With a population of only 10 million, some
people might think that Jordan has little to offer as a travel destination.
However, most travellers who choose to spend time in the country are surprised
at the diversity and staggering beauty of it and will leave feeling touched by
the generosity and kindness of its people. From stunning natural landscapes to
world-renowned historical and religious sites, Jordan is truly a hidden gem of
the Middle East. Here are 14 reasons you should visit this country at least once
in your life.
Petra, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World
Starting with what is widely considered to be Jordan’s most popular attraction, Petra is a historical and archaeological city located in the south of Jordan. Also known as ‘Rose City’ due to the colouring of the stone, the city’s main entrance is a breathtaking sight located at the end of a winding stone corridor.
Once home to the ancient Nabatean people, Petra is estimated to have been around since as early as 312 BC and has been described by UNESCO as ‘one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage’.
Petra, kingdom of the ancient Nabatean people
See the stars as you’ve never seen them before
The Dana Biosphere Reserve is Jordan’s largest nature reserve, covering over 320 square kilometres (124 square miles) of mountains and valleys. As well as being home to plants and animals from across the African, Asian and European continents, it is one of the best places in the world to stargaze at night.
Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan
A star-filled, clear night sky
Jordanians are the most hospitable people in the world
If Jordan is famous for only one thing, it is the hospitality and kindness of the Jordanian people. You’ll be happy to find that people are always prepared to help you and will go above and beyond in making sure that you are enjoying yourself as a guest in their country. Be prepared to receive many, many invitations for dinner and tea.
Making sweet tea over the fire
Despite being located in a geopolitical red zone, Jordan remains comfortably sheltered from the troubles of the region. It is absolutely safe to travel in and around the country, independently or in a group. It is no stranger to tourists and travellers, with the British embassy recording over 60,820 British tourists visiting Jordan just in 2015.
There is more to Arabic cuisine than falafel and hummus. Traditional, home-cooked Jordanian food is some of the tastiest, and healthiest, that you will encounter in the region. If you’re eating at somebody’s home, ready yourself, as the hosts will serve you proportionately more than you will ever be able to eat. Must-try dishes include rice- and meat-based Mansaf and Maqloube, and if you’re lucky enough to be travelling in the summer, then the assortment of colourful fresh salads, such as tabbouleh, will complement the meal well.
Luckily for food lovers, eating out at even the fanciest restaurants in Jordan is relatively cheap, but if you are looking for an alcoholic beverage to complement your meal, then be prepared to pay up.
Amman, a hub of Middle Eastern arts and culture
Jordan is home to a huge number of people seeking refuge from conflict and war in the Middle East. For this reason, the capital, Amman, is fast becoming a real hub for the arts, featuring exhibitions from Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian artists as well as Jordanians themselves. Art lovers should check out the areas of Jabal Amman and l’Weibdeh, and if you are really interested in what is happening politically in the region, then Jordan is the place to seek thoughts and opinions from across the political spectrum.
Architecture in Amman
From north to south, Jordan is incredibly diverse
When travelling around Jordan, the diversity of landscapes and people may surprise you. Experience the serene and humble lifestyle of the Bedouins in the desert of Wadi Rum by camping with them for a night, but don’t forget to explore what the progressive and fast city life in Amman has to offer as well. Also, the same traditional meal will taste differently in the north than in the south, due to different cooking methods and availability of ingredients.
Landscapes in the North of Jordan
Peaceful religious coexistence
Although Jordan is a Muslim-majority country, you’ll find some of the longest living communities of Christians residing in the country, in cities such as Madaba and Fuhais. The harmony among them is celebrated widely in Jordanian society, so you’ll be sure to see churches and mosques standing in solidarity across from one another and hear the sound of church bells and Athan (Muslim call to prayer) within the same vicinity.
The city of Madaba in Jordan
A variety of options for every pocket
Regardless of what your budget is, Jordan will accommodate. From five-star hotels and fine dining to cosy hostels and homestays, if planned accordingly, you can experience Jordan’s sites and attractions without breaking the bank.
Walk in the footsteps of ancient civilisations
Some of the most well-preserved archaeological sites of the Roman Empire stand in Jordan. Aside from the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa in Jerash, be sure to visit the Citadel (for amazing city views) and the Roman Theatre, both located close to downtown Amman.
The Temple of Artemis, Jerash
‘Ahlan wa Sahlan’ – Welcome to Jordan!
Jordan issues tourist visas upon arrival to over 130 countries in the world, saving you the trouble of applying for a visa at the embassy. It allows you the spontaneity to travel whenever it suits you.
The green and luscious north seems a world away from the beautiful dry deserts of the south, and Amman’s mountainous landscape makes for awe-inspiring sunsets over the city. If you’re a bit of an adventurer, then make sure you go on an organised hike in one of the many valleys in central Jordan and enjoy the stunning natural views whilst trekking.
Desert Landscapes in Wadi Rum
The lowest point on Earth couldn’t be saltier than the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea serves as one of Jordan’s most unique experiences, where as a result of the high salt level, you will float effortlessly atop the water. Don’t forget to slather yourself in the natural mud, which has proven healing properties, due to the high concentration of salts and minerals, for physical ailments.
Salty rock formations at the Dead Sea
All of that in 90 square kilometres?
At just 89.213 square kilometres (35 square miles), the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan can offer a whole lot in just a short amount of time. It will take you approximately five hours to cross the entire country from Irbid in the north down to the Aqaba’s Red Sea in the south, meaning that a weeklong stay is enough to experience Jordan for all (or at least most of) its wonders.