There are many incredible places to visit in Jordan.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Jordan is Petra. Yet, this country is packed with many interesting places to visit. Though most people focus just the famous archeological site and visit Jordan for no more than 5 days, this is a country that deserves way more time. I spent almost two weeks there and I wish I could have stayed more!
From visiting the most famous archeological sites to getting lost in tiny villages off the beaten path; from battling the traffic of Amman to enjoying the silence of Wadi Rum desert; from going on incredible hikes to diving in the Red Sea – Jordan really has it all.
What you will see as soon as you arrive in Jordan is a country that is incredibly beautiful; where the people are truly kind, friendly and generous; where the food is delicious; where the sunsets are out of this world; and which is incredibly safe even as for solo female travelers.
In this post, I highlight the best places to visit in Jordan and share a few tips that will help you plan your trip and make the most of it.
11 Amazing Places To Visit In Jordan
Aside from the world famous Petra, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Wadi Rum, there are many other places worth visiting. My advice if you intend to visit Jordan is to spend more than the typical 3 days flash-packing between Petra and Wadi Rum, and to give it enough time to travel slowly and enjoy all the fabulous things to do in Jordan. Having said so, the following are the ones that you really should not miss.
Two days are usually enough to visit Amman. There are plenty of things to do in Amman to keep you entertained.
To get properly acquainted with the city, you may want to go on a guided tour. Here are some great tour options for Amman
- Amman Day or Night Private Sightseeing Tour
- Full Day Ancient and Modern Tour of Amman
- Amman Private City Tour
- Amman: Private Car & Downtown Walking Tour
Among the unmissable things to do in Amman there is getting deep into its Roman heritage. When in Amman, a visit to the Roman theater is a must. This was likely built in the 2nd century AD. As a lot of Roman theaters, it is cut into the side of a hill (which was once a necropolis) and it used to have a seating capacity of 6000 people (which gives a good idea of how big the city was at the time the theater was built).
The best view of the Roman theater is actually from the Citadel, which you really should not skip. This is located on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a, at around 850 meters above sea level. It is a beautiful archeological site, where the most impressive building is the Umayyad Palace, built around AD 720 by the Umayyad Arabs and subsequently destroyed by an earthquake in AD 749.
You will also enjoy the view of the Roman Temple of Hercules with its remaining pillars (they can actually be seen from around town). Not far from it, there is a fantastic lookout with views of the modern city. Make sure to also admire the sunset the views of the city from the Citadel right during the call to prayer, at sunset. It is simply breathtaking.
The Jordanian capital has a truly artsy heart and one of the coolest things to do in Amman is enjoying is thriving art scene. You can see this in the many beautiful murals spread around town, but especially at Darat al-Funun. This is located on the hillside to the north of downtown Amman, and it is a beautiful complex (which includes an art gallery) showcasing the best pieces of Jordan’s contemporary art. The view from there is splendid.
Make sure to also simply walk around, taking in the crazy, busy city life. That’s how you will get to discover some lovely hidden corners; beautiful street art; local markets galore; and incredibly interesting social spaces such as Jadal for Knowledge and Culture, which is a great combination of a café, art gallery, and a place for education. It is located in a traditional house dating back to 1933 and recently renovated, on al Kalha Stairs that connect Downtown with Jabal L’Wiebdeh, an area that bursts with ambitious start-ups and creative initiatives.
It is the kind of place where there are regular art and language classes, making it a favorite of the expat community that enjoys hanging out there to learn Arabic or other languages. It is also possible to listen to and play music and practice yoga. And to top what already sounds interesting, it regularly works along NGOs for the integration of refugees.
Finally, make sure to pop in at Duke’s Diwan. This is a historic townhouse which was built in 1924 and that has served as a post office, the seat of the Ministry of Finance, and a hotel. The house is owned by a local businessman who’s also the Duke of Mukhaybeh, who restored it to its original splendor, with period furnishing, and opened it to the public.
Duke’s Diwan will easily become the highlight of your trip to Jordan.
Where to stay, eat and drink in Amman
Staying in the downtown area is the best choice, as it means easy access to attractions and restaurants. Beware that pretty much all hotels in Amman put the “boutique” label next to their name, whether they are really boutique hotels or not. In fact, none of them really is a boutique hotel.
I enjoyed my stay at The Boutique Hotel (which isn’t really a boutique hotel, by the way). The rooms there are modest but comfortable, the showers are powerful and truly hot, the breakfast is good and the owner is a truly loving, welcoming guy who I truly enjoyed talking to. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
Another good place to stay is the Century Park Hotel.
Remember to properly research about the hotels, checking online reviews such as those on Trip Advisor, before making a booking. And if possible, actually visit the property before committing to a reservation because a lot of them don’t keep their promises.
I want to list Hashem Restaurant as one of the places to visit in Jordan as this is considered a local legend. This small restaurant in the downtown area is open 24/7. There’s no menu there: all food is vegetarian and vegan, and each item costs 1 Jordanian Dinar (JD).
Make sure to get stuffed on the best falafel you will ever have, hummus, baba ganouj, olives and pita.You will spend a whopping 4 JD, which is around $ 5.6 USD, including the bottled water and the mint tea that the waiter insisted will insist you try.
Al-Quds (know as Jerusalem Restaurant) is another decent place to eat in Amman that you should absolutely visit. The food is good and the service efficient, though the menu has some interesting items (the translation to English from Arabic is “interesting”).
If you want to have a proper taste of Jordanian food, you may want to go on a food tour. Here are some great food tour options in Amman:
Jerash is the perfect place for a day trip. This city is at about 1 hour drive north of Amman and has some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the Middle East. At its peak, Jerash had a population of around 20000 people.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is considered one of the highlights of Jordan. Most people actually spend a few days in one of the all inclusive resorts, but it is actually possible to visit the Dead Sea on a day-trip from Amman, going to what is known locally as Amman Beach – a public beach run by the municipality of Amman and meant to give affordable access to the Dead Sea.
Swimming (or rather, floating) in the Dead Sea is a lot of fun. You can go to Amman Beach for the day via public transport from Mihajireen Bus Station. Or else, opt for a taxi or rent a car. Keep in mind that locals swim pretty much fully clothed, and while foreigners are free to wear swimsuits, it’s better to be modest.
Here are some more day trip options from Amman:
- Half-Day Tour to Umayyad Desert Castles
- Madaba and Mount Nebo Day Trip
- Full Day Guided Tour to Petra & Wadi Rum
Dana and Dana Nature Reserve
I visited Dana and Dana Nature Reserve as part of a multi-day hike (this is where a trail that leads all the way to Petra starts), and I was truly impressed. It’s at about 3 hours drive from Amman. Spring is the best time to visit: winters are bitterly cold, and summers unbearably hot.
The village of Dana dates back to the 15th century and is entirely built in stone. The views of the valley below from Dana are simply spectacular, especially at sunset.
The village is the perfect starting point for a number of hikes. There are several trails. The Rummana Campground Trail goes along the canyon through some beautiful nature, with the chance to admire local wildlife. The Wadi Dana Trail starts in Dana and after a very steep descent it follows an easy path all the way to Feynan village. The walk lasts about 4 hours but you should not walk back on the same day.
Dana village is nowadays mostly abandoned. Only 3 families live there – the rest of the people have moved to the nearby Tafila. There aren’t that many foreign visitors in Dana.
Dana village and Dana Reserve have been taken over by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in 1993 in order to protect the wildlife of the reserve, promote ecotourism and help the local community. Supporting ecotourism is certainly something that those who visit Jordan should do. Currently, the only project to bring the village back to its old splendor is by USAID.
Here are some tours that also go to Dana Natural Reserve:
- 2-Day Petra Overnight Tour from Amman
- 3-Day Tour from Amman: Petra, Wadi Rum Aqaba, and Dead Sea
- Private Tour: Dana Nature Reserve Hike and Dead Sea
Where to stay and eat in Dana
Although small, Dana has some really good accommodation options. I stayed at Dana Guesthouse and loved it. All rooms have a balcony with a spectacular view of the valley. There’s the option of staying either in the plain (but pretty) basic rooms with shared bathroom, or in the superior ones where the bathroom has a gorgeous shower with a view. Check here to book now and here to read reviews
You can eat all your meals there – from the packed lunch, to the breakfast and dinner buffet. Keep in mind that no alcohol is served at the property.
Feynan definitely has to be mentioned among the unmissable places to visit in Jordan. The village is actually tiny: no more than a few bedouin families living in camps (they are the most welcoming people you can imagine), a couple of houses and a school. The setting is gorgeous. It is located in the Dana Nature Reserve, and although it can be reached on a 4×4, the best way to get there is on foot, on a hike that starts in Dana village.
Once in Feynan, make sure to go on the short and easy hike to a wonderful viewpoint for sunset; to the Copper Mine Tour; to the strenuous and completely (and literally!) off the beaten path Wadi Al Nakheel Trail, this really is hiking paradise and hiking maniacs who visit Jordan should not miss on it.
Make sure to hire a local guide when hiking. Trails are often not marked at all.
Where to stay and eat in Feynan
The only accommodation and eating option in Feynan is Feynan Ecolodge. Feynan Ecolodge is truly worth the trip, if you visit Jordan you may as well make the effort to go there.
Feynan Ecolodge is one of the few hotels I have been that lives up to its sustainable tourism reputation. Run by the RSCN, it only employs people (guides, cooks, receptionists etc) from the local communities. The atmosphere there is amazing – friendly, cozy, amicable. Check here to read reviews
The building is in adobe. Water is heated by solar panels, and there’s no electricity in the rooms (there’s a light only in the bathroom), as in the rest of the building. This (and wifi) is only available at the reception (which is where everyone charges their phones and cameras). When it gets dark, everything is illuminated by candles. As there’s no artificial lights around and there is a fabulous telescope, Feynan is perfect to admire the starry sky.
Feynan Ecolodge communal buffet style dinner is a great why to try a lot of local specialties. Everything is vegetarian – the idea is that meat needs to be kept refrigerated and refrigerators consume too much electricity. Either way, the food is delicious!
Shobak Castle will be a lovely surprise, and you are bound to enjoy it. Formerly called Mont Real, or Montreal (the Royal Mountain), the castle was build by the Crusader King Baldwin I in 1115 AD. After several attacks from Saladin, and an 18 months siege, the castle succumbed in 1189. In the 14th century it was occupied by the Mamaluks. It is currently undergoing restorations, and a team of Italian researchers is also further excavating the castle.
The views from the castle are incredible. You can see a multitude of houses (currently abandoned) either built in local sandstone or actually carved in the rock.
Make sure to hire a local guide for a few Jordanian Dinars to be taken to the secret passageway that leads to a subterranean spring – sure enough, it is not for the claustrophobics as it is very dark, and tight inside.
Here are some tours that include Shobak Castle:
- From Amman: Karak and Shobak Crusader Castles Tour
- Amman King’s Way Day Tour to Petra
- Private Tour Petra and Shobak Castle
- 2-Day Petra Overnight Tour from Amman
- 3-Day Tour from Amman: Petra, Wadi Rum Aqaba, and Dead Sea
Where to stay and eat in Shobak
Visiting castles is one of the nicest things to do in Jordan, but Shobak has shortages in terms of good accommodation. I stayed at Montreal Hotel, which was fairly comfortable (if not for the strange layout of the sheets on the bed!), which is also where I enjoyed my (super abundant) meals. Check here to read reviews
Petra (and Little Petra)
Petra definitely is one of the best places to visit in Jordan. It is the main tourist spot in the country, and for a good reason. The site is simply stunning. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is incredibly spread, so I recommend you to spend 3 full nights to fully explore it and invest in a 2 days pass, paying 55 Jordanian Dinars (JD) which is around $ 78 USD. A one day pass is JD 50 ($ 70 USD).
Guides are available on the site. Free guided tours that follow the main trail depart every hour or so from the visitors centre, but the groups may be too large to fully enjoy the tour. Otherwise, you can hire guides through the information office right by the ticket office.
To be honest, guides are terribly expensive in Petra. I paid a whopping JD 80, which is around $ 120 USD, for a guide to take me to the view point of the Treasury on my second day. If you are traveling in a group, you can share the cost of the guide. And if walking the most popular trails, all it takes it to wait around a bit until more people willing to share a guide show up.
In any case, taking a guided tour of Petra is recommended. Lots of people opt to only visit on day tours. It is a good solution if you have limited time, but if time is not an issue, it is better to spend a couple of days and to explore it more in depth.
Here are some cities you can get day trips to Petra from:
Petra is included in the list of attractions of the Jordan Pass, which is a rather convenient package that can be bought online and that gives access to a variety of sites (and through which it is possible to get a waiver for the visa fees, if staying more than 3 consecutive nights in the country).
Not far from Petra, Siq Al-Barid, know colloquially as Little Petra, is a place you should not miss. It is thought to have been an agricultural centre and a re-supply centre for camels and caravans. There is no admission free, and there are so few tourists that it is really pleasant to explore.
I highly recommend walking the hiking trail that connects Little Petra to the Monastery of Petra. Do keep in mind that it is better to hire a local guide, as the trail isn’t easy to find, and that a valid ticket to Petra is also needed.
Where to stay and eat in Petra
Wadi Musa is the main port of access to Petra, and it is where to find the best accommodation and eating options.There are many places to stay in Wadi Musa for all budgets and tastes. I opted to stay at Sharah Mountains Hotel and truly enjoyed my stay. I had a clean, comfortable and quiet room (although the bathroom was a bit small), and the staff was incredibly kind and friendly. Check here to read reviews
The Red Cave is perhaps the most popular restaurant in town. There even are a couple of restaurants inside the archaeological site. I ate most of my meals at the hotel, and the food was incredibly fresh, tasty and always made to order.
If you are fascinated by deserts, you will find Wadi Rum is one of the coolest places to visit in Jordan. Made famous by TE Lawrence book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum is quite simply a must.
Wadi Rum gets extremely cold in the winter, and unbearably hot in the summer. It was around 29 degrees Celsius when I visited, at the end of March. A strong wind started blowing in the early afternoon, and it gave it an incredibly mysterious aura.
The most beautiful sights of Wadi Rum are the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, named in honor of Lawrence’s book. This is a large rock formation that can be admired from the view point of the visitors centre.You can even hike the Seven Pillars. Other interesting sights include the rock inscriptions that date back to the Nabatean and Thamudic civilizations, Lawrence’s Spring, and the various siqs.
You can also take 4×4 tours, horse rides, go rock climbing, go on a hot air balloon and, needless to say, sunrise and sunset watching. My recommendation is to do at least a 2 day guided tour to fully enjoy what Wadi Rum has to offer.
Here are some great activities to do in Wadi Rum:
- 2 Hour Jeep Tour from Aqaba
- Salem Wadi Rum Desert
- Um Frouth Rock Bridge Jeep Tour
- Lawrence’s House Jeep Tour
- Half-Day Hiking Tour
To be fair though, what you will enjoy the most in Wadi Rum is the silence, the peaceful atmosphere, the sight of the camels and their occasional grunts breaking the silence, and the sweet tea that the bedouins offer to visitors.
Where to stay and eat in Wadi Rum
There are no real hotels in Wadi Rum, but as it is one of the most popular places to visit in Jordan, there is a wide range of bedouin camps that you can enjoy. In terms of restaurants, the best one is that of the visitors centre. It is generally possible to eat at the bedouin camps.
Aqaba is a good starting point to visit Wadi Rum and it provides access to the Red Sea, with some good beaches to relax and some incredible diving opportunities.
Here are some tour options for Aqaba:
- Wadi Al Mujib and Dead Sea Panoramic Tour
- Pharaoh Island Tour in Aqaba
- Half-Day Private Tour of Aqaba
- Wadi Araba Hiking Trail
- Diving in Aqaba – Red Sea
Where to stay and eat in Aqaba
Aqaba has plenty of hotels for all budgets. I stayed at The Costa Marina Hotel and it was a good pick, although it was a bit far from the city centre. My room was large and comfortable, and the personnel was very kind. A good option to eat is Blue Bay, which mostly serves seafood. Check here to read reviews
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Jordan
When to visit Jordan
I could say it’s always a good time to visit Jordan, but the truth is that it gets cold in the winter, and it is unbearably hot in the summer. The best time to visit is in the spring time, between March and May. I went between the end of March and the beginning of April and the weather was always pleasant, never too hot, and the days were nice and sunny.
Guided tours of Jordan
If you want to visit Jordan but would rather leave the organization to the experts, you may want to opt for a guided tour. Here are some good options.
- Active Jordan Multisport Tour – Over 8 adventurous days, visit Amman, Ajloun, the Dead Sea, the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Check here for more details
- Classic Highlights of Jordan Tour – Also in 8 days, though less active, see Amman, Jerash, the Dead Sea, Karak, Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. Check here for more details
- 5-Day Jordan Tour – Go around Amman, Petra, Jerash, Mount Nebo, Karak Castle, Wadi Rum, the Red Sea, and & the Dead Sea. Check here for more details
- 6-Night Best of Jordan Tour from Amman – This one includes Jerash, the Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Check here for more details
What to pack for a trip to Jordan
You need to dress conservatively in Jordan, and to make sure to wear layers as it does get hot in the sun, but as soon as the wind starts blowing or the sun goes down, temperatures drop.
I found my Kuhl hiking pants and cotton t-shirts were perfect for the kind of activities I was doing. I carried a light sweater and wore a wind-proof jacket at night. I mostly wore hiking boots, as I walked a lot and the terrain was often uneven.
For more information on what is in my backpack and inspiration on what to carry to visit Jordan, read my post “My ultimate packing list.”
Crossing the border and getting a visa to visit Jordan
If you get to Jordan by plane can get a visa on arrival upon landing: it costs JD 40.
If you are visiting Jordan as part of a larger trip across the Middle East, you may be crossing from Israel. In this case, there are two land borders where it is possible to get a visa on arrival: Wadi Araba, which is the border between Eilat and Aqaba, and Sheikh Hussein, which is located in the North of the Jordan. The King Hussein / Allenby Bridge (which is the closest to Amman and Jerusalem) requires a pre-arranged visa and it is factually only used by tourists who exit the country.
If you enter Jordan via a land border and spend a minimum of 3 consecutive nights there is no visa fee to poay – the Jordanian Pass is normally considered proof of spending sufficient amount of time in the country. There is a JD 10 exit fee.
Make sure to also get a good travel insurance. You can find a good one here.
Currency in Jordan
The Jordanian Dinar (JD) is the official currency of Jordan. Cash payments are the norm, though larger businesses also accept cards. You will easily find ATMs. At the time of writing, the exchange rate is 1.4 USD to a JD, and about 1.3 Euro to a JD.
Safety and scams in Jordan
Jordan is a safe country, and people are generally welcoming and helpful. Many speak English and if they don’t, they will in any case be kind and helpful. I had no issues whatsoever, even as a solo female traveler. Having said so, it is good to dress conservatively and to pay attention to some common scams.
Scams are common in all the most touristy places, but they can be easily identified. The most typical scam in Amman, for example, is from taxi drivers, who regularly offer passengers to go to a different hotel or restaurant from the one they asked for. A polite and firm “no, thank you” works well in this case. Women should beware of Bdouls targeting women in Petra. Never accept an invitation for tea, coffee, dinner or to visit a cave or go off the beaten path.
Animals in tourist attractions
The Jordan Tourism Board is making an effort to prevent the exploitation of animals in Petra, but you will see lots of animals being pushed to their limits by their owners, and unaware (or simply uninterested) tourists gladly riding donkeys, mules and horse carriages despite the explicit request of the tourism board not to do so if able to walk.
To find out more about responsible tourism and animals, read my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
Eating and drinking in Jordan
One of the best things to do in Jordan is eating. From mansaf, one of the most traditional dishes consisting of lamb and rice, to hummus and falafel, there is a wide range of choice and the good news is that there are plenty of vegetarian options. On a typical meal in Jordan (or at a buffet restaurant) there’s a really large selection of fresh delicious salads.
You will definitely enjoy drinking local tea and coffee. Jordanian tea is typically an infusion of black tea with added herbs – it can be sage, mint or others – for a truly fragrant taste. The typical coffee is a strong infusion of boiling water, coffee and a pinch of cardamom. Jordanians drink their tea and coffee super sweet. Make sure to specify if you don’t want any sugar.
Alcohol is quite expensive in Jordan, as it is subject to heavy taxation, and the majority of locals don’t drink it anyways.
Hygienic conditions and pollution in Jordan
The hygienic conditions in Jordan are good: hotels are generally very clean, for example. However, be ready to see lots garbage around.
Smoking is allowed pretty much anywhere in the country, and pretty much everyone smokes. Hotel rooms may be non-smoking, but with smokers happily enjoying their cigarettes in the lobby, even rooms will have somewhat of a stench. The same goes for restaurants, where people are legally allowed to smoke inside.
Further readings about Jordan and the Middle East
Are you planning a longer trip to the Middle East? Make sure to read my other posts:
- 13 Things To Know Before You Visit Petra, Jordan
- A 3 Day Itinerary For The Jordan Trail
- The 10 Best Places To Visit During A Trip To Israel
- 29 Things To Do In Jerusalem You Can’t Miss
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel
- 17 Truly Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail
- Why I took a Dual Narrative Tour of Hebron
Legal Disclaimer: This article is written in partnership with The Jordan Tourism Board, of whom I was a guest. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. The views expressed are honest and factual without any bias.
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