Jordan's tourist attractions
By Martha Hales
Small though it is, the list of attractions in Jordan is a long one. Biblical landscapes compete with convivial towns and historic jewels for your time, yet everything is relatively close by, allowing you to fit a lot into seven days. Embellish your time in this petite country with culinary delights and enriching interactions with Jordanians - hugely welcoming and open hosts.
Jordan is without a doubt one of the most fulfilling destinations in the Middle East and only a short haul flight from Europe, making it an ideal target for shorter trips. If you’re happy to spend some time on the road, you should be able to squeeze all of the following into a whistle-stop week; if you prefer a more leisurely pace, pick out your favourites from the list. Whatever your priority, fill out our enquiry form and our local experts will do the rest.
Buzzy and modern with a thriving cultural scene, Amman is an easy capital city to like. While it is not a heavyweight in terms of sightseeing it is a great place for idling away a few hours in evocative cafes and restaurants watching Jordanian life ebb and flow around you. Don’t miss one of Amman’s major attractions - sampling some wonderful Middle Eastern cuisine.
Built by the Nabateans around the 3rd Century BC, Petra’s phenomenal facades must not be missed. Numerous monumental edifices were carved into the rose red cliffs, including tombs, a treasury and temples. Romans subsequently added a theatre and several churches. The treasury at Petra is one of the most iconic monuments in the whole of the Middle East, but to the west of Petra lies the site’s largest monument, the monastery, which is usually the most peaceful of the attractions.
The obligatory day afloat on the waters of the Dead Sea is an achievable day trip from Amman. Soak up the hazy, saline atmosphere at the lowest point on earth, cover yourself in mineral rich mud, then lay back in the super salty water to wash it all off. For a pampering day with refreshment options, showers and changing rooms, pay the day rate to use the facilities at one of the hotels along the shore.
Some incredible underwater attractions lie in wait along Jordan’s short Red Sea coast. For divers and snorkellers, there are few places that compete in terms of access, coral preservation and variety of marine life. Aqaba is the obvious base, and can also be used as a base for a trip to Wadi Rum.
The site of the Baptism of Jesus is a few miles north of the Dead Sea, on a tributary which feeds the River Jordan. It was discovered relatively recently, and all the evidence shows that this is in all likelihood the very spot where Jesus was baptised. Among the many significant biblical sites dotted around the Holy Land, this is among the most important.
In the far north of the country perches a ruined Roman settlement which has become a place of pilgrimage as it was the site of the Miracle of the Swine, performed by Jesus. He chose a wonderful spot - the views encompass hills scattered with ancient olive trees as well as three countries and the sea of Galilee.
This swathe of protected desert dotted with sheer granite and sandstone peaks is inhabited by tribes of Bedouin descendants. Until recently, the tribes were nomadic, but they are now more settled in villages.
Jeep tours enable you to efficiently see phenomenal landscapes and archaeological sites, but for those seeking a slower, bumpier pace, perhaps a camel ride would suit. Looking up from the burnt orange of the desert sands you will see myriad twinkling stars, best enjoyed whilst camping in an authentic Bedouin tent.
Just a short drive out of Amman lies the incredible ruined Roman city of Jerash - the finest example of a Roman settlement outside of Italy.
Evocative colonnaded plazas, flagstone streets and monumental arches lend an air of grandeur while the theatre is a fine example and resonates with history.
Some of Jordan’s best preserved Ottoman architecture can be unearthed on a visit to the pleasing town of Salt, tumbling down a hillside northwest of Amman. Burrow through some of the ancient streets towards Souk Hammam, one of Jordan’s most authentic souks, where there’s not a lot to buy for visitors but it is an enchanting experience nevertheless.
Delightfully busy and packed with intricate Byzantine mosaics, Madaba is the perfect size for ticking off some cultural attractions and a spot of aimless wandering in the evocative streets.
Don’t miss the wonderfully preserved mosaic depicting a map of the Holy Land on the floor of St George’s Church, but remember that other museums and the Archeological Park also have fine examples without the crowds.
Make it happen
Have we whetted your appetite? Book a week off work and go! Make your next week away into something truly memorable by booking a tailor-made holiday with our local experts. Simply send an enquiry and let them know a few details about what you'd like to do and they will plan the rest. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.