7 Best Places to Visit in Jordan

From iconic Petra to the metropolis of Amman, the surprising beach town of Aqaba to the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum - Jordan is brimming with wonderful places to visit
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Written by
Natalie Johnson

Published on: September 7th, 2023

Last modified: December 28th, 2023

From the famed facades of Petra and the ancient ruins of Amman to the sweeping dunes of Wadi Rum and the azure waters of Aqaba, there’s no shortage of stunning places to visit in Jordan. Here you can easily visit archaeological sites, desert plains, stunning beaches and dynamic cities in a single trip.

Although it’s relatively small, this Middle Eastern country offers enough attractions to fill an itinerary with spectacular sites – and then some. To make sure you hit all the highlights, here are our picks for the best places to visit in Jordan.

1. Petra – Remarkable Ruins Carved Into Rock

If we had to pick a single reason to visit Jordan, it would be Petra. This historic city features stunning architecture carved directly into the rocky hillsides. The Treasury is probably its most recognisable structure, but other must-see sites include the Monastery, Royal Tombs, Roman Theatre and Street of Facades. Its rock-cut landmarks are especially enchanting at night.

View on the Renaissance Tomb in Petra Jordan, on the High Place of Sacrifice Trail

Beyond its obvious architectural appeal, Petra also offers plenty of exciting activities. You can hike through the stark wilderness to find Little Petra – a lesser-known marvel – or take a cooking class to discover the secrets of regional cuisine. To fully experience this legendary destination, tour it alongside an expert archaeologist who will explain its significance in detail.

Cave dwellings in the canyon of Little Petra, Jordan, Middle East

2. Dead Sea – Mineral-Rich Waters Surrounded by History

The Dead Sea is one of the world’s best destinations for natural wellness. Its incredibly salty waters and mud are full of rejuvenating minerals, making it the perfect place to treat yourself to an extraordinary spa day. Or you can simply walk into the sea, relax and float without moving a muscle, letting all your worries wash away with the tides.

While floating in the Dead Sea is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Jordan, the surrounding area is also full of opportunities for adventure. The rugged canyons and waterfalls of Wadi Mujib are well worth exploring, and provide the perfect contrast to a peaceful retreat in the healing waters nearby.

3. Jerash – A Wonderfully Well-Preserved Roman City

Not far north of Amman you’ll find the stunning site of Jerash, an ancient Roman city with some of the best-preserved ruins of the entire empire. It’s been occupied for more than 6,500 years, with history dating all the way back to the Neolithic period. But of course the Roman era left the most impressive remnants, and many of its structures are still standing today.

Don’t miss the Arch of Hadrian, the Temples of Artemis and Zeus or the enormous forum at the city’s centre. Practically everywhere you look in Jerash you’ll see Roman plazas, columns, baths, fountains, walls and more. You’ll also get a rare glimpse into how Greco-Roman and Arabic cultural traditions have coexisted and persisted throughout history in this region.

4. Wadi Rum – Striking Desert Scenery & Bedouin Culture

If the red dunes and rock formations of Wadi Rum seem familiar, it may be because you’ve seen them in one of the many science fiction and adventure films shot here over the years. The dramatic desert landscape alternates between soaring mountains and vast plains, and speeding across it in a jeep will make you feel like you’ve entered another world entirely. 

Adventures safari jeep car in Wadi Rum desert, Jordan, Middle East, known as The Valley of the Moon. Red sands, sky with haze. Designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Despite its stark appearance, Wadi Rum is brimming with history and culture. Here you can see petroglyphs and inscriptions etched into the rock during the prehistoric era. You’ll also meet modern-day Bedouins who will happily share stories and let you in on their way of life. Stay overnight at a luxurious camp to enjoy an authentic meal and spectacular stargazing. 

5. Amman – The Lively Capital of Culture & Cuisine

Jordan’s capital and largest city, Amman is a fascinating fusion of ancient history and modern life. It’s a densely populated hub of culture and economics, while simultaneously boasting some of the country’s most impressive historical ruins. The Amman Citadel perches above the city, featuring imposing structures like the Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace.

Amman is also the heart of Jordan’s culinary culture, with an infinite array of markets, restaurants, cafes and street food stalls. Here you can sample the very best Jordanian cuisine, from the ubiquitous za’atar and falafel to local specialties like mansaf (lamb cooked with dried yoghurt and rice) – or take a cooking class to learn how to prepare them yourself.

6. Madaba – Mesmerising Mosaics & Mountains

South of the capital you’ll find the stunning city of Madaba, also known as ‘the City of Mosaics’. Its crown jewel is the intricate mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Church of St George. But other sites have their own masterpieces to admire; don’t miss the marine scenes in the Church of the Apostles or the mosaic floors at the Madaba Archaeological Park.

 

Slightly northwest of Madaba is the biblical site of Mount Nebo, where Moses is said to have stood before his death. You can ascend to this sacred spot and take in panoramic views of the West Bank, Jericho and even Jerusalem, which is only 60 kilometres away. Then visit the memorial Church of Moses, which has drawn Christian pilgrims here for centuries.

7. Aqaba – A Shimmering Seaside Escape

If you want to complement Jordan’s dry deserts and bustling cities with seaside relaxation, Aqaba is your best bet. In fact, it’s the country’s only coastal city, set on the shores of the sparkling Red Sea. We generally recommend spring or fall as the best time to visit Jordan, but if you’re here in summer we highly suggest spending some time by the water.

That said, Aqaba offers much more than relaxing beach time; it’s a prime spot for snorkelling and scuba diving, with brilliant coral reefs and abundant marine life. It’s also home to multiple wreck dive sites and even an underwater military museum. Above the surface you can go parasailing, windsurfing or jet skiing.

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