As you might’ve already been reading in our trip reports Part 1 and Part 2, we’ve been to Jordan for a ten day round trip by rental car. As we already reported about the trip and our experiences in detail, we now want to give you a brief overview over the places we visited and we recommend there.
Let’s do this in the same order as we traveled them:
Amman is the perfect place to start your trip to Jordan at. The biggest airport of the country with most international connections is located here, the city is a great combination of modern and traditional Arabic culture and architecture and there is a lot to see here.
The city has a long history, so that you can explore a lot of museums and archeological places. Most famous are the Roman Theater, the Citadel and the Jordan Museum. Those three are giving a perfect insight into the history of Amman and Jordan. All three are located in and near the old city area. This area also invites to take a stroll through the markets and the small lanes of the historical center. You also find the Roman Nymphaeum here and you can see the famous Abdoun Bridge near the Jordan Museum.
Not far from the old town, just a little up the hill you can take a walk along Rainbow Street. It is a well-known address for tourists, expats and wealthier local people, as there are many restaurants, cafés and bars offering local and international food from all continents. A walk from start to end first is the best idea, as there are many places, you better see all of the first before you decide for one.
From here you can perfectly explore the city, we did most of it by foot, but taxis are not expensive, a one-way ride within the city should cost 3-8 JOD. You can also get drivers for the whole day, but you should be careful not to get ripped off.
In Amman there are many sights such as the King Abdullah I Mosque, the Parliament Building, Umayyad Palace or the cities souks (markets).
If you start your trip here, it is also perfect to get insight into the local food culture; here are some recommendations by us:
- Great choice of different restaurants, bars and cafés: Rainbow Street (Tripadvisor)
- Great local food: Sufra Restaurant (Tripadvisor)
- International Coffee and Tea: Turtle Green Tea Bar (Tripadvisor)
We stayed in the Rafi Hotel (Tripadvisor) in the old town first after arrival, great value and friendly staff. Before flying home we stayed at the Olive Hotel (Tripadvisor), where we also had a quite comfortable stay, but it was a little more expensive.
Petra & Wadi Musa
Getting from Amman to Wadi Musa, the gateway to Petra, is quite easy: you can take the bus (JETT Busses, find prices and schedule on www.jett.com.jo), get a driver bringing you there, or rent a car to drive there on your own. We had a rental car booked, cars and gas are not expensive, the streets are ok and traffic outside of Amman is easy to handle.
We stayed at the Sharah Mountains Hotel (Tripadvisor), clean hotel in a good location, less than 2 km away from the entrance of Petra.
Petra actually is a must see when you visit Jordan. The buildings and tombs carved into the stone are massive and impressive. Walking through the valley and up on the trails is interesting and always makes you think about how people must’ve felt arriving here when all this was an important hub for the local and intercontinental trading routes.
We chose to stay here for three nights, to be able to explore Petra for two full days. If you want to go into detail and not only walk along the main sights, you should also plan more than one day. The trails leading to the Monastery and the Garden Tomb for example take 1-2 hours each and make you climb a lot of stairs. You should also not forget sun blocker, water and snacks. You can buy food here as well, not too expensive, but for sure you get it for a better price in a market in the city.
If you are having more time, a visit to Little Petra, a similar, but smaller archeological side near Wadi Musa is also worth a visit and not as crowded as Petra during high seasons.
Find the entrance fees for Petra here: http://visitpetra.jo/Pages/viewpage.aspx?pageID=138
The town of Wadi Musa itself is not too interesting, nothing much to see, but there are some good restaurants and supermarkets to keep yourself supplied with everything you need.
Places we would recommend here are:
- High quality local food: Al-Wadi Restaurant (Tripadvisor)
- Good local food and fast food: Beit Al-Barakah Restaurant (Tripadvisor)
- Local snacks and sandwiches: Al-Arabi Restaurant (Tripadvisor)
Aqaba & Wadi Rum
When you want to visit Wadi Rum, there are two ways to do it. You either book a camp to sleep in or near the Wadi and do tours from there, or you stay in Aqaba, and do a tour from there.
We decided for the last one. Even if sleeping in a camp in Wadi Rum has is charm, as the environment and the stars you see at night must be impressive, staying in Aqaba has its benefits, too: a lot of hotels to choose from, beaches to chill out and water sports to do at the Red Sea, nightlife and good restaurants.
We stayed at the Costa Marina Hotel & Suites (Tripadvisor), a really good hotel, outstandingly helpful and friendly staff and a good location not far from the city center.
Wadi Rum is easily accessible from here. You can go by car, or book a tour by bus at a local travel agency or your hotel. We just took the car there, the ride there took about 40 minutes.
At the Visitors Center, you’ll park your car and a guide will come to you and explain the procedure. No worries, you won’t be ripped of here, the guides present you the available routes and activities with the official map and the prices are fixed. After deciding for a tour (Jeep, camel, climbing, overnight stay, duration and so on), you’ll go to the ticket office, buy a ticket (not necessary in case you own a Jordan Pass, than you are registered only) and drive to Wadi Rum Village with your own car. Tours are starting from there. Be sure to have enough cash, the guide will be paid in cash after you are back in Wadi Rum
Depending on the length of the tour you booked, you’ll see different sights here in Wadi Rum, but no matter which you see, it is just impressive to drive (or ride) through the desert and between those huge rocks.
The guides can give you good information on where you are at and what you see, you’ll do different stops on the tour, at which you can have a tea or explore the surrounding. Nobody pushed or even asked us to do or buy anything, our guide let us do whatever we wanted.
The four hour tour we booked, took a little more than 3 hours, as we didn’t take too much time at the stops, but it was great anyways. We would not recommend to book a tour shorter than that, you won’t see much otherwise.
In Aqaba, you can also have a great time. There are many restaurants and bars in the city. There is a free public beach and private ones you need to pay an entrance fee for. If you love water sports, you won’t be bored here.
We visited the Berenice Beach Club (Tripadvisor), a little south of the city center. They offer neat and tidy beach and pool areas, the entrance fee is 10 JOD per person, including towels for use there. We decided for them, as they also have a diving center here and we wanted to do some snorkeling. For another 10 JOD per person, you’ll get snorkeling equipment for rent. We had a good time here and would recommend the beach club, if you are looking for some relaxation. They are cooperating with hotels in the city center and also offer a shuttle bus in case you don’t have a car or want to take a taxi.
Standing at the coast in Aqaba, you can see Taba in Egypt on the opposite site of the sea and Eilat in Israel, which is actually neighboring Aqaba. If you like, you can also visit Eilat from Aqaba. As private cars can’t cross the border, just take a taxi or bus there and do the same on the Israeli site. But be sure to inform about the (re-)entry requirements for both countries before you plan a trip like that.
In Aqaba we can recommend following places to you:
- International food and drinks: Buffalo Wings & Rings (Tripadvisor)
- Local Food: Ali Baba Restaurant (Tripadvisor)
- Awesome takeaway pizza: Dana’s Pizza (located right next to the Costa Marina Hotel & Suites, click here to find it on Google Maps.)
- Pub: Rover Returns Aqaba (Tripadvisor)
A short wellness and relaxation stop at the Dead Sea is something we can strongly recommend to end your trip with.
There are several good hotels with direct access and several other private beaches that you can use when paying for it. There is almost no other way to experience the Dead Sea in Jordan, as there are no public beaches with showers or other facilities. We decided for the hotel and had an awesome stay at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa (Tripadvisor).
Bathing in the Dead Sea, floating around and doing some wellness with the mud is not only great for your skin, you can also perfectly relax here, while you are located more than 400 meters below sea level.
Besides the Dead Sea itself, you can also visit the Mujib Biosphere Reserve and the Lowest Point on Earth Museum.
How to get to Jordan?
As for tourists crossing the boarders from neighboring countries to Jordan isn’t easy or not even possible (except for the Israeli-Jordanian Border), the easiest way to get into the country is by plane.
Amman Queen Alia Airport (AMM) is the largest airport of the country and offers a lot of international connections. The national carrier Royal Jordanian Airlines offers many non-stop flights from Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North America to Amman, even a non-stop flight from Tel Aviv. Besides that, following other airlines fly to Amman for example: Aegean Airlines (via Athens), Air France (via Paris), Austrian Airlines (via Vienna), British Airways (via London), Emirates and flydubai (via Dubai), Gulf Air (via Bahrain), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), Middle East Airlines (via Beirut), Oman Air (via Muscat), Qatar Airways (via Doha), Saudia (via Jeddah and Riyadh), Turkish Airlines (via Istanbul) and Ukraine International Airlines (via Kiev).
Besides that, Aqaba has a small airport (AQJ), which is destination for charter flights from different countries. Only Royal Jordanian (from Amman) and Turkish Airlines (from Istanbul) are offering scheduled services here (as of January 2018).
How to get around in Jordan?
The easiest way to get around is by car. Most international rental car companies have a branch in Jordan (most at Amman Queen Alia Airport) and driving is neither horrible, nor dangerous. Not all roads are in perfect condition, but nonetheless you get everywhere by car, you don’t need to be afraid of anybody robbing you or damaging your car. The network of petrol stations at highways main roads is quite dense, if you go for a longer trip on smaller roads, try to start with a full tank and better visit a petrol station earlier, than too late. Paying at petrol stations has always been possible in cash, or credit and debit cards by Mastercard, Visa and Maestro. Be careful that the gas station attendants use petrol of 95 or higher for your car, as many local people use 90 octane petrol, which is cheaper but can harm your car. We would only not recommend to drive at night, due to unlit roads and vehicles and pedestrians without lights on the road. If you need to drive at night, be careful and don’t drive fast. Also driving in Amman city is nothing we’d like to do. In Aqaba there was way less traffic.
Besides that, there are many domestic bus services. You can find an overview and their contacts here: http://na.visitjordan.com/GeneralInformation/GettingAround/Groundtransport.aspx
Taxis are also easy to get. As in many countries, taxi drivers try to rip you of and don’t turn on the meter. The only route that seems to have a fixed price is Amman city to Amman Airport: 25 JOD.
From Amman Airport to the city center, you can take a cheap shuttle bus, which leaves in front of the terminal. But if you don’t want to go to the final stop (which is in the north of the city), tell the driver where you need to go and he’ll drop you of on the route, so you can take a taxi to get to your hotel. More information on the shuttle here: http://www.qaiairport.com/en/content/transportation
The official homepage to buy the Jordan Pass at is https://www.jordanpass.jo/
If you are coming from a country which’s citizens can get a visitor’s visa upon arrival (find an official list here: http://international.visitjordan.com/generalinformation/entryintojordan.aspx) it waives your visa fees (40 JOD per person as of November 2017) and you can access many museums, parks and attractions without admission fees. There are three different passes, depending on how many days you’d like to visit Petra. In any case, it is worth the money, as it is even cheaper than buying the visa and paying the Petra entrance fee for one day only (40 JOD plus 50 JOD), the cheapest Jordan Pass costs 70 JOD. Besides Petra, you don’t have to pay any entrance fees at Wadi Rum and many Museums and castles for example. We hardly recommend to get the Jordan Pass for your trip, it saves you lots of money.
Where we stayed at:
- Amman: Rafi Hotel (Tripadvisor)
- Amman: Olive Hotel (Tripadvisor)
- Wadi Musa/Petra: Sharah Mountains Hotel (Tripadvisor)
- Aqaba: Costa Marina Hotel & Suites (Tripadvisor)
- Dead Sea: Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa (Tripadvisor)
Thank you for reading, we hope we were able to give you some interesting tips and inspiration for your own trip to Jordan.
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