Jordan offers the ultimate place for adventure. Here you can experience rich culture, Arab hospitality and cuisine, ancient ruins, out-of-this-world views, the adrenaline rush of rappelling into a canyon and the serenity of sleeping under starry skies – all in one day. There are so many unique things to do that it can be difficult to choose.
Here are the best things to do in Jordan for an unforgettable trip.
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1. Hike Jordan’s landscapes
The landscapes alone make a trip to Jordan memorable. You can hike through wildflowers and forests in the north, desert dunes and incredible rock formations in the south, and plenty of castles, wadis (canyons) and ancient ruins in between.
Whether you’re a casual walker or a hardcore hiker, the abundance and diversity of hiking trails in Jordan offer options for a variety of skill levels and abilities.
The weather in Jordan can be extreme, and trails are not always marked, so be prepared with sun protection and supplies (water, food, first-aid kit and GPS). Check the weather conditions before heading out, and consider booking a guided hike with a reputable tour operator such as Experience Jordan.
Planning tip: Sadly, the amount of litter scattered across the otherwise gorgeous landscapes can be alarming. Bring a bag to carry out your own trash and any you find along the way, or sign up for an outing with Eco Hikers, a local hiking group with the motto “clean as we hike.”
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2. Float in the Dead Sea
Plan a natural spa experience at the Dead Sea. Start by painting some mud on your skin (most hotels at the Dead Sea have mud available seaside) and then soak in the mineral-rich water.
This is the place to relax: no splashing or swimming here, just floating. The high salinity is good for your skin and provides buoyancy, but it can be painful in your eyes and in any open wounds, so take care not to touch your eyes, dunk your head under, or get in the water with cuts or a fresh shave.
If you want a more active visit to the Dead Sea, you can book a spa treatment at one of the luxury hotels, visit Wadi Mujib, learn to weave at the Bani Hamida Women’s Weaving Project or take a bike ride with Al Numeira Environmental Association.
Planning tip: Sinkholes have become a major problem around the Dead Sea. Only a few of the beaches in the area are safe to access. Check before heading out.
Petra is just one of Jordan’s well-preserved ancient sites © Sebastian Condrea / Getty Images
3. Admire Jordan’s architecture
According to archeological findings, this region has been inhabited for about two million years, and Jordan’s got some impressive architecture and archeological sites to show for it.
Planning tip: If you’ll be in Jordan for at least three nights, purchase a Jordan Pass for access to around 40 sites, including the Amman Citadel, Karak Castle, Jerash (one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world) and Petra, the must-see ancient city carved from sandstone cliffs.
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4. Craft souvenirs with local artisans
Across Jordan, you can find opportunities to learn from an artisan and take home your own hand-crafted souvenir made using traditional techniques.
Possibilities include basket weaving in Umm Qais, paper making in Iraq Al Amir, mosaic-making in Amman and Madaba, and weaving at Bani Hamida near the Dead Sea.
If you’re short on time and won’t have a chance to make a souvenir, you can still buy gifts from these local artisans and other stores in Jordan, such as the Jordan River Foundation, Wild Jordan and Lumeyo.
Planning tip: The funds for these souvenirs go back to the artisans and the local community. Now is not the time to haggle over prices.
Learn about Jordan’s history and culture through the stories the locals share with you © Norbert Eisele-Hein / Getty Images
5. Experience Bedouin culture
Although the majority of Bedouin (from the Arabic word bedu, meaning “desert inhabitants”) in Jordan are no longer fully nomadic, their culture of hospitality lives on.
Visitors can learn about Bedouin history and traditions through various activities, including a medicinal plants hike, an Arabic coffee experience, and goat hair tent weaving, offered by the Bedouin community around Feynan Ecolodge.
Planning tip: You can also join a Bedouin-led excursion with Global Tribes that incorporates hiking, storytelling and Bedouin shai (tea) in Petra or Wadi Rum.
6. Cook Jordanian food
If you want to taste authentic Jordanian food with a depth of flavors you won’t find in most restaurants, you’ll need to find a home-cooked meal. Get in the kitchen and learn from the experts. Beit Sitti offers cooking lessons in a gorgeous space in the Al Weibdeh neighborhood for travelers visiting Amman.
Outside of the capital, take a day trip to the Iraq Al Amir Women’s Cooperative and cook up some maqloubeh (meaning “upside down” in Arabic, this is a popular traditional dish made of rice, chicken, and vegetables).
With Baraka Destinations Cooking Experience in Umm Qais, you can spend time learning from a local chef in their home. Through Engaging Cultures culinary tours, you can prepare a Jordanian feast with a family in Orjan Village. Kids will love the Sesame Bar Experience with Aqabawi in Aqaba.
Planning tip: Book your reservations for these classes in advance.
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7. Watch a sunset
Jordan has so much to offer that you might feel rushed to fit it all in, but don’t forget to pause each evening to enjoy the sunset.
Whether you’re on a rooftop in Amman, a hilltop in Dana, a desert dune in Wadi Rum or a sunset sail in Aqaba, the colors in the desert at dusk – and those quiet moments between day and night – are magical.
Planning tip: Map out a perfect spot to enjoy the sunset a few hours in advance to avoid potential crowds.
A night in the desert means incredible stargazing opportunities © rayints / Shutterstock
8. Go stargazing in Wadi Rum
The farther you get from the city lights, the more dark skies and bright stars you can see. If you’re visiting Feynan Ecolodge, head up to the rooftop after dark and learn the Bedouin lore about constellations from a local guide.
In Little Petra and Wadi Rum, you’ll find a variety of options – such as bubble tents, traditional Bedouin tents at Ammarin Camp and “wild camping” (pitching a tent farther afield) with Discover Jordan – for an overnight stay that includes stargazing.
Planning tip: August is the best time to visit Wadi Rum for stargazing.
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9. Forage in northern Jordan
Doesn’t food seem to taste better when you pluck it directly from the land rather than from a grocery store shelf?
Contribute to the farm-to-fork journey on an olive harvest in northern Jordan with Engaging Cultures, a seasonal experience that’s typically available for about five weeks from late September.
You can also harvest honey with a beekeeper (available four times per year: early May, end of June, early July and early December) or forage the hillsides and forests for sage, mint, almonds, rocca and more with a local farmer.
Planning tip: Don’t forage for food without the help of a local farmer or guide.