Turn back the sands of time to a place that predates history. In the cradle of civilization, Jordan has seen mighty empires rise and fall on its desert sands. Today, ancient ruins remain preserved, from Biblical times to the Greek and Roman Periods on through the Crusades. Museums house archeological treasures giving evidence of human civilization dating back thousands of years ago.
Forming a natural border between Israel and Jordan in the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea represents the lowest point on land. Its waters sit 423 meters (1,388 ft) below sea level. The area has a high level of salt content making it rich in minerals like magnesium, sulfur, calcium, sodium, iodine, bromide, zinc, and potassium. Since ancient times, people knew of its healing properties and would come to the Dead Sea to naturally treat illnesses and improve the skin. Today, people can visit the Dead Sea, purify with a face and body mask, and float in the salt-saturated water.
Jordan Valley Highway, Rift Valley, Jordan, Phone: +962-65-67-84-44
History continues to stand the test of time at the Ajloun Castle. Built between 1184 and 1188, the Ajloun Castle sits perched on a hilltop above the Jordan Valley. Sultan Saladin’s army used the castle for its strategic location during the Crusades. Back then, armies would rely on pigeons to send messages to as far as Damascus or Cairo, and locals today keep the tradition alive as a hobby. Although the Mongols damaged part of the original edifice in 1260, the Mamluks quickly rebuilt the castle shortly after. Visiting Ajloun Castle, one can imagine the many generals and armies stationed here throughout the centuries.
Salah Ad-Din Al-Ayoubi Street, Ajloun, Jordan, Phone: +962-26-42-01-15
3.A Piece of Jordan
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A Piece of Jordan provides tour packages making it easy to see the best of Jordan without the hassle of planning. Tour options cover popular destinations like Amman, Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. A Piece of Jordan goes beyond the touristic side of the country, taking guests off the beaten path to small villages and farms. Guests experience the authentic sights, smells, and tastes of Jordan. Travelers can also develop customized tours by filling in a simple form on the company’s website. Boasting consistently high ratings on travel review sites, A Piece of Jordan promises the trip of a lifetime.
Tourism Street, Wadi Mousa, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-99-90-29-16
4.Deep Blue Dive Center
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The Red Sea attracts divers from all four corners of the world. Beneath its waters lives a thriving and colorful coral community. Deep Blue Dive Center organizes scuba diving and snorkeling excursions to explore the beauty of the Red Sea. The company accommodates all levels, from first-time snorkelers to skilled divers and offers a range of diving courses and certifications. The tour group also hosts excursions and day trips to Wadi Rum, Petra, Monastery-Ad Deir, Jabal Burdah, and Al Khubtha Mountain. In their “Live Like a Bedouin for a Day” tour, travelers can experience the authentic desert life of this historically nomadic culture.
South Beach Road, Aqaba, Jordan, Phone: +962-62-00-00-91
5.Experience Jordan Adventures
Active travelers looking to experience the Middle East can walk, bike, and trek their way through the country with Experience Jordan Adventures. Local experts take tourists on a journey exploring Jordan off the beaten path. Tours visit must-see destinations like Petra, Summit Jabal Umm ad-Dami (Jordan’s highest peak), Wadi Hidan, and beyond. Experience Jordan Adventures offers both group tours as well as customized private tours. The company values nature preservation and follows a strict policy of leaving no trace along trails.
Ali Nassouh At-Taher Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-70-41-77-11
6.Hand of Hercules
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Visiting the cradle of civilization means frequently coming across amazing artifacts of antiquity. One such example towers over Jordan’s capital city, and it happens to be a giant hand. The Romans built the Hand of Hercules and an adjacent unfinished temple during the reign of Marcus Aurelius sometime between 162 and 166 CE. The hand measures 30 meters (100 feet) long and 26 meters (85 feet) wide. During excavation, archaeologists uncovered a large elbow nearby, suggesting that the Romans planned to build a giant Hercules statue, although they have yet to determine the reason why it was never completed.
Museum Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-32-15-70-93
7.Jordan Archaeological Museum
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The Jordan Archaeological Museum in Amman houses artifacts dating from the Paleolithic to the 15th century. The collection includes early man-made tools like flint, glass, metal, and pottery along with ancient coins, jewelry, and other valuables. The museum also contains one of the oldest statues found at the Ain Ghazal archaeological site near Amman. Exhibits also display the skulls of Jericho, human craniums dating back 9,500 years. Built in 1951, the museum sits on the Amman Citadel, and nearby on the same hill, visitors can also admire ruins of the Roman Temple of Hercules and Hand of Hercules.
10 Ali Ben Abi Taleb Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-64-62-93-17
8.Jordan Desert Hikes
Jordan Desert Hikes gives an authentic Middle Eastern experience that takes travelers away from the tour bus and outside for an adventure. Ghassab is a professional tour guide with an expertise in adventure travel and ecotourism. He runs all-inclusive trips, day excursions, and customized travel packages exploring Jordan’s natural beauty and historical wonders. Guests can experience life like a Bedouin by spending a night camping in caves or enjoy the landscape horseback or camelback riding. Jordan Desert Hikes also offers trekking, biking, climbing, and jeep tours. Trips cover all the most popular destinations like Wadi Rum, Petra, and more.
Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, Madaba, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-77-56-01-86
9.Jordan Folklore Museum
The Jordan Folklore Museum takes a different approach to learning about the history and culture of the region. Jordan’s Department of Antiquities founded and built the collection in 1975. The museum recreates traditional Jordanian life through a collection of artifacts such as clothing, handicrafts, tools, utensils, weapons, and art. Mannequins wear various costumes used by regional religious and ethnic groups including the customary Circassian dress. Exhibits also showcase musical instruments like the one-stringed Bedouin instrument called the rababa. Located in downtown Amman, the Jordan Folklore Museum has free entry with the Jordan pass and stays open all week.
91 Al-Hashemi Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +96-25-03-00-34-19
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10.Jordan’s Royal Automobile Museum
© Jordan’s Royal Automobile Museum
Jordan’s Royal Automobile Museum showcases vintage cars while incorporating tales of the country’s history. Although a 1947 De Havilland Dove aircraft greets guests at the entrance, the museum does, in fact, house a range of automobiles. A 22-year old Jordanian pilot landed this famous plane after escaping two Syrian fighters. Inside the museum, visitors can admire classic cars and motorcycles like a 1916 Cadillac, 1975 Mercedes Benz, and a 1937 T97 Tatra. Many of the cars come from the late King Hussein’s collection including an amphibious car, a Mercedes-Benz with gullwing doors, and a 1946 Humber Super Snipe.
Saeed Kheir Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-65-41-13-92
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The Crusades took place in and around the area that is now called Jordan between 1096 and 1291. Evidence of the holy wars between the Christians and Muslims still exist throughout the region. Towering at 900 meters (2,952 feet) above sea level, the Karak Castle served as a fortress during the Crusades. 170,000 people live in Karak today, but it's the Medieval castle that attracts tourists from far and wide. The Muslims held their positions in Karak through many sieges until it fell under Christian control, who used the tactical point to raid nearby Arab ports. Saladin’s army later recaptured the castle in 1177.
PO Box 830688, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-65-67-84-44
When visiting Jordan, tourists can marvel at some of the oldest examples of human history. Situated just north of Petra, scholars believe that Al Beida (Little Petra) served as an important suburb to its neighboring city. Visitors access Little Petra through a narrow opening. Similar to Petra, the Nabateans built the city by carving walls into sandstone. Archaeologists believe that the settlement dates back to the 1st century CE during the peak of the Nabataean civilization. The site contains temples, tombs, and water channels carved out of rock. Evidence of frescoes on plaster with paintings of grape vines remain after all these years.
Hizam Ring Road, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-77-54-71-29
13.Madaba Mosaic Map
The Madaba Mosaic Map represents the oldest surviving piece of cartography and dates back to 542. The mosaic map depicts the city of Jerusalem and the surrounding Holy Land during biblical times. Mosaic tiles portray Lebanon to the Nile Delta in Egypt from north to south and the Mediterranean Sea to the Eastern Desert from west to east. Notable sites include the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the New Church of the Theotokos, The Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and Gethsemane. Visitors can examine the map on the floor of the Church of Saint George in Madaba, Jordan.
K. Talal Street, Madaba, Jordan, Phone: +962-53-24-07-23
At Mount Nebo, people can see the world as Moses did during biblical times. It was here that Moses and the Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt. Visitors can ascend to the top and for a panoramic view of the Dead Sea, Jordan River Valley, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. Situated on the western side of Jordan, Mount Nebo overlooks the Dead Sea by 1,220 meters (4,000 feet). The Church of Mount Nebo has a collection of beautiful Byzantine mosaics. A monument by Italian Giovanni Fantoni fuses two biblical images: Moses’ serpent staff in the shape of a cross.
Al-Quds Street, Madaba, Jordan, Phone: +962-32-09-06-00
Nicknamed the Rose City, Petra is an ancient metropolis carved out of sandstone. The archaeological city sits in the southern part of Jordan. Established in 4th century BC, the city thrived as the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom and served as a major trading hub for merchants. Greek historians mentioned the city in 312 BC praising their technological advancements like harvesting rainwater, agriculture, and stone carving. The rock-cut architecture still stands today and awes tourists by its size and history. Many also recognize Petra from the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the third installment of the series.
28 Wadi Mousa, Jordan, Phone: +962-32-15-70-93
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Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Qasr Amra represents one of the most significant examples of early Islamic art and architecture. Walid Ibn Yazid built the desert castle in the 8th century sometime between 723 and 743. It served as a residence of the Umayyad caliphs as well as a fortress with a garrison. Murals decorate the building’s interior depicting contemporary rulers of the kingdom, the zodiacs, and daily life like hunting and naked women. Tourists can access the remains of the castle located in present-day eastern Jordan by taking the east-west highway from Amman.
Al-Azraq Highway, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-63-83-52-25
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17.Sea Guard & Yasmena Boat
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Sea Guard & Yasmena Boat leads diving and snorkeling trips to the Red Sea coral reef. Experienced divers lead groups to explore the sea. As the northernmost coral reefs in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea offers a diverse and colorful marine world. The coastal reef borders Jordan on the south and extends 2,000 km (1,240 miles) along the shore. Below the sea, all colors of the rainbow delight divers and snorkelers swimming amongst the fish. During a tour, guests can spend the day exploring the sea and enjoy a grilled seafood lunch prepared on the boat.
Golf Van’, Aqaba, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-95-02-78-53
18.The Children’s Museum
© The Children’s Museum
Groups traveling to Jordan can bring their kids to the Children’s Museum of Jordan for a fun, educational day that the whole family can enjoy together. The large exhibit hall has hands-on, educational displays teaching about animals, birds, insects, and geology. Immersive exhibits demonstrate Jordan’s landscape, forests, and rivers. The indoor playground houses imaginative play systems modeled after cities, houses, and palaces. In the Art Studio, children bring out their creative side. In the secret garden, children learn about plant life and nutrition. The museum also has an outdoor area that hosts plays and performances when weather permits.
11831 King Abdallah Ben Al Hussein Ath Thani, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-65-41-14-79
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19.The Duke’s Diwan
Abdul Rahman Mad first built his home at 12 King Faisal Street back in 1924. For a period, it housed the Central Post Office and later offices for the Ministry of Finance. Eventually, it caught the attention of Mamdouh Bisharat, nicknamed Duke of Mukeiheh by the locals, who aimed to preserve the heritage architecture of the building. The world has changed quite a lot since the building was first constructed, but the Duke's Diwan house continues to stand the test of time. Today, it represents the oldest residence in Amman and attracts artists and tourists looking to see the Old Amman of yesteryear.
King Faisal Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-64-77-58-04
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20.The Jordan Museum
© The Jordan Museum
The Jordan Museum walks visitors through the country’s rich history starting with pre-history to the modern era. Displays showcase the country’s most important archaeological findings, from Paleolithic times through the Greek, Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, and Ottoman kingdoms. Exhibits begin with pre-history with pottery and other tools excavated in the region. The museum continues with areas dedicated to historical, Islamic, Classical, and Modern periods of Jordanian history. Located in downtown Amman, The Jordan Museum houses famous artifacts such as the Copper Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the oldest human statues Ain Ghazal, and a copy of Mesha Stele.
10 Ali Ben Abi Taleb Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-64-62-93-17
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21.The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
© The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
Located in the country’s capital city, the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts represents one of the finest art museums in the Middle East. It features a vast, permanent collection of over 2,800 works. The museum first opened in 1980 and has since filled its halls with a mix of paintings, sculptures, weavings, art installations, and photography. The museum strives to raise awareness of regional artists. In 2009, its president began the Touring Museum project promoting plastic and visual arts in the Arab world. Although the art museum showcases artists from Asia and Africa, works come from more than one thousand artists from all over the world.
Husni Fareez Street, Amman, Jordan, Phone: +962-64-63-01-28
22.The Numismatics Museum Central Bank of Jordan
© The Numismatics Museum Central Bank of Jordan
Coin collectors and history buffs can view the large monetary collection in The Numismatics Museum Central Bank of Jordan. This unique museum in Amman has coins and banknotes on display in chronological order spanning the centuries. Old coins date back to the 5th century when the Greeks ruled the region through the Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, and Ottoman periods. The collection also includes medals and commemorative coins issued by the bank. Located in the Central Bank of Jordan, the museum has free admission and stays open daily Sunday through Thursday 8 AM to 4 PM.
Abdallah Ben Omar Street, Amman Jordan, Phone: +962-65-68-70-90
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23.The Ruins of Jerash
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Both the Greek and Roman Empire once ruled over the region of present-day Jordan. The great city of Jerash welcomes iconic leaders like Alexander the Great, emperors Trajan and Hadrian, and the mathematician Nicomachus. A major earthquake destroyed the city in 749 AD, and the ancient city of Jerash lay hidden beneath the sands for hundreds of years. Archaeologists later discovered the lost city. Today, visitors can come to Jerash to awe at Roman architecture, preserved mosaics, and the Oval Forum. It also stands out as one of the few places that holds reenactments of Roman chariots and gladiator battles.
Wasfi At-Tal, Jarash, Jordan, Phone: +962-26-35-46-53
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The Middle East calls to mind desert sand dunes and camel caravans. At Wadi Rum, tourists get the quintessential Middle East they envision. The landscape looks as it did for thousands of years, untouched by civilization. Visitors can go camelback riding to explore the red sand desert. Many companies also host jeep adventure tours or hot air balloon rides. Rock and mountain formations make the landscape look like something from a dream. Wadi Rum provided the setting for the film Lawrence of Arabia during the scenes in which the Bedouins united to form an army. The movie, Martian, also filmed here.
Wadirum Road, Wadi Rum Village, Jordan, Phone: +962-32-09-06-00
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25.Wadi Rum Magic Tours
Tourists looking to experience the real Middle East can do so with Wadi Rum Magic Tours. The company specializes in desert day trips and overnight adventures. Guests can go camelback riding or hop on a hot air balloon overlooking the desert. The tour company also runs camping trips for a chance to sleep in the red sand desert underneath the stars. Active travelers may want to go on a three day trek and camping excursion. The less adventurous can opt for jeep tours or day hiking trips as well. Magic Tours can help arrange a fair taxi price for those who require one to bring them to Wadi Rum.
Wadirum Road, Wadi Rum Village, Jordan, Phone: +96-27-79-26-31-64
25 Best Things to Do in Jordan
- Dead Sea, Photo: suprunvitaly/stock.adobe.com
- Ajloun Castle, Photo: Rhombur/stock.adobe.com
- A Piece of Jordan, Photo: wong yu liang/stock.adobe.com
- Deep Blue Dive Center, Photo: Zbyszek Nowak/stock.adobe.com
- Experience Jordan Adventures, Photo: tibor13/stock.adobe.com
- Hand of Hercules, Photo: Dmitry Chulov/stock.adobe.com
- Jordan Archaeological Museum, Photo: Aleksandar Todorovic/stock.adobe.com
- Jordan Desert Hikes, Photo: senicer/stock.adobe.com
- Jordan Folklore Museum, Photo: lkpro/stock.adobe.com
- Jordan’s Royal Automobile Museum, Photo: Jordan’s Royal Automobile Museum
- Karak, Photo: Leonid Andronov/stock.adobe.com
- Little Petra, Photo: pwollinga/stock.adobe.com
- Madaba Mosaic Map, Photo: frenta/stock.adobe.com
- Mount Nebo, Photo: HildaWeges/stock.adobe.com
- Petra, Photo: Sam/stock.adobe.com
- Qasr Amra, Photo: Radek Sturgolewski/stock.adobe.com
- Sea Guard & Yasmena Boat, Photo: Zbyszek Nowak/stock.adobe.com
- The Children’s Museum, Photo: The Children’s Museum
- The Duke’s Diwan, Photo: tostphoto/stock.adobe.com
- The Jordan Museum, Photo: The Jordan Museum
- The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Photo: The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
- The Numismatics Museum Central Bank of Jordan, Photo: The Numismatics Museum Central Bank of Jordan
- The Ruins of Jerash, Photo: Richard Yoshida/stock.adobe.com
- Wadi Rum, Photo: Radek Sturgolewski/stock.adobe.com
- Wadi Rum Magic Tours, Photo: frag/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: alekosa/stock.adobe.com