Originally, I wrote this article last year as a guest article for a travel agency based here in Jordan. Unfortunately, due to Covid they don’t work anymore. But I am happy to be able to share with you some of the unique things to do in Jordan. Hopefully, there is something new and interesting for you to try out when visiting Jordan.
Take a Birds-eye View of Amman from a Helicopter
A Helicopter flight is certainly something unique. Not everywhere in the world do you have the opportunity to get a birds-eye view. So, this one must be on the list of unique things to do in Jordan. Golden Eagle Aviation Academy (GEAA) offers flights across the Kingdom as well as sightseeing tours. Essentially, GEAA is an aviation training center and now runs an Air Taxi and arranges sightseeing tours. Former staff of the Royal Jordanian Air Force operate flights above Amman and other popular destinations such as Petra, Jerash, or Wadi Rum.
If you decide to take a short site-seeing flight above Amman you will be surprised by how quickly you are up in the air and how much you can see in such a short time. If you only could use the helicopter for daily commutes. You will start in West Amman and follow Zahran street which connects the most important circles of the city. You will pass by the abandoned Jordan Gate Towers, the Abdali project overlooking its Mall and Boulevard. Then you will turn to Sports city, fly over the hotel district in the center of Amman, and shortly after return to the starting point. It is a short but adrenaline-filled flight, as you sit with maximal four people in a small helicopter. The wide windshield allows you to have excellent views at all times, so you can take some stunning pictures from the air.
Discover Jordan on Two Wheels – Cycling in Jordan
Cycling in the desert of Wadi Rum might sound a bit strange but is actually possible. And it is only one of the many places in Jordan you can explore on two wheels. You will probably surprised that there is even a Jordan Bike Trail. While the whole trail is certainly targeted at experienced and trained riders, there is a selection of easier rides in Jordan as well. The tours pass by some stunning landscapes and cross diverse climate zones and scenery. You can discover historic, religious, or cultural highlights of Jordan in a truly unique way.
Trail options include places like Umm Qais in the green North of Jordan, riding down to the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, and well-known touristic sites such as Petra. If you are interested in a cycling trip, make sure to have a look at Cycling Jordan. You can embark on a day trip from Amman, explore Jordan on an 8-day cycling tour, or cycle across the country in 15 days on the Jordan Bike Trail. If that all is not enough for you, race your fellow hikers on The100annual Cycling Challenge.
Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary
If you are in Amman and looking for a family-friendly day-trip, make sure to visit the Al Ma’wa Wildlife Sanctuary. It is only a one hour drive from Amman and lies right between Jerash and Ajloun. You probably would not expect to see Lions, Tigers, and Bears on your average Jordan Itinerary. Al Ma’wa is not a zoo. The animals you will see at the Wildlife Sanctuary were rescued from various animal traffickers, private persons, or zoos in the region. The areal is just enormous in size and provides a great environment for wildlife. The animals get the right food they need, medical care, and can freely move in within their space.
At the entry, you will find a very inviting playground with wooden frames and toys for kids. While waiting for your guided tour to start, you can sip on tea or coffee in the small cafe. Inside the sanctuary, you get to see plenty of lions of different sizes, two impressive Siberian tigers, and hopefully a bear. It is really large and the opposite of cramped, so expect to walk a bit. But don’t worry as in the end there is the option for a bus to pick you up and bring you back to the parking area.
Discover Planes, Tanks and Much More Underwater in Aqaba
Aqaba is the most Southern city in Jordan close to the Saudi Arabian Border. With its access to the Red Sea, it is a popular beach escape both for local and international tourists. On top, the Read Sea is considered to be one of the best Dive Spots in the world. At the shores of Aqaba, you can find natural beauty in the form of stunning coral reefs and life underwater.
To further expand the interesting underwater world, you can now find several military pieces of machinery drowned not far from the beach. In fact, it is the first underwater military museum that officially opened in 2019. The vehicles and planes are lying in different depths, so it provides interesting trips for divers of different levels and even snorkelers. A few machines are lying just about 5 meters undersea. That includes an impressive tank which you can enjoy either via snorkeling or while on a glass boat trip. It is certainly one of the most unique experiences Aqaba has to offer. Even experienced divers cite it as one of the top dives you can do.
Take Hot Air Balloon Ride over Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is an absolute highlight on any Jordan Journey and one of the most amazing places I have been ever been to. The absence of civilization and the relaxed Bedouin lifestyle make it an exceptional place to visit. While at first, it seems, there is not much you can do in a desert, there are actually some very interesting activities that you can join. Obviously, a jeep tour an camel ride come to your mind at an instance and you might even think of hiking or climbing. But Wadi Rum has even more to offer.
So while others explore on foot, jeep, camel, horse, or quad, why not watch the stunning rock formations of Wadi Rum from a hot air balloon? Since this is a truly limited experience it also makes it very unique. You will wake up early before sunrise, observe how the balloon is prepared and one of the most experienced captains will then take you with few others on an unforgettable flight above the desert. Of course, this is not for everyone, but it certainly is an awesome adventure.
Eat Kunafeh on Charcoals near Salt
Al-Salt was Jordan’s capital for some time, before Amman, previously known as Philadelphia was declared the kingdom’s capital. The small town is not far from Amman and amazes with its houses built on several hills. The city’s Ottoman influence makes it a unique destination unlike any other in Jordan. As-Salt offers plenty of history and culture and is one Jordan’s six UNESCO heritage sites since 2021.
The town hosts several marked trails all leaving from the city center. You can wander through narrow alleys gaze at the interesting architecture. You will find hidden gems in nearly any corner. There are very old houses, interesting doors and lots of greenery within the city. Watch the vendors on the Bathroom Street Market, explore mosques and churches. For an amazing view over the city, climb up to the war memorial built to remember fallen Turkish soldiers. Visit the Archeological Museum or the Abu Jaber museum. If you are tired from the many stairs take a rest at the Jordan Heritage Cafe, sip on tea at Iskandarani or sit down for a local meal at Beit Aziz.
When you are still not full, then be prepare yourself for truly unique culinary experience near As-Salt. Head over to Street 60 a few minutes outside of Salt and make sure to try Kunafeh cooked over a charcoal fire. Street 60 is a popular evening and weekend destination among locals. Lots of locals drive up there, to meet friends, watch the sunset and have tea, coffee and Argeela (waterpipe).
If you don’t know Kunafeh, yet, then you have to try it. It is a typical Palestinian/Jordanian sweet dessert. Kunafeh itself is essentially noodle-style pastry. It comes together with cheese baked over fire. On top bakeries will sprinkle nuts, pistachios and garnish it with sugar syrup to your liking. If you like to try this special dessert in an extra unique way of making, head over to Abu Hazim on Street 60 to eat Kunafeh prepared on charcoal. And don’t forget to enjoy a stunning sunset overlooking the Dead Sea Valley.