ordan – It has the lowest point on Earth, a complete city carved and built on stone walls, and a desert that looks like you just landed on Mars. Oh, and don´t get me started with the hummus! What else could you ask for? No wonder Jordan is currently one of the hottest destinations for travel enthusiasts.
Located in the Middle East and bordered by Syria and Iraq, many people’s first reaction when hearing I was going to Jordan was, well…quite concerning. In the contrary, Jordan is extremely safe for tourists, and we felt very safe during our stay. However, don’t expect it to be cheap. The Jordanian Dinar is stronger than the dollar, euro, and pound, making its currency among the ten strongest in the world. So be prepared to spend a little extra cash!
The best location to have a full view of the city of Amman. We arrived a bit past 17:00 so the site itself was already closed (oops). Even though we didn’t make it inside the site, the views from around it are still beautiful. You can take a cheap Uber from the city to the site for around 2.8 JoD or $4 USD.
Opening times: 8:00-17:00
Price: 3 JoD or $4.23 USD
It’s a good place to have some fun and haggle good prices for cheap souvenirs and eat the local food.
However, it can get a bit overwhelming because there are barely any tourists walking around this area, so be prepared to receive many stares, and if you are female travelers, men will approach you and want to speak with you. I would recommend Downtown Amman only for those who are comfortable enough to deal with the attention.
Where to eat in Amman
Hashem: One of the most iconic restaurants in Amman, located in the heart of the downtown area. We spent around 4 JoD ($5.6 USD) and had more than enough food for two people. Do not expect a fancy restaurant. This place has a very local and humble flare.
Price range: $
Sufra Restaurant: Great place to try traditional food. If you will have dinner here, make sure to make a reservation since this place gets really crowded.
Price range: $$
Rainbow street: The most popular street to visit in Amman. There are some restaurants, shops, and bars in this area. Visit during the night time. It is very quiet and not as exciting during the day.
Wild Jordan Center: A center that hosts cultural events and meeting spaces, but also offers a rooftop café overlooking the Old City of Amman. A great spot to have breakfast/brunch. They also have a small shop selling mostly hand made products.
Shams el Balad: Our favorite restaurant in Amman. Those who would love to have some do-it-yourself decor inspiration, this is the place to be. Foodwise, make sure to order the beetroot falafel.
Price range: $$
The Dead Sea
After spending two days in the city, we drove one hour south to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. We booked one night at the Dead Sea Spa Resort ($100/night) which has a private beach on the Dead Sea.
Do not except a paradisal beach, the Dead Sea is unfortunately drying out on an average of 3 feet per year, making its dried grounds not so appealing to walk through. We were wondering why the resorts in the area have not invested more in the appearance of the dried out areas (we didn’t get further information about it).
Also, besides the resorts there is not much else in the area. For us, one night was enough to spend the afternoon at the Dead Sea, enjoy a nice dinner, and good sleep at the resort.
Wadi Rum Desert
Leaving the Dead Sea and continuing south, we headed to Wadi Rum. We parked our car at the Visitor’s Center, where our driver was waiting for us in a pick-up truck to take us to our camp in the middle of the desert. Guests are seated in the open trunk and the ride to the camp was incredible.
Aicha Luxury Camp
WOW. The Aicha Luxury Camp was really something else. We booked the double panoramic tent for one night ($200/night).
The bubble tents have a private bathroom with showers and access to warm water. The camp has a main tent where you can have have a delicious buffet breakfast/dinner included with your stay. They also have a bar area with non-alcoholic drinks and a bonfire at night.
The staff was very kind and you can also join them on a night desert tour where your guide will explain how to find your way through the desert by finding the north star.
The camp offers jeep tours (around $50 USD) and our tour guide took us to different locations in Wadi Rum where you hike the rocky mountains and have amazing views of the desert. The unspoiled nature here is beautiful.
It is a must to wear comfortable shoes, bring loads of water, and carry your camera gear and belongings in a backpack since there is a pretty good amount of hiking.
After a night in Wadi Rum we started heading back north and spent two nights in Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world. Unlike Wadi Rum, this site is PACKED with tourists from all over the world.
Be there at 6:00am for opening to enjoy the site without any crowds. By 8:00am it will be quite crowded already. Make sure to also visit Petra during Wednesday or Thursday night. It is open to the public these two nights of the week and the site is lit with hundreds of candles.
If you want to get that insta-worthy shot of the treasury from above, just speak to one of the locals offering to take you up to the top. We paid 10 JoD for two people. The hike takes around 30 minutes and it’s definitely a bit tricky. At some point you will be climbing and holding on from rocks to get ahead, or will need help from a fellow traveler ahead of you to spare a hand.
It took us around 7 hours to explore the main spots of the city, but you can definitely spend around 3 days in Petra hiking different trails. Good shoes, water, sunblock, and a hat are a must for Petra. Oh, and no, my maxi velvet skirt was not hiking appropriate but I wore it anyway and managed. I eventually did change to something more fitting for the rest of the walking and hiking.
Tips & Recommendations
- Plan at least 2 months in advance. The best hotel options will be mostly booked out 1-2 months prior to your trip.
- Rent a car to drive across the country. We loved having a car there and gave our schedule more flexibility.
- In Amman it is better to move with Uber instead of the rented car because parking and traffic are a pain in the city.
- Buy the Jordan Pass. It will give you cheaper access to the main tourist attractions.
- Conservative clothing is only needed in Amman. The rest of the locations were filled with tourists, and nobody minded shorts or tank tops.
- Our Route: Amman (2 nights) – Dead Sea (1 night) – Wadi Rum (1 night) – Petra (2 nights) – Amman.
- Six nights was enough for us, but we had no down time. I would recommend 7 to 8 nights in Jordan to see most of the country and visit the main spots.
- Blockbuster movies to watch before your trip (all shot in Jordan): Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989), The Martian (2015), Aladdin (2019).