Visiting Jordan is a travel experience like no other. For such a small country it's hard to believe how many show stoppers it has. With ancient cities, spectacular deserts and one of the world's most unusual lakes (yes the Dead Sea is actually a lake!) it's hard to believe that visitor numbers are not through the roof.
But it's not just the sights which will blow you away. The people here are some of the friendliest we've met. Break down in the desert (yes that did happen to us!) and everyone will rally around until you are back on the road again. Looking vaguely lost? You will be led to your destination with nothing expected in return. Simply passing by? Tea will be offered, in fact cup after cup will be forthcoming until you can convince your host that you are full!
Unmissable things to do in Jordan
Now is definitely the time to come to Jordan. Following the Arab Spring of 2011 and the ongoing Syrian crisis, tourism has been almost cut in half in the last seven years. But all that is changing, people are beginning to return, realising that Jordan is in fact an incredibly safe country and many new flight routes between Europe and Amman are confirmed for later this year.
Best to start googling flights.
1. Explore the City of Mysteries - Petra
There is nowhere else quite like Petra. It still gives me shivers when I think about seeing the Treasury for the first time, or watching the sunset from the High Place of Sacrifice.
It's a huge site and there is so much to see, so definitely factor in more than one day. In an incredibly photogenic country Petra definitely had our favourite photography spots.
This is a true wonder of the world, and the current relaxed rules surrounding the site mean that almost all of it is yours to explore.
If you have ever wanted to feel like Indiana Jones then Petra is the place for you. Yes the main sights can get crowded, but if you use our guide and we will show you how to get Petra to yourself.
Round off your visit with a by seeing Petra by candlelight. It is a truly unique experience and one we will never forget. Everything you need to know to get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience is here.
2. Go Lawrence of Arabia in Wadi Rum desert
Wadi Rum is spectacular, truly spectacular.
The scenery is otherworldly, and it is easy to see why it has been the location of choice for so many movies. Most recent of which is The Martian.
You can explore the area by jeep or by camel, and there is a lot to see. If you have the time we would definitely recommend spending the night in one of the desert camps.
It's a wonderful experience, you can sleep in a tent (complete with proper bed) or put your mattress out and sleep under the stars. The sunrises and sunsets are not to be missed!
Getting the perfect trip to Wadi Rum is not easy though. We made a few mistakes and have outlined them here to help you plan your trip to perfection.
3. Float in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea is on many people's bucket list and it is just as an incredible sensation as you might imagine.
But it's not all about the floating you can turn it into a bit of a spa experience.
Grab some of the Dead Sea mud and cover yourself head to toe, bake for 15 minutes in the sun and then wash off in the sea. The minerals in the mud are great for your skin, and you'll come out feeling silky smooth.
You can read our full blog post on the Dead Sea here.
4. Wade through canyon - Siq Trail, Wadi Mujib
This is undoubtedly one of the most intrepid experiences you can have in Jordan.
The Siq Trail completely blew us away.
You begin by walking through the canyon in ankle deep water before it rises to your waist and then even to the point where you need to swim.
The toughest sections are roped which really helps when the water is flowing fast. The canyon itself is astonishingly beautiful, especially early morning when there is no one else around.
You can walk the full trail or just do as much as you like if you don't want to scale the tougher sections, which we didn't.
5. Catch a sunset in Dana Village
Visiting Dana village is like stepping back in time.
Wandering through the crumbling sandstone buildings and quiet streets you are more likely to bump in to a donkey than you are another human being.
We were lucky enough to witness three Dana sunsets and each one was utterly spectacular. We have three recommendations for good spots to watch the sun slowly sink beneath the mountains.
The first is the lookout point at the end of the village, this looks directly over the canyon, and you can sit on one of the ruins for the perfect spot to soak it up.
The second is the lookout point at the top of the road just before you drive into Dana village. As it is high up it gives you a great overall look at the village, which becomes bathed in a golden light. The third would be from the balcony at Dana Guest House, which has uninterrupted canyon views, and you can sit and watch with a drink in hand.
Here's everything you need to know to plan your trip to Dana.
6. Go hiking in Dana Biosphere Reserve
The great thing about the hiking trails in Dana is that there is something for everyone. The majority of walks go from the Rumana camp site, a 20 minute drive from Dana village.
You can try the absolutely stunning campsite circuit, the views will take your breath away.
Or perhaps the walk to King Hussein lookout, named because King Hussein himself used to enjoy sitting there, and we could definitely see why!
For a longer and slightly more challenging hike, you can take the Wadi Dana Trail. This 14km walk starts at Dana village and takes you through the canyon to Feynan Eco Lodge. It is not a difficult trail, the only real challenge is the lack of shade. It's an incredible way to see the countryside, and you will pass plenty of Bedouin families and yes there will be tea!
Here are our thoughts about the trails in more detail.
7. Stay in one of Nat Geo's top 25 eco lodges in the world - Feynan
Yes we couldn't believe that we got the chance to stay in a lodge that made Nat Geo's top 25!
At roughly $170 USD per night it definitely isn't cheap, and we debated about paying so much, but it really was worth it.
The lodge is in the middle of the desert and the sunsets and star gazing have to be seen to be believed.
The rooms are simple but comfortable. The bathrooms have electricity but the rooms and the rest of the lodge don't. This means come dark they light the whole lodge with hundreds of candles, which is a magical experience.
All food is included in the room rate and was some of the best we had in Jordan. It's a community project, so by staying you are supporting all the Bedouin families in the area, many of whom you will meet during the various activities on offer (again these are included).
8. Enter Petra by the back door, Petra to Little Petra walk
If you enjoy walking and are keen to get off the beaten track in Petra then this walk is for you.
At only 8km and for the most part flat (there's a reasonable size hill at the very end) it is suitable for anyone of average fitness.
The walk takes you through some beautiful Jordanian countryside and is so quiet and peaceful, in fact we didn't see another person on this whole walk.
When you arrive in Petra you arrive at the Monastery, a building every bit as beautiful as the treasury but with far fewer visitors. You're first glimpse will be something you'll never forget.
You can read our full account of the hike here.
9. Take in the views, Amman Citadel
Lots of people choose to skip Amman in favour of hot footing it to one of the more famous attractions.
If you have a day or two to spare, Amman is actually a really enjoyable city.
Our favourite spot is without a doubt the Citadel which offers fantastic views over the city. It's also a great spot to watch the sunset. Here are our tips on visiting Amman Citadel, the perfect place to start your trip to Jordan.
10. Try traditional Bedouin tea with the locals
You will be invited for tea with a Bedouin that is for sure, it is more a case of how many times!
Despite normally hating tea with sugar, we found the traditional Bedouin tea (made with sugar and sage) absolutely delicious.
We shared many a brew with locals, and every time were blown away by the hospitality of strangers.
It became one of our favourite things to do in Jordan, and we were humbled every time. If you are really lucky you might even be offered some home made bread too.
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Are you planning a trip to Jordan? Have you already been and think we missed somewhere off the list? Let us know in the comments below!
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