Jordan things to see and do

Tourist offices

Jordan Tourism Board in the USA

1307 Dolley Madison Blvd., Suite 2A, McLean, VA, 22101, United States
Tel: (703) 243 7404/5 or 1 877 733 5673.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1700
na.visitjordan.com

Jordan Tourism Board in the UK

c/o Brighter Group, The Pod London’s Vertical Gateway, Bridges Wharf, Battersea, London, SW11 3BE, United Kingdom
Tel: (020) 7223 1878.
Opening Hours: Not open to the public.
www.visitjordan.com

Things to see and do

Amman Citadel

Towering over the bustle of downtown Amman, the capital’s Citadel Hill boasts extensive archaeological remains, including an early-Islamic ruler’s palace, Byzantine churches, the Roman Temple of Hercules and more. Come here for the history, and the amazing views right across the city.

Baptism Site

In an isolated location beside the River Jordan, take time to explore the Baptism Site, a network of channels and pools where John the Baptist baptised Jesus Christ. Ancient churches and hermits’ caves attest to the biblical past of this astonishing place.

Feynan

Far off any roads, hidden away in the harsh Wadi Araba desert, Feynan offers a living link to Jordan’s Bedouin culture. Stay at the award-winning ecolodge here – lit only by candles – for epic night-time stargazing, superb wilderness walks and fascinating encounters with local Bedouin families for coffee and campfire stories.

Karak

Imagine the striking of ancient hooves on cobbles at the Crusader castle of Karak, a mighty fortress amid the southern hills. Aim, too, for nearby Shobak castle, once the Crusaders’ headquarters in Jordan. If you listen extra hard, you may catch the whisper of the wind penetrating the underground passageways.

Azraq

Catch up with more recent history at Azraq castle, Lawrence of Arabia's headquarters during the Great Arab Revolt of 1917, then head north towards Mafraq and explore the deserted black basalt city of Um al Jimal.

Azraq Wetlands

Visit one of Jordan's wildlife reserves, such as the Azraq Wetlands (www.rscn.org.jo). The residents - including hyena, wolf, gazelle, ostrich and oryx - are notoriously elusive but the infectious beauty of each location is easily caught.

Desert Castles

East of Amman, tour a group of early-Islamic hunting lodges and trading posts known as the Desert Castles, built by the Umayyad dynasty based in Damascus. The best known include Kharanah and the frescoed Amra.

Desert tour around Qasr Tuba

Hire a guide with a 4-wheel drive vehicle and disappear into the eastern desert. Just when you think you're on the road to nowhere, you'll stumble across Qasr al Tuba, the remotest of the Umayyad desert castles.

Float in the Dead Sea

Bob like a cork in the dense salt water of the Dead Sea. Lying 400m (1320ft) below sea level and spanning the border between Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is a natural wonder. When the salt begins to smart, brush away the tears in an extravagant spa treatment at one of the luxury hotel resorts on the beach. Drop in at the Dead Sea Panorama museum to put the lowest point on earth in a more elevated context; the sea is living up to its name and shrinking at an alarming rate.

Hike Dana Nature Reserve

Keep an eye open for ibex (wild mountain goats) on a hike in the Dana Nature Reserve. What you miss upon the rocky outcrops, the enthusiastic park rangers will make up for in lively evening chats in the tranquil setting of an eco-lodge.

Jerash

Catch the spirit of ancient Rome in a trip to Jerash, a magnificently preserved Roman city north of Amman – a feast for the eyes of columns, temples, colonnaded streets, grand theatres and silent churches.

Jordan Museum, Amman

Occupying a pristine new building in downtown Amman, the Jordan Museum showcases the very best of Jordan’s archaeological finds in an engaging, contemporary setting of interpretation and interactivity.

King's Highway

Drive along the historic King's Highway, a route mentioned in the Old Testament which follows a line of hilltops all the way down the length of Jordan – the perfect way to see the beauty of rural Jordan. Don’t miss the amazing Wadi Mujib, dubbed Jordan’s Grand Canyon, for its epic splendour. Call in at Madaba, famed for its superb examples of Byzantine mosaic art, including a stunning mosaic map of the Holy Land. Just nearby, make the detour to Mount Nebo, from where Moses looked over the Promised Land before he died.

Mosaics at Umm Ar Rasas

Even if you've seen enough mosaics to last a lifetime, spare time for one more: the magnificent mosaic floors of the excavated church of St Stephen in Um er Rasas are not a UNESCO World Heritage site for nothing.

Mukawir

Visit the village of Mukawir and watch the women of the Bani Hamida workshop (www.jordanriver.jo) weave wool into colourful traditional designs. Nearby is Machaerus, the fortress of Herod Antipas, where Salome danced for the head of John the Baptist.

Petra

Jordan's best-known tourist attraction, Petra, is one of the great wonders of the Middle Eastern world - a city that was carved straight into solid rock. It unfolds grandly after a two kilometre (1.2 mile) walk through a very narrow chasm adding to its mystery and grandeur. Built during the 5th and 6th centuries BC, Petra is the ruined capital of the Nabatean Arabs. Its immense façades were lost for almost 1000 years until they were rediscovered by the Swiss traveller Johan Ludwig Burckhardt in 1812. Today, there are still many sites to see including the el Khazneh (The Treasury) monument, which is a giant tomb carved out of rock, the Temple of the Winged Lions, the al-Deir (Monastery) and the small Archaeological Museum, which displays artefacts found at Petra during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Red Sea at Aqaba

Go diving at Aqaba (www.aqaba.jo) and be wowed by the psychedelic underworld of the Red Sea. After admiring the beauty of the fish in their coral palaces, sample a few marine delicacies in one of the town's many fish restaurants.

Spot springtime blooms in Um Qais

Plan a visit to Jordan in April or May when garlands of springtime flowers lace the Roman monuments at Um Qais (biblical Gadara), perched high above the Sea of Galilee. If you're lucky, you may happen on a black iris, Jordan's national flower.

Wadi Rum

Step into the magnificent wind-blown desert of Wadi Rum. The wind has shaped the sandstone cliffs into a cyclorama of pillars and rock arches, explorable by jeep, on foot or astride a camel. Alternatively, soar noiselessly above in a hot-air balloon. By night, enjoy a traditional feast in a Bedouin tent then fall asleep under the stars.

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