Jordan is most famous for its rock city and the archaeological location of Petra. A lot of tourists get to admire the beauty of the tombs carved in the rocks which line the whole valley. It isn´t very well known though that this country offers much more to visit. Come and see what other gems are hidden in Jordan.
The first mentions of inhabiting the area come from early the Neolithic era. Different civilizations lived there since the 9th century BC and each one of them left a unique footprint there. One could even say that the area of today´s Jordan was a scene to an important historical event and a clash of divergent cultures. The Nabateans were probably the ones who influenced the history of Jordan as they were the culture which built the rock burial site Petra. However, their kingdom was conquered by the Roman Empire. The area was also controlled by Babylonians, Arabs, there were clashes with the Crusader troops, all of that before Jordan became the part of the Ottoman Empire. Later, the area was conquered by the British and Jordan had to wait for its independence until the Second World War.
During that century, several wars between Jordan and Israel took place. Because of a defeat, Jordan had to give up a part of its land. In the Jordan region, crowds of Palestinian refugees were circulating, making up 55% of the country’s Arab population. At present, a large number of Syrian refugees are heading for Jordan as well.
1. Petra – The ancient tombs carved in the rocks
Petra is the main tourist attraction in all of Jordan. Many tourists come here from all around the world to admire the beauties that were carved into the stone by the Nabateans thousands of years ago. The graves carved in the rocks were supposed to be the last sanctuary of important persons and kings of the Nabatean kingdom to which Petra used to be the capital city. Visitors can also admire the remains of the complex irrigation system, an old Roman monument and the remnants of the Crusader Castle. Arab Bedouins follow the tourists on every corner, offering their souvenirs and a ride on camels or donkeys. In the evening, during the sunset, the rock creations radiate a glow of a thousand candles and burst with Bedouin music. It is a truly unforgettable experience that no visitor should miss.
Read our Ultimate Guide to Petra with everything you need to know.
Currently, Jordan is calm and safe. The country is open to independent travelers, offering a rich historical experience and boasting a great number of sights, from the Roman amphitheater and the Byzantine monuments to the ancient tombs carved into the rocks. Yet most tourists visit the country accompanied by a private guide or a travel agency. As an independent traveler, you are still a little curious and a bit an attraction for the locals. Local people, however, have a great respect for visitors. Thefts or threats to tourists are threatened with much harder punishment than usual. Still, most tourists are still reluctant to travel on their own, which is a shame.
2. Jerash – Jerash – The Buried Ancient City of the Greco-Roman world
Jerash is the second most visited monument of Jordan, just after Petra. It is a city where Greek-Roman elements mingle with Oriental Arab culture. The ancient city of Jerash was founded by Alexander the Great and is one of the most preserved ancient site located outside Italy. Due to its size, it is often referred to as the Pompeii of the East. Jerash offers a walk along the original Roman pavement, preserved hippodrome, several remains of ancient temples and amphitheaters. You don´t have to go all the way to Rome, just visit Jerash!
3. The Dead Sea – the saltiest lake in the world
The Dead Sea in Jordan is the name of one of the world’s saltiest non-outflow lakes. Its salinity reaches a respectable 34%, making it a very harsh environment in which only some species of bacteria can survive. This lake is also unique because it lays 420 meters below the surface of the world’s ocean and is the lowest-laid place on earth. Another reason why the Dead Sea is tempting for tourists is its buoyancy power. Due to the high salt level, the water density is much higher and therefore the water lets you float easily. Perhaps just a few of the visitors resist the temptation to take pictures of them floating on the water with newspapers in hand.
Therapeutic cosmetic products and Dead Sea mud wraps are highly sought after all around the world. If you visit this site, you will be surprised at how many cosmetics and products you can buy here. Do not hesitate and try some procedures, including a mud wrap right on the beach. If you are lucky, you can also see the characteristic coastline for which accumulated salt on the beaches is typical.
4. Biblical Mount Nebo – an important pilgrimage site in Jordan
“And Moses came out of the wilderness of Moab, and the Lord showed him all the land, which he was not supposed to enter. Moses died on Mount Nebo and no one yet knows his tomb. “- That is how the Old Testament mentions the mountain. Crowds of pilgrims have been coming here for centuries and nowadays tourists visit it too. But don´t worry that there is nothing to see here. A modern sculpture depicting the serpent wrapped around the cross of Jesus stands at the top of the mountain. The remains of churches from the 4th and 7th centuries were uncovered on the mountain, where you can see perfectly preserved mosaics on various motifs. For visitors, there is a small museum that will take you briefly through the history. Finally, it is necessary to mention the beautiful view from the height of 800 meters directly to the Jordan Valley, Jericho, and the Desert Mountains.
5. Byzantine monuments and the ancient city of Madaba
The city of Madaba in Jordan was founded in the early Neolithic and is a popular tourist destination mainly due to its monuments and mosaics of the Byzantine era. Perhaps most remarkable is the mosaic map, which was found on the floor of St. George’s Church. It dates back to the 6th century and displays the landscape of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem before its reconstruction. In addition to this unique map, hundreds of other archaeological finds of different mosaics come from the same time in Madaba. Visiting this place is a unique way back to the past where you can admire the skill of our ancestors.
6. Wadi Rum – The beauty out of our world
7. Jordan Castles and Ruins
Jordan boasts a large number of Arab and Crusader castles and ruins. It is worth mentioning Kerak, which is the best preserved Crusader Castle in the Middle East. It is even mentioned in the Bible since Kerak was the capital of the kingdom of Moab. Visitors can also visit the Archaeological Museum here. Another interesting castle is Shobak, a 12th-century crusader castle or the typically Arab castle Ajloun, which has never been captured in its history.
8. Beach town of Aqaba – swimming in the Red Sea
Aqaba in Jordan attracts visitors mainly due to favourable weather and access to the Red Sea. It is very rich when it comes to the underwater life and coral reefs. Its name was obtained by seaweed, which, when overflowing, dyed red water. Aqaba Marine Park has 7 kilometers of coastline where you can admire the coral reefs, rich underwater life and sunbathe on local beaches. In addition to diving and swimming in the sea, Aqaba offers other popular beach activities that are worth a try.
Jordan has many must-see places and you could spend there weeks to see all of them. What are your best places in Jordan? Let us know in the comments!
What a thoroughly wonderful post on Jordan! We would really love to go one day! This will definitely come in handy! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
Thank you Califonia Globerotter for your comment 🙂 I woould really love to come back one day !
Gorgeous photos. I didn’t realize there is so much to see in Jordan. I really only thought about Petra and the Dead Sea, but all the places on your list look excellent. Definitely worth a visit! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Hi Anisa, we din´t realize there is so much to see in Jrdan as well, but you always realize when you travel there.
Oh these pictures are absolutely mesmerizing. Wadi Rum is such a striking place… I’ve known Jordan had a lot to offer for a while, but this really drives that point home. Thanks for the inspiration 😀
Thank you Nathan, I am very happy you like our article, we love to shre beatiful places with others 🙂
I’ve been to Petra and Jerash, and have seen the other side of the Dead Sea. Perhaps I will get back to Jordan one day to see the rest. #TheWeeklyPostcard
There is so many places what you can see, we can come back many times to Jordan and we will always have some new places to discover. 🙂
It looks like you hit all the highlights and then some. Great photos – and I had no idea that salt was deposited on the coast off of the Dead Sea. How interesting!
Hi Jill, thank you for your comment, the salt around the Death sea is amazing, all Jordan is very amazing country 🙂
Jordan seems like a lovely place. I have several friends who live there or who have lived there in the past few years, and they all talk about how hospitable the people are. I have to admit Petra blows my mind. I would love to explore it for myself, and I know my husband would really enjoy the ruins and the history! I think I would definitely enjoy checking out all the healing properties around the Dead Sea as well. 😉 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Hi Sara, then you definetelly have to go to Jordan with your husband. Petra is really stunning! I didnt expet that. You will enjoy the Jordan for sure !
I have always wanted to visit Petra, with no idea of all the other wonderful things to see in Jordan! I’d be interested to know what you think would be an ideal amount of time to spend there in order to see the sights you’ve talked about. The Roman and Byzantine ruins sound amazing. And I’m so glad to hear it’s a good destination for independent travelers. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Hi Cynthia, Jordan is one of my most favourite countires. I really didnt expet I enjoy this so much.We spent there just 4 days to see all these things, but we were in rush. I would recommend to spent there just a week and this is enaugh for whole country. 🙂
Gorgeous photos! I always wanted to visit Petra. I hope I’ll make it to Jordan someday. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Hi Anda, you will enjoy it 🙂
So many places for our Bucket List! Jordan is just so amazing, from a historical point of view. Add in the culture and the stunning views you’ve shared, and wow…what a destination! Thanks so much for sharing with us on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Jordan is very impressive, I falled in love to this country, it is very interesting, I am glad you like it :-))
I LOVE Jordan. I went to the exact places that you went except Aqaba. It was an expensive trip for me due to the high exchange rates between JOD and Malaysian Ringgit but it was absolutely worth every money spent! I’m glad that despite the turmoil in the surrounding countries, Jordan is still safe to travel, well at least, for now. #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Hi Kat, we are glad you like your trip around Jordan, we enjoyed as well. Sorry for your bad exchange rate, I Hope next time your experience would be better.
Gorgeous pics! I’ve always wanted to go to Jordan (still saving up money for it) but those pics and your post make me want to go even more!
Hi, I hope we inspired you to really save the money for this trip! We simply love the Jordan !
I’ve recently watched a documentary about Nabateans and Petra – can´t wait to visit one day! As many others I did not realize there were so many interesting things to do in Jordan, besides its main site! Love your photos! #TheWeeklyPostcard
Hi Anna, I didnt know this trip would be soooo much interesting, once I made it! Gorgeous.
I can’t wait to visit Jordan one day! After watching Indiana Jones as a child and my parents recent visit, it’s flown to the top of my bucketlist. I never realised Wadi Rum was so beautiful or that the Dead Sea had salt deposits on shore. Definitely a great guide!
Yeeaaah, Indiana Jones ..we loved that movie too 🙂