Jordan is a major tourist destination in the Middle East and, indeed, the world. It is well known for the ancient city of Petra and the Dead Sea but ancient ruins, desert landscapes and snorkelling are all additional delights that await you in Jordan. Having visited in October 2017, here is our 10 day Jordan itinerary with kids.
Officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this Middle Eastern country is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, Israel and Palestine to the west. The Dead Sea lies along its western borders and it has a tiny shoreline on the Red Sae, but otherwise is landlocked. Jordan is strategically located at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Jordan has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. It has seen a number of empires including the Nabateans, Romans and Ottomans, primarily because it lies at the heart of major trading routes between Asia, Africa and Europe.
In modern times, Jordan finds itself in the middle of major conflicts going on around it, in it’s neighbouring countries and more generally throughout the Middle East. Jordan has striven to maintain neutrality throughout these times and has generally succeeded in maintaining a peaceful and safe region. It is now home to millions of both Syrian and Palestinian refugees, particularly in the border regions.
JORDAN ITINERARY WITH KIDS
Our Jordan itinerary was organised through a company called Jordan Select Tours. As a family group we were able to arrange a tailor-made itinerary, perfect for when you’re travelling with children and need flexibility. We had a car and driver for our sole use throughout our time in Jordan. Jordan Select Tours dealt efficiently with all our questions prior to the trip and provided us with an excellent driver and guide throughout our stay.
Day 1 – Arrive into Amman
Day 2 – Travel along the King’s Highway
Day 3 – Full day exploring Petra
Day 4 – Petra to Wadi Rum via Little Petra
Day 5 – Wadi Rum to Aqaba
Day 6 – Full day in Aqaba
Day 7 – Aqaba to the Dead Sea
Day 8 – Dead Sea
Day 9 – Explore the Roman City of Jerash and Amman
Day 10 – Farewell to Jordan
DAY 1: Arrival into Amman
Most visitors to Jordan arrive into Queen Alia International Airport. Our flight from the UK arrived late at night so we were transferred directly to our hotel to get some sleep.
For earlier daytime arrivals head downtown to the Jordan Museum and Citadel for a look around.
We stayed at the Hotel Jordan InterContinental.
DAY 2: Travel along the King’s Highway exploring Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Wadi Mujib and Kerak, en-route to Petra
Day two was a big day following the King’s Highway, an ancient route that was once part of the Silk Route. Our first stop was at the Christian town of Madaba, which is known as the “City of Mosaics”. The wonderful mosaic map of the Holy Land can be seen here, dating from the 6th Century.
Mt Nebo was next, from where Moses stood and looked out over the Promised Land. It is also believed to be the resting place of Moses.
Further along the King’s Highway you proceed through Wadi Mujib, a deep canyon, known as the “Grand Canyon of Jordan”.
Kerak Castle was the penultimate stop of the day. This once Crusader stronghold was wonderful to explore. Our boys loved the opportunity to stretch their legs and loved searching out underground passageways and rooms in the footsteps of ancient crusaders.
Afterwards we continued on to Petra where we were to spend the next two nights. We stayed at the Movenpick Resort due to its proximately to the entrance of the Petra historic site. The ticket office is literally only 100 metres away.
The only closer hotel is the Petra Guest House Hotel which is a cheaper option. Even if you’re not staying here take the opportunity to have a drink at the 2000-year-old Nabatean cave bar!
Read more about our day: Exploring the King’s Highway with Kids
DAY 3: Petra
A full day to explore the delights of Petra, also known as the “Rose City”. This ancient city was founded by the Nabateans 2000 years ago. It’s massive architectural structures carved out of the red sandstone are an incredible attraction and world renown. Our day began at 6.30am and ended at 5.30pm but we managed to do the Treasury, hike to the Monastery, the High Place of Sacrifice and to a viewpoint overlooking the Treasury, and all with three kids! We’ve since learned that most people only do one or two of the high places in one day…but we were on a mission.
At least one full day is needed to explore Petra. If you have small children you would be better to spread your visit over two days to maximise sightseeing as there are long distances to cover.
You can further enhance your experience by also visiting Petra By Night which takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 8.30pm.
Read more about visiting Petra: The Complete Guide to Petra with Kids
DAY 4: Little Petra (Beida), and then on to Wadi Rum
On our way to Wadi Rum we stopped at Little Petra (Beida), another smaller ruined city. Unlike Petra, there are no entrance fees, and most of the ancient buildings are free for you to explore. We were here early morning but there were hardly any other tourists. It was a great place for the boys to adventure, climb and run. Make sure you continue all the way through the siq and climb the steps at the end for fantastic views.
Continuing on our way south we reached Wadi Rum. Many films have been set here, including most famously Lawrence of Arabia and more recently The Martian. Wadi Rum is a spectacular desert landscape, often referred to as “The Valley of the Moon”, unlike anything else on Earth.
Entry into the vast Wadi Rum protected area of desert is only allowed with a Bedouin guide. We had pre-booked our trip to the desert with Obeid’s Bedouin Life Camp. The camp arranges all your activities whilst you are in the desert. This included an afternoon jeep safari through Wadi Rum, a sunset camel ride, a night camping under the stars, and a three hour hike the following morning through the desert landscape.
If you visit Jordan you must spend a night in Wadi Rum as it is a really special experience. Accommodation varies from very rustic to full-on glamping with swimming pools.
Read more about our time in Wadi Rum: Camping with Kids in Wadi Rum
DAY 5: Wadi Rum to Aqaba
After a wonderful night camping under the stars (and what stars!) it was time for a desert hike. A three hour hike in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia! On foot we got a wonderful sense of how dry and inhospitable the desert environment really is.
It was then time to leave the magnificent Wadi Rum behind and continue our journey south to Aqaba, located on the Red Sea. Without this access to the sea, Jordan would be entirely land-locked. It is here that four countries meet – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.
Our home for the next two nights was Mövenpick Tala Bay Resort & Spa. This family friendly resort is just outside Aqaba, on Tala Bay. We had a day and a half to spend at the Red Sea.
DAY 6: Aqaba
We spent our time in Aqaba relaxing and swimming, generally having some down time after our busy few days. If you enjoy snorkelling or diving, this is your opportunity to get underwater in the Red Sea.
DAY 7: Aqaba to the Dead Sea via the Baptism Site
Following the Dad Sea Highway from Aqaba you can at times see the Israeli border. Emerging into the Jordan Valley, the most fertile part of this predominantly arid country, you encounter many fruit stalls along the road. Continuing on, you reach the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. At over 400 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea has hypersaline waters, around 34% salt. This is almost ten times saltier than ordinary seawater. Nothing can thrive in the water due to its salinity, hence its name Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea levels have been shrinking at an alarming rate, almost a metre per year, as the water is used in the fertiliser industry. This is obvious as you drive alongside the sea from the old water marks.
Before settling into our Dead Sea hotel for the remainder of the day, we stopped at what is widely believed to be the site of Jesus’ baptism, Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan. To visit the site we had to join a guided tour. This area is a military zone so private vehicles are not allowed to enter. The exact spot at which it is thought Jesus was baptised is now dry as the River Jordan has changed its course.
We enjoyed some quiet time on the banks of the River Jordan watching people baptise themselves on either side of the river. The river serves as the border between Jordan and the Palestinian Territories.
The Kempinski Ishtar Hotel on the Dead Sea is only a short drive from Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan.
Read all about our two night stay at this wonderful hotel: The Kempinski Ishtar Hotel:Paradise at the Dead Sea.
We spent a wonderful afternoon floating in the Dead Sea and covering ourselves in mud, glorious mud! We all loved floating in the sea, a strange sensation as you bob about just like a cork. The mud is great fun and our skin felt great afterwards.
DAY 8: Dead Sea
A day of relaxation, trying out the many swimming pools at the Kempinski, floating in the Dead Sea and covering ourselves in yet more mud! As the day faded we watched the most wonderful sunset over the Dead Sea.
For all you need to know read: Visiting the Dead Sea with Children
DAY 9: Dead Sea to the Roman City Jerash and Amman
With the Dead Sea being only 60 kilometres from Amman, we initially headed north to the ancient Roman city of Jerash. Jerash showcases the grandeur of Imperial Rome and is sometimes refered to as the Pompeii of the East. It is truly one of the most spectacular examples of an ancient Roman city. We spent a couple of hours exploring the many wonderfully preserved Roman structures, including the forum, cardo maximus, hippodrome, temples and theatres.
Read more: Exploring the Roman City of Jerash with Kids
At midday we headed towards Amman, the capital city of Jordan, a distance of about 50 kilometres. Here we explored the Citadel and Roman Theatre, before wandering the streets of old town Amman. We visited various souks and sampled some wonderful Middle Eastern foods – dates, pistachio nuts, apricots and falafel.
Once again, we stayed at the Hotel Jordan InterContinental.
Read all about our time in Amman: Amman with Kids: Gateway to Jordan
DAY 10: Amman to home
We had an early flight home today. Queen Alia International Airport is a modern spacious airport with several shops and dining options. It is important to note that there is currently an onboard electronics ban for anyone flying to the US or UK. We had to put all laptops and kindles in the hold baggage, as they were not allowed in the cabin.