DAY TRIP FROM AMMAN: MOUNT NEBO, MADABA, BETHANY & THE DEAD SEA
Some of Jordan's highlights - Madaba, Mount Nebo, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, and the Dead Sea are close enough that you can explore everything in one day. Follow this sample itinerary that includes Jordan's sacred sites, and even floating in the Dead Sea, to get the most out of a one day tour.
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN
Depart Amman at 8am and start your tour at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, about 45 minutes from Amman. Bethany Beyond the Jordan is known as the baptismal site of Jesus. Besides the baptism pools from the Roman and Byzantine periods, there are eleven Byzantine churches and caves used by monks who lived here. The site is located by the border between the West Bank and Jordan with the Jordan River running through it. The green and muddy river, only a trickle of its former self, is filled with people praying and singing on both banks.
The entrance fee to the baptismal site is 12 JD ($17) and it includes transportation by shuttle bus and a local guide. Because of its proximity to the border, the site allows only guided tours. The shuttle bus takes guests from the Visitor's Center to the main site. The bus, a little shabby and dirty, leaves roughly every 30 minutes starting at 8.30AM. The guided tour lasts about an hour.
Read more about the site here: HOW TO VISIT BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN
THE DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea is just a few kilometers from Bethany. After about 2 hours in Bethany, you will arrive at the Dead Sea around 11am. There are a few public beaches by the Dead Sea, but they are dirty and crowded. A better option is to get a day pass at one of the seaside resorts.
The Day Spa Pass at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa is 40 dinars ($56) and it includes a 15-dinar food voucher. The resort has changing rooms, towels and you can have a decent lunch there as well. Read more about the resort here: HOW TO VISIT THE DEAD SEA IN JORDAN: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
After lunch, head to Mount Nebo. The trip up the mountain, from 400 meters below to 800 meters above sea level through the desert landscape, takes about 45 minutes. Mount Nebo is the most revered holy site in Jodan and known as the place where Moses was buried. From the top of the mountain, one can see the panorama from Jordan River Valley and the Dead Sea to Jericho and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. There are also remains of a late 4th century church with a magnificent mosaic-covered floor.
The coffee shop next to the ticket booth serves good quality illy coffee.
The last stop is 20 minutes away in Madaba or the "City of Mosaics." The most significant site in Madaba is the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, home of the 6th century Byzantine mosaic map that shows holy sites in the area. Only part of the map remains, but the original measured 16 meters by 6 meters, took six years to complete and was made from two million pieces of stone.
If you skipped lunch or want to have an early dinner, head to Haret Jdoudna in Madaba for a traditional Jordanian meal.
The one-day private tour is about 80JD. This is the cost of a car with a driver with no guide. Local tour guides are available at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo and in the Church of St. George in Madaba.