For a small country, it’s probably fair to say that Jordan has more bucket list beauties than you can shake a stick.
Yup, slap bang in the centre of the Middle East, just about every great empire, ancient civilisation and his dog has wandered through this tiny nation at some point in history… and left his mark to prove it.
So whether you’re after ancient cities lost for thousands of years in the desert, some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world, or the oldest map of Palestine ever found, Jordan has it all… and more!
Having spent almost 3 weeks in this fabulous country, I’m lucky enough to have travelled the length and breadth of this beautiful place and so here’s my round-up of the 10 bucket list things to do in Jordan you can’t miss…
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#1 Step Back in Time at Jerash
One of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, there’s no question that the ancient city of Jerash, in the north of the country, is absolutely one of the best things to do in Jordan.
Hopping on a public minibus here from the capital of the country, Amman, is super easy, and once at the site, taking a guide isn’t necessary, as just wandering around and being blown away by the size of this place, is joyful enough!
Because honestly, Jerash is huge – it really is a whole city still intact – and that’s even when you consider an incredible 90% of it is still thought to be unexcavated!
I’d advise allowing yourself at least a few hours here to see as much of it as possible, including the forum, hippodrome, theatre, gates, streets and temples.
If you’d rather take a tour of Jerash, so you can get the help of a professional guide, then check out this top pick, which also includes some time at the Dead Sea.
#2 Hike in the Dazzling Dana Reserve
It’s so delightful to learn that Jordan is taking steps to protect its areas of natural beauty and top of the list is the stunning Dana Biosphere Reserve.
A landscape of deep valleys arid mountains, this place makes the perfect setting for getting off the beaten track in Jordan and, with ecolodges scattered throughout, hiking here for a few days is more than possible and more than wonderful!
Check out the website of Wild Jordan – who manage the reserve – for more information about planning your walking (and perhaps camping) adventure here.
#3 Marvel at the Madaba Mosaics
The town of Madaba would be lovely enough to explore for a day in itself, and that’s without considering the incredible mosaics you can find here – the most famous of which lies in the main Christian edifice, St George’s Church.
Discovered only by accident during restoration work in 1884, builders came upon an old Byzantine Church in the process and, amidst all the rubble and ruins, discovered one of the most significant maps in history – a mosaic cartograph that depicts the oldest known representation of Palestine.
Giving a unique insight into the history of this region, the mosaic is displayed for all to see on the church floor for a small fee.
It’s now roped off, so people can no longer step or build all over it, but still makes for an amazing sight.
#4 Road Trip the King’s Highway
This absolutely has to be one of the best things to do in Jordan because, quite frankly, from start to finish, the views are incredible!
Sadly not possible via public transport due to the twisting and turning nature of the road, tourists can, however, pick up reasonably-priced group tours of the King’s Highway from Jordan Towers Hostel in Amman.
These trips join travellers together and, with a driver and vehicle provided, allow you to experience some of the country’s most epic scenery.
As part of this day trip, you’ll also get to take in the amazing Crusader Castles of Karak and Shobak, as well as get more than your fair share of instaworthy-moments!
And, adding to the value-factor even more, is the fact that this tour will also transport you from the capital Amman to the amazing site of Petra – therefore saving you the additional transport costs of making this journey too.
#5 Float in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea is honestly one of those things that I didn’t even realise needed to be on my bucket list… until I was there!
And that’s because it’s hard to imagine just how fun the feeling of weightlessness, in a salt lake between Jordan and Israel, at one of the lowest points on earth, covered in mud, really is until you’re there!
So yes, there’s no doubt that floating in the Dead Sea is definitely one of the best things to do in Jordan – just make sure that you don’t shave the night before (the salt makes it sting!) and that you get there early in the morning to avoid the crazy crowds.
Almost impossible to access via public transport, check out these Jordan trips that include the Dead Sea if you’re keen to enjoy this famous floating experience.
#6 Walk in Moses’ Footsteps at Mount Nebo
When travelling in the Middle East, it’s almost impossible not to feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook.
And this is probably never more true than when you physically head to some of the many sites in Jordan that are supposed to have been visited by some of the most famous religious figures in history too.
Heading to Mount Nebo, the spot where Moses allegedly first glimpsed the Promised Land after having led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, it’s pretty mind-boggling to say the least.
Standing here and seeing the landscape spread before you, in the same way it has for thousands of years, is pretty awe-inspiring, regardless of whether you have religious beliefs or not.
#7 Feast on Falafels
No trip to Jordan would be complete without gorging on its amazing culinary treats and, top of the list for me, as a vegetarian, is feasting on falafels!
Definitely one of the best things to do in this country, enjoying this cheap chickpea street snack, from as many places as you can, is basically a traveller rite of passage here!
But if you’re after one of the best falafel spots in Jordan, then it really is hard to top the incredible, stuffed version lovingly created by one of Amman’s most-cherished restaurants – Hashem.
Located in central Amman, Jordan’s capital, you can find Hashem along King Faisal Street, where it’s open for lunches and dinner daily.
#8 Get out of Breath in Amman
So talking of the capital, no trip to Jordan would be complete without a few days spent in its largest (and dare I say, delightful) city – Amman.
Honestly, I think this is the most relaxed capital I have ever visited, and provides a welcome change from the often clamouring chaos of many other cities in this part of the world.
In contrast, Amman manages to feel very peaceful, safe and unhurried; brilliantly, it’s small and easy to navigate on foot too.
From the Citadel and the Roman Theatre, through to the Souk and numerous museums, there’s tons to do in Amman, but perhaps one of the best things to do here, in fact, one of the best things to do in Jordan full stop, is to get out of breath strolling up the many hills of this city and then being rewarded by the incredible views from the top of each and every one of them!
Learn more in my post about the top things to do in Amman here.
When it comes to staying in Amman, it’s hard to look past the brilliantly-located Jordan Towers, which has well-priced dorms and one of the most delicious hostel breakfasts I’ve ever eaten!
Their private rooms are the perfect option for solo travellers who want a bit more privacy too.
#9 Spend a Night Under the Stars in Wadi Rum
And now we’re really getting to the good stuff!
Yup, you absolutely, 100%, definitely, totally cannot come to Jordan without taking a trip to Wadi Rum!
This magnificent desert area is inhabited by the Bedouin People, who have some fantastic camps way out in the wilderness.
Offering travellers a unique opportunity to enjoy this otherworldly landscape, overnight stays in these basic, but clean and remote camps should not be missed.
You have to take a tour in Wadi Rum – it is a barren, arid desert after all! – but a well-priced, 1 night excursion, which usually includes a full day jeep safari, 3 meals and a night under the stars in the silence of the vast nothingness, is absolutely one of the best things to do in Jordan.
Check out these top picks for Wadi Rum desert camp trips.
#10 Snap Petra Until You Can’t Snap No More
And last, but by no means least, on this list, it’s the mighty Petra.
Of course, the big Daddy of them all, Petra is the reason that many travellers come to Jordan in the first place… and rightly so!
Honestly, this vast and ancient desert city (2300 years old to be exact!) is every bit as amazing as you imagine, (if not more so!) and I really do advise giving yourself at least 2 full days to hike, snap and just stare at this UNESCO world wonder.
Can’t miss spots to visit while you’re here include the Monastery, the Treasury, as well as some of the great hiking trails that will get you off the main drag and away from the crowds.
Just remember to wear sensible shoes – you’ll walk a lot here – and to pack some warm clothes for the evening. As soon as the sun starts to go down, it gets pretty chilly out in the desert.
It’s also worth pointing out that visiting Petra isn’t super cheap, but getting a Jordan Pass, will help you save money on the extortionate entrance fee to Petra (and will help you with your Jordan visa costs too if you buy it in advance of your arrival).
Staying in the nearby town of Wadi Musa will also give you more good value accommodation options and I highly recommend Petra Gate Hostel, which I found was clean, well-located, had good wifi and lovely, friendly staff.
These guys can also book you on a cheap tour to Wadi Rum if you want to!
Learn more in this post I wrote all about how to visit Petra for less.
Mini Travel Guide to Jordan
When to Visit Jordan?
No question in my mind that you should definitely visit Jordan during the spring and autumn seasons i.e. during the months of April and May or September and October.
This will allow you to get the most from the country’s lovely historical and natural sites without being either too hot or too cold!
Learn more in this article I wrote about the best time to visit Jordan.
How to Get There?
Most people access Jordan by flying into the international airport in the capital Amman.
As always, I use Skyscanner to find the best prices – Royal Jordanian are a safe airline I’ve used many times, otherwise British Airways and Air France have regular flights too.
If you are crossing into Amman overland from Jerusalem, check out this post which details all the ins and outs of crossing this border.
How Long to Visit Jordan For?
I think 7-10 days is the perfect amount of time to visit Jordan.
This will allow you to see all the main sights at a casual pace, or throw in some of the less travelled parts too if you like to travel fast!
Learn more in my perfect Jordan itinerary post.
Recommended Jordan Tours
If you don’t fancy travelling Jordan by yourself (although it is perfectly safe to do so), then taking a tour can be a great way to connect with other travellers and learn loads from experienced guides.
Check out these brilliant options and compare their itineraries, prices and dates to find your perfect trip.
Travel Insurance for Jordan
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Best Budget Accommodation in Jordan
I stayed in both these spots and loved them.
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So there you have it, my list of the 10 bucket list things to do in Jordan you can’t miss.
Does it sound like a good list to you?
Which is your favourite?
Let me know by leaving a comment in the box below… I’d love to hear from you.