King’s Highway: The most beautiful route through Jordan

If you want to travel from Amman or the Dead Sea to the south of Jordan, you have the choice of three different routes. One of the options runs right through the country. This is the longest route, but also absolutely the most beautiful. This route is also called the King’s Highway. With stops like Madaba, the Grand Canyon of Jordan, the Wadi Mujib dam, and Al-Karak Castle, this route is definitely worth the extra travel time. The endpoint of the King’s Highway is Wadi Musa. This is the village where the entrance to the absolute highlight of Jordan is located; Petra. Below you can read all about the most fun stops along the King’s Highway.

The route from North to South Jordan

When you travel through Jordan you usually start in Amman, the capital of the country. During this tour you certainly don’t want to miss Petra and Wadi Rum. To get from Amman to these sights in the south of the country, you can take three different roads. The fastest option is highway 15. This is a newer highway where you will arrive at the new destination within about 3 hours. The second option is highway 65. This highway is located along the western border of Jordan and takes you directly to the Dead Sea, among other things. Both routes are fine for traveling from North to South Jordan, but neither are particularly interesting and there isn’t much to see along the way.

The most beautiful route runs through the middle of the country, between highway 15 and 65. This route is the slowest route due to the differences in altitude, but it is also definitely the most beautiful. This route is also called the King’s Highway. Make sure you leave early in the morning, because without stops it will take you at least 5 hours on this route. We chose to travel from Amman to the Dead Sea, and then drive the King’s Highway from the Dead Sea a few days later.

Jordanië - Kings Highway

Mount Nebo

Our first stop on the King’s Highway is Mount Nebo, after we have climbed significantly in height from the Dead Sea. Mount Nebo, located in Jordan, is a historic hill that plays a crucial role in biblical history. It is the place where, according to the stories, Moses saw the Promised Land. This impressive mountain not only offers a rich spiritual experience but also breathtaking views of the Dead Sea and the surrounding region. Archaeological finds at the top, such as ancient mosaics, add an extra layer of fascination to the place. For travelers who love history and beautiful landscapes, a visit to Mount Nebo is an absolute must during a trip to Jordan.



The next stop on the King’s Highway is Madaba. Madaba is known as the “City of Mosaics” because of its impressive floor mosaics. The famous Madaba Map, a 6th-century Byzantine mosaic map of the Holy Land, is a highlight. This city also offers historical attractions such as the St. George’s Church and the Archaeological Park. For travelers interested in archaeology and ancient art, Madaba is a fascinating destination. Explore the rich history and admire the beautiful mosaics that make this city a cultural gem during your stay in Jordan.


Grand Canyon

Discover the majestic beauty of the Wadi Mujib Canyon, often considered the “Grand Canyon of Jordan.” This impressive gorge, located on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, offers adventurers breathtaking cliffs and flowing rivers. With its dramatic landscape and abundant natural beauty, Wadi Mujib is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Explore the unique flora and fauna, tackle challenging hiking trails, and enjoy the sensational views of this natural treasure in Jordan.

This giant canyon is definitely worth a visit. From several spots along the route, you can easily stop at small (coffee) shops. There, you can park the car, get out, and enjoy the spectacular view. Of course, you can also enjoy a cup of typical Jordanian tea there. From the highest viewpoint, you can already see the entire route you’re going to follow. You can also see the Wadi Mujib dam from there.


Wadi Mujib Dam

When you start the descent from the viewpoint of the Grand Canyon, you can already see the Wadi Mujib dam and the reservoir behind it. After you are completely down again, you even drive over this large dam. After driving over the dam, you will climb up into the mountains once again, taking in stunning views of the dam and parts of the Grand Canyon along the way. When we were there, however, it had been extremely dry for a long time, so that almost no water flows through the dam and the reservoir was very small.

These water management systems play a crucial role in the country’s water supply and energy production. With a combination of innovative technology and breathtaking landscapes, Jordanian dams not only provide sustainable energy but also create artificial lakes that enrich the region. Explore the technological advancements and admire the panoramic views around these waterworks.


Al-Karak Castle

The next stop along the King’s Highway is the historical splendor of the Al-Karak Castle, an ancient fortress in southern Jordan. With its impressive architecture and strategic location, this fort offers a fascinating insight into the history of the region. Located on a rocky hilltop, Al-Karak dominates the surrounding landscape and highlights medieval military architecture. Explore the history-soaked corridors, admire the defensive works, and enjoy panoramic views of the area. A visit to Al-Karak is an unforgettable journey back in time, where history and architecture come together in a unique way. You can park just around the corner from the castle, but you’ll also find several (free) parking spots throughout the town.


Little Petra

The last real stop on the King’s Highway that we made is Little Petra, also known as Siq al-Barid, a lesser-known but equally enchanting archaeological treasure in Jordan. Located near the world-famous Petra, Little Petra welcomes visitors with its unique rock houses and colorful frescoes. This well-preserved historical site offers an intimate glimpse into the Nabatean civilization. Wander through the narrow passages and admire the archaeological splendor of this less-visited but equally fascinating destination. Little Petra is a hidden gem that will delight history enthusiasts and adventurers during their exploration of Jordan.

De omgeving een aantal kilometer voor je aankomt bij Little Petra is echt al prachtig. We found Little Petra to be very special, and we recommend visiting it before your visit to Petra.


Wadi Musa

We ended our route in Wadi Musa, the gateway to the amazing city of Petra in Jordan, which is a charming oasis steeped in history. The name, which means ‘Valley of Moses’, reflects the ancient significance of this place. Explore the narrow streets with local markets, taste the culinary delights, and feel the hospitality of this historic town. As a base for Petra, Wadi Musa not only offers a cultural immersion but also convenient access to one of the wonders of the world. Discover the beauty of Wadi Musa as you immerse yourself in the rich culture of this enchanting part of Jordan. We absolutely recommend staying in the area overnight. This way, you can head out early the next day to explore the wonder of the world. We visited Petra for one day and found it to be the absolute highlight of Jordan.

Jordanië - Petra

Driving the King's Highway in multiple days

We chose to visit all these sights in one day. We left really on time from the Dead Sea and were only quite late in the evening at our hotel in Wadi Musa. You can of course also choose to drive this route in two or more days. Especially if you also want to see Shobak Castle and Dana Nature Reserve, for example. You could then spend the night near the Dana Nature Reserve, a beautiful nature reserve. Here you can also make fantastic hikes, after which you can quietly continue the last part of the King’s Highway.

After Wadi Musa, the King’s Highway continues for a bit. You will drive this last part of the King’s Highway when you leave for the Wadi Rum desert, and it also has beautiful views along the way.

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, enchants visitors with its surreal landscape in southern Jordan. This vast desert, made famous by movies and literature, reveals impressive rock formations, ancient petroglyphs, and endless sand dunes. Discover the beauty of Wadi Rum on a jeep tour, camel expedition, or a starry night in a Bedouin camp. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wadi Rum is not only a natural wonder but also a cultural heritage. Dive into the magic of this desert, where adventure and history go hand in hand under the enchanting starry sky.


Tips for driving on the King's Highway

Driving a car in another country can sometimes take some getting used to, especially when you choose routes where you defy mountain passes. Nevertheless, we found driving on the King’s Highway very doable. Below you will find a number of tips to drive safely and comfortably on the King’s Highway:

  • Fortunately, the road signs are all in both Arabic and English. Nevertheless, we recommend that you use a navigation system. A TomTom can be a good solution here. But the offline version of Google Maps or the app is also useful.
  • The King’s Highway is not the fastest route, so it is smart to write out your route in advance (including coordinates), and then navigate step by step. This way you prevent the navigation from sending you back to highway 15.
  • Opt for a rental car with a little power. Because you drive over mountain passes, you sometimes encounter spicy hairpin bends. Even in villages you sometimes come across a steep street.
  • There are many speed bumps on all roads throughout Jordan, even on the highways. Pay attention to this while driving, because they are not always well indicated in advance, and you really don’t want to drive over a speed bump at 60 km / h.
  • Before you go to Jordan, purchase the Jordan Pass. In addition to the cost of a visa, the Jordan Pass also gives access to many attractions, including Petra and Wadi Rum. On the King’s Highway, this pass gives you free access to Al-Karak Castle and Shobak Castle.