Self-drive Jordan: The Best 10 Days in Jordan

Royal Tomb in Petra

Are you planning a self-drive to Jordan? You made a good choice! The best way to see the highlights of Jordan. Self-drive is the ultimate freedom you can ever have, stop anywhere whenever you want. The best trip I made in the Middle East. You may be wondering how much it costs to rent a car and what it is like driving in Jordan. In this blog, you’ll find some insights I shared during my ten days in Jordan.

Jordan exceeds my expectations. The landscapes and nature were astonishing! Of course the people too. The mindset of Jordanians is different from other Arab countries like Saudi Arabia a challenging country for solo female travelers.

Self-drive in Jordan

Road trip in Jordan
Desert Highway

Self-driving is what most travelers in Jordan do. It is in fact, a better way of exploring the country at your own pace of mind. I checked the tours in Jordan, which are way too expensive for my budget. So renting a car was the best choice. Don’t forget I was traveling alone and didn’t experience any problems as a woman behind the wheel.

 How safe is Jordan for solo female travelers.

Just one thing to keep in mind if having a car, you must search for accommodation with parking. But that is less to worry about. Check the hotels on this page where I was staying in Jordan. They are good and reasonable in price.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Jordan?

Kings Highway in Jordan
Kings Highway

The costs of renting a car in Jordan depend on what type of car you want. Four-wheel drive is not needed, only if you have money to burn or you want to be seen as a wealthy tourist. You can rent a car for around €25 per day with basic insurance, if I were you, go for full coverage to avoid additional costs after the rental. Although roads in Jordan are asphalted, you never know.

There are many rental companies in Amman, I suggest booking the vehicle at least one month in advance. I wouldn’t dare fly over there and rent on the spot, a possibility that they run out of cars. Most people flying to Jordan do a self-drive.

It’s worth comparing the prices using Rentalcars.com. I rented from Dollar Rental and for a 10-day rental, I pay 282 euros with full coverage insurance. I booked a compact car with a manual transmission because it was cheaper, but got a free upgrade with an automatic.

They even didn’t charge me for early checkout. I was supposed to pick up at 8:00 am but got the car at 6:00 am. I also recommend checking thoroughly before leaving the airport and taking some pictures if you see any damage, plus making additional videos. This become my habit each time I rent a car. Better to be safe.

What is driving like in Jordan?

Petra
Overall rocks in Petra

Thankfully, Jordan drives on the right side – the same as in Europe and South America. It was a relief because, on my previous trip to Cyprus and Australia, I was striving for a couple of minutes driving on the left side of the road.

The only thing that aggravates you is the bumps, speed cameras, and police controls. Yes, the speed. I’ve seen countless drivers held by the police for speeding. The smart motorway cameras could catch you on how fast you drive. It won’t be a surprise if a fine is waiting when returning the car. I also got one, but not by speeding. And like Dollar Car Rental, they charge 10 dollars extra if you have a penalty for paperwork.

Thanks to my hotel staff for reminding me not to rush. On highways, the speed limit is 110 km per hour, and some places 80 to 90 kph. And also good to know that Jordanian drivers do not use indicators when changing lanes, so always be extra careful. I think this is common in the Middle East because in Lebanon was just the same.

Get an explanation for the car document before leaving the airport.

Before you leave the airport parking make sure to check the car document, as I got a penalty in Wadi Musa during police control I wasn’t able to show a car certificate because I didn’t know what it was like. I gave him the rental agreement instead of the card.

No one from the rental staff explains it to me. The hotel manager in Wadi Musa found the card right inside the car. A certificate of roadworthiness looks the same size as a credit card. So when I returned the car, the 75 euros fine was waiting.

Jordan Tourist Visa and Jordan Pass

Petra Icon Sign of Love
Petra outdoor

Jordan tourist visa costs JOD 40 and can be applied online, check Jordan’s government website HERE. However, if you purchase the Jordan Pass, it will include your visa. 

So, if I were you, go for the Jordan Pass because it comes out cheaper and will give free entry to some tourist attractions, and of course, it is your passport to the famous Petra. Jordan passes can be buy online for 1, 2, and 3 days, costing 70, 75, and 80 dinars.

Accommodation in Jordan with Parkings

Family Hotel Wadi Musa
My room with views in Wadi Musa

Here are the hotels where I stayed in Jordan. They have private parking except the one in Amman, but you can park on the street. As for the locations, these lodgings are within walking distance in the city center, convenient if you don’t want to drive around and leave the car at the hotel parking.

The Best 10 days in Jordan

Self-drive Jordan in 10 days

These ten days in Jordan will take you to Aqaba. One thing I like about self-drive it gives flexibility. Some days, you may have long drives, and if you don’t feel like driving so far that day, you can do it the next day. Moreover, you see where I slept and the amount of nights I spent. 

  • Madaba – 2 nights
  • Wadi Musa – 2 nights
  • Wadi Rum – 1 night
  • Aqaba -2 nights
  • Amman – 2 nights

Below you see what I have done and where I drove that day. It gives you a clear explanation and distance. That said if it’s too much driving, you can skip and do your own thing.

  • First day: Jerash, Mosaics in Madaba
  • Second day: Mount Nebo, Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib, Kerak Castle
  • Third day: Dana Reserve Biosphere, Shobak Castle
  • Fourth day: All day in Petra
  • Fifth day: Little Petra, Wadi Rum
  • Sixt day: Aqaba Fort, Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque, Old Town Souks, Masjid Al Sheikh Zayed
  • Seventh day: Ayla Oasis, Aqaba Beaches
  • Eight day: Rainbow Street, The Citadel
  • Ninth day: Free walking tour, Amman Roman Theatre  
  • Tenth day: Flying back home

Day 1 – Jerash

Jerash Jordan
The ancient ruins of Jerash

Arrive in Amman, pick up the car, and drive to Jerash – one of the most awe-inspiring experiences you can have in Jordan and get a feel for what the Roman city would have been like. This massive complex requires a lot of walking and climbing, and easy to explore on your own. If you need a tour guide, they’re available at the entrance. It is free entry if you have the Jordan Pass. Otherwise, it’s JD 10 – you can pay with cash or credit card.

Discover the Mosaics in Madaba

Madaba is known for its mosaics and can be found everywhere; in buildings, churches, and parks. If you go to the visitor center, they’re helping you to pinpoint mosaics on the map. The largest and most imposing mosaic can be found in St. George Church.

Just be aware it can get busy when tour buses drop their passengers in town and lead them to this church. You can’t use your Jordan Pass but is only JD 3.00 to visit inside. Inside is an artwork. You see the mosaic shrouded on the floor and walls.

Building with mosaic in Madaba
Building with mosaic on the wall in Madaba

Spend the first night in Madaba

It may sound erratic that I went straight to Madaba on the first day most travelers spent their first night in Amman. I wasn’t ready to crisscross the capital on the first day, so I picked Madaba. It is in fact, a better alternative to stay, especially for first-time visitors. It’s smaller and easier to navigate. And also, Madaba is an excellent place to base for day trips.

Day 2 – Mount Nebo 

Mount Nebo is just a 15-minute drive from Madaba. Your Jordan Pass is not cover here, so you have to pay 3.00 dinars. It’s a special place if you believe in a story according to the Bible; Moses looked out over the promised land here after leading his people through the wilderness.

Whether you believe it or not, one thing you can’t miss here is the breathtaking rugged desert landscape. Moreover, the associated Monastery has several examples of the mosaic on the floor, which is definitely worth a look.

Mount Nebo Mosaics
Mosaics in Mount Nebo

Dead Sea

Have you not booked an overnight stay at the Dead Sea? I wasn’t either knowing how pricey they are. I even drove to the public beach instead of going inside the resorts. If you just want to experience how it feels to float in the water search on Google Maps, Dead Sea free swimming. Keep in mind it doesn’t have the facilities, no shower or whatsoever, but it’s completely free. 

Dead Sea Free Swimming in Jordan
Dead Sea Free Swimming

Wadi Mujib

Whether you visit Wadi Mujib first or after the Dead Sea free swimming, you pass here anyway. Remember, the activities that they offer are expensive. To walk to the canyon costs JD23. Yeah, it’s quite expensive, but for once in your life, swallow the price and have a great experience.

If you plan to walk to the canyon, bring your aqua shoes and waterproof bag for the camera, because you go through the water. You can hire one inside, but they’re not waterproof. I was lucky that it didn’t harm my phone.

Wadi Mujib in Jordan
Going for canyoning

Kerak Castle

Because of its location on a hilltop, you have a fantastic view from the walls to the surrounding area. Kerak Castle is a perfect example of Jordan’s old history. A well-preserved castle ruins, and it’s free entry with Jordan Pass. If you don’t have the pass, JD3.00 to enter the castle and 3.00 dinars for the parking.

Through stairways, you visit various levels by walking and climbing. Oh well, in Jordan, you do lots of climbing, so be prepared and leave your high-heeled shoes at home because they’re useless in Jordan. You can easily get lost in Kerak Castle due to the many tunnels, rooms, and secret stairways.

Kerak Castle in Jordan
Crusader Castle, Kerak

Day 3 – Dana Reserve Biosphere

On the way to Wadi Musa (Petra), I stop in Dana. Jordan is so amazing and incredibly diverse – from nature to cultural and historical. Add Dana Biosphere Reserve to your itinerary. It may not be your typical Jordan experience, but it’s a hidden gem. Most visitors skip Dana, which is a shame because they thought it was for hikers. Of course, if you are a hiker this is a place to be.

Dana Reserve Biosphere
Dana Reserve Biosphere

I didn’t come for walking. I just wanted to see a different perspective of Jordan. It was unexpected to see the mountains and rock formations in different colors – it doesn’t look like the rest of Jordan. The scenic drive takes my breath away, which makes me stop taking photos. Drive to the parking lot and walk through the village.

Shobak Castle

Shobak Castle, Jordan
Shobak Castle

This is worth checking out while on your way to Wadi Musa. It’s free entry if you have a Jordan Pass.
It’s a steep drive on a narrow road to the castle, so be careful. The parking is at the visitor center, just a short walk from the entrance. There isn’t much left of the castle but the interesting parts of it, give you a good impression of what it would have been like. The advantage here is the commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

Day 4 – Petra

Petra can leave a great impression on everyone who visits Jordan. It is also the most crowded tourist attraction. If you’d like to take photos with fewer people, try to get there as early before the tour buses arrive.

Donkeys in Petra
Just Amazing View

Keep in mind that you have to cover kilometers by foot. A return hike from the main entrance to the Monastery is 24 km. Make sure you wear good walking shoes and carry plenty of water. Anyway, there are plenty of shops inside the complex. And please avoid taking donkeys. Still, many people are willing to pay 20 euros for the donkeys to get to the other side of the mountains. I feel sorry for these animals.

You can walk for three days in Petra because there are so many to see, but if you do a bit of research and pinpoint what you like to see, it’s easy to achieve.

The most known sites in Petra

Al Siq – was my favorite part of Petra, an incredible structure that reminds me of Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The line of the passage is formed by the splitting of stones colored by various minerals and leads visitors to the Treasury, the heart of Petra. 

Petra Siq
The Siq

The Treasury – I remember the girls who walked in front of me screaming when they saw the Treasury. A dream to reality! From this point, it feels like in a different planet, surrounded by massive rocks… wow wasn’t enough to describe. 

As you have seen in many photographs the treasury can be viewed from the top, but you need to make some effort of climbing. The locals will be able to guide you to the top, but after I’ve seen the rocks where they take you I give up. I don’t want to jeopardize my life. You have a perfect view of the sites without climbing.

The Royal Tombs – walking along Colonnaded Street coming from the Treasury on your right side you can’t ignore the Royal Tomb – this is an eye-catcher. You have to do a bit of climbing to see up close, but this is all part of the Petra experience. 

Royal Tomb in Petra
The Royal Tomb in Petra

If you find something that interests you make the effort to investigate because you can’t fully see the splendid appearance of these monuments from far away. Check out the interior roof that is made of natural stone. Also, the panorama of the ancient city atop the Royal Tomb was substantial.

The most difficult walk you have in Petra

The Monastery was the most challenging hike I’ve done that day, it is quite remote hidden among the rocks in Petra. Anyone who wants to see The Monastery will have to sweat and torment through the dusty thoroughfare, especially in the blazing sun without shade.

Petra Monastery
The Monastery

This is why some people take the donkeys. If you can’t walk or climb, don’t go to Petra. Other attractions in Jordan don’t require climbing. Remember, you have to take 850 steps, but the scenery you see during the walk is breathtaking. Even how good your condition is, you can’t do it straight without stops.

But once you make it to The Monastery, you are completely overwhelmed by the countenance and the surrounding area. If you’d like to view the Monastery from the top, see the sign on the mountain (the best view in the world), LOL. The same as the Treasury, getting to the top requires mounting, but I manage to go up. It’s free of charge to sit up there you have just to buy a triple-price drink and enjoy the views. 

By the way, I bought a three-day Jordan Pass but visited Petra only in one day, as I couldn’t bear the crowds. I’ve seen what I want to see, and that was enough for me. While most people spend two to three days in Petra.

Day 5 – Little Petra

Little Petra
Temple Little Petra

The smaller version of Petra that should be on your list in your ten days in Jordan – is free of charge. In less than one hour, you’ve seen it. Many of the structures carved are equally interesting as the main one.

Some say you must visit Little Petra before going to the big Petra. To be honest, it was relieving to visit Little Petra after the main one – an experience away from the unavoidable crowds and no animals. Morning is ideal to visit because it looks abandoned.

Experience a night in the Wadi Rum Protected Area

Jordan desert Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum Desert

I have been to many deserts, but the dramatic landscape of Wadi Rum is so unique it contrasts the natural beauty of Jordan. Even though I only spent one night, it was an unforgettable experience. My plan of staying for two nights changed at the last minute, which I regretted. Don’t make the same mistake as I did, booked for two nights.

To fully enjoy life in the desert, you must stay at the campsite situated in the protected area. Most of the camps are very cheap, but the mixed reviews give me a hard time deciding which camp to choose. Just be aware that some camping owners are stern, and you’re bound to book the tours with them, which is way too expensive: Jeep tours JD45 and 15 Dinars for camel ride.

If you book an accommodation in the desert, they will give you instructions on how to get there. But most likely, they will pick you up at Wadi Rum visitor center and leave your car at the parking.

Day 6 – Aqaba 

Aqaba is home to seaside resorts where most travelers end their journey after traveling around Jordan just to relax before flying back home. In terms of sight, there are no real highlights but plenty to do if you stay for fewer days. As for diver enthusiasts, the Red Sea is the place to be. I’m not a diver, but I truly enjoyed my two days here.

Aqaba Fort

Fortress Aqaba
Fortress Aqaba

Walking to the waterfront area, you can’t avoid the Fortress because this is the most important historical site in Aqaba, built in the sixteenth century. The courtyard has nice seating with benches, and this is a free site. You can even walk at the higher level from the courtyard, but walking up there without handrails doesn’t look safe.

Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque

I love visiting mosques. It started when I went to Madina in Saudi Arabia. I’m not a Muslim, but I appreciate the beauty of many mosques. And the stunning structure of Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque is not to be ignored during your walk. The outer courtyard of this mosque is very appealing, especially the gardens. You can visit inside the mosque, but avoid it during prayer times. As for women going inside, you must cover your head and legs. It is helpful to carry a head scarf with you. Even so, they will provide robes before entering.

Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque in Aqaba
Elegant Style Mosque

Old Town Souqs

I love walking through markets because it’s a way to immerse yourself in the culture and acquire local products. The souqs in Aqaba can be found outdoors and indoors. Similar to other markets in the Arab country visiting the souk can sometimes be a bit overwhelming where all kinds of different smells.
This is also the place to get something of the old atmosphere. Keep in mind that Aqaba is a tax-free city, if you want shopping you have to do it here.

Masjid Al Sheikh Zayed

Masjid Al Sheikh Zayed In Aqaba
Astonishing Interior

The mosque is just a short drive from the city center, with its spectacular piece of architecture nestled in the mountains it’s avoidable. Unlike other mosques in town, this is not open to the public. It was closed during my visit, but the friendly guard let me in with the car. I guess it was my lucky day as I didn’t see other people inside except the worker cleaning inside the mosque.

As the name says, the building is inspired by the design of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in smaller version with a sublime interior. It is pretty much nicer than the one in town, so it’s worth trying to convince the guard if you can go inside. This is truly the pearl of Aqaba.

Cover up when visiting the place. I was head to foot covered, but it was not enough. Before I stepped inside the prayer room, one of the guys gave me a long dress.

Day 7 – Ayla Oasis

It was the first thing I’d done in the morning. Oh boy, it didn’t feel like in Jordan, strikingly different from what I had seen the last days. It is a fancy place for rich people where you find luxury hotels, boutiques, and yachts.
I spend hours marveling around and have coffee and ice cream afterward, an overpriced place! Still, I wouldn’t skip this one – you could have a great time here without spending money.

Ayla Oasis in Aqaba
Fancy Area in Aqaba

Aqaba Beaches

Sunbathing on public beaches in Aqaba with a swimsuit is inappropriate. A massive difference between Jordan and Lebanon, where Lebanese women swim in their bikinis.

You have the car. If you drive out of the center and head to Berenice Beach Club or Tala Bay, no one cares what you wear. Their private beach is appointed for Western tourists. But there’s an entrance fee of 13 dinars. That’s a price to have a wonderful day on the beach and relaxation.

Day 8 – Long drive to Amman

It is the longest drive I had on this ten-day in Jordan. It can be tempting to speed up when you see no traffic. I left early in Aqaba before the city got crazy. The night before people congregate on the street to celebrate the king’s birthday. So, I drove out at 7:00 in the morning while it was still quiet. I set up my navigation and it shows more than four hours drive. However, I didn’t know Google Maps navigates me to King’s Highway, which is an exhilarating drive through the mountains.

Camel on the road
He posed for the camera

The fact is, I’m enjoying the scenery. King’s Highway is a little longer drive, while the desert highway is flat and boring. I made it to Amman by noon, and my room was ready, which was perfect. I didn’t waste my time after settling down in my room, I explored the city by foot. To be honest, I hate driving in Amman, so I didn’t move my car for two days.

Rainbow Street

Rainbow street Amman
Lovely street to walk through

This is the place that everyone is talking about, so don’t miss it. It lies a bit on a hillside, but that is Amman you feel out of breath sometimes because it isn’t a completely flat city.

As the name says, this is just a regular street with colorful decorations lined up with shops, coffee shops, and restaurants. If you like to have a picture without people around, visit during the day because it’s quieter than at night.

The Citadel

Amman Citadel
Lovely place to walk around

If you have been to Jerash, visiting this place may be less for you, but it’s free if you have the Jordan Pass and JD 3.00 without JP. The citadel offers a beautiful view of the entire city. But to get there is a hell of a climb, and believe me, once you make it there, you don’t want to go down.

This place is the most interesting archaeological site in Amman. You can take a pleasant walk between the historical monuments and the museum. It’s best to visit the citadel in the afternoon as it gets hot during the day.

Day 9 – Join the Free city walking tour 

I recommend taking the walking tour offered by Civitatis.com. The knowledgeable guide knows a lot about Jordan’s history which is interesting. It takes normally 2 hours but he loves the groups and ended up in three hours.

They will take you to some places where you can’t do it by yourself because only locals know how to get in there. I’m glad I’ve done this tour I wouldn’t find it on my own. The title is Free Walking, but you can give any amount you want to the tour guide.

Amman Roman Theater

Roman Theater
Theater downtown Amman

If you still have the energy to walk, the Roman Theater is worth a visit, it is covered in your Jordan Pass. It’s a massive and impressive structure – the largest ancient theater in Jordan that you can climb to the top for an excellent view. If you want to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle then go to this place. Just beware that can be very hot during the day, I went in the afternoon, which was perfect.

Day 10 – Flying back home

It depends what time is your flight. I suggest leaving early to the airport because the traffic in Amman can get crazy. Even though I left on time in the morning to catch my flight to Beirut Lebanon I’m stuck and almost miss my plane.

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