The King’s Highway runs right through the middle of Jordan. It is without doubt the most Scenic route you can take. To the right we have the Desert Highway, which is not only in Travel Guides described as one of the ugliest roads in the world. Yes, it will bring you to Petra and Wadi Rum quicker. Also, I am glad that the repairs and expansion works continue. However, if you want to go to Aqaba in about the same time but with less stress, you can take the Dead Sea Highway.
If you however have some time, enjoy slow travel, or just want to explore some of the sights in the Center of Jordan, then the King’s Highway is your first choice. Keep in mind though that this is also much more time consuming. If you like to discover all of the below, then you will need a few days. Follow me along the King’s Highway and explore what it has to offer all the way from Madaba to Petra. The way is the goal.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Madaba – The Gate to the King’s Highway
You can start your journey either from Amman or Madaba. Madaba is a medium sized city about 30 minutes’ drive South of Amman. Not only does Madaba host several historic sites, museums, and a wonderful short shopping street. But it also is home to one of the best restaurants in Jordan, Haret Jdudna. Nearby you will find a beautiful restored Church with a small museum at Mount Nebo. Not far from Madaba you can discover a hidden gem, called Tal Husban. You can have wonderful views from top of that hill.
Umm ar-Rasas – UNESCO World Heritage and Jordan’s largest Mosaic
Umm ar-Rasas is one of many UNESCO world heritage sites in Jordan. I previously visited this historic site already a few times. One of the highlights are the several arches, church ruins and the biggest Mosaic in Jordan. Luckily, it is never really busy, and you can also pass by on a daytrip from Amman due to its proximity.
Wadi Mujib Dam – Best Views along the King’s Highway
As mentioned, the King’s Highway is the slowest route running through the center of Jordan. The reason is that it connects hilltops with valleys in between. Therefore, a few times the road will wind through the rough landscape. Certainly, one of the highlights, is the Wadi Mujib Dam where you will descend on serpentine roads, feeling the temperature increase. After that you have to climb all of that back to continue your way towards Karak. In between don’t forget to take a rest stop at the Mujib Panorama to enjoy the views over the water reserve. You also might want to grab a tea or coffee at the Aldi Bedouin Cafe. Note, if you are looking to experience the adventure-loaded swim and hike through the Mujib Siq, then check out my post on Wadi Mujib with Wild Jordan.
Just a few minutes before Kerak, you will find a small town with a beautiful mosque and another small Archaeological site from the Byzantine and Roman time. There is a nice gate leftover and you can see a mix of limestone as well as basalt stone. The black basalt is very dominant in this area up until about the Mujib Reserve.
Al Karak Castle – Highlight along the King’s Highway
Al-Kerak Castle is a Crusader Castle from the 12th century. It is built on a top of a huge hill surrounded by the city of Karak. Therefore, you will have amazing views from the surroundings. Depending on the time of the year, you will be able to see large green fields. Luckily, the castle is pretty large, and the ruins are in great conditions. Although some parts have been restored, most of it is in original condition. You can discover tunnels, arches, huge towers and steep walls at the castle.
I have to admit that I have never been to Tafilah. I only know a friend from there and that they also have a university. Maybe one day I will manage to visit. I am sure the street from the Dead Sea Highway connecting Tafilah and the King’s Highway is a great adventure.
Dana – Jordan’s top Biosphere Reserve near King’s Highway
Dana is one of the most popular Nature Reserve in Jordan. It is lies in the center of the Kingdom. It covers a vast area combining different flora and fauna. The contrasts and variety of the nature are reason enough for a visit. In and around Dana you can have a lot of hikes. The most famous one is the proclaimed section of the Jordan Trail from Dana to Petra. Depending on the route it is a 3 to 5-day hike leading to the famous world wonder.
Shobak lies along the King’s Highway between Dana and Petra. If you have some time, make sure to stop by, explore the ruins. Also, there is a hidden tunnel somewhere and you can wonder how the mountains in the surrounding got their shapes. A small and entertaining stop is a visit to the World’s Smallest Hotel, nearby the castle. Last year I joined Cycling Jordan on a bike trip from Shobak to Litte Petra. It was tough a really amazing off-road adventure.
Petra – Jordan’s world wonder
Of course, Petra is Jordan’s bet known tourist attractions. Because of it, millions of visitors come every year to see the modern world wonder. I have been many times to Petra and although it is certainly spectacular, it is not necessarily my favorite spot in Jordan. In my opinion, Jordan has so much more to offer, to explore and also the masses of tourists as well as the locals turn me a bit off. If you like a more special way to explore Petra, make sure to hike from the back-way. By doing that, you have an awesome hike with less tourists along your way. Also, you only have to go through everything once. That being said, of course Petra has much more to offer and also some other less known hiking tracks apart from the famous treasury.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the King’s Highway and its attractions. If you like to discover more about Jordan, please also read The Best Places and Experiences in Jordan and When to go. And if you love hiking and have more time in Jordan, then also make sure to explore the North. For more on the King’s Highway read the Driftwoods Family Guide to Exploring the King’s Highway.