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How to Spend 3 Days in Jordan – The Ultimate Itinerary

Spending 3 days in Jordan will give you just enough time to see the highlights of this gorgeous country. From the ancient city of Petra to the stunning landscapes of Wadi Rum, there is just so much to explore here.

Now, it’ll be up to you to decide if you want to see as much of Jordan as you possibly can in these 3 days, or pick out the sights that are most unique to Jordan and give them ample time for exploring.

For this post, I’m actually going to do two itineraries – the first itinerary will feature what we actually did (and this is how you can see the majority of the highlights in 3 days), and also the other itinerary will feature what I will do if I could do it over.

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3-Day Jordan #1 – Northern Jordan (Jerash, Ajloun Umm Qais) + the Dead Sea + Petra + Wadi Rum

The treasury in Petra, Jordan.

Transport Options for These Itineraries

Before we get into the itineraries, I’m going to share a few different options you have for getting around in Jordan…

  1. Take tours – tours are easy and a stress-free way to get to all of the places mentioned in this post. (I’ll share some recommendations for each spot as well.)
  2. Hire a private driver – this is what we did. We booked a driver for our entire time in Jordan who took us from Amman and to all of the places we wanted to see. This is a little pricier than a group tour, but it was great to go everywhere at our own pace and not worry about driving.
  3. Rent a car and drive yourself from Amman – Driving in Jordan is much more organized than I had expected. If you’re comfortable driving in foreign countries, you would be just fine driving in Jordan. Amman has some traffic, like any other major city, but overall driving in Jordan is not chaotic at all. (If you’re from the US, you’re in luck, because you also drive on the righthand side of the road in Jordan.)

A woman is standing in front of a group of ancient pillars in the sun in Jordan.

Day 1 – Drive to Northern Jordan to See Jerash, Ajloun & Umm Qais

Overnight in Amman

*A private tour can take you to all of the spots mentioned in Day 1.

We flew into Amman late the night before, so we slept in a little at our hotel in Amman before venturing out to Northern Jordan. If you’re flying into Amman this morning, you could also easily drive from the Queen Alia International Airport to Jerash.

Alternatively, you could also spend the day exploring Amman. There are quite a few places to check out, including the Amman Citadel, the Temple of Hercules, the Roman Theater, and the King Abdullah Mosque.

And if you really love vintage cars, then head on over to the Royal Automobile Museum. It’s a great place to learn not only more about Jordan itself but also its history through the display of classic cars and motorcycles. It is also home to a private plane from King Hussein’s collection.


Jerash is the highlight of this day. It’s sometimes called the “Pompeii of the East” because its Roman ruins are so well-preserved.

Here, you can check out the ancient ruins of the Hadrian’s Arch, the Hippodrome, and the Temple of Artemis. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while walking through the colonnaded streets.

If you have time, consider visiting the Jerash Archaeological Museum. There, you can view a collection of artifacts discovered during excavations, including coins, statues, and pottery which will help you see the incredibly rich history of this city.

Ajloun Castle

Ajloun is also very impressive! Also known as Qal’at Ar-Rabad, it’s a 12th-century Arab castle situated on top of Mount Auf and is not terribly overwhelmed by tourists. (It felt as though we had this place to ourselves!).

It was built in 1184 by Saladin’s generals and was primarily used as a base for Arab armies in their battles against the Crusaders.

The castle’s strategic location offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Jordan Valley and three wadis that merge into the Jordan River. It’s only about a half-hour drive from Jerash.

Umm Qais

Umm Qais is a Greco-Roman town that’s located on a hillside with sweeping views of the Sea of Galilee, Golan Heights, and three countries – Jordan, Israel, Syria, and also Palestine Territories.

There are ruins of ancient Gadara here, and very few tourists. This is also the furthest spot away from Amman since it’s over a 2-hour drive.

The city was once a cultural center and home to several famous philosophers and poets. Umm Qais is also regarded as the site of a miracle where, according to the Bible, Jesus cast demons from men to pigs.

So, if you’re short on time this day, skipping Umm Qais would be your best bet, as the other two destinations are quite close to one another and aren’t too far of a drive.

However, if you have plenty of time to explore, don’t forget to visit the Umm Qais Museum. It’s housed in an Ottoman-era building and showcases a range of artifacts found in the area.

Read all of my tips for Day 1 of this itinerary.

Day 2 – Drive to Madaba & Mount Nebo & the Dead Sea

Overnight in Amman or at a Dead Sea Resort

*A private tour will take you to all the places mentioned in Day 2.


For this day, you’ll set out from Amman to Madaba. Madaba, also known as the City of Mosaics, is an ancient town in Jordan, southwest of Amman.

This is about a 45-minute drive from Amman. Madaba is best known for its 6th-century mosaic map of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George.

Apart from the mosaics, Madaba is also home to several archaeological sites. You can explore the ruins of the Apostle Church and the Madaba Archaeological Park, both of which are filled with incredible artifacts and structures.

La Storia Tourism Complex

There is also a lovely little museum between Madaba and Mt. Nebo called “La Storia Tourism Complex.” The locals who work here are SO friendly and enthusiastic – I loved it.

The museum itself is filled with dioramas that depict various historical and biblical scenes throughout Jordan and its surrounding region.

Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo is next up – it’s about 710 meters above sea level with sweeping panoramic views of the valley of the River Jordan and also the city of Jericho…and if the day is clear enough, you can also see Jerusalem at almost 50km away.

The Bible says Mount Nebo is where Moses lived out his final days and saw the Promised Land of Canaan. It also says that Moses’ body is possibly buried here – however, there is no current proof of this.

At the summit, you’ll find the Moses Memorial Church, which houses some of the most intricate and well-preserved mosaics in Jordan. The church was built by the Franciscans in the 4th century AD and has undergone several restorations since then. The mosaics depict scenes from the Old Testament.

The Dead Sea

After Mount Nebo, you can finish your day relaxing and floating in the Dead Sea. Personally, I would recommend staying at one of the resorts on the Dead Sea. Most Dead Sea Resorts are more on the luxurious side and offer spas, massages, and all sorts of relaxing treatments.

While at the Dead Sea, make sure to avoid putting your face underwater, and if you happen to have open wounds, it may not be a good idea to go in at all. Plus, it’s generally recommended not to stay in the sea for longer than 20 minutes since the salt levels can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

From there, we drove back to Amman – and that was just silly, in my opinion. As the next day, it was roughly the same amount of driving to get to Petra. I recommend reading my article before headed here to learn everything you need to know before floating in the Dead Sea.

Day 3 – Petra & Wadi Rum!

Overnight in a Wadi Rum desert camp

*These tours will take you to all the places mentioned in Day 3 (depending on where you are departing from).


Ah, the best for last! Time to embrace your inner Indiana Jones! You’ll want to wake up as early as possible to make it to Petra before the crowds. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Amman and also the Dead Sea.

The ancient city of Petra, also known as Rose City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is often referred to as one of the seven wonders of the world. This archaeological wonder features rock-cut architecture and intricate carvings to showcase the ingenuity of the Nabateans who built it over 2,000 years ago.

The first glimpse of the Treasury in Petra, Jordan

The entrance to Petra is through the Siq, a narrow gorge flanked by towering cliffs. The first sight of Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) as you come through the 10-feet wide canyon of Siq is nothing short of breathtaking.

This intricately carved structure is one of the most elaborate temples in the ancient Arab Nabatean Kingdom city of Petra. It’s also most likely what you think of when if you’ve ever seen of picture of Petra before. It’s also where Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade was filmed.

The most incredible fact about Petra is that only 15% of it has been studied by archaeologists and most of the ancient city is still underground and untouched!

Petra contains nearly 600 tombs, surpassing Luxor’s Valley of Kings, which includes 63 tombs and mausoleums. Also, keep in mind that the entrance fee to Petra is not cheap. It’s 50 JOD (about USD 70) for a one-day ticket, 55 JOD for two-day admission, and 60 JOD for three-day admission. But trust me, it’s worth it!

Petra is mentioned multiple times in the Old Testament. Petra, located in the valley of the Wadi Musa, is supposed to have been visited by Moses. According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses walked through this valley and found water for his followers at Ain Musa, also known as ‘Moses Spring.’

Petra, like many other ancient ruins, interacts with the sky above. Interestingly, the Nabateans designed their capital city at Petra to line with the sun, ensuring that their most precious sacred sites would be surrounded by direct sunlight.

Wadi Rum

After Petra, head to Wadi Rum to do a sunset Jeep tour and see “The Valley of the Moon” in all its glory. If you’re traveling in an independent car or Jeep, you can also choose to go through King’s Highway and the Desert highway towards Aqaba. It’s a longer route, but the views are breathtaking.

The sand in Wadi Rum is known for being the reddest in Jordan (colored by iron oxide). This desert wilderness in southern Jordan features dramatic sandstone mountains, natural arches, prehistoric inscriptions and carvings, and a vast, silent landscape that feels like stepping onto another planet.

Wadi Rum at sunset

Wadi Rum looks so much like Mars since many movies have been filmed here for their otherworldly scenes such as The Martian, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Prometheus, Red Planet and…of course, Lawrence of Arabia just to name a few.

Wadi Rum is an ecological reserve that covers more than 700 square kilometers, making it far too large to explore on foot. A Wadi Rum Jeep tour is the best way to see the area in a short amount of time, and it will most likely be one of your favorite Jordan activities during your three-day visit!

You can take a tour of sights like the red sand dunes, Lawrence’s Spring, the House of Lawrence, the Khazali Canyon, Abu Khashaba Canyon, and Um Frouth Arch.

Then, end your day at a super cool desert camp! We stayed at Mazayen Rum Camp, and it was nothing short of amazing! A photo of our “tent” is below.

Plus, Wadi Rum is surrounded by many other Bedouin camps that are scattered throughout so you can stay overnight in them or use them as a base for desert excursions during your 3 days in Jordan (especially if you follow the next itinerary!).

Mazayen Rum Camp at Wadi Rum.
The “Martian” tents we stayed in.

*We had to leave at 3 am to catch our flight out of Amman the next morning – this was not ideal!

Now, this 1st itinerary will ensure you hit the majority of the sights in Jordan in your 3 days! However, the next itinerary is how I would do it if I had to redo my 3 days in Jordan…

3-Day Jordan Itinerary #2 – Petra + Wadi Rum + the Dead Sea

Day 1 – Petra

Overnight in Petra (Wadi Musa)

I would head straight to Petra on your first day in Jordan. Petra is a sight unique to Jordan that deserves at least an entire day + an overnight stay to really do it justice (in my opinion).

Doing a day trip here is cutting it too short. So if you have time, continue exploring the city. You’ll find tombs, temples, an amphitheater, and even a monastery. If you’re up for it, hike up to the Monastery or the Place of High Sacrifice. The views from these spots are simply breathtaking.

Day 2 – Petra + Wadi Rum

Overnight in Wadi Rum

If you didn’t get enough time exploring Petra on your first day, you could do one more hike that morning before heading to Wadi Rum. Then, in Wadi Rum you could do another hike or camel ride or Jeep tour – depending on your preference.

Then, spend the night enjoying your desert camp under the stars!

A line of tents in the Wadi Rum desert in jordan.
Luxury desert camp in Wadi Rum.

Day 3 – Dead Sea

Overnight at a Dead Sea Resort

Wake up bright and early to enjoy the sunrise from your desert camp. Then, hit the road to the Dead Sea. (It’s about a 4-hour drive, unfortunately.)

Spend the rest of the day lounging by the Dead Sea and slathering on some of that magical Dead Sea mud!

A woman in a striped swimsuit slathering dead sea mud on herself.

This second itinerary is my personal preference because, for me, Petra and Wadi Rum were the highlights of this trip. They are such unique and otherworldly experiences, that deserve far more time than the first itinerary allows. If you’ve never been to the Dead Sea, and aren’t planning to visit Israel, then the Dead Sea is a must as well. However, if a trip to Israel is on your bucket list – I’d save the Dead Sea for that trip, and spend an extra day exploring Petra instead.

Want to learn more about traveling to Jordan? Then read all of my travel posts from Jordan.

Jordan Travel Essentials

Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must.

Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as Squaremouth to find the best plan for you and your adventure. (This is the company I, personally, use. They are even recommended by Forbes!). Get started by getting a free quote.

Read next: What to Pack for a Trip to Jordan as a Woman

How to Spend 3 Days in Jordan - The Ultimate Itinerary
How to Spend 3 Days in Jordan - The Ultimate Itinerary
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One Comment

  1. I loved Jordan. Your post brought back some great memories. I did an organised tour and the guide was an archeologist. He added value to the trip and the sites we visited.

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