PERJANTAI, 16. LOKAKUUTA 2020
A safe haven in a region of conflict, Jordan has delighted visitors for centuries with its World Heritage Sites, friendly towns and inspiring desert landscapes.
Jordan has a tradition of welcoming visitors: camel caravans plied the legendary King’s Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices while Nabataean tradesmen, Roman legionnaires, Muslim armies and zealous Crusaders all passed through the land, leaving behind impressive monuments. These monuments, including Roman amphitheatres, Crusader castles and Christian mosaics, have fascinated subsequent travellers in search of antiquity and the origins of faith. The tradition of hospitality to visitors remains to this day.
Petra: A World Wonder
Petra, the ancient Nabataean city locked in the heart of Jordan’s sandstone escarpments, is the jewel in the crown of the country’s many antiquities. Ever since explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt brought news of the pink-hued necropolis back to Europe in the 19th century, the walk through the Siq to the Treasury (Petra’s defining monument) has impressed even the most travel weary of visitors. With sites flung over a vast rocky landscape and a mood that changes with the shifting light of dawn and dusk, this is a highlight that rewards a longer visit.
Take a ride through Wadi Rum at sunset, and it's easy to see why TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was so drawn to this land of weathered sandstone and reddened dunes. But Jordan's desert landscapes are not confined to the southeast: they encompass a salt sea at the lowest point on earth, canyons flowing with seasonal water, oases of palm trees and explosions of springtime flowers scattered across arid hills. Minimal planning and only a modest budget is required for an adventure.
It takes tolerance to host endless waves of incomers, and Jordan has displayed that virtue amply, absorbing thousands of refugees from the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and most recently Syria. Despite contending with this and with large numbers of tourists who are often insensitive to conservative Jordanian values, rural life in particular has managed to keep continuity with the traditions of the past. While Jordan faces the challenges of modernisation and growing urbanisation, it remains one of the safest countries in which to gain an impression of the quintessential Middle East.
BEST TIME TO VISIT JORDAN
The best times to visit Jordan are in the spring and autumn, when the days are warm, with temperatures into the high twenties, but the nights are cool. This climate is pleasant and perfect for exploring — it is not too hot for hiking in the nature reserves and both flora and fauna are abundant. Jordan’s summer months are very hot, with temperatures reaching up into the forties. However, it is still worth considering a trip at this time if you are not adversely affected by heat, as you will have sites like Petra almost to yourself. Jordan experiences snow in the winter months and the nights get cold, especially in the desert regions. Winter is also when the majority of the rain falls, but showers tend to be short and sharp.
January - February - The winter months in Jordan are very cold: Amman is typically assailed by biting winds, while Petra experiences snowfall and temperatures hovering a few degrees below freezing. Around Aqaba and the Dead Sea the climate is warmer and more pleasant. January is also the wettest month of the year.
March - In March the country emerges from the chilly temperatures of winter, and the rainiest time of year is over. As this is only the start of spring the sites are still relatively quiet. However, nights in the desert can be quite cold still.
April - May - Wildflowers coat the valleys and even the desert from April through to early June, creating a kaleidoscope of colour across the country. Temperatures are warm but not too hot and, thanks to winter's rain, the valleys and forests are lush. This is one of the most popular times to visit Jordan.
June - August - The heat increases over the summer months from June to August, so if you plan on visiting during this time we advise taking lots of water and finding shade often. However, this is dry heat rather than being humid, so if you don't mind the high temperatures it can still be comfortable. As this is the low season, hotels tend to decrease their rates accordingly.
September - Although still a summer month, towards the end of September temperatures do start to cool off slightly.
October - November - Autumn isn't always a particularly distinct season in Jordan, although it falls roughly from the end of September through to the end of November. Temperatures have cooled from the heat of summer but are not yet into the depths of the winter chill, and there is often a bit of rain around mid-October which provides sustenance to the ground after a dry few months, creating green landscapes once again. This is a very pleasant time to visit Jordan.
December - December is the start of the winter season in Jordan, with temperatures plummeting and rain and snow often falling throughout throughout the country. However, this is a quiet time to visit, so sites may be empty.
GETTING TO JORDAN
With daily international flights and plenty of overland transport options, getting to Jordan has never been easier. Whether you are flying from far afield or traveling to Jordan via a neighboring country, there are plenty of ways to get to Jordan.
Getting to Jordan By Plane - The main airport in Jordan is Queen Alia International Airport which is home to popular national airlines including Royal Jordanian. Visitors can get to Jordan by plane from almost any country on a daily basis. Visitors can fly directly into Queen Alia International Airport from many European cities including London, as well as North America and Asia. Those flying from Austrailia, New Zealand, and South Africa should note that there are no direct flights into Jordan however it is possible to get a connecting flight via Thailand and other surrounding nations. The airport is located just 30 km from the capital city of Amman making it the best option for those who wish to get around easy.
Getting to Jordan By Boat - For those who are comprising both Egypt and Jordan into their trip, it is possible to get into Jordan across the Gulf of Aqaba by ferry. Visitors can choose between the Meenagate ferry or AB Martime. Both companies depart from the charming coastal town of Nuweiba in Egypt and arrive in the equally beautiful city of Aqaba in Jordan. From Aqaba, visitors can explore the ancient ruins and museums of the city before traveling onward to Amman or Petra. The Meenagate ferry departs from Nuweiba at 6 am and costs 85 USD one way or 125 USD return. The AB Martime provides both fast and slow routes with the fast route only taking one hour. The cost of the fast ferry is 70 USD for a second class one way trip or 90 USD for first class.
Getting to Jordan With a Tour Group - Another way to get to Jordan is by joining a pre-booked tour group. These tour groups are excellent if you wish to see more than one destination in Jordan and prefer someone else to organize it all. The tour groups usually consist of flights and overland transport through Jordan whilst covering the most beautiful sites.
GETTING AROUND JORDAN
Getting around Jordan by public transport can be tricky – it's a bit of a hotchpotch. Bus routes cover what’s necessary for the locals and there is little or no provision for independent travellers. Getting around Jordan by public transport can be tricky – it's a bit of a hotchpotch. Bus routes cover what’s necessary for the locals and there is little or no provision for independent travellers.
By Bus - The most common way of getting around Jordan is by bus, most of which are fifteen- or eighteen-seater minibuses. Some larger buses and air-conditioned coaches also serve as public transport. Timetables are rarely in operation: buses tend to depart only when they’re full. This means that, on less-travelled routes especially, you should factor in sometimes quite considerable waiting time for the bus to fill up.
By train - Travelling around Jordan by train isn’t possible as there are no scheduled passenger services. The historic, narrow-gauge Hejaz Railway (jhr. gov.jo), running from Damascus to Amman and south into the desert, has been taken out of service and now only hosts occasional specials, usually chartered by foreign tour operators and steam enthusiasts.A proposal to launch tourist shuttles on the freight line between Aqaba and Wadi Rum – used for trains carrying phosphates to port from desert mines – has so far come to nothing.
Domestic flights in Jordan - Royal Jordanian operates the only domestic flights two or three times daily between Amman (Queen Alia) and Aqaba. Flight time is little over thirty minutes. At around ($70.50) one-way, it isn’t prohibitively expensive, and means you can travel from city centre to city centre in around an hour and a half (including check-in and ground transfers), compared with more than four hours overland. In addition, the airborne views over the desert, the Dead Sea and the Petra mountains are exceptional. Just make sure you’re sitting on the right-hand side heading south.
WHERE TO STAY IN JORDAN
Accommodation in Jordan runs the gamut from the cheapest fleapit dives all the way up to international-standard luxury five-star hotels. Amman, Petra and Aqaba have a wide choice covering all price brackets and Jordan’s Dead Sea hotels are some of the best spa resort complexes in the world.
- Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort
Located in Aqaba, 2.6 km from Al-Ghandour Beach, Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. Among the various facilities of this property are a bar, a garden and a private beach area. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. Guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the resort also offer free WiFi. At Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort each room includes a seating area. American and halal breakfast options are available daily at the accommodation. Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort offers 5-star accommodation with a hammam and children's playground. You can play table tennis and darts at the resort, and the area is popular for cycling. Royal Yacht Club is 3.3 km from Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort, while Tala Bay Aqaba is 19 km away. The nearest airport is King Hussein International, 9 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
- Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa
All guest rooms feature individually controlled air-conditioning units, WiFi, satellite TV with international channels, safe, mini bar and mineral water. Some rooms include a large terrace overlooking the Dead Sea. Redefining the culinary arts experience, Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa boasts seven extraordinary dining venues. Spectrum; the all-day dining restaurant, 1312; features a contemporary menu of Lebanese cuisine created by famed Chef Joe Barza, Bacchus; the pool-side Italian restaurant, VUE; the lobby lounge, Infinity; the pool bar, Beach Bar; that serves refreshments to guests enjoying their time on the beach and Sky Bar & Lounge; the seasonal roof-top lounge that serves innovative cocktails and snacks and comes alive after sunset with the beats of the resident DJ. You will find a 24-hour front desk and a gift shop at the property. A car rental desk is available in the the lobby. Queen Alia Airport is 65 km from the property, while the capital Amman is 45 km away. Private parking is available on site.
Located in the central business, social and residential destination, Amman’s new downtown, Al Abdali, Amman Rotana is the first tower hotel in Jordan offering 412 lavish rooms and suites, housed across 50 floors at 188 m high. The hotel has a spa centre and sauna and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Rooms have a flat-screen TV. Certain units have a seating area where you can relax. You will find a coffee machine in the room. Every room has a private bathroom with a bath and bidet, with bath robes provided. For your comfort, you will find slippers and a hair dryer. This 5-star hotel is designed in a vibrant modern style providing a combination of deluxe accommodation, diverse culinary experiences, state-of-the-art meeting and event facilities including the Monarch Ballroom. The hotel also houses the newly opened Bodylines Fitness & Wellness Club. Al Khaldi Hospital is 1.6 km away. The hotel is within a 45-minute drive from Queen Alia International Airport. Free private parking is available on site.
With mountain views, Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel is located in Wadi Rum and has a restaurant and a 24-hour front desk. Complimentary WiFi is provided. There is a private bathroom with bidet in all units, along with a hairdryer and free toiletries. The tented camp offers a buffet or à la carte breakfast. A barbecue can be found at Wadi Rum Bubble Luxotel, along with a terrace. The nearest airport is King Hussein International Airport, 61 km from the accommodation.
- Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba
This 5-star resort in the centre of Aqaba is 500 m from the Red Sea. It features a private beach, several outdoor pools and 5 food outlets. It features free WiFi in all areas. The rooms at the Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba are bright and furnished with modern décor. They include satellite TV and a tea/coffee maker. Some rooms have a kitchenette and a balcony. Guests can enjoy rich local cuisine at the Palm Court Restaurant & Terrace. The various bars at the Resort Aqaba serve refreshing juices and exotic cocktails. Little Birds Kids Club arranges fun activities for children throughout the day. More active guests can work out at the gym, which features state-of-the-art equipment. The Residences Aqaba’s 24-hour front desk can arrange trips to Wadi Rum, Petra and the Dead Sea.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Aqaba
Hilton Aqaba features an edgeless pool with Gulf of Aqaba views. It boasts a sauna and a well-equipped fitness centre. King Hussein International Airport is 10.6 km away. All rooms have deluxe bedding which includes 250-thread count sheets and down pillows. Each one has a well-lit work desk, 50-inch LED TV and a private balcony. Discover several dining outlets offering a range of culinary options. Start your day with our breakfast buffet at Gusto. Visit Tree Cafe for some coffee, tea, snacks and mouthwatering pastries . Lounge by the pool and enjoy views of the Red Sea at Infinity bar, while sipping cocktails or eating a snack. Chill out with friends at Diwan The View, the trendiest rooftop lounge in town and enjoy a variety of international dishes, drinks and listen to live music or cheer for your team and enjoy your time with friends at King's Sports Bar. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Aqaba is less than 5 minutes’ drive from Aqaba city centre’s restaurants and shops. Aqaba Port is 7 km away.
- Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea
Boasting tree-lined outdoor pools overlooking the waters of the Dead Sea, the 5-star Kempinski features a private stretch of beach and a spa offering sea mud and sea salt treatments. Home-made pasta, Thai dishes and signature chocolate desserts and watermelon granites are served at Kempinski Ishtar’s restaurants. Try a drink at the Babylonian-inspired cocktail bar, or enjoy a whisky and cigar at the lounge bar. Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea offers rooms set among palm trees and olive groves. All rooms and suites come with a balcony with sea views. They are carved in natural stone complemented by contemporary details. Guests can refresh in the 9 freshwater pools, or relax in the spa with traditional Thai massages or hammam sessions. The state-of-the-art fitness centre has personal trainers available on request, and yoga and meditation classes are on offer. The closest airport is Queen Alia, about 70 km away, and private parking is available on site.
Located in Wadi Rum in the Aqaba Governorate region, Al Sultana Luxury Camp provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking. A continental breakfast is available daily at the lodge. A terrace is available on site and cycling can be enjoyed within close proximity of Al Sultana Luxury Camp. The nearest airport is King Hussein International, 71 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
- Memories Aicha Luxury Camp
With mountain views, Memories Aicha Luxury Camp is situated in Wadi Rum and has a restaurant and a 24-hour front desk. There is a fully equipped private bathroom with shower and free toiletries. The tented camp offers a continental or buffet breakfast. Memories Aicha Luxury Camp has a barbecue, garden and sun terrace. The nearest airport is King Hussein International, 71 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
- Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba
Located on the beachfront in Aqaba, Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba features a private beach area and free WiFi. Boasting a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool. The property has a garden, as well as a restaurant that serves seafood cuisine. All guest rooms comes with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a coffee machine, a bath, free toiletries and a desk. The rooms come with a private bathroom and a bidet, and selected rooms will provide you with a terrace. Guest rooms will provide guests with a wardrobe and a kettle. The hotel offers a continental or buffet breakfast. The property has a sauna. Guests can make sightseeing and ticketing arrangements at the tour desk, or conduct business at the business centre. Royal Yacht Club is 1.9 km from Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba. The nearest airport is King Hussein International Airport, 8 km from the accommodation.
- Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa
Featuring a promenade along the Dead Sea, Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa boasts an outdoor pool, a gym and a restaurant. Baptism Site is 20 minutes’ drive away. The hotel offers modern rooms with a flat-screen TV, a minibar and a private bathroom. Each room includes a balcony overlooking the gardens or the Dead Sea. You can dine at any of Crowne Plaza Jordan’s restaurants where à la carte menus are provided. A buffet is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Room service is also available. The bar serves an assortment of beverages. You can take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool or work out at the gym. For an additional fee, you can enjoy a massage at the spa and wellness centre. Mount Nebo is a 25-minutes drive from Crowne Plaza Jordan, and Hammamat Maeen is 20 minutes away by car. Queen Alia International Airport is 45 minutes’ drive away. Free valet parking is possible.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN JORDAN
Jordan is a traveler's dream introduction to the Middle East. Safe and friendly, the destination gets travelers up close to world wonders and immerses them in world-class hospitality. You'll feel right at home once you slip into the culture of this easygoing country.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites abound in Jordan. Marvel at fading frescos in the 1,300-year-old desert castle of Quseir Amra. Climb red sand dunes and stand in the shadows of weathered sandstone in Wadi Rum's humbling desert landscape. And plan to spend at least two days exploring Jordan's crown jewel attraction: Petra. The jaw-dropping sites in the ancient Nabatean city will leave you stunned — and eager to see more.
But Jordan's not solely rooted in the past. Its hilly capital, Amman, brims with bustling restaurants and cafés, swanky shopping, and impressive art galleries. Then, there's the Dead Sea — where you can kick up your feet after days of sightseeing and dig in to some much-needed pampering at the many luxe waterfront resorts. Plan your vacation to the Middle East and see the best places to visit with our list of the top tourist attractions & things to do in Jordan.
Prepare to be amazed by Petra. One of the New7Wonders of the World, this attraction has wowed modern-day visitors since the long-lost city's rediscovery by Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt more than 200 years ago. You'll need at least two days to hit all the highlights around Petra, which include more than 800 registered sites. But if you have more time, you won't be disappointed spending it here. Wandering around a city this ancient in such a well-preserved state is an experience like none other. Petra wastes no time impressing tourists. Immediately after the entrance, you'll see mysterious Djinn Blocks, imposing stone monuments whose original purpose still remains unknown, followed by the Obelisk Tomb. It's just a sample of the incredible sites to come.
From here, you'll make your way through the Siq — the famous snaking canyon pathway flanked by tall walls. Look along the walls to see the remnants of historic channels that were used to supply Petra with water, as well as niches for sacred carvings known as baetyls. These artifacts hint that Petra may have been considered a holy city at one point in time. Keep your eye out for the weathered relief sculpture of camels being lead by two merchants, as well. Finally, you'll reach the unmistakable Treasury (also known as Al-Khazneh). Showcased in nearly every travel guide book and social media post about Petra, this attraction's Hellenistic facade is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Jordan. Legend has it that the rock-hewn monument, which was built as the final resting place for Nabatean King Aretas IV, was the hiding place for an Egyptian pharaoh's treasure at the time of Moses.
When it comes to things to do in Petra after the Siq and the Treasury, it's a choose-your-own adventure. Check out dozens of tombs and houses on the Street of Facades, climb steep stairs for a great view at the High Place of Sacrifice, stand in awe at the Theater and stroll down the impressive Colonnaded Street. If your feet aren't too sore yet, make your way up the roughly 850 rock-cut steps to the legendary Monastery. The impressive structure, tucked in the hills, is well worth the journey. If you thought Petra was incredible during the day, wait until you see it after dark. Reserve tickets to the Petra Night Show to see the Siq and the Treasury lit by more than 1,500 flickering candles.
Floating in the Dead Sea is a quintessential thing to do in Jordan. The lowest point on Earth accessible by road, this body of water is located at 418 meters below sea level. It practically glows an intense shade of aquamarine — a particularly striking sight next to salt-encrusted rock ledges and barren red mountains in the background. You can reach the attractions in the Dead Sea region in about an hour by car from Amman. The Dead Sea is renowned for its mineral-rich water. Wellness devotees believe the water has healing properties for the skin. Don't plan to swim laps, though — the Dead Sea is so dense and salient that all you can really do is float atop the surface.
You can access the Dead Sea from a couple of entry points, including Amman Beach. Better yet, splurge on a stay at one of the plush spa resorts on the Dead Sea's northeast coast. They typically have private wading areas complete with buckets of Dead Sea mud. One bath with this red-brown sludge, and your skin will be softer than ever.
Hot tip: Avoid getting Dead Sea water in your eyes at all costs. The intense salinity (10 times saltier than the ocean!) stings worse than you can imagine.
Head to the southern region of Jordan, and you'll be treated to one of the most spectacular landscapes across the globe: Wadi Rum. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, this sandstone and granite rock valley is an otherworldly experience, with towering cliffs, massive dunes, swirling archways, and caverns. It served as the set for much of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and was tagged a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011. Adventure lovers, eat your heart out: The Zalabia Bedouin, a cultural group that lives in the area, have transformed the Wadi Rum into an ecotourism playground. You can ride camels or spirited Arabian horses through the area, strap on a harness and go rock climbing up the sandstone mountains, hike through canyons, and kick up sand on ATV tours. Ask your tour guide to take you to the Khazali Canyon, where you can see petroglyphs of humans and antelopes that may date as far back as the 8th century BC. Consider spending the night at one of the luxurious "glamping" (glamorous camping) sites in Wadi Rum. With almost zero light pollution, the park offers incredible stargazing opportunities. No wonder visiting Wadi Rum is one of the top things to do in Jordan.
Nothing feels more like traveling back in time than visiting the Jerash ruins. It's one of the world's best-preserved ancient Roman cities and features spectacular places to visit, from colonnaded avenues and temples to a massive sports arena that once had a seating capacity of 15,000 spectators. Tourists kick off their sightseeing adventure of the Jerash ruins by walking through Hadrian's Arch. The roughly 11-meter-tall structure is magnificent, but even more impressive when you consider it was originally double the size.
If that wasn't enough to wow you, wait until you explore what's ahead. The Hippodrome, a sports field constructed around the 2nd century, once hosted chariot races as entertainment for thousands of onlookers. The ancient sport is brought back to life through daily re-enactments, featuring fighting gladiators and chariots racing laps. Another highlight of the Jerash ruins is the Forum. The oval-shaped plaza is lined by still-standing columns that give the space a regal feel. Climb the steps of the nearby Temple of Zeus to get an even better view of the colonnaded site. And imagine the performances that took place on the ornate stage of the South Theater. Jerash seems to have a fascinating ruin for everyone — explore to see which site is your favorite.
Hot tip: There's almost no shade in this archeological site. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a sunhat to keep yourself protected from the harsh rays.
Think you can't have a seaside vacation in the hot, dry Middle East? Think again. Aqaba, a beach town on the southern tip of Jordan, treats tourists to holidays on the breathtaking coastline of the Red Sea. Float, swim, snorkel, or dive — you can do it all from Aqaba. You can also get out on the turquoise water on one of the daily cruises offered by local hotels. Enhance your beach vacation in Jordan with a soak in one of the lovely hammams around the resort town. When you're feeling peckish, dig into the local specialty of Aqaba: sayadieh, a dish of fish on flavorful rice with onion, tomato, and chili pepper.
You don't have to go all the way to Petra to see fantastic archeological sites in Jordan. In fact, the capital Amman (where you'll probably arrive from abroad) is home to a variety of fascinating ruins, many of which are within short walking distance from one another. Head downtown to see one of the most celebrated ruins: the Amman Citadel. Archeologists have found artifacts around the Citadel that suggest it has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age. Here, you can see the few columns that remain of the amazing Temple of Hercules, a significant Roman structure that was never completed. Look for the stone sculpture of several fingers, which were once part of a Hercules statue that may have been more than 12 meters tall. It hints at just how majestic this attraction was during its height. One of the top attractions in Amman for history buffs is the Roman Theater. The restored amphitheater, which seats 6,000 people, dates back to when Amman was a Roman-ruled city known as Philadelphia, nearly 2,000 years ago. The attraction is still full of life, hosting many events and welcoming locals and tourists alike. Nearby, tourists can visit the Nymphaeum, a Roman fountain that was built around the same time as the theater, as well as the smaller 500-seat theater, the Odeon. After getting your fill of the ruins, see the vibrant culture of modern-day Amman with a sightseeing trip along Rainbow Street. The popular promenade boasts atmospheric cafés, fantastic people-watching opportunities, and souvenir shops galore!
- Ancient Mosaics of Madaba
While sightseeing in many destinations demands you look up, the opposite is true in the historic trading city of Madaba. The city is home to the "largest number of mosaics discovered in their original location in the world," many of which are located on the floors of churches and buildings around the city. The relatively unassuming St. George's Church is home to one of the most noteworthy mosaics in Jordan: the Madaba Mosaic Map. The 6th-century map depicts the Holy Land during the Byzantine period, showcasing Biblical-era cartography. While some of the original two million tiles are missing, the remnants of the map still give you an excellent glimpse at what the Middle East looked like many centuries ago. Visitors can see more mosaics at Madaba's two archeological parks. The open-air museum at Archaeological Park I contains a stunning geometric mosaic from the Church of the Virgin Mary — a site from the 6th century that was unearthed in someone's basement in 1887. This attraction also houses the oldest mosaic in Jordan, which dates back to the 1st century BC, as well as breathtaking carpet-like tile work of the four seasons and nature that was once in a Byzantine villa. Tourists can see other impressive mosaics at Archaeological Park II, located in the ruins of a luxurious mansion from the early 6th century.
Stretching from the Desert Highway around 70 kilometers to the Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib is Jordan's answer to America's Grand Canyon. The river canyon, which is four kilometers wide and one kilometer deep, offers nature lovers the chance to explore unique scenery and see a plethora of wildlife, including Egyptian vultures, Nubian ibex, striped hyena, and the Syrian wolf. There's great hiking through the Wadi Mujib gorge, if you don't mind getting a little wet. You can also head to the Mujib Reserve Biosphere to soak in picturesque hot springs just an hour and a half away from Amman.
- Explore the Amman Citadel
You don't have to go far to see amazing archeological ruins in Jordan's capital. Perched atop the highest hill in the city, the Amman Citadel is conveniently located downtown and offers incredible views of the destination. But more than just a lookout point, the Citadel is home to historical attractions that date as far back as the Bronze Age. Take a look at the two massive pillars on a podium — those landmarks are what remain of the Temple of Hercules, an important Roman structure that once linked this area with the Forum. Nearby, you can see a large, smooth stone sculpture of three bent fingers. The humanizing fragment was once part of a colossal statue of Hercules, which experts believe may have stood more than 12 meters tall. It gives tourists a sense of how majestic the Citadel was during its heyday. The Citadel is also home to another impressive collection of buildings that comprise the Umayyad Palace, situated just above the Temple of Hercules. While much of the complex was destroyed in an earthquake in the mid-8th century, a few sites have been restored for tourists. You can see a domed audience hall, whose shape nods to the Byzantine church that originally stood in that location, as well as the former governor's residence, Umayyad Cistern, and the Byzantine Basilica. Take a peek inside the Jordan Archaeological Museum to learn more about these fascinating attractions and get up close to artifacts discovered around the Citadel, including some of the oldest-known large-scale human figures.
When it comes to things to do in Amman, swinging by the Roman Theater is high on the list — and for good reason. The antique attraction perfectly blends historic Jordanian heritage with the city's vibrant modern-day life. A 20-minute walk from the Amman Citadel, the restored Roman Theater deepens tourists' understanding of what Amman may have been like when the city went by the name "Philadelphia," nearly 2,000 years ago. The architectural masterpiece features a set of steep, curving stairs that can seat up to 6,000 people. Interestingly, the amphitheater was built to face the north in order to offer some sun protection for its spectators. Get here early in the day for the best lighting for photos. Today, the Roman Theater hosts some of Amman's most important cultural events, including summer concerts and plays. It's also home to two interesting museums: the Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions and the Jordan Folklore Museum, both of which have great costume collections on display.
- Spend an Afternoon on Rainbow Street
Rainbow Street is the place to see and be seen in Amman. The famous road, which can be found in the historic district of Jabal Amman, offers a relaxing space for pedestrians to escape Amman's chaotic traffic and explore a part of the capital by foot. Rainbow Street is liveliest on Thursday nights, when Jordanians officially kick off their weekend, but there are still plenty of things to do on this tourist-friendly promenade on any afternoon of the week. Boost your energy with a cup of tea at one of the lovely cafés that line Rainbow Street, such as Turtle Green Tea Bar or Jara Cafe. Or, tuck into a delicious (and refreshingly cheap) lunch — Al Quds fries up perfectly crisp falafel on sesame seed buns. Save some room for frozen fruit popsicles at Mr. Lollies. Then, hit up Rainbow Street's retailers and find some souvenirs to take home. You can watch artisans create handicrafts and shop for unique products at Souk Jara, a flea market that pops up on one of Rainbow's side streets some Friday nights. Just a couple of blocks off Rainbow Street, the Wild Jordan Center sells locally made jewelry, trinkets, soaps, mugs, and other souvenirs. The ethically minded store uses profits to support craftspeople and conservation efforts around Jordan. Round out your sightseeing adventure on Rainbow Street with a visit to one of the nearby local art galleries, such as Nabad Art Gallery or Jacaranda.
- Check Out the Royal Automobile Museum
Whether you're a die-hard car enthusiast or you have a passion for road trips, you'll find it easy to enjoy the Royal Automobile Museum in the northern suburbs of Amman. Established in 2003, the relatively young museum showcases former King of Jordan Hussein bin Talal's rare cavalcade of cars and other vehicles from around the world. Highlights of the collection include a pristine 1952 Aston Martin, a bunch of vintage motorbikes in every color of the rainbow, a Porsche Carrera GT, a Bugatti Veyron, a World War I-era armored Rolls Royce, and an experimental motorcycle from 1885. Outside, the museum also displays the Mars rover from the 2015 film The Martian, which was filmed in Wadi Rum.
No trip to Amman is complete without a thorough look at the Jordan Museum's illuminating exhibitions. The collection at this world-class institution, located in a modern building next to City Hall, brings Jordanian culture and history to life, starting with the country's earliest known inhabitants. The museum tells the story of Jordan through three permanent galleries. The Traditional Life Gallery explores urban, rural, and Bedouin lifestyles through displays of residences and traditional costumes. The Modern Jordan Wing traces the history of the country from the Great Arab Renaissance through the founding of the kingdom all the way to the present-day nation. The Jordan Museum's largest display — the Archaeological and Historical Gallery — showcases an incredible array of important artifacts and scale models of ancient sites, like the Ayla Gate. Some of the most impressive items on display include 1.5-million-year-old animal bones and the Copper Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Nowhere else in Amman gives tourists such an accessible, detailed glimpse at the heritage of Jordan.
About 20 kilometers west of Amman stands one of the few examples of Hellenistic architecture in the country, Qasr al-Abd. The desert palace, which was built from some of the largest blocks in the Middle East, features two stories that survived a massive earthquake in the year 362. While the landmark is no longer as opulent as it once was, you can still see carved lions on the roof and the sculpted big cats that once served as fountains.
- Take Day Trips around Jordan
One of the best parts of visiting Amman is not only seeing what the city itself has to offer, but venturing outside of the borders of the capital. It makes a great base for taking day trips to some of the other wondrous places to visit in Jordan. You can reach the Dead Sea attractions in around 90 minutes by car from Amman. Get a dose of nature therapy at the nearby Mujib Biosphere Reserve. Explore the well-preserved Roman ruins in Jerash, about 50 kilometers north of Amman. See the famous cross at Mount Nebo and the ancient mosaics in Madaba. And while just one afternoon in Petra might not be enough to see everything, a visit to that famous attraction is indeed doable as a day trip from Amman for time-pressed, yet ambitious tourists.
- Canyoning through a deep gorge
At 410m below sea level, next to the Dead sea, within the deep Wadi Mujib gorge lies one of the lowest nature reserves in the world. The Mujib Nature reserve then rises 900m above sea level, to mountains in the north and south. The 1300m elevation drop creates an excellent terrain for some dramatic canyoning. You’d be walking down arid mountains, climbing waterfalls, sliding on rocks, floating on streams and rappelling. A shower under one of its gushing waterfalls is sure to wake you up better than any espresso shot!
- Hiking through a maze of archaeological structures
The hike through this UNESCO World Heritage site is compelling enough to be listed as one of the top adventure activities in Jordan. The ancient city of Petra offers some brilliant canyons and rock faces. It lies in south Jordan, within a basin of mountains that form a valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. With its towering, age-old rock-cut structures that seem to erupt out of nowhere it is a riveting place to explore for the geographer, historian and culture-vulture in you.
- Rock Climbing in Wadi Rum
This valley down south is a climber’s paradise, making it one of our favourite places for adventure activities in Jordan. Ascents on the sandstone rocks reach upto 1800m above sea level. Top-ropers, trad-climbers, boulderers will find the vertical terrain a great space to practice and refine their technique.
- Snorkel, Dive and Dance with the fish
Aqaba, at the northeastern tip of the Red Sea, is the only coastal city in Jordan. Home to some beautiful, indigenous varieties of coral reefs, it has about 30 diving sites. Snorkeling and scuba-diving are two of the most popular aquatic adventure activities of the area. You dive in magnificent clear waters and play with creatures of the sea.
- Camel Racing and Horse Riding
There are spaces that can be traveled through only on foot and hooves. Some areas of the arid plateau regions of Wadi Rum offer such limitations, making way for some heady adventure activities in Jordan. For those with strong feet, trek. And those fond of hooves, ride on horses and camels for a thrilling ride around the desert. While there, place your bets on some crazy camel races too!
- Night Walks in vast wilderness
Now this might sound like a no-biggie, but if you have never wandered about in a trail-less, pitch black expanse of wilderness, then you have been warned! The summer months in Wadi Rum in southern Jordan offer plenty of organized night-walks, for the seasoned footer.
- Trekking through spectacular trails
An avid trekker seeks two things to make life a happy dance – diverse terrain and a pretty landscape. Jordan’s riveting topography offers both – the arid plateau of Wadi Rum, ancient rock structures of Petra, wild waterfalls of Wadi Mujib, and evergreen forests on the west side. Trekking is one of the best ways to explore this country’s unexplored and wild treasures.
- Skydiving over sandstones
This paradise for climbers and camel-racers is also becoming a great platform for those seeking a thrill in the skies above its diverse terrain. Skydiving is rapidly ranking high as one of the top ten adventure activities in Jordan. The experienced with a USPA or equivalent FAI approved license are allowed to skydive. Tandem jump is offered to first-timers. Because of high wind, skydiving is in operation for some months, mostly between September and November.
If you are an organized sort and plan well, you might get lucky and take microlight flights, an increasingly popular way to get a bird’s eye view of the country’s landscape. Microlights are small, lightweight aircrafts that fly at 80 to 90km/hr at altitudes of 1000 to 1200m. Microlight flights in Jordan are offered by The Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan.
Despite being called the unofficial adventure capital of the middle-east, Jordan is still largely an unexplored territory. There are trails waiting to be discovered, and an exciting way of doing that is renting an ATV and zipping off. With a GoPro on your head and an oft-changing, unknown trail ahead, you are sure to document a hell of a ride.
WHERE TO EAT IN JORDAN
Jordan's capital is no stranger to fine dining, with a plethora of restaurants from which to savor cultural delicacies. From traditional Jordanian fare to gourmet steak houses, this city of four million caters to every culinary desire imaginable. Here are the list of Turisti-Info to the best restaurants in Amman Jordan.
The multi-award winning Lebanese restaurant Fakhr el-Din is a popular spot for members of Amman’s high society, offering excellent quality food and service. Occupying a renovated traditional style house in the city’s 1st Circle, you will experience a tangible sense of living in the past as you dine in style. Famed for its wide range of authentic mezze, connoisseurs of Lebanese cuisine won’t leave disappointed. Arak and/or shisha make for the perfect post-dinner treat.
Brisket barbecue restaurant is home to internationally acclaimed meat dishes, and arguably boasts the most succulent, tender burgers in the entire Middle East. Every type of meat cut imaginable is served up and cooked to perfection here, from steaks to wings to brisket itself; the smoked beef ribs are especially tantalizing. Truly mouth-watering and unforgettable, meat lovers will rejoice at the variety of choice.
One of Amman’s oldest and best-loved restaurants, Hashem is a simple bistro revered for its wholesome, good quality grub. A set menu of traditional Jordanian fare is what’s on offer, which features – by common consensus – some of the best falafel in the country. Located in the capital’s bustling downtown area, the basic furnishings complement a richness of experience and flavour that’s second to none. Few places in the city are so effortlessly authentic as Hashem.
Located in Rainbow Street, Sufra offers its clientele traditional Jordanian fare in the most exquisite of settings. Beautifully furnished, the restaurant is light and airy, with options to sit outside or on the rooftop, which boasts some exceptional views of the city. Helpful staff and delicious freshly cooked bread are but two small examples of the many ways in which Sufra goes the extra mile to provide the perfect setting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The best place in town for shawarma, Reems is celebrated city-wide for its delectable take-away offerings. This roadside store is cramped and often has queues going out the door – a testament to the lengths that regulars will go to to sate their cravings. Located in the 2nd Circle, Reems is open until late and is a must try for anyone before leaving Amman.
The beautifully historic setting of Kan Zaman is enough to merit your visit. Located in an old Ammani residence, the stunning brick archways and vaulted ceilings create an ambiance like no other. Recently renovated, the service is professional and attentive, and the menu offers a good range of Lebanese-style cuisine. The mezze is varied and filling, and the selection of traditional desserts will prove irresistible to those with a sweet tooth. Outdoor seating is also available, and tasteful traditional music often plays in the background.
Bab al-Yeman is the number one spot for sampling Yemani food in the city. With its generous portions, your plate will be laden with mixed meats doused in Yemeni spices, accompanied by a mouth-watering selection of yoghurts, breads, and dips. You won’t find a better mandi (a spicy meat and rice dish) in all of Jordan. They also do delivery.
Located in the cosy Jabal al- Weibdeh district, Rakwet Arab is a relaxing venue for food, drinks, and for smoking shisha. Tastefully decorated, the soft lighting and traditional tile-work make for an agreeable atmosphere in which to while away an afternoon with a cup of tea in the company of a good book. The chefs serve up tasty, local fare, best consumed in the cafe-restaurant’s leafy, shaded courtyard. Reasonably priced and rightfully popular, Rakwet Arab is an oasis of calm that offers a moment of respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you’re looking to broaden your familiarity with the diversity of Middle Eastern cuisine, head over to Ararat, Amman’s leading Armenian restaurant. Uncluttered and well-presented, the restaurant’s aesthetic won’t disappoint, and neither will the food. The famous “Armenian pizza” or lahmajoun (a dough base topped with minced meat and vegetables) is an absolute must-try for its authentic, homemade flavors. Everything is fresh, and it’s centrally located on Rainbow Street.
The best value meal you’ll find in all of Amman, Falafel Al Quds will serve you up an unquestionably delicious falafel sandwich for the bargain price of half a dinar. An Ammani institution, located in the heart of Rainbow Street, this quick eatery is understandably popular among falafel lovers. No frills and no nonsense, many customers swear it’s the best meal they’ve ever had. The usual array of soft drinks are available to complement your meal.
SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN JORDAN
From traditional clothing to Arabic sweets and chocolate, Culture Trip selects the best traditional Jordanian souvenirs to buy when you’re visiting the kingdom. During your trip to Jordan, as you hike in Petra, camp in Wadi Rum, float in the Dead Sea, wander around Amman, and dive in Aqaba, you’ll have the chance to pick up a few mementos and gifts along the way. The following authentic and (mostly) affordable buys will fit in your suitcase and capture the captivating Jordanian culture.
- Traditional keffiyehs (scarves)
Embroidered items and Bedouin weaves are popular Jordanian souvenirs, but perhaps the most practical and iconic textile choice is a traditional headscarf, called keffiyeh in Arabic. The classic Jordanian keffiyeh is a houndstooth checkered pattern: red and white is worn by Bedouins, black and white by Palestinians. Buy one of each. They’re sold at the most-visited spots in Jordan, and usually come with a lesson on how to wrap your head like a proper desert dweller. If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, SEP Jordan makes scarves and wraps in traditional styles and a rainbow of colours. The ethical pieces are hand-stitched by women refugees supported by the company.
Mosaics are a distinctly Jordanian art form (don’t miss the region’s oldest mosaics in Madaba) but the real deal can be quite expensive. Mosaic-style ceramics are a more reasonably priced alternative. Before you hop on your flight to Jordan, you can pre-order a mosaic-style mug customised with your name in Arabic or English via All from Jordan, and pick it up in Amman. Or while adventuring, you’ll certainly come across all kinds of traditional pottery, mosaic-style and otherwise. For hand-painted ceramics in a more contemporary style, check out Sharqi, which offers ceramics made by refugee women, starting at USD $29.
More and more companies are making hand-crafted chocolates in Jordan, but two particularly reflect the local culture. At Jameed Chocolate, Chef Omar Sartawi’s not-so-secret ingredient is local goat milk, specifically jameed, a yogurt dried into a hard cheese, which is also used in Jordan’s national dish, mansaf. At Ishq Artisan Chocolates, Zahira Haram crafts exquisite chocolates with modern flavour profiles influenced by the current season and local ingredients – she also skips the refined sugar and uses other more natural sources of sweetness.
- Hipster T-shirts and accessories
Jobedu and Mlabbas take existing sayings, logos and images and create well-designed witty take-offs in Arabic. If you don’t speak the language, the staff will patiently interpret the Arabic and explain every pun and every play on words. The design aesthetic and sense of humour of both brands is spot on. You can grab all kinds of accessories, like keychains, coasters and totes, as well as T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with inside jokes (such as the universally understood camel crossing sign).
The Ajloun area in northwestern Jordan is known for its olives.You can pick up bottles of Ajloun olive oil at any supermarket, but the cloudy, fresh-pressed good stuff comes from freshly picked olives. The annual olive harvest happens in the fall after the first substantial rain. if you’re in Jordan between October and December, plan a trip to Ajloun to visit an olive farm and watch the pressing of oil – and, of course, pick up some bottles to enjoy at home.
Amman is a sanctuary for regional artists and, not surprisingly, the epicentre of the emerging art scene is Jabal Weibdeh. Stop by the higher end art galleries, but do note that the real deals can be found by wandering the streets of Jabal Weibdeh, paying special attention to cafes and artist studios (like the artist-owned Sham Cafe on Nemr Al Edwan Street). Another gallery for affordable local art, Jacaranda Images, can be found off Rainbow Street.
The classic gift from Jordan is a tin of Zalatimo Sweets. Visit one of their 11 shops around Amman and choose your own the contents, or pick up a ready-made selection at the Queen Alia International Airport on your way out of town. If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, you can’t go wrong with the mini baklava or the adorable little pistachio nests called osh al bulbul. Their packable tins are perfect for sharing at a family gathering or as a gift for your office mates.
For those willing to splurge on a piece of heirloom jewellery that captures the spirit of Jordan, Nadia Dajani, whose jewellery shop is on the ground floor of the Intercontinental Amman, is known for her minimalist style featuring Arabic calligraphy and other regionally inspired designs. If that’s a bit much, keep your eyes peeled for Bedouin -style tribal costume jewellery. The quality varies so don’t spend a lot, but snag a piece or two if something catches your eye and the price is right.
Sumac and za’atar may not be exclusive to Jordan, but they’re a great way to bring the unique flavours of Jordan to just about any dish. Sumac is a lemony and salty spice the colour of red wine, and za’atar comes in various blends, but the base is typically thyme and sesame seeds. And, of course, grabbing some finishing salt from the Dead Sea is always a good idea for the cooks in your life. You can purchase all these at most mini marts and supermarkets, but Kabatilo spice shops scattered around Amman are known for their quality.
Because of the high quality of olive oil available in Jordan, it follows that there are some great olive-oil soaps in the market at very good prices. You can find local hand-crafted soaps at Cozmo supermarkets, like Dr. Mak, which comes in both bar and liquid form. Better yet, if you want to do a little good, Sitti and Zarqa Life are two values-driven organisations offering soap hand-crafted by local women, many of whom live in refugee camps and communities.
Brand-name Dead Sea mud is widely available in tourist shops, but it’s not exactly bargain priced. The best alternative: if your trip includes a stay at a Dead Sea hotel, have the spa package their mud for you to take home. The best spas put the clay mud through a sterilisation process, but in a way that preserves the healthy minerals. The other alternative is to scan local stores for reasonably priced small packets of the therapeutic mud, which are great for gifting.