6 Reasons You Must Travel to Jordan

In contrast to the serious turmoil of many of its neighbors, Jordan stands out as a peaceful oasis and makes a wonderful introduction to the Middle East. Despite its financial difficulties, the country conveys a feeling of stability and is ruled by a king beloved by Jordanians. This is a great thing for anyone who wants to experience Jordan’s amazing sites, food, and culture. Here are six reasons to travel to Jordan at least once in your life.

Jordan camel ride
Jordan camel ride (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)

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1. Incredible archeological ruins

Jordan has been at the crossroads of humanity for thousands of years. Nearly every major civilization has passed through, conquered, or ruled this area—the Canaanites, Assyrians, Nabateans, Romans, Ummayads, and Ottomans. Many locations in modern Jordan were prominent in the Bible, including Mount Nebo (Moses), and the location of the baptism of John the Baptist and Jesus at the Jordan River. As a result, Jordan is filled with incredible archaeological ruins.

The most famous and important historical site is Petra, the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. This ancient city was carved into the rose-red rocks of Petra and is incredibly preserved. Nothing will prepare you for your first glimpse of the 2,000-year-old Treasury building, which comes into view after you walk through a narrow siq entrance pathway. While breathtaking, it’s just the first of many amazing buildings, amphitheaters, and caves in the massive Petra complex.

Over 2 million people live in Jordan’s bustling capital city, Amman. At the top of one of seven of the city’s hills, the Citadel showcases many of the civilizations that have come and gone in the area, including Roman and Umayyad. A walk through the local souk showcases beautifully arranged fruits, nuts, and spices that tantalize your sense of smell.

One hour north of Amman lies Jerash, an ancient Roman city. The ruins are very well-preserved, and highlights include the Hadrian’s Gate, the Nymphaeum, Oval Plaza, and Temple of Artemis.

Petra the Magnificent: the Treasury building (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)
Petra the Magnificent: the Treasury building

2. Natural and cultural wonders

Located in southern Jordan, the Wadi Rum Desert is home to local Bedouin, who operate an impressive array of tourist activities including rock-climbing, hot air ballooning, horse and camel-riding, and camping out under the stars in a traditional desert camp. Wadi Rum’s Valley of the Moon is an other-worldly place of sandstone and granite rock rising from the desert valley floor.

Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city, sits on the northern tip of the Red Sea. Aqaba has grown into a bustling seaside and diving resort for tourists and is also a popular weekend destination for locals. It offers a wide variety of restaurants and hotels and lively evening souks. Shop the Souk by the Sea for local, handmade products that make wonderful souvenirs.

The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth at 423 meters below sea level. Floating in the waters of the Dead Sea is bucket list-worthy. Coat your body with the mineral-rich mud before entering the water. This therapeutic experience results in baby-soft skin. Beware: the water is so salty it’s almost unbearable; you really do not want to get it into your eyes!

The lowest place on earth: the Dead Sea (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)
The lowest place on earth: the Dead Sea

3. Delicious food

Jordan’s cuisine tends to be fresh and healthy, with a focus on vegetables. Regular menu items include hummus, baba ganouj (eggplant dip), pita bread, salads, olives, yogurt, honey, dates, falafel (chickpea fritters), and spicy lamb sausages. There are certainly other food options available in restaurants and hotels that cater to European and North American visitors. You can find familiar Western items like eggs, bacon, or croissants for breakfast, and pasta for lunch. However,  you shouldn’t miss out on enjoying the delicious Mediterranean cuisine that’s available all around you. For lunch in Amman, I recommend stopping at Hashem for the best falafel and hummus I’ve ever tasted. Top off your meal at nearby Habibah with a knanefeh dessert (Levantine cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup).

Jordanian lunch of hummus, falafel, baba ganouj and addictive mint tea (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)
Lunch of hummus, falafel, baba ganouj and addictive mint tea

4. A safe haven in the Middle East

Despite the strife in the Middle East, Jordan kept itself out of local area conflicts in recent decades. The country plays an important part in humanitarian and refugee assistance, particularly in the most recent conflict within Syria. The crime rate in Jordan is very low, even in its largest city, the capital of Amman.

Security measures at Jordanian hotels involve bag x-rays and checks but aren’t overly intrusive. Like anywhere, tourists should travel smart use common sense. Always maintain a secure hold of your luggage or day bag. Keep important documents, credit cards, and cash in interior pockets or money belts to avoid being targeted by pick-pockets. You’ll be more comfortable walking in groups on busy, narrow streets than exploring Jordan alone. Many tourists employ guides to navigate through cities, towns, and souks (markets).

While many women ‘cover’ (wear a headscarf), it is not a requirement for non-Muslim visitors like in other Middle Eastern countries. Respectful attire is appreciated; save the halter tops and cut-offs for the Dead Sea or Aqaba.

Amman - a city in white (Photo credit: Claudia Laroye)
Amman – a city in white

5. English is widely spoken

Arabic is the official language of Jordan and most of the Middle East but luckily you can typically get by using English in this country. Many people speak English in Jordan, particularly in the urban areas, and certainly in the hotel and tourism establishments. Despite a difficult economy, Jordan’s King Abdullah and his government have made good public education a national priority, and it includes English instruction from an early age. In a country that depends heavily on tourism, this wise strategy works well in encouraging foreign visitors. Of course, locals appreciate your attempts to learn at least a few Arabic words; for example, shukran means thank you. 

The delights of the Amman Souk (Photo credit: C. Laroye)
The delights of the Amman Souk

6. The Jordanian people

In my experience, the Jordanian people are among the most friendly and welcoming in the world. People of all ages will wave from cars as you walk through downtown Amman, or from sides of the road as you rumble through the desert in a bus. Wherever you go, you will hear, “Welcome to Jordan!” They haven’t been programmed to greet you in this way; the people of Jordan are very proud of their country and are genuinely happy to have you as a visitor.

Should you be invited into someone’s home, whether a house or Bedouin tent, you’ll experience incredible hospitality. Upon entry, you will be offered three cups of tea or coffee as a welcome. According to Jordanian tradition, even unexpected guests are hosted without question for three days. After that, the host will ask why you’re paying them a visit. The country’s gracious spirit is memorable and adds to the magic of Jordan.

Son and mom atop dromedaries in the Saharan Desert in Morocco
Son and mom riding dromedaries in Morocco’s Sahara Desert (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More of the Middle East

Discover the best things to do in Morocco with kids and famous Moroccan foods all ages enjoy.

Learn fascinating facts you may not know about Israel and what to do in Israel, no matter your religion.

Would you like to travel to Jordan? If you have visited Jordan, what did you enjoy most about this country? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from Travel Mamas: The Curious Travel Mama visited Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board. As always, her opinions are her own and an honest expression of her experiences. All photos by Claudia Laroye.

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