An Epic 10-Day Itinerary for Jordan with Kids
Visiting Jordan with kids is up there with our favourite family trips so far. We can’t say it’s number one because we have a few favourite family travel destinations, but Jordan holds a very special place in our hearts.
Jordan had been a bucket list destination for us for a long time. The intrigue started when watching Indiana Jones many years ago, but we weren’t sure whether it was safe or not and put it off.
Is Jordan safe to visit with kids?
We get asked this question a lot so we thought we’d tackle it before launching into our itinerary. Yes, we felt as safe in Jordan as we have anywhere else we’ve travelled with the kids. We had concerns before we travelled there due to its close proximity to Syria, Israel, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. All of these Middle Eastern countries have been hotbeds of conflict and tension over the years, but Jordan has remained neutral.
More recently, media articles on visiting Jordan caught our eye and we started checking Tripadvisor and the Foreign Office for recent reviews. It seemed safe, something we always check before travelling anywhere, especially with the kids. One of the articles we read was an interview with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Travel Weekly in which he conveys his passion for his country and how he is encouraging tourism. As a result, tourist numbers are increasing.
When is the best time to visit Jordan?
The best times to visit Jordan are between March and May and September and November when the weather is not too hot and it also won’t bee too cool in the desert.
We decided to visit during the Easter holidays and had 10 days to play with. This turned out to be a good amount of time to see the highlights of Jordan. If you are considering 10, 12 or 14 days, you can take a look at our itinerary and adapt it to suit your needs.
We didn’t do Amman on this trip because we felt there were enough places to visit that were more child-friendly and we didn’t want to overdo it. If you have more time, we would definitely recommend going and spending at least 24 hours in Amman. There are so many cool things to do in Jordan with kids and if you’re planning on spending a little longer there, you can find 30 things to do in Jordan here, or this great article on really getting off the beaten track with kids around Jordan.
Accommodation in Jordan
We have mentioned the various places we stayed on our road trip, but if you don’t find anything suitable, we recommend checking Booking.com which has the widest choice of accommodation in Jordan.
Our 10-Day Jordan Itinerary
Day 1 – Madaba to Dead Sea
Day 2 – Dead Sea
Day 3 – Dead Sea to Jerash
Day 4 – Dead Sea to Petra
Day 5 – Petra
Day 6 – Petra to Wadi Rum
Day 7 – Wadi Rum to Aqaba
Day 8 – Aqaba
Day 9 – Aqaba
Day 10 – Aqaba to Amman
Car Hire in Jordan
We arrived in Amman late at night and picked up our hire car. It was all pretty straightforward as the hire company met us at arrivals and took us to their office where we sorted out the paperwork. We always book our car online before we travel to get the cheapest rate, and find that Rentalcars is the best site.
The roads are pretty good and everything is well signposted, but we always plug in the location of our accommodation into Google maps when we have wifi so that we have a working map when we’re offline. We brought our own car seats as reviews had suggested they weren’t up to scratch and we’d recommend doing the same. If you don’t fancy bringing bulky car seats with you, look into whether a foldable car seat might be an option for you, or for slightly older kids you’ll be able to save on space and take booster seats.
There wasn’t a whole lot of accommodation near the airport so we decided to go to Madaba which was 25 minutes away. We got to the Mariam Hotel in Madaba very late, checked in and went straight to bed in our simple family room.
Day 1: Madaba to the Dead Sea
The next morning we took breakfast on the roof terrace. It was a very simple affair including bread, hummus, olives, boiled eggs, yoghurts and cereal. There was a pool at the hotel and the boys attempted a swim but the water was freezing.
Mosaics of Madaba
We had a walk around the mosaics which is the reason we stayed there (and arriving so late at night we wanted somewhere close to the airport). The mosaics are very impressive but not particularly captivating for the boys so we didn’t stay long. We found a quick and tasty chicken shawarma for lunch before heading off to our next stop, the Dead Sea and the lowest place on earth.
The journey from Madaba to the Dead Sea took just under an hour. Thank goodness for Google Maps as our hotel would have been impossible to find otherwise! There are no real roads to get there, just a few tracks that are only there because people have driven over the ground enough times to make it look like dirt roads. Sometimes it felt like we were driving through people’s backyards.
The Dead Sea
We stayed at the Thara Dead Sea hotel because it had good reviews and was cheap. Something to bear in mind is that Easter in Jordan is expensive. Probably the most expensive time of year to visit. We would have preferred to have stayed at a hotel on the shore of the Dead Sea but they were all very expensive. Luckily, having our own car meant it was easy to pop down to these hotels and many of them offer day passes to use their facilities.
The hotel had a pool but only men could use the outdoor one. They had an indoor one which was for women, but when local women and children weren’t using it, they allowed us all to use it. The room was simple but had air-con, a small kitchen and fridge.
Day 2: Relaxing at the Dead Sea
We had read much about the magical properties of the Dead Sea mud and were keen to try it ourselves. While we can’t confirm the rejuvenating properties of the mud, it was a fun experience. Take an old swimsuit as that mud does not wash out easily! The floating experience was also something else.
Weird fact – you can’t actually sink in the Dead Sea but you can drown. Because of the high salt content, you bob like a cork and it is difficult to swim. If you flip onto your front, it is difficult to lift your head out of the water. Even in a shallow bit of water, you can’t put your feet down.
All resorts will have lifeguards watching but keep an eye on the little ones. If you aren’t staying in one of the big hotels, a day pass is probably worth it because it’s quite difficult to find somewhere along the shore to just stop and access the water. You will also want some facilities to wash off the mud afterwards.
Due to the high mineral content of the water, it can be quite harsh on sensitive skin. Our youngest suffers from occasional eczema and he came out in a rash all over. Even though I didn’t think I had sensitive skin, my skin was tingling and felt quite uncomfortable. There are showers right by to wash off the water and the mud so if there is any tingling, make sure to wash the kids immediately as it will continue to irritate.
One other thing you need to know is that the stones by the shoreline are hot! We recommend that you protect your feet with water shoes as you will also need them once you’re in the water.
We decided to get a day pass at the the Crowne Plaza for about £15 per adult. Lots of hotels do them and they range in price. We spent the day by their pool which was great for kids.
Day 3: Dead Sea to Jerash Day Trip
We decided to take a day trip to Jerash. Jordan is a relatively small country and most things are reachable on day trips. The trip to Jerash from the Dead Sea took 90 minutes. We set off early so we could beat the crowds and the heat, but even at 9.30 am it was already very hot. The boys had hand held fans which doubled up as toys and they were so helpful. Take loads of water and wear hats.
There is quite a bit of walking if you want to see everything. We mainly focused on the huge amphitheatre and a few other bits as we wandered.
Leaving the main site, there is a little café which has great fresh juices. It was just what we needed after the dry heat of Jerash. On the way back we watched a gladiator show. The boys loved this and got to hang out with the gladiators afterwards. We thought they looked pretty scary but the boys were fascinated.
Day 4: Dead Sea to Petra via Kerak Castle
Our whole trip to Jordan was pretty much based around our desire to visit Petra. We probably shouldn’t have hung so much importance on it, but it had been a bucket list destination for a long time. It was a relatively long 3 hour 30 minute drive from the Dead Sea to Petra (Wadi Musa) so we broke it up with a stop in Kerak to see the castle.
Kerak Castle is well worth a visit. The boys had headtorches which were initially a gimmick but actually came in very handy in a few places in Jordan, particularly this castle. There are lots of dark caverns and tunnels to explore. The boys loved it, although some parts were a bit spooky!
After the castle we grabbed a quick lunch on the go so we could get to Wadi Musa and catch a sunset visit of Petra. Our boys love their chicken shawarmas!
We got to Wadi Musa at around 3 pm and dumped our bags at our Seven Wonders hotel. Just a note on booking a hotel in Petra – you don’t actually stay in Petra. If you’re searching for accommodation, type in Wadi Musa. There are so many Petra hotels to choose from. Some are within about 50 metres of the entrance to Petra.
We grabbed hats, suncream, water, comfortable shoes, long sleeved tops (it can get cold early morning and late afternoon) and headed off. There’s a large car park near the entrance of Petra so we decided to drive and save our legs for exploring the Lost City of Petra.
We clearly weren’t the only ones who had this idea. It was busy. In 2007 Petra was voted one of the 7 new wonders of the world by 100,000,000 people and these days it’s one of those places that is overrun with tourists – if you don’t time it right.
The entrance for Petra is JD 50 for a day or JD 55 for 2 days. We opted for the 2 day pass as part of our Visit Jordan pass. You will want to spend at least a couple of days exploring.
We had a little hassle at the beginning of the Siq (the 2km walk through a gorge to get to the Treasury) from people offering horse rides but they were all very friendly. If visiting Petra has been on your bucket list for a long time too, we recommend walking the Siq to build up to the moment you first see the Treasury. You don’t want to miss out on that first sighting.
We wandered around the Treasury soaking up the atmosphere and hung around until sunset and beyond. At around 6 pm, we were one of the last ones there. It was quite a full on day and we decided against the Petra at night experience but it looked amazing when they were setting up for it with hundreds of lanterns everywhere. We have more on our Petra with kids post.
Day 5: Visiting Petra & Wadi Rum
Travelling with kids usually means we are up early so we made the most of this and set off early to get to the gates for 6 am when they opened. This time we decided to get a head start on the crowds (not that there were many at that time of day!) with a horse and cart.
It meant that we were the first ones to see the Treasury that day and got some great pictures with nobody in them.
That day we managed a hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice. It was a 7km round trip and the kids walked it all themselves, which was incredible considering our then 3 year old insisted on being carried back home if we walked more than 200m! The views were spectacular. Just make sure to bring snacks, water, hats, suncream and long sleeves for early morning chill.
Here are some of the things we recommend taking with you when visiting Petra.
After the hike we put the boys on a pony to get back to the exit. The 2km walk through the Siq back to the hotel was just a step too far for the boys and they were absolutely pooped! They were so tired that they fell asleep at the table at lunch before the food arrived which was a first!
After lunch we set off for Wadi Rum. After the morning’s activities, the boys had a good long sleep in the car. It took just under 2 hours. We called in at the visitor centre first as we had no clue where our accommodation was (the highly recommended Rahayeb Desert Camp).
They gave us a map and called the camp for us so they knew to expect us. We were advised to park at the car park and the 4×4 came to pick us up. This was the start of the adventure. We drove for about 15 minutes into the desert. It’s a good idea when picking your desert camp to make sure it is a little way into the desert, away from the main road and lights from neighbouring villages.
We hadn’t booked any activities in advance so at the check-in/greeting, we ran through all the activities available and pretty much set off straight away on a sunset 4×4 tour of Wadi Rum. After sorting it all out, we piled into the back of the truck and set off.
The boys loved the experience. It lasted around 2 hours and we got to get out and wander around various sites and play in the huge sand dunes. We caught an amazing sunset and then headed back to camp for dinner – but not before the boys tried a little sand-surfing.
Day 6: Wadi Rum to Aqaba, Tala Bay
In the morning we opted for a camel ride. Seriously, if you have never been on a camel before, make sure you only do a short ride. Those things are uncomfortable! We’d done a 2 day camel trek in India once and vowed never again. This was fine though – just an hour around the local area and the boys had a blast, particularly Ernie (6) who had his own camel.
We had a quick game of beach volleyball to burn off some more energy and then set off to the coast for some much needed relaxing.
We found a great Airbnb apartment in the Tala Bay Resort in Tala Bay, near Aqaba. The apartment came with access to all the resort facilities; the beach club, diving centre, loads of great pools and the beach. We had a huge apartment and the best part…..we had a washing machine. Yes. That’s what makes a holiday rental special for me as a mum. And with the sunny, dry weather, the washing dried in no time so it wasn’t a chore. Well almost wasn’t a chore :)
Day 7: Tala Bay, Red Sea
We chose Tala Bay over Aqaba because the beach looked nicer. Aqaba beach is a city beach at the end of the day and unless you are staying at one of the fancy hotels with private beach, it isn’t that appealing. Tala Bay is also less hectic. It’s only a 10 minute drive to Aqaba so we still went there to explore and have dinner and soak up a more authentic side to Jordan than the manicured, gated development of Tala Bay.
Day 8: Red Sea Fun
Our days in Tala Bay consisted of mainly swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and eating. If you have space, take some beach shoes as it was pretty rocky and hard to get in and out of the water with bare feet. Just one more note to raise here; we took full face snorkels with us but the boys didn’t like them. Further research has shown that they may not be entirely safe with CO2 levels building up in them. Nothing has been proven, but we prefer not to use them now.
We took a trip on a submarine from Tala Bay. It was great for the boys to experience what the Red Sea had to offer in lieu of diving, although it was disappointing to see plastic bags and other rubbish floating around the dive sites. The boys have seen for themselves the problem of plastic pollution and this has helped get them on board with things like refusing a plastic straw.
Day 9: Red Sea
We moved to the Movenpick Tala Bay next door to the Tala Bay resort. We like to end our trips with a little bit of luxury. As it turns out, it was lovely, but there was really no need to move. The Tala Bay resort apartment had almost as much to offer, was much bigger and was a third of the price (although no kids club or all-inclusive).
We made the most of Movenpick kids club and enjoyed a couple of drinks on the beach in peace.
Day 10: Red Sea to Amman
We managed to get a late check-out and stayed enjoying the facilities for as long as possible before we set off straight up the highway to stay at a cheap and cheerful apartment near the airport in preparation for our insanely early flight home.
It was in the middle of nowhere, but there were a few restaurants so we had a cheap and cheerful meal at a local restaurant. So local in fact that there was no menu and definitely no website – and lots of amused stares. The building was green. That’s all I can remember but they did a mean roast chicken!
If you haven’t guessed already, Jordan is an incredible country to travel with children. The people are so welcoming and friendly and it is very easy to navigate if you choose to self-drive which we would highly recommend.
Have we managed to convey how awesome Jordan is? We hope so. We rarely go back somewhere because there’s always somewhere new to see – but Jordan is one of those special places that captured our hearts and we will be back for sure!
Tip -buy your Jordan pass in advance
Get your Jordan Pass before you travel. We opted for the Jordan Explorer which cost JD 75. It allowed us 2 consecutive days in Petra, access to 40 sites around Jordan and included the entry visa which alone costs JD 40 for a single entry so you will definitely save money, even if you only go to Petra.