Jordan is a dream destination for travelers in the Middle East. Safe and friendly, this destination brings travelers close to world wonders and immerses them in world-class hospitality . You will feel right at home once you get into the culture of this simple country.
Jordan is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Marvel at the fading frescoes in the 1,300-year-old desert fort of Quseir Amra . Climb the red sand dunes and stand in the shade of weathered sandstone cliffs in the unassuming desert landscape of Wadi Rum .
And plan to spend at least two days exploring Jordan’s crown jewel attraction: Petra . The jaw-dropping sights of the ancient Nabatean city will leave you in awe – and eager to see more.
But Jordan’s roots are not only in the past. Its mountainous capital, Amman , is full of bustling restaurants and cafes, attractive shopping and impressive art galleries. Then, there ‘s the Dead Sea – where you can put your feet up after a long day of sightseeing and indulge in some much-needed pampering at one of the many luxe waterfront resorts.
Plan your vacation to the Middle East and see the best places to visit with our list of top tourist attractions in Jordan.
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Prepare to be dazzled by Petra. One of the New 7 Wonders of the World , this attraction has amazed modern-day visitors since Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt rediscovered the long-lost city more than 200 years ago.
You will need at least two days to visit all the highlights around Petra, which includes more than 800 registered sites . But if you have more time, you won’t be disappointed when you spend it here. Wandering around this well-preserved ancient city is another experience.
Petra wastes no time impressing tourists. Immediately after the entrance, you will see mysterious Djinn blocks , whose original purpose is still unknown, followed by an obelisk tomb. This is just a sample of the incredible sites to come.
From here, you ‘ll make your way through the Siq – the famous snaking canyon route flanked by towering walls. Look along the walls to see the remains of historic aqueducts used to supply water to Petra, as well as niches for sacred carvings known as betiles . These artifacts suggest that Petra may have once been considered a holy city. Also look out for the crazy relief sculpture of camels led by two merchants.
Finally, you ‘ll reach the unspoiled Treasury (also known as Al-Khazneh). Featured in almost every travel guidebook and social media post about Petra, the Hellenistic facade of this attraction is one of the most charming places to visit in Jordan.
Legend has it that the stone-carved monument, built as the final resting place of the Nabatean king Aretas IV, was a hiding place for the treasures of the Egyptian pharaohs during the time of Moses.
When it comes to things to do in Petra after the Siq and the Treasury, it’s your own adventure. See dozens of tombs and houses on the facade , climb the steep steps for a great view of the High Sacrifice , stand in awe at the theater and stroll the impressive Colonnade Street.
If your feet don’t hurt yet, climb the 850 or so stone steps to reach the legendary monastery. The impressive structure nestled in the hills is worth the trek.
If you thought Petra was incredible during the day, wait until you see it after dark. Reserve tickets to the Petra by Night Show to see the Sik and Treasury illuminated by more than 1,500 twinkling candles .
2. Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea in Jordan is a great experience. The lowest point on earth accessible by road, this body of water is 418 meters below sea level. It practically glows in a deep shade of aquamarine – a particularly striking sight next to the salt-laden rock cliffs and barren red mountains in the background. You can reach the Dead Sea attractions in about an hour by car from Amman .
The Dead Sea is famous for its mineral-rich waters. Wellness devotees believe that the water has healing properties for the skin. Don’t plan on swimming laps, though – the Dead Sea is so dense and brackish that you can really only float on the surface.
You can enter the Dead Sea from a few entry points, including Amman Beach . Better yet, stay at a luxurious spa resort on the northeastern shores of the Dead Sea. They usually have private wading areas complete with buckets of Dead Sea mud. Take a bath with this reddish-brown sludge and your skin will be softer than ever.
Hot Tip: Avoid getting Dead Sea water in your eyes under any circumstances. The intense salinity (10 times saltier than the ocean!) stings worse than you can imagine.
3. Wadi Rum
Head to the southern region of Jordan and you will be treated to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world: Wadi Rum. Also known as the Valley of the Moon , this sandstone and granite rock valley is a unique experience with towering cliffs, huge dunes, winding arches and caves.
It served as the set for much of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia and was tagged a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 .
Adventure lovers, enjoy yourselves: The Jalabiya Bedouin, a cultural group living in the area, have transformed Wadi Rum into an ecotourism ground. You can ride camels or spirited Arabian horses in the area , harness and rock climb the sandstone mountains, hike through canyons, and haul sand on ATV tours .
Ask your tour guide to take you to Khajali Canyon , where you can see petroglyphs of humans and antelopes that may date back to the 8th century.
Consider spending the night at one of the luxurious “glamping” (glamorous camping) sites in Wadi Rum . With almost zero light pollution, the park offers incredible stargazing opportunities . No wonder visiting Wadi Rum is one of the top things to do in Jordan.
4. Jerash Remains
Nothing feels like stepping back in time more than visiting the Jerash ruins. It is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman cities in the world and has many sights to see, from the colonnaded streets and temples to the magnificent sports arena that once had a capacity of 15,000 spectators.
Tourists begin their sightseeing adventure at the Jerash ruins by walking through Hadrian’s Arch. The roughly 11-meter-tall structure is massive, but when you think about it, it was originally twice that size.
If that’s not enough to impress you, wait until you explore what’s next. The Hippodrome , a sports arena built around the 2nd century, once hosted chariot races as entertainment for thousands of spectators. The ancient sport is brought to life through daily reenactments, featuring gladiators and chariot racing laps.
Another feature of the Jerash ruins is the forum. The oval-shaped plaza is lined with upright columns that give the space a regal feel. Climb the steps of the nearby Temple of Zeus to get an even better view of the colonnade site . And imagine the performance on the ornate stage of South Theatre .
Jerash seems to have a fascinating ruin for everyone – explore to see which is your favorite site.
Hot tip: There is almost no shade in this archaeological site. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a sunhat to protect yourself from the harsh rays.
Think you can’t have a beach vacation in the hot, dry Middle East? think again Aqaba, a coastal city in the south of Jordan, offers tourists vacations along the breathtaking coastline of the Red Sea .
Float, swim, snorkel or dive – you can do it all from Aqaba. You can also venture out onto the turquoise waters on one of the daily cruises offered by local hotels . Extend your beach vacation in Jordan with a soak in one of the beautiful hammams around the resort town.
When you’re feeling peckish, try Aqaba’s local specialty: sayadih , a fish dish over rice seasoned with onion, tomato, and chili.
6. Ammanadheel Roman Remains
You don’t have to go to Petra to see the amazing archaeological sites in Jordan . In fact, the capital Amman (where you’ll probably arrive from abroad) is home to a variety of fascinating ruins, many of which are within walking distance of each other.
Head to the city to see one of the most famous ruins: the Amman Fort. Archaeologists have found artifacts around the fort that show it has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age.
Here, you can see some of the columns of the amazing Temple of Hercules , an important Roman structure that was never completed. See the stone sculpture of many fingers, which were once part of a statue of Hercules that stood over 12 meters tall. This gives an indication of how grand the attraction was during its heyday.
One of the major attractions in Amman for history buffs is the Roman Theatre. The restored amphitheater, which seats 6,000 people, dates back to about 2,000 years ago when Amman was a Roman-ruled city known as Philadelphia. The attraction is still full of life, hosting many events and welcoming locals and tourists alike.
Nearby, tourists can visit the Nymphaeum , a Roman fountain that was built around the theater, as well as a smaller 500-seat theater, the Odeon.
After you’ve had your fill, explore the vibrant culture of modern-day Amman with a sightseeing tour of Rainbow Street. The popular promenade has atmospheric cafes, fantastic people-watching opportunities and souvenir shops galore!
7. Ancient mosaics of Madaba
While many places demand sightseeing, the opposite is true in the historic trading town of Madaba. The city is home to “the largest number of mosaics found in their original location in the world”, many of which are on the floors of churches and buildings around the city.
The relatively humble St. George’s Church is home to one of the most remarkable mosaics in Jordan: the Madaba Mosaic Map. A 6th-century map depicting the Holy Land in the Byzantine period reflects the cartography of biblical times. While some of the original two million tiles are missing, the remnants of the map still give you an excellent glimpse of what the Middle East looked like centuries ago.
Visitors can see more mosaics in Madaba’s two archaeological parks. The open-air museum at Archaeological Park I houses a stunning geometric mosaic from the Church of the Virgin Mary – a 6th-century site that was discovered in someone’s basement in 1887. The attraction also features the oldest mosaic in Jordan , dating back to the 1st century BC, as well as the breathtaking carpet-like tile work of the four seasons and nature once housed in a Byzantine villa.
At Archaeological Park II , visitors can see other impressive mosaics in the ruins of a luxurious mansion from the early 6th century.
8. Wadi Mujib
Stretching about 70 kilometers from the Desert Highway to the Dead Sea , Wadi Mujib is Jordan’s answer to America’s Grand Canyon. Four kilometers wide and one kilometer deep, the river canyon offers nature lovers the opportunity to witness unique views and a variety of wildlife including Egyptian vultures, Nubian ibex, striped hyenas and Syrian wolves.
The Wadi Mujib Ghat is a great hike if you don’t mind getting a little wet. You can also visit the Mujeeb Reserve Biosphere to soak in the picturesque hot springs, just an hour and a half from Amman .
9. Castles in the desert
Stretching from Amman to the Saudi Arabian border, Zarqa Governorate is home to a series of archaeological sites known as desert forts. These early Islamic buildings were erected by the Umayyads around the 7th century.
Not so much a fort in the traditional sense, the collection of structures includes hunters’ lodges, forts, military forts, bathhouses and other types of buildings including resting places for caravans.
Rent a car to visit the site and drive the Desert Castle Loop. You will get a chance to see Quseir Amra , a squat building covered with beautiful murals; Quseir Hallabat , a Roman fort with volcanic basalt rocks and a well-preserved mosaic; Quseir Al-Kharanah, a fortress-like structure with dozens of rooms, but whose original function is lost to history; and Azrak Castle , an ancient walled fort known as the place where TE Lawrence took refuge in 1917-1918.
Located just 20 kilometers northwest of Jerash, Ajloun is a worthwhile trip for tourists who want to see some of the best natural scenery in all of Jordan. Plan a day hiking around the Ajloun Forest Reserve , a 13-square-kilometer stretch of pristine, open woodlands. In spring, the area is covered in wildflowers, making for stunning photo opportunities.
Keep your eyes peeled for crested porcupines and striped hyenas that inhabit the area.
Be sure to visit Ajloun Castle on top of Auf Mountain . It was built in the 12th century on the footprints of an old Byzantine monastery to protect it from Crusader attacks. Its hilltop location offers a panoramic view of the Jordan Valley .
11. Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo is the crown jewel of biblical sites in Jordan. According to the Old Testament, this mountain is said to be where Moses saw the Promised Land before his death. Today, it is a spiritual attraction, home to one of the country’s best-preserved 6th-century mosaics, a serpentine cross , and the famous Moses Memorial Church.
Your ticket to the church includes entry to the Memorial Viewpoint , which houses a small museum and on a clear day offers views of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. But for more privacy with similar views, walk 100 meters up the downhill road from Mount Nebo and turn left towards the hilltop. It is a perfect place for a picnic lunch.