The Best Places to Visit in Jordan
Jordan has become a popular travel destination in the last years. Let me take you on a journey of the Best Places in Jordan. In 2019 Petra, one of the new seven world wonders has received 1 million visitors, setting a new record. For me, however, Jordan is much more than Petra. I rather enjoy places that are less crowded and not so much frequented by mass tourism. Luckily, there are several sites and activities you can enjoy in Jordan, even if you go a bit off the beaten path. Springtime around March, April, and May is surely the most popular travel season for Jordan. However, there are experiences to discover all around the year. These include Amman, the East of Jordan, the North, some of the Nature Reserves, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, or even along the road or while hiking the Jordan Trail.
When is the Best Time to Travel to Jordan
Not only will I give you an overview of where to travel and what to visit in Jordan, but also indicate the best time to go to these places. Of course, you cannot only go in that specific month. Therefore, I tried to consider the weather conditions and suggest two to three places or activities you can enjoy during that time of the year. I have visited all of these great places myself. Make sure to discover the more detailed articles and pictures I have taken during these visits by clicking on the links. Welcome to Jordan!
For sure it can be cold in January, especially in Amman as the city is built on many hills. So why not escape the cold and go somewhere warmer. Make your way East to explore the Desert Castles. There are some well-preserved castles along the highway towards Azraq. Discover Qasr Al-Karaneh, Qasr ‘Amra, or Qasr Al-Hallabat Al-Sharqi.
In February temperatures might still be fairly cold and weather might be rainy. Anyhow, you might have some nice dry days with blue skies as well. On those days you can organize some day trips to destinations near to Amman such as Iraq Al-Amir. It is a 40 minutes trip from Amman and features some ruins, also known as Qasr Abd, you can discover. After that, you might wanna visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s cooperation. You can also use it as a starting or endpoint of a nice hike of the Jordan Trail from or to Fuheis.
If you are looking for something more adventurous, then Wadi Kerak might be a good choice. Depending on how much it rained, you need to be prepared however to get wet feed, so take that into account. But you will be rewarded with green scenery and pink flowers and a view, very different from the city.
March to May is the optimal travel season for Jordan. The North is green, Amman can be pleasant and other destinations might not be as hot as in summer. While you can, of course, go to Petra pretty much any time of the year, at the beginning of the travel season, you might still be able to escape massive crows, but do not have to freeze or sweat too much. If you want your experience even more unique, make sure to stay overnight and wake up really early. That way you can enter Petra as one of the first visitors in the morning, or take the back route, as we did this year. It is a wonderful path only used by a few travelers.
The Jordan Trail – One of the Best Hikes in the World
Another highlight that developed over the last years and got worldwide recognition is The Jordan Trail. It is a massive hiking path about 670 km stretching all the way through Jordan from Um Qais in the North to Aqaba in the South. The yearly through-hike usually is in spring and the dates for 2020 are 6th of March to 8th April. Of course, you do not have to take this hike as a whole but can enjoy one of the eight regions separately or just join for a weekend or even a day trip. For detailed information on the trail, certified tour operators, dates, free GPS coordinates, and Maps, see the website of the Jordan Trail Association. By the way, if you love hiking then check out my guest post about The Best Hikes in Jordan.
April is the perfect month for Jordan’s absolute highlight – Wadi Rum. The magic of this place is indescribable. Nowhere else in Jordan, and barely somewhere else in the world, you will be able to be that close to nature and experience absolute silence. And all this while sleeping under the stars and being surrounded by nothing other than sand and majestic rock formations. That’s why the cover picture also features Wadi Rum, as it is Jordan’s ultimate best spot in my opinion. Make sure to stay overnight in a basic Bedouin camp, ride a camel, eat Zarb, sleep under the stars, and feel the desert by foot, Jeep, or hot air balloon. If this is all not enough, ride a horse, watch a camel race or climb Jordan’s highest mountain. Even if you opt for a simple stay, you will make memories for your life. That is guaranteed.
Highlights in the North of Jordan
Jordan’s second most frequented tourist sites with ruins are Jerash, about 45 minutes North of Amman. It is an incredible ancient Roman city that consists of a wonderful oval court, two theaters, a gladiator fighting arena, impressive city gates, and many other massive buildings that you will see while you stroll along the old marble city streets. In the spring you are surrounded by plenty of green and flowers.
If you enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, then Spring is the perfect season for you. Apart from the famous spots, there are some hidden gems in Jordan. One of these is Wadi Al-Rayan. The Valley is located about 1.5-2h drive North from Amman. You will be surrounded by massive, old Olive trees and walk half a day along a small creek and you might forget for some time that you are actually in Jordan. Nature up there is just stunning. If you can’t get enough of nature, see my article on 10 Things to do in the North of Jordan.
The Dead Sea is a must-see for most Jordan visitors. Personally, I think it is a bit overrated and I think the valleys that you can access from there or the winding road back to Madaba & Mount Nebo, passing by the Panorama Dead Sea Complex, are much more worthwhile than the Dead Sea itself. However, you can decide if you want to take a more luxurious version of accommodation or if you rather find a free spot and just enjoy the sunset and take beautiful pictures.
If you love road trips and like to explore some different sites of Jordan by car on your own, drive along the King’s Highway and discover Mukawir, Um Ar-Rasas drive pass the Mujib Dam, visit Karak Castle and drive all the way south until you reach the smallest hotel in the world, near Shobak Castle. The final stop is again Petra.
Escape to Ajloun Forest Reserve, one of Jordan’s Nature Reserves protected by the RSCN. Stay in unique wooden cabins, while waking up to the sun kissing the forest. And if you are not in the mood for hiking, enjoy a visit to the main building of Royal Academy for Nature Conversation Ajloun. It hosts the Nature shop, the biscuit house, or you can try yourself in Arabic calligraphy.
Not far from Amman lies the former Ottoman influenced, capital of Jordan, As-Salt. It is a beautiful small city located on a hillside. The city has a couple of wonderful buildings that you can discover while meandering through tiny alleys of its center. You will find the famous Bathroom market street, some churches and great views from above. Enjoy a true Jordanian meal at Beit Aziz, before you leave. For a stay in the green nearby, you should consider the Mountain Breeze Resort.
There are many valleys accessible right from the Dead Sea and they offer a whole new experience to Jordan travelers that differ much from the green North or from the desert of Wadi Rum. If you like to take refreshment, then opt for Wadi Al-Hasa. While it will be hot in July for sure, you will always find a shadow and can cool down yourself, as you will be walking through water, sometimes up to knee-deep. This is not suitable for young kids and take your precautions and check the weather regularly in case you are visiting any of the Wadis in Jordan.
Have you ever taken a helicopter flight and wondered what Amman looks like from above? Then why not consider a heli-flight above Amman. Golden Eagle Aviation Academy offers helicopter flights to many destinations within Jordan as well as touristic city tours over Amman.
July and August are the hottest months, so hiking and exploring touristic sites that don’t offer many shadows, might not be the most pleasant thing to do. A refreshing alternative can be a visit to the Carakale Brewery in Fuheis, Jordan’s first craft beer Brewery. It is located in a lovely canyon with a wonderful view. You can always enjoy several beers on tap served at the tasting room. And even if you don’t drink beer, make sure to take a tour of the brewery itself! If you intend to go, check the opening hours, and keep in mind that the brewery is closed during Ramadan. It is also one of the few smoke-free places in and around Amman.
Amman is elevated at around 950 meters above sea level and spread over many hills. So the city has quite a pleasant climate, even in the hotter month. If you like to get a great view of the city, there are actually plenty of places where you can do so. Many terraces or rooftops have seating outside. These spots allow for an amazing sunset view while you can enjoy some treats and sip on a cocktail. For some of the best rooftops and terraces in Amman, see my article.
If you haven’t been to the Citadel in Amman, you should go as you get a wonderful view of Downtown Amman and can discover a great historic place in the heart of the city. Apart from the citadel, there is a small museum and it is worthwhile just exploring by foot and feeling the warm wind. You can see the birds flying over Amman’s hilly skyline and it is also a great place to take your kids in Amman.
Around two hours North of Amman, close to the Syrian border lies Um Qais or Umm Qais. It is a wonderful place in the corner of Jordan, Palestine, and Syria where you can spot lake Tiberia and the Golan heights. Stroll along with Roman ruins, look over three countries and take a snack at the restaurant located right inside the area. For some ideas of what to do in and around Umm Qais, check out Get Your Guide. For a lovely place to stay the night have a look at Beit Al Baraka.
October is usually still warm and the last month in the year, where you can hike through Wadi Mujib. After that, it is closed due to security measures. So make sure you, go there during the summer half from April to October. It lies right in the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve, is accessible from the Dead Sea, and is a wild water adventure, where swimming is necessary and you will have a great time. Entering is subject to an entrance fee but you can go both alone or take an organized trip. That is usually easier if you don’t have transport.
Before it gets too cold, make sure to visit Aqaba. Honestly, it is not the most beautiful city, but if you want to access the sea for swimming and don’t want to fly out of the country or take the ferry to Egypt, it is pretty much your only choice. There are a few nice hotels located right in Aqaba and a few more further South at Tala Bay. Most of the upper-priced hotels have a private beach with direct access for their visitors. Kids will enjoy it!
Pomegranate Season is November, so that is the perfect time for visiting one of the valleys in the North, full of pomegranate trees. You might have the chance to see farmers harvesting the fruits and turning them into pomegranate juice. The pomegranate valley is located far North, a few kilometers from the Syrian border, and is just a lovely change to the city.
Dana is another nature reserve in the middle of Jordan and is home to diverse nature and vegetation. As it is pretty rough, and there are barely any trees, it is a good idea, to go in the colder months, when it is hopefully not raining, yet. I have only stayed for one night, and haven’t had the chance to discover any of the hikes that you can embark on from there. But the view from the Dana Guest House is absolutely stunning. And I assume the section Dana to Petra is named the best part of the Jordan Trail for a reason. The nature reserve is for sure one of the best spots in Jordan and one of the things to do in Jordan, I am planning for 2020. For more accommodation options in Dana check here.
Jordan is mainly a Muslim country with a very tiny Christian population. Despite that, you will find quite a few Christmas events, Christmas markets, and a huge tree in pretty much any mall in Amman during December. If you like to discover some local Christmas traditions, make your way to Fuheis, a small mainly Christian town about 15 minutes West of Amman. If you decide to stay in the city, just stroll along the Boulevard or go to one of the hotels for their yearly Christmas tree lighting.
If you want to see something really different, take your family to Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary. The wildlife animal sanctuary is about 30 minutes away from Jerash and hosts rescued lions, tigers, and bears in a huge area. The animals are treated well and they have amazing wide space for them.