Jordan is served by daily nonstop flights from London and easy one-stop connections from around the UK, as well as nonstop routings from major European, North American and Southeast Asian hubs.
Queen Alia International Airport in Amman (AMM) (w aig.aero) handles almost all incoming flights to Jordan. A few flights arrive at Aqaba (AQJ) (w aac.jo), which is linked to Amman by daily short-hop shuttles on the national carrier Royal Jordanian.
When to travel
The best times to visit Jordan, weather-wise, are spring (March–May) and autumn (Sept & Oct), although this is also when air fares and package deals are at their most expensive. In summer you face the disadvantages of heat – though it’s rarely extreme – and the peak season for tourism from the Gulf countries (as well as the holy month of fasting, Ramadan, which falls in June and/or July each year until 2016). Winter, when fares are lower, can be chilly for sightseeing.
Air fares also peak in the periods surrounding major Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, when thousands – or, in the case of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, millions – of people are on the move. For weeks before the hajj (which takes place in Sept/Oct until 2016), whole planes get block-booked for pilgrims on many routes into the Middle East – not just flights into Saudi Arabia, but also connections via Jordan and neighbouring countries. For two weeks after the pilgrimage, few planes out of the region have spare capacity. It pays to check when Islamic holidays are due to fall; book well ahead if you want to fly at or near those times.
One thing to watch when planning an itinerary is your scheduled arrival time: many flights from London, for instance, are afternoon departures, landing in Amman in the late evening – which means your head may not actually hit the pillow until midnight or later. In addition, many return flights to London take off from Amman at breakfast time, necessitating a pre-dawn wake-up call.
Flights from the UK and Ireland
Flying to Amman from London there are nonstop flights daily from Heathrow on Royal Jordanian (w rj.com) and British Airways (w ba.com), and thrice-weekly from Gatwick on easyJet (w easyjet.com). With a bit of flexibility, return fares can be had for £200–250 – though if your dates are fixed or you’re booking at short notice, expect to add £100 or more to that. The flight time is five hours.
If you’re starting from elsewhere in the UK or Ireland you could opt for a shuttle flight into Heathrow or Gatwick to pick up a connection, or explore options on Lufthansa (w lufthansa.com) via Frankfurt, Austrian (w austrian.com) via Vienna or Air France (w airfrance.com) via Paris. Alternatively Turkish Airlines (w thy.com) has some decent fares from Birmingham, Manchester and Dublin to Amman via Istanbul.
Holiday charter flights formerly operated weekly from Gatwick to Aqaba, but were axed in 2011 and show no signs of resumption.
Flights from the US and Canada
From North America, Royal Jordanian flies nonstop to Amman from New York, Chicago and Montreal, plus one-stop direct from Detroit. RJ’s codesharing deals offer good connections from a range of other cities. Delta (w delta.com) flies from many US cities to Paris, and from there onward to Amman codesharing on Air France. United (w united.com) offers good connections with European airlines such as Lufthansa and Austrian, while British Airways (w ba.com), Air Canada (w aircanada.com) and others also fly (or codeshare) from major cities with a change of plane. Turkish Airlines (w thy.com) has nonstop flights from Chicago, New York, Washington and Los Angeles into Istanbul, for a shuttle onward to Amman. EgyptAir (w egyptair.com) does the same from New York via Cairo.
Expect a round-trip fare in high season of around US$1000–1400 from the east and Midwest, US$1600–2000 from the west, and C$1100–1800 out of Canada. All these drop slightly in low season. Flight time is eleven hours from the East Coast or fifteen hours from the West Coast, not including stops on the ground.
Flights from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
There are no direct flights to Jordan from Australasia – though, thanks to code-sharing, it’s relatively easy to put together a one-stop routing: Qantas or Thai to Bangkok, for instance, then direct to Amman with Royal Jordanian. Pricier alternatives include Emirates via Dubai or Etihad via Abu Dhabi. From South Africa you’re looking at one-stop routings on Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, EgyptAir or Turkish.
Return fares from Australia are likely to start around A$2000; add A$500 or more in high season. From New Zealand, reckon on NZ$3000–3500, and from South Africa around R6000–9000.
Many organized tours follow a fairly set pattern – a week or so in Jordan, comprising stays in Amman, Petra, Aqaba and/or the Dead Sea, with sightseeing on the way and excursions to sites like Jerash and Wadi Rum. The advantage of these packages is that they get you a good-value flight-plus-accommodation deal; by booking a tour in advance you can end up staying in posh hotels for bargain prices. The disadvantage, of course, becomes clear if you fancy an extra day or two on your own to explore Petra once you get there.
Where fixing up an organized tour really comes into its own is if you have a particular kind of holiday in mind. If you want to know all about Jordan’s archeological sites or learn how to scuba-dive, or if you have your heart set on seeing a Sinai rosefinch (Jordan’s national bird), specialist tour operators can sell you ready-made packages or tailor-make a tour to suit your requirements. Adventure companies can often throw in activities such as camel-trekking, desert camping or snorkelling, and many operators specialize in pilgrimage tours to sites of biblical interest. You can also arrange tours directly with specialist tour companies in Jordan.
Tour operators in the UK
Abercrombie & Kent
t 0845 485 1529, w abercrombiekent.co.uk. Upmarket tailor-made trips.
Ancient World Tours
t 0844 357 9494, w ancient.co.uk. Archeological and historical itineraries.
t 01722 713800, w andantetravels.co.uk. Small-scale, personalized, expert-led archeological/historical tours.
t 01993 838000, w audleytravel.com. High-quality tailor-made trips both on and off the beaten track, with a special focus on the nature reserves.
t 0844 488 1193, w balesworldwide.com. One of the biggest operators to Jordan – a family-owned company offering a wide range of escorted tours as well as tailor-made itineraries.
Cox & Kings
t 0845 564 1985, w coxandkings.co.uk. Highly respected and long-established company offering gilt-edged cultural and historical tours.
t 01728 861133, w dragoman.com. Extended overland journeys in purpose-built expedition vehicles; several itineraries pass through Jordan.
t 0800 781 1660, w intrepidtravel.com. Breezy itineraries for independent-minded travellers.
t 01446 774018, w jordantours.co.uk. Small tailor-made firm with the personal touch.
t 0800 389 2328, w kumuka.com. Soft adventure trips and overland expeditions around Jordan and the Middle East.
t 0844 488 0578, w kuoni.co.uk. Large holiday operator, with a range of trips to Jordan.
t 0844 770 4877, w longwoodholidays.co.uk. Good range of cultural tours, flying into Amman, or Ovda (near Eilat, Israel).
Martin Randall Travel
t 020 8742 3355, w martinrandall.com. Small-group cultural tours, led by experts on art and archeology.
t 020 8574 4000, w mosaicholidays.co.uk. Long-standing Jordan specialists, with a range of group tours and tailor-made cultural journeys that benefit from great local knowledge.
On The Go Tours
t 020 7371 1113, w onthegotours.com. Highly respected firm offering lively, expertly guided group tours, as well as tailor-made trips and unusual, insider angles on exploring Petra.
t 020 7978 7333, w originaltravel.co.uk. Short breaks and family holidays to Jordan.
t 020 8682 5475, w scottdunn.com. Luxury tailor-made tours, staying in some out-of-the-way corners.
t 01285 880980, w steppestravel.co.uk. Expertly prepared tailor-made trips.
t 020 7269 2770, w the-traveller.co.uk. Historical, archeological and cultural tours led by expert lecturers.
t 0800 988 5823, w titanhitours.co.uk. Classic escorted tours of major historical sites.
t 0844 567 9966, w travelsphere.co.uk. Well-designed holidays to Jordan’s major sites.
Voyages Jules Verne
t 0845 166 7003, w vjv.com. Major Jordan operator with years of experience, offering a range of innovative, well-thought-out holiday options.
t 0845 287 6627, w adventurecompany.co.uk. Guided soft adventure trips for individuals and families.
t 01865 315678, w atg-oxford.co.uk. High-quality outdoor itineraries, including excellent long walks with some of Jordan’s best walking guides.
t 0845 869 9160, w exodus.co.uk. Small-group adventure tour operators, featuring walking, trekking, scrambling and cycling for individuals and families.
t 0845 291 4541, w explore.co.uk. A wide range of small-group tours, treks, expeditions and safaris, staying mostly in small hotels or bedouin tents.
t 0845 051 4567, w familiesworldwide.co.uk. Specialists in adventure holidays for families.
t 0845 564 7148, w headwater.com. Guided walking tours to remote corners of Jordan.
t 0114 268 7760, w highplaces.co.uk. Great-value trekking and climbing in Wadi Rum and Petra.
t 01540 673402, w hikingworld.org. High-quality hiking trips in some far-flung corners of Jordan.
t 0845 867 5954, w imaginative-traveller.com. Well-respected adventure operator with a good range of tours.
t 017687 73966, w keadventure.com. Good range of treks and adventure tours.
t 01962 733051, w naturetrek.co.uk. Small-group birdwatching and botanical tours of Jordan with expert guidance.
t 020 7604 4408, w nomadicthoughts.com. Tailor-made trips to Jordan.
t 01457 873231, w nomadstravel.co.uk. Small operation run by Tony Howard and Di Taylor, the British climbing duo who opened up Rum to international tourism in the 1980s. They provide detailed, knowledgeable advice on all aspects of independent exploration of Jordan’s wilder corners.
t 0845 004 0673, w peregrineadventures.com. Range of tours offering Jordan and its neighbours.
t 01707 331133, w ramblersholidays.co.uk. Great walking holidays.
t 01728 685971, w tribes.co.uk. Tailor-made trips that explore Jordan’s natural environment, working with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.
t 0845 301 4737, w walksworldwide.com. Leading walking and outdoors operator to Jordan, with a broad range of tours to suit all levels of capability, including family trips.
t 020 7736 3968, w wildfrontiers.co.uk. Adventure trips into the desert.
Wildlife & Wilderness
t 01625 838225, w wildlifewilderness.com. Tailor-made trips focusing on culture, walking and nature.
t 020 8398 0505, w aquatours.com. Jordan diving specialist, combining underwater trips with cultural itineraries.
t 01273 921001, w planetdiveholidays.com. Good range of dive options at Aqaba, plus side-trips to Rum and Petra.
t 0845 269 2609, w equustrails.com. Petra and Rum desert rides.
In The Saddle
t 01299 272997, w inthesaddle.com. High-quality tours around Petra and Wadi Rum on horseback.
Ride World Wide
t 01837 82544, w rideworldwide.co.uk. High-quality horseriding holidays in Wadi Rum.
t 01767 600606, w unicorntrails.com. Horseriding holidays in the Wadi Rum desert.
w guidingstarltd.com. A leading pilgrimage operator with offices in Jerusalem and Amman, founded in 1961. Combining Christian sites with adventure excursions and cultural exploration, they are exceptionally well connected, and can design a unique itinerary on request.
t 01753 689568, w maranatha.co.uk. Specialist in biblical pilgrimage tours to Jordan and around the Middle East.
t 0800 107 3107, w mccabe-travel.co.uk. Pilgrim tours to Jordan.
Worldwide Christian Travel
t 0845 458 8308, w christian-travel.com. Biblical and pilgrimage tours.
Tour operators in North America
Abercrombie & Kent
t 1 800 554 7016, w abercrombiekent.com. Fully escorted luxury tours to Jordan and its neighbours.
t 1 800 228 8747, w adventurecenter.com. Hiking and soft adventure specialists, with a wide range of options including cultural tours, walking, cycling and more.
t 1 800 665 3998, w adventures-abroad.com. Small-group adventure specialists.
t 1 800 353 4978, w ancientadventures.com. A range of tours all round the Middle East.
t 1 800 663 0844, w bestway.com. Cultural specialists.
t 1 800 451 8097, w caravan-serai.com. Leading specialists to the Middle East, with a range of excellent, culturally aware tours to Jordan and all across the region. Owned and run by the award-winning Jordanian-born businesswoman Rita Zawaideh.
Cox and Kings
t 1 800 999 1758, w coxandkingsusa.com. Long-established top-of-the-range tour operator, with several Jordan offerings.
t 1 800 552 4575, w farhorizons.com. Expert-led archeological and historical tours of Jordan.
t 1 800 736 4456, w hlotours.com. Specialists in tailor-made trips, with many years of experience in the Middle East.
t 1 800 223 7460, w isram.com. Long-established tour operator with a diverse selection of Middle Eastern offerings.
t 1 800 545 5533, w maranathatours.com. Specialist in biblical pilgrimage tours.
On The Go Tours
US t 1 866 377 6147, Canada t 1 866 890 7038, w onthegotours.com. Leading worldwide operator to Jordan, with a variety of unique cultural and adventure itineraries.
t 1 800 645 3233, w mideasttrvl.com. Experts on Middle Eastern travel, with hosted tours around Jordan.
Travel in Style
t 415 440 1124, w travelinstyle.com. A good range of tours to Jordan alongside options to Egypt, Syria and Israel.
t 1 800 368 2794, w wildernesstravel.com. Cultural exploration around Jordan and beyond.
t 1 800 644 1595, w yallatours.com. Middle East specialist, with a wide range of trips and packages covering Jordan.
Tour operators in Australia & NZ
Abercrombie & Kent
Australia t 1300 851 800, w abercrombiekent.com.au. Classy operator with a strong reputation – upmarket luxury tours.
Australia t 1300 295 049, w adventureworld.com.au; New Zealand t 0800 238 368, w adventureworld.co.nz. Agents for a wide array of international adventure companies – well worth a browse.
Australia t 1300 667 277; New Zealand t 0800 440 499, w kumuka.com. Soft adventure trips and overland expeditions.
Martin Randall Travel
Australia t 1300 559 595, w martinrandall.com. British company running small-group cultural tours, led by expert lecturers.
On The Go Tours
Australia t 1300 855 684; New Zealand t 0800 447769, w onthegotours.com.au. Leading operator to Jordan, with unique cultural and adventure itineraries.
Australia t 03 9500 0444, w travelcentre.com.au. Tour options on the Red Sea and around the Middle East.
Australia t 03 8601 4444, w peregrineadventures.com. Broad range of Jordan tours that reach some lesser-known highlights.
Australia t 1300 720 000; New Zealand t 0800 350 354, w worldexpeditions.com.au. Australian-owned adventure company, with a broad programme of trekking and adventure expeditions, including Jordan and Syria.