If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, it’s likely that you have the famous city of Petra on your mind. Or even a float in the Dead Sea. That said, there are many equally special things to do in Jordan that shouldn’t be overlooked on your visit.
After spending 17 weeks over landing through Africa, from Cape Town to Cairo, we spent some time in Egypt relaxing near the Red Sea, before heading to Jordan.
This country is one that has always piqued our interests with the lost city of Petra. Honestly, too, floating in the Dead Sea is a major bucket list item for us so we are more than thrilled to have added this country to our travels.
However, due to the sensationalized media surrounding Jordan and its neighbors in the Middle East, it is a visit that comes with controversy from many people we know.
We have been told point-blank that if we visit Jordan, we will die. While we know this is just the reaction to the mobs of media hype regarding the region, it is not only sad but entirely untrue.
As a result, this dramatic media has caused a decrease in tourism since 2001. Did this stop us from visiting? No. And the goal of this article is to share with you the many reasons why!
Want to visit Jordan? We took this tour 8 Day Jordan Explorer
27 Things to Do in Jordan
1. Dive into the Culture and History
From the moment you step off the plane into Amman, your senses will be pushed to the limit while exploring ancient cities. The souks and daily street life will introduce you to a wonderful view of culture that will have you aching to explore more.
Of course, just when you’ve started to grasp the Middle Eastern rhythm you’ll come across some Roman ruins and be left contemplating their foothold on the World.
No matter how you shake it, Jordan has a lot to offer the adventurer that is looking to move away from the crowds and explore the true nature of a country.
2. Visit the Amman Citadel
The capital is the gateway to the rest of the country, but the sprawling desert metropolis is well worth hanging around for a few days to explore before heading off to the famous sights of Petra, the Dead Sea or any of the many other best things to do in Jordan.
In the capital, the Amman Citadel sits tall atop the hills that the city is built on and around. This ancient structure has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years and today you can explore Roman ruins, Byzantine churches and the excellent Archeology Museum to learn more about the long, long history of Amman.
3. Wander Around Al Balad
Al Balad is the Downtown area of Amman, and exploring this eclectic and historic part of the capital is easily one of the best things to do in Jordan.
Downtown Amman is the oldest part of the Jordanian capital and it’s packed full of history and culture.
The district is literally overshadowed by the imposing Citadel which looms above its streets, and amongst the old houses and buildings, you’ll find wonderful museums, thriving cafes and plenty of Roman ruins too.
4. Explore the Jordan Museum
If you visit just one museum while you’re exploring the best things to do in Jordan, then make it the Jordan Museum.
This is the newest museum in Amman, and it’s packed full of incredible artifacts, many dating back thousands of years.
You’ll quickly realize the wealth of archaeological sites to be found in Jordan, as you browse through exhibits stretching from the Prehistoric era, through the Roman and Byzantine centuries, and into the Muslim age.
The most impressive find on display here, is the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, one of the earliest examples of a written script, and an early version of the Old Testament.
5. Drive the King’s Highway
Take a road trip across Jordan by renting a car and driving the exceptionally scenic King’s Highway.
This is the road that stretches from Amman to Petra, which is possibly the most famous sight in the country. The road cuts through deserts and canyons and is breathtaking all along its length.
The road is peaceful too, as the main desert highway has shortened the route between Amman and Petra.
Take the road less traveled though, stopping off in wadis and gorges and marveling at Crusader castles along the way.
6. See the Mosiacs in Madaba
The small city of Madaba is found along the King’s Highway, just outside of Amman. Madaba is an ancient and biblical place, being mentioned several times in the Bible.
It’s famed for its Byzantine Mosaics, which are some of the most finely preserved in the Middle East. The impressive, colored Mosaics are found within the medieval churches that still stand within Madaba.
7. Contemplate Roman History in Jerash
The city of Jerash is where you can really begin to see how the ancient and new collide in Jordan. The modern city of Jerash sits alongside the historic Roman ruins of Gerasa, which date back thousands of years.
The Roman ruins are incredibly well preserved, featuring huge colonnades and statues and wide avenues that have somehow survived the ravages of the desert sands.
8. Take in the Views at the Top of Mount Nebo
Sitting on the Jordanian border, the imposing summit of Mount Nebo offers incredible views over the Jordan Valley, and far into Israel and Palestine.
The mountain rises to 800 meters in height and is traditionally said to be the place where Moses looked out over the Holy Land and decided that this was the place for his people to settle.
The panorama is just as biblical as the story behind the mountain, making this one of the best things to do in Jordan.
9. Explore the Ancient City of Petra
It could be said that a visit to Jordan is warranted solely by the draw of the Ancient City of Petra and I can’t say I disagree. It was the only reason Jordan was even on my radar to begin with.
I was paging through a Nat Geo magazine one day when I saw Petra for the first time and knew that it was a place I wanted to visit on my World travels. Petra is an UNESCO Heritage site and is a city carved out of the red stones at the edge of the desert.
10. Glamp in the Wadi Rum Desert
Wadi Rum has developed into a top place for eco-adventure tourism in Jordan, offering top opportunities for rock climbing and trekking in the area. It doesn’t stop there, you can also camp under the stars, go on a horse safari, camel trek and hike in the area.
Besides the adventure opportunities, Wadi Rum is visually stunning and has anchored itself as a top destination to visit on a trip to Jordan.
11. Try a Bedouin Experience
The nomadic Bedouin came to populate the shifting desert sands of Jordan long after the biblical characters and Romans had left the area, and today they continue to live their way of life in the empty quarters of the country.
One of the best things to do in Jordan is to join a Bedouin Experience tour, where you’ll spend time in the desert, learning their way of life and camping out under the night sky.
12. Go Stargazing in the Desert
With huge stretches of desert to be found across the country and just a small population, which is mostly confined to the large cities, it’s not too difficult to get away from the lights at night.
The remote parts of Jordan have some of the darkest skies in the world, and the perfect place for stargazing and enjoying infrequent events such as meteor showers or passing comets.
13. Hike the Trails in the Dana Biosphere Reserve
Hiking through the Dana Biosphere Reserve is one of the most incredible things to do in Jordan. This is the country’s largest nature reserve, and despite its dusty outlook, it’s teeming with life, not to mention outstanding scenery.
There are campsites and hiking trails, and if you’re lucky, or patient enough then you might catch a glimpse of rare animals like the endangered Ibex or Kestrel.
14. Look for Animals in the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve
The Shaumari Wildlife Reserve isn’t quite as large as the Dana Biosphere but it is just as impressive a place to visit. This was Jordan’s first nature reserve and at only 8 square miles in size, you wouldn’t expect to be seeing much.
You’d be wrong though, because within this small nature park you find a wide diversity of animals, including Onyx, Gazelles and even Ostriches.
15. Try Canyoneering in Wadi Mujib
Another great nature reserve to visit is Wadi Mujib. Here you can find 85 square miles of protected canyons and riverbeds, and a visit here is one of the best things to do in Jordan.
This is the river canyon that eventually enters the Dead Sea, and it’s found several hundred meters below sea level, making this one of the lowest nature reserves in the world.
One of the best ways to experience the dramatic scenery and waterways of Wadi Mujib is to join a canyoneering tour through the preserve.
16. Find Your Sense of Adventure
If it is an adventure that you seek, then you have come to the right place. Jordan has adrenaline on offer for those who seek it.
Whether you decide to hop on a camel and trek into the desert, ram sand dunes with a 4×4, try your hand at sandboarding, bolt into a cliff face, abseil over the edge or perhaps dig into canyoning.
** This is the tour we took ** your own adventure in Jordan: 8 Day Jordan Explorer
17. Float in the Dead Sea
This is the body of water that defines saltwater. There is so much salt in the Dead Sea that entering it requires you to cross an entire beach of salt before reaching the water.
People come from all over the World to float in the Dead Sea, which can be accessed from Israel or Jordan. There is no need for flotation devices, just hop right in, lie on your back and relax.
18. Snorkel or Scuba Dive in the Red Sea
If you are interested in marine life on any levels then you have no doubt heard about the abundance of it to be found in the Red Sea.
At the very bottom of Jordan in the town of Aqaba, you will find that the desert meets the sea and affords some world-class scuba diving opportunities.
For those of you who like to stick near the surface, the snorkeling isn’t half bad either.
** This is the tour we took ** your own adventure in Jordan: 8 Day Jordan Explorer
19. Learn About the Crusaders at Kerak Castle
Much of Jordan was Crusader territory during the wars for the Holy Land that shook the Medieval world.
The European Crusader Kingdoms set up fortified castles to defend their new lands, and many of these seemingly impregnable structures still stand today.
One of the best ruins to visit is the impressive Kerak Castle, a huge structure which stands imposingly in the desert.
Kerak Castle is formidable, and while it was never breached, it was forced to surrender when Muslim besiegers under Saladin cut off all supplies to the Crusader fortress.
20. Contemplate History at the Shobak Castle
Shobak Castle is another Crusader castle that’s well worth a visit when you’re exploring Jordan.
Also known as Montreal Castle, this smaller fortification became the Crusader stronghold when Kerak Castle fell, but it too could not stand against the armies of Saladin.
21. See the Muslin Castle of Ajloun
The Muslim armies also built their own fortifications, and one of the best to visit is Ajloun Castle.
Built in the 12th century, Ajloun Castle stands atop a tall hill guarding the strategic entrance to waterways.
It also watches over the nearby town of Ajloun which became a thriving trading center under the protection of the castle through the medieval era.
22. Catch a Glimpse of Israel from Umm Qais
The small town of Umm Qais is where you can find the ancient Roman ruins of Gadara.
The was once one of the most important trading towns in the Levant, and an important stop for traders on their way into the Roman Empire.
The ruins are well preserved, while you can also enjoy views across Jordan, Israel and the Golan Heights from here too.
23. Visit the UNESCO Umm Ar Rasas
Umm Ar Rasas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site close to the city of Madaba which is prized by archaeologists for the wealth of finds excavated here.
The finds date back to the Roman, Byzantine and then Muslim eras, demonstrating the huge diversity of people and religions that made use of this old trading post and army garrison through the ages.
24. Enjoy the Oasis of Lawrence’s Spring
Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most famous characters to be associated with Jordanian history.
The British writer and soldier helped the Arab tribes revolt against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, which led to the foundation of modern Jordan.
Found in the famous Wadi Rum, Lawrence’s Spring is a beautiful oasis that the writer brought fame to in his best selling book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
25. Soak in the Ma’in Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a little spot of relaxation after traveling across Jordan, then take a break at the Ma’in Hot Springs. Found close to Madaba, you can call in on your way back to Amman.
As well as a spa resort, visitors can explore the surrounding waterfalls and of course, bathe in the hot, natural, spring waters.
26. Eat Falafel
This is a country that has a surprising mix of diverse communities from across the Middle East, and a wonderful array of cuisines and unique dishes to sample.
But the best food you can choose to eat across the country is always going to be Falafel.
The Middle Eastern staple can be found everywhere, but you’ll probably get the best in the winding historic streets of Downtown Amman, where it’s been made the same way for years.
27. Enjoy the Non-Crowded Tourist Sites
The only real bonus to Jordan having some rowdy neighbors is that you will virtually have the place to yourself. It is not uncommon to find yourself in a place like the Dead Sea or Petra with only a couple of other travelers.
Not only does Jordan have a low flow of visitors, but the people are friendly and the sites are beautiful. You can learn a lot about history and enjoy the natural wonders it has to offer in a relaxed and unrushed way.
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