Jordan packs a lot of sights for a country its size. There are a lot more places to visit in Jordan than just Petra. Whether you’re travelling independently or with an organized tour, you could visit the destinations below within 7 to 10 days (depending on what you include).

This is not a detailed guide to Jordan. If that’s what you want, I suggest you get the Lonely Planet Jordan guidebook. My aim here is to give you an idea of what to see and do in Jordan, and help you design your Jordan itinerary. Here then are the best places to visit in Jordan, listed from north to south.

(Note: Prices below are given in Jordanian dinars (JOD). At the time of writing 1 JOD = US$1.41 and CA$1.88 according to

What to see in the North of Jordan


Jordan’s capital, Amman was originally built on seven hills (just like Rome) but now spans over 19! While most visitors don’t spend much time here, there are a few attractions that justify staying at least a day or two.

The Jordan Museum, Roman Theatre, and Citadel are the main attractions in Amman, but if you like cooking (and eating) you could happily spend half a day attending Beit Sitti’s cooking class (which I did and can recommend). Just walking around and peeking into the spice and clothing shops can be fun too.

Some of the best restaurants and touristy Rainbow Street are located on a hill downtown, so expect some climbing.

A steep "street" downtown Amman, Jordan

A steep “street” downtown Amman

If you like archeological sites, Umm Qais (Roman ruins and abandoned Ottoman-era village) and Pella (another Roman site) can be visited as a day trip from Amman. (Some day tours like this one combine them with Jerash.) The Azraq Desert Castles are another site that you can visit from Amman within a day.

How much time: 1 or 2 days


Madaba makes a good base for visiting the attractions of the Northwest (see below) and is actually located closer to the airport than Amman. It’s also a much smaller and quieter town than Amman, so you may decide to stay here and visit the capital, 30 kilometres away, as a day trip.

The drawing card of Madaba itself is the wealth of Byzantine mosaics found at archeological parks and churches around town. The most famous of those is no doubt the Madaba Mosaic Map in the church of Saint George, which depicts the Middle East in the 6th century AD.

Other interesting churches to visit include the Church of the Apostles and Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist, with its Acropolis Museum and belfry. Madaba is home to one of Jordan’s largest Christian communities, which explains the large number of churches (both Orthodox and Catholic).

Mosaic at Archeological Park I in Madaba (places to visit in Jordan)

Mosaic at Archeological Park I in Madaba

How much time: one day for Madaba itself, but you can use the town as a base to visit the Dead Sea, Karak Castle, Jerash, and even Amman.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is actually a lake that lies 430 metres below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land. It’s special because of its high salinity (34.2%) which makes everything in it (including tourists) very buoyant! Half of it belongs to Jordan, and several resorts line its shore. There is no public transit to the Dead Sea, but if you have a vehicle and like being by the water, you could base yourself here.

If you’re coming on a day tour by taxi or through private transport from a hotel in Madaba or Amman, the Amman Beach Tourism Resort is a public facility that lets you access the Dead Sea as well as a couple of pools, change rooms, and a restaurant for 25 JOD. It’s not cheap, but still cheaper than getting a day pass from one of the private resorts.

Favourite activities here are floating on the Dead Sea (you literally cannot sink) and covering yourself in Dead Sea mud, which has therapeutic properties. By the way, if you want the therapeutic properties without the mud, beauty products made from Dead Sea minerals are very popular souvenir items in Jordan.

Dead Sea, Jordan

Amman Beach Tourism Resort, Dead Sea

How much time: half a day. You could spend the rest of the day exploring nearby attractions like Mount Nebo (where Moses is believed to be buried) and Bethany Beyond the Jordan (where Jesus was supposedly baptized).

Karak Castle

Between Madaba/Amman and Petra, along the King’s Highway, you will find Karak Castle, a Crusader Castle built in the mid 12th century A.C. (although there had been a fortress here since biblical times). It’s located next to a city of the same name and worth a short stop.

The castle is split over seven levels of passageways, dungeons, kitchens, and a chapel. Stone-vaulted halls and endless dark passageways contrast with the blinding light and open views from the outside. If you visit on your own, bring a flashlight… and a guidebook.

Inside Karak Castle (places to visit in Jordan)

Inside Karak Castle

How much time: a couple of hours


Jerash is a ruined Roman city containing one of the best collections of Roman structures in the world (and best in Jordan). It is located next to a modern town of the same name. The site covers a large area and is better visited with a guide to make sense of what you’re seeing. If you didn’t come here with an organized group tour, you can hire a local guide at the ticket checkpoint for 20 JOD.

Take a hat and sunscreen as there is virtually no shade on the site.

Jerash North Theatre (places to visit in Jordan)

Jerash North Theatre

How much time: half a day

Where to go in central Jordan


The centrepiece of a visit to Jordan, the Nabatean site of Petra, doesn’t disappoint! Most photos only show the Treasury, but Petra is a huge site and you will be doing a lot of walking here. Although the highlights can be visited in one day, two (or even three) days let you walk trails and explore parts of the site that you will share with few visitors. Passes for one/two/three days cost 50/55/60 JOD.

On your first day, you could follow the main trail and visit the Treasury, Street of Facades, Theatre, Nymphaeum and Colonnaded Street. After a meal and a rest, you could push on and climb up to the Monastery. And then retrace your steps back.

Keep in mind that the Treasury is about two kilometres from the Visitor Centre, including 1.2 kilometres along the Siq, the narrow passageway between rock walls that opens up onto the Treasury. And the Monastery is about 6.5 kilometres from the Treasury, the last part up staircases.

Monastery at Petra, Jordan (places to visit in Jordan)

Monastery at Petra

On your second day, you could hike the High Place of Sacrifice Trail, or the Al-Khubtha Trail for a bird’s eye view over the Treasury, or even both if you have the energy. You can also spend some time in the Petra Museum next to the Visitor Centre, which is included with your pass. You’ll get a map with all the trails when you buy your pass.

If you’re here on a Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday, there is also Petra by Night (at an extra cost of 17 JOD) when hundreds of candles illuminate the Siq and Treasury, while a flute player and storyteller entertain you.

If you get tired, horse-drawn carriages, camels, and donkeys are available to carry you but they cost a pretty penny and the rides look bumpy. 

Note: if you want to travel to Jordan with a group, the only tour I found that includes more than one day at Petra is Intrepid’s Explore Jordan, which is the one I took and can recommend.

Petra landscape along the main trail (places to visit in Jordan)

Petra landscape along the main trail

How much time: 1 to 3 days

Dana Biosphere Reserve

If you like nature and hiking, put aside a few days for the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Jordan’s largest nature reserve is home to many plants and animals from Europe, Africa, and Asia. The landscape varies from sand dunes in the West to cool mountaintops in the East. Despite all these attributes, Dana is still one of the lesser known places to visit in Jordan.

There are a few accommodation and food options in the area, and many trails, from easy to difficult, some of which can only be attempted with a guide. Some of the trails follow “wadis” (more-or-less dry river beds).

Full disclosure: I didn’t visit Dana Reserve during my trip to Jordan, but reading this post about it makes me want to go!

How much time: one day or more (plan on one full day per hike).

What to do in the South of Jordan

Wadi Rum

One of the most popular places to visit in Jordan, Wadi Rum is a 720 square metre nature reserve located in a desert. But it’s not just any old dusty desert. The rock formations here are endlessly fascinating and reminiscent of the southwestern US, with rock arches and bridges.

A rock bridge in Wadi Rum (places to visit in Jordan)

A rock bridge in Wadi Rum

Since it can get very hot during the daytime, you would ideally explore in the morning and late afternoon, spending one night at one of the many camps scattered across the desert. Although it can be considered camping, it’s still pretty comfortable with permanent tents containing beds, and bathroom blocks with running water. (Water tanks get refilled every day.) The camps also provide buffet meals three times a day, although you may want to take some snacks with you; there are no shops in Wadi Rum.

Activities consist of jeep tours with stops at some of the geological highlights, and guided walks. Besides the stark beauty of the landscape, what impressed me the most was the complete silence (when walking away from the camp) and the night skies filled with stars!

"Melted candle" rock in Wadi Run (places to visit in Jordan)

You will see many of these “melted candle” type of rocks in Wadi Rum!

How much time: one full day or two half-days


The tiny southern coast of Jordan spreads along the Red Sea and is only 27 kilometres in length. The resort town of Aqaba gives you access to pristine coral reefs which you can see by going on diving or snorkelling trips in the Aqaba Marine Park (or even accessing from the shore – ask locally). Divers can also explore a number of shipwrecks. Aqaba offers beaches and other water sports such as boating and windsurfing.

How much time: one day (or more for water babies)

General tips about travelling in Jordan

Tip #1: Public transportation in Jordan is rather restricted. From Amman there are buses to Madaba, Petra, and Aqaba, but travelling between other destinations will require some form of private transport. You could join an organized tour for the whole trip, rent a car, pay for the private transport offered by your hotel, or go on shorter organized day or multi-day trips.

Tip #2: If you’re travelling independently, you may want to get the Jordan Pass which includes your visa fee as well as free admission to over 40 tourist attractions such as Petra, Jerash, and Wadi Rum. You save money even if all you visit is Petra, so it’s a no-brainer if you haven’t prepaid for a tour.

Tip #3: Solo women in Jordan will feel safe and comfortable travelling within the country.

Tip #4: The best time to visit Jordan is spring and fall, to avoid the extremes of temperature, especially in the desert. Spring is best, with slightly longer days and oleanders flowering all over Petra in May!

Early evening in Petra, Jordan

Oleanders and early evening light in Petra

There you have it: all the top places to visit in Jordan!

(My tour in Jordan was sponsored by Intrepid Travel, but as always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.)

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