Jordan is a fairly small country in the Middle East, but it surely packs a punch. Despite being located between countries such as Iraq, Israel and Syria, it is arguably the safest place to go in the entire region. There is so much to see: from biblical sites and desert castles to Roman ruins and the Dead Sea.
After arriving in Amman, you will need about two days to explore this cosmopolitan and diverse capital city. Extremely modern buildings, restaurants and classy hotels share the city center with traditional workshops and cafés selling cardamom coffee. Be sure to try Jordan’s national dish, Mensaf, which is traditionally eaten with your fingers. A day trip to the ruins of Jerash, located a short drive north of Amman, is obligatory. The ancient city was built more than 6,500 years ago and has been inhabited ever since. The ruins of the old city are nothing less than spectacular.
Get up early on the third day to drive south towards Petra, Jordan’s most popular tourist attraction and a true wonder of the world. It is a six hour drive on the 5,000-year-old Kings’ Highway. There are a few necessary stops along the way though. Mount Nebo, where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land, offers spectacular views of the Dead Sea to the west. In Madaba, also known as “the City of Mosaics”, you can witness the 6th-century Christian mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. A third stop on the Kings’ Highway before arriving in Petra should be at the ancient Crusader castle and stronghold in Karak.
The sight of the “lost city” of Petra can’t be put into words. It is often described as the eighth wonder of the ancient world and it is a truly remarkable place. This one-of-a-kind city was carved into sheer rock walls by the Nabatean people two millennia ago. You can reach the city by walking through a narrow gorge between towering cliffs. The first construction that you will see after reaching the end of the gorge is the world-famous Treasury. Spend at least a full day here, either taking a guided tour or exploring this fascinating place on your own.
On the fifth day it will be time to get on the road again. This time, head north in the direction of the Dead Sea and through the stunning desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, still untouched by human hands, and the massive monolithic rocks formed with the aid of wind and time.
The last two days should be spent relaxing in and around the peculiar Dead Sea. At 1,300 feet below sea level, this lifeless expanse of water is the lowest point on the surface of the earth. The Dead Sea is landlocked and once the waters from the feeding rivers reach it, they evaporate and leave behind salts and minerals. Enjoy a bath or massage in a spa, learn about the significant history of the region or read a book while floating in the dense salty water. Drive back to Amman on the evening of day seven for your flight home.
Jordan is an easy country to travel in, whether you self-plan your itinerary or look into escorted Jordan tours. I did a 2 week tour which included Amman, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum as well as parts of Israel (Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada) and Egypt (Mount Sinai and snorkelling in the Red Sea) which was fantastic. My tour began and ended in Cairo but I’m sure there are may options to choose from.
For more info for planning your trip, check out the official Visit Jordan website.