Petra-by-Night experience. You can then relax until it starts around 8:30 pm.
Day 2: Petra to Dead Sea
Once again, don’t succumb to your fatigue; instead, get up as soon as your alarm clock goes off. Go to the visitor center and ask for a map of Petra. My advice is to follow the Main Trail to avoid missing the most important sights.
There’s no rush to get to the Dead Sea, but it takes about 3-4 hours to reach a resort from Petra. If you want to make the most of your stay at the Dead Sea, try to leave Petra no later than noon.
When you get to your resort, feel free to freshen up (get all that Petra dust off you!) and then explore your hotel’s amenities. Most Dead Sea resorts fall on the luxurious side, offering spas, massages, and all sorts of relaxing treatments. However, you’re here for the muddy and floating experience! So waste no time and take a dip in the Dead Sea salty waters.
Day 3: Dead Sea to Amman
Set up your alarm to wake you up before sunrise. Put on your swimsuit, grab a towel and take one last dip in the Dead Sea. There’s nothing like seeing the rising sun cast reddish hues over the water. Come back to your hotel room, prepare your bags, check out, and grab breakfast before driving north to Amman. The good news is that the drive takes only two hours, so you’re not as time-constrained as in other itineraries.
As you can see, you can pack a LOT into just 3 days in Jordan… the only question is: which one of these three-day Jordan itineraries will you choose? Have any questions about these itineraries? Let me know in the comments, or join my Jordan Travel Tips Facebook community.