Jordan is a traveller's ideal first stop in the Middle East. The destination is safe and welcoming, bringing visitors close to world wonders and immersing them in world-class hospitality. Once you've immersed yourself in the culture of this laid-back country, you'll feel right at home.
On the other hand, Jordan is not solely rooted in the past. Its hilly capital, Amman, is bustling with restaurants and cafés, upscale shopping, and impressive art galleries. Then there's the Dead Sea, where you can relax your feet after a long day of sightseeing and indulge in some much-needed pampering at one of the many luxurious waterfront resorts.
With our list of the top tourist attractions in Jordan, you can plan your trip to the Middle East and see the best places to visit.
You'll need at least two days to see everything around Petra, which has over 800 registered sites. If you have more time, you will be satisfied if you spend it here. Wandering around an ancient city in such a pristine condition is an unforgettable experience.
Petra makes no effort to impress visitors. The mysterious Djinn Blocks, imposing stone monuments whose original purpose is unknown, are immediately after the entrance, followed by the Obelisk Tomb. It's only a taste of the incredible sights to come.
2. Dead Sea
The mineral-rich water of the Dead Sea is well-known. Wellness enthusiasts believe water has skin-healing properties. But don't expect to swim laps - the Dead Sea is so dense and salient that all you can do is float on top of the water.
The Dead Sea can be reached via several routes, including Amman Beach. Spend more money and stay at one of the plush spa resorts on the Dead Sea's northeast coast. Private wading areas are usually provided, along with buckets of Dead Sea mud. After soaking in this red-brown sludge, your skin will be softer than ever.
3. Wadi Rum
If you travel to Jordan's southern region, you will be treated to one of the world's most spectacular landscapes: Wadi Rum. This sandstone and granite rock valley, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is an otherworldly experience, with towering cliffs, massive dunes, swirling archways, and caverns. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 after serving as the backdrop for much of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.
Consider spending the night at one of Wadi Rum's luxurious "glamping" (glamorous camping) locations. With almost no light pollution, the park provides excellent stargazing opportunities. It's no surprise that visiting Wadi Rum is one of the best things to do in Jordan.
4. Jerash Ruins
Nothing beats visiting the Jerash ruins for a sense of time travel. It is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman cities in the world, with spectacular sights ranging from collonaded avenues and temples to a massive sports arena with a seating capacity of 15,000 spectators.
Tourists begin their exploration of the Jerash ruins by walking through Hadrian's Arch. The roughly 11-meter-tall structure is magnificent, but it is even more so when you consider it was originally twice the size.
Think you can't have a beach vacation in the
hot, dry Middle East? Think again. Consider again. Aqaba, a beach town on Jordan's southern tip, offers tourists vacations along the Red Sea's breathtaking coastline.
You can float, swim, snorkel, or dive from Aqaba. You can also take a daily cruise on the turquoise water, which is offered by local hotels. Enhance your Jordan beach vacation by soaking in one of the lovely hammams located around the resort town.
6. Roman Ruins in Amman
You don't have to go all the way to Petra to see fantastic archaeological sites in Jordan. The capital Amman (where you'll probably arrive from abroad) is home to a variety of fascinating ruins, many of which are within short walking distance from one another.
Head downtown to see one of the most celebrated ruins: the Amman Citadel. Archaeologists have found artefacts around the Citadel that suggest it has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age. Here, you can see the few columns that remain of the amazing Temple of Hercules, a significant Roman structure that was never completed. Look for the stone sculpture of several fingers, which were once part of a Hercules statue that may have been more than 12 meters tall. It hints at just how majestic this attraction was during its height.
7. Ancient Mosaics of Madaba
While many tourist destinations require you to look up, the historic trading city of Madaba does not. The city has the "world's largest number of mosaics discovered in their original location," many of which are on the floors of churches and buildings.
The relatively unassuming St. George's Church houses one of Jordan's most notable mosaics: the Madaba Mosaic Map. The Holy Land during the Byzantine period is depicted on this 6th-century map, which features Biblical-era cartography. While some of the original two million tiles have been lost, the map's remnants provide an excellent glimpse of what the Middle East looked like many centuries ago.
8. Wadi Mujib
Wadi Mujib is Jordan's Grand Canyon, stretching around 70 kilometres from the Desert Highway to the Dead Sea. The river canyon, which is four kilometres wide and one kilometre deep, provides nature lovers with the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including Egyptian vultures, Nubian ibex, striped hyenas, and Syrian wolves.
If you don't mind getting a little wet, there's some great hiking through the Wadi Mujib gorge. You can also travel an hour and a half from Amman to the Mujib Reserve Biosphere to soak in picturesque hot springs.
9. Desert Castles
The Zarqa Governorate, which stretches from Amman to the Saudi border, is home to a series of archaeological sites known as the Desert Castles. The Umayyads built these early Islamic structures around the turn of the seventh century. Not quite castles in the traditional sense, the collection of structures includes, among other things, hunting lodges, forts, military citadels, bathhouses, and caravan rest stops.
Ajloun, located just 20 kilometres northwest of Jerash, is a worthwhile trip for tourists looking to see some of Jordan's best natural scenery. Spend a day hiking through the Ajloun Forest Reserve, a 13-square-kilometre stretch of pristine, open woodlands. The area is covered in wildflowers in the spring, making for spectacular photo opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for the area's crested porcupines and striped hyenas.
Jordan, located in the heart of the Middle East, is a progressive and liberal country with shopping malls, secluded deserts, magnificent cliffs, and a breathtaking sea. It has the best landscapes, architectural ruins, and mouthwatering food. This land of breathtaking beauty and contrast is also home to some incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites, which are a treat for visitors. Jordan also has several nature reserves and desert castles that you must visit for an unforgettable experience. So get ready to satisfy your wanderlust by visiting the best tourist attractions in Jordan.