A contrasting mix of jaw-dropping landscapes, ancient ruins, and seaside escapes, Jordan will steal your heart from the second you set foot in this breathtaking nation. This relatively small country is packed full of history and adventure. Even if you have several weeks to explore Jordan’s tourist attractions, you’ll barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer.
From ancient Roman theaters to crumbling Crusader castles, Jordan has centuries worth of history to explore. Outdoor enthusiasts will also be overwhelmed by the sheer number of adventurous things to do in Jordan, whether it’s diving the Red Sea or trekking through the desert. Guaranteed to delight all types of travelers, Jordan is one country you need to add to your bucket list.
In this post, we'll cover:
15. Dana Nature Reserve
Explore Jordan’s diverse landscapes with a trip to the Dana Nature Reserve. Starting at the historic Dana Village, the nature reserve spans across the Qadisiyah plateau into the Wadi Araba desert, crossing four different bio-geographical zones.
The Dana Nature Reserve is also home to the most diverse plant life in the country, with over 700 species in total. You can also find a number of rare mammals and birds, including the Nubian ibex, the caracal, and also the Syrian serin. The nature reserve is best explored on foot through one of the many hiking trails.
14. Ma’in Hot Springs
Located in between Madaba and the Dead Sea, the Ma’in Hot Springs is the perfect escape after a long day of sightseeing. Immerse yourself in the healing waters of the springs with the picture-perfect Ma’in Mountains as your backdrop. You’ll also have stunning views of the beautiful Ma’in waterfalls that cascade down the sides of the mountain cliffs.
There are over 63 springs in total, each one different in shape, size, and temperature. While some springs are a boiling 145 degrees, most of them hover around 95 degrees, which is ideal for a soothing soak. The waters are believed to have healing properties and are used as treatments for skin and circulatory diseases, as well as joint and muscular problems.
13. Wadi Mujib
Affectionately nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Jordan,” the Wadi Mujib is more than just a spectacular landscape. This remarkable landmark is also believed to be the historical site of Arnon Valley, which once separated the Amorites from the Moabites.
The river that runs through the canyon empties into the Dead Sea and offers visitors a variety of outdoor experiences. The most popular activity is hiking through the Siq Trail. This strenuous 2.5-hour trek is best done with a guide and takes you bouldering across the rocks and navigating through the river and waterfalls.
12. Ajloun Castle
Perched on top of the Auf Mountains, Ajloun Castle looms over the sprawling Jordan Valley. This expansive fortress was built in the late 1100s as a way to defend against the Crusaders. Since then, it was partially destroyed by Mongol invaders and even two earthquakes in 1837 and 1927.
However, it’s still possible to tour the Ajloun Castle and see many of the rooms and features that have survived. You can climb up the watchtower, explore the castle walls, and even visit the on-site museum.
11. Roman Theater (Amman)
The grand Roman Theater in Amman is one of the most iconic Roman structures, not just in Jordan, but in the world. Built in the early 2nd-century, the theater has three tiers and is able to hold over 6000 spectators.
Over the past few years, major reconstruction was done on the theater to update and modernize its foundation. For this reason, it’s no longer a true representation of what the theater once was almost 2,000 years ago. However, it’s now used for cultural events and concerts, including the biannual Al-Balad Music Festival.
10. Madaba Mosaic Map
Take a peek inside the Church of Saint George in Madaba and feast your eyes upon the ancient Madaba Mosaic Map. This map is the oldest known floor mosaic in history, dating back over 1,500 years. It depicts the Middle East, including the area between Lebanon and Egypt, including the Dead Sea and the Moab Desert.
However, the most notable feature of the map is its detailed representation of Jerusalem. Not only can you see the outline of the old city, but you’ll also be able to spot recognizable buildings like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Damascus Gate.
9. Umm Qais
Take a step back in history and explore the preserved ruins of an ancient Decapolis city. Umm Qais was once called Gadara, which was one of the main Greek and Roman cultural cities during the rise of the Roman Empire. As you walk through the almost 2,000-year-old city, you’ll find ruins of shops, homes, temples, and even a theater.
Besides visiting the ruins, you can also enjoy sweeping views of the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmouk River Gorge. On clear days, you can also spot Golan Heights in Syria and Tiberias in Israel.
8. Scuba Diving in Aqaba
Despite having a small coastline, Jordan remains one of the best places for scuba diving in the Middle East. Located on the Gulf of Aqaba near the tip of the Red Sea, Aqaba has over 25 different dive spots. The colorful coral reefs and translucently clear waters are ideal for divers of all skill levels.
You’ll find a variety of marine life lurking beneath the waves of the ocean. Although you can encounter turtles, rays, and sharks, Aqaba is actually known for its smaller creatures. Frogfish, nudibranchs, and shrimp are just a few things you’ll see on your dive.
7. Desert Castles
Standing in the middle of the dry, dusty desert are a few of Jodan’s most spectacular architectural achievements. These desert castles are some of the earliest examples of Islamic art and architecture, many of which date back to the 7th-century. They are not real castles but were most likely used for trade centers or resting outposts.
Two of the most renowned castles are the Qasr Kharana and Qusayr Amra. Inside, you’ll be able to walk through the rooms and marvel at the preserved mosaics and frescoes that adorn the walls of the castles.
6. Mount Nebo
Retrace the footsteps of Moses while enjoying a panoramic view from the summit of Mount Nebo. This historically significant site is described in the Hebrew Bible as the place where Moses first viewed the promised land. With sweeping views of the Dead Sea, Jordan River valley, as well as Jericho and Bethlehem, Mount Nebo is one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in all of Jordan.
On the top of the mountain, you’ll find a stone that marks the entrance to Mount Nebo. It’s also a memorial tribute to Moses, whom many believe was also buried on the mountain.
5. Amman Citadel
Located in the heart of Jordan’s capital, the Amman Citadel has withstood the test of time. Pottery and other artifacts have been found from the Bronze Age, although most of the citadel’s significance is after 1200 BC.
Nestled on the highest hill overlooking the city, the Amman Citadel is home to many different buildings from the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The most striking is the Temple of Hercules. A white, stone hand of Hercules is located nearby and is the only remaining piece of what’s left from his 40-foot statue.
4. Dead Sea
No trip to Jordan would be complete with a dip in the Dead Sea. Known for its mineral-rich salt water and mud, the Dead Sea attracts travelers from all over the world. Treat yourself to a nutrient mud bath or spend the day floating in the water.
Amman Beach is also a great destination for a day of sunbathing and relaxing. Although not as secluded as it once was, the Dead Sea is still a worthwhile visit during your trip to Jordan.
3. Jerash Ruins
Jordan is home to dozens of ancient Roman sites, but the Jerash Ruins are easily considered to be the most impressive. Its imposing city walls, tiered theaters, and towering columns are some of the best-preserved ruins outside Italy and offer a rare glimpse into a world dating back over 2,000 years.
Notable buildings include Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Zeus, and the Temple of Artemis. However, the highlight of the Jerash Ruins is the unusual oval forum, which is lined with 56 Roman columns.
2. Wadi Rum
The mountainous desert of Wadi Rum is known for its bright red sand, distinct jagged arches, and, most importantly, its isolation from the rest of modern civilization. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, Wadi Rum feels more like a different planet than anything else.
Make the most of your journey with a 4×4 tour of the different rock formations. You can also explore the desert on a camel, which offers a unique yet authentic insight into nomadic Bedouin life.
Petra is the star attraction of Jordan, and for a good reason. Carved into the sandstone cliffs, this ancient city of temples and tombs have been around since 300 BC. The city was destroyed after the Roman rule and sat abandoned for centuries until its discovery in 1812.
The Treasury is Petra’s most visited site. Carved into the side of the rock face, this ornate Greek-style temple is nestled between the narrow canyon walls and dry river beds. It was originally built as the tomb for the Nabataean King Aretas III. After marveling at the Treasury, continue your journey to the Siq gorge, the Street of Facades, and the Royal Tombs.