Coming from Amman, we chose to go to Mount Nebo first, then to Madaba. The Mount Nebo site was renovated for about ten years before re-opening in 2016. A new church has been built on the original ruins which still serve as a foundation. The result is a really nice, light-flooded building showing many huge, impressive mosaics while still preserving original walls and pillars. Next, to the church, there is also a small museum explaining the history of the site and its surroundings
Outside you have a nice view of the mountains of the holy land. When you go to Madaba, either from the Dead Sea or Amman, it is definitively worth a visit. I found it even more impressive than the world map mosaic in Madaba.
On our way back to Madaba we went to the Nebo Pearl, a huge souvenir store that sells all kinds of typical Jordanian/Arab souvenirs. Next, to the obvious mosaics that you can watch being created there, you will find other typical souvenirs such as carpets, furniture, pottery, jewelry, lanterns, and so on. However, the store is extremely expensive such as the one near the Kempiski/Dead Sea and another one next to the 5th circle in Amman. If you are looking to safe some money, there are other options. You can explore some other souvenir stores in Down Town Amman, Rainbow Street, or one of the many Al-Afghani Bazaar stores in Amman. I also previously complied a list of Amazing Souvenirs, Art and Gifts from Jordan.
In Madaba, we visited the St. Gorges Church to see the map mosaic. It was quite interesting but also not so overwhelming. The mosaic probably used to be much bigger some time and nowadays, certain parts have been covered with carpets, so that guests in the church don’t step on parts of the mosaic.
Before wandering along the main tourist street with the shops, we took lunch at one of my favorite Jordanian restaurants – Haret Jdudna, also see my post on The 12 Best Arabic Restaurants in Amman and Around. The tourist stores, again offer a wide variety of jewelry, mosaic artworks, clothes, embroidery items, and some antique stuff. At some of our visits, we bought a typical Jordanian style Kelim, an addition to our rugs and carpet selection.
Useful tips about visiting Madaba
For more information on Madaba and surroundings see the Visit Jordan Website on Madaba. I recommend starting at the Madaba Visitor Center. It offers free parking, Information and maps. You can then visit the nearby Archeological Park, the Burnt Palace and later look at the Apostle Church or the Madaba Museum. All of them feature some impressive mosaics. For the ticket, which is 3 JD for foreign tourists and 250 fils for Jordanians and residents of Jordan, you can visit all four attractions.
If you would like to see something different in Madaba, why not visiting Kawon, the first bookstore in Madaba. It is actually much more than a bookstore as it serves as a community center, provides a study room, has a garden to relax, and is just a welcoming space. One time we had a stopover there between Amman and our cycling ride down to the Dead Sea.