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The idea of travelling in the Middle East may seem fraught with difficulties, given much of the region’s turbulent political climate – but Jordan is a country that offers a relatively easy introduction.
It is fairly compact, and has a superb transport network to boot, meaning you can explore a great deal of the country even in a short trip.
You can combine visits to natural, cultural and historical sites with lazy days on the beach — creating a diverse trip packed in to just a week or two.
Where to go in Jordan
If you’re on a brief tour of Jordan, try to include some of the following highlights:
Amman, the capital
The country’s capital, Amman, may not be packed with high profile tourist attractions, but it is still a fascinating place.
First off, it is home to many Roman relics including the Ampitheatre, the Temple of Herakles, and a Nymphaeum.
The Citadel is a great spot for watching the sun set, and the Ummayad Palace offers great views over the city.
The National Archaeological Museum holds treasures from all over Jordan, while in complete there are modern shopping malls, luxury hotels and high-end restaurants for travellers who want to splurge and treat themselves.
Atmospheric cafés and bars can be found in funky Rainbow St, a cobblestoned street that’s experienced a revival in recent years, and is now lined with sheesha tea shops, antique stores, and the famed Falafel al-Quds – said to serve up the best falafels in the Middle East!
The impressive ‘lost city’ of Petra is one of the Middle East’s most incredible sights: a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features beautiful rock-cut architecture including tombs, temples, and Byzantine mosaics.
Travellers can explore the many tombs and ruins then trek hundreds of steps up to the Monastery, which is the highest point.
Wadi Rum, ‘Valley of the Moon’
This scenic valley is popular with climbers, trekkers and other adventure travellers, carved into the sandstone and granite rock in the south of the country about 37 miles east of Aqaba.
Inhabited by human cultures since prehistoric times, Wadi Rum is home to wonderful rock formations, ancient rock paintings, temples and Bedouin tribes.
Tourists can easily arrange a 4WD tour of the valley’s sites, often with an overnight stay in a Bedouin camp.
The ancient crusader stronghold of Karak is another of Jordan’s top sights: a city that’s home to an impressive hilltop castle located within the old city walls, offering views of the Dead Sea.
Jordan is almost landlocked, but does enjoy a couple of small coastal areas.
On the Red Sea, Aqaba is Jordan’s southernmost city with year-round sunshine and some of the Red Sea’s best reefs for snorkelling and diving, as well as some great restaurants where you can try the local food.
If you head for the Dead Sea, on the other hand, you will be at the lowest point on earth, and can enjoy floating effortlessly in the salty waters.
Staying safe in Jordan
Most visits to Jordan are trouble-free, crime levels are generally low, and when protests do take place they are usually peaceful. Medical facilities outside of the capital are basic, and in an emergency travellers should head back to Amman.
Take out travel insurance that includes adequate medical cover – and protects you in the event of unexpected losses or expenses such as lost luggage, stolen cash and credit cards, or cancelled/missed flights.
Hopefully you won’t experience any of these things, but it’s good to travel with the peace of mind that you’re covered, just in case!