In November of 2018, my long awaited dream of being Indiana Jones came true. After years of dreaming about it, I finally got to visit the Kingdom of Jordan and it was every bit as amazing as I hoped it would be. Even though I only spent 3 days in Jordan (more on that later in this article) I managed to see and do so much in a short period of time. So, for anyone planning their own trip to Jordan and wondering about the highlights, these are my picks for the best places to visit in Jordan.
*disclaimer: I visited Jordan on a press trip with Abraham Tours. All opinions are, as always, my own.
The Lost City of Petra
The number one reason people go to Jordan (or, at least, the number one reason why I wanted to go to Jordan) was to visit the Lost City of Petra. Ever since I saw a glimpse of the treasury in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade I knew that I HAD to see it for myself. It absolutely lived up to my expectations and, in my opinion, takes the title as the best place to visit in Jordan.
Petra is fascinating. From the long walk through the colourful Siq where you get that world-famous view of the treasury, to scrambling up rocks to explore caves and tombs, and even the 900 step hike up the Monastery, I loved every bit of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
I highly recommend you plan on spending a full day here because it’s so much bigger than you’d expect and there is a lot to see and do. Check out my 1-day guide to Petra for more tips. For those who don’t consider themselves to be avid hikers, you might also enjoy my non-hikers guide to the Petra Monastery. Spoiler alert: It’s worth the climb and definitely one of the best things to do in Jordan.
The Ruins of Jerash
Jerash was a big surprise for me. I loved exploring these ruins and Jerash quickly earned itself a top spot on my list of the best places to visit in Jordan. I think I was so caught up on my obsession for Petra that I didn’t really consider that Jordan would have other impressive historical sites. Which, it clearly does.
Jerash was once a powerful Roman city, but it was destroyed around 749 AD when it was buried by an earthquake. The city remained buried for hundreds of years until it was discovered by a German explorer named Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806.
The ruins as you see them today still reflect the grandeur of this ancient city. In fact, the ruins of Jerash are said to be the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. Though, if you take our guide’s advice, they are even better than what you’ll find in Pompeii. I have yet to go to Pompeii so can’t comment on that, but I can say that I was pretty impressed and quite happy wandering around the theatres, temples, hippodrome, and forum.
If you are visiting Jordan as part of a tour, as I was, a visit to the ruins of Jerash will no doubt be a part of your itinerary. If you are visiting Jordan on your own, you can visit Jerash as a day trip from Amman.
The Citadel in Amman
Keeping with the themes of ancient cities and impressive ruins, the Citadel in Amman is a must. Perched on a hill in the centre of Jordan’s capital, the Citadel dates back to the Bronze Age. It is surrounded by a large, 1700m long wall that has been re-built many times over the centuries, and is home to some impressive ruins including the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace. The ruins here aren’t nearly as big as those of Jerash, however, a visit to the Citadel is one of the top things to do in Jordan and definitely worth your time. Plus, the views of Amman from the walls are pretty impressive as well.
When it comes to the best places to visit in Jordan, Wadi Rum is a must. I’d heard from numerous people that this part of Jordan was even more magical than Petra. While I’m not quite on board with that opinion (nothing can beat Indiana Jones in my heart) I did fall in love with Wadi Rum.
Massive sand dunes, impressive rock formations, ancient graffiti, and friendly Bedouin tribes made it a fun place to explore for a few hours. Our tour guide hired a couple of ‘jeeps’ (more like pick-up trucks) to take us around. We stopped for photos at the Seven Pillars, and again to climb a huge sand dune for views over the desert. Our driver was awesome; driving up big sandy hills and thundering down them on the other side as we laughed and held on in the back. It was a ton of fun and was one of my favourite things to do in Jordan.
You can also ride camels in Wadi Rum. I’m pretty hesitant when it comes to animal tourism and after a look at the camels, I chose not to participate. Several in our group did though and met us a little while later at a local Bedouin camp where we stopped for tea.
We only spent half a day in Wadi Rum which was amazing, but I probably could have spent longer. If I went back, I would absolutely want to spend the night to see all the stars.
The Dead Sea
I didn’t visit the Dead Sea in Jordan, I visited it in Israel. But since this incredible sea spans both countries it definitely makes the list of the best places to visit in Jordan. The Dead Sea is SO much fun.
The Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth and one of the saltiest places on earth. It’s so salty that nothing can live in this water. It also means that if you have a cut or a scrape you don’t want to go in either. It will burn like hell. (Insider tip: don’t shave on the day you visit either!). However, spending a couple of hours floating around in the Dead Sea is fun, relaxing, and a unique experience and an absolute must when it comes to things to do in Jordan. Make sure to find some of the clay to give yourself a mud mask/wrap. Your skin will feel amazing afterwards!
Only 3 Days in Jordan?
No doubt I took a few of you by surprise when I mentioned I only spent 3 days in Jordan. I actually visited Jordan on a tour from Israel. I partnered with Abraham Tours who offer a 2 or 3 day Jordan trip from both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. At first, I was a bit hesitant. Three days in Jordan didn’t seem like a lot, especially since it’s a country I have been desperate to go to for so long. However, the itinerary convinced me I would see the two main things I wanted to: Petra and Wadi Rum and, as you can see from my list above, quite a bit more.
I’m not normally a guided tour type person, but my 3 days in Jordan with Abraham Tours was, honestly, pretty awesome. Transportation, which I’ve heard from independent travellers can be pretty tricky in Jordan, was taken care of by a friendly and responsible driver. We also had an amazing guide who was full of information and stories about everywhere we visited. Given that Jordan has so much fascinating history, this was something I really appreciated. I honestly think that having a guide for this trip made it more enjoyable than I would have found it on my own.
So, for any other travellers who want to visit Jordan and may be hesitant for whatever reason, check out this tour. It is fast-paced and a lot of bus time (especially on your last day) but it’s a great way to explore and experience the best things to do in Jordan. You can learn more about the 3 day Jordan tour here.
PS: for any women heading to Jordan, be sure to check out my Jordan packing guide!
A Note on Travel Insurance in Jordan
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine multiple times. While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance as they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found, plus, they are who I use and I have had great experiences with them. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.