Jordan has become a popular travel destination in the last years and in 2019 Petra, one of the new seven world wonders has received 1 million visitors even before the end of the year, setting a new record. For me however, Jordan is much more than Petra, as I rather enjoy places that are less crowded and frequented by mass tourism. Luckily, there are a number of sites and activities you can enjoy in Jordan. While spring time around March, April and May is surely the most popular travel time, there are experiences to discover all around the year, be they in Amman, in the East of Jordan, the North, in some of the Nature Reserves, in Wadi Rum, Aqaba, or even along the road or while hiking the Jordan Trail. This post shall not just give you an overview of where to travel and what to see in Jordan, but also the best time go to these places. While that does not always mean, you can only go in that specific month, 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 most of these places myself and will refer to some more detailed articles and pictures I have taken during these visits. 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 escaping the cold and go somewhere warmer. Make your way East to explore the Desert Castles. There are a number of well preserved castles along the highway towards Azraq. Discover Qasr Al-Karaneh, Qasr ‘Amra or Qasr Al-Hallabat Al-Sharqi.
While February temperatures might still be fairly cold and weather might be rainy, you might also have some nice dry days with blue skies, so 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 starting or end point 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 a 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, in 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 arrive the night before and wake up really early, to enter Petra as one of the first visitors or take the back route, as we did this year. It is a wonderful path only used by a few travelers.
Another highlight that developed over the last years and got worldwide recognition is the The Jordan Trail, a 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 hole but can enjoy on 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.
April is the perfect months 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, 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.
Jordan’s second most frequented tourist sites with ruins is 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 which is Wadi Al-Rayan. The Wadi 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 sometime that you are actually in Jordan. The nature is just stunning.
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 it self. 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, and make your away all the way South until you reach the smallest hotel in the world, near Shobak Castle.
Escape to Ajloun Forest Reserve, one of Jordan’s Nature Reserves protected by the RSCN and stay in unique wooden cabins, while waking up to the sun kissing the forest. And if you are not in mood for hiking, enjoy a visit to the Nature shop, the biscuit house or try yourself in Arabic calligraphy at the Royal Academy for Nature Conversation Ajloun.
Not far from Amman lies Ottoman influenced, former capital of Jordan, As-Salt. It is a beautiful small city located on a hillside that has a couple of wonderful buildings that you can discover while meandering through tiny alleys of the city 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.
Many Valleys are accessible right from the Dead Sea and they offer a whole new experience to Jordan travelers that differ much from the green North or the desert of Wadi Rum. If you like to take a refreshment, then opt for Wadi Al-Hasa. While it will be hot in July for sure, you will always find 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 weather regularly in case you are visiting any of the Wadis in Jordan.
If you haven’t taken a helicopter flight and ever 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 much shadow, might not be the most pleasant thing to do. A refreshing alternative might be to visit the Carakale Brewery in Fuheis, Jordan’s first craft beer Brewery. It is located at 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.
As Amman is elevated at around 950 meters above sea level and spread over many hills, so that the city has quite a pleasant climate, even in the hotter month. If you like to get a great view over the city, there are actually plenty of places where you can do so. Many terraces or rooftops have seating outside and allow for an amazing view while you can enjoy some treats and sip on some cocktails. For some of the top 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 Amman. Apart from the citadel, there is a small museum and it is worthwhile just exploring by foot and feeling the warm wind.
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 Roman ruins, see over three countries and take a snack at the restaurant located right inside the area.
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 form 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 a entrance fee but you can go both alone or through a group, organized trip.
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 upper priced hotels have a private beach with direct access for their visitors. Kids will enjoy!
Pomegranate Season is November, so that is the perfect time for visiting one of the valleys in the North, full with 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 are 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 already stunning. And I assume the section Dana to Petra is named best part of the Jordan Trail for a reason. It is one of the things I am planning for 2020.
Although Jordan is mainly a Muslim country with a very tiny Christian population, you will find quiet a few Christmas events, Christmas markets and a huge tree in pretty much any mall in Amman. 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 resort is about 30 minutes away from Jerash and hosts rescued lions, tigers and bears on a huge area. The animals are treated well and they have amazing wide space for them.