- Location: Middle East
- Capital: Amman
- Population: Approximately 10 million people
- Language: Arabic (official), English is also widely spoken
- Religion: Majority Muslim (Sunni), with significant Christian minority
- Currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
- Famous landmarks: Petra, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum
- Economy: Diverse, with industries including tourism, mining, and textiles.
Jordan, in the Middle East, offers a unique mix of rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Discover ancient ruins like Petra and Jerash, the beauty of the Wadi Rum desert and the Dead Sea, and religious sites like Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Immerse yourself in Jordan’s blend of ancient traditions and modern influences, with traditional Arabic cuisine, music, dance, and the warm hospitality of its diverse and tolerant society. This guide provides comprehensive information on Jordan’s history, culture, attractions, and practical tips for travellers.
Exploring Jordan’s Top Attractions: From Petra to the Wadi Rum Desert
Jordan is a country that’s filled with natural beauty, historical landmarks, and unique cultural experiences. From the ancient city of Petra to the breath-taking landscapes of the Wadi Rum desert, there’s no shortage of attractions to explore. Here are some of Jordan’s top attractions that you won’t want to miss:
This ancient city is carved into the rock and is one of Jordan’s most popular tourist attractions. Known as the “Rose City,” Petra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features impressive architecture that dates to the 1st century BC.
Wadi Rum Desert
This stunning desert landscape is famous for its towering red sandstone formations and is a popular destination for adventure seekers. Visitors can take a jeep tour, go hiking, or even spend the night in a Bedouin camp.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and is famous for its salt content, which makes it easy to float in the water. Visitors can also take a mud bath, which is said to have healing properties.
This ancient Roman city is home to some of the best-preserved Roman architecture in the world. Visitors can see everything from a hippodrome to an amphitheater and can take a guided tour to learn more about the city’s history.
Jordan’s capital city is a blend of old and new, with modern buildings and ancient ruins coexisting side by side. Visitors can explore the city’s markets, museums, and restaurants, or take a walking tour to see some of the city’s historical landmarks.
This coastal city is known for its beautiful beaches and world-class snorkelling and diving opportunities. Visitors can also take a boat tour to see the nearby coral reefs and marine life.
Dana Biosphere Reserve
Madaba – Known as the “City of Mosaics,” Madaba is home to some of the most impressive ancient mosaics in the world. Visitors can see these incredible works of art in churches and museums throughout the city.
Jordan has many other cities and attractions that are worth visiting.
Karak – The city of Karak is home to one of the most impressive crusader castles in the world. The Karak Castle dates to the 12th century and is located on a hilltop overlooking the city.
Ajloun – The Ajloun Castle is another impressive fortress that dates to the 12th century. It is in the northern part of Jordan and is surrounded by beautiful forests.
Dana – The village of Dana is in a nature reserve of the same name. It is a great place for hiking and birdwatching, and visitors can stay in traditional guesthouses to experience the local culture.
Ma’in Hot Springs – Located near the Dead Sea, the Ma’in Hot Springs are a natural wonder that attracts visitors from around the world. The hot springs are surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and canyons.
Umm Qais – This ancient Roman city is in the northern part of Jordan and offers stunning views of the Sea of Galilee. Visitors can explore the ruins of the city, including a well-preserved amphitheater.
Experience traditional Bedouin living with camps run by locals. Tents made of goat hair with rugs and cushions provide a cosy atmosphere. Basic or private tents with en-suite facilities are available. Luxury camps offer spacious tents with private bathrooms, AC, and hot water. Some even have a pool, spa, and gourmet dining options.
Desert camping offers camel rides, 4×4 safaris, hiking, and stargazing. Bedouin guides provide cultural and historical insight. Jordan caters to all interests, from history to nature and adventure.
Most Famous Restaurants in Jordan
- Hashem Restaurant – This iconic restaurant in downtown Amman has been serving up traditional Middle Eastern breakfast dishes and falafel sandwiches since 1952. The restaurant is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike and is known for its affordable prices and delicious food.
- Tawaheen Al Hawa – Located in the heart of Amman, Tawaheen Al Hawa is a family-owned restaurant that serves authentic Jordanian cuisine. The restaurant is known for its traditional dishes like mansaf (a rice and lamb dish) and maqluba (an upside-down rice and vegetable dish).
- Fakhr El-Din – This upscale Lebanese restaurant is in the trendy Abdoun neighbourhood of Amman and is known for its elegant atmosphere and delicious food. The menu features a variety of Lebanese dishes like grilled meats, meze platters, and fresh seafood.
- Sufra – Located in the historic Jabal Amman neighbourhood, Sufra is a restaurant that specializes in traditional Jordanian cuisine. The menu features dishes like musakhan (a chicken and onion dish served on flatbread) and Zarb (a Bedouin-style barbecue).
- Tannoureen – This restaurant in downtown Amman serves up delicious Palestinian and Levantine cuisine. The menu features dishes like stuffed grape leaves, shakshuka (eggs cooked in tomato sauce), and grilled meats.
Jordan’s Impressive Archaeological Treasures Roman Ruins, Crusader and Castles
Jordan is home to numerous impressive archaeological sites including the well-preserved Roman city of Jerash, the famous rock-carved city of Petra, the medieval Ajloun and Shobak castles, and the ancient ruins of Umm Qais and Pella. Visitors can also explore Madaba’s ancient mosaics, the Dana Biosphere Reserve, and the baptism site of Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Other notable sites include Azraq and Al-Karak castles, the Wadi Rum desert, and the Aqaba and Ayla Archaeological Museums.
Religious Sites in Jordan
Jordan is a sacred destination for Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and is home to several religious sites that are significant to each of these faiths. Here are some of the top religious sites:
The Baptism Site
The Baptism Site in Jordan is where Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. It’s a significant Christian pilgrimage site and an important archaeological site with ruins and artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015.
The site where John the Baptist was imprisoned and executed.
The Cave of the Seven Sleepers
Where seven young men sought refuge from persecution.
The Tomb of Jethro
The burial place of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses.
The site where Moses is believed to have seen the Promised Land.
The Mosque of Omar
The Mosque of Omar is a historic mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, built in 1860 and named after Omar ibn al-Khattab.
The Culture of Jordan: A Blend of Ancient Traditions and Modern Influences
Jordan’s culture is a dynamic fusion of the country’s ancient heritage and contemporary influences, shaped by its geographical position at the crossroads of the Middle East and the West. Here are some highlights of Jordan’s culture:
Art and Architecture
Jordan boasts an impressive history of artistic and architectural accomplishments, with ancient Nabataean structures like Petra and modern designs inspired by local culture.
Jordanian cuisine is a delicious blend of traditional Middle Eastern dishes and local flavours, featuring ingredients like olives, herbs, and spices.
Music and Dance
Jordanian music and dance blend traditional Bedouin and Levantine styles with Western influences and modern beats.
Festivals and Celebrations
Jordan hosts various cultural festivals and traditional holidays, like the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts, offering music, dance, and theatre performances that celebrate Jordanian and Arab culture.
Jordan is home to a diverse population, with significant Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities, and a wide range of mosques, churches, and synagogues.
Jordan’s vibrant culture is a testament to the country’s rich history and dynamic present, inviting visitors to explore its art, architecture, cuisine, music, and festivals. Experience Jordanian hospitality and immerse yourself in its captivating culture.
Practical Information for Travelers: Tips for Visiting Jordan and Getting Around
Obtain a visa prior to arrival and be respectful of local customs. Pack accordingly for the climate and use public transportation or car rental to get around. Carry cash for smaller transactions and be aware of the dress code when visiting religious sites. Tipping is customary, and the voltage is 230V/50Hz. Check with your doctor before travelling and stay hydrated during the hot summer months. Enjoy your trip to Jordan!
Types of Visas for Jordan: Tourist and Business
Tourist visas are for tourism, sightseeing, or visiting family/friends in Jordan and are valid for up to 3 months. Business visas are for attending meetings, conferences, trade shows, or engaging in commercial activities and can also be valid for up to 3 months. Other types of visas are available for study, work, or humanitarian activities. Check with the Jordanian embassy/consulate for requirements and application procedures.
Visa Fees and Processing Times: What to Expect
Visa fees and processing times vary depending on the type of visa and the country of origin. It’s recommended to apply for a visa well in advance to avoid delays.
- Getting to Jordan: Flights, Land Borders, and Ferry Services: Jordan is accessible by air through its international airports, as well as by land borders with neighbouring countries such as Israel, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Ferry services also operate between Jordan and Egypt.
- Transportation in Jordan: Taxis, Buses, and Car Rentals: Transportation options in Jordan include taxis, buses, and car rentals. Taxis are readily available in major cities, while buses connect most towns and cities. Car rental is also available, but driving in Jordan can be challenging for inexperienced drivers.
- Currency and Money Matters: What You Need to Know for Your Trip to Jordan: The official currency of Jordan is the Jordanian dinar (JOD), which can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices. Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities, but it’s recommended to carry cash for smaller transactions.
- Travelling to Jordan: A Guide to Experiencing the Best of the Country Accommodations: Whether you’re looking for luxury or budget-friendly options, Jordan has a variety of hotels, hostels, and bed and breakfasts to choose from.
- Food and Drink: Don’t miss out on Jordan’s traditional dishes and beverages, such as falafel, shawarma, and mint tea. You can also try Arak, a popular anise-flavoured alcoholic drink.
- Shopping: Explore Jordan’s souks for handcrafted items like ceramics, jewellery, and textiles. You can also visit modern malls in major cities for international brands.
- Language and Communication: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken. Learn a few basic Arabic phrases and be respectful of cultural norms.
- Customs and Etiquette: Respect local customs and traditions, like dressing modestly and removing shoes when entering homes or mosques.
- Festivals and Events: Experience the country’s cultural and artistic diversity through festivals like the Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts and the Petra International Film Festival.
- Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of Jordan’s diverse landscape with outdoor activities like hiking, diving, and desert exploration.
- Health and Safety: Jordan is generally safe and healthy but take precautions such as drinking bottled water and wearing sunscreen and insect repellent. Avoid unsafe areas at night for added safety.
Jordan is a fascinating country that offers a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern influences. From its historical and religious sites to its natural wonders and cultural experiences, there is something for everyone in this beautiful destination. With practical information and tips for travellers, it’s easy to plan a trip to Jordan and enjoy all it has to offer. Whether camping in the desert, exploring archaeological treasures, or indulging in Jordanian hospitality, visitors are sure to leave with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for this remarkable count.