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A Self Drive Trip in Jordan: Starting from Amman - In2Jordan

A Self Drive Trip in Jordan: Starting from Amman

by Sarah Eaton
Self drive Jordan start from Amman


Looking for an easy way to book your self drive trip in Jordan?  Driving a rental car is one of the most affordable ways to explore the country. This 14 day itinerary will show you Jordan the adventurous way – explore the UNESCO sites of Petra & Wadi Rum with 4×4 jeep tour, discover Roman ruins and other historical sites, hike in Dana reserve, plus a float in the Dead Sea. If you are comfortable behind the wheel, this plan gives you the freedom and flexibility to stop at photogenic hotspots and enjoy the attractions at your own pace. Because we arrange local experiences and guides for you, this trip allows you to get more than just a taste of the real Jordan… from a different perspective!

Note: We advise you to purchase a sim-card with the internet so you can use online GPS and you have a convenient form of communication in case of emergency. Sim cards are very cheap and readily available at the airport.

Amman Jordan

Sunset over the Citadel in the capital city Amman

Day 1 : Arrival Amman Airport – Amman

Arrive to the Queen Alia International airport.  Your driver will meet you in the arrivals hall and  take you north to Amman for your overnight stay.  You start the self drive portion of the trip on Day 3, so relax and enjoy the city on foot or by taxi first. 

City tour through local eyes

City tour with local guide Anas

Day 2 : Amman City Tour “Through the local eyes”

Enjoy an unplugged discovery day in Amman where you can go to the main sites in the morning, such as the Citadel and Roman thater.  This afternoon meet up with Anas, a special guide who leads a local start-up which aims to let people discover alternative touristic maps. Eat the favorite local street food, explore the souk, walk through the narrow stairs that identify the city, enjoy the magical view and learn about the 7 hills of Amman, discover some new pieces of the new local street art.  

Note: This is a group tour that starts at the Hashem Restaurant in the afternoon.

Visit Qasr Al Amra during the self drive trip in Jordan

Qasr Al Amra, a UNESCO world heritage site

Day 3 : Amman – Desert castles – Azraq – Amman

In the morning, your rental car will be dropped off at the hotel.   Then you will begin your self drive trip in Jordan by heading off to the eastern desert, stopping at the Ummayad Castles of Kharanna, Amra and Azraq, which used to be hunting lodges and weekend retreats of the Umayyad kings.  Qusayr Amra is one of Jordan’s UNESCO world heritage sites due to the rare early Islamic frescoes with human and animal figures depicted.

Then head to Azraq Wetland reserve for late lunch and do the self guided boardwalk hike. For your overnight stay, you will return to your hotel in Amman.

Jerash Jordan

The ruins of the Decapolis city of Jerash

Day 4 : Amman  – Jerash – Ajloun

This morning you head out for a trip north to the wonderful Roman city of Jerash – walk along the colonnaded way, visit the Temples of Artemis & Zeus, and take a seat in the enormous Hippodrome where Chariot races used to be held. If you like, you can head to one of the local BBQ restaurants for lunch (not included).

In the afternoon, drive further north through the Jordan Valley and up into the forested region of Ajloun.  Visit Qallat ar-Rabadh, Ajloun’s 12th century Islamic Castle, built between 1184 and 1188 and meant to protect the most important crossroad of trade and pilgrimages between Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus and Mecca. Here there is a mosaic from a previous structure which depicts the feeding of the 5,000.  The views of the hills of Gilead from the top of the castle are excellent.

If you have time you could head to the RSCN Ajloun Nature reserve.  Visit the Royal Academy for the Conservation of Nature in Ajloun, Jordan. It was built over an abandoned limestone quarry next to the Ajloun Forest Reserve, reclaiming a scarred landscape for environmental education.

Overnight with dinner at a homestay in Ajloun or at the Nature Reserve cabins.

Church in Anjara

Church of Our Lady in Anjara

Day 5 : Hike to Tel Mar Elias – Anjara – Umm Qais

This morning you will head out with  homestay owner, Eisa, who is also your local hiking guide.  Then you’ll start a hike along the ancient Abraham Path (lunchbox will be provided). With the local guide, you’ll go to Tel Mar Elias  or Elijah’s hill  where you find ruins of one of the oldest churches in Jordan which is dedicated to Prophet Elijah.  Eisa will arrange the ride back from the end of the hike to his home. You might opt to head about 15 minutes south of Ajloun to visit the cave in Anjara which has long been a holy place for pilgrims and the Church of Our Lady of the Mountain.  Afterwards, you will drive north into the Irbid area to Umm Qais for overnight. 

Overnight at Beit Philodemus, with dinner included.

Ancient Gadara Umm Qais - Self drive trip in Jordan

The striking basalt ruins of Umm Qais – the city of ancient Gadara

Day 6 : Umm Qais – Yarmouk Reserve – Pella – Madaba

Here, it’s time to explore the ancient site of Umm Qais, anciently known as Gadara. Umm Qais is definitely one of Jordan’s highlights to visit, but usually underrated. Just like Jerash, it’s a Decapolis city, ruled by the Romans and existing for 2.400 years, but built from basalt.  (The owner of Beit Philodemus is an Um Qais guide so if you decide you might like to visit the site with him I am sure you could make a plan with him to hire his services).

Head also to the Yarmouk Reserve, especially well known for its incredible vantage point. From here you can see three countries: Jordan, Syria and Israel and the Palestinian Territories. On clear days you can even see the mountains of Lebanon in the distance.

Next you will drive south and you can stop at the ancient ruins of Pella, where the early Christians fled in 70 AD at the destruction of Jerusalem.

Afterwards you will drive to the predominantly Christian city of Madaba. Here you will be able to see some of the best preserved Byzantine mosaics in Jordan. 

As an option, you can visit the hot springs of Al Himma for a soak in the thermal waters.

During this self drive trip in Jordan you can stop at Dana for hiking

Dana Village and Nature Reserve

Day 7 : Madaba – Karak – Dana Nature Reserve

This morning you will head to visit Al-Karak, one of the largest crusader castles in the Middle East. Next drive to the Dana Nature Reserve and see the old village of Dana. Today, you will take a hike in the Reserve (4 hours), together with a local guide.  Have lunch during the hike.  You can experience what it’s like to stay overnight at a camp in the nature reserve, or stay at a nearby hotel.

Self drive trip in Jordan - on the way to Little Petra

Driving to Little Petra

Day 8: Dana – Shobak – Little Petra

Today you start the self drive trip in Jordan with a visit to Shobak, a well preserved crusaders castle. Enjoy climbing on the rocks and exploring the castle, high on the hill.  There is also “The Smallest Hotel in the world” here — a local has a real VW Beetle that guests can overnight in. 

After a visit to the Shobak area you drive via the Al Hisheh area towards Little Petra. You can really see the landscape changing–  the tombs of Petra are hidden in these big colossal rocks you see.

In Little Petra you’ll  find a taste of what’s waiting for you tomorrow.  (* One issue is that to go inside Little Petra you have to make a stop at the main Petra entrance, show your Jordan pass and get something called a Zero ticket in order to go inside Little Petra).

After the visit to Little Petra you’ll head to a local bedouin camp for dinner and overnight. Both basic and luxury camps are available here.

Sun setting behind the Monastery in Petra, Kent Tanemaki

Sun setting behind the Monastery in Petra, Kent Tanemaki

Day 9 : Explore Petra

Today, you will explore this extensive UNESCO world heritage site. Visit the famous Treasury and take a hike up to the High Place of Sacrifice, or to the viewpoint down over the Treasury. You can also climb up the 800 steps to the Monastery. In the evening, you can walk out to the village via the Siq trail. 

Tonight you have the flexibility of several options for the overnight stay. You could spend another night at the camp in Little Petra, check into a hotel or guesthouse in Wadi Musa or, you can head just 10 km away to the neighboring town of Taybeh on the King’s Highway.  Here, you can stay in Taybeh at the Beit Al Taybeh Guesthouse or the Hayat Zaman luxury hotel.

Day 10 : Petra – Wadi Rum

You have another day to explore the fantastic UNESCO and World Heritage site of Petra. You can visit The Royal Tombs and make the climb to the viewpoint to look down onto the Treasury. We can arrange a local hiking guide for you. Or perhaps climb up to the High Place of Sacrifice and take the trail down to the Garden Temple Complex. If you have the energy, then make the climb to the Monastery, the largest monument in Petra. At the end of the day, head south to the beautiful desert of Wadi Rum. Here you’ll spend the night under the stars at a Bedouin camp, dinner included. 

Wadi Rum Desert

Wadi Rum Desert

Day 11 : Explore Wadi Rum

You need a 4×4 and a lot of experience to navigate the desert sands so no self-driving today!  Instead, you will have a full day jeep tour (6 hours, with the option to hike a bit as well).  During the tour your camp will provide you with a light lunch.  Visit the Nabatean inscriptions, and the Lawrence House. See the dunes and rock formations.  For dinner and sunset, you will be taken to back your bedouin camp.  Another option is to have a sunset camel ride!

This self drive trip in Jordan takes you to the Dead Sea.

Sunset over the Dead Sea

Day 12 : Wadi Rum – Lot’s Cave – Dead Sea

Today you will continue your self drive trip in Jordan by heading north to the lowest point on earth: The Dead Sea! On the way, stop to see  the traditional site of Lot’s Cave on a steep hillside near Ghor as Safi. Remains excavated from the cave show it was first used 5,000 years ago.  This is where Abraham’s nephew Lot and his daughters are said to have sheltered after fleeing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  See the ruins of a Byzantine era church here, as well as an inscription in the cave indicating that the site was long identified with Lot.  Next, make a stop at the Museum of the Lowest Place on Earth.  Then continue to your resort at the Dead Sea for overnight and dinner.


The Baptismal Site of Jesus in Jordan

The Baptismal Site of Jesus at Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Day 13 : Dead Sea – Bethany – Madaba

After breakfast, you have some free time to enjoy at the Dead Sea. Don’t forget to put on a full body mud mask!

Then, your will head north about 25 minutes to Bethany beyond the Jordan.  This is the site on the east bank of the Jordan River where John the Baptist is said to have baptized Jesus Christ (Al-Maghtas is the local name).  See the churches and man made pools that  archaeologists uncovered here in this reeded valley– Wadi Kharrar.

Mt. Nebo is next. This is the place where Moses saw the promised land and one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan. The site is under the purview of the Franciscans and has a Memorial church and small museum onsite.  From here, you will have a great view and on a clear day you may even see Jerusalem in the distance.  

Spend the rest of the day exploring in Madaba.

Day 14 : Departure

Today you will say good-bye to Jordan.  According to your flight schedule head from your airport hotel to return car and to the Queen Alia airport for your departing flight.

Fun guaranteed!

Guaranteed fun on roadtrips though Jordan!

A self drive trip in Jordan can be one of the most affordable ways to explore the country at your own pace. For more information on the costs of travel here, check out our blog post: What does travel cost in Jordan?

Get in touch if you would like us to create a personalized plan for your self drive trip!

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