WHAT TO DO IN JORDAN – BEST ACTIVITIES FOR ALL BUDGETS
Are you planning your Jordan trip and are wondering about the best things to do in Jordan and its main attractions? If so, read on and find out what to do.
Rightfully, Jordan has become more and more popular these days, and I am pretty sure Jordan will not disappoint you. Jordan is a quite small country, but there are still many things to do.
To be honest, I would need to visit Jordan, again and again, to find out about all the good sights in Jordan. And while I do not even claim to have experienced all the fun things, I compiled a list of my favorite activities as well as more great things to see and do in Jordan.
Petra is probably the most famous place in Jordan – you cannot visit Jordan without visiting Petra. Though it is not known when exactly the city was built, Petra began to prosper as the capital of the Nabataean Empire after the 1st century BC. It was later annexed by the Roman Empire and flourished until it was destroyed largely by an earthquake in the 4th century AD. However, it was rediscovered “recently“ and it was also used as a filming location for Indiana Jones (in case, you needed more reasons to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The “Rose City“ is home to many sights and people underestimate its size.
So plan in at least one or two days so that you can do a few different kinds of hikes and see sights like the Treasury, the Monastery, or the Tombs (just to name a few).
- Price for Petra: The entrance fee for Petra is quite high. You can check the prices out here.
- If you have a Jordan Pass (highly recommended), you have the fees included.
- If you want to visit Petra as a day trip from Amman you can check out this guided tour (entrance fee is not included).
READ MORE: Solo female travel tips for Jordan
Enjoy Petra by Night
Petra by Night is a big event that takes place three times a week. The Siq gets illuminated by candles, and in front of the Treasury, you’ll hear the sound of a Bedouin shepherd´s flute.
For some, it is a must-do in Jordan and a highlight. For me, it was a disappointment. I expected something magical. It was…if it had not been for the people! Many other visitors were just loud. Along the Siq, people talked loudly, ran around, and ruined the moment for those looking for something magical. It probably would have been amazing if people could have shut up for some minutes so.
However, I have an alternative that you can do and see Petra by night – without extra costs and with the crowds. Go to Little Petra, just a few kilometers near Petra, and have tea at one of the Bedouin camps. It is extremely beautiful and romantic and a better experience than the official Petra by Night. Many candles light the caves (they are electric, but you can’t tell from afar), and this is what an “authentic“ place looks like.
- Petra by night takes place: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and starts at 8:30 pm.
- The entrance fee for Petra by Night is 17 JD (about $24), and children under 10 years are admitted free of charge.
- You can buy tickets at the Visitor Centre shop, local tour agencies in Petra, or at your hotel reception.
Jerash dates back several thousand years and is the best-preserved and largest Roman site outside of Italy. It actually impressed me more than any of the Italian Roman sites. It has become the main Roman site in Jordan with attractions like the Hadrian´s Arch (Triumphal Arch), the hippodrome, the South Gate, and more.
From Amman, it is a half-day trip – you can drive there yourself or get there by taxi/Uber or even a public bus (leaving from North Station for around 1,10€). There is no entrance fee if you have a Jordan Pass.
- Free to use with your Jordan Pass
- Check out this guided tour to Jerash (including some more attractions) from Amman
Cycle Through Jordan
This is for the sporty guys amongst you (not so for me): Cycling in Jordan seems like an amazing idea for the really active ones.
Of course, you could bike anywhere, but Jordan does have a specific Bike Trail. It is a 730-kilometer trail from the south to the north – passing the main attractions like Petra, the Dead Sea, and Aqaba.
Surely, this is not for everyone, and you have to be a fit and experienced cyclist, but even for someone like me – who just cycles a few kilometers – this sounds absolutely amazing and intriguing.
Exploring Jordan by bike is something to consider if you are into being active.
Float in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea is a bucket list experience! In Jordan, you can treat yourself to some time at the Dead Sea (which also makes the lowest point on Earth).
This body of water is partly located in Jordan. Don’t expect to swim or float here for hours, though. Normally, most people are only in it for a few minutes.
It is known for its healing effects and is good for your skin because the water is so rich in salt and other minerals that it is said that even Cleopatra used to have her beauty spa sessions here. But be aware that you will feel every hole and pore in your skin while in the water because of all the salts and other minerals.
Also, make sure to wrap yourself from head to toe with the mud here and try to find some salt to mix with it. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes before washing it away – it will have an amazing effect on your skin, and while it will not last days, my skin has hardly felt better.
- If you stay overnight in one of the hotels along the Dead Sea, you can access the private beach area.
- But there are also some public areas along the Dea Sea free to use.
- This tour is from Amman and includes a stop at the Dead Sea.
Wadi Rum Desert Safari
Wadi Rum is a desert valley in the south of Jordan, and visiting should be on any Jordan itinerary. It is also well-known because Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here, and this is where he actually began his journey through the desert.
But there is more to it than being a “pretty“ filling location – this UNESCO World Heritage Site was also inhabited by the Nabataeans in prehistoric times (like Petra) and now Bedouins live in this part of Jordan.
You will see beautiful rock formations but can do some really fun desert tours, and they are well worth both the money and the time.
I suggest spending one full day here – at least! Try to book accommodation in the desert where you have dinner and some live music at the fire. It was magical spending the evening at the desert.
- This camp looks pretty similar to the camp I stayed at, and they also offer tours, so once you have your night booked, then email them and ask about tours.
- Check out this luxury camp that offers beautiful rooms with great views.
Spend a Few Hours at Wadi Mujib
My favorite sporty, adventurous activity in Jordan at Wadi Mujib. The Mujib Biosphere Reserve is the lowest nature reserve in the world. This is a gorge with water in the base which makes a fun activity to walk through (or biplane through, float, etc.).You will have to pay an entrance fee to get in here, and I booked a personal guide who helped me with the canoeing, sliding, climbing, and paddling but you can also do unguided tours.
I did the shortest route, which took about 2 hours, but it was fun, and you can do even longer hikes if you want to.
You can choose between the Siq Trail, Canyon Trail, Malaqi Trail, Ibex Trail, or Al Hidan Trail.
- Unfortunately, you cannot do these activities year-round as it is closed in the winter, so make sure you check the opening times.
- I paid for a 2-hours with one private guide around 30€.
- Cash only.
Stay in a Bedouin camp
I stayed at several Bedouin camps during my time in Jordan, and staying there was unique and amazing. Dana is the largest nature reserve and is located between the Dead Sea and Petra, making it a perfect stop when going from one main site to the other. It covers more than 300 square km in and around Dana village and Wadi Dana. The native inhabitants, the Al Atata tribe, have been living there for more than 6000 years.
Friendly hosts, stunning scenery (depending on where you stay), and good food – these are some of the perks when staying in a bedouin camp in Jordan.
Also, most bedouin camps are affordable, but they are also very basic and not the most luxurious. However, it proves once more that there is no need for a luxury hotel to experience happiness – so don’t miss out on it during your Jordan visit.
There are many different camps all over Jordan.
- I stayed at Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp – a very basic camp in Dana. You have shared toilets, and the mattresses were not great. However, I still recommend it because the food and the views are great (and the sunset from here is top!. So, I definitely enjoyed my stay there (plus it is very budget-friendly). Check out their rates here.
- If you are looking for a bit more comfort, you will probably find it at Mount Dana Hotel. You can check out their rates and amenities.
Hike at Dana Nature Reserve
Hiking is another great thing to do in Jordan. Probably not in the summer months but when the weather allows it. The Dana Nature Reserve is one of Jordan’s most popular hiking spots. There are several different trails that you can do – from a couple of hours to several days.
To be honest, I had a love-hate relationship with my hiking there (and I just did a 3-hour hike) – but in the end, it was a fun activity, and others I met along the way LOVED hiking there.
- Ask in advance about tours offered. Once you are at your hotel/accommodation, you can book tours. Smaller accommodations normally only accept cash.
Enjoy Views From Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo is another very interesting place to visit in Jordan and is especially interesting from a religious point of view. Apparently, Moses climbed up to the top of the mountain and saw the Promised Land before he died. You have great views from here.
It is close to Amman and the Dead Sea, so you could easily visit it while staying in Amman.
Some people skip Amman, but seriously you should not. Half of Jordan’s population lives in the Amman area, so it is quite busy and chaotic. But still charming and fun. You have to visit the capital of Jordan and stay for at least a day so that you can check out the downtown area with the ancient sights like the Amphitheater. You can hike up to the Citadel – another ancient sight – and enjoy the best city views from there.
- Check out my Amman itinerary for more tips.
- With a Jordan Pass, you can visit many of the attractions in the city without any extra costs.
Watch the Sunset
Jordan has some amazing spots to see the sunset. One of the places to enjoy beautiful sunsets are: the Dana Nature Reserve, the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum.
You can also see great sunsets from the Citadel in Amman. Either way, make sure not to spend your time indoors when the sun sets but to enjoy this free activity in Jordan.
Dive in Aqaba
Jordan has only one coastal city – Aqaba which is a popular diving and snorkeling location off the Red Sea. Personally, I don’t dive or snorkel as I’m not very interested in these things, but for many, diving in Aqaba is one of the highlights in Jordan.
For all those who love to be underwater, Aqaba is the place to be. Or for those who want to relax at the beach after so much traveling in Jordan (as fun as it is, it can be really exhausting).
The best way to get around Jordan is road-tripping. I am trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible, but I do make exceptions with flying and driving (sometimes), but Jordan is a country where road-tripping makes the most sense as getting around with – solely- public transportation is not the easiest thing. Driving in Jordan is an experience in itself. I tend to be chicken about driving in some (especially Arabic) countries, but it was actually quite easy and doable in Jordan.
The streets/roads are okay (some are actually pretty good), and there are not many cars on the street, which makes driving in Jordan quite stress-free. I have a detailed post about a Jordan road trip – but in a sentence: Road tripping in Jordan was just amazing!
Enjoy the Food
Last but not least, eat a lot in Jordan because the food is great there. I am aware that I do not often recommend “eating” as an activity, but one of the very best things to do in Jordan is to eat. Eat a lot! Especially the falafel (chickpea balls fried in oil), which are really amazing almost everywhere in Jordan, should be part of your diet here. They also have some meat dishes, but there are soooo many amazing vegetarian foods in Jordan!
Eat your weight in falafel with delicious bread, veggies, and hummus.
- You don’t have to stay in expensive hotels/restaurants to have that great food. Actually, smaller B&B or restaurants often have better and more authentic food so you can have all that great food for little money!
PIN ME FOR LATER – THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN JORDAN
Jordan is such a diverse and interesting place to visit, and these are some of the best things to do in Jordan. Make sure you plan some (or all) of these into your own Jordan itinerary to have the best trip possible.
Since prices are lower than in many western European cities (or the US), most activities mentioned here are actually quite affordable – or even free – and they do not cost a fortune, making it even more fun!
- For more Jordan travel tips click here.
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