Jordan is one of the most unforgettable travel experiences you can share with your family. From the extremes of the Dead Sea to the Lost City of Petra and the vast plains of the Wadi Rum Desert.
If you’ve only got a short time to spend in Jordan this 5-day itinerary will make sure you catch the highlights, but certainly not all Jordan has to offer for family travellers.
We really think our 10-day itinerary would give you a better feel for the country, but we know often school holidays and other timing issues do not allow visitors to spend that long.
Alternatively, you can look to take on our highlights tour suggested here which largely covers southern Jordan in one trip, then tackle the northern areas and day trips from Amman as a separate journey to Jordan.
Before planning your trip to Jordan with kids make sure you visit our Jordan home page packed full of useful tips for planning a trip to Jordan including visa information, safety advisories and further planning resources.
Our Suggested 5-day family-friendly itinerary of Jordan
We have set this itinerary as a self-drive tour in an anticlockwise direction from Amman Airport return. You could tackle the itinerary in reverse depending on how your dates fall.
We will cover drivers and organised tours to Jordan for families in a separate article.
Timing Tips for Jordan
- The main reason we suggest tackling the Dead Sea first, is that you may come out of Petra with “war wounds”. Any open cut, scrape or rash on your skin at the Dead Sea is not be pleasant!
- Note that the weekend in Jordan is Friday/Saturday. Resort towns can be much busier Thursday and Friday night.
- Petra at Night only occurs on a Monday, Wednesday & Thursday.
- You can see our complete guide on the best times to visit all the different areas of Jordan here.
Day 1 Jordan itinerary – Amman to the Dead Sea
Most start their journey to Jordan in Amman (AMM), but with only 5 days, we’d suggest skipping straight to the Dead Sea coast and enjoying one of the luxurious Dead Sea resorts for the first night.
Not only is reaching the lowest point on earth one of those bucket-list activities, floating in the Dead Sea is one of those novelty experience that the whole family is sure to never forget – but make sure it’s for the right reasons!
Check out this article to make sure you are prepared for what a Dead Sea experience with children might involve.
As well as capturing yourself floating in the Dead Sea, don’t forget to try some Dead Sea mud on your skin, or even better, book yourself a luxury spa for the full body treatment!
Where to stay at the Dead Sea
There is a strip of Dead Sea resorts along the Dead Sea Highway to choose from. Our top recommendations for their multiple pools, restaurants and family-friendly facilities are:
For a family value pick, why not try the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea.
Day 2 Jordan Itinerary – Dead Sea to Petra
Get an early start as you’re going to take on one of the world’s dramatic road trip routes today, along the Kings Highway.
Start your journey taking in the picturesque sites along the Jordan Valley Highway, then ascend to Karak and the Karak Castle.
Continue along the Kings Highway for stunning mountainous views (those with any motion sickness may want to drop down to the alternate but rather less interesting Desert Highway), and make your next stop Shobak Castle. A slightly less complete but equally compelling Crusader Castle (NB currently closed for restoration work 2019).
If time permits before nightfall, you can also squeeze in a visit to Little Petra – (siq al-Barid). Whilst granted, it’s never going to be as impressive as it’s neighbour, it is a great destination for exploring with smaller children and no entry fees apply.
Where to Stay in Petra
You will stay 2 nights now in the township of Wadi Musa. With such limited time and so much walking to be done on day 3, we strongly suggest staying as close as possible to the Petra Visitor Centre entrance to maximise your time.
- Our luxury pick is the Mövenpick Resort Petra
- Our convenience pick is Petra Guest House Hotel – literally on top of the entrance.
Day 3 Jordan itinerary – Petra
This is the big day! Get to bed early as an early start will always pay off, no matter what time of year and start your journey through the Lost City. It opens from 6am so beat the crowds, especially in peak tourist season and pace yourself.
A walk down the 1.2km long Siq will bring you to the dramatic Treasury, then onward to explore the Main Petra Trail. Some people will then go on to explore a further 800 step climb that will take you to the Monastery.
All the way from the Petra Visitor Centre to the Monastery is 7kms. You will need to base your decision on how much you can cover in one day on your own children’s willingness and capability when it comes to tackling Petra in one day.
Petra at Night
An amazing addition to your Petra experience is Petra at Night, where you can return along the candlelit Siq and see storytelling and a sound and light show projected onto the Treasury.
As we mentioned in the opening, Petra at Night is only held on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night and lasts about 2 hours.
If you have travelled all through Petra throughout the day, do expect that returning down the length of the Siq at night may be too much for little legs. This may be a good opportunity to get a babysitter or try the 2000-year-old Nabatean cave beneath the Petra Guest House Hotel for dinner instead for another unique experience.
Day 4 Jordan Itinerary – Petra to Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is approximately a further 2-hour drive from Petra. You will continue along the last leg of the Kings Highway before briefly rejoining the Desert Highway and entering Rum Village.
From Rum Village, you park up and a Bedouin guide will take your party in a jeep to explore the desert. From following in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia to scaling sand dunes and spotting ancient petroglyphs, this is the outdoor experience of a lifetime you shouldn’t be tempted to skip.
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
Your Wadi Rum guide will most likely also run your overnight camp for you too (only the native Bedouin people, the Zalabia are permitted to operate tours and accommodation in Wadi Rum Desert Reserve so no big brand names here.)
Don’t be too scared off though by the word camp! Most camps are far more akin to glamping. Other than most likely shared bathrooms, you can expect a private cabin, comfortable bed hot running water and a hearty meal of
- Try Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp – groups of 2 to 5 in one room
- Wadi Rum Camp & Tour for larger family-sized rooms
Day 5 Jordan Itinerary – Wadi Rum to Amman
After your tour of Wadi Rum ends and your guide returns you to Rum Village, it is then approximately a 3 hour and 40-minute drive back to Queen Alia Airport in Amman (AMM), or 4 hours 15 minutes to central Amman if you are staying one more night.
If you have time to do a little sightseeing in Amman, some of the top attractions include:
- Amman Citadel
- Roman Theatre
- Wild Jordan Centre for great views and dining with kids
Where to stay in Amman
There are plentiful options depending on your budget. We can recommend for families
- Luxury choice Four Seasons Hotel Amman
- Mid-range Crowne Plaza Amman
- For small apartments Downtown Hotel
What will I miss out on if I only spend 5 days in Jordan?
A lot! This is a classic itinerary that will certainly give you a Jordan taster, but we certainly wouldn’t try and squeeze much more into 5 days, you and the kids will be exhausted!
If you have longer to spend, 10 days would be perfect to also fit in:
- Aqaba and the Red Sea
- Mount Nebo and Madaba
- Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the Baptism Site
- Umm er-Raasas
- Jerash, Umm Qais and Irbid
- More of Amman
Is the Jordan Pass still worth it for a short break in Jordan?
During a short trip to Jordan, you may rightly question whether a Jordan Pass is still worth the money.
A Jordan Pass covers not only your visitor’s visa into Jordan, but also entry to over 40 attractions in Jordan for stays greater than 3 nights.
The cheapest pass covering 1 day in Petra is the Jordan Wanderer at 70JOD – $99USD per person.
If you had to pay at the gate for the main attractions we have mentioned here these will cost you
- Karak Castle entry fee 2 JOD
- Shobak Castle entry fee 1 JOD
- Petra 1 day entry fee 50 JOD
- Petra at Night 17 JOD (not on Jordan Pass)
- Wadi Rum entry fee 5 JOD
- Entry Visa to Jordan (most Nationalities) 40JOD
So yes, even for a short 5-day Jordan visit you will get value out of the Jordan Pass, BUT……a big but for families; bear in mind younger children under 12 DO need a Tourist Visa but DON’T pay the entry fee at most attractions, making it a less clear-cut decision. If your children are under 12 it may be cheaper to pay for visa’s then the individual attractions.
On top of site entry fees, don’t forget you will pay extra for any drivers or petrol, guides (organised tours or for a tip) and, of course, accommodation.
We hope you’ve found our 5-day itinerary helpful in planning your dream trip to Jordan.
Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to Jordan with kids for further tips on getting packed and what to expect when visiting Jordan on a family vacation of a lifetime.
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