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If you haven’t considered a trip to Jordan yet you absolutely should. In this post, I tell you why you should travel to Jordan and what my recommendations for things to do and see in Jordan are.
Jordan isn’t a top-secret destination, but fewer people have traveled there in recent years due to security concerns. However, Jordan is a very safe and stable country even if the Middle East seems like a dangerous region. Not once during my time in Jordan did I feel unsafe.
Since I currently live in Greece, Jordan is not that far, and when Ryanair introduced direct flights between Athens and Aqaba, I knew I had to jump on this opportunity. I definitely prefer direct flights if I’m going somewhere that’s not too far. Plus going with a low-budget airline makes travel so much more affordable. That’s not to say, of course, I don’t use regular airlines. For example, I traveled to Albania and regularly go back to Hamburg with Aegean Airlines.
But when they announced these flights I knew I had to get on one of them. So I went to Jordan for a week in March together with my partner, and we had the best time.
Trust me, it was an amazing experience, and I’m sure if you travel to Jordan you will love it, too.
But before I tell you what we did, let me give you some facts about Jordan.
Facts & Figures
- Jordan’s official name is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
- Jordan is the country with the second-highest share of refugees compared to its population in the world.
- The Red Sea separates Jordan from Egypt, and Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north, and Israel and Palestine to the west.
- Jordan has a significant Bedouin population living a nomadic lifestyle in the desert.
- Jordan is most famous for Petra, the Rose City – one of five UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country.
If that piques your interest let me tell you more about what we did in Jordan and why our trip was impressive.
Top Things to Do in Jordan
We got to stay in Aqaba – the only coastal city in Jordan
Aqaba is Jordan’s southernmost city and humans have been inhabiting the area since 4000BC. Historically, Aqaba and Eilat in Israel were one city, and at night you can easily see the lights from Eilat in the distance.
As the museums and castle didn’t appear to be open, we only got to see the ancient ruins of Ayla (an old name for Aqaba). We saw the site for free, and while it may not be the most impressive ancient city you have ever seen I got a bit emotional seeing the remnants of such an old Islamic city.
However, Aqaba is also of interest to Christians, as you can find the ruins of the world’s first purpose-built church here.
We saw four different countries from the same spot
Jordan is a landlocked country, with the exception of about 26km of coastline on the Red Sea, the Aqaba Gulf.
The weather was quite warm even in mid-March, and without much to do in Aqaba, we decided to head to the beach for one day. Our hotel had an arrangement with another hotel and got a driver to take us there. It was a bit further than we expected, and we ended up less than 10km from the border with Saudi Arabia. From there you can see Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt all at the same time.
The beach wasn’t the highlight of the trip, but seeing four different countries from the same spot was spectacular.
We visited one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Petra
I’m sure you’ve all seen pictures of Petra, Jordan’s most famous city and tourist site. But did you know that this ancient Nabataean city was only rediscovered in 1812? The Nabataeans likely established it as the capital of their kingdom in the 4th or 5th century BC.
I suggest you do extensive research before your trip as there is so much history to Petra that I don’t have space for. Even simply going through the Wikipedia page for Petra will help you really learn about the city’s past, however.
To be honest, Petra alone is undoubtedly reason enough to travel to Jordan. It’s such an impressive site and truly one of its kind. If you go to Jordan and don’t visit Petra, you haven’t seen Jordan.
I have to say that the first time I saw the Treasury, which is the most famous building in Petra, was an unparalleled experience. After having seen it hundreds of times on pictures, I finally looked at it with my own eyes. Wow!
We got a 2-day pass for Petra so we even got to go back the next day. The Monastery was just as impressive, but more rewarding because we only reached it after a bit of a hike. Because it’s slightly more difficult to get there it’s also not as packed with visitors.
I definitely recommend at least a full day in Petra, but I found two days much less stressful.
We went to Wadi Rum, did a desert tour, and slept in a Bedouin camp
As amazing as Petra was, our time in the desert was even more breathtaking, and I suspect others feel the same.
The best way to experience the wadi is to go on a tour organized by one of the Bedouin families. We opted for the four-hour jeep tour with an overnight stay with Bedouin Life Style.
It was an epic experience that gave us the opportunity to see the desert and some amazing rock formations. The most wonderful part, however, was being away from all the noise of modern human life. While there were a few other jeeps around, it still felt so much more peaceful without all the sounds we usually surround ourselves with.
At the camp itself, there was no running water which wasn’t my favorite part of the trip, but if I can do it for one night, so can you. It really gives you a glimpse into the nomadic lifestyle.
Sleeping in a traditional tent in the desert was quite an experience. You wouldn’t believe how quiet the world naturally is. I will say, though, that it got quite cold at night even though it was already mid-March. It’s best to prepare yourself according to the temperature. Sadly, we didn’t get to see a lot of stars because of the full moon. If you want to see millions of stars do take the moon cycle into consideration when planning your trip.
I can fully recommend Bedouin Life Style. The tour with our guide Ali was absolutely amazing. He explained so much and really bonded with Alfonso. I also believe that four hours were a decent amount of time to spend in the desert. Anything less than that would not have done the wadi justice.
Back at the camp, we were happy to find that most of the food was actually vegan. After dinner, we got to listen to live Bedouin music in a big tent with the other tour groups. The next day, the people from Bedouin Life Style even arranged a driver for us and a couple from Argentina to take us to Petra where we continued our tour of Jordan.
The one thing that I didn’t like about the camp (and, from what I’ve read online all the camps work like this) was that there were no women at the camp. While I get that on the surface this is just a cultural thing, there is a problem here.
It enhances the travel experience so much to learn more about the local population’s lifestyle, but as a woman, I am interested in how the local women live. As a Muslim woman, in particular, it felt awkward to be in a room that seemed taboo for Bedouin women. I wouldn’t even have minded if they had split the group and the women and men had spent the evening separately, but, instead, I only saw how the Bedouin men live, not what the women do.
I got to brush up on my Arabic
Well, not quite. I studied Arabic at university but forgot most of it. But in Jordan, I enjoyed the advantage of being able to read all the signs. And even without decent Arabic skills I quite enjoyed some of the Arab soap operas on the hotel room tv.
Yes, you should travel to Jordan
If you want to visit a secure Arab country with lots of things to see Jordan is just that! However, make sure you go in late winter or early spring. Any other time will be too hot during the day, but too cold at night in the desert.
Would you ever travel to Jordan? What else do you know about the country?