There are so many things to do in Jordan, you will want at least a couple of weeks to visit. From the thriving metropolis of Amman to the quiet retreat of the Feynan Ecolodge, there is something for everyone.
Jordan – The jewel of the Middle East. Surrounded by chaos and unrest, Jordan has remained a neutral destination and it is difficult to imagine the conflict that is happening outside its borders.
It’s advisable to stay away from the Syrian and Iraqi borders and be sure to steer clear of demonstrations in public places. But travel to Jordan feels no more insecure than anywhere else in the world these days and once you enter the country, you’ll feel the welcoming friendliness of locals.
What to do in Jordan
We had the opportunity to visit much of the country and fell in love with its beauty, culture and hospitality. Jordan is a destination to remember. So these are our top 10 things to do in Jordan that will make you want to pack your bags right now.
- Get your Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Jordan
1. Ancient City of Petra
Petra is one of the great ancient cities of the world and it definitely lives up to the hype. With momentous buildings built into high cliffs, Petra will literally take your breath away as you step into the Treasury square after your 2km walk through the deep narrow gorge of the Siq.
Dating back more than 2000 years, Petra was an important part of the Silk Route to China and India but was abandoned at some time around the 12th century.
It was only known to locals for hundreds of years until it was rediscovered by the West in 1812. This legendary setting is so beautiful, Hollywood has since come a-knockin’ using Petra for filming locations in movies such as Transformers and Indian Jones. Read more about Petra here.
2. Petra by Night
Petra is an incredible place to visit by day, but going to Petra at night is magical. When the sun goes down, visitors follow candles lining the Siq all the way to the treasury where we watched a traditional Bedouin performance.
While the performance was only average, it was the setting that was breathtaking. Hundreds of candles lit up the treasury making for a night to remember.
For us, Petra was one of the greatest ancient cities blowing us away far beyond our visits to Machu Picchu, the Pyramids or even Anchor Wat.
3. Little Petra
Of course, Petra is the top draw in Jordan, but while there be sure to have your guide take you a bit north to visit Little Petra also known as Siq al Barid.
Archaeologists believe it was a suburb of Petra. See, the ancient cities weren’t that much different than today! The draw here are the 2000 year old frescoes. Like Petra, entrance is through a narrow siq, albeit on a much smaller scale.
4. Float in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea truly is filled with salt and you can float until your heart’s content. Book a hotel directly on the sea so you can enjoy a daily dip in the healing waters. People have been known to lay on their backs reading a newspaper in the Dead Sea and it’s true! You really float on top!
- Where to stay at the Dead Sea:
5. Take a Therapeutic Mud Bath
The minerals of the dead sea have healing qualities and many people book retreats to help with ailments. Take advantage of the spas utilizing the healing waters of the Dead Sea and enjoy a retreat into pure luxury. If you rub mud all over your skin, it will be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
I found the salt to be very powerful however and it stung my skin. It was good to have a bucket of fresh water on hand.
- Where to Stay – Holiday Inn Dead Sea– We stayed at this hotel it was luxurious with great value.
- Where to Stay – Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea– we ate at this hotel and wished we stayed here. Pure heaven.
- Only in Jordan for a limited time? Day tours can be booked to the Dead Sea.
6. Canyoning Wadi Mujib
One of our favorite activities in all of Jordan was splashing around in the waters of Wadi Mujib for a day. Wadi Mujib is easily reached from the Dead Sea and can be included during your stay there.
Canyoning in the warm waters of Jordan was a fantastic thrill beginning with a rappel down a waterfall into fast-flowing water. Wearing a PFD (life jacket) we swam through pools, plunged down natural waterslides and slid through narrow gorges. It was an amazing way to escape the heat and get our adventure on. Read all about it at our Canyoning Adventure in Jordan
7. Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is an incredible desert valley filled with narrow gorges, towering cliffs and natural stone arches. It’s home to the Bedouins where the human race has inhabited this land for nearly 12,000 years. T.E. Lawrence began his journey through the Arabian desert here.
Lawrence of Arabia is so linked to Wadi Rum, that the beautiful rock formation known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom was named after his autobiography.
8. Sleep in a Bedouin Camp
There are many things to do in Wadi Rum. We took a jeep tour deep into the desert and we went on a camel safari to fill out our very own Lawrence of Arabia fantasies.
Experience a true Bedouin experience as you camp in the middle of Wadi Rum in yurts made out of wool. Walk by candlelight, enjoy a Bedouin meal cooked in the earth and ride a camel at sunset. But the best part about visiting Wadi Rum was staying in a Bedouin Camp to have a true Bedouin Experience.
We ate dinner in a tented camp where they prepared our meal underground. We stayed in our own private camp and walked along the pathway by candlelight. It was amazing to sleep under the stars.
- Where to Stay – Captains Desert Camp – We stayed here and had a great authentic experience and ate an incredible meal.
9. Feynan Eco-Lodge
The Feynan Eco-Lodge is a luxury retreat that makes protecting Jordan’s natural resources and wildlife a priority. Hire a local guide from the lodge to take you on a nature hike through the reserve to point out the ancient ruins, local flora, and fauna and to share personal stories of growing up in the area.
At night enjoy a completely light pollution-free view of the stars as you lay in silence on the roof of the lodge to enjoy the night skies while sipping fresh tea.
- Read more about this experience in Jordan at Feynan Eco-Lodge a Quiet Retreat in Jordan
- You can book and check availability on Trip Advisor
10. Dana Nature Reserve
The Dana Biosphere Reserve cuts through the Rift Valley leading all the way to the heart of Africa. The town of Dana is a 15th century stone village overlooking the great valley. Once a thriving town, it has now been turned into an artist and farming community.
Here you can explore the town and hike through the natural preserve seeing local life as it has been lived for centuries. There are multi-day hikes you can do through the Biosphere Reserve and one even takes you from the village of Dana to the Feynan Ecolodge. Jordan is fast becoming an eco-travel destination.
- Where to Stay: Dana Guesthouse.
If you like Roman ruins, you will love Jerash. Jerash is the most well-preserved ancient Roman city outside of Italy. Jerash dates back 6500 years and was an important city on Rome’s ancient trade route.
Thanks to the dry climate, it laid untouched for centuries to understand waiting to be explored. Excavations began in 1925 and today it is one of the greatest examples of Roman architecture outside of Rome.
- Jerash can be reached by a day trip from Amman. We stayed at the Four Seasons Amman and took a day tour from the city
- Get Your Guide offers day trips from Amman to Jerash.
- For more on Jerash, read our post on our time at Jerash
12. Mount Nebo
For a spiritual journey visit Mount Nebo known to be the spot where Moses saw the promised land before he died. Looking out over the valley, you too can witness spectacular views of the Holy land.
Mount Nebo houses an active monastery and Byzantium church that is a popular stop for pilgrimages. Be sure to check out the mosaics.
13. Explore Amman
Amman is a thriving metropolis that is worth spending a few days in. Enjoy a shisha at a local bar, shop at one of the many markets and be sure to visit The King Abdullah Mosque.
For some local flare make sure to enjoy a meal at the Hashem Restaurant an outdoor café located in an alleyway packed with patrons.
Things to do in Amman
- King Abdullah Mosque
- Eat Food. Amman has an amazing food scene from street food to 5-star dining. Foods to try are falafel, hummus, nuts, khunafa, shawarma.
- Al Balad – The heart of Amman for markets and shopping
- Amman Citadel
- Rainbow Street
Where to Stay in Amman: Four Seasons Amman
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Jordan far beyond Petra. With excellent eco-adventures, rich history, and incredible landscapes, Jordan makes for a wonderful Middle East vacation destination.
If you are looking for something different in your travels this year, be sure to give Jordan a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Map of Jordan – Our Itinerary
Click here for your own interactive map of Jordan
Attractions like Mount Nebo, Jerash and even the Dead Sead (if you have limited time) can be done in day trips from Amman.
We suggest at least one night at the Dead Sea.
Wadi Rum and Petra need to be overnight trips to truly appreciate the experiences.
Dana and Feynan are also recommended to have an overnight trip.
Suggested Jordan 10 Day Itinerary
- Day 1 – 3: (2 nights) – Explore Amman (can include a day trip to Jerash on one day)
- Day 3/4 – Day 3 leave for Petra and enjoy Petra by Night before exploring Petra the following day. (2 nights)
- Day 5/6 – Wadi Rum (2 nights)
- Day 6 – Overnight Feynan Eco Lodge (1 night)
- Day 7 – Overnight Dana Nature Reserve
- Day 8/9 – Dead Sea (2 nights).
- Day 10 – Stop at Mount Nebo on the way back to Amman
Read More about Jordan:
- Etiquette in the Middle East
- Jerash – Welcome to the Ancient Roman City of Jordan
- Wadi Mujib Canyoning, Jordan, An Eco-Adventure Thrill Ride
- Petra Jordan – Tips for Exploring the Lost City
- Petra by Night in Photos
- Jordan Travel Guide
- Walking Amman – A Walking Tour of Jordan’s Capital City
- Feynan Eco Lodge, A Quiet Retreat in Jordan
- Visiting the Dead Sea of Jordan – Floating Baths and Healing Water
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