The 5 Must-See Places in Jordan
Bursting with history, outdoor adventures abound, and some of the most serene relaxation spots I’ve experienced, Jordan is truly in a league of it’s own. What makes Jordan an ever better country to explore is it’s size (or lack thereof, I should say). Being a smaller country with so much to offer, most of Jordan’s most notable highlights are a short car drive away from one another. This gives you the chance to experience an amazing array of places in a short amount of time.
For example, you can be exploring the streets of the capitol, Amman, and taking in a late lunch and then in less than an hour, you can be floating in the Dead Sea taking in the sunset. It’s incredible.
Each place in Jordan has it’s own unique allure and I fell in love with each for different reasons. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you my five must-see places in Jordan (in no particular order…).
[All photos of me taken by the talented Diego Imai]
Why: To be amazed by one of the oldest civilizations, dive into one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and get your hike on.
What to do: If you are going to plan your trip around one destination in Jordan, plan it around Petra. This archeological wonder is worth at the very minimum two days as it is expansive and takes quite a bit to see everything. The best plan is to start in the early morning, as the first leg of the hike into Petra by foot to the Treasury takes around 40 minutes. If you prefer to save some time, you can take a horse carriage down to the end of the Siq. The Siq (gorge) is an incredible experience and worth taking your time to enjoy as each turn holds a new surprise. Through each bend, there is a new site to see like ancient tombs and inscriptions carved into the stone. After you finish the walk through the Siq, you arrive upon Petra's masterpiece, the Treasury. What is absolutely amazing about this site is that it was carved out of the stone cliff from the top down.
Other sites in Petra you have to see include the Monastery. To be honest, I think the Monastery is even greater than the Treasury. The Monastery sits atop an 800-step path where, after completing the climb, you can relax and enjoy some fresh beverages while taking in the incredible building. The entire area of Petra and every site inside could take at least two days to enjoy, so I suggest splitting your time into two days if you want to dive deep into the historical sites and take your time. We saw the highlights like enjoying the walk in the Siq, the Treasury, the Monastery and leisurely lunch all in one day.
Now I thought Petra by day was amazing, Petra by night blew my mind. At the end of the day, at dark, the Siq and the Treasury are lined with hundreds of candles to light up the walk. You get to walk in and take in this magical place by candlelight and see a traditional Bedouin dance. This is a must do in Petra and changes the way you see one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Why: To take a walk, Roman style, get a history lesson, and have your breath taken away by the scenic countryside.
What to do: One of the most well preserved Roman cities in the world, these ruins are a place to see. I suggest taking a day trip from Amman and having at least three to four hours to truly enjoy this archeological site. The theatres, columns, and temples are so well preserved that it gives you a vivid glimpse into what it was like to live back before A.D. There's this incredible contrast between the modern day Jerash and the ruins of the old city, all intertwined with stunning countryside views and wildflowers everywhere (during the spring).
Why: To understand the heartbeat of the country, take the best cooking class of your life, and dive into a city of many views.
What to do: There are so many different ways to experience the capitol city of Amman and really connect yourself with the heartbeat of the city. I extremely enjoyed three activities, which would take about two days to do at a leisurely pace. The first was a visit to the citadel to take in the view of the city. At the highest point in the city, there are also ruins like the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace that is an incredible complex of ruins dating back to 720 A.D. The second was another historic site, the Roman theatre, which is the oldest and largest theatre in Amman and is incredible in size and architecture.
My third and probably one of my favorite highlights from the trip included a cooking class at Beit Sitti. It was an opportunity to learn about Arabic food and the spices used in everyday cooking. Cooking on an open terrace overlooking the city made for an wonderful way to spend the afternoon.
For those wanting to dive even more into history about Jordan, I strongly suggest a visit to the new Jordan Museum which gives a great detailed overview on the history of many places in Jordan.
Where: The Dead Sea
Why: To float on the lowest point on earth, delve into the history of Christianity, and relax "seaside."
What to do: The time at the Dead Sea was one of the most relaxing parts of the trip and I was thankful to have spent the last two days here. The sea is very calming and floating in it was absolutely incredible. There are no words to describe the way the water feels and how you float immediately the minute you get into the water. Taking in the sunset while floating is an experience I'll never forget. Cover yourself in the mud from the Dead Sea and let it dry, afterwards rinse off in the sea and your skin will feel amazing!
Another great historical site by the Dead Sea is the baptism site of Jesus in the Jordan River. If religious history is up your alley, then this site is a must-see.
Where: Wadi Rum
Why: To get your adrenaline pumping, explore the craziest landscape of your life, and experience Bedouin hospitality.
What to do: If you haven't seen my post on why Wadi Rum should be on your bucket list, then I suggest you head there first. Wadi Rum was one of the most incredible places in Jordan and was action-packed. I suggest taking a camel ride, go on a 4x4, and experience the Bedouin camps. This scenic landscape is unlike anywhere else in the world and is a must-do experience while in Jordan.
Disclosure: Thank you to Visit Jordan for hosting me on this incredible trip. As always, all opinions are own.