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Jordan & Israel in January

I’m considering visiting Jordan and Israel. Would January work or is it too cold? How should I split up my time for a 4 week trip? At this point Petra and Jerusalem are the only must sees for me, although Haifa is of interest. How is the transfer from Amman to Jerusalem these days?

Posted by
663 posts

My sister went in Feb and according to her tour guide said that was the perfect time to go and my sister agrees who also soaked in the Dead Sea. A friend of mine who lives there suggests spring over winter.

Posted by
14225 posts

Hi Tom. If MN means you're in Minnesota, you will probably find the weather springlike. Last week along the coast the temps were in the mid-70s and beautifully sunny. This week, it's rained nearly every day, sometimes mixed with hail. I don't remember temps ever going to freezing on the coldest nights. That's in the lowlands. More elevated areas (e.g. Jerusalem, Sefad) had snow this week. That's what winter weather is like here, unpredictable. This year January's weather was better than now,. In January days are short and many sights are outdoors and there ='s not much to do after 4-5 p.m. March is a much better choice, with longer days and much less chance of cold or rain. It's on the cusp of low season, so hotel rates are somewhat low (though I'm always surprised at how high they are overall, compared to Europe) and there many fewer tourists. The best sights in Jordan are Petra and Jerash (IMO even more interesting that Petra), both pretty cold in winter the Dead Sea and Aqaba. Jerash and Petra are generally very cold because of their elevation and I believe they also can get snow in winter.

What are your interests? Israel has a lot to offer, culture, history, archaeology, nature, wineries and more. 4 weeks is a very good amount of time to explore both countries. It's easy to cross the border by land. There are three crossings. You could fly R/T Tel Aviv and make a loop through Jordan from the Galilee crossing to Jerash/Amman/Petra/Wadi Rum/Aqaba and return to Israel. Or I guess, R/T Amman and loop through Israel. I'd say a week in Jordan, the rest in Israel. Turkish Air and Royal Jordanian are good if you want to fly open-jaw. Then you could either fly between Amman and Tel Aviv or do a land crossing one way. Jordan is easier if you either take a guided tour or use private guides.

Posted by
3036 posts

Thanks. I am planning a retirement blowout solo trip with American Airlines miles. I have enough miles for a flat bed on Royal Jordanian to Amman and return premium economy AA from Tel Aviv. Since my wife would not be retired, I had also hoped for overlap vacation time with a child home from university to help clear snow so that is why I chose January: in coincides with both retirement and school vacation, but it's not fixed.

I am concerned about short days, places like Maine or Chicago with unfortunate time zone placement (also Southern California to a certain extent) have early winter sunsets and this impacts the winter travel experience. I don't know where Israel falls in its time zone, did a web search and all I can turn up is the nonsense question, "Are Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the same time zone"?

Interests include history and archaeology, historic streetscapes, architecture, museums, gardens, parks, and arboretums, ethnic food, hikes, university campuses, outdoor memorials that use the landscape to great effect, and Jewish culture generally since it's a thread throughout Western history, the historical legacy literally turns up everywhere. Normally I consider working out local transport and shopping local food markets to be integral to the trip experience which is the main reason I eschew tours.

I assume Jordan is the much cheaper country so would weight towards at least half the time there. I do have cultural concerns with Jordan as I found Morocco to be too rough, too "in-your-face," basically a parade of stalkers one after the other, to enjoy as a solo traveler (yet I did not fine India to be too rough). I can hire daily guides in Jordan if the challenge of independent travel is too demanding culturally.

Posted by
4646 posts

I have been to Israel, back in 1985 and love it.
However, my Wife has not been to that country. We are looking a a Gate 1 tour of Israel and Jordan in 2022.

Posted by
14225 posts

You can see sunrise/sunset times for just about anywhere here. Sunset's around 5 pm in January. I think latitude matters more than how far east/west a place is in a time zone. We are definitely farther south than most of the US.

I've only been to Jordan (twice) on group tours so I don't know what public transportation or driving a rental car is like. There are great archaeological sights (Jerash is a jewel), well-preserved early Byzantine churches and especially mosaics, but they are spread out. Jordan is mostly desert. Petra isn't cheap (steep entrance fee, relatively high hotel rates) but you don't need a guide. Aqaba is a resort area opposite Eilat, and much cheaper. There's little to see or do in mid-winter since the water's too cold to go in. The Dead Sea on the Jordanian side is undoubtedly cheaper than the Israeli side. In January the water is often warm enough to be able to experience it. Note that you "experience" the Dead Sea, it's not for swimming (impossible) or fooling around (dangerous).

The only places I've met the in-your-face stalkers are Marrakesh - in the bazaar - and Angkor Wat near sight entrances, haven't been to India. I haven't spent any time in Amman, the only big city. The places we stayed and drove through were pretty quiet and pretty poor as well. People were friendly and polite and many spoke at least some English. Israel is more modern and more brash but there's also heaps more to see and do. Check out the official site of the National Parks and Nature Reserves. Yes, you could fill up 2 weeks in Jordan. But consider that with only two weeks in Israel, you'd have to pick and choose very carefully. A week is not too much in Jerusalem itself. And our history isn't only Jewish history. Our little plot of land has been a crossroads of colliding cultures for thousands of years, many left lasting monuments whose ruins are still around. These photos are a typical winter day at a nature reserve in the Galilee.

Posted by
3036 posts

Thanks, Chani. I am going to have to read up on Israel since I am not informed enough to plan and weigh options. I'll start with Lonely Planet unless you think there is a better travel resource.

Sunsets: Well, latitude and time zone placement both matter, reference below sunset times for February 1. Note that even being much farther north, Grand Rapids, Michigan has 45 minutes more evening sunlight than Las Vegas.

Grand Rapids 5:55 pm (western edge of time zone)

Las Vegas 5:07 pm (eastern edge of time zone)

Tel Aviv 5:15 pm (this must be close to the eastern edge of the time zone)

Amman 5:10 pm (this must be even closer to the eastern edge of the time zone)

So having been frustrated by poor time zone placement on an earlier trip (a Christmas visit to Death Valley), I would not visit Israel or Jordan in December or January. Of course for an early to bed early to rise person time zone placement is not a concern.

Posted by
14225 posts

My 5-day tour of Jordan was exactly 2 years ago. The weather was pleasantly warm and sunny and some of the hills were covered in wildflowers. I look forward to more of the same next week when I'll be in the Galilee and Golan for 5 days. If you want a winter getaway, mid-February to mid-March would be an ideal time.

Ufkak's first link is the guide I would recommend. Douglas is quite unbiased in his comments and recommendations. Some of his good friends here are excellent tour guides who afford him "backdoor" experiences and insights which are reflected in his travel guide, which he meticulously updates and expands after every visit.

Posted by
24 posts

I'm so happy I came across this thread, as we had to cancel our Jordan/Israel trip last year from Washington DC, now that we're in Portugal it seems so much easier! Great links and tips, thanks!!

Posted by
24837 posts

Are you in Portugal for a while, Beatrice? You profile still has you in DC....