Jordan is an amazing country with a lot to offer to visitors, contrary to what many may think it is quite easy to visit Jordan in an independent way, and certainly there is more than Petra (even when this is such a fantastic attraction). I have been several times in Jordan and I never get tired of the place, people are very friendly, almost everybody is able to communicate in English and there are so many great historical and natural attractions that it is actually hard to cover everything in one trip. The other good news is that Jordan is a very affordable place, so this can encourage anyone to do an extended trip and still not sacrifice a lot in the budget. Here I want to suggest some good places to be included for a first time visitor to the Northern part of the country.
Arriving to Queen Alia Airport:
It is located some 40 minutes from the capital, there are several buses linking it to the city, and taxis are not expensive. I prefer to rent a car (gas is very affordable and car rentals as well) just be aware that Jordanians are intrepid drivers, but roads are generally speaking in good condition.
Day one: Madaba: it is only 20 minutes from the airport. This is a good place to spend the first night. There are many affordable lodgings, but I may certainly recommend Mosaic City hotel. One should not miss the mosaics of Saint George Church and other archeological sites. I consider Madaba a good place to do some shopping (of course one has to do a little bargaining too.)
Day Two: Mount Nebo: it takes around 15 minutes driving from Madaba to reach the site. It offers breathtaking views of the desert, the Dead Sea and even Jerusalem and Jericho. From here one has to head toward Bethany beyond the Jordan. This is one of the places of biggest spiritual significance in Jordan and it is believed to be the site of the baptism of Christ. The whole visit to the complex takes around one hour and only can be made in organized groups. One just has to arrive to the welcome center and they will put you into one of these groups.
Days Three and Four: Its impossible to come to this place and not to splurge into one of the most unique and luxurious beach destinations: The Dead Sea. There are several impressive resorts, these are kind of expensive, but really worth every penny. I think that Kempinski and Marriott are among the best. The Dead Sea is famous for all the healing properties of the waters and mud and nowhere else will one have the experience of floating on the water’s surface so easily. Sunsets are just gorgeous. One leaves the place rejuvenate.
Day five Ma’in: It takes around half hour driving from the Dead Sea, up to the mountains through a very hilly road, where it is possible to see the caravans and camps of Bedouins. Once again the views are beyond imagining. It is impressive to go down to the oasis of Ma’in and find there in the middle of the desert an impressive five star hotel, The Evason with one of the best spas in the country: The six senses. Ma’in is famous for the spring waters that comes down from the mountains. At night its amazing to enjoy the view of Jerusalem with a delicious glass of local wine from Mount Nebo.
Days Six and Seven: Amman, it is a city of contrasts, the ancient Philadelphia, with modernity and history melting together. A city with great restaurants, excellent night life and many attractions. Hotels are top quality and luxury is truly affordable. For those who are discerning travelers I will certainly recommend to stay in the Four Seasons. Other excellent options are Marriott, Kempinski, and Hyatt.
Day Eight: Jerash These impressive ruins are probably the best preserved remnants of an ancient Roman city in the region, driving from Amman only takes 25 minutes, and the place is truly fantastic. Once one has spent the morning here, it is really worthwhile to continue to Umm Quays, to the North, bordering Israel and Syria. This is another ancient ruin from Jesus’ time. The view of the Galilee Sea is incredible and from there one can admire even Tiberias. The restaurant in the ruins is a great place to enjoy a good meal.
After little more than one week one has two options: going back to Amman and then taking a flight home hoping to return soon, or taking the route towards the South to explore another set of wonders that Jordan has to offer to the curious visitor.