Jordan has a long history of welcoming visitors and is considered a safe haven in a region known for conflict. Here, you'll find relics and ruins from the Crusades and the Roman Empire, welcoming towns, gorgeous landscapes, plenty of outdoor areas to explore, and one of the new Wonders of the Ancient World. If you're curious about the Middle East, Jordan is one of the best ways to get to know it a little better.
Exploring Wadi Rum is like going back in time. The imposing cliffs, narrow gorges, and stone arches create a stunning atmosphere for exploring. People have inhabited this land for about 12,000 years. Look closely at the sandstone cliffs for inscriptions and petroglyphs as far back as the 4th century BCE. This was the land of Lawrence of Arabia and is one of the best places to experience the desert atmosphere. For an unforgettable experience, spend the night in one of the Bedouin camps.
The Dead Sea is the saltiest body of water on Earth; it has about 10 times the salt concentration of the ocean. Taking a dip in the Dead Sea is an experience you can't find anywhere else. The water is so dense, you easily float on the surface. While swimming in the Dead Sea is practically impossible, most people enjoy a nice float followed by a mud bath and a soak in the sun. Because the mud from the bottom of the Dead Sea has a high mineral content, it's believed to have restorative properties. There are plenty of spas nearby to take advantage of it.
Aljoun Castle is located on a hill overlooking the town below. It was built in the 12th century and provides stunning views of the surrounding stretch of countryside. Exploring in and around the town is a great experience, too. Follow one of the Aljoun Forest Reserve trails then visit the small shops to learn more about the culture of the area. There are small shops where you can learn to make olive oil soap, indulge in some locally-made treats, and try your hand at writing your name in Arabic.
Mount Nebo is a significant location in the Bible. This is the place where Moses was shown the Promised Land he was not allowed to enter. Some say he was buried in the area, but there is some debate about the exact location. The view from Mount Neco is breathtaking. From the top, you can see rocky outcrops and sprawling landscapes as well as the Dead Sea, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Whether you believe in the story of Moses or not, this is an amazing place to experience the beauty of the region.
The Mujib Biosphere Reserve was originally established as a captive breeding ground for the Nubian ibex and is now home to more than 180 bird species and 250 animal species, including striped hyenas, Syrian wolves, and Blandford's fox. The reserve is also home to Wadi Mujib, a river canyon that you can hike, climb, and swim your way through in the surrounding canyons.
Amman is the largest city in Jordan and one of the most modern, youthful cities in the Middle East. Visit downtown to get a look at the Roman ruins, then pop into an art gallery, have a cup of coffee, or grab a drink in a bar. This city is a great reminder that Jordan is more than its relics and ancient ruins—it's a contemporary country that's very much looking toward the future.
Karak Castle was built in the 12th century and was an instrumental stronghold during the Crusades. The castle eventually fell into Muslim hands after a difficult battle and was restored and altered over the centuries. Today, this is one of the most well-preserved castles from the Crusades. Inside, there are seven levels to explore, including dungeons and narrow passageways. In the kitchen, check out the olive press, large storage areas, and oven; then head to the terrace on the northern end of the castle to take in the view.
Named one of the best hikes in the world, the Jordan Trail is a must-see for outdoor lovers and backpackers who are up for an adventure. It takes about 40 days to cover the whole trail. It extends to the entire length of the country and covers some of the most interesting and beautiful sites to take your trip to the next level. The trail is divided into eight segments covering various landscapes like forest reserves, livestock trails, and waterfalls.
Petra is more than 2000 years old. It was an important player in the silk trade until it was abandoned sometime in the 12th century. Locals always knew about Petra but the West wouldn't rediscover it until 1812. Few places in the world are more beautiful and awe-inspiring than Petra. If you can fit it into your itinerary, visit Petra at night. Hundreds of candles line the walkways and the main area in front of the treasury, a perfect example of why Petra was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Jerash is the largest Roman site in Jordan, full of ancient ruins that any history buff or archaeologist will love. Self-guided walking tours are possible, but if you want to learn more about the history of the area, tour guides are available for hire. Be sure to check out the hippodrome at the southern end of the site where 15,000 spectators once gathered to watch chariot races. Then, walk down the main street, paved with the original stones where you can see the ruts from chariot wheels that traveled the same path close to 2,000 years ago.