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Itineraries

9 Days in Jordan: A Perfect Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

Planning a trip to Jordan is both an exhilarating and daunting prospect. Exhilarating since you’ll finally get to see world wonders like Petra and have bucket list experiences like floating in the Dead Sea. Daunting as it’s a region many people feel nervous to visit, and travel resources aren’t as strong as they are for other countries in more-visited places. But if you want to spend 9 days in Jordan, you’ve come to the right place.

I spent 9 days in Jordan on my first trip back in 2016, and am now planning a return trip for later this month (March 2022, as of writing). Having a full nine days – as opposed to a shorter length of time like a week – gives you enough time to visit almost all of the top destinations in Jordan, as well as a few spots off-the-beaten-track.

Keep in mind that in this nine-day Jordan itinerary, you’re arriving on day 1 and departing on day 9. If your flights arrive into Amman late at night, consider that “day 0” and start your itinerary with Day 1 proposed below.

Ready to preview my suggested itinerary for 9 days in Jordan then explore each day in greater detail? Read on and start making your Jordan travel plans a reality!

9 Days in Jordan Itinerary (Quick Glance)

Before diving into each part of my suggested nine-day Jordan itinerary in detail, I always like to start with a table that covers the basics. That way you can review it at a high level and decide whether you like my itinerary (compared to others you see on Google) before diving in deeper.

Here’s how I suggest spending your 9 days in Jordan:

DayDestinations
1Arrival, Amman
2Amman, Jerash & Ajloun
3Madaba, Mount Nebo & Dead Sea 
4Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib & Dana 
5Dana Biosphere Reserve & Aqaba 
6Aqaba & Wadi Rum 
7Wadi Rum & Petra 
8Petra
9Petra & Amman

Looks awesome, right? If you’re sold on making this proposed itinerary into a real trip, read on!

Day 1: Arrive in Amman 

Amman to Dead Sea - Skyline with Flag

10-14 hours in an uncomfortable seat later, you’ve finally arrived in Amman, the capital city of Jordan!

You can see a lot of Jordan in 9 days, which might confuse you on how to organize your trip. While some itineraries choose to leave exploring Amman for the end of the trip, I prefer to explore it as soon as you get to the country.

So, on your first day, you’ll do tons of sightseeing in Amman. The Jordanian capital has the most diverse attractions, from dynamic city life to historic relics. Your first stop will be The Citadel, an archeological site at the center of downtown Amman. 

2 Weeks in Amman - Citadel

The Citadel is only a 15-minute drive from downtown and houses phenomenal Roman ruins. It provides an excellent window to explore Jordan’s Roman past. The most important landmark within the site is the Temple of Hercules, which the Romans built when Geminius Marcianus was governor of the Province of Arabia (162–166 AD). 

There’s also Umayyad Palace, a palatial complex from the first half of the 8th century. Unlike the Temple of Hercules, which is a bit rundown, the Umayyad Palace is well-preserved, and its architecture is truly beautiful. 

Other sights worth stopping by are the Byzantine Church from the 6th Century and the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts from a period of over 50,000 years.

Once you’ve taken in all the beauty from these historic sites, it’s time to step into Amman’s urban areas. Ask your driver to take you to Al Balad, Downtown Amman. 

This old commercial area exudes the vibe of a true Arabic metropolis. Feel free to wander around the area and soak in the smells of spices and roasted nuts; sample exotic flavors, like Yalanji or Maqlubah. Lose yourself in the souks where hectic vendors sell sweets, souvenirs, clothes, fresh juices, and perfumes. 

Since Al Balad is full of excellent restaurants, grab dinner here before calling it a day. You’ll leave having experienced one of the most authentic sides of Jordan. 

Resources for Day 1:

You need two nights’ accommodation in Amman. Here are some options:

  • La Locanda is an affordable boutique hotel. From $131/night, book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
  • During my first trip to Jordan, I stayed at The Imperial Palace Hotel. Book on Hotels.com.
  • Perched high on one of Amman’s hills Le Royal Hotel is a mini-splurge-worthy spot with stunning views. From $169/night, book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.

Day 2: Amman, Jerash & Ajloun

On the second day of your nine-day Jordan itinerary, you’ll have to drive out of the capital. So, rise early and make the 50-minute drive to the town of Jerash.

Jerash is a city in the north of the capital and houses one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins in the Middle East, plus other stunning sites to explore, like Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Artemis. On average, travelers spend 2-3 hours exploring the whole site. While you have to pay an entrance fee, you’re free to visit the site on your own or book one of the Jordanians as guides to show you the place. 

Before leaving Jerash, find a restaurant to have lunch, then head to your next destination: Ajloun. 

Sitting in the highlands of north Jordan, Ajloun is only 30 minutes away from Jerash, which leaves you enough time to discover the main sights. 

The first landmark you’ll see is Ajloun Castle, a fort the Ayyubids built in 1184 AD to protect the city from the Crusaders. The castle also has the Ajloun Archaeological Museum, displaying ancient Neolithic artifacts.

After exploring Ajloun Castle, it is time to make it back to the capital.  The drive takes about 90 minutes, so you’ll still have time to explore Amman if there’s something you couldn’t catch yesterday.  

Resources for Day 2:

  • Admission to Jerash: 10JD (~$15US), or book here.
  • Admission to Ajloun: 2JD (~$3US), or book here.

Day 3: Madaba, Mount Nebo & Dead Sea 

Say goodbye to Amman! It is the last time you’ll see the capital until you come back to board your plane back home.

In the following days of your nine-day Jordan itinerary, you’ll cover longer distances and visit more than one spot in a single day. Turn on your travel mode for intense days lie ahead of you!

On day three, rise and shine, check out from your hotel, and grab breakfast. The day’s first stop is Madaba, an ancient town south of Amman. The ride takes around 40 minutes, depending on how congested traffic is that morning. 

Madaba is a tiny site, and it won’t take you long to explore it thoroughly. The most famous landmark here is the collection of Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, with the 6th-century Madaba Mosaic Map of the Holy Land as the most popular one. The map illustrates part of the Middle East and contains the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of the Holy Land and Jerusalem. 

Mount Nebo, your next stop, lies only 15 minutes away from Madaba. The summit holds a crucial place in the world’s religious history. The Old Testament mentions Mount Nebo is where Moses saw the Promised Land (Israel), and the Christian tradition states it was where God buried Moses. 

Keep your camera handy. Mount Nebo is one of Jordan’s vantage points. Sitting at 232 feet high, the site has sweeping views of Israel and Jericho across the valley. On a clear day you can even see Jerusalem. 

Next up in the itinerary is the Dead Sea. You’ll leave Mount Nebo at around noon to ensure you can make the most of your day at the Dead Sea. The drive takes 30-40 minutes; the time varies depending on your resort’s location.

Once you’ve found your resort, check-in, and have lunch, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the Dead Sea waters or to pamper yourself in your hotel’s spa. It’s up to you. 

Resources for Day 3:

Day 4: Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib & Dana 

Day 4 is a long and busy one. We’re visiting two new locations today, which means you’ll be making two road trips. Have your bags ready so you can hit the road as early as possible. 

Things to Do in Jordan - Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib is your first stop of the day. It is only 20-30 minutes away from the Dead Sea, depending on where you stay. Nonetheless, you should leave the Dead Sea early to have as much time as possible in Wadi Mujib. 

Wadi Mujib is one of Jordan’s natural attractions. The best way I can describe Wadi Mujib is a mix of beauty, adrenaline, and fun. Don’t waste any time; go directly to the visitor center, and ask for your life jacket. The Wadi Mujib reserve is full of river-filled canyons you can explore via the site’s numerous trails. You only get to spend 2-3 hours in Wadi Mujib, so try to do a hike that leaves you enough time to have lunch and still make it on time to Dana Biosphere Reserve. 

The drive from Wadi Mujib to the historic town of Dana takes two hours. Dana sits on the edge of Wadi Dana, a large natural canyon I can only describe as the ‘Yosemite of Jordan.’

Take the rest of the day easy, sipping tea and enjoying sweeping views of Dana Biosphere Reserve.

Resources for Day 4:

  • Entrance cost to Mujib Biosphere Reserve: 13JD (~$18US), or book here.
  • You need a one-night stay in Dana. There are a couple accommodation options:
  • …or you can book a stay at Feynan Ecolodge in a different part of the Biosphere Reserve. They offer guided hikes from their property as well.

Day 5: Dana Biosphere Reserve, Aqaba 

Get up at the crack of dawn to explore Dana Biosphere Reserve and avoid the relentless heat. Most tourists overlook Dana Biosphere Reserve, either because they don’t have enough time in Jordan or simply because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s quite unfortunate as this place is spectacular in every way imaginable. 

Dana Biosphere Reserve is a “national park” with over 200 square miles of pristine natural beauty. The landscape, while harsh, is inspirational, as are the Bedouins who still roam its lands. It’s a beautiful valley, with imposing scenery that spreads before your eyes.

Join your guide on a hike to discover the history of the land that’s shaped an entire culture as well as the animals and plants that help tribes survive in the stark surroundings. Take a pause on your hike to sit down with your guide and enjoy fresh tea while overlooking the vast wadi of Dana Biosphere Reserve.

Admire the views for one last time before undertaking your next journey to Aqaba, a Jordanian port city. 

Only 182 kilometers and a two-hour drive separate Aqaba from Dana, yet, once you arrive in Aqaba, it will feel like you’ve entered a completely different world. As a coastal city, Aqaba is home to sweeping beaches with turquoise waters, white sand, and a fascinating coral reef. Coming from Dana’s dry landscape accentuates this contrast and shows how diverse Jordan is as a country.

Find your resort and check-in. Then grab a towel, sunblock, a hat, and head out to the beach. Aqaba sits on the Red Sea and has many public and private beach options. 

Aqaba can get extremely hot during the summer months, and a day at the beach might not be appealing for those who can’t tolerate long hours under the sun. You can then visit the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. After exploring the museum or dipping in the sea, find a nice spot to have dinner and call it a day. 

Resources for Day 5:

  • Entrance to Dana Biosphere Reserve: 7JD (~$10US).
  • You need a one-night stay in Aqaba. There are a couple accommodation options:

​​Day 6: Aqaba & Wadi Rum 

On day 6 of your 9 days in Jordan, you’re going back to the desert landscapes that characterize the Middle East. We’re off to Wadi Rum. This breathtaking desert, whose reddish sand and rugged terrain have earned its comparisons to Mars, is one of the highlights of any trip to Jordan.   

The drive from Aqaba to Wadi Rum takes only one hour. So you won’t have to hit the road first thing in the morning. Check out at your hotel, grab breakfast, take one last look at Aqaba, and you’re ready to start your road trip. You’ll likely be on your way to Wadi Rum after lunch, which means you’ll get to the desert in the afternoon.

As soon as you arrive in Wadi Rum, find your camp and check in. All camps have extensive tour offers for travelers. You’ll want to ask for their Wadi Rum jeep/sunset tour. With a Bedouin as a tour guide, you’ll venture into the depths of Wadi Rum, exploring its famous rock formations and hidden nooks. Close to sunset, your guide will find a perfect spot where you can see the blazing sun hide behind the horizon. 

Back at your Wadi Rum camp, your hosts will welcome you with a delicious traditional Bedouin Zarb dinner. I know that you’ll be yearning for a bed by now, but try to stay awake and participate in the late-night activities. Most camps invite their guests to listen to traditional Bedouin music and dance or to do little stargazing after dinner. So, grab a cup of tea from the common room, find a cozy spot outside, and surf the night sky while listening to Bedouin songs’ exotic rhythms.

Resources for Day 6:

Day 7: Wadi Rum & Petra 

On day seven, you’ll make one last effort and wake up before sunrise to take a sunrise camel ride out in Wadi Rum. Most camps offer the Wadi Rum sunrise tour as it is highly popular. It only takes 60-90 minutes, giving you enough time to grab breakfast and head to Petra. 

The drive from Wadi Rum to Petra takes around two hours. You’ll arrive at Petra in the morning. So, check in at your hotel and take your time to recover after a long morning. You’ll be spending part of three days in Petra, of this nine-day Jordan itinerary. As you can see, it’s enough time to fully explore the Nabatean Kingdom, which means you don’t have to rush and try to squeeze in every attraction on your first day. 

In the afternoon, head to the Visitor Center and purchase your Petra-by-Night ticket in the afternoon. Since you’ll be spending plenty of time in Petra, I suggest you also buy a two-day ticket at the Visitor Center.

The best way to discover Petra is by hiking, and an unmissable hike is  The Main Trail. It is the easiest and shortest hiking trip in Petra and takes you to the most famous attractions: the Siq, Treasury, Street of Facades, Roman theater, and Great Temple. As every traveler does this hike, each stop will be teeming with people.

At 8:15, you should go back to the Visitor Center to start the Petra-by-Night. This experience was the highlight of my first trip to Petra, and I’m certain it will be a memorable evening for you too. 

First, a guide takes you through a candle-lit Siq until you reach the magnificent Treasury, whose beauty is, even more overwhelming with the moon and stars shining above. Find a cozy spot to sit and listen to your guide tell stories about the Nabatean people and their kingdom.  

Now it’s time to call it a day. Head back to your hotel and prepare for an adventure-filled day tomorrow in Petra.

Resources for Day 7:

  • Entrance to Petra by night: 55JD (~$80US) for a two-day pass, or book here.
  • Book a two-night stay in Petra (though it won’t feel like nearly enough!). On my first stay, I was at the Petra Moon Hotel, book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.

Day 8: Petra

Yesterday you visited Petra’s major sites. However, the Nabatean Kingdom has a ton of other sites worth visiting. I suggest you get a map of Petra at the visitor center so you can take a look at the different attractions and what hikes take you there. There are over seven trails in Petra. Some are more extenuating than others, so have that in mind if you’re not a very fit person. 

Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • The Main Trail to Ad Deir (Monastery) – Takes you to The Monastery, Petra’s second most beautiful wonder. This hike is only one hour; however, it includes climbing up 800 steps to get to this architectural wonder.
  • The Sabra Trail – Perfect for travelers who want to avoid crowds. You’ll see many un-excavated tombs and houses, Roman theater ruins, a Nabatean sanctuary, and petroglyphs carved on walls.
  • The High Place of Sacrifice Trail – Perfect if hiking is your thing. The beginning is all stairs, and you get to explore the Tomb of Unayshu plus other Nabataean buildings.  

Petra has many more hikes you can do. Keep in mind that some hikes require a guide, so make sure to stop at the Visitor Center to ask and arrange a guide if needed.

After a long and tiring day exploring the Nabatean Kingdom, it’s time to go back to your hotel. Freshen up and go out for dinner. For tonight, I recommend you try to arrange dinner with a local family through A Piece of Jordan. You’ll have the opportunity to engage with the locals and get an accurate view of how they live. 

Resources for Day 8:

  • Stay another night in your Petra accommodation.

Day 9: Petra & Amman

On day 9, you’ll rise early, check your luggage and make sure your documents are in order, then check out of your hotel. Feel free to take your time to grab breakfast before hitting the road to Amman. 

While the time you decide to leave for Amman depends on when your flight departs, I always suggest you calculate extra time in case any unexpected events occur. 

The drive back to Amman takes three hours, but there are always a few delays due to traffic jams. Reeder that you also have to be two hours before scheduled departure at the airport.

If you’ve made it to Amman in time, you can find a restaurant to have lunch in the city or go directly to the airport and grab lunch there.

Resources for Day 9:

  • None, as you’re departing today!

Have any questions about planning your itinerary for 9 days in Jordan? Let me know in the comments or join my Jordan Travel Tips Facebook community.

2 Comments

  • Giulia Cellerino

    Hello Valerie,

    I hope you are well. Your blog post was really inspiring.
    My partner and I are planning to visit Jordan early September. Do you suggest renting a car or a car with a driver?
    Could you suggest any agency?
    We are not too scared of hectic drivers as we are pretty much used to as we live in Italy 🙂

    Thank you,

    Giulia

    • JT Headshot New

      Valerie

      Thanks for reading, Giulia! I personally prefer to have a driver so as to not have to worry and just enjoy the scenery. I have worked with “Experience Jordan” in the past – try googling to contact them and see if they can recommend a driver for you!

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