Jordan is a relatively small country, so it’s an impressive feat to boast five UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its borders. In addition to the sites that have gained official recognition of cultural importance, the Hashemite Kingdom contains an endless amount of treasures certain to capture your heart and fill you with inspiration. With so many must-see attractions to fit into one journey, here is our list of the best things to do in Jordan that you don’t want to miss.
Explore History in Jerash
Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Jerash is renowned for its ruins of the Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa. Explore the 2nd century Hadrian’s Arch, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis, and walk through the colonnaded streets to admire the immaculately preserved theaters, public baths, and fountains.
Marvel at Madaba
The ancient “City of Mosaics” is best known for its collection of Byzantine and Umayyad artwork, which includes a stunning mosaic map of the Holy Land. During the early stages of Christianity, Madaba was an important stop on the King’s Highway trade route, and therefore home to various churches. In 746 AD, most of the city was destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned, only to be uncovered in the 1880s with it’s hidden treasures miraculously preserved.
Get Biblical at Mount Nebo
Mount Nebo is believed to be the site where Moses saw the promised land, and was later buried. The mountain is a significant site for religious tourism, and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Dead Sea, West Bank, Jordan River, and on a clear day even Jerusalem.
Uncover Umm Ar-Rasas
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, Umm Ar-Rasas is an important archeological site, valued for its extensive ruins dating to the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods. The site has been allied to the biblical settlement of Mephaat, with much of its treasures remaining buried under debris despite extensive excavations.
No list of the best things to do in Jordan would be complete without mentioning Amman. Jordan’s bustling capital city is a fascinating blend of old and new, built on seven hills and home to ancient ruins and a modern metropolis. Explore the historic Citadel, Roman Temple of Hercules, and 8th century Umayyad Palace. For a unique cultural experience, head downhill to the Roman Amphitheater, a 2nd century stone masterpiece that continues to offer cultural events. This is the best place to immerse yourself in Jordanian culture and meet the locals.
Built in the early 8th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an exceptionally preserved desert castle that served as both a garrison and residence of the Umayyad caliphs. The magnificent reception hall and hammam are adorned with figurative murals, which convey the secular art of the period.
Delve into Nature at Wadi Mujib
While not confirmed, Wadi Mujib is believed to be the biblical Arnon Stream, which Moses led the Israelites across. The spellbinding canyon envelopes the Mujib River, which flows into the Dead Sea. Sections of Wadi Mujib also cover the Mujib Biosphere Reserve, an important stop for migratory birds and home to a number of rare wildlife species.
Sleep Under the Stars in Wadi Rum
Pretend you’re Lawrence of Arabia as you explore the lunar “Valley of the Moon” terrain of the Wadi Rum desert. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a playground for adventure-seekers, with cascading sand dunes to run down, rock bridges to climb, and ancient drawings to discover. Satiate your appetite on some authentic zarb, before sleeping under the stars in a traditional Bedouin campsite or luxury martian tent. Staying overnight in this magical desert is surely one of the top things to do in Jordan and unlike anything else on Earth.
Relax and Rejuvinate at Ma’in
Pause your journey to rest your weary self in the thermal waterfalls and hot springs of Ma’in. 264 meters below sea level, and not far from the Dead Sea, the region contains 63 springs of varying temperatures, all rich with restorative elements to rejuvenate your body and spirit. The hot springs are a popular medical tourism attraction, renowned for their healing properties and ability to alleviate a range of health issues.
See the Wildlife at Dana Biosphere
Jordan’s largest nature reserve spans 320 square kilometers of spectacular mountains and canyons, and serves as a melting pot of wildlife species from Asia, Europe, and Africa. The tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to roughly 100 archeological sites, and is considered to be the most important archaeological complex in southern Jordan, aside from Petra.
Walk through History at Petra
Jordan’s infamous UNESCO World Heritage site is sure to astound you as you check this bucket list destination off your itinerary. The ancient Nabatean city was lost for thousands of years, then rediscovered in the 19th century to become one of the world’s top tourist attractions. Admire the stunning Siq and iconic Treasury meticulously carved into the sandstone canyon, then hike up to the Monastery to take in the breathtaking views from above. Don’t miss out on Petra by Night, for a captivating candle-lit experience in the ancient rose city.
Float in the Dead Sea
Journey to the lowest point on earth to slather yourself in mineral-rich mud and bob in the buoyant waters of the Dead Sea. A visit to the Dead Sea is not only one of the best things to do in Jordan for its uniqueness, but also for the way it can rejuvenate the mind and body. World-renowned for its healing properties, the Dead Sea is one of the top destinations for wellness and medical tourism. Don’t leave the region without soaking in the restorative waters while admiring the stunning horizon.
See the Baptism Site of Jordan
On the east bank of the Jordan river, this UNESCO World Heritage site is known locally as Al-Maghtas, which means “immersion” in Arabic, and Bethany Beyond the Jordan. The historical landmark attracts religious visitors who wish to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to the sacred baptism site.