September 30, 2014

Visit Jordan for Nature Reserves, Nabataean Ruins, Roman Antiquities and More

If you’re planning to visit Jordan, rest assured there will be plenty there to keep you entertained.  While Petra is perhaps the most well-known of all the Jordan attractions, the truth is there are a myriad of things to do in Jordan, including a collection of impressive castles, an entire Roman city preserved for exploration, and six national nature reserves. While this is by no means a comprehensive itinerary for a Jordan holiday, it does represent our top tips for things to see there. At some point, we hope to return for further exploration. For now, here are our recommendations for must-see sights and attractions.

Ajloun Castle is an unexpected attraction for many Jordan tourists.

An impressive structure in the northern part of Jordan, Ajloun Castle has a commanding view of the surrounding area and makes for a great side trip if you are crossing over into Israel from the northern border crossing. It’s one of numerous castles in Jordan worthy of tourist attention, and located near the Ajloun Nature Reserve. There’s a lodge nearby affiliated with the Wild Jordan Café restaurant in Amman that helps fund animal conservation efforts in the area.

Numerous nature reserves are also available for touring in Jordan.

The Ajloun Nature reserve is one of only six nature reserves operated by Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. The others all bring their own relevance to the ecological tourism table. Wadi Mujib for example, borders the Dead Sea and brings a wet and wild entrance to this natural world wonder in full adventure-themed style. Azraq Wetland Reserve, another water-themed nature attraction is a bit more serene, offering an important birding stopover between Europe and Africa.

The capital city of Amman offers a bit more than a launch platform.

Most people get off the plane in Amman, Jordan and head out immediately for other world heritage attractions.  However, there are several things to do in Amman worthy of a day or two out of your tourism itinerary. Notable sights include the Amman citadel, the King Hussein mosque and the new Jordan Museum. Hotels in Amman are varied. We stayed affordably at the Palace Hotel near the Al Rashid Court Café and the downtown souk. It was a bit worn, but safe with a friendly staff.  There are also a number of restaurants in Amman. Two of our favorites are the Blue Fig and Wild Jordan.

The preserved Roman city of Jerash is a world-class set of ruins.

One of the coolest things about the ancient city of Jerash is that it’s completely set apart from the new city of the same name. The ruins in Rome for example, while impressive, are interspersed throughout the modern areas. Jerash is actually adjacent to the new city, making it the perfect spot for the annual cultural festival held there. It features chariot-themed activities, live performances in both of the two ancient theaters and period costumes galore.

Mosaics, Moses and more make Madaba a popular destination from which to base for daytrips.

The city of Madaba, Jordan has been famous for its mosaics for thousands of years. It’s also within daytripping distance to Mount Nebo, the Dead Sea, the River Jordan and Machaerus. There are a handful of hotels for tourists in Madaba, including the Hotel Mariam within walking distance or a brief cab ride of the atmospheric Haret Jdoudna, which is a phenomenal place to have dinner when you’re in the area.

Wadi Rum is a serene desert getaway for stargazers, rock climbers and avid campers.

A filming site for both Lawrence of Arabia and Red Planet, the natural area of Wadi Rum provides a quiet getaway for tourists looking to get over the craziness of a whirlwind tour of Jordan.  You can spend a few days here spotting camels, climbing stone arches, and exploring the desert landscape. It’s also a site with extremely dark skies, making it a popular stopover for astronomers.

Petra is one of the new seven wonders, and famous for its world-class Nabatean ruins.

A visit to Petra, Jordan is the experience of a lifetime. Just ask any traveler who’s made the journey. Tombs, high altars of sacrifice and ancient obelisks are just some of ruins you’ll see at Petra. Enter by horse-drawn carriage or foot through the siq, and your first view of Petra will be a scene made famous by the movie Indiana Jones. The building used in the Last Crusade movie is at the entrance to Petra proper, and many other remarkable buildings await you as you stroll down the ancient street towards the stairs to the monastery.

Visiting Jordan completely can take at least a month. With castles, nature preserves, spiritual pilgrimage sites and the Dead Sea to work in, along with Roman ruins and other important attractions, scheduling only a brief trip is a mistake. Be sure you set aside enough time on your itinerary to experience all of the things to see in Jordan, and perhaps a few extra weeks to cross over into some of the other neighboring countries.


Photo Credits: These images of Jordan were photographed by the owners of Trek Hound, and are available for creative commons use through an agreement with our sister travel image site, Pictures of Travel Places.