BEST JORDAN ROAD TRIP

Jordan road trip, cover

HOW TO PLAN A PERFECT JORDAN ROAD TRIP

Here is why a Jordan road trip is a must!

Jordan is not only beautiful it is also one of the best places for a fun and easy road trip.

Even as a solo female traveler in Jordan I had a blast and congratulated myself for making the decision to discover Jordan by car.

This country…the people, the sights, the nature, the food – it was an absolute amazing experience and luckily, Jordan is also a very safe destination to visit with and conditions are great for road tripping.

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 did not drive myself in Lebanon and I could nit have driven in Jordan if this had been the case. Actually, this Jordan road trip was so relaxed and fun, so I have to recommend it to anyone.

Joran road trip

DRIVING TIPS FOR YOUR JORDAN ROAD TRIP

Here is some information about driving in Jordan for your Jordan road trip. While I think that driving in Jordan was quite easy and straightforward (and the streets, overall, were in very good condition), you should probably be aware of these things before starting your road trip.

Driving tips for Jordan

Rules

  • 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.
  • For the Jordan road trip, you will most likely need to rent a car and not driving with 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 in to the rental company when you drop off the car.
  • There are a lot of police stops throughout the country – so, you could be pulled over at any time, but normally it is fine and you just 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 charged a fine – I did not have to pay on spot  – and wrote a note on the paper. When I handed that over to the rental company, they said that it would not be a problem and they 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: There are many speed signs that 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. I mean really a lot 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, they sometimes even cause some danger. Anyhow, don’t be surprised by allllll the speed humps.
  • Sometimes, animals are on the street. And sometimes humans. In the town center near Petra, people sat on the curb (with their legs and feet in the street)… smoking shisha. Also, 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 in Jordan, you can’t drive 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 refuelled – 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 here 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.
  • 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 also 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 security – just exercise common sense whether you travel alone or not.

10-Day Jordan road trip

How to Rent a Car in Jordan

Renting a car in Jordan is quite straight forward. I used RentalCars to find a car – I picked the smaller car available and it was fine. I realised, later in the mountains, that it was challenging for the car to drive up the mountains but it did a good job after all. BUT, with what I know now, I suggest not taking the smaller car but 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. Street conditions are good – and a medium-sized car should be fine. A 4wheel car is not needed – for a trip to the desert, I highly suggest, to book a tour.

When renting a car, make sure all damages are well recorded when you pick up the car so that you don’t get blamed for damages you did not cause.

TIP: Get full insurance. I always do that – 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) and make sure all papers are complete when picking up the car.

With the above driving tips, you should be fine to drive in Jordan. 

Where to Stay in Jordan When Road Tripping

While I have hotel recommendations under each stop, you can also check out my Jordan accommodation guide to find the best areas and hotels in Jordan.

Find more general travel tips for Jordan here.

JORDAN ROAD TRIP ITINERARY

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 Jordan road trip, you will actually have enough time to also rest and relax and spend time at the beach (or in the desert). So, if you can visit Jordan for 2 weeks, then go for it.

But you can even discover Jordan on a 7 or 10-day road trip. And with a 5-day road trip you have to skip two or three places mentioned here. Anyway, here we go, here are places not to miss when road tripping Jordan.

Jordan Road Trip

Stop 1: Amman

Personally, I really enjoyed my time in Amman and I do think, it is one of the best things to do in Jordan – especially for every Jordan road trip. Amman is the capital of Jordan and a very busy and exciting place to visit. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and also well populated as half of the people in Jordan live here.

View from Citadel in Amman

While the city is very old, there is a mix of both ancient and modern architecture.

Amman is teeming with shops, restaurants, and an active nightlife, and has a hectic feel as everything always feels like it’s in motion. There are a number of attractions offered within the city, such as the Roman Ampitheater, downtown Amman and the souks, and the views from the Citadel. 

Entry to most attractions are free with your Jordan Pass.

Tip: I recommend spending one or two days in Amman – and discover the city WITHOUT a car. Unless you enjoy driving in busy places. Then Amman is a good place to drive. But for all others: Make Amman your starting point of the road trip and pick up the car after your time in Amman (or make it the end point of the trip).

You can get around on foot or take a bus or an Uber if needed 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 was fun, modern, and clean, with a great location. Check it out here because it surely is a perfect budget accommodation.

For a midrange hotel option, I suggest Albasem Hotel, because it is well-rated and centrally located. Check out rates and availibilities here.

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.

Stop 2: Jerash

Dating back almost 6,500 years, Jerash is located just north of the capital, Amman, and in the northwest part of Jordan. I think, there is no way to skip Jerash when you do this Jordan road trip.

Jerash Theater in Jordan

It is one of the best preserved cities from under the rule of the Roman Empire and is really amazing. It was rediscovered about 70 years ago and restored. You can explore a lot of attractions in Jerash, 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 their finds for viewing.

Tip: I recommend renting a car now, and getting there after your time in Amman and plan in half a day (max. one day if you are really into history) and then head to the Dead Sea. Entry is free with your Jordan Pass.

You can leave early in the morning and – after a few hours or a full day – head to the Dead Sea which is a 1,5 – 2 hours drive.

Stop 3: Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is located along the western border of Jordan and is the lowest point on the planet – and it surely is a must-see for any Jordan road trip.

Dead Sea, Mövenpick pool with a view

It is more than 400 meters below sea level. It is so salty that you cannot swim in it because you only float. But it is a destination for many because the mud from the Dead Sea can be used to soften skin – even Cleopatra was known to do it. So, the minerals in the mud make it a natural spa destination and the beaches are also popular.

Most are owned by the resorts in the area, but there is a public beach to enjoy as well.

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 a 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 tip Jordan in 7 days, stay a night here and chill before you get to experience some adventure. I would continue my journey around 10 am and visit a real highlight in Jordan which is quite close.

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 Stthe bed was comfortable (I had an amazing sleep) and staff is very friendly. The hotel was done in the Arabic style, and breakfast and dinner were included. Butt you can also book it without any dinner/breakfast/lunch. I would say it was definitely worth the money and my first choice for staying at the Dead Sea. 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, which is a well-rated 4-star hotel with great amenities and private beach access. Find the rates here.

Stop 4: Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib is a river canyon, where the Mujib River empties out into the Dead Sea, making the area the lowest nature reserve in the world at 420 meters below sea level.

Wadi Mujib in Jordan is one of the fun places to go in Jordan

The Wadi Mujib Gorge is a stunning place, and a fun and exciting destination while in Jordan. You can hike the area, climbing stairs under waterfalls, crossing through the water, and floating in between the gorge. The water is filled with the little fish often used for “pedicures.”

This is a very adventurous place to visit and was one of the highlights during my Jordan road trip.

Tip: It is closed in the winter months (exact times depend on the actual weather conditions but it might close mid-October for a few months). You can get there from your way from the Dead Sea to Dana and it will take a few hours (or up to a day, depending 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 – and then you can rent a guide. I did hire a personal guide 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 (and if you are active and fit you can do it yourself!). Bring suitable shoes with you! I would try to leave Wadi Mujib at around 3 pm so you can experience the sunset at this gorgeous place that I am talking about now.

Stop 5: Dana

Located between Petra and the Dead Sea, Dana is a lesser-known stop and many dont add it to a Jordan road trip, but features stunning sights.

Dana Nature Reserve at sunset

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 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 road trip itinerary.

WHERE TO STAY IN DANA

I stayed at Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp – it is a very basic camp. You have shared toilets and mattresses were not great. However, I still recommend it because the views are great (and 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.

Stop 6: Petra

Petra is perhaps the most visited place in Jordan and one of the best stops for your Jordan road trip. Located in the southwestern part of the country, it was the prosperous capital of the Nabatean kingdom around 1 BC.

Petra, Treasury_

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 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 the 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 be able to 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.

There are terribly treated (what I saw) and if you need a ride, you can take an electric mini bus for some parts. Even though they don’t take you up all the way to mountain peaks, I guess, it is not an option to ride a donkey, so bring enough drinks and snacks (though there are stalls where you can buy all that) and prepare for some nice walks.

Petra By Night was a little disappointment – 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

The Mövenpick Resort is a very nice luxury hotel located just next to Petra (so perfectly located). But it is very popular and fills up fast, so if you want to stay there, then I suggest you book early. Check out rates here.

Another beautiful place to stay near Petra is the Hyat Zaman – while it is rated as a 3-star hotel, it actually is a beautiful luxury hotel about 15 minutes drive from Petra. It was my favorite place to stay in Jordan and definitely recommend staying there. It is a great choice if you don’t have to watch your budget closely. Check out the hotel here.

For a cheaper option, you can stay in Wadi Musa at the Cleopatra Hotel, 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 min attractions. Read more about the hotel here.

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.

Wadi Rum on Jordan itinerary

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 few hours) but they miss out on a magical night. There are several camps (unfortunately, the one I stayed is closed atm) and it was amazing. Basically all camps offer tours for the day – and do have dinner/breakfast and lunch if you stay with them overnight and book a tour.

You should not drive with your own car in the desert – the desert is huge and you would need a 4 wheel drive and should have at least some experience driving in sand. So, you can leave your car at the visitor center and will then be picked up by the company you booked the tour / accommodation with. Sounds complicated but is quite easy if you book in advance.

WHERE TO STAY IN WADI RUM

I stayed in a very good 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.

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, wind surfing, 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 Jordan road trip, I actually can’t say much as I am not into diving and am also not a beach person. However, it is very popular with the people who like to dive. Aqaba is probably one of the best places to chill and rest – so, if you road trip Jordan for more than 7 days, then you will have time to do so here.

WHERE TO STAY IN AQABA

For accommodations, you can stay at Al Manara Hotel in Aqaba, which is a luxury resort that is highly rated for its location, service, and amenities.

A more mid-range hotel would be the Lacosta Hotel, which is close to the beach and other attractions, and often includes breakfast.

A budget option would be the Amir Palace Hotel, which is 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 afterwards).

Stop 9: Amman

Aqaba – or Wadi Rum – is quite far from Amman. If you 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 i above, here are three places that are probably the 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 availibilities 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.

CONCLUSION: JORDAN ROAD TRIP

Jordan is such an amazing country – as public transportation is not great, a Jordan road trip is actually the best way to explore the country. As mentioned, I traveled through Jordan 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 – do it (here are more tips for solo female travelers in Jordan):

Jordanians are very relaxed, friendly and always happy to help, Whether you do a Jordan road trip by yourself, with friends or family or your partner – I am sure, you will have a great time!

Stay safe and great travels!

best Jordan road trip, travel tips and more for Pinterest

Safe Travels, Arzo

THINGS TO D DO IN 2 DAYS IN ISTANBUL

best things to do in Istanbul in 2 days, itinerary

HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN ISTANBUL

To find out about the best things to do in 2 days in Istanbul, read on because I am happy to share my travel tips. Besides the best tips on what to do in Istanbul in 2 days, you’ll also find some travel tips so that you can easily plan your visit.

Istanbul is one of the most unique cities in the world – what other city is spread over two continents? But that is not the only reason to visit this fun city.

This is a city that offers many historical and religious sites – but is also rich in modern sights and has the cutest cafes and restaurants, which also translates into a fun nightlife.

Istanbul offers all that to its visitors, and of course, I do not want to forget to mention the extremely delicious food (that also caters to vegetarians and vegans) – no, you cannot go wrong with booking a trip to Istanbul for a weekend.

Istanbul itinerary for 2 days

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which mean I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2-DAY ISTANBUL ITINERARY

Check out the quick travel tips or your Istanbul itinerary.

How to get to the City Center From the Airport

If you arrive at the Istanbul Airport – the main one, the Atatürk Airport closed and the new main airport just opened in 2019 – you can easily take the Airport Shuttle to get to the city center.

Whichever of the two main tourist areas – Sultanahmat or Taksim – you choose, the shuttle bus gets you there for around 3€ one way.

The buses are modern, clean, and the ride is quite comfortable. Once you arrive at the bus station, you might have to walk to your accommodations or you can then take a taxi.

There are taxis that are waiting just outside or you can book a private pick-up service in advance.

Where to Stay in Istanbul for 2 Days

I recommend staying in Sultanahmad, which is the old part of Istanbul.

I booked two different hotels and both of them were close to the Sultan Ahmad Square.

My tip: Hotel Poem is a small, but lovely, boutique hotel with friendly staff and a great breakfast! Check out rates here and book before it is full booked (it is quite small).

Hotel Spectra Sultanahmad is another option. I booked it just for the views from the breakfast room, and those views did not disappoint. Find out more about this hotel here.

Blue Musque view

However, I liked Hotel Poem a bit more, and if prices are similar, I suggest staying at Hotel Poem (despite the smaller rooms).

Best Time to Visit Istanbul in 2 Days

Istanbul is a popular travel destination all year round. Expect a lot of crowds in the summer months – if you can, pick spring or fall for your trip to Istanbul though winter in Istanbul might also be a fun time to visit.

Solo Female Travel Tips for 2 Days in Istanbul

I traveled to Istanbul by myself. My Turkish Airlines flight – without any explanation – arrived more than 2 hours late in Istanbul and so I arrived in the middle of the night. I took the airport shuttle and just had to walk a few hundred meters to my hotel – but at that moment, it felt uncomfortable. It was raining, it was cold and it was dark and there were not many people around.

BUT that was the only short moment I felt uncomfortable – I think, Istanbul is a safe place to visit as a solo female traveler. So many people visit Istanbul that you don’t stand out from the crowds when traveling alone. If you exercise common sense, there is no reason to not travel alone in Istanbul.

Be aware of your political statements but as a solo female traveler there are no particular precautions to take. People are friendly and nice and its easy to do small talking to locals (if they speak English) there is so much to do – even solo – that I did not have time to feel bored.

TIP: You might want to check out the Museum Card if you plan to visit many attractions as it could save some money. However, you normally will not be able to skip the lines, and with two days you might not want to stand in lines forever.

PLACES TO VISIT IN 2 DAYS IN ISTANBUL

Without further ado, here is how to spend 2 days in Istanbul.

DAY 1 IN ISTANBUL

For the first day, I recommend staying in Sultanahmet – the old town – only and visit the main attractions here. This is the perfect place to start your 2 days in Istanbul – Sultan Ahmad Square.

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

One of the top places to visit in Istanbul in 2 days is the Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia was a Christian Cathedral commissioned by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century and was then converted to a mosque by the Ottomans. But it did not stay a mosque for long.

After 1935 it was converted to a museum (on Atatrürk´s order)- and nowadays there are ideas to convert it back to a mosque, but for now, you can still visit the museum. 

It is one of the busiest places and the main tourist attraction in Istanbul, so lines are quite long – even during the off-season. So, make sure to book a guide or buy skip-the-line tickets.

The Hagia Sophia is a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture – for the best views, go to the second floor.

Hagia Sophia, view from the upper gallery is one of the best things to do in 48 hours in Istanbul
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Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays (as well as on the first days of Ramadan, and Sacrifice Festivals for half time) and opens at 9 am. 

On the website, it says it is open every day, but when you scroll down, it says that it is closed on Mondays starting from the 1st of November in 2019. Check out skip-the-line-tickets here and make sure to plan it in your 2-day Istanbul itinerary.

Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

Another must-see in Istanbul in 2 days, is the Blue Mosque – which is free to enter and is still used as a mosque (to avoid the busiest times, don’t visit during prayers).

Blue Mosque, (Sultanahmet Camii), Istanbul one of the most beautiful places
@shutterstock

The Blue Mosque was completed in 1616 and is beautiful inside and out. While it actually is not really blue from the outside, it has 20,000 handmade mosaic blue tiles surrounding the walls of the interior, which is where it derives its name.

Interior of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul is a must-see in 2 days
@shutterstock

The Blue Mosque was built to rival Hagia Sophia and I must say, from the outside, it is surely more impressive and stunning than the neighboring building.

Visit the Blue Mosque website and check the prayer times – it’s closed to non-worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers (avoid visits on Friday mid-morning, as this is the main prayer time).

Sultan Ahmet Square and Have a Snack

2 days in Istanbul will most likely be quite stressful, so plan in enough breaks. After visiting the Blue Mosque it is time for such a break.

Snacks in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmed Square in Istanbul is a must for a 2-day itinerary
@shutterstock

The Sultan Ahmet Square is one of the major public areas in Istanbul – and oh man, I loved the Sultanahmat Square. Not just because of the many sights, but also because of the little snack stalls that offered delicious snacks, like corncobs and chestnuts.

I could have snacked all day (and kind of did), so after the sightseeing, it is time to buy those snacks that are also quite affordable.

Take the snacks and sit down at the park and watch the people before you continue your journey.

Topkapi Palace

Topkapı Palace is the next major attraction to see in 2 days in Istanbul.

Topkapi-Palasce is one of the best things to see in 2 days in Istanbul
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It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and was built in the 15th century of the Ottoman period. It was used for the longest time as a royal palace and was the resident of Ottoman sultans and center of state management and education.

The palace covers an area of around 700,000 square meters, most of which are actually the Royal Gardens (Hasbahçe). 

This is one of the best places to learn about its history as you’ll find many weapons, porcelain, Islamic manuscripts, Ottoman treasures and jewelry, and more that date back to those times.Given its size and importance, it can take several hours to go through the palace.

Topkapi Palace is open every day except Tuesdays, and the museum pass is accepted here. An admission ticket without a Museum Pass is 30 TL – but you can buy skip-the-line-tickets for this one as well. Check them out here.

Basilica Cistern

This attraction is not just a great way to escape the heat in the summer months: visiting the Basilica Cistern is a popular activity in Istanbul and close to the main attractions mentioned above.

The Basilica Cistern, (Yerebatan), Istanbul, Turkey is one of the best places to see in 2 days
@shutterstock

Cisterns were built all around the city to meet the populations water requirement – in the case of a siege and the Basilica Cistern was the largest cistern in Istanbul, providing water to the Tokpaki Palace and other buildings in the area. Check out skip-the-line-tickets here

Okay, before talking about another place to visit in 2 days, here are more attractions located on Ahmed Sultan Square. It is easy to see in the first day and it does not take much time, so you will probably more or less just pass them.

The Fountain of Ahmed III

One of the other things to see in Istanbul – without much effort – is the Fountain of Ahmed III that is all located on the Ahmed Sultan Square.

Fountain in Istanbul in 2 days

It was built in the 18th century and is known as one of the most beautiful samples of Turkish rococo styles.

Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed

You can also visit the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed – the construction of the Mausoleum started shortly after his death in the 17th century.It is free to visit (but dress accordingly and be respectful when visiting).

Grand Bazaar 

Of course, you have to visit the Grand Bazaar. But a word of warning: if you visit at the wrong time, it is crazy and hectic and crowded.

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the best places to visit in 2 days

After checking out the Grand Bazaar, I needed to sit down and take a long break.

But given its size, it is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, with around 30,700 square meters full of shops and restaurants. 

It is great for buying souvenirs and little presents – and gold and other jewelery! Depending on which streets you visit, you might have to pass a security check, but then you can basically shop till you drop.

Open every day from 9 am to 7 pm, except Sundays.

For the first day in Istanbul you are set – however, if you want to end your day at a more relaxing place, cap your day at the Bosperus (more on that later).

Extra: Sulemaniye Mosque 

Other than the Blue Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque is another well-known mosque in Istanbul and is actually the largest mosque in the city.

It is located on the Third Hill of the city, near Istanbul University, and if you have some free time on your hands, then check out this mosque, too.

DAY 2 IN ISTANBUL

After a busy day 1 in Istanbul, it is time to continue your 2-day Istanbul trip.

Bosphorus Cruise

Depending on how fast you have been, you could then end your day at the Bosphorus on day one or you can start your second day here.

Bospherus in Istanbul itinerary

I loved this area in particular – it is busy and it was here that I first got the feel for how big Istanbul actually is. Sultanahmed is beautiful, but it felt like a smaller city on its own.

I am all about boat tours and ferry rides – so, if you are like me, then hop on a boat/ferry and see Istanbul from a different perspective.

 Those Bosporus boat cruises take a couple of hours and so it is nothing to squeeze in quickly.

You can buy tickets on the spot, if you like or check out prices here and book in advance. If you want to book a Bosphorus boat cruise with dinner and entertainment click here.

Galata Bridge

Then, it is time to cross the Galata Bridge – and on your way to Beyoglu, look back because the views are gorgeous!

Istanbul from Galata Bridge view_

You could take the tram (or do a boat ride), but I recommend walking towards Beyoglu from the Old Town. You will arrive in a hipster area of Istanbul – Beyoglu.

Galata Tower 

The Galata Tower is one of the main landmarks in Istanbul and in Beyoglu, and its a great place for great views. Apparently. 

The lines are probably always long (that was the case when I visited in October), so I skipped this – but the 66-meter-high medieval stone tower built in the 14th century – on a hill – offer panoramic views over Istanbul. The views are said to be great from the top.

Even if you don’t climb the stairs to enjoy the views, I loved the atmosphere in this part of Istanbul. The tower was built in the 14the century as an addition to the Galata Wall for defence purpose and was the main tower of the Galata Walls. It also served as a dungeon for slaves before it then was converted to a depot for the boatyard.

There was such a fun and relaxed vibe here that you should not miss out on this area.

Lunch/Coffee in Beyoglu 

This is the place to sit down and have lunch or just a coffee – food and drinks are reasonably priced and the cafes are the cutest I have seen in Istanbul (indoor and outdoor cafes).

Cute cafe in Istanbul is one of the top things to see in 2 days

It has a bit of a hipster feel, but it still felt authentic and I would make sure to plan in enough time to spend some here. Plus, you might get lucky and have some great live music playing somewhere nearby.

Fruits in Istanbul

Tram 

There is an old red tram – similar to the ones in San Francisco – that you can use for a small amount (less than 1€), which will take you all the way up to Taksim Square and back (you need a separate ticket for each ride). 

Iconic red tram in Istanbul

I hopped on it, but it was so busy that I did not find a seat and was squeezed in with many others. So, my tip is to make sure to wait for the tram and be on time, so you can be one of the first to get in, grabbing a seat and better views.

On a busy day, it will be almost impossible to take a picture of the tram without tons of people standing in front of it, wanting a souvenir picture.

Istiklal Street

As I was visiting Istiklal Street on a Saturday, I experienced the busiest shopping street I have ever seen – probably.

This long shopping street, pedestrian and tram only, is am incredibly busy and bustling place with many international shops. 

Personally, it was not my favorite place in Istanbul – if you are into shopping, then this is the place to see. If you aren’t, you could skip it.

Taksim Square

Taksim is the heart of modern Istanbul and probably best known at the moment for the place where the demonstrations against the current president, Erdogan, started, but it is generally known as a place for political protests.

However, it is also where all the fancier restaurants, shops, and hotels are, but apart from that, there are not that many interesting sights or attractions. It is not really a must-see place with only 2 days in the city in terms of attractions, but due to the importance of the place, I have still added it on this 2 days in Istanbul itinerary.

From there, you can either take the tram back to Beyouglu and end your day there or you can take the underground and go back to Gelata Bridge, and then either walk back to Sultanahmad or end your day at the Bosperus.

I loved the numerous cafes and restaurants in Sultanahmad. So, if you had lunch in Beyuglou already, then I suggest having dinner in one of the many cafes or restaurants in the old town of the city.

Hammam

Extra: If you have time and want to relax, I definitely suggest visiting a Turkish Hamman.

 While I have not visited any in Istanbul, I did so on other Turkey trips and can highly recommend them. Because 2 days in Istanbul can be crazy and hectic, what better way is there to relax and enjoy than in a Turkish bath where you can end your day with a relaxing massage? 

CONCLUSION: BEST THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN 2 DAYS IN ISTANBUL

2 days in Istanbul will be fun and excited – the city is so vibrant and interesting and with 2 days in the city you will not be able to see all of the highlights but you will get a good idea and can cover the main attractions.

Hopefully, this Istanbul itinerary will help you plan your trip and you will have an unforgettable 2 days in Istanbul.

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LEBANON

Best places to visit and things to do in Lebanon in 5 days, itinerary

PLACES TO ADD TO YOUR LEBANON ITINERARY

Are you planning your Lebanon itinerary and wondering about the best places to visit in Lebanon in a few days?

An often overlooked, but definitely great travel destination in the Middle East is the small country of Lebanon.

It is a beautiful, small country with friendly people, ancient sights, modern cities, cute villages, pretty landscapes, and a wild nightlife – that is what you can expect in Lebanon.

Since I am from Germany, I have always been around Lebanese people, but the country was never really high on my bucket list. Eventually though, I added it to the list and went for about a week and before I then went to Jordan.

And what can I say? Lebanon was a fun place to visit and exceeded my expectations. 

I did not know what to expect as a solo female traveler – but it turned out to be fine and there is no reason to worry. Lebanon is, in general, a safe travel destination – even for solo female travelers. But of course, for other kinds of travelers, too.

Was everything perfect? No, for sure not. Was it still fun? Yes, definitely. 

A bit crazy, hectic, and chaotic – here is what to expect when visiting Lebanon. Find out where to go and what to see in only 5 days in Lebanon. While I wished that I had two more days in Lebanon (I think that 7 days in Lebanon would be awesome), I got a good glimpse of the country and got to see some really beautiful places – and so can you with less than one week.

While the political situation in Lebanon is tense at the moment, it is also a quite liberal and modern country, where different religions coexist and, thus, has a different feeling from many other Arab countries.

So, before talking about the very best places to visit in Lebanon, here are some travel tips for your itinerary.

Lebanon with Arzo Travels

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR LEBANON ITINERARY

Before talking about the best places to visit in Lebanon in 5 days (or so) here are some travel tips.

How to Get to Lebanon

I suggest flying into Beirut. There are many flights from Istanbul, but also other countries in the Middle East, and it allows you to combine your trip easily with a trip to Jordan, Istanbul, or other nearby destinations.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which mean I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

How to Get Around in Lebanon

If you are brave, you can rent a car and explore Lebanon on your own. However, driving in Lebanon seems very crazy to me because I experienced it as crazy, hectic, and wild, where drivers make their own rules.

This did not only apply to Beirut, but also many other places. Streets are always crowded and an extra car would only add to the pollution (which is a big problem in the country).

However, the alternatives are not perfect, but there are some fun other ways to get around.

I mostly used the minibuses to get around. There are some newer ones (as you can see in the picture) and some which were really old. In general, they are for sure not fancy and the drives were insane in some parts, but they were fun – and cheap. And in the end, I did not have to worry about driving myself.

Whether I went to Baalbeck, Byblos, or Tyre, it was possible to go in the small buses and get around for very little money. 

There are also Ubers and taxis available, but I suggest only using Ubers in Lebanon, if needed – my first time ever using Ubers was in Lebanon actually. I did not use them often, but there are plenty of Ubers available and you do not have to worry about being ripped off.

Where to Stay

For this Lebanon itinerary, I suggest staying in Beirut for most of the time. Lebanon is small, but stretched, and Beirut is quite centrally located.

I did only day trips (mini buses all the way) – getting around in Lebanon is time-consuming and even a 80-km drive can take up to 3 hours, but you will also get to see different landscapes and do not have to worry about checking in and checking out all the time.

However, if you stay for more than 5 days, it might make sense to book one or two nights near Byblos and do a few trips from there, so you avoid too much driving.

I stayed in a hostel / hotel in Hamra – a popular district in Beirut. There are dorms but you can also book private rooms. The great thing about this hostel is that it has a pool on the rooftop and that you, especially if you travel as a solo traveler, easily meet other people. Check out rates at Hamra Urban Gardens.

If you are looking for a luxury accommodation then you might want to check out Four Seasons Hotel Beirut – it comes with a great location and the views from the rooftop are great!

What to Eat

The good news: Lebanon is a foodie heaven!

Whether you are a meat-lover or a vegan, this country has an amazing cuisine. So, as someone who eats veganish (and strictly vegetarian), I was in heaven. All the delicious food was to dream off – of course, there is falafel & hummus and the fresh Fattoush salad but there was so much more to eat and enjoy. 

It is more diverse than in many other countries in the Middle East and probably one of the best cuisines in the world, so plan in enough time for good food and fresh juices.

Safety

I am generally cautious, but did not feel the need to take extra precautions.

In general, Lebanon is a safe country to visit. Despite its very complicated history (and present), it is a safe destination to visit.

However, if you visit these days, there might be some demonstrations and problems. 

Also, not all public services function properly, like waste collection ( I must say that Lebanon is – unfortunately – very dirty in many parts and you will see tons of trash everywhere. Though I doubt that this is the result of the irregular waste collection, but more a result of people just littering wherever they go).

If you stay in a hotel/hostel, you will not be strongly affected by regular blackouts (even though there are many).

BEST PLACES TO SEE IN IN LEBANON IN 5 DAYS 

Let´s start with the capital of the country: Beirut.

Beirut – 2 Days

My tip is to spend 1.5 or two days in Beirut and explore the gems of the city. 

While Beirut is the capital, it is still quite small, and with 2 days, you will have time to see the main attractions and places in Beirut.

I love Beirut sign in Lebanon

Also, while Beirut is small, it is not so small that you could see everything in less than one day – especially if you plan on only  (or mostly) walking.

My tip for the first day (especially if you do not have a full day) is to visit the Amercian University first and explore this area for an hour or so before heading to the Rauche Rocks (for the sunset), and then having dinner/drinks there before strolling the promenade. Start this day slowly and prepare for a busy day 2.

If you have more time on your hands, also visit Hamra – a popular busy area with many cafes and shops. This is also a good place to visit in the evening.

Beirut attractions

Day 2 in Beirut will be busier. Start at the Sursock Museum and then walk down and visit the St. Nicolas Stairs, the St. Elian & Gregory Cathedral, and Beirut Souks, and stroll the Gemayzeh area – this is also a lovely area to have lunch or dinner.

Then, make sure to visit Zaitunay Bay and stroll Beirut´s Marina, where you will find – besides yachts – a lot of restaurants, too.

The most stunning building in Beirut is the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque – so make sure to not only admire the architecture from outside, but to also pay a visit inside (free and you do get something to cover yourself up with if you are not dressed appropriately).

Mohammad Am Amin Mosque in Beirut

Lebanon mosque in Beirut

There are also a few churches in the area that you can visit.

Next to the mosque, you will also find the Roman Bath Gardens that you can visit (it does not take much time though). 

Beirut is one of the very best places to go out – even I went to a club. Okay, it was during the week and there was not that much going on, but if you want to experience the infamous nightlife in Beirut visit during the weekends. There are many rooftop bars and clubs where you can dance the night away.

Balbeeck – 1 Day

Plan in one day for visiting Baalbeck – one of my favorite places in Lebanon and a must-see place in Lebanon. 

Getting there is time-consuming, but worth it. Baalbeck is Lebanon‘s greatest Roman treasure – actually, it is the largest Roman temple ever built and still very well-preserved, even though it has suffered from theft, war, and earthquakes.

But thanks to the efforts of archaeologists, it is still in great condition and so it does not surprise that it is actually quite busy. 

There are quite a few sights, including Jupiter Temple, Bacchus Temple, and Venus Temple, so make sure to plan in some time to explore them. 

In early July through August, there is an international festival held.

Yes, we all know the Acropolis in Athens, but Balbeeck is actually way more impressive, so either take a minibus (we had to change buses once and it took me than 2.5 hours in total, but it was an interesting ride), join an organized group, or hire a car and get there yourself. 

Jeita Grotto – Harissa – Byblos – 1 Day

My favorite day was when I visited these three attractions in one day because they are some of the best places to visit in Lebanon.

Many tour operators offer tours to these places in one day and it is definitely doable. 

One of the girls I met at the hostel where I stayed and I mostly used mini buses to get around (but also Uber and a taxi). It saved us tons of money this way and we saw all three beautiful places – and it was fun!

Jeita Grotto

The first stop is probably Jeita Grotto, which is less than 20 km north of Beirut. I am surely no expert on visiting caves, but I have seen a few over the years – and these were my favorites.

The best EVER. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures but it is – I am repeating myself – one of the best places to visit in Lebanon.

This limestone cave is really impressive and they exceeded my expectations. The grotto was discovered in 1836 by an American and opened in 1958 (Lower Grotto) and 1969 (Upper Grotto).

After a scenic drive, you can get out at the funicular station and buy your ticket (cash only) for a bit more than 11€ ,and then you can use the funicular to go up.

Cable Cars in Jeita Grotto in Lebanon

It is a very short ride up, and once there, you can explore the Upper Grotto. 

Over a distance of 700 meters (the total length of the cave is more than 2 km), you’ll find many lime formations, which come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. 

If you look closely, you’ll find many different “animals,“ “vegetables,“ and more.

You cannot take pictures inside, but I can assure you that it is well worth it. It did not take us too long to go through and after probably less than 30 minutes, we were walking out and walking down to the Lower Grotto.

At the Lower Grotto, you can do a short boat ride over the distance of 400 meters. 

Don´t worry – you don’t have to row yourself. Just sit down and enjoy the short electro ride. 

It is quite chilly inside, so bring a pullover with you (around 16 degrees Celsius).

All those activities are included in the ticket price (funicular, Lower and Upper Grotto, and a ride on the mini train, which I did not use).

A documentary is also shown in different languages, but we missed the English version and would have had to wait for a few hours for the next one. So, if you wanna watch it, ask for the times beforehand.

The whole tour took less than one hour, and on the way to the car park, we also spent time in the pretty gardens on the property.

Jounieh / Harissa – Téléférique 

At the car station, we took a taxi. We were approached by many people and ended up with an older driver in a very ancient, but cool, taxi that brought us to Harissa – Téléférique. 

Old Taxi in Lebanon

We paid around 12€, but you could probably haggle and get a better price (but I did not feel the need to haggle with this older man).

One of the best tourist attractions in Lebanon is going up via the Téléférique .

The Téléférique leaves a few kilometers north of the old center of Jounieh and you have beautiful views already on the cable car ride up – I have never seen cable cars riding so close to house buildings (and I am an expert in cable car riding) – and it gets even better once you have arrived in Harissa.  

View from Harissa Teleferique

You could hike up or drive up, but why not take the cable car and enjoy the ride? Especially given the affordable prices for the cable car (less than 7€ for a 2-way ticket) and the views along the way, I do recommend hopping on a capsule. 

I am all about the views and here you can probably experience some of the best views of the country.

Also, you’ll find the Our Lady of Lebanon here – a bronze, white-painted, 13-ton statue of the Virgin Lady that has become a popular place for religious people to visit.

Our Lady in Lebanon Statu

Once you get out of the cable car, you need to walk a few minutes and then climb a few steps to enjoy the views.

Harissa from above

There are several cafes/restaurants with good views and also playgrounds if you visit Lebanon.

Byblos

From Harissa, we took a mini bus and headed to Byblos which is surely one of the best places to visit in Lebanon. 

Byblos old town in Lebanon is a must-see in 5 days

The mini buses leave from the highway, so you need to get there to take them (unfortunately, I did not save the exit location, but if you ask for the mini bus to Byblos, locals might be able to help you).

Byblos was another of my favorite places to visit in Lebanon. It is a charming little village with a long history.

Located about 40 kilometers north of Beirut, it is one of the oldest continuously-inhabitated cities in the world – with over 7,000 years of history. It received UNESCO World Heritage Status in the 1980´s. 

Vegan food in Lebanon

I am all about cute cafes, narrow streets, and pretty views and I found all of that in Byblos. The village is small and we strolled Byblos for around 2 or 3 hours before having an early dinner. 

Byblos old town is one of the most beautiful places to see

However, I would not have minded staying longer – not because I felt that I missed out on something, but because I liked the relaxed vibe… and because Byblos is so over-the-top cute!

Check out the ancient fishing harbor, the small but pretty historical center with its narrow streets and small shops, and check out the side streets for the cute cafes. Visit the archaeological sites, like Crusader Castle, where you can find out more about its history and have lovely views, or St. John the Baptist Church (Eglise St. Jean Marc).

Byblos views

If you‘re in Lebanon for just 5 days – or something like that – 1 day is definitely enough to see the aforementioned places in one day.

 Yes, it might be a busy day (whether you join guided tours or organize it yourself), but it is worth the hassle – this day was my favorite day in Lebanon.

With less than a week, you should add at least one day in the south of the country to your Lebanon itinerary.

Tyre – 1 Day

I opted for Tyre (Sour) and wanted to experience a lesser known place on my itinerary in the south of Lebanon. 

Colorful Tyre in Southern Lebanon is one of the best places to visit

Again, one of the girls from the hostel joined me, and again, the mini bus was our best friend that brought us to our destination.

The drive was interesting because it was my only time going to the south and I loved to see the numerous banana plantations along the way.

Again, we got to visit one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. 

It is a small town (but busier than Byblos) with several Roman and Byzantine archaeological sites, colorful buildings, and a busy town center.

Shopping in Tyre, South Lebanon

Colorful town in Tyre, Sour in Lebanon

There is also a beach area (if you are into beaches, check out the public beach in the Tyre Coastal Nature Reserve – the water color looks lovely, but unfortunately, there is a lot of trash everywhere, which was sad to see). 

Beach in Tyre, Sour Lebanon

Tyre suffered a lot during the war and there are still UN soldiers and jeeps deployed in Tyre, but I also remember the overly friendly people here and so it was another must-see in Lebanon.

MORE PLACES TO GO IN LEBANON IN 7 DAYS 

With five days in Lebanon, I got a good idea of the country – I just wish I had two more days to hike in the mountains because Lebanon is known for some pretty mountain areas, like Qadisha Valley. 

It is great for hiking in the summer and good for winter sports in the winter. If I had 7 days in Lebanon, I would have stayed a night in Byblos, and on my way back to Beirut, I would have stopped at some villages and towns along the way.

Looking back now, I am pretty happy with how I created my 5-day Lebanon itinerary and don’t regret the way I planned my trip at all.

So, this is why I hope this Lebanon itinerary helps you to plan your trip as well (and if Lebanon isn’t on your bucket list yet, then make sure to add it now) – it is a beautiful country that has deserved much more recognition.

Hope, these tips on the best places to visit in Lebanon will help you plan your Lebanon trip!

READ MORE: Is Jordan safe for solo female traveler?

                         Find out about the best stay to visit in Jordan

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

What to Do in 3 or 4 Days in Dubai

Best things to do and see in Dubai in 3 or 4 days

THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI IN 3 OR 4 DAYS

Are you heading to Dubai soon and wondering about the best things to do in Dubai in 3 or 4 days? Then this post is for you – whether you stay 3 or 4 days in Dubai this post is – if I may say so – a great itinerary that will help you plan your trip.

While you surely could see the main tourist attractions in only two days, three days in Dubai is a good amount of time to see a bit more of the city. And four days in Dubai is actually even better.

So, if you are wondering about what to do in Dubai in three days, this post will give you the answer – you will find out where to go and what to see in three days. If you are lucky enough to stay four days, then you will also find out about a great Dubai 4-day itinerary.

The tips are a mix of my own personal favorite places and some places that I think any Dubai visitor has to see at least once in the city.

I have four different day-plans for you. You can skip around and change the dates, but I clustered the activities together in a way that will minimize the amount of driving and time spent in the car.

Before you find out about the best 3-day and 4-day itineraries for Dubai, there are also some travel tips for you – important things you should know before visiting Dubai.

So, here are my four different schedules for each day.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS – THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU). MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR 3 or 3 DAYS IN DUBAI

A few tips, before talking about the 3- or 4- day Dubai itinerary.

How to Get to Dubai

Dubai is a great layover destination – especially if you head from Europe to Asia or vice versa (or Africa). I use different airlines – my favorite is probably Emirates Airlines though. The Dubai based airline offers great services. It is a bit more expensive than other airlines I have flown with (including Turkish Airlines or KLM) but I just like it better.

Anyhow, Dubai has two airports, but most likely you will fly into Dubai International Airport (DXB International). From there, it takes about 10-15 minutes drive (taxi) to get to the old town of Dubai and about 20 minutes to get to Burj Khalifa. Don’t be surprised to be stuck in traffic even at night – Dubai is always busy.

My most favorite airline ever is Emirates Airlines – a Dubai based airline. Check out their prices here and if you can, book via them (they are amazing!).

Abu Dhabi – Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the second biggest airport in the United Arab Emirates and if you fly with Etihad Airways you will most likely fly over Abu Dhabi. It takes about an hour drive to get to Dubai (about 50-60€ taxi fare).

I have never flown with Etihad yet but heard about their great services, too.

Click here to check out prices for Etihad Airlines

How to Get Around in 3 or 4 Days in Dubai

Rent a Car

If you are in Dubai for five days, you could actually rent a car. But you should know that driving there, from my perspective, is a bit crazy. There is traffic almost all the time (even at night, the streets are busy), and the people drive fast, like to honk their horns, and are a bit impatient. You should have nerves of steel if you decide to drive, particularly around Downtown Dubai.

Click here to get the best deals when renting a car

Public Transportation

If you stay in Dubai for a 3 or 4 days and like to use public transportation, I recommend getting a NOL card for the public transportation (there is a one-time fee for it, but you can then recharge it; public transpiration fees are cheaper this way than if you buy single tickets each time).

Metro Station in Dubai

A ticket costs a bit more than 1€ with the NOL card (about 1.60€ without).

However, public transportation is not perfect. You can avoid the crazy traffic by taking the metro, which is great, but a) the metro lacks metro stops, so each stop is rather far from the last, b) the buses are not always well-connected for us travelers, so it is not easy to get from one popular station to another, and c) the metros can be stuffed with people.

While the air conditioning always works perfectly (= which makes a great place to spend some time in the summer month), it is not the best feeling to be with so many people in such a small area, especially at peak time. I am, admittedly, a little claustrophobic, so if you are not, it should be fine.

I mostly take the metro for long distances (especially downtown, where there is a lot of traffic and getting around by cab can mean being stuck in it forever) and then jump into a taxi for the shorter rides, if there is no direct bus connection.

Sightseeing Buses

Hop-on and hop-off buses are a great way to get from one popular tourist attraction to another – at least for some places (the ones I tested). They will not stop at each tourist attractions but at most.

There are two main sightseeing companies. They offer similar services and there are just some minor differences.

The pass also includes a few cool attractions, so it saves money in addition to getting you from Point A to Point B.

Check out Prices for Sightseeing Bus Tours in Dubai

Click here for a 1-5 day ticket in Dubai

Click here to get the best price for 1-7 day tickets in Dubai

Accommodations for 3 or 4 Nights / Days in Dubai

Accommodations in Dubai are not cheap, but the standard is quite high. If you are wondering where to stay in Dubai for 3 or 4 days, I suggest staying close to Dubai Downtown or Marina – or if you are more a beach person close to JBR – Walk. However, these areas are also one of the most expensive ones. For more budget-friendly options you can check out hotels in Dubai Deira (old town).

You can check out rates for accommodations in Dubai here, and if you are looking for my personal recommendations for all budgets and areas, click here.

Hotels in Dubai

Find some of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in Dubai here – my tip in Dubai Marina is the Grosvenor House and if you are with kids, I suggest the Hilton Hotel at JBR the Walk.

Click here for good mid-range hotels in Dubai

Find the best budget-friendly hotels in Dubai – the IBIS al Barsha is a good option though it is not in Marina nor Downtown.

More Travel Tips for Dubai in 3 or 4 Days

Most of the time, I travel solo to Dubai. Find out about the travel tips for solo (female) travelers.

One of the questions I get the most is about the dress code in Dubai – you can read about what to wear in Dubai here.

US-Americans and Eu-citizens do not need a visa for a Dubai trip. You will get a free visa on arrival. If you have a different citizenship and visit Dubai in 3 or 4 days you can find out if you need a  visa here

WHAT TO DO IN 3 or 4 DAYS IN DUBAI ITINERARY

Here are the best places to visit in 3 or 4 days in Dubai.

Day 1: Downtown Dubai and La Mer

Around 10 am

Many of the places I mention for this day are actually the main tourist attractions and must-see places for a stay of 3 or f4 days.

Let´s start with the 3-day Dubai itinerary.

When you get here around 10 am you have the place almost all to yourself. Shops open around 10 am but it is still pretty quiet. So you can walk around and talk all the shots you want without many other people in it. So, for the first hour or two, just stroll the area.

Burj Khalifa

Around 12 pm

It doesn’t matter where you are in Dubai – you will always see it. The highest building in the world: Burj Khalifa. If you get here before 10 am it will be quiet – enjoy it!

Dubai in 2 days

The very uniquely-shaped building is one of the main tourist magnets of the city. And while you might think it is enough to see it from a distance, I recommend getting very close to it. Actually, I recommend getting to the top of it, so head to the top of Burj Khalifa.

But let‘s focus on the main attractions here. As mentioned, the highest building in the world is a must-see.

7 days in Dubai - best vintage points

You can actually get to the top of it (not top-top, but lot level 124 & 125 and level 148). From there, you have the most unique views. On the one hand, you will see Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall underneath you. On the other hand, the view will remind you that Dubai is surrounded by desert – actually, a long time ago, Dubai was a desert itself.

While I truly recommend a visit here, I also suggest buying tickets in advance. I went to the top several times and was happy that I had bought my tickets online beforehand. 

The lines were crazy. Even with a ticket, you have to stand in line for some time, but nothing compared to how long you have to wait if you just buy tickets that day, which may be sold out during the busy times of the high season.

Get your tickets here (p.s. I normally buy tickets via GYG because of their generous cancellation policy).

Click here to get the best prices for level 124 and level 125

Click here to skip lines and get the best price for level 124 &125 and level 148

Fancying dinner with a view? Then check out rates for level 124 & 125 and a lunch/dinner afterward.

Dubai Mall

Around 3:30 am

I am not that into shopping, but this mall is really something. You should add it to your 3-day Dubai itinerary. It is crazy, it is unreal, and it is busy.

Dubai: What to do and see in 3 days
@shutterstock

If you are brave and enjoy crowds, you can visit on a Friday. But don’t worry, it is never really empty here, so you will experience crowds on other days, too.

My favorite area: the Fashion Avenue, the luxury department section of the mall. It is less crowded, very fancy, and the public restrooms are the most luxurious I have ever seen. (I’m not talking about restrooms in luxury hotels, these are public toilets for anyone to use).

Sometimes, there is an artist playing classical music. Ah, this is indeed a pretty place. If you prefer more casual toilets and shops, there are also more affordable shops and stores (and restaurants). The food court has the cheapest food options.

From the mall, you can get to the entrance of Burj Khalifa and other sights, like Dubai Ice Rink or Dubai Aquarium.

And you can get to another main place you should add to your Dubai itinerary: Dubai Fountain.

Dubai Fountain

Around 6 pm

The fountain is located just next to the mall and in front of Burj Khalifa. It looks like a giant pool with water that I´d like to jump into – but laws are strict in Dubai, so it’s better just to look.

Water Fountain Show in front of Dubai Mall @shutterstock
@shutterstock

There are free dancing water shows daily for you to enjoy. It is one of the most popular things to do for free in Dubai, and especially in the evenings. There are always crowds.

If you can, try to get a good view from the Apple Store in Dubai Mall (which is a popular spot and, thus, many want to enjoy the view from there, but not everyone is allowed on the balcony). Be prepared to wait in line.

The bridge to the souk is another popular spot from which to watch the dancing water show, but you can also just stand next to the mall or see it from one of the numerous cafes and restaurants.

In the evenings, there are often LED shows on Burj Khalifa. THIS is spectacular. However, I haven’t found a reliable schedule for the light shows, but if you are lucky and get to witness one, you will be amazed.

That being said, my main advice is to NOT visit on a Friday. Friday is the Sunday of the Islamic world – except there is not much done in the way of resting and having a peaceful day. People get out and get crazy. Seriously, the mall is crowded and so is everything else. For Fridays, I would suggest a day out.

Stroll Dubai Downtown

But there is also more to do and see, so here are my tips for the afternoon in Downtown Dubai.

Downtown Dubai is a busy district with a lot of (luxury) shops, (luxury) hotels, and weird little things I have never really understood, like the bananas and other statues (however, I will gladly bring my little nephew here).

Day 2 in Dubai- Souk and Dubai Desert Safari

This day is the perfect day to get a complete picture of Dubai as you are going to visit the old part of Dubai. Dubai Deira is the ideal place to explore souks (markets) and thus it is a must-see in 3 days in Dubai.

Gold and Spice Souk

Around 10 am

You might have heard of the gold souks? You will find them here, and yes, it is true: There is gold…a lot of gold! 

Gold Souk in Dubai points of interest

Which place to visit - Abu Dhabi or Dubai

But you can buy souvenirs, (traditional) clothes, rugs, and more in this part of Dubai for a much cheaper price than in the malls.

Where to buy cheap things in Dubai

You should also take the opportunity to ride an abra – a typical water taxi that gets you from one side of the creek to the other (for just 0.25€). This is a traditional and local way of exploring the city. 

This is a fun, but stressful, day. So, I recommend heading back to your hotel to get ready for another Dubai highlight! A desert safari.

La Mer

After the – probably intense – time in the old part of Dubai, it is time to relax and chill and La Mer is one of the best places to do so.

La Mer Beach Dubai - best places to visit in Dubai

This quite new area is full of restaurants, shops, playgrounds – and of course, there is the beach. I enjoy the laid-back atmosphere (as much as possible for Dubai). If you are a beach person, then one or two hours might not be enough.

Also, there is quite a lot of graffiti that you can check out – and you will also see Burj Khalifa from a different perspective.

Have lunch – either here or in Dubai Deira – as dinner will be served late if you continue your 3-day Dubai trip as I suggest.

Desert Safari

Around 3 pm

A desert safari is an amazing way to discover the desert. This part is one of my favorites and I am sure you will enjoy it, too because it is one of the best activities for your 3-day Dubai itinerary.

If you book the evening safari tour, you will be picked up around 3 am from your hotel before heading out to the desert.

The tours vary a bit, but most include some wild dune-bashing in the desert, then heading to a recreated, traditional camp.

Dining in the desert while watching the stars and a belly dancing show is one of the most unique, and one of the best, experiences in Dubai. If someone told me they stayed in Dubai for three or four days and did not take such a tour, I would assume they were crazy (if you are on a budget and can only spend money on one activity, I would spend it here). 

This is probably the best way to spend time away from all the modern parts of Dubai.

Find the best desert safari tour for your trip

Find one of the most affordable desert safaris here

This desert safari is a bot more expensive (but here you have some extras, like alcohol, included)

Prefer the morning desert safari? Then find out more here

Day 3 in Dubai- Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, and JBR Walk 

This day (whether it is your first, second, or third) can be all about the new and modern parts of Dubai – this is the beautiful things about Dubai, there are so many different areas and neighborhoods that you will not get bored in 3 days in Dubai.

Here are three really fun and beautiful areas that are just waiting to be explored. If you only have time to see one for whatever reason, I would suggest visiting the Dubai Marina. However, if you can visit all three of them, even better.

Madinat Jumeirah

Around 10 am

You can start with Madinat Jumeirah. It is a popular and luxurious recreational area in the souks. You cannot compare it with the old town of Dubai and its souks – this one is way fancier, and also less authentic. However, I still love it. If you stroll the souk and then the canal, you will have a view of Burj al-Arab, the most famous luxury hotel in the world. 

What to do in Dubai on a layover

You will have then seen the souk and the luxury hotel (getting into the hotel is difficult if you aren’t an overnight guest or have a written reservation for one of the restaurants).

JBR Walk

Around 12 pm

In between Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai Marina lies JBR The Walk. This is a fun place, especially for beach lovers and families.

JBR Walk - The Beach Dubai--3

The free, public beach is perfect for water activities – so it will be loved by adults and kids alike. Also, there are some activities, like the Flying Cup, and playgrounds. This is actually a great place for the daytime – it is busy, fun, and interesting.

You can bring your own picnic, or enjoy lunch/dinner in one of the numerous restaurants or cafes. 

So, personally, all three places are good to visit either in the day or night, so I can‘t make the final decision which one to visit when, but this might be a great solution.

Morning in Madinat Jumeirah. Later that day at JBR Walk. And the evening in Dubai Marina.

Dubai Marina

Around 6 pm

As mentioned, if you don’t have time to explore all of these areas, don’t skip the Marina. This is a wonderful example of the modern part of Dubai.

Dubai Marina at nigt from Pier 7

The density of skyscrapers is insane. Walk along the promenade and you might have neck pain after a while because you will have to look up all the time. With so many buildings, it is hard not to look up, but if you enjoy fancy yacht trips, this is also the place to be. Though I have never been to Florida, the Marina reminds me of it.

There are a ton of restaurants and bars. For a great view, I recommend having dinner/lunch in one of the restaurants on Pier 7.

What to Do in Dubai in 4 Days – 4-Day Itinerary

Here are more places to see in Dubai in 4 days – for the first 3 days you can visit the suggestions above. With the following ideas, you really have an answer to “what to see in Dubai in 4 days” and the “best things to do in Dubai in 4 days”.

Day 4 in Dubai: Abu Dhabi, Oman, or Theme Park

If you are wondering what to do in 4 days in Dubai, I suggest a day trip to one of the places. Of course, you could also squeeze it into your 3-day itinerary but if you have 4 days in Dubai it will be more relaxed to do so.

Abu Dhabi

Start around 7:30 – 8 am

For a 4-day Dubai itinerary, I recommend doing a day trip outside of Dubai. I have a few ideas, and the first is to visit the beautiful capital of the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi.

most beautiful place in Abu Dhabi

The city is located about 100km from Dubai and makes a great day trip. You can get there by bus (though it is a bit tricky and complicated to use this mode of transportation), taxi, rent your own car, or take a guided tour.

In Abu Dhabi, there are quite a few places to see. One of the most beautiful places is the Grand Zayed Mosque. This mosque is synonymous with beauty, symmetry, and perfection. I have never seen a man-made structure more beautiful than this.

The mosque is free to visit and it is open to non-Muslims as well (for non-Muslims, though, Fridays are not a good day to visit, and neither are Islamic bank holidays). You have to dress very conservatively (women with a scarf over their heads and bodies fully covered, men with their legs and shoulders covered), but you can rent clothes for free if you forgot yours.

After a visit, you will have time to head to the Emirates Palace or the Corniche, the beautiful promenade in Abu Dhabi with beach access.

For the best views of the city, head to the Emirates Tower and see Abu Dhabi from above. This will be a fun day trip from Dubai and you will have a great third or fourth day in the Emirates.

Find the best day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi here

Oman

Start around 7 am

Oman is also a really popular destination from Dubai. While I enjoyed my trip, I want to say in all honesty that getting from Dubai to Oman was really stressful.

Arzo Travels in Oman

You might end up sitting on a bus (of course, you could do an independent tour as well) and you need to be patient (crossing borders is not difficult, but time-consuming). If you are patient, then a day trip to Musandam-Oman is a great way to spend a day.

You will get a good first glimpse of Oman (which might make you hungry for more).

Find tours from Dubai to Oman here

Theme Parks

Start around 9 am

Dubai is home to many theme parks. I, personally, would opt for a day trip to Abu Dhabi or Oman but of course, taste differs and especially if visit with younger ones – or if you just love theme parks and roller costs yourself, the theme parks might be better.

Find out more about the Motiongate Dubai

Click here to find out more about IMG Worlds of Adventure

Find out more about LEGOLAND Dubai

As you can see, there are many different things to do and see – so, whether you stay 3 or 4 days in Dubai, hopefully, this post has helped planning your 3- or 4-day iDubai itinerary and you will have a wonderful trip!

Safe Travels, Arzo

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