Your Complete Itinerary of Things to Do in Jordan: An Adventurer’s Guide
If visiting Jordan isn’t at the top of your bucket list, it should be. Dead Sea floating, delicious food, and freakin’ camel rides? What more could you want?!
Sure, the dry heat may trigger every one of your sweat glands, but it’s the ideal climate for preserving alllll the architecture, ruins, and historical sites of the Middle East.
And before you ask, yes. It’s safe for women to travel to Jordan. But for a totally stress-free experience, join our women-only Jordan adventure, where we hit up the best cultural and adrenaline-filled experiences the country has to offer. Keep reading to learn all about this dreamy, diverse, ancient region and how to see it the adventurer’s way.
Jordanian Culture and Attractions
Soaking up the local culture and cuisine (and cuties!) are the best parts of exploring a new country. And in Jordan, there’s no shortage of fascinating experiences. While the country’s only been independent for 75 years, humans have lived in this ancient region for THOUSANDS of years. Many empires have previously ruled the country, each leaving their marks on the landscape and creating the diverse Jordan we know today.
From entire stone cities carved by nomadic Bedouin tribes to ancient Roman ruins scattered through the country, there’s rich history in every corner of Jordan. And while the area’s super culturally significant (it’s even said that Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan), you don’t have to be a history buff to fall in love with the nation. Amman does have booming nightlife, after all. wink wink
Jordan is a flourishing travel destination, and the hospitality here? Second to none. Prepare to hear the welcome greeting “Ahlan wa sahlan” a LOT — this generosity is just part of the Bedouin tradition. On that note, you should never refuse an Arabic coffee. That’s right: you’ve got an excuse to double your caffeine intake. It’s rude not to!
Embrace local life by indulging in the delicious Jordanian cuisine (looking at you, falafel), practicing your haggling skills, and arriving fashionably late to your plans. It’s just the custom!
If you’re anything like us, you know food is one of the best ways to digest a little culture (pun intended). And spoiler alert: Jordanian food is freakin’ DELISH! Perfectly balanced herby, spicy, tangy, and creamy flavors dress up pulses, whole grains, and all kinds of cooked veggies. Lamb, chicken, beef, goat, and camel are popular meats but don’t worry herbivores: Jordanian cuisine is suuuper veg-friendly.
Unique influences from neighboring countries and the former Ottoman Empire mixed with local agriculture create those signature mouth-watering flavors. Some to die for bites we highly recommend trying include:
- Mansaf: lamb or mutton served over rice and bread covered in lamba jameed (a savory yogurt sauce). It’s Jordan’s national dish!
- Fuul: lemony, olive oily, chili-spiced beans served with pita, veggies, and hummus. A breakfast staple.
- Moutabel: the Jordanian version of baba ghanoush.
- Baklava: syrup-soaked phyllo pastry layered with chopped nuts. Have it for dessert or breakfast here.
- Za’atar: a savory, earthy spice blend that oozes that Jordanian feel.
- Falafel, hummus, labneh, mujaddara, and so much more!
With so many crave-worthy dishes, it’s a good thing you don’t need to pick just one. Instead, family-style mezze plates give you a small taste of everything before your meal — like an appetizer. Eating is a community event here! And don’t worry if you want seconds. Sharing authentic food is central to the culture, and you might just receive a “Jordanian invitation” where you’re expected to bring nothing and eat everything. Like we said, amazing hospitality.
A couple of culinary pro-tips: get comfy eating with your hands — the left one, in particular, to follow the Islamic tradition. You’ll adapt quickly since cutlery isn’t the norm here. You eat with bread! Just hold back from snacking in public as it’s considered rude.
Cultural Attractions in Jordan
Everything, and I mean everything, in Jordan has a damn good backstory. That’s how it goes when visiting the land of some of the world’s oldest civilizations! Yup, even the roads.
Travel between cities on the iconic King’s Highway, a vital trade route, military road, and pilgrimage path for over 5,000 years. And get this: you can access many of the top things to do in Jordan on this cultural highway, like the Mukawir viewpoint above the Dead Sea, Wadi Mujib Gorge, and each Madaba Archaeological Park.
On that note, every traveler should def grab the Jordan Pass. It’s a cash-saving package that gives you access to over 40 must-see sites like Wadi Rum, Petra, and the Amman Citadel. You know, all the places our Explorer Chick trip visits. The Jordan Pass also lets you skip the ticket counter crowd to make the most of your time.
For a vibrant cultural experience, visit Jordan during the holy month of Ramadan. If you’re down to skip the booze and abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight, you’ll feel the joy and generosity of this Islamic event.
If you want to immerse yourself in Jordanian culture fully, you should also:
- Shop the local souks (markets) for artisan-made goods
- Try your hand at an authentic cooking class (we do this on our Jordan Petra tour, and it’s the tastiest experience)
- Hike (parts of) the Jordan Trail that runs North to South through the whole country. We do 5 miles!
- Dance with locals on Fridays, AKA “party night,” in Wadi Rum’s Bedouin camps
Places To Visit In Jordan
No matter your age, you’re guaranteed to feel young again after exploring this ancient region in the Middle East. It’s been around for a WHILE. Jordan’s capital is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world!
There’s no shortage of culturally significant things to do in Jordan, but it’s totally balanced out by modern fun and exciting adventure. Whether you’re walking through Petra by Night or clubbing in Amman, there’s never a dull moment. Here are all the highlights of the best things to do in Jordan.
- Vibe: History, Art & Culture, Outdoors, Desert
- Location: Petra, Ma’an Governorate, Jordan
- What to do here: Wander the ancient carved Nabatean architecture, Royal Tombs, and deep Siq gorge in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seeing Petra by Night is one of the most unforgettable things to do in Jordan.
Visiting Petra is a truly spiritual experience, not just because of its biblical significance and Royal Tombs. Seriously, this half-built, half-hand-carved ancient city is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Yup, read that again: a city hand-carved in rock.
Petra, AKA the Rose City, was once a wealthy, flourishing trading hub settled by the nomadic Nabataeans over 2000 years ago. But a few centuries later, the Roman Empire conquered the region, only to be abandoned for a millennium after its decline. Now excavated, this historical site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the setting of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Talk about a resumé!
Experience ancient city life as you wander the sky-high Siq gorge before spotting the jaw-dropping Treasury. Picture its stunning carved sandstone facade covered in gorgeous painted stucco — the way it was meant to be seen. Then put those glutes to work, hiking over 800 rock stairs to the Monastery. Or hitch a donkey ride! But visit Petra by Night for unmatched city sights. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday night, 1,150 glowing candles illuminate Petra. It’s a must-do.
Wanna avoid crowds and see the Lost City through a local’s eyes? Join our Jordan Petra tour! We leave our Bedouin camp in Little Petra and hike part of the Jordan Trail to the Rose Red City, entering through a quiet backdoor entrance. After indulging in delicious grub and shopping for handmade goods, we’ll explore the iconic ancient ruins tour guide. And don’t tell anyone, but she’ll take us to a secret viewpoint overlooking the entire city. Oh yeah, it’s def Insta-worthy.
Dana Nature Reserve
- Vibe: Kid-friendly, History, Outdoors, Desert
- Location: Dana Biosphere Reserve, Tafilah Governorate, Jordan
- What to do here: Hike, swim, and camp through the natural wonders of the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Grab your binoculars for birdwatching, then sleep under the stars in a guesthouse, ecolodge, or campsite.
Take a break from the busy touristy things to do in Jordan and head to the Dana Nature Reserve. This protected area covers nearly 200 square miles of pure bliss. We’re talkin’ mountains, wadis (valleys), plains, desert, and Juniper forest. It’s an environment like none other. Talk about stunning scenery!
Over a thousand kinds of plants and animals live in the nature reserve, including various rare species hardly found anywhere else. Birdwatching anyone? But on top of the living legends here, there are 100 archeological sites in Dana. What’s that? Yup, we’ve got another UNESCO World Heritage Site on our hands, folks.
Humans have called this magnificent landscape home for over 6,000 years. Sadly, many local families had to leave the crumbling Dana Village over the years, but fundraising efforts have helped restore these splendid sites.
Adventurers: you’ll wanna join our amazing trip here. We’ll take the scenic route through slim gorges as we hike along the river, splash in that aqua water, and climb those rocky canyon walls. There are tons of trails to choose from to meet your ability level. You can even check out some old copper mines before hitting up your earthy overnight accommodations.
Roman Ruins in Amman
- Vibe: Kid-friendly, History, Art & Culture, Museums
- Location: Amman, Amman Governorate, Jordan
- What to do here: Journey through time at the Jordan Museum, visit the well-preserved ruins of the Amman Citadel, and catch a show at the Roman Theater. Keep an eye out for gorgeous murals and tasty food while strolling Rainbow Street.
Amman has a LOT of history. It oozes modernity while staying true to its roots as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the Middle East — and the world! Over the past 7,500 years, Amaan has been ruled by many different empires. You know what that means…hello ancient Roman ruins! These days, Amman is Jordan’s culturally diverse, economically booming capital city.
You don’t even have to leave the capital to find incredible things to do in Jordan. Throw it back to the Iron Age by heading to the Citadel ruins located downtown on the city’s highest hill, then check those stunning views of the magnificently restored Roman Theater. You can even catch a play or concert there for an ultimate ancient-modern crossover.
Absorb more culture at the Jordan Museum, filled with some frickin’ amazing artifacts. You’ll time travel through centuries of history in just a few hours with exhibits on everything from the Stone Age Bronze to the Roman-Byzantine Period. Whew! But the most iconic display has gotta be the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the only Copper Scroll. Then, honor current culture by popping by the stunning blue-domed King Abdullah I Mosque.
Most tourists fly into Amman’s Queen Alia Airport (like we do on our trip to Jordan!), and it’s the perfect intro to the Holy Land. Get a traditional hammam spa treatment, sip Arabic coffee from a local cafe, and haggle for a deal on Rainbow Street. Heading to Petra after? Travel on the legendary King’s Highway: an ancient (and stunning) trade route.
The Wadi Rum Desert
- Vibe: History, Outdoors, Desert
- Location: Wadi Rum Protected Area, Aqaba, Jordan
- What to do here: Fly high in a hot air balloon ride, hike or camel-trek through dunes and stunning rock formations, then sleep under the stars in a Bedouin Camp.
Untouched is an understatement when we’re talking about Wadi Rum. You won’t find man-made architecture here as the local Bedouins live nomadically without disturbing the earth. Taking in this literal haven will seriously make you feel like you’re in a movie — maybe because it is a silver screen star. Yup, You’ve seen these sights in Lawrence of Arabia and The Martian!
Spectacular landscapes of red sand dunes, towering cliffs, and vast rock formations make Wadi Rum a prime adventure spot. Explore the land via camel or scramble hiking trails like the famed Burdah Rock Bridge’s 900-foot arch. We do both on our Jordan Petra tour!
If you can, stay overnight while visiting Wadi Rum. You’ll sleep under the stars in an authentic Bedouin camp — or should we say “glamp?” — complete with a bed and local decor. Make sure you catch the panoramic sunset, hop on a hot air balloon, and search shaded canyons for ancient Thamudic inscriptions. Pro tip: save your legs and book a jeep tour after rock climbing.
The Dead Sea
- Vibe: Outdoors, Beaches
- Location: Dead Sea, Jordan Valley, Jordan
- What to do here: Float in the ultra-salty water of the Dead Sea, then use the mineral-rich mud for spa-worthy skin treatment.
Time to tackle one of the top things to do in Jordan: float in the Dead Sea. It’s a total bucket list experience! That’s right, this body of water is so salty that you don’t go for a Dead Sea swim — you just float. It’s a natural wonder made possible by the water’s uniquely high salt content.
As the lowest point on land — nearly 1,400 feet below sea level — water can’t escape this Jordan Valley basin and simply evaporates. The result? A lake that’s saltier than your best frenemy. All this salinity makes the Dead Sea a super harsh environment for plants and animal life, hence the name. But lucky for us, floating in the Dead Sea is safe for adults. And it’s a must-do on any Jordan trip, including Explorer Chick’s!
Your Insta feed will look damn good with those impressive pics of you magically floating on water. (Haters will say it’s photoshopped.) But taking a dip in this salty lake is basically a free spa treatment. Dead Sea mud contains a TON of skin-care-worthy minerals. Go ahead, slather your bod! Then rinse off your therapeutic mud bath in the Dead Sea’s permanently warm water.
FYI: put down your razor for 24 hours before your swim. All that salt stings even the tiniest of cuts. Watch any sensitive areas, like your face, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Vibe: Kid-friendly, History, Art & Culture, Outdoors, Museums
- Location: Jerash, Jerash Governorate Jordan
- What to do here: Wander the city’s impressive Roman ruins, see chariot race re-enactments, and venture out to Ajloun Castle above the Jordan Valley.
Ever wanted to visit Rome? Well, add a Jerash day trip to your Jordan Petra Tour, and it’s basically the same thing…kinda. Like many old Holy Land cities, Jerash used to be under Roman rule. And this one was one best. These days, it’s among the best preserved ancient Roman sites in the world. So get ready for columns and arches galore!
Wandering around Jerash’s Roman theaters, cathedrals, and plazas transport you to the days of gladiators and chariot races. You can even watch them re-enacted at the original hippodrome!
When in Rome — er, Jerash — you won’t wanna miss the Ajloun Castle. Make the short trip from Jerash to this historic town. From the 12th-century Crusader castle, you’ll catch stunning views of the tree-filled landscape below. Craving more greenery? Head to the Ajloun Forest Reserve for some quality time in the woodlands.
The Best Time to Visit Jordan
Many of the best things to do in Jordan — at least for adventurers — take place outside. And when that summer sun touches down in the desert, it’s HOT hot. Like, 105°. Winter nights hit chilly lows of 40°, winds pick up, and rainfall peaks in the country’s north.
Spring and autumn are well-loved seasons for their milder temps, but expect to pay a bit more at this time. Late April and May are prime months to visit as the rains end and heat starts to climb, while September sees falling temperatures, and the much-needed rain starts again in October.
Jordan, According to Explorer Chicks
Sunset camel rides through Wadi Rum? Magically floating on the Dead Sea? We know this sounds like a romance novel, but forget Fabio — you’ll be falling in love with life itself!
Don’t take our word for it, though. We’ve got the receipts. Just listen to Explorer Chick Shawn roaring, “I am bursting with joy!” while crossing off bucket-list moments in the Holy Land. You’ll also hear the words “unforgettable” and “life-changing” used whenever ECs reminisce on hiking 2,000-year-old tombs with their ten new BFFs through the most stunning places on earth. Because seriously, how could that NOT change your life?
Ready to Experience Jordan?
Let’s get going on an adventurer’s tour like no other! Join our women-only trip to Jordan, where we’ll immerse ourselves in culture, tasty food, and tons of gal pal love. Oh, and LOTS of sweat. Experience this Middle Eastern magic as we camp, canyon, and hike through everything Jordan has to offer. So come on, let’s go!
Meet the Writer
Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.