It’s one of the world’s top adventure destinations – and one of our top 18 places to visit in 2018 Dropdown content – and yet, in recent years, tourists have been eschewing Jordan Dropdown content due to widespread unease about travelling in the region.
But while the country has struggled to maintain its reputation as a safe oasis in more dangerous surrounds, it is still ranked by the World Economic Forum as one of the safer countries in the
From clapping eyes on the sandstone-hewn temples of
From cooking with local families to getting a taste of nomadic Bedouin life, there are plenty of cultural experiences on offer in Jordan. The country’s top sights are well maintained, and can be visited in less than a week – though you could easily spend a fortnight exploring further afield.
Jordan’s tourism industry has taken a battering in recent years. Visitor numbers to Petra alone halved between 2010 and 2015 and are only creeping back slowly. Go now, and you can enjoy Jordan’s sights without the crowds – sometimes even all to yourself.
If you’re a keen hiker, you can also be one of the first to tackle the Jordan Trail – a spectacular 650km hiking trail that spans the entire country from tip-to-tail – which opened in 2017. Choose a manageable section, or set aside a month to hike its entire length.
Making for a smoother visit, the Jordan Pass (from 70JD) launched in 2015. It offers hassle-free prepaid entry to more than 40 sites across the country and waives the standard 40JD tourist visa fee. Don’t forget to purchase the pass in advance of your trip.
First-time visitors may be surprised to find that Jordan is an incredibly welcoming, easygoing country, and most travellers – including solo women – report feeling safe here. It’s important, of course, to check official travel advice before you go.
Violent attacks are rare in Jordan, though there were a few incidents in 2016, some serious, which saw Jordan beef up security at its borders. It's always worth checking the FCO's Jordan page for the latest travel advice.
It would be a travesty to leave Jordan without exploring the ancient Nabataean city of Petra (try to catch one of the thrice-weekly night shows), zooming around the soaring sandstone peaks of Wadi Rum in a 4WD, or testing the incredible buoyancy of the
Less than 50km north of
Amman is also worth a day or two of your time. Enjoy sweeping views of the “White City” from the Amman Citadel, which dates back to Neolithic times; marvel at the 2nd-century Roman Theatre (the on-site Folklore Museum was reopened in 2016 after being closed for five years), and check out the excellent
Dive trips can be arranged from the Red Sea resort city of
Note: Jordan has a well-established tourism infrastructure, though it’s worth hiring a car or arranging a private driver to get around if you’re travelling independently. Public transport can be patchy.
You’re never far from a good meal in Jordan. As the world’s largest producer of olives, marinated black or green olives are typically present at every mealtime, with olive oil used liberally in traditional cooking. Falafel served in a fresh pita pocket with a dollop of hummus is a common takeaway snack; Hashem in downtown Amman makes the best.
Traditional meals typically consist of mezze (hummus, baba ganoush, labaneh, pickles and falafel) accompanied by a main dish such as mansaf (lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt called Jameed and served with rice or bulgur), makluba (a casserole layered with rice, vegetables and meat, then flipped upside down to serve) or, in Bedouin country, zarb (meat and vegetables cooked in an underground pit).
Widely considered to serve the best Jordanian cuisine in Amman, Sufra on trendy Rainbow Street near the downtown core is a top spot for dinner in the capital. Meanwhile, modern cafés such as Wild Jordan Centre, just around the corner from Sufra, offer an opportunity to sample local favourites with a twist.
Even though Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, alcohol is readily available in restaurants and hotels, and Amman has an increasingly hip bar scene. Most watering holes are concentrated in the Rainbow Street area. Industrial-chic Maestro, attached to La Locanda Boutique Hotel, is credited for putting the Jabal al-Weibdeh district, just west of downtown, on Amman’s nightlife map.
There are three overnight experiences you shouldn’t miss while travelling around Jordan. They include taking part in a culinary-based homestay with a local family (Engaging Cultures can help to arrange this), spending at least one night in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum (try Captain’s Desert Camp), and splashing out on a night or two at Feynan Ecolodge: a stunning, ultra-sustainable hotel nestled in the breathtaking
All options offer immersive cultural experiences that will leave you wondering why you didn’t visit Jordan sooner.
Many visitors choose to combine a trip to Jordan with an overland visit to Israel and/or the
It’s best to arrange cross-border excursions through a local operator (try Experience Jordan) as it’s not possible to self-dive across the borders; prearranged transport will meet you on the other side. Border formalities can still sometimes take several hours, but it’s all part of the experience.
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