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9 Day Trips from Amman to Add to Your Jordan Itinerary

Roman ruins, holy sites, and magnificent mosaics – oh my! As you’ve probably discovered in planning your Jordan trip so far, there are some incredible things to see in Jordan despite the country’s small size. As almost everyone flies in and out of Amman as part of their Jordan itinerary, you’ll undoubtedly spend 1-2 nights in the capital city before striking out for destinations further south like Wadi Rum or Aqaba. In any case, there’s plenty to see and do in Amman – and even more in the surrounding region.

No matter how much time you plan to spend in Jordan, you might discover that it’s not enough – there’s always more to see, which is why I keep returning! If you’re short on time (literally, or just in your mind), you might want to plan a day trip or two to explore the sights beyond Amman. Luckily, there are some great day trips from Amman to choose from.

Below you’ll find some ideas for half-day and full-day trips from Amman to different sites in the surrounding part of Jordan. Some will require a bit of driving – or you may want to hire a private driver-guide to make things easier for you. In either case, read on to discover your different Amman day trip options and choose which ones need to be part of your Jordan itinerary.

1. Jerash (Ruins)

  • Travel Time from Amman: 45 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: 3 hours minimum

Jerash is perhaps the most popular day trip from Amman; it’s an easy 45-minute drive each way to reach the Roman ruins of Jerash from the central part of the Jordanian capital. While there is a modern city called Jerash too, you specifically want to plan your day trip to the archaeological site and ruins in Jerash.

Most people are surprised to learn the Romans had a presence in Jordan (before it was Jordan), but Jerash is – and many other cities in Jordan are – located along an important trade route connecting the Silk Road with the spice routes of Africa. Jerash was one of 10 cities, called the Decapolis, which were pivotal during the Roman era and ever since.

When it comes to spending your time in Jerash, check out my guide for things to see in Jerash and the best Jerash walking route. It’s easy to spend at least three hours in Jerash, so I recommend planning this day trip in conjunction with Ajloun.

2. Ajloun (Castle)

  • Travel Time from Amman: 75 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: 1 hour minimum

Speaking of Ajloun, this is another popular Amman day trip destination; it’s usually visited on the same day as Jerash, though you can certainly choose to visit each one on their own day.

Ajloun is a castle that dates back to the time of the Crusades, which established outposts like Ajloun in Jordan, the Jordan Valley, and the Holy Land in the 12th Century. Ajloun is one of the few that remains to this day, though you can see remnants in other parts of Jordan, like Karak – and there’s a small outpost tower near Petra (Vaux Moise Crusader Castle) that you can hike to.

During a visit to Ajloun, you’ll explore the castle’s many rooms and learn a bit about the various chapters of history that have happened within its walls. Be sure to climb all the way to the roof for sweeping views of the surrounding region. After seeing the strategic position of Ajloun, you’ll understand why this castle was so important to the various groups that occupied it over the centuries.

3. Madaba

  • Travel Time from Amman: 40 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: 60 minutes minimum

As you can probably guess, many of the best day trips from Amman focus on the history and culture of Jordan. Madaba is another such destination; it’s usually visited in combination with Mount Nebo, which I’ll cover next.

Madaba is known as the city of mosaics, and the modern city was built over Roman and Byzantine ruins. The Byzantine were especially known for the art of mosaic-making, which is still practiced today (this is a great souvenir from Jordan if you are looking to invest in a nice piece of art!). One of the best-preserved mosaics in Madaba can be found in the Church of St. George; this is a Greek Orthodox church and part of the floor includes a massive mosaic map of the ancient world during biblical times.

Looking at the mosaic, it’s hard to believe that it has survived two millennia – and gives so much context to the many important locations and stories that have survived through that time. You can get a sense for the geography of modern-day Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and the Jordan Valley through the ancient locations and names.

4. Mount Nebo

  • Travel Time from Amman: 40 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: 90 minutes minimum

For another perspective on biblical history and geography, Mount Nebo is a must-visit place. (As mentioned, it’s very common to do Madaba and Mount Nebo on the same day trip from Amman.)

Mount Nebo is one of the tallest hills overlooking the Dead Sea near Madaba; it is known as the site where Moses led the Israelites and looked out across to the Promised Land (modern-day Israel and Palestine). Today, there are viewing platforms and a beautiful modern church that preserves some of the original columns, church artifacts, and mosaics dating back to before the Byzantine era.

Be sure to not miss the small museum and tent-covered mosaic closer to the entrance, as these add important context to understanding how Mount Nebo came to be preserved for modern visitors.

5. Baptism Site

  • Travel Time from Amman: 1 hour
  • Time Needed to Visit: 2 hours minimum

As you drive around the region of Jordan southwest of Amman, you’ll see many signs pointing visitors to the Baptism Site. Yes, this is the Baptism site as described in the Bible, where John baptized Jesus. As you can imagine, it’s a very important religious site and many people want to make a pilgrimage there during a visit to Jordan.

At the Baptism site, there’s a 2km trail that takes you to some of the more significant ruins on the property; most people visit with a guide, either from their tour company or provided when you arrive on your own. It’s a lot like Jerash or the Amman Citadel in that it’s exposed to the sun, so I recommend having a hat and plenty of water during your visit.

It takes about an hour to reach the Baptism site from Amman and you only need a few hours there; it is possible to combine this into a full day trip with Madaba and Mount Nebo if you choose to.

6. Dead Sea

  • Travel Time from Amman: 45-60 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: All Day

For the rest of this list, I’ll be offering some day trips from Amman that require a bit more driving – but are still totally do-able in a longer day. First up is the Dead Sea, which is about 90 minutes to two hours from Amman (depending on traffic and where you are staying in the city.

Once you arrive at the Dead Sea, you can choose to visit one of the public beaches or purchase a day pass from one of the resorts along the shores. Some resorts that offer day passes include the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, the Dead Sea Marriott Resort & Spa, and the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea (where my tour stays!).

At the Dead Sea, you can wade into the water, sit back, and float away – literally! The Dead Sea is about 30x more saline than average water, so provides extra buoyancy; this was always on my Jordan bucket list and I love making return trips to experience the phenomena.

You can then find Dead Sea mud (usually offered in buckets at the resorts or available along the banks of the sea at certain points) and slather this onto your skin for 10-20 minutes. The minerals in the water and mud are purifying and exfoliating, so you’ll get a bit of spa treatment from the experience. Be sure to rinse yourself with fresh water afterward as the salt and mud can be irritating if left on too long!

7. Wadi Mujib

  • Travel Time from Amman: 75 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: All Day

If your idea of visiting Jordan includes adventure and you’re visiting during the summer months (typically between April 1st and October 30th*), be sure to plan a visit to the Wadi Mujib.

Wadi Mujib is the most popular and most well-equipped destination for canyoneering. On the 1-mile (1 km) out-and-back hike, you’ll enter the narrow slot canyon (called a siq like “seek”), wade through running water (and sometimes swim through deeper holes), and scale small rock faces and boulders (with the assistance of staff).

This is an adrenaline-inducing adventure for all ages; everyone wears water shoes and life jackets as part of the experience.

*Dates may vary annually based on rainfall; in 2022, the Mujib didn’t open until May 1st.

8. Ma’in Hot Springs

  • Travel Time from Amman: 70 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: All Day

For a more relaxing but still outdoorsy option, consider planning an Amman day trip to Ma’in Hot Springs. It’s a little over an hour’s drive to this resort nestled in the mountains east of the Dead Sea.

Ma’in Hot Springs is typically an overnight stay, but you don’t need to spend the night in order to enjoy the facilities. Day passes are available for 10JOD and give you access to all public areas of the resort; you can also dine at the on-site restaurants and bars for an additional cost. There’s also a traditional spa available if you want to book a treatment in addition to soaking in the pools.

9. Petra

  • Travel Time from Amman: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • Time Needed to Visit: All Day

Finally, if you are willing to spend a lot of time in the car and only have one extra day as part of your Jordan itinerary, you can visit Petra as a day trip from Amman.

It’s a 3.25-hour drive each way down the Desert Highway and King’s Highway to Wadi Musa, the town near Petra. You’ll need to leave very early to arrive at the Rose City early before the heat gets too overwhelming (even in cooler months); once there you can hike the Main Trail 2.5 miles out and back past famous sights like the Treasury, Colonnaded Street, and Temples.

If you choose to do Petra as a day trip, I recommend planning for eight hours at the site; leave Amman by no later than 7am, visit Petra from 10am-6pm (be sure to bring lots of water), have dinner in Wadi Musa, then make your way back to Amman late that evening.

I hope this list of day trips from Amman inspires you to think about how you can strike out and explore more of Jordan even if you’re short on time. Jordan is certainly a big country, but that shouldn’t deter you from trying to fit in as much as you can with the time, energy, and budget you have. Have any questions about these Amman day trips – or do you know of one I should include? Let me know in the comments!

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