Travelling to Jordan in Spring
The best time to visit Jordan, weather-wise, is spring (March–May) although this is also when air fares and package deals are at their most expensive.
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From March to May, when temperatures are toasty but not scorching, wild flowers are out everywhere (even the desert is carpeted), and the hills and valleys running down the centre of the country are lush and gorgeously colourful.
The worst of the rain is over by March, though it doesn’t entirely peter out in Amman and the hills until late April. Humidity is pleasant everywhere, and low, clear sunlight draws a spectacular kaleidoscope of colour and texture from the desert rocks. There’s only one drawback – a desert wind, loaded with dust and grit, which blows regularly each spring or early summer out of the Arabian interior. It’s known across the Middle East as the khamseen (“fifty”), after the fifty days it traditionally persists (although in Jordan it rarely lasts longer than a few days), and can darken the sky and raise the temperature by 10°C, coating everyone and everything in a layer of sand.
Travelling to Jordan in summer
In summer (roughly June–Sept), Amman can sizzle – up to 40°C in the city centre – though it’s a dry heat, rarely uncomfortable, and the hills catch some cooler breezes. Temperatures at the Dead Sea and Aqaba, though, have been known to top 45°C, with Aqaba in particular suffering from an intolerable hot wind that makes you feel like you’re basting in a fan-assisted oven. High, hazy light flattens the brown landscape and bleaches any beauty out of the desert. Copy the locals, and treat the hours between noon and 3pm as a time to snooze in the cool indoors. One disadvantage of summer travel is that it is peak season for tourism from the Gulf countries.
Travelling to Jordan in autumn and winter
Typical autumn weather (mid-Sept to mid-Nov) mostly passes Jordan by, with only a few weeks marking the shift out of high summer – if you catch it, this can be a lovely time to visit. The first rains fall in early or mid-October, making the parched countryside bloom again and temperatures drop to more manageable levels. In winter (roughly Dec–Feb), Amman can be desperately chilly, with biting winds sweeping through the valleys, rain showers and even snowfall, although the sun is still never far away. With short days and freezing nights, Petra winters can be taxing; exceptional lows of -8°C have been recorded. Wadi Rum is more temperate, but Aqaba makes a fine retreat, with sunshine and warmth even in the depths of January (average Red Sea and Dead Sea water temperatures vary little either side of a balmy 24°C all year). Winter is when fares are lower too.
Religious holidays in Jordan
Air fares 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 July until 2023), 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. Another time to consider is Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Dates change each year and Ramadan falls in April 2020. 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.
Top image: Floating at the Dead Sea, Jordan © robert paul van beets/Shutterstock