What is the best way to spend 4 days in Jordan, beginning in Amman?
Will be there with my girlfriend and have a mid-range budget, not looking to stay in hotels.
If you haven't yet been to Jordan then you are in for a treat!
While not a very large country, Jordan is incredible rich in incomparable landscapes, heritage and culture. That makes it quite hard to get an overall feel for this diversity in a short trip so perhaps a better choice is to narrow down your interests and aim to cover them more extensively. Assuming you have 4 days 'full' in the country, here is a list of things you might be able to manage:
The capital city of Jordan will at first glance seem unimposing and uneventful, it is located in a semi-desert landscape and its building are moderate high-rises. Yet that couldn't be more far from the truth. If only a few hours in the morning (or afternoon), I would definitely recommend you set aside some time to explore Amman. My favourite spot in the city is the incredibly well preserved Roman Theatre, more so because it is located smack in the middle of the old town, surrounded by houses and shopping streets, the hustle and bustle so typical of middle eastern medinas. The citadel and souks are also worth exploring.
Arguably the best known site in Jordan, Wadi Musa is an easy drive from Amman, on the comfortable Kings Highway. You may have two choices, to visit from Amman (VERY early departure) or to stay at one of the local hotels or homestays for a dawn entrance. The earlier you arrive the less tourists you will encounter, but you will also quickly learn that the Treasury Bldg you are used to seeing on adverts (and Indiana Jones) is only one marvel the ancient Nabatean city has to offer. Spend a day walking the site an you will see less visitors the deeper in you go (the Petra Treasury is at the entrance) and you will be rewarded with many other stunning views. Note as well that the better view of the Treasury is from 'above', a small trail leads to the place of sacrifice on the quiet cliffs above it, it is absolutely worth the 2hr hike! Another option for Petra is to arrive from Amman in early morning and then stay overnight -- check with the tourism board or Petra website if the site is opened on the evening of your visit, you may be rewarded with an incredible nightime stroll and candlelight concert.
The great desert landscape of the south, Wadi Rum offers much more than just sandunes, it is an inspiring canyon and rocky plain with breathtaking formations. I think a perfect option is to pair it with Petra (which is on the way) and then stay overnight in one of the government organised bedouin camps. If you are keen on modern ammenities this is the perfect alternative, the remoteness of camping plus modern bathrooms for convenience. The official camps are community projects, created to support the local Bedouin culture in a sustainable and safe way. Speaking of safe, you should know that Jordan is generally a very secure country, one must watch out for pick-pockets in the big crowded souks but violent crimes are rare and, in the dessert regions, even solo women are safe to hitchike, guest-rights are still take very seriously.
If you are looking for some sea fun, Aqaba in the Red Sea may be worth a visit. The resort is an exccellent spot for diving, the Red Sea is known for its colourful marine life and coral diversity.
Castles and fortresses
Jordan is located in the biblical Holy Land so it was at the heart of the Medieval Crusades and has many outposts that were joined to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. If castles and Medieval history are your thing, you should visit Kerak Castle.
One of the best Ancient Roman sites outside of Italy, Jerash is a well-preserved Roman city of the xxx Province. It is known for stunning colonades, a well preserved theater and colourful mosaics
These sites consist of the main highlights that Jordan has to offer. Depending on which you choose to visit, there may be smaller stops along your itinerary that can break the inevitably long drives. In my opinion, if you are visiting for the first time, I would suggest you try:
Day 1 -- Arrival (depending on time) explore Amman in 3-4hrs: Theatre, souk and mount? Overnight in Amman or drive to Wadi Musa for overnight
Day 2 -- Enter Petra through the Al Siq in early morning (before 9am). Enjoy the long walk and the incredible approach to the Treasury. Continue on to the ancient city proper. Drive to Wadi Rum bedouin camp and overnight (under the stars).
Day 3 -- Enjoy Wadi Rum. If time/interest permits, you may also spend the afternoon in Aqaba. Overnight in Wadi Rum or Aqaba.
Day 4-- Long drive back to Amman. Stop along the way in Madaba. Depending on time, explore Amman. Return.
Assuming you have only 2 full days:
Day 1 -- Arrival. Spend whatever time you have exploring some of Amman. Use the city as a base for day trips.
Day 2-- EARLY drive to Petra. Spend the day exploring the city, it is perfectly sufficient to spend about 5-6hrs on foot, if you have less time then you can focus on the walk to the Treasury and then the climb to the place of sacrifice for a birds eye view. Either overnight or drive to Wadi Rum Bedouin camp.
Day 3 -- Spend the day exploring the wadi. Overnight and return the next morning to Amman
Day 4 -- Spend the rest of the day exploring whatever is left in Amman. Return flight.
For public transport options check with the Jordanian tourism board -- they are incredibly helpful and their website is quite good too. And accommodations, you might want to consider homestays, Jordanians are incredible hosts!
Good luck, hope this still reaches you in time to plan for your trip
Mentioned in this answer:
Harrison, there are a lot of things to do around Jordan, you can visit the museums we have around here, visit the Amman Citadel and downtown, where we have an ancient Roman Theater, or take a walk down Rainbow Street next to the first circle which is full of cool shops and restaurants.
Also rainbow street tends to have some pretty nice bars right off it if you feel like a drink.
If you're still looking for ideas check out 99 things to do in Amman:
Hope this helps :)
Mentioned in this answer:
If you can swing it, a trip to Petra, The Dead Sea or Wadi Rum desert all are options.