After having travelled to Bagan in Myanmar, Abu Simbel in Egypt, and Ephesus in Turkey, without a doubt, I knew that the next bucket list item was a trip to Petra, Jordan. Also known for the land of the red-rose landscapes, ancient architecture and temples, incredible canyons and beautiful reefs of the Red Sea. Discover my ultimate Jordan 5-day golden triangle itinerary (Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum) in style including private transfers, bucket list items, local experiences, adventure, wellness and unique stays with a touch of luxe, this travel guide is for you.
My Ultimate Jordan 5-Day Itinerary (Aqaba, Petra and Wadi Rum)
Tip: easyJet has extremely cheap tickets to Jordan from several destinations to Aqaba during the winter sun season (January to March) Make sure to check it out!
Day 1: Aqaba
Aqaba is the only coastal city in Jordan with lots of seaside activities such as boat trips, scuba-diving, fishing, snorkeling and relaxing on the beautiful beaches. However, since we visited in February, winter time, we didn’t do any sea-side activities and had to adapt our day. For the full list of winter-sun activities in Aqaba, read Wintersun in Aqaba – Top things to do and see. If you are a spa lover, just like me don’t miss the post on the ultimate spa day The Aqua Spa – Your Soul Sanctuary in Aqaba
Where to stay in Aqaba in Style
Ultimate Eats in Aqaba
Day 2/3 – Visit Petra
The day we finally have waited for a dream come true, let’s go to Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the world. An ultimate bucket list item you cannot miss.
From Aqaba by private transfer which is super easy to arrange lasts around 2 hours. You can also take a local bus or rent a car, there are plenty of options available.
Tip: When I arranged the private transfers prior going to Petra, Wadi Rum and back to Aqaba, it costed me around 300 Euros. However, on place I quickly realised I was ripped off! The correct prices should be around 60JOD to Petra, 45 JOD from Petra to Wadi Rum and 45JOD from Wadi Rum to Aqaba. That’s around 195 euros! But you are probably still ripped off, but hey that’s part of the game.
When traveling to Petra, you will have to pass the Kings Highway through the mountains ranging up to 1200 Meters high. The driver will stop you at a few local souvenir shops where you will have the chance to use the toilet, shop and have some local tea.
We only booked 1 night in Petra and our plan was to make the most out of the 2 days there, however, when we arrived it rained like crazy. We were eagerly hoping to join the Petra by night experience which takes place every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8pm-10pm. However, they cancel it with rain or snow. We were SO LUCKY the rain stopped around 5pm and were able to experience this bucket list item. Because of the heavy rain, we were not able to visit Petra (during the day) on arrival and decided to wake up the next day at 6am to make the most out of the better weather.
We visited Petra by ourselves, this is the way we like to travel. But you can also hire a local guide directly at the visitor center to come and explain everything along your visit. Please note to count extra hours for such experience.
If I had to redo this experience, I would have stayed an extra day in Petra, it is huge! You need about 2 days of hiking (around 10 hours) to visit everything the sight it has to offer.
Because there is SO MUCH to do and see in Petra, I have dedicated an entire article on it. Read Petra in 2 Days – Top 8 Sights that Can’t be Missed
Where to Stay in Style in Petra
I will leave this one empty as we didn’t have the best experience at our stay in the Movenpick hotel. Even though it is centrally located, next to the Petra historic sight entrance, they were renovating the place and the whole hotel smelled like chemical paint. It was awful and we started a migraine. Even though the hotel offered us another stay at their sister hotel (10 minutes’ drive from Petra), it wasn’t worth the money or the hassle. I would strongly suggest since you are out all day visiting, stay in a simple hotel near the visitor centre’s entrance.
Ultimate Eats in Petra
Day 3/4 – Wadi Rum Desert
Because we needed to adapt our trip in Petra with the weather and we woke up at 6AM to visit the park. We were running to the taxi at 12h30 to continue our journey to Wadi Rum Desert. It’s not far, around a 1h30 drive. Make sure in Wadi Rum you book a Jeep tour to discover the entire place, it’s stunning! You can choose a 3 hour or 5 hour tour. I would recommend the 5 hour tour because there is so much to see and time flies!
Tip: You can book your Jeep tour directly with the hotels, but please be minded that you will be ripped off. The price for a 3 hour tour is around 75JOD and 5 hours 120JOD. However, if you book with Hisham, a local expert, you will have a 5h tour for around 60JOD for 2 people 😉
Go on a Jeep Safari in Wadi Rum
Get ready and hop on your jeep safari adventure in the afternoon. Me and my sister thought, since we hiked so much in the morning, we will be chilling in a Jeep and seeing the sights from there. However, this is NOT the case. The Jeep tour is active, and you will have many stops to hike in small canyons and up rock formations and mountains. Be ready for an active, beautiful day! Also read Wild Wadi Rum by Jeep Safari
Where to Stay in Wadi Rum Desert
For the ultimate glamping experience in Wadi Rum, also read Wadi Rum Luxe Glamping Experience
Day 4/5 – Back to Aqaba (departure)
After an amazing 5 days in Jordan, it’s time to say goodbye to this beautiful country. However, we will go home rich with amazing memories. You can easily go directly to the airport from Wadi Rum without a hassle. Aqaba’s airport is very small and if you are there around 2 hours in advance, it’s enough. However, we decided to stay an extra day in Aqaba to relax before our departure and soak up some sun.
Jordan Travel Tips and Tricks
When to visit Jordan
Most people like to visit Jordan from March-May and from September-November for the best temperatures. However, I like to travel during off-season, because I am extremely allergic to crowds and Instagram Influencers everywhere, yikes! Therefore, we decided to travel in February during the winter season in Jordan. I am living near Geneva Switzerland just across the border in France and temperatures drop easily below 0 here, so Jordan’s temperatures did not shock me. Anything above 0 degrees with a bit of sunshine would just do. Do not expect a winter-sun destination like Morocco or Egypt, the temperatures in the mountain and dessert are quite cold. We even experienced some snow in Petra. In Aqaba the temperatures are pleasant and can climb up to 21 degrees Celsius. In Petra and Wadi Rum Dessert, the temperatures were around 5-10 degrees Celsius with cold winds. So, ensure you pack well and diverse.
Jordan Ultimate Packing List
- Take layers and layers – Layers are essential as the temperatures change gradually in Jordan during winter. From tanning at the pool in Aqaba to freezing your B*t off in Wadi Rum during a Jeep tour. Temperatures can range between 2 degrees Celsius up to 21 degrees Celsius.
- Wind proof jacket – In some places like Wadi Rum it can be windy, ensure to pack something wind proof to stay warm.
- Hat – luckily there are plenty of sunny moments, bring your hat to protect agains the sun
- Good Footwear – There will be lots of hiking time, bring good, comfortable shoes as you will find many rocky paths.
- Bathing Suit – Yes you read that right, if you are lucky, you will get the chance to tan at the pool or beach in Aqaba. If not, if you are a spa lover, you will need your bathing suit to enjoy the heated pools.
- Camera – The essential to capture all your fantastic memories
- Power Bank – You will be taking so many photos on your hikes, it is always good to have an extra power bank, just in case.
Currency, Budget and everything Money
We were quite surprised that Jordan is not that cheap. Even though we travelled in off-season, the prices are similar to Europe. In February 2023 the exchange was about 1 euro = 1.30 Jordanian Diner (JOD). So be careful, when everything looks cheap, because when paying bigger bills for luxury hotels or fancy restaurants, the prices can be quite high quickly.
You can travel to Jordan on any budget. We spent 1 thousand euros per person for everything from airplane tickets, private transfers, luxury stays, activities to entrance fees, local food, fine dining and more. We wanted to make the best of our 5 days in Jordan and therefore went all out. However, you can easily do this at half the price if you decide to eat local and stay in guest houses. Make sure you bargain well with the locals to get the best prices. Ask directly for a local Arabian price, if you don’t, you will be ripped off. Whatever price they give you try to at least half it. Even though sometimes we thought we had good prices, we learned that we were ripped off again. This is also part of the game.
Visa and Travel Documents for Jordan
If you arrive through Aqaba, you don’t need a tourist visa. However, if you arrive through Amman, you will need a visa, but you can easily arrange one on arrival. There are no PCR tests required and Jordan accepts anyone to come visit regardless of your vaccination status. You do need to fill out a travel declaration form 72 hours prior to arrival.
Safety in Jordan
I travelled with my sister, and we did not feel unsafe at any time. We even visited the local Souk in Aqaba with no other tourists around and it wasn’t a problem at all. The locals are so kind and friendly, you need help just ask as most locals speak English aside Arabic. Do ensure you love tea, as you will have plenty of tea-time with the locals drinking and chatting.
The only thing you need to be aware off at the tourist sights the sellers want to sell you souvenirs and they can get quite aggressive. Make sure you firmly say NO, if you don’t, they can get pushy. We had an instance with a lady at Al-Deir Monastery in Petra, she grabbed my finger and said “pinky-swear” to come back and check out her shop. When we didn’t want to buy something on our return, she started shouting that we disgraced her culture because we “promised”. Ensure you avoid such situations.
Transport, Tours and Activities in Jordan
We didn’t want to rent a car or take the local bus, so we decided to travel by private transfers that I had pre-arranged with the hotels which costed around 300 euros in total to travel from and to the airport, Petra, Wadi Rum and back to Aqaba. However, make sure you check your transfers with the hotels, because nothing was arranged. Jordan is all about a “go with the flow” culture and you can easily find a driver on place wherever you are. We met plenty of locals that we ended up driving with who gave us much better rates. If they were busy, they knew a friend who could drive us. We met Hisham, a local entrepreneur who opened his own tour agency in Jordan and he is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. We ended up arranging our entire trip with him and cancelling what I had booked. If you need a private driver, any activities from Wadi Rum Jeep tours to full day tours contact Hisham through TripAdvisor or Instagram (@desert_my_lover)
Don’t forget to get a Sim Card on arrival, it only costs 10JOD and it will allow you to stay connected during your trip. Also, it just makes things easier to chat with locals through WhatsApp or give them a call when you can’t find your driver.