Jordan Travel Guide

Sandwiched between Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia, Jordan remains a relatively turmoil-free part of the Middle East, bordering the banks of the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea. The capital Amman is littered with Roman remains, which are well-preserved despite the city seeing dramatic development in recent years. Petra continues to lure tourists, an ancient city of breathtaking beauty that was afforded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1985 and was in the running to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. With no oil and plenty of infertile desert, Jordan and its king have little choice but to be neutral in volatile region.

When to Go

Jordan is mostly desert with a pleasant hot and dry climate throughout most of the year.

The summer, between May and September, is generally hot throughout, but temperatures in the Jordan Valley can be unbearably hot. From October to February, Jordanian winters are cool but occasionally drop below zero. Rain during this period mainly falls in the northwest of the country.

Getting There & Away

Overland travel from Jordan’s neighbours, even from Iraq, is possible in theory, but can be more hassle than it is worth in practice. Always check the latest news regarding the situation along Jordan’s troubled borders before attempting such a trip. The most popular entry and exit point for travelers is Amman, which has daily connections to destinations across the Middle East and Europe. Reaching the country from Egypt at the port of Aquaba on the Red Sea is also popular, which connects to Amman on the country’s only domestic air route. Otherwise, travel overland is usually by bus or taxi.

Health & Safety

Three bombs resulting in the deaths of 60 people in Amman in 2005 have made this usually safe part of the Middle East nervous in recent times. As with most countries, car accidents remain the greatest threat in Jordan, not least because of the bumper car mentality that is pervasive here, as it is elsewhere in the region. Otherwise, the country is a mostly safe and friendly destination for travelers and the standard of healthcare, particularly in the capital, is generally above average.

Food & Hospitality

Amman caters to tourists on all budgets, with lower end hostels and guesthouses at suitably basement prices. Middle Eastern food is also unbelievably cheap to the initiated westerner, particularly outside the capital. Italian food is readily available throughout the big cities, as is other western foods. Travellers may find the service falls flat outside of the very top hotels—Jordanian waiters generally spend more time looking out the window than they do caring for their customers. Although predominantly Muslim, alcohol is available at middle and top end restaurants, although the price of imported liquor is usually steep.

Itineraries

  • Two days in Petra
  • Two days at the Dead Sea
  • Three days in Amman
  • Two days by the Jordan River and Holy Lands
  • Two days at Wadi Rum

Additional time

  • Two days in Jerash
  • One day in Madaba

Highlights

Petra: a stunning testament to life in the country nearly 2,000 years ago, this well-preserved and protected city, hewn out of rock, is a must-see during any trip to Jordan.

Dead Sea: the lowest and saltiest point on Earth is also the dividing line with Israel and a beach resort.

Jordan River and Holy Lands: Mount Nebo is the vantage point from which to view the Holy Lands, and a nearby stretch on the Jordan River is also considered the place where John the Baptist dunked Jesus.

Amman: Roman ruins, bazaars and a great selection of good Middle Eastern restaurants are some of the attractions in the capital.

Wadi Rum: a scenic valley in the south of Jordan, with great desert views and spectacular rock formations. A favourite hangout of Lawrence of Arabia.

Jerash: the second most popular tourist attraction after Petra, this small town has among the most impressive Greek and Roman ruins in the whole of the Middle East.

Madaba: home of a 6th century depiction of Jerusalem and the Holy Lands.

Activities

Sightseeing: Petra, Jerash, the Jordanian Holy Lands and Madaba are all outstanding sights that any visitor to the country should not miss.

Swimming: float in a sea of salt at the Dead Sea, the saltiest body of water on the planet. Make sure you have no cuts or abrasions, it will hurt!

Drinking: in a region famed for its abstinence, wine-producing Jordan is a welcome respite for those who like a drink.

Shopping: haggle to your heart’s content in Amman’s old city, Balad, and at numerous antique shops in the capital.