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Top 5 Day Trips From Amman

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6 months ago

Amman is a great place to keep you entertained for a couple of days, but the real draw of Jordan is all outside of Amman – and there are so many day trips from Amman. Luckily, most of them can be found within an hour or so’s drive of Amman.

We’ve put together the top day trips from Amman. Unlike some lists that are in no particular order, this one is in a particular order. So, if you only have time for one or two (and you can certainly do many of these in the same day), then go with the first and second.

Flag of Jordan in front of a building with trees

1. The Dead Sea

No guide to Jordan would be complete without this one. The lowest place on earth (some 430 meters). One of OG tour guides in human history, the Bible, mentions the Dead Sea many times, so if the ancients thought this was the place to be, we should probably listen to our elders.

It’s called the Dead Sea because it’s 10x saltier than seawater, and it’s that saltiness which gives you the buoyancy to float. Our trusted business partner, Aristotle, even noted the healing properties of the water in the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Water
The water of the Dead Sea hits differently

The Dead Sea is only about 45-50 minutes from Amman so it’s great for a day trip from Amman (but maybe wait a day after you land before going to the Dead Sea). If you really want the elevated Dead Sea experience though, you should stay one night at the Movenpick.

If you’re going to take a taxi to the Dead Sea, we suggest that you hire a driver for the whole day. It’s not impossible to get a taxi from the Dead Sea back to Amman nowadays, but it can be very stressful and take a long time. It’s best to have this one planned in advance.

It goes without saying but don’t put your head in, and don’t splash the water. It’s the most painful experience for your eyes, and it lasts a good while.

People on the beach in Aqaba
There are also beaches in Jordan at Aqaba in the south (but a bit too far for a day trip from Amman)

Travel tip (controversial, maybe): The Dead Sea is definitely better on the Jordanian side (even Daniel agrees).

So if you’re choosing between visiting the Dead Sea in Israel or in Jordan, choose Jordan for an all-round better experience – and you can do it easily as a day trip from Amman.

When you visit the Dead Sea, take a minute to think about your environmental footprint. It’s no secret that the Dead Sea is actually drying up at breakneck speed, and humans have driven that.

Murals of women with color in Amman
Make sure to check out everything in Amman as well – including the murals

You should leave about three hours to enjoy the Dead Sea. You can’t spend too much time in the water, and you’ll want to go slather some of the mineral-rich mud all over your body. We recommend the below tour of the Dead Sea for an experience that won’t be rushed.

2. As-Salt

Aside from Petra and Wadi Rum, As-Salt was easily our favorite place in Jordan. You won’t find it in most tour books because it’s fairly off the beaten track.

But the rest of the world is starting to agree with us because it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2021. It’s a tiny town filled with beautiful architecture and an amazing landscape. The three mountains around the city make it beautiful to be in and to look at.

Street in As-Salt with blue doors and hanging baskets

What makes As-Salt so special is the colorful heritage houses dotted around the downtown of the city near Abu Jaber Museum. Walk through the backstreets to discover some of the beauty.

Make sure to check out Al-Hammam Street as well. Once you get to the top, you’ll realise that it’s actually perched on a hillside. It’s really quite picturesque.

When we were travelling down the market street, we found a lady making saj (thin bread with cheese heated on a very specific dome-like surface). She only makes them fresh to order and they’re just so tasty.

Try to find her – she is a master of her craft. And make sure you try all of the traditional foods of Jordan!

Lady making saj in As-Salt
Jordanians take real pride in their food

If you’re looking for a snack and a great view, we recommend Aktham’s 1881 Café. It has an amazing view of As-Salt, and they’ve nailed the slow, unintrusive service to help you enjoy it.

It’s also a museum and they serve shisha – and there’s a library. You must also get their ice cream. And once you’re done relaxing, take a walk through the fruit and vegetable market just nearby.

You should leave about three hours to see and enjoy As-Salt.

Fruit market in As-Salt with lemons and garlic in the foreground
The fruit market in As-Salt is always lively

3. Jerash (ruins) and Ajloun (castle)

Jerash is only about 50 minutes north of Amman, and then Ajloun is only about 30 minutes from Jerash. We would pair these together and do them on the same day.

Jerash is probably the second- or third-most popular place to visit in Jordan after Petra (it jockeys with Wadi Rum for second place). This is a popular day trip from Amman – and for a reason.

The ruins can keep you occupied for a few hours, but you could probably be finished in two hours and have just as good an experience. I thought the nymphaeum (ornamental fountain) was quite striking, and we liked the cardo maximus for its grandness.

Travel tip: Make sure you go to the ruins in the Jerash archaeological city and not the modern city (which isn’t special in and of itself).

We’d also recommend finding a guide for Jerash because its layers of history can only really be explained by someone who knows it. This was once one of the most crucial cities on the ancient silk road, and it’s actually one of the best-preserved cities of the Roman empire in the world.

Jerash ruins in Jordan
The Jerash Ruins are a site to behold (source: Visit Jerash)

Ajloun was built as a defensive structure against the Crusaders, but today it’s probably best for its amazing Jordanian countryside vista. It’s located in a pine forest so it has a beautiful backdrop. It’s a great day trip from Amman.

You should leave about four hours for Jerash and Ajloun. And if you’re looking for the best tour that gets all the highlights and more, we recommend the below.

4. Madaba and Mount Nebo

Madaba: the City of Mosaics

Known colloquially as the City of Mosaics, Madaba is about 40-50 minutes south of Amman. This is because the Byzantines, the successors to the Romans, built the city, and they loved mosaics. You can even pick up a mosaic souvenir to take home – the perfect souvenir for a trip to Jordan.

Mosaic tiles on the ground of the Church of St. George in Madaba
Mosaics can be found everywhere in Madaba

While you’re in Madaba, the must-see site is the Church of St. George. It’s a beautiful place to stop and take a minute to reflect, and is one of the quintessential day trips from Amman.

Exterior of the Church of St. George in Madaba which is a day trip from Jordan
The Church of St. George in Madaba

Make sure you see the Madaba Map which is a mosaic map of the ancient world that was rediscovered only 140 years ago. It is the oldest surviving original cartographic depiction of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Madaba Map
The Madaba Map is unmissable for any history buff

The Madaba Map is so special because it actually has immense scientific value. The Nea Church in Jerusalem was rediscovered in Jerusalem in 1967 in the very location suggested by the Madaba Map.

Mount Nebo: the view of the Promised Land

The famous Mount Nebo is just outside Madaba and you really can’t miss that one if you have any connection to any Abrahamic religion. Brush up on the biblical story of Moses before you go to get the most out of it. But the key thing to know is that this is where Moses stood to show the promised land to the chosen people.

View of Mount Nebo with ruins
Mount Nebo is worth the special trip

We would miss the museum, but you should ask a local guide to take you around if you can. You’ll get a much better sense of the history of Mount Nebo.

Also, because of the Christian connections, you’ll find Jordanian wine in Madaba (specifically Syrah). Give it a shot. You might be surprised.

Desert view in Jordan from Mount Nebo
The spectacular view from Mount Nebo

If you’re looking to do some handicrafts shopping in Madaba, go to Hussein bin Ali Street. It’s a little touristy, and you can probably find better mosaics on the surrounding streets, but it’s a good central market.

There is an amazing restaurant set in a gorgeous, rustic courtyard in Madaba. It’s called Haret Jdoudna in English, but it only appears to have an Arabic name on Google Maps. Copy and paste the Arabic name into Google Maps to find it: مطعم حارة جدودنا

It’s not the cheapest of restaurants as far as Jordan goes, but it had some of the best fattoush salad that we’ve ever had. Also, get the kufta with the tahini sauce and the stuffed mushrooms.

Spread of traditional Jordanian food
Food in Jordan is just so tasty

There are quite a few tour operators for Madaba and Mount Nebo, but we’re only willing to recommend the below for a tried-and-tested experience with very informed guides.

5. Ma’in Hot Springs

The Ma’in Hot Springs are about an hour southwest of Amman, toward the Dead Sea, and is probably not something you’d expect in Jordan. If you’re looking for a spot to take a minute and relax in Jordan, this is the choice for you.

We wouldn’t recommend staying the night, and it’s probably not worth going if you’re going or have already been to the Dead Sea.

Like the Dead Sea, the Ma’in Hot Springs are located below sea level. You won’t feel it as much as you will when swimming in the Dead Sea, but it’s just kind of cool to know that you’re underwater (sort of).

The Ma’in Hot Springs are also about 40 minutes from Madaba so it might be a nice way to end the day if you have a few hours. Some tours also include the Ma’in Hot Springs in their itineraries.

Man in front of a camel in Wadi Rum
There are so many ways to relax in Jordan

Can Petra be a day trip from Amman?

On a few travel guides, you’ll see that Petra is sometimes listed as a day trip from Amman. Although it can be done as a day trip, the rush takes away from the magic. And if you want to avoid the crowds, you want to get there really early. If you want a truly unforgettable experience, Petra by Night is unmissable – and that means you can’t be driving back to Amman.

The Treasury in Petra
The famous Treasury in Petra

So there you have it: the top day trips from Amman. We’re sure that if you take the time to do a couple of these, you’ll find out pretty quickly than Jordan is more than just Petra. If you are going to try to do Petra in a day, we can’t stress enough that you book a private tour; otherwise, far too much of your day is spent waiting around, and you don’t have time for that. We recommend the below.

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