Lying at the centre of one of the most fascinating regions on earth, Jordan is an enthralling mix of natural beauty, timeless tradition and cultural heritage. Its roots can even be traced back to the Old Testament as the place from which Moses first saw the promised land.
But of course, it’s not just biblical prophets that inhabited this land throughout the centuries. Home to nomads, merchants of the exotic and the conquering armies of Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottoman Turks, many of which left their mark on the landscape, none more so than the within the roman ruins found crumbling to this day.
With numerous fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit, incredible food to sample and heaps of amazing culture to get to grips with, there has never been a better time to visit Jordan. Here at Wild Frontiers, we have highlighted the best places to visit in Jordan, so let’s jump into it.
Amman is the capital of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and is built upon seven hills. The city is dotted with several historic sites dating from the Stone Age to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic eras. Amman is now a modern and vibrant city, where the new gleaming white houses of downtown Amman blend with the remnants of ancient civilizations.
Join the locals roasting meat at the Kebab stalls and sitting in tiny cafes where rich Arabian coffee is sipped in the afternoon sunshine. The atmosphere conjures a mood straight from a thousand and one nights. In the souks you can bargain for fruit, perfume, gold or other exquisite luxuries of the Middle East.
Hidden behind an almost impenetrable barrier of rugged mountains, Petra is arguably the best places to visit in Jordan. The rock-carved city of Petra is full of mysterious charm. Petra was the capital of the ancient Nabatean Kingdom and was an important trading post. The Nabateans established an elaborate network of caravan routes, which brought spices, incense, myrrh, gold, silver, and precious stones from India and Arabia, to be traded onto the west. From the wealth they acquired, they adorned their city with palaces, temples, and arches.
Petra is an enchanting place that captivates and excites the senses. Its overwhelming size, rich textures and stunning surroundings create an ambiance almost impossible to describe.
About an hour North of Amman, situated near the city of Jerash, lies one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world. The city's many monuments still retain the atmosphere of the once-thriving metropolis, famous in its time for its magnificent temples, amphitheatres and plazas.
Surrounded by rugged purple mountains that subtly change in colour as the day unfolds, Aqaba is now a modern holiday resort with some good hotels and beaches, and excellent facilities for water sports and diving. The Red Sea coral and marine life is what attracts most holidaymakers to Aqaba and further down the coast are some of the most spectacular coral reefs to be found anywhere in the world.
Often over many hundreds of meters wide, the reef is made up of many delicately hued corals among which live a myriad of brilliantly coloured fish.
Dana Nature Reserve
A combination of mountains and wadis make for interesting landscapes and the chance to spot a wide range of birdlife - over 214 species have been recorded here including Griffon vultures and other birds of prey. The best way to explore Dana is on foot and there are several well-marked trails and routes to suit all abilities. Explore the old village of Dana and visit the remains of a copper mine. Some walks can be done solo; others require a guide and are available on request.
The Dead Sea
Surrounded by barren mountains, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth's surface and lies at the bottom of a natural depression that reaches 409 m below sea level. The region is a natural spa, and the mud and water contains so much sodium and other minerals that it makes it impossible for plant and animal life to live. However, it’s known to be an ideal treatment for various maladies (or just for soft skin).
One of three highways running from North to South, the King’s Highway traverses some epic landscapes and is dotted with crusader castles, nature reserves and towns that date back to biblical times. Linking the historical town of Madaba, famed for its plethora of Byzantine mosaics and ancient churches, Mount Nebo (the supposed resting place of the prophet Moses, holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews alike) and Shobak, driving along this highway really is a journey through the centuries.
Vast, echoing and God-Like are the words that T. E. Lawrence of Arabia used to describe one of the Middle East's most spectacular desert landscapes. Wadi Rum is the meeting point of the Rift valley, the Negev desert and Sinai Peninsula, which spreads eastwards into Arabia. Home to stunning scenery 'towering sandstone peaks (Jebels), knife-edged dunes, gorges, rock formations and canyons' the whole region is peppered with criss-crossing valleys, Bedouin camps and wild camels.
A highlight of any trip to Jordan is watching the desert change colour as the daylight creeps in and the setting sun draws out the pink, ochre and magenta hue of the rock. At night the skies are ablaze with stars thanks to the lack of light pollution, making it one of the best places in Jordan for stargazing.