Ever since I saw Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade at an impressionable age, I have wanted to go to visit Petra in Jordan.  Of course, there is more to Jordan than Petra.  My friend Dianna, who will become an occasional contributor for this blog, had the chance to visit Jordan for a few days this May. We plan on visiting Jordan ourselves in April as part of a longer trip to Israel.  As is the case with many people, Dianna only had a limited time to visit. She picked the must-see places to visit in Jordan as well as a fewer lesser known sights. I know that my family and I will have a minimum of three days to visit but I am hoping to extend our visit to at least five days. Here’s a three day itinerary which creates a brief but memorable jaunt to Jordan.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

What you must see in the country of Jordan if you have only 3 days

A 3 Day Jordan Itinerary

This itinerary takes in the three must see places in Jordan that everyone recommends – Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea.  It also adds some cool places that will give you an insight into Jordan, both historical and contemporary.

Day 1 Petra

The distance from Amman to Petra is 210 km (130 miles).  The driver stopped off at Al-Beidha, known as Little Petra, where the Nabateans established a trading post in the 1st Century AD.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

Wadi Musa is at the main entrance to Petra.

Petra, the capitol of the Nabatean kingdom from about 600 B.C., is a UNESCO world heritage site.  Many people don’t spend the night at Petra which is probably a mistake.  If you stay the night, you can also take the 2 hour candle-lit night tour of Petra which sets off from the Petra Visitor’s Center three times a week.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

The Petra treasury all lit up night.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

The candle lit glow of Petra at night.

Places to Visit in Petra

  • You need to enter Petra through a crevice in the rocks called the Siq.  You have a choice of walking or on horseback. Obviously it’s cooler to go on horseback!
  • Monuments include the Treasury, the Temple of the Winged Lions, the Palace Tomb and smaller tombs.

Day 2 Dead Sea

The distance from Petra to the Dead Sea is 275 km (171 miles). I spent the morning checking out Petra by daylight as well. Unless you want to go hiking, you probably only need a few hours to visit Petra.  By staying overnight though, you avoid the day-trippers who flock to the site by the early afternoon.

Along the way to the Dead Sea, you pass Bethany Beyond The Jordan where John the Baptist lived and baptised people.  This place is also where Jesus was also supposed to have been baptised.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

Bethany where John the Baptist baptised people including Jesus

The Wadi Rum is about an hour and a half from Petra on the way to the Dead Sea.  It is a beautiful desert valley famous as the setting for the classic movie, Lawrence of Arabia.

Note from Shobha:  You can arrange for Wadi Rum tours that last for several days.  For our trip to Jordan in April, we would like to arrange an overnight in the desert and are planning on using Bedouins of Wadi Rum).

Although the Movenpick Resort at the Dead Sea was beautiful, Dianna wasn’t entirely convinced by the whole floating in the Dead Sea experience though. As she said, it’s something to cross off the bucket list.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

The Dead Sea on the Jordan side is the lowest place on Earth at 420 metres below sea level.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

From the Jordan side of the Dead Sea, you can see Israel across the way.

Must see places to visit in Jordan

The Movenpick Resort at the Dead Sea is perfect for relaxation.

Day 3 Amman

The distance from the Dead Sea to Amman is 135 km (84 miles).

On the way to Amman, the driver stopped at Jerash.  Even though the area has been settled since Neolithic times, Jerash was supposedly founded by Alexander the Great.  Today it is known for its well-preserved Roman ruins.

Amman is a young city with an ancient history.  Although it became the capitol of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan only in 1946, it was once the capitol of the Iron Age kingdom of Ammon.  The city definitely has a few places worth visiting.

Places to visit in Amman

Must see places to visit in Jordan

A 3 day itinerary for Jordan

Tips for Visiting Jordan

You can rent a car at Queen Alia International Airport.  Driving in Jordan is pretty easy with well-maintained highways. Dianna arranged for a private driver.

If you have more than three days, there are many more places in Jordan to visit.  For example, a lot of visitors head to Aqaba which is great for snorkelling and diving.

Like we are planning on doing, Jordan is a popular place to visit in combination with another country in the Middle East, whether Israel or Egypt.  I hope this 3 day itinerary shows you that even a short visit to Jordan will be a worthwhile experience.

Practical Info To Know Before You Go

In Petra, Dianna stayed at the Movenpick Resort Petra.  At the Dead Sea, she stayed at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea. Dianna’s final hotel in Jordan was the Le Meridien Amman. The Wagar family who visited Aqaba in Jordan recommend the Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort.

Further Reading

A Leap of Faith:  A Memoir of An Unexpected Life by Queen Noor

Living With Arabs:  Nine Years with the Petra Bedouin by Joan Ward

Life Without A Recipe: A Memoir of Food and Familyby Diana Abu-Jaber

Married to A Bedouin by Marguerite van Geldermalsen