Jordan rich in both history and natural wonders, is a country in Western Asia. It sits on a crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe and offers breathtaking scenery.
No trip to Jordan is complete without a visit to Petra – I’ve honoured this with a separate post just on Petra! https://mysolofootprints.com/2022/11/05/what-to-see-in-petra/
Information on some of the many other highlights below!
I did a group cycling tour with Explore so you get to do some great cycling and also see something amazing everyday!
The Dead Sea
One of the most famous bodies of water in the world and stunning with it!
The lowest place on Earth at 408m below sea level, and probably one of the hottest too. The evaporation that results produces a huge amount of salinity. Around 31%, which is approximately 9 times higher than an ocean. The high mineral content makes it particularly bouyant and great for photo opportunities! The oily minerals are also said to contain healing properties. Though he mindful, if you you shaved your legs that morning – it will sting! And be prepared to find cuts you didn’t know you had! Also remember to lean backwards not forwards, makes it much easier to float and avoids you getting a mouthful of salt!
A Greek traveller in the second century gave The Dead Sea its name. He noticed the high salinity made it unsupportive of life. As the sea has no outlet, and the summer temperatures are high, the fresh water evaporates quicker than it is replenished.
It’s difficult to access The Dead Sea unless you do so from a hotel or resort. You can buy a day pass to some of them providing safe access to the sea, as well as pools, sunbeds, showers and other facilities. Absolutely worth it!
The Red Sea
Definitely worth joining a boat trip on The Red Sea. From the sea you have sight of Jordan, Israel, Egypt and in the distance Saudi Arabia. I’m not sure there’s anywhere else in the world where you can see 4 countries and 2 continents!
There are many options for boat trips, diving and snorkelling from Aqaba, I highly recommend: Ahlan_aqaba_official, link here:
Check out there Instagram page. Its great value for more than 4 hours on the boat, a delicious lunch, sun mattresses, towels and fresh drinking water. The option to buy reasonably priced beer is also there should you choose. Aqaba generally is a little easier to access alcohol in restaurants etc relative to some of the other places we visited.
Plus access to snorkelling equipment and guided snorkelling is also available. We snorkelled over the Japanese garden coral seeing much marine life, and I found Nemo! Then we continued to the Ceder Pride Shipwreck, stunning to see it so close! Apparently it was a Lebanese freighter that sustained extensive fire damage in 1982.
King Abdullah was a keen diver and requested it was kept as a site for divers. It sits approximately 27m deep and around 200m offshore.
Travel makes you realise that no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn.Nyssa P Chopra
Wadi in Arabic means valley, and rum means high or elevated. Wadi Rum is the largest wadi in Jordan, and is also known as The Valley of the Moon. Tourism here was kickstarted by desert scenes of Laurence of Arabia in 1962.
Wadi Rum is home to the Zalabieh tribe who developed eco-adventure tourism and services throughout the protected area. There are many small camps to stay in, some being traditional Bedouin tents, some glamping pods and some less luxurious! There was an overbooking issue with ours and I think we ended up in the staff tent!
You can take part in many activities the most popular being camel rides and 4×4 tours. I took part in the latter in a jeep that has seen better days, but the sunset was stunning!
Many films have used Wadi Rum as background settings or part of filming. To name a few Dune, Star Wars The rise of Skywalker, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Prometheus.
The capital and largest city in Jordan is a modern city with many ancient ruins. There are many museums, souqs, mosques, coffee houses and malls. An easy place to hang out and spend some time before visiting the wonders of Petra and Wadi Rum.
Rainbow street is a must visit whilst in or near Amman. It’s Amman’s most colourful street! There are several rooftop pubs and restaurants where you can get a great panoramic view of the city. It’s the perfect place to go for a wander, surrounded by colourful decorations and funky cafes. You’ll find plenty of souvenir shops and vibrant architecture.
I stayed in the ancient town of Madaba, an interesting market town full of history and also famed for its Byzantine era mosaics; just south west of Amman. There are many fascinating churches and it’s a great place to grab a coffee and soak up the atmosphere!
The most famous thing it’s known for is it’s 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land in the Greek Orthodox Church of St George.
Ayar is a delicious Lebanese restaurant in Madaba that I tried near my hotel. Great service and fantastic food, and all reasonably priced too. I recommend a stop if you find yourself anywhere nearby.
Personally I loved all the local food and dishes I tried. My favourite Muqlubah, sometimes referred to as ‘Upside down’ owing to the way it’s cooked. It’s delicious rice with chicken, aubergine and cauliflower with a blend of spices cooked in a pot.
Other popular local dishes are Mansaf lamb with yoghurt. And Musakhan which is a parcel baked with chicken, vegetables and sumec.
I’d also recommend Sayadieh, it’s a very traditional local dish consisting of seasoned rice with fish on top and a tahini sauce. I had it with grouper in Aqaba and it really was delicious.
You can also enjoy all the delicious starters such a houmous, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, fattoush and falafel to name a few. And of course a fresh shawarma.
Mount Nebo said to be the place where Moses died, is mentioned in the bible as the place where Moses was able to see the promised land before his death. There are stunning views from the top which is around 800m above sea level. From the summit you can see Jericho and on a very clear day Jerusalem.
The remains of a Byzantine church stand at the top. The remnants of many mosaics from different periods are also visible. Some believed to date back to around 4 AD.
During my trip I cycled down the very steep switchbacks to the Dead Sea some 400m below sea level.
Perched dramatically at the top of a hill in a wild, remote landscape, Shobak was built in 1115 by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. It withstood numerous attacks from Salah ad Din before succumbing in 1189. The site was highly desirable due to its vantage viewpoints giving it the ability to see enemies from miles around. It was also a fertile landscape, though it did lack a reliable water source. Shobak was strategically important though as it dominated the main passage from Egypt to Syria.
Shobak is also home to the worlds smallest hotel! Officially in the Guiness world records- so I’m told, I’ve not verified it!
The Practical Stuff
You’ll need to complete a gateway to Jordan form online to generate a QR code which you need to enter the country. Relatively straightforward and can be completed up to 10 days prior to travel. This is from the UK, but obviously things can change quickly especially currently so as ever, always check current foreign office advice before you travel.
You then queue up for a visa on arrival. As I was with a group tour the guide took care of this whilst we went on to collect our luggage making it all smooth and easy. There are many group tours you can go on. I went with Explore on a cycling tour which I highly recommend if you enjoy cycling. Or they have standard site seeing tours. There really is so much to see and experience in this beautiful country! Link to the tour I did below which I highly recommend, though there are many other options both with Explore and other tour companies
Time is GMT plus two hours. Flights from London to Queen Alia international airport are just over 5 hours. There is free airport WiFi with no sign up required.
Currency is the Jordanian Dinar. ATM’s are available throughout the country and widely used. Credit cards are generally accepted at top end hotels and restaurants and larger souvenir shops. Commissions of up to 5% can be added. There are Arab Bank and Bank of Jordan ATM’s in both terminals at Queen Alia, accepting foreign cards. There is also currency exchange in arrivals offering reasonable rates on western currencies. Most ATM’s charge a fee for withdrawing cash so where possible try to plan ahead how much you will need.
As usual I recommend a Starling bank card, great for travelling – good rates and a great easy to use app. https://www.starlingbank.com/
I’d also recommend a Water to Go bottle. Great for travelling, you can fill it up anywhere and it filters out almost all contaminants making it safe to drink. https://watertogo.eu/
When to go: High season is March to May, days are warm and nights are cool, though this is obviously the busiest time of year to visit. Shoulder season September to February, is the best time of year to visit the Red Sea. Low season June – August, take LOTS of sun cream, temperatures at this time of year can be extreme.
Thank you in Arabic is ‘Shukr’, and as ever goes a long way!
Whenever you go you’ll have a fantastic trip in what is an exceptionally beautiful country. I also found all the local people I came across to be extremely friendly and helpful and I can’t wait to return! Enjoy!