TIPS FOR A PERFECT ROAD TRIP IN JORDAN – ITINERARY
A Jordan road trip is one of the best trips you can take in the Middle East. Even as a solo female traveler in Jordan I had a blast and congratulated myself for discovering Jordan by car. The country, the people, the sights, the nature, the food… Road tripping in Jordan was an absolutely amazing experience. Luckily, Jordan is also a very safe destination to visit – this means the conditions are great for an unforgettable road trip.
I came to Jordan right after spending time in Lebanon, and I admit, I was worried that Jordanians would drive like Lebanese people. Luckily, they do not. I could not have driven in Jordan if this had been the case. Actually, this Jordan road trip was so relaxed and fun, that I feel I have to recommend it to anyone.
DRIVING TIPS FOR YOUR JORDAN ROAD TRIP
Here is some information about driving in Jordan. While I think, that driving in Jordan is/was quite easy and straightforward you should probably be aware of these things before starting your Jordan road trip.
Rules For Driving in Jordan
- Drive on the right side.
- You have to wear a seat belt.
- Driving age: 18. If you want to rent a car: 25 years old.
- Bring a driver‘s license when renting a car and a credit card (a deposit is charged most times, but you will get refunded if everything is okay).
- You are not allowed to throw things out of a car – and compared to many other countries in the Middle East, it actually is quite clean.
- GPS – I had Google Maps and Here We Go. However, sometimes they did not get me where I wanted to go. Since there are some new streets, both apps had problems guiding me. Overall, they worked well, but not perfectly. Make sure to download an offline map before your trip.
- Signs are in Arabic and English, so you should be fine understanding directions.
- You will most likely need to rent a car for the road trip and not drive your own one. When you rent a car, you will get a paper – and if the police give you a fine, it has to be written on that paper, which you have to hand to the rental company when you drop off the car.
- There are a lot of police stops throughout the country. You could be pulled over at any time, but normally it is fine, and you have to present your papers.
- P.S. I was pulled over and, apparently, one paper was missing. The rental company did not give it to me. The police handed out a fine but I did not have to pay on the spot. When I gave that fine to the rental company, they said that it would not be a problem and would pay for it… Apparently, they do not always hand over that particular certificate, and so they accept the consequences.
- Just double-check all the papers when you pick up the car, so you avoid any – unnecessary – problems.
- Speed limits: Many speed signs will tell you the exact speed limit, but in general: 60 km in cities, 80 km in rural areas, and 120 km on highways.
- There are speed humps. A lot of them. Many, many of them. They are everywhere. So, always watch out for them because they sometimes even appear out of nowhere – and even if you stick to the speed limit, you very quickly have to sharply reduce your speed if you don’t want your car to be damaged. While speeding in Jordan is less of a problem than in other countries, it sometimes even causes some danger. Anyhow, don’t be surprised by MANY the speed humps.
- Sometimes, animals are on the street. And sometimes humans are on the street. In the town center near Petra, people sat on the curb (with their legs and feet in the street)… smoking shisha. Some people in groups don’t like to walk behind each other but would rather walk next to each other – even if that means that people walk in the street. So, always watch out.
- Compared to other countries in the Middle East, driving in Jordan was easy – people mostly stick to their side of the lane. However, never believe that drivers will follow all the rules and drive carefully.
- Don‘t drink and drive. Unfortunately, this isn’t a global rule (some countries do allow drivers to have a few drinks), but you can’t drive in Jordan if you have had a drink.
- I saw plenty of petrol/gas stations – however, this does not mean you will find one every 50km. So, whenever you have a longer distance to drive, make sure you refuel your petrol/gas. There is always service, and you can wait in the car while it gets refueled – you have to pay in cash.
- Petrol/gas prices are quite affordable – and unlike in Germany, where prices change many times over the course of the day, the prices are more stable and cost about 1€ for 1 liter.
- One of the reasons I loved Jordan was because of the friendly locals. When I drove through villages and towns, many kids waved at me and were smiling. However, some teenage boys did throw stones at me and my car. My tip: ignore and continue driving when you encounter those teenagers and wave back at the cuties.
- If you drive at night, double-check your lights as there aren’t many street lights.
- The King’s Highway: In ancient times, the King’s Highway was a trade route that linked Africa with Mesopotamia. It ran from Egypt to Aqaba, then to Damascus and the Euphrates River. Today, you can still travel along this ancient 280-kilometer-long roadway, passing through tiny villages and mountain towns. Popular attractions include St. George’s Church, the ruins of Mukawir, the site of Umm ar-Rasas, the Crusader castle of Kerak, and Shobak Castle, among many others. This road will also take you from Amman and pass through other popular destinations in Jordan, like Wadi Mujib, Dana National Park, and Petra.
- Jordan Pass: Most nationalities have to pay for a visa: The Jordan Pass is a pass that you can buy (online or when you arrive in Jordan) and which includes the visa and entry to most attractions in the country. Financially, it makes sense to buy the Jordan Pass if you stay in Jordan for a few days and visit places like Petra or Jerash.
- Jordan is a very safe country and as a solo female traveler in Jordan, I never had to worry about my safety. Exercise common sense whether you travel alone or not.
What Car to Rent for Your Road Trip in Jordan
So, for the road trip, you will need a car – obviously. Most likely you have to rent one and here is what to consider before booking a rental car.
- I picked the smallest car available. However, later in the mountains, I realized that it was challenging for the small car to drive up the mountains. It did a good job after all but from what I know now, I suggest renting probably a medium-sized car.
- Unless you have a lot of luggage or you are a group of 5 people, you will not need a big car.
- A 4-wheel drive is not needed – for a trip to the desert, where 4-wheel drives are essential, I highly suggest, booking a tour.
- When renting a car, make sure all damages are well recorded when you pick up the car. So, you do not get blamed for damages you did not cause when dropping off the car.
- TIP: I always get full insurance when renting a car. It is a bit more expensive, but it is less stressful in case anything happens to your car (whether it is your fault or not). Make sure all papers are complete when picking up the car.
- Check out rental prices here.
With the above driving tips, you should be fine to drive in Jordan, so let´s talk about your road trip itinerary.
Where to Stay – Road Tripping Jordan
ITINERARY FOR ROAD TRIPPING JORDAN
So, for this Jordan road trip itinerary, you will need a minimum of 5 days. However, 7 or 10 days in Jordan would be much better as you could actually see all places mentioned here.
If you plan a two-week road trip, you will actually have enough time also to rest and relax and spend time at the beach (or in the desert). With a 5-day Jordan road trip, you have to skip two or three places mentioned here.
Anyway, here are places not to miss when road tripping Jordan.
Road Trip Stop 1: Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Half of the people in Jordan live here – not surprisingly, it is a hectic and exciting place to visit.
I really enjoyed my time there, and I think visiting Amman is one of the best things to do in Jordan. While the city dates back many thousands of years, there is a mix of both ancient and modern architecture.
Amman is teeming with shops, restaurants, and active nightlife and it has a hectic feel as everything always feels like it’s in motion. There are several attractions offered within the city, such as the Roman Amphitheater, downtown Amman with its souks, and the Citadel’s views.
- Check out my guide on Things to do in Amman.
- Entry to most attractions is free with your Jordan Pass.
TIP: I recommend spending one or two days in Amman – and discovering the city WITHOUT a car. It is hectic and busy and parking in the city center is probably a pain. You can get around on foot, take a bus, or an Uber if needed in Amman. Make Amman your starting point of the road trip and pick up the car after your time in Amman.
WHERE TO STAY IN AMMAN
- I stayed in Nomads Hostel Hotel (and another place that isn’t worth mentioning). It was very conveniently located near Rainbow Street and made it easy for me to connect with other female travelers. The hostel is fun, modern, and clean, with a great location. Check it out here because it surely is a perfect budget accommodation.
- For a luxury hotel, try The House Boutique Suites, which is also near Rainbow Street (which is probably one of the best places to stay) and offers lots of amenities. Find out more about the hotel here.
Then head from Amman to Jerash. It takes about 1 hour to get to Jerash and is about 50 km (depending on where you pick up your rental car).
Road Trip Stop 2: Jerash
Dating back almost 6,500 years, Jerash is located just north of Amman and in the northwest part of Jordan – it is a must-see on this road trip.
It is one of the best-preserved cities from the Roman Empire’s rule and is truly amazing. Jerash was rediscovered about 70 years ago and got restored and now you can explore many attractions, including the 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch (aka Triumphal Arch), the South Gate, the forum, the hippodrome, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis, and the Temple of Zeus, among others. The Jerash Archaeological Museum also exhibits its finds for viewing.
- Entry is free with your Jordan Pass.
TIP: I recommend renting a car now and getting to Jerash by car. Driving from Amman to Jerash is hassle-free. Plan half a day for a trip to Jerash (max. one day if you are really into history) and then head to the Dead Sea.
After a few hours or a full day in Jerash head to the Dead Sea, which is a 1,5 – 2 hours drive (95km).
Road Trip Stop 3: Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is located along the western border of Jordan and is the lowest point on the planet (it is more than 400 meters below sea level).It is so salty that you cannot swim in it because you only float. And even though you cannot swim there, it is fun to float and also, the mud from the Dead Sea can be used to soften your skin. Even Cleopatra was known to do it. You do not have to believe Cleopatra´s words but I tell you: it really works!
The minerals in the mud make it a natural spa destination, and the beaches are also popular.
Most of the access to the beach (Dead Sea) is private and belongs to the resorts in the area – but there is a public beach to enjoy.
TIP: Many people visit the Dead Sea on their way back to Amman – because this is the place to chill and relax. I did not wait until the end – I was ready for a day in luxury accommodation and wanted to get pampered.
If you plan a 5-day road trip, I would probably just visit for a few hours, but if you road trip Jordan in 7 days, stay a night here and chill before you get to experience some adventure.
BEST PLACES TO STAY AT DEAD SEA
- I stayed at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa. My room was nice but a little outdated, especially in the bathroom, but the bed was comfortable. The hotel was done in the Arabic style which was lovely. Breakfast and dinner were included but you can also book it without any dinner/breakfast/lunch. Check out rates here.
- The Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa is also a good place to stay, situated among beautiful mountain landscapes and offering relaxing spa amenities. It is a bit more expensive than Mövenpick Hotel. Find out more about this luxury hotel here.
- For a budget option, try the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, a well-rated 4-star hotel with great amenities and private beach access. Find the rates here.
Driving around the Dead Sea is easy and hotels normally offer free parking.
From the Dead Sea to Wadi Mujib, your next destination. It takes about 30 minutes (18 miles/25 km). Wadi Mujib is at the Dead Sea, so this estimation is based on the premise you stay at/near Mövenpick Hotel.
Road Trip Stop 4: Wadi Mujib
Wadi Mujib is a river canyon where the Mujib River empties into the Dead Sea, making the area the lowest nature reserve in the world at 420 meters below sea level.
The Wadi Mujib Gorge is a stunning place – you can hike the area, climb stairs under waterfalls, cross through the water, and float in between the gorge. The water is filled with the little fish – and I got my “pedicure” when they were nibbling my skin. This is a very adventurous place to visit and was one of the highlights of my road trip.
TIP: The gorge is closed in the winter. The exact times depend on the actual weather conditions, but it might close in mid-October for a few months. You can get there on your way from the Dead Sea to Dana, and it will take a few hours (or up to a day, depending on which tour you want to do).
There is an entrance fee (not covered by the Jordan Pass) that is about 25€ – you can only pay in cash. You can rent a personal guide – as I did -for another 25€, and it was absolutely amazing. I did the shortest – yet not easiest – hike through the gorge, and it was just better than expected.
I am an active person, though not very sporty, and it was not always easy but definitely doable with the help of a guide. If you are active and fit, you can do it yourself. Bring suitable shoes with you!
TIP: I would try to leave Wadi Mujib at around 3 pm at the latest, so you can experience the sunset at this gorgeous place that I am talking about now.
From Wadi Mujib head south towards Dana Nature Reserve. It takes about 2 hours (150km).
Road Trip Stop 5: Dana
Located between Petra and the Dead Sea, Dana is a lesser-known stop, and many don’t add it to a Jordan road trip but it features stunning sights.
The Dana Nature Reserve encompasses about 300km around Dana Village and Wadi Dana. It is inhabited by the Al Atata Tribe, who have been living there for 6,000 years. Popular among hikers, Dana offers many hiking trails. Wadi Dana, a canyon, is also visited for its natural beauty and views. The town of Dana is about 500 years old, and you can see many aspects from the 19th century well-preserved and still present today.
TIP: This place is a bit more off-the-beaten path. But if you are into hiking or hidden gems, you should not miss out. I am not a hiking fan, but I did a short hike. But most of all, I loved the sunset in Dana. Accommodation here is mostly very basic, yet it is a great place for any Jordan road trip itinerary.
WHERE TO STAY IN DANA
- I stayed at Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp – an elementary camp. You have shared toilets, and the mattresses were not great. However, I still recommend it because the views are great (and the sunset from here is top!), and the food was great. They also offer guided hiking tours (from a few hours to a 2-day hiking trip). So, I definitely recommend staying here (plus it is very budget-friendly). Check out their rates here.
- If you are looking for a bit more comfort, you will probably find it at Mount Dana Hotel. You can check out their rates and amenities.
From Dana, it is time to head even further south. It takes about 1 hour to get to Petra from Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp (50km).
Road Trip Stop 6: Petra
Petra is perhaps the most visited place in Jordan. Located in the southwestern part of the country, it was the Nabatean kingdom’s prosperous capital around 1 BC.
It flourished under Roman rule but was then destroyed by an earthquake in 4 AD. Only the Bedouins remained after that until a Swiss explorer re-discovered it in the 19th century. Some attractions in Petra are the Siq, the Theater, the Treasury (Al Khazna), the Monastery (Ad Deir), the Royal Tombs, and Colonnade Street. You can also visit a nearby Nabatean site that was built around the same time as Petra.
TIP: Petra is huge…I am serious. You can’t see it in a few hours. You will be able to the Siq and the Treasury, but you won’t see the main attractions. You would need more than a day for all that. I booked a 3-day pass with my Jordan Pass, but I only visited on two days because I somehow felt it gets repetitive (apps, yes, I said it), and some places looked similar.
There is a lot of walking, and some hiking included – wear comfy shoes and never, never ride a donkey because they are terribly treated (from what I saw). If you need a ride, you can take an electric minibus for some parts. Even though the buses don’t take you up all the way to mountain peaks, I guess it is not an option to ride a donkey.
Petra By Night was a little disappointing – too many people, too loud, and too short. It wasn’t worth the money, in my opinion (and it is not covered with the Jordan Pass).
WHERE TO STAY IN PETRA
- A beautiful place to stay near Petra is the Hayat Zaman Hotel And Resort Petra. It is a beautiful luxury hotel about 15 minutes drive from Petra. It was my favorite place to stay in Jordan. It is a great choice if you don’t have to watch your budget closely. Check out the hotel here.
- You can stay in Wadi Musa at the Cleopatra Hotel for a cheaper option, which is only 2 km away from Petra. It is a simple place to stay but was fine for the 2 nights I stayed there as it is close to the main attractions. Read more about the hotel here.
From Petra, head to the next stunning place in Jordan – Wadi Rum. It takes about 90minutes (100km) to get to Wadi Rum (Visitor Center).
Road Trip Stop 7: Wadi Rum
There is absolutely no way to skip Wadi Rum on your Jordan road trip. Wadi Rum, also known as Valley of the Moon, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural and natural significance.
Inhabited by the Nabataeans in prehistoric times, this area has a unique landscape and stunning views. It is also the largest wadi in Jordan. It is famous for its red-pink desert sands, natural arches, mountains, and prehistoric rock engravings.
Wadi Rum also became well-known as a filming location for movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia. Other attractions include the Burdah Rock Bridge, Al Hasany Dunes, and the Khazali Siq.
TIP: I suggest staying at least one night in Wadi Rum. Most other visitors only come for a day (for a few hours), but they miss out on a magical night. There are several camps and it was amazing. Basically, all camps offer tours for the day. And you have dinner/breakfast and lunch if you stay with them overnight and book a tour.
You should not drive your own car in the desert. The desert is huge, and you would need a 4-wheel drive and have at least some experience driving in sand. You can leave your car at the visitor center and then will be picked up from the company you booked the tour/accommodation with. It sounds complicated but is quite easy if you book in advance.
WHERE TO STAY IN WADI RUM
- I stayed in an excellent camp, but it seems the owner has some troubles with the police and it was closed?! I am not sure, but you cannot book it anymore, and the last review looked like this. Anyhow, you should not worry.
- Make sure that you ask about the tours once you have your accommodation booked. This camp looks pretty similar to the camp I stayed at, and they also offer tours, so once you have your night booked, then email them and ask about tours.
- Check out this luxury camp that offers beautiful rooms with great views.
From Wadi Rum you could either head back to Amman or get to Aqaba. Aqaba is in the very south and it takes about 1 hour (60 km) to get there from Wadi Rum Visitor Center.
Road Trip Stop 8: Aqaba
Located in the southern part of Jordan, Aqaba is the only coastal city in the country. This port city is situated off the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.
It is a popular destination for those who enjoy diving, windsurfing, snorkeling, and other water sports. It also has a rich history, dating back to 4,000 BC when it was first inhabited. Some attractions to see here are the Yamanieh coral reef and the Aqaba Fort. There are many beach resorts here as well, but this city generally attracts lovers of water sports.
Since I, personally, had not added Aqaba to my road trip, I actually can’t say much as I am not into diving and am also not a beach person.
WHERE TO STAY IN AQABA
- For accommodations, you can stay at Al Manara Hotel in Aqaba, a luxury resort highly rated for its location, service, and amenities.
- A more mid-range hotel would be the Lacosta Hotel, close to the beach and other attractions and often includes breakfast.
- A budget option would be the Amir Palace Hotel, a charming boutique hotel in the city center.
TIP: This could be your last stop – and from here, you could head back to Amman or continue your journey (many visit Israel afterward). If you go back straight to Amman it will take around 5-6 hours (330 km).
Road Trip Stop 9: Amman
Aqaba – or Wadi Rum – is quite far from Amman. If your flight is from Amman, it is time to head back north. It takes time, so make sure to leave early – or better, book your last night in Amman, so you don’t have to stress.
As great as driving in Jordan is, it always can happen that something happens with your car or streets are closed, so plan in enough time for the drive back.
PLACES TO STAY IN AMMAN
Though I mentioned it above, here are three places that are probably great fits for all budgets.
- Nomads Hostel Hotel: Check it out here because it surely is a perfect budget accommodation.
- Albasem Hotel is well-rated and centrally located. Check out rates and availabilities here.
- The House Boutique Suites is also near Rainbow Street (which is probably one of the best places to stay) and offers lots of amenities. Find out more about the hotel here.
FINAL THOUGHTS OF MY JORDAN ROAD TRIP
Jordan is such an amazing country. Unfortunately, public transportation is not great, so the best way to experience Jordia is on a road trip. As mentioned, I traveled as a solo female traveler and I loved it! So, whether you plan a road trip in Jordan by yourself, with friends or family, or alone – just do it. Jordanians are very relaxed, friendly, and always happy to help and I am sure you will have a great time!
Stay safe and have great travels!