For a small country, Jordan packs an impressive punch in terms of history, culture and scenery, and the proximity of its key sights makes a tailor-made Jordan holiday ideal for the time-pressed traveller. They say you haven’t truly lived until you have witnessed Petra, the 'rose-red city half as old as time', but Jordan also offer endless glimpses of the legend of Lawrence of Arabia and boasts one of the most beautiful and biblical landscapes in the world. Then sit beside a flickering fire at a Bedouin encampment in the expansive desert of Wadi Rum, with its deep-cut canyons and oceans of sand.
Or disappear into the haze of sweet-scented shisha smoke, flop down onto cushions and carpets, and sink into Jordan’s chic café scene with a trip to Amman.
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What can you find in Jordan that you won’t find elsewhere?
If you could only pick three experiences in Jordan it would have to be: visiting the spectacular temples and tombs of pink Petra in the morning; following in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia with a camel tour across to Wadi Rum; and floating away in the mineral riches of the Dead Sea.
Who are Jordan holidays best for ?
There’s no need to be Indiana Jones to enjoy an adventure in this corner of the Middle East. Jordan offers endless exploration for every kind of traveller whether you are head over heels for history or love to get lost in nature. The Dead Sea is sure to appeal to everyone and for families, in particular, floating on the salty surface will be an unquestionable highlight of the trip. After a morning discovering Petra, the nearby Red Sea tempts with its divine dining and underwater treasures and further afield, children and adults will adore a night in a Bedouin camp beneath thousands of stars in Wadi Rum. Friends, meanwhile, will find a trip to suit all while venturing out into the rich and flowing countryside, stopping along the way for a spa treatment or two in Ma’in, a cooking class in Petra, and a diving adventure in the wine-dark Red Sea. And if you're travelling solo? You will find endless opportunity for spirit-enriching sojourns.
What are the best ways to discover Jordan ?
Amman is only a five-hour flight from the UK making it an enchanting place to start your Middle Eastern adventures and a serious contender for a short break with big appeal. In five days, there's time to work in a trip to picture-perfect Petra and if you carve out a further three days, you'll have time to visit all the major sites of Jordan – from the ruined city of Jerash to the Kings Highway (a scenic route between Amman and Petra).
Special things to do in Jordan
- If you're a nature lover through-and-through, be sure to organise an overnight stay in the remote Dana Biosphere for days spent hiking to discover the local fauna and nights spent admiring fiery sunsets and star-studded skies.
- History buffs will be hard-pressed to tear themselves away from surveying the sublime site of Petra. From the world-recognisable treasury to the magnificent monastery, a trip here will leave you wide-eyed and slack-jawed. The best time to visit is as soon as it opens. With barely anyone there, you'll have the chance to admire the glorious glow of the morning light all by yourself.
What is the best option for a Jordan holiday?
Many people view Amman as a staging post on the way to more interesting sites. True, the capital cannot hold a torch to Petra or Wadi Rum, but the Roman (amphi)theatre is well worth a look, and this is the place from which to reach another Roman wonder - Jerash - to the north.
Heading south along the King's Highway then takes you via Madaba - home to the remarkable two-million-piece, 6th century mosaic map of the Holy Land, and Mount Nebo, from where Moses first viewed the Promised Land.
Next stop, the two thousand-year-old Nabataean city of Petra, which grew rich at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, and which must rank as one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Entering via a narrow, high-walled ravine, the city whose name simply means 'rock' is revealed, hewn into the sandstone hills. Top tip? When you arrive at Petra in the morning, head straight to the Monastery - a long walk, but worth it as you will have the whole place to yourself. Then make your way back through Petra during the day.
Not far to the south, the wind-sculpted mountains and canyons of Wadi Rum rise from the desert floor. Explore this extraordinary environment and its bizarre rock formations, and then spend the night in the atmospheric surroundings of a Bedouin camp, knowing that Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab militia had their base here during the Great War.
Final stop, the Dead Sea and the chance to experience the peculiar sensation of floating on the surface thanks to the extreme salinity in this, the lowest point on Earth. It's also possible to enjoy spa treatments using the sea's mineral-rich mud in one of the excellent Dead Sea hotels.