Start planning your Jordan bucket list with this guide to the best and most unusual things to do in Jordan. Then, you can plan your perfect Jordan itinerary here.
The best things to do in Jordan for your Jordan Bucket List
When you think of Jordan, what springs to mind? Floating in the Dead Sea? Striding through the stone swirls of Petra? Riding through the red sand of the desert beneath the stars and sipping cardamom coffee with Bedouin?
Those are just some of the best things to do in Jordan. But you can add more attractions to your Jordan bucket list than that. More ancient cities, more sights of the stars, more fresh, authentic food and more experiences with the people who live here.
More meaningful travel.
So, here’s our inside guide to the most unique things to do in Jordan, based on multiple trips to the country.
Jordan Bucket List at a Glance
The Best Things to do in Jordan
- See Petra
- Float in the Dead Sea
- Glide over Wadi Rum sands
- See the ancient ruins of Jerash
- Visit key places from the bible
- Stand on Amman Citadel
- Snorkel in the Red Sea
Unique Things to do in Jordan
- Dine with a Bedouin family
- Take a cooking class in Amman
- Chill in Amman’s coffee shops
- Visit a Jordanian art gallery
- Go stargazing in an eco reserve
- Eat piping hot knafeh in the street
- Ride a camel. Once.
Start with this list of unique things to do in Jordan, then read around the more in-depth stories on the site until you’re ready to make your own Jordan bucket list.
After that? It’s just a matter of making your trip happen! We have some tips on that here. And a full Jordan itinerary here. It has everything from a 7 day Jordan itinerary to what to see in Jordan in 5 days.
Map of Best Things to do in Jordan
Jordan tourist attractions map
Disclosure – I visited each of these things to do in Jordan over a period of ten years. I visited Jordan as a guest of Visit Jordan and Globus Travel, but as usual, as always, as ever, kept the right to write what I like here on Inside the Travel Lab. Otherwise, there’s just no point. If you book or buy through any of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!
The Best Places to visit in Jordan
Petra by night: serenity by candlelight.
Petra by Night
Petra is one of those iconic places that more than lives up to the hype created by Indiana Jones. Visit Petra first by day to catch raspberry rock swirls, donkeys and the famous Treasury. Then come back for a quieter experience called Petra by Night.
Using only 1500 candles and all the stars that glimmer overhead, Petra’s passageway to the Treasury mixes inky silence with a reverential glow.
Expect to walk for around half an hour in the dimly lit passageway before you reach this famous, glimmering view. Be ready to be still, be ready to be silent, and be ready to be moved.
My only top tip? Visit Petra by day first.
Top Tip: Explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Petra by day first. Then visit Petra by Night for candlelit beauty.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride over Wadi Rum
From the ground, the desert wilderness of Wadi Rum mesmerises. From the skies above looking down, it provides the kind of views that make you feel lucky to be alive.
There are deserts and then there are deserts. Wadi Rum is the ruby-red, dust spinning, camel swashbuckling kind of desert with rock formations several storeys high. Camp beneath the stars in a (tailored for visitors) Bedouin tent, ride on camels, dune bash and take to the skies in a hot air balloon.
Despite that long list of heady activities, Wadi Rum feels surprisingly quiet when you visit. As if the whole world has turned to red sand and is waiting for you.
Lawrence of Arabia roamed around here and it’s possible to camp out beneath the stars or ride camels the traditional way. But the best view, for sure, takes place from the wicker basket of a hot air balloon.
It’s an absolute must see in Jordan.
Top Tip: hot air balloon trips work best at dawn because of the air temperature. Plan to stay overnight nearby, perhaps in a Bedouin camp.
Activities for your Jordan Bucket List
Taste Sweet Knafeh in Amman
Knafeh, like the stone and sand of the city of Amman itself, has a deliciously rich history (and taste). Delirious with calories, this butter-soaked streetside snack presses cheese between syrup-soaked angel hair and then sprinkles it with rosewater and pistachios.
Top tip: try Habibah Knafeh on Al-Hazzar Street to get your sugar fix.
Did You Know?
Women don’t need to cover their hair in Jordan. Many do, but it’s not compulsory.
Float in the Dead Sea
Can I let you in on a secret? Those serene photos of people floating, reading newspapers in the Dead Sea don’t tell the whole story!
Swimming in the Dead Sea is great fun but it’s anything but serene. The salt levels threaten to flip you over at a moment’s notice like a drunken weevil in an oil slick. But it is good fun.
Saltier than a salty sea dog, the Dead Sea is also the lowest point of earth. It reaches between Jordan and Israel and it just so happens to be achingly beautiful.
Find out more interesting facts about the Dead Sea here.
Top tip: don’t shave just before swimming in the Dead Sea. The sting will make your own saltwater flow.
Splash About Canyoning
If wading through the Dead Sea seems too tranquil, a short trip to Wadi Mujib will soon get your pulse racing again with a spot of canyoning.
Don’t be fooled into thinking canyoning is only for those insanely fit folk; it’s an inclusive sport but it is mentally challenging.
Enjoy your adventures in Jordan!
Top Tip: get a taste for canyoning in Wadi Mujib with this video.
Help Make the World’s Largest Mosaic in Mount Nebo
At Mount Nebo, there’s an incredible mosaic in production. It depicts The King’s Way, a route that runs from Aqaba and the Red Sea north to Bosra Sham. When complete, it will run for more than 30 metres involving more than 3.5 million pieces and expects to earn the record of being the largest mosaic in the world (if you look closely, you’ll find a piece with my name on it. And one there from the Queen). We’re not special, though. The city of Madaba invites every guest to take part in the project, no matter your birthplace or background.
It’s a beautiful project in a fractured world.
Top tip: look out for my name! ;-)
Stargaze in the Desert with the Bedouin
Free from light and sound pollution, the Feynan Eco-Lodge’s green credentials stretch beyond simply not washing your towels every day and printing out lots of leaflets to tell you about it instead.
Get back to basics under the stars of the Jordanian desert with an engaging storyteller, roaring fire and arabic coffee for company.
Top tip: prepare to feel an incredible sense of peace as you gaze up at the stars.
Why I Love Jordan
From the Dead Sea and Wadi Rum to the poetic candlelight at night at Petra, Jordan dazzles with big name sights and great natural beauty.
But its real richness comes from its people, from sharing hummus, tabbouleh and pitta bread together and from discovering layers and layers of history that have remarkably resulted in peace in this otherwise tumultuous part of the world.
It’s a country that brings me great joy every time I visit – and one that gives me hope for the future.
Yeah. I know what you’re thinking…
Ride Camels at Sunset
Yes, it’s a cliche, and yes, you can find horrible tourist traps that do this.
Travel by camel was and is a core part of culture in the Middle East. Plus, until you’ve ridden one yourself you’ll never believe how monstrously, ridiculously uncomfortable the whole experience is.
Ride a camel and gain a newfound level of respect for desert nomads.
Desert camps on the edges of Wadi Rum arrange some of the more soulful camel expeditions at sunset.
Top tip: camel hide is scratchy so wear the thickest trousers you can manage in the heat. And, of course, it cools fast at night. Bring a warm jacket or jumper as well.
MORE ABOUT SIGHTSEEING IN JORDAN
Make Friends Over Food at a cooking lesson
Learn about traditional Jordanian food through cooking lessons with the indomitable Maria at Beit Sitti. Not only will you get to taste the smoky, aubergine richness of baba ganoush and the more suspect aniseed spirit Arak, but you’ll mix with people from Amman in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
Top tip: choose an evening class and enjoy the sound of the call to prayer amid the orange blossom in this old and beautiful part of Amman.
Snorkel in the Red Sea
Bright skies, pleasure boats and snorkelling await in Aqaba, Jordan’s playground. It’s also a good dive site and has easily accessible markets for spice pyramids, incense and perfume.
Top tip: Make sure to visit the markets in the evening, when the smoke of the incense is at its most atmospheric. Also, check out this video on how to snorkel for beginners before you go.
More JOrdan Attractions
Winter gets cool in Jordan…
Visit the World’s Oldest City (Probably)
Jordan’s capital vies for the title of oldest city in the world and when standing on the citadel at sunset, that seems easy to believe. Yet it’s a modern city, too, with luxurious five star hotels, shops, and an amphitheatre with a special trick…
The citadel itself has a completely overlooked museum. Inside, you’ll find works of art that are thought to be the oldest ever sculptures of mankind. Put that on your Jordan bucket list and smoke it!
Top tip: Visit the citadel at sunset for spectacular views and the lyrical call to prayer.
Historical Places in Jordan at a glance
Historical Jordan Things To Do
- Amman Citadel
- Ruins in Jerash
- Mt Nebo
- Bethany beyond the Jordan
- Crusader Forts
Madaba: famous for mosaics but there’s more to the story than that
See Madaba and the Ancient Map
Somewhat off the standard tourist radar, Madaba makes for a fascinating city to visit for a number of reasons. It’s home to one of the oldest maps in the world, in mosaic form, depicting the ever-disputed holy land.
Top tip: Visit the Byzantine church of St George to see the 6th century map – and then visit mosaic workshops outside.
Drive or Hike Through the Dana Biosphere Reserve
The Dana Biosphere Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Jordan and comes with a handy addition: a luxurious ecolodge right in the centre that allows you make the most of the empty space and the stars. The Feynan Ecolodge helps organise hiking, drives and cooking lessons from their hub, working with the community in a sustainable, responsible way.
Top tip: take up natural soap making lessons within the Dana Biosphere reserve
MORE Jordan places to visit
See The Ancient Roman City of Jerash
While the Romans may not have the sex appeal of the Nabateans of Petra, this still-standing ancient city is still pretty impressive with road after road of tumbling columns and pathways that have survived thousands of years. It’s also a lot more accessible than Petra, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re short on time (or mobility.)
Top tip: wear comfortable shoes. The ground around these Roman ruins is very uneven.
Visit where Jesus was baptized in Bethany beyond the Jordan
For years, this area was off limits because of residual mines from the Israeli-Arab wars. Now, it’s safe and beautifully cared for. The site is split into a few components.
First, you visit the ruins where John the Baptist lived and taught. Then, a short walk (or golf buggy) takes you to a ruined church with a small area of water in the centre. Archaeologists and historians believe this to be the place where John the Baptist baptised Jesus, around 2000 years ago.
Although the bible describes this as taking place in the River Jordan, the river itself has changed course over the last two thousand years.
Finally, you can also visit the banks of the River Jordan, where baptisms take place on both the Jordanian and Israeli side. A small church also marks the spot, with a celestial midnight blue ceiling inside.
Top tip: prepare to be moved, no matter how you feel about religion.
It gets cold and windy up here!
Stand where Moses saw the Promised Land
From the peak of Mt Nebo, you can see the promised land! A golden strip of sunshine amid the wind and cloudy assault of the weather. And that does just happen to be Israel.
At least that’s what happened when we visited.
You’ll also find a small museum and a series of stunning mosaics preserved at the mountain peak.
Top tip: wrap up warm. It is cold and windy at the top!
Share a meal with a Bedouin Family
This is an idea that is spreading in popularity around the world – and I love it! Local families host international visitors for dinner in their home so that everyone can get to know each other better.
We visited this wonderfully welcoming family in Wadi Musa, the base for visiting Petra. This was arranged through Globus as an addition to their trip and, as far as I know, you can’t arrange it privately. But I mention it because things change fast and perhaps you will find a way of doing this by the time you get there.
Top tip: dress conservatively as a sign of respect.
More Top Things to do in Jordan
Enjoy street art and galleries in the capital Amman
Hunt down Art in Amman
One of my favourite things to do when I travel, and one of the most unique things to do in Jordan, is to explore the capital’s art scene. You will find street art across the city – and to narrow down your search, pay a visit to the Jordan Gallery of Fine Arts. The gallery includes work from Jordanian people and artists from across the Middle East.
If possible, also add the Darat Suhail Art Center to your Jordan bucket list of Jordan tourist spots. There, people with visual impairments learn to pain by scent. Not only is this one of those unique things to do in Amman but it’s also unique across the world.
Top tip: leave at least half a day to browse through the Jordan Gallery of Fine Arts and see different scenes of the Middle East.
The Best Things to do in Amman at a glance
Enjoy these fun things to do in Amman…
- Visit the Citadel
- Take a cooking class at Beit Sitti
- Have lunch at Wild Jordan
- Visit the Jordan Gallery of Fine Arts
- Zoo around the Royal Automobile Museum
- Eat piping hot knafeh from Habibah
Beautiful ceramics at the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative – display of colourful ceramic objects for sale
Visit the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative
Travel just 20 kilometres from Amman to the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative to find a restful oasis of good food and great handicrafts. This community based initiative aims to give local women more economic options through creating notebooks, home ceramics and homemade food for sale. A visit works well as a day trip from Amman and you won’t find it on many lists about Jordan tourist attractions.
Top tip: leave time to enjoy a meal here as well. The food is fantastic!
Walk through 20th century history via the automobile…
Brush up on history through automobiles
The Royal Automobile Museum takes the king’s impressive collection of, you guessed it, automobiles and pairs them with historic video footage and backdrops to give a sense of context to the whole thing. It’s one of the most interesting ways of presenting science and the arts together that I’ve seen. It’s certainly one of Jordan’s most intriguing tourist attractions.
Top tip: go, even if you don’t think you’re that interested in cars. The history is incredible!
FAQS ABOUT THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN JORDAN
What is famous in Jordan?
Jordan is best known for its access to the Dead Sea and the ancient ruins of Petra. The Red Sea is also popular and Amman is the oldest city in the world to have been continuously inhabited. But beyond these tourist spots in Jordan, you’ll also find hidden gems and secret beauty.
Is it safe in Jordan?
It’s always wise to check before you book but Jordan has been safe for many years. For a more in depth answer, including how I felt as a solo woman traveller, check out the article is it safe to travel in Jordan?
How many days do you need in Jordan?
You’ll need at least week but 10 days is ideal. With a full two weeks, you can visit all the best things to do in Jordan and still have time to seek out unusual adventures and relax on the coast or in one of the resorts by the Dead Sea. I have written about this in a lot more detail in our Jordan itinerary here.
When is the best time to visit Jordan?
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Jordan. The summer months, May to September, can feel ferociously hot in Wadi Rum and Petra. But then the Dead Sea and Aqaba are more enjoyable. Conversely, while it’s too cool for a swim in winter and early spring, you’ll beat the crowds and feel more comfortable walking around the historic sights.
Do you need tours to travel through Jordan?
You will likely need to drive between these main sights and that can be arranged as part of a tour or as a self-drive option.
While I love a good road trip, I would highly recommend taking an organised tour through Jordan unless you are fluent in Arabic and know the region extremely well. While Jordan is safe, the country borders Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. None of these are easy border crossings and you do not want to get lost or take a wrong turn near the border areas. I’ve written more about my advice over here.
What about things to do in Jordan in winter?
Looking for things to do in Jordan in December? You can try almost everything on this list! Most tourist attractions in Jordan stay open all year round. The only places that won’t be as enjoyable would be swimming the Dead Sea and snorkelling in Aqaba. Both the water and the air will be that bit too cold. But everything else? Go for it! Jordan tourism will thank you!
Bookmark this article on the best things to do in Jordan on Pinterest for later. Make your own Jordan bucket list!
Making Your Trip to Jordan Happen
The Jordan Travel Guide
- Currency: Jordanian dinar (JOD)
- Language: Arabic
- Best way of getting around: by car with a local driver or guide
- Highlight: Petra, without a doubt
- Travel tip: Wrap a scarf around your head to protect from the wind, sun and sand in the desert, Bedouin style.
- Dress Code: modest but not excessive. Cover shoulders, knees and cleavage and wear layers because it’s hot in the day and cool at night.
How to get to Jordan
Most international visitors arrive in Queen Alia Airport in Amman, although you can also fly into the south of the country at Aqaba. Most visitors will also require a visa. These can usually be arranged on arrival for most US and European passports but always check well in advance in case your situation is different.
Getting around Jordan
You really need access to your own set of wheels to get around Jordan, whether that’s with a private driver and guide or through joining a group trip. While you can hire a car and head out on your own, I would caution against that because of the border issues with neighbouring countries. Roads are in good condition with reasonable signposting but in the desert it’s easy to make mistakes.
What to eat in Jordan
I fell in love with the wide range of Jordanian food on offer, from breakfast to lunch to dinner. Expect to find plenty of fresh salads, as well as pomegranate, hummus and pitta bread. Meat options tend to include lamb or goat and involve slow cooking with rice. Above all else, mealtimes in Jordan are social affairs, with plenty of sharing and chatting and much loved traditions. Check out this article on Jordanian food here.
Where to stay in Jordan
You will find a wide range of accommodation options in the capital city, from budget to luxury. Options diminish the further from Amman you go, though. You will find a collection of five star resorts at the Dead Sea and the Mövenpick Resort in Wadi Musa lies right next to the entrance to Petra, which can be a great help at the start and end of a long hiking day.
Travel with Globus Escapes
The quickest and easiest way to make your Jordan bucket list become a reality is to book a tour with Globus Escapes. While you won’t cover all the things to do in Jordan I’ve listed in this article, you can get pretty close and you will certainly be able to travel to the best things to see in Jordan.
How the Tours Work
The Globus tours follow a fixed itinerary through Jordan, which you can see in detail on the Globus website here. The group is between 20-30 in size and you have a professional, local guide with you at all times. Having a great guide is invaluable to provide background context and to troubleshoot should anything go wrong.
Life is made easier by having someone pick you up at the airport and help with your visa, as well as having all the other paperwork taken care of before you travel.
It’s not a military exercise, though! If you want to peel off from the group for the evening and head to an independent eatery or take a cooking class, you can.
On the flip side, Globus also arranges some impromptu extras which you couldn’t arrange by yourself (and I’ve added some of those to the Jordan bucket list above.)
What is the Escape part?
By travelling in the off season, you also avoid the temperature extremes, high prices and crowds. A great idea if you can get the time off from work.
Looking for more detail?
I know it’s a big decision to book onto a tour and I’m always hesitant to give up my freedom. But I would travel with Globus again and so I’ve written more about my experiences with them over here if that helps. Any questions? Hit me up!
What is Jordan famous for?
Lie back and float in the salt of the dead sea. Watch the sun set over swirling sands and the rocks that, quite literally, saw Lawrence of Arabia. Share hot, honeyed knafeh in a street stall in bustling Amman, see one of the oldest maps in the world and walk along the iconic ruins of UNESCO World Heritage Site Petra.
And we’re only getting started.
You’ll find so many creative, beautiful, inspiring things to do in Jordan. I’ve visited several times, now, and still can’t quite fathom how one country can round up so much history, so much beauty – and so much good food!
Get ready to challenge your ideas about the Middle East with all the Jordan sightseeing you can manage!
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