Before starting to tell you all about our round trip and the best things to do in Jordan, I want to clear up some prejudices about Jordan.
Overview of this full travel guide about Jordan:
- FIRST THINGS FIRST
- SUMMARY OF THE TOUR
- BEST THINGS TO DO IN JORDAN
- PLACES TO SKIP IN JORDAN
- FURTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
FIRST THINGS FIRST
What pops up in your head when thinking about Jordan?
Muslim? Syria? Civil war? Dangerous country?
Nowadays (and actually also in former times) Jordan has to fight against a lot of prejudices and due to it’s proximity to Syria, it is off the travel radar of many people. Because people think it is dangerous to go there, there is civil war or they are just afraid to go to a Muslim country at all. This is really sad and the country’s tourism is suffering a lot under these opinions. I was in Jordan a few days ago and I want to tell you my story about this country. And it is a very different story than you might expect.
Jordan was on my bucket list for a while already after I saw all these very impressing pictures of Petra. I guess this is the driver for most visitors to go and see this country. But there are way more stunning places to visit. Before telling you all about our round trip in Jordan, I will answer your important questions.
Is it dangerous to go to Jordan?
No, definitely not.
The German government warns of going to the border of Syria and of course, this is where you should not go. But the rest of the country and the most important tourist attractions are absolutely safe. The German government also mentions that at busy, touristy places might be a higher risk of a terrorist attack, which might be true. However, nowadays this risk is present everywhere. Therefore I would not consider Jordan more dangerous than any European country.
And the people are so nice and willing to help you any time. At so many points of our travel, I realized that people really put a lot of effort into making tourists like and enjoy the country. Jordan people really appreciate every single traveller and do a lot in making your stay enjoyable and pleasant.
Is it better to book a guided round trip or can I travel individually?
You can do both – whatever you prefer. We did a guided round trip because we were also not sure about the security situation in the country, plus we were two girls and also not sure about the traffic and streets. Now after returning from our trip, I can confirm that it is definitely possible to travel individually. The country is absolutely safe, the streets are properly (as far as we’ve seen). The traffic in and around Amman is quite busy and stressful, but the streets in the rest of the country were quite empty.
The advantage of a guided round tour is that you don’t need to organize any transfer, hotels, guided tours, etc. Thus, it was a very easy way and I can’t share any experience of transfers, renting a car, spontaneous hotel bookings, etc. But we meet people travelling individually and they confirmed that it is possible and easy.
Ok, so now let’s get to the most important part of this blog post. I’m going to share all the places which were included in our round trip and let you know which places were worth it and which not. In the end, I also provided some more useful information on how to get to Jordan, etc. Before starting to share our highlights, I will give you a quick overview of our tour:
SUMMARY OF THE TOUR
Start and end: Frankfurt, Germany
We flew with Royal Jordanian Airlines from Frankfurt to Amman. The official Jordanian Airline goes from many countries to Amman, which is a good spot to start your trip.
Mode of transportation: minivan with a guide
We were so lucky that we didn’t end up on a big bus with a big group, but with a small group of 14 people and a guide. That made the trip quite enjoyable and way better than with a big group.
- Mount Nebo
- Little Petra
- Wadi Rum
- Dead Sea
Duration: 7 days
BEST THINGS TO DO IN JORDAN
I had three clear highlights during our trip which I want to share first, followed by some more places which I would definitely recommend to visit.
Best things to do in Jordan: #1 Visit Petra
Petra was the reason why I went to Jordan and it was absolutely fascinating. The canyons and all the rock formations out of various shades of pink sandstones are already so amazing. And then imagine how people around 300 years before Christ could build a whole town with impressively huge buildings within these rocks. It is really amazing. Petra was the capital of the Nabatean kingdom and contains various buildings, tombs and temples.
To enter the ruins you have to walk through a canyon called Al Siq. This is already really stunning:
After around one kilometre you arrive at the beginning of the town and the most famous sight of Petra, the Treasury (Al Khaza). It is around 40 meters high and well preserved. On top of this huge facade is an urn which contains the treasure of the Pharao according to legends.
Due to its popularity, this place is very busy all day. And I promise there is another site which is as fascinating as the treasury. So don’t spend to much time here. It is the monastery, scroll down if you want to know more about it.
Following the main trail, you will pass many more ancient ruins tucked in the rocks now. Mostly these ruins are tombs and called the street of facade.
Another highlight for me was then a bit further on the right side: The royal tombs. See yourself:
And now coming to the real highlight of Petra, which I promised in the beginning which is really similar to the treasury: the monastery. It is located at the end of the ancient town of Petra high above in the mountains. From the end of the main trail till the monastery you have to hike around 800 steps within a stunning canyon. This little hike itself already made the visit of the monastery so worth it, look yourself:
And then after arriving at the ancient ruins of the monastery, you will have a deja vu because the relicts look almost exactly as the Treasury, but it is preserved even better than that.
Today Bedouins still live in the ancient ruins of Petra. Some years ago the government forbid them to live there because it is too dangerous (and probably because they want to make the most out of it for tourists) and built houses for the Bedouins to live just a bit behind Petra. However, not many Bedouins really live in these proper houses and they still live and play hide and seek with the police in the ancient ruins because they prefer living there.
See some more impressions of Petra here:
I hope I could convince you that Petra is one of the best things to do in Jordan?
Where to stay in Petra?
We stayed at Mövenpick Nabatea Castle Petra Hotel and I would definitely recommend it. The rooms were very clean, spacious, food was great, todo bien 🙂
You can see a magical sunset at their terrace:
And the view in the morning is not bad either:
Another reason for Petra in the list of the best things to do in Jordan I would say 😉
Insider tip in Petra
Check out the “Cave bar” just at the entrance of the ruins of Petra. Really cool bar inside and super comfortable “Bedouin”-style lounge outside:
Best things to do in Jordan: #2 Stay overnight at Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is the most discovered desert in Jordan. I definitely recommend going there and also staying overnight there. It is such a big difference in just doing a 2 hours Jeep during with hundreds of other tourists during the day. Or spending a night there with only a few other people, millions of stars in the sky and silence all around you. In addition, you will have the chance to see a sunset and sunrise there, which was both very beautiful.
First, we did a 2-hours jeep tour through the desert. There are quite some things to discover there, like the film set of Lawrence from Arabia (apparently this is a very famous movie, I didn’t know it, but all the grannie’s from our travel group did 😉
Or this amazing bridge formed naturally by rocks:
And in general driving through this desert with giant, jointed sandstone rocks everywhere is already a great experience:
After the Jeep tour, we arrived at our camp. We were very lucky because our camp was deep in the deserts. On our tour, we saw camps which were just at the beginning of the desert, where you could still see the town just in front of the desert. So choose wisely when booking.
So, where to stay at Wadi Rum?
Our camp was Wadi Rum luxury camp and it was a very good camp. Way more modern than we would have expected.
This camp has two types of accommodation. These „full of stars“ bubbles from where you can see the stars at night which looked really amazing:
As well as these luxury tents where we slept. Don’t be scared when hearing „tent“ it felt actually like a mini bungalow because under the tent where even glass walls. It was actually bigger than my student’s apartment I think and had all amenities needed, like air-con, hot shower, and even fur coats for the nights.
There was even breakfast buffet in this camp and it was the best one we had in whole Jordan actually. And my personal highlight was when the pancake cook proposed to me with a pancake ring 😀 So romantic!
Some more impressions of the camp at night:
Best things to do in Jordan: #3 Ride a camel in Wadi Rum
It might sound childish for the one or the other but I always wanted to ride a camel and never did. So this trip was my chance and I did it. And it didn’t feel so much like a tourist trap for me because the camel is the mean of transportation for Bedouins living in the desert of Wadi Rum. Had some fun time with my camel and my Bedouin joining me.
After the ride, he asked our guide if he could ask me if I want to marry him and bring him to Germany 😀 I had to say no :/
However, the camel and I became really good friends:
Best things to do in Jordan: #4 Watch the sunset and sunrise in Wadi Rum
As I mentioned when speaking about staying overnight in the desert of Wadi Rum, one big advantage is that you have the chance to experience the desert when most of the tourists left already. You can enjoy the silence at night and the magic of the sunset and sunrise, look yourself:
Best things to do in Jordan: #5 Swim in the Dead Sea
Swimming in the Dead Sea has to be part in my list of the best things to do in Jordan. I couldn’t imagine image how it is to swim in a sea where you can’t sink. Now I know and I swear you can’t sink. We tried hard but it’s not possible. It feels as if you are floating on an air mattress without an air mattress. And you can basically read while lying on your imaginary air mattress:
You can even lie on your belly – looks stupid, but is possible:
This is how the beach looks like, it is not sandy and didn’t really invite to stay there the whole day, because people constantly come and go, take pictures, distribute mud on their bodies, queue to wash off the mud, and so on. So you might prefer lying at the hotel pool where it is more quite and relaxed.
Another fun thing to do at the Dead Sea is a whole body mask with the mud of the dead sea which is supposed to be full of minerals and good stuff for your skin. The mud can be found in the holes between the rocks at the bank of the sea. Distribute it to your whole body and you will look like me. Pretty, huh?
You have to wait till the mud is dry and then I recommend to go into the Dead Sea again to gently remove it. The rest of the mud can be removed by a scrub of pure sea salt (which was provided by our hotel). Et voila: your skin will be baby-soft.
Where to stay at the Dead Sea?
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Dead Sea which is a huuuuuge hotel. A hotel where you can get lost with several pools – a place where I would normally not go because I prefer small, cosy hotels.
However the rooms were fine, the food was very very good and they provide access to the beach with all facilities you need, like showers, towels, sun loungers, mud, sea salt, lifeguards.
Be aware that you can only access the Dead Sea when you stay at one of the hotels located directly at the sea (with sea access).
Best things to do in Jordan: #6 Visit Jerash
Jerash is less famous, but a visit is really worth it. It is a huge ancient Roman town inhabited since the Bronze Age with many more or less well-preserved ruins. Imagining how big it must have been in former times and how pompous it must have been at that era it is really impressing.
It is recommended to have a guide here or at least a book which describes the ruins a bit more, otherwise, you will face the problem with every ruin in the world: you see some stones and can’t really imagine what they were about.
When we were there it was raining heavily, therefore there I couldn’t take so many pictures, but here some moods:
Where to stay at Jerash?
I don’t know 😉 You can drive here from Amman and back to Amman easily in one day. I don’t think it is actually worth it to stay in the new Jerash town.
Best things to do in Jordan: #7 Visit Amman
First things first: Amman was not really a big highlight for me, but as it is the capital of Jordan, it is a must-go place when discovering the country and therefore deserves a spot on the list of the best things to do in Jordan.
There are plenty of places to visit in Amman, but I will just pick out one which impressed me the most: the Citadel. These ruins are located on one of the hills of Amman. In total Amman was formed by seven hills, nowadays there are more because the city is growing and growing and extended to the outskirts more and more.
I liked the Citadel especially because of its view on the city of Amman. From here you only start to realize how huge Amman really is:
Where to stay at Amman?
We stayed at a Hotel which I would not recommend. Therefore I don’t really have a good tip for you.
Best things to do in Jordan: #8 Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo is the place where Moses was granted the first view of the Promised land. This place is around 800 meters above sea level and a provides an amazing view of the countryside and the dead sea and Israel. This viewpoint really gave us a good impression of how the countryside of Jordan looks like and a how small the dead sea actually is. Therefore I put it on the Best things to do in Jordan list.
PLACES TO SKIP IN JORDAN
I hope I could convince you to go to Jordan with my list of the best things to do in Jordan. I was really fascinated by this country and we had so many great experiences.
However, I want to be honest with you, as I always try to be, and also tell you about the places which didn’t convince me that much and which you might be able to skip if you’re facing time restrictions.
Places to skip in Jordan: #1 Aqaba
Before going to Aqaba we expected a pretty beach town with a relaxed atmosphere, maybe some cute restaurants at the beach or some stylish falafel or Shisha places in town. But we were actually really disappointed.
Most beaches which are in the city are only accessible by hotel guests (Unfortunately we were not in such a hotel) and the public beach is 10 kilometres away from the city centre and super dirty (there was a cigarette every 10 centimetres in the sand). And the city centre is not really appealing either. There were some stores but we didn’t even know what to buy there because it was really trashy stuff – not any a bit better quality, maybe hand-made, maybe an authentic giveaway, nothing.
What is impressing in Aqaba is that there are 3 countries really close. Just next to it is Eilat in Israel, a bit further is already Egypt and close to the public beach of Aqaba is the border to Saudi Arabia. On this pic we are standing in Jordan, close to the border to Saudi Arabia and the land you can see in the background is Israel and Egypt:
However, there is nothing special to see or to do there. Therefore: unfortunately on the list of places to skip in Jordan.
Places to skip in Jordan: #2 Madaba
Madaba is also called the city of Mosaic because at various locations in the city there are ancient, quite well-preserved mosaics from the 6th to 8th century. To Christians, it might ring a bell because it was mentioned in the Bible as the Moabite town of Medeba. We have been at one Mosaic which showed the map of Palestina and it was quite impressing how detailed people could already create this map in former times.
This is a map of the map 😀
And this is the real mosaiq.
However, this town was full of tourists and full of tourist shops. It didn’t feel any authentic to be there. Tourists were driven from one mosaic to the other, in between many salesmen tried to sell you something and it was a bit stressful to just walk through the streets. Therefore I would now recommend going there – unless you are a mosaic freak, then you should definitely go 😉
Places to skip in Jordan: #3 Little Petra
Little Petra is, as the name says already, a little sight, similar to Petra. Actually, archaeologists found Little Petra first and then continued to work on the ruins of Petra when they realized that this place included way more ruins.
I’m still doubting if Little Petra shall be on the places to go or places to skip list. The big big advantage of Little Petra is, that it is small and there are almost no tourists (at least when we were there). It is way more relaxed than Petra, which is a big plus. BUT if you have been in Petra already, little Petra won’t impress you. There is a little canyon, which is less redish and less big than in main Petra. And there is a quite well-preserved ruin, but nothing is really different or better than Petra.
Thus, overall: if you have time and liked Petra, you can definitely go there. And if your time is limited, don’t worry and just skip little Petra.
So these were my lists of best things to do in Jordan and places to skip in Jordan. I’m sure there are more things to discover in Jordan. So if you have any further places which should be definitely on the list, drop me a comment and let further travellers know.
Best time to visit Jordan:
We went there in November and it is a good time I would say. In Amman and the North, it was a bit cold (like 15 – 18 degrees) and we were wearing jackets but in the rest of Jordan, the temperatures were very pleasant for sightseeing and a round trip kind of travel. However be aware that it turns dark quite soon, around 5 p.m. and the nights are cold as well (between 0 and 15 degrees). The advantage of this time of the year is also that it is not high season and not so many tourists are there.
You didn’t like my list of best things to do in Jordan? Feel free to drop me a comment and complete my list. Let me know about your personal best things to do in Jordan!
And don’t forget: Never stop exploring!