Jordan offers a lot for visitors, but with three days in and around Amman, you'll have just enough time to hit the city's major sites and get out and about to important attractions such as Petra and the Dead Sea—you just have to be strategic about it. Here’s how.
Spend your first day taking in the sights and smells of the Jordanian capital. In the morning, visit popular attractions such as the blue-domed King Abdullah I Mosque and the 6,000-seat Roman Theater. The Citadel is also worth a visit—not only does it offer great views, but it’s also home to the fascinating Jordan Archaeological Museum, replete with ancient artifacts. Other popular museums here include the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, which showcases contemporary art by local and international artists, and the Royal Automobile Museum, full of classic cars, motorcycles, and even a private plane owned by Jordan’s royal family.
Spend the afternoon exploring Rainbow Street, a trendy little area full of cafés and popular shops. If you’re visiting in summer, don’t miss Souk Jara, the night market here, which is a good spot to pick up handicrafts—just remember to bargain.
Devote your second day to Petra, considered one of the New7Wonders of the World and easily the most important archaeological site in Jordan. This ancient city predominantly cut from rose-red sandstone is believed to have been inhabited as early as around 9000 BC and was an important trading hub under the Nabateans. Popular attractions within the expansive complex include Al Khazneh, or the Treasury, at the entrance to the ancient city, named for the funerary treasures it is believed to contain. Just beyond the Treasury is a long expanse full of tombs, caves (many of which are inhabited by Berber people to this day), and other ancient structures. If you have the time, the Monastery toward the end of the complex is a gargantuan Nabatean tomb that dwarfs other sites within Petra, but getting there is a bit of a trek (much of it uphill).
Spend your third day a bit closer to Amman, visiting the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea for a float and potentially a lunch break at one of the area's many stylish hotels, many of which have showers and changing facilities specifically for use by day visitors. From here, you can make your way slowly up to Mount Nebo, an important pilgrimage site—Moses is said to have first seen the Promised Land from here. Not far from Mount Nebo, visit the historic city of Madaba, celebrated for its gorgeous mosaics, the most notable of which is a depiction of the Holy Land dating back to the Byzantine era. Additional mosaics can be found in nearby Umm ar-Rasas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of ruins dating back to the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.