With stunning natural landscapes, important religious sites, incredible historical monuments, and some of the most fascinating geographic points on earth – the small but mighty nation of Jordan in the Middle East is an absolutely essential stop for intrepid family travellers.
On this page, we will guide you step-by-step on exactly how to plan a family adventure the whole family will love to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
- Visas and Entry into Jordan
- Safety in Jordan
- Travel Insurance in Jordan
- When to Visit Jordan
- Places to Visit in Jordan With Kids
- How to Travel Around Jordan
- How Many Days Will I Need in Jordan?
- What to Pack for Family Holidays in Jordan
- Local Currency in Jordan
Visas and Entry into Jordan
Even working out who is allowed to enter a country these days can be as big a challenge as actually trying to plan a trip!
Read up on current entry rules for Jordan before booking those flights, then check your Visa requirements. Most nationalities can visit Jordan with a paid Visa on Arrival (including children).
One thing we would thoroughly recommend, though, is getting your hands on the Jordan Pass. This pass covers your Visa and includes free entry to Petra & dozens of other attractions in Jordan for up to 2 weeks; you can understand more about it here.
Safety in Jordan
Jordan precariously sits sandwiched between Israel and the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iraq. Throughout Jordan’s history, they have always been seen as a moderate in the region and one of the safest and most politically stable.
We’d always read up on government warnings before travelling (UK Foreign Office Travel Advice | US State Department Advice), but generally speaking, Jordan is still considered a ‘safe country‘ for international tourists.
** Presently, tourism in Jordan is being affected by the Israeli/Gaza conflict stemming from the events of 7 October 2023. Jordan tourist areas remain safe, but understandably, the tourism industry is suffering through pre-emptive cancellations.
Travel Insurance in Jordan
Despite being a relatively safe country to visit, do check that any world travel insurance policies will cover a trip to Jordan. Many insurers often exclude Middle Eastern countries from coverage, stating reasons such as ‘state of war, siege, insurrection or armed conflict of any kind”.
We recommend trying specialists such as World Nomads, who understand the region and its nuances.
When to Visit Jordan
Jordan’s geographic location means that there are quite different microclimates around the country, ranging from an arid desert in the south to a milder Mediterranean climate in the north. There is no “bad time” to visit Jordan, though do be aware of these regional differences in weather.
The country’s capital Amman in the north, where most visitors arrive by air, can be very cold in winter – even experiencing snow. Conversely, Aqaba and the Red Sea stay mild in winter (though you’d be brave to take a dip!) and heats up over summer to highs of 40°C/104°F.
For this reason, we always recommend Spring and Fall as the best time to visit Jordan. The absolute best months for visiting Jordan are April and October, which can conveniently overlap with school holidays.
Places to Visit in Jordan With Kids
This list is certainly not exhaustive, but we think these six places cover the absolute highlights of a Jordan family holiday:
1. Drop into Dead Sea
What better way to start your Jordan adventure than descending to the lowest point on earth? The salty waters of the Dead Sea are the second saltiest in the world (topped only by Lake Assal in Djibouti) and are famed for the ability to float on water – no matter how hard you try, you cannot swim, you cannot sink!
Now, as fun as it looks, be warned, it’s not for everyone. The salt concentration is 34%, which can prove too much for those with delicate skin. Any scrapes or open parts of your body (mouth, eyes, lady bits) that come into contact with the water will sting immensely. For this reason, it’s not recommended for young children, and I strongly suggest you keep your head above water!
For those not ready to tackle the salty extremes, you may prefer to enjoy the Dead Sea mud instead, which is said to have many healing properties due to its salt and magnesium content.
There is a string of luxury resorts that line the Dead Sea coast where you can either opt for a proper luxurious mud bath and spa treatment or have some fun on the waterfront; coat yourself in the healing mud, then either rinse off with the fresh water provided by the resort or take a dip back into the salty waters.
At over 400m below sea level, on a lovely clear day, you will be treated to spectacular views as the sun sets over the Dead Sea and the mountainous backdrop of the West Bank.
2. Explore Castles along the Kings Highway
Next, we recommend you journey south along the dramatic Kings Highway. You could make many stops along the way, the most famous being Karak Castle, but we also really enjoyed the more recently excavated Shobak Castle.
The drive itself is part of the fun – be warned, though – distances are deceptive. Although a “highway” at points, the road is narrow and bumpy and winds slowly through the villages that sit atop the mountain ridges. This is as much a part of the experience as you pick out the brightly coloured houses and stop for random herds of goats or the odd donkey to make their crossing. You need a full day to complete the journey south to Petra.
Karak Castle is an ancient Crusaders’ stronghold and is one of the most complete in Jordan, offering many tunnels and partly excavated rooms to explore. Shobak, on the other hand, holds the promise of a secret, unlit passageway leading to the valley beneath, which is likely to excite your little explorers (just be warned it’s a long way back up the hill if you forget to leave someone else the car keys!!)
A local guide can readily assist you along the way; just be prepared to pay small gratuities even if unsummoned help suddenly arrives. The locals are doing their best to make a living, and you will get a far more in-depth experience.
You may also want to include on this drive (or you can visit as a day trip from Amman), a stop at Madaba to see the famous Madaba Mosaic Map and Mount Nebo.
3. The Lost City of Petra
One of the country’s most famous sites is Petra. Also known as the Rose City – it will be clear why – it is undoubtedly one of the most impressive archaeological sites you will encounter worldwide (many of you may be conjuring up images of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at this point!).
Recently declared as one of the Modern 7 Wonders of the World and a UNESCO world heritage site, it has been “hidden” from the world until rediscovered in the 19th Century. However, its origins are believed to date back to the 1st Century AD.
Entrance to the ancient city is by way of a narrow Siq, which then dramatically opens up to the carved rock face of the Treasury. Continue through the bustle of modern-day markets and camels, operated by locals who, until very recently, still occupied the caves of Petra. Then, you will come to the main Petra trail.
The city has plenty of sites to explore, including the Great Temple, the Colonnaded Street, the Royal Tombs, the Theatre and the Street of Facades. Unless you are planning to hire a guide (which can be done at the new visitor centre entrance), you are best doing some reading up before you go, as signposting is limited within the site.
Be warned, it’s a lot of walking – well over 7km to get to the furthest point, the Monastery. Frequent hikers will find it straightforward forward, but the relatively unfit and little legs will find it tough going.
There are opportunities to hire animals from horse and cart in the Siq (limited to those less able to walk), through to donkeys and camels on the main Petra Trail to help little legs through the day. Older and larger tourists – please think about your weight before considering this option.
Pack comfortable shoes, a lot of water – and cash for trinkets and souvenirs along the way (Though we noted on our last visit that savvy vendors now carry phones and EFTPOS machines!)
Plan for at least one full day to explore the main Petra site, staying in the nearby village of Wadi Musa.
Time permitting, you should allow an extra half-day to explore Little Petra – Siq Al-Barid. Another impressive rock-carved city, just on a much smaller scale, sitting around 7km west of the main Petra site. Younger children may prefer Little Petra as there are more opportunities to wander and explore the small caves freely, with only one more challenging stair climb.
Also, look to time your visit to include Petra by Night. It is not held every day and requires a separate ticket, so plan your leg power and the timing of your days around this. You can find more practical Petra planning tips for families here, or check out this guide on how you can visit Petra in a day from Amman if you’re squeezed for time.
4. Dive in at Aqaba and the Red Sea
Aqaba is the only seaport of Jordan, an almost entirely landlocked country except for this small town along the Red Sea (the Dead Sea is actually a lake). Due to the calm waters and mild sea temperatures, it’s a great spot for diving, snorkelling or catching a glass-bottom boat. Here, you will find over 200 species of coral and 1000 species of fish, as well as stunning warm weather almost year-round.
If you head slightly further south of Aqaba, you will find the delightful seaside township of Tala Bay. It’s got more of a French Riviera feel than Middle Eastern; you’re, in fact, only 5 km away here to the Saudi border!
Step out onto the jetty at Mövenpick Tala Bay Resort, and you will also see Egypt and Israel in the distance – a spectacular meeting of four countries and a real pinch-yourself moment!
If you are short on time in your itinerary or visiting mid-winter when water temperatures can dip to a chilly 21c, then this is the stop you’re most likely to leave off – but in the warmer weather, visiting Aqaba with kids is a must!
5. Camp Under the Stars in Wadi Rum
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia and set off into the vast plains of the Wadi Rum desert. Punctuated by enormous cliffs, rocky outcrops and narrow canyons – there is far more to the Wadi Rum desert than first meets the eye.
The hardiest may want to try desert trekking and rock climbing, or your older kids can jump on a sandboard and enjoy the giant red rolling sand dunes.
Due to being a protected reserve, you may only enter and be toured around by a local Bedouin guide, but this only leads to an enriched experience. Hop in the back of a 4×4 and feel the wind in your hair! You’ll be guided around the historical sites, fed a Bedouin-style lunch, and offered the opportunity of a camel ride.
A day trip around the desert’s most famous sites is completed with an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp (for the nervous camper, don’t worry; these days, they are far more akin to luxury glamping sites!) For families, we recommend Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp for their hospitality and larger-sized tents – we have a full comparison here of Wadi Rum camps, both within the reserve and in nearby
After a spectacular sunset, be prepared for one of the stillest nights and star-lit skies you will ever experience. It is hard not to be moved by the enormity of the desert.
6. Explore Jerash
If time permits, stopping a night or two in the capital Amman is worthwhile. However, our preference for a final stop would be to spend your day north of Amman in the ancient Roman City of Gerasa – modern-day Jerash.
Here, you will find the most complete of the Decapolis cities that made up the eastern front of the Roman Empire. A thriving city between the 1st and 3rd centuries, it was all but destroyed after two earthquakes and later completely abandoned in the 12th century. Excavation work began in the 20th century to uncover this remarkably well-preserved site.
Perhaps not the same grandeur and mystique of Petra, but you will marvel at the entirely intact amphitheatre, walk the colonnaded streets and imagine the action from the Hippodrome.
If you have even longer in Jordan, extend your road trip north to see the Roman ruins in Umm Qais and a further Decapolis city of Gadara with its abandoned Ottoman village.
How to Travel Around Jordan
Determining how long you need is the next big step in planning your trip to Jordan. We’ve mapped out for you here these major points of interest:
The country is not huge, but highways are not fast, so Amman in the north to Aqaba in the south is about 4 hours. Taking the windy King’s Highway, you are looking at a lot longer – however you tackle it, you’ll need your own transportation.
Confident drivers can look to rent a car from the airport and head immediately south (we don’t recommend driving in Amman unless you’ve seriously got your wits about you!) or investigate a private driver who can take you to all the destinations you need.
We have top driving tips for Jordan here to help you decide if it’s a road trip you’re feeling brave enough to tackle on your own or if you’d rather take a few day tours from Amman, or join a guided tour around the country, such as heading north to Jerash and Umm Qais.
You may find these point-to-point travel guides helpful for navigating the country:
- Amman to Petra
- Petra to Wadi Wadi Rum
- Amman to Aqaba
- Aqaba to Petra
- Amman to Jerash
- Amman to the Dead Sea
- Dead Sea to Petra
- Crossing the Israeli border from Eilat to Aqaba
Most international flights will arrive at AMM (Queen Alia International Airport). However, there is a smaller airport in Aqaba (King Hussein International Airport) if you want to tackle the major sites from bottom to top instead.
How Many Days Will I Need in Jordan?
Depending on how many of these attractions you want to see in one visit and how thoroughly, we recommend allowing between 5 to 10 days for a Jordan family vacation. Of course, longer is always encouraged, but we know many families try to fit a visit to Jordan during a school break and flight schedules.
If you visit for anything less than nine days, you will undoubtedly need to miss some things off your Jordan Itinerary:
- A 9-day family itinerary for Jordan – ideal for those half-term school breaks
- A 5-day family highlights tour of Jordan – a great one for easter holidays, Eid and long weekends
- Petra Tours from Amman – ideal for weekenders
What to Pack for Family Holidays in Jordan
This will very much depend on the season. Remembering you are in a Muslim country, it’s always sensible to err on the side of more conservative clothing. You’ll find for dealing with the heat and the types of experiences you’ll want to undertake, long cargos and a shirt to protect your shoulders from the sun will be sensible attire.
We recommend kids wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty! There’s plenty to explore, so throw in the usual adventure gear like hats and sunscreen, and maybe bring along some binoculars and sturdy footwear, as there will be a lot of walking.
We have a complete guide on what to wear in Jordan here, including a family packing list to help you on your way!
Local Currency in Jordan
The currency in Jordan is the Jordanian Dinar (JOD). You can bring currency with you, exchange major currencies such as USD or EUR at exchange booths or use ATMs. Be aware, however, that ATMs are far away from the major cities.
JOD is pegged to the USD, so 1 USD = 0.709; ie exchange $100, you’ll get 70.90 JOD
It still floats against other currencies relative to the USD; as of early 2024, you can expect:
- 1 JOD = 1.3 EUR
- 1 JOD = 1.12 GBP
- 1 JOD = 2.17 AUD
Credit cards are widely accepted, but you’ll still want some walking around cash for tipping and incidental purchases. We provide additional guidance for tipping in Jordan here.
Ready to take a Jordan Holiday with your family?
From the ancient cities to the friendly people, it’s one of those destination that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on you all. We strongly recommend everyone gets a Jordan family trip on their bucket list!
Jordan Guide Book
For a first-timer looking to visit Jordan, we can highly recommend you download the Step Into Jordan Guide & Itineraries.
This handy digital guide is just $19.99USD and includes:
- An interactive downloadable map
- 36 detailed pages of planning guidance
- Multiple suggested itineraries (10, 7 and 3 days)
- Tips from an expert
- Accommodation recommendations