jordan travel petra ancient city desert middle east

Jordan Travel Guide

In Travel by Continental Staff Comments

If you want to get a taste of the best the Middle East has to offer, look no further than Jordan. With picturesque desert landscapes, vibrant cities, and plenty of windows into ancient civilization, Jordan offers an experience like nowhere else.

Want to learn more about Jordan?

History and Culture | Currency

When is the best time to visit Jordan?

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Jordan, with the weather getting hot but not usually uncomfortable. The middle of summer on the other hand can reach very high temperatures. Parts of the country can be colder and rainy in winter but it is still a fine season to visit.

Where is Jordan?

Jordan is located in Western Asia near the confluence of Asia, Europe, and Africa in the Middle East. The country borders Israel, Palestine, and the Dead Sea to the west, the Red Sea to the southwest, Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, and Saudi Arabia to the east and south.

map middle east jordan magnifying glass asia africa europe

How do I get around Jordan?

After you arrive in Jordan (and get tourist visa at the airport or border), you’ll find that renting a car is the best way to get around the country. You can get between cities with buses, but many of the best destinations require a bit more effort to reach.

Language in Jordan

Arabic is the official language of Jordan, though you’ll find that English is very widely spoken. It is used in business, banking, and is the most common language in higher education (as well as being taught earlier). As such, you’ll have no difficulty getting by with English in Jordan.

Explore Jordan

Amman | Aqaba | Dead Sea | Jerash | Petra | Wadi Rum

Amman

jordan city amman capital night sprawling cityscape downtown

While the skyscrapers and luxurious glitz of the UAE’s finest may dominate the narrative of Middle Eastern cities, Jordan’s capital provides visitors from all over with an authentic window into the region’s way of life while retaining all the bells and whistles that make it a tourist centre. This is perfectly encapsulated in the two different sides of Amman: with the West a trendy, cosmopolitan selection of cafes, bars, and malls while the East is more traditional and relaxed. Beyond the two sides, the city also features a great collection of Roman ruins – further emphasizing the unique and diverse history of Jordan. Amman is, without a doubt, the heartbeat of Jordan and earns its place among the marquee urban destinations in the Middle East.

Petra

petra monastery ancient ruins city jordan

By far the most famous landmark in Jordan (and perhaps the entire Middle East) is the ancient Nabataean city of Petra. Dating back to 312 BCE, the complex was ‘discovered’ (in a European sense) by Swiss explorer Jean Louis Burckhardt in 1812. For centuries prior frequented only by the local Bedouin tribes, the city has garnered worldwide attention thanks in part to another famous explorer…one Indiana Jones. But treasure hunts aside, Petra’s halls, residences, and the famous treasury have enchanted visitors from all over the globe – and it truly earns its moniker as one of the Wonders of the World.

Aqaba

aqaba read sea coral reef jordan swimming snorkeling

Jordan paid an arm and a leg to receive a 12-kilometre slice of Red Sea coastline (6000 square kilometres of desert to Saudi Arabia to be exact), but we’re going to go out on a limb and say it was worth it. The city of Aqaba is of paramount importance for its port, however visitors will find a great collection of beaches alongside a relaxed, vacation atmosphere. There’s some great diving and snorkeling nearby (thanks to the picturesque Yamanieh reef) that is a must for any adventurous sort. In short, if you want to experience great weather, salt sea air, and some beautiful locales, Aqaba is the place to be in Jordan.

Jerash

jerash jordan ancient rome ruins preserved history

At first glance, the city of Jerash may seem like an unremarkable retreat after Petra, Aqaba, and Amman. Rest assured however, that it earns its place on the Jordan tourism radar. The real draw here is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman cities in the entire world. You can explore roads, a forum, a hippodrome, and the imposing Arch of Hadrian that signals your arrival. There’s a reason Jerash is a favorite of historians and archaeologists.

Dead Sea

dead sea coast shore jordan salt blue water

We may have covered this natural landmark in our trip to Israel, but the world’s lowest point is absolutely deserving of a second mention. The ‘sea’ is renowned for its extreme saltiness, so much so that you float on the waters more so than swim. Many visit the Dead Sea for the full spa treatment (and you can find luxury establishments along its shores), but there’s something alluring about the mix of salt and bright blue water that makes this a trip worth taking for any reason.

Wadi Rum

wadi rum desert jordan landscape hot arid

Everyone from T.E. Lawrence to Matt Damon has waxed lyrical about the imposing beauty of Wadi Rum, and it’s quite easy to see why. Located in the desert close to Aqaba, this wadi (or ‘valley’) represents both the magical and harsh qualities of the Jordanian climate. If you’re really up for an adventure, you can even spend the night nearby in one of the desert camps (as the Bedouin have done for centuries) – but even a quick visit gives you a taste of some of the most impressive and famous (thanks to Hollywood) desert landscapes in the world.

Air Jordan (Flights to Jordan)

A round trip flight between Toronto Pearson and Amman is relatively cheap for the region, with prices starting at about $950 Canadian. Be sure to shop around, as you can find often find deals (especially as Jordan grows in popularity as a tourist destination).

Prices in Jordan ($$)*

Prices in Jordan are fairly inexpensive, with an average day working out to about $81 Canadian, which includes $31 for accommodation and $21 for food. If you’re thrifty, you can keep costs down closer to $33 a day while the high-roller lifestyle will cost you about $194 a day.

*Cost rating on a scale of ‘$ to $$$$’, or ‘cheapest to most expensive’

bedouin wadi rum tent jordan man traditional

Is Jordan safe?

While there is no nationwide advisory in Jordan, a high degree of caution is recommended mostly due to demonstrations and occasional civil unrest. In addition, all non-essential travel to within 5 kilometres of the Iraq or Syria border should be avoided.

Within Jordan you should be aware of the threat of terrorism, as the government is a supporter of the American-led campaign against ISIS. The Jordanian security forces are considered extremely well trained and effective in countering terrorist threats, though you should still be alert at all times. Popular uprisings associated with the Arab Spring began in 2011, and any such demonstrations should be avoided. The crime rate in Jordan is fairly low though you should still be aware of petty crime and reports of carjackings in Amman.

Be very aware when driving (and also try not to drive in Jordan after dark). Also make sure you have additional supplies and you know what you’re doing if planning some off-road driving. Overall however, Jordan is widely considered one of, if not the safest countries in the Middle East and (despite the recent economic troubles and influx of refugees) has been a popular tourist destination for years.

For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Jordan.

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You can learn more about Jordanian history and culture in the Country Profile and its currency with our Spotlight.

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