Desertscapes, Cities Lost and Found, and the Lowest Place on Earth: Visit Jordan ⋆ Tredwell Travel

Desertscapes, Cities Lost and Found, and the Lowest Place on Earth: Visit Jordan


There are two sides to Jordan’s capital, the modern western side with its high-rise offices and glamorous hotels, and the traditional eastern half with historic sites spread amongst local houses and businesses. The Roman and Umayyad influence on the city is most evident as you walk amongst the ruins of the ancient Citadel which tower above downtown Amman (picture 1), and the amphitheatre which used to host up to 6,000 guests.

1. The Temple of Hercules, The Citadel, Amman

The Jordan Museum houses a wide array of artefacts collected across the country, allowing visitors to learn about the history of the area. Do not miss the Ain Ghazal statues – 8,500 years old, they are thought to be the oldest known large scale human statues. Bringing you racing back to the current day, discover the wonderful collection of contemporary Arab art held at Darat Al Fununwho support traditional practices with art displayed across six wonderfully restored historic buildings. As the evening draws in, head to Rainbow Street, whose cafes, bars and restaurants come to life with the cooler temperatures brought on by the sunset. Amman is a foodie heaven with fresh falafel wraps available on almost any corner and knafeh – made from spun pastry and soaked in sugar syrup – served from windows in the walls. For a sit down meal, find yourself a courtyard table at Hashem Restaurant on Prince Muhammed Street, for more authentic Jordanian cuisine.

2. The Cardo (Main Street), Jerash

Amman is a fantastic location to base yourself for some wider exploration. Popular day trips include visits to the cities of Jerash and Salt. Slightly to the North of Amman, Jerash offers some of the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy (picture 2) whilst Salt opens a doorway onto life in 19th and 20th Century Ottoman era Jordan. To the south, Wadi Mujib provides your first taste of Jordanian nature, with a number of trails offering a mixture of hiking, wading and canyoning – guides are required for most routes. Tied in to a day trip exploring Wadi Mujib, take the chance to read a book while floating in the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth! There are a number of hotels and resorts that offer day passes for access to a number of facilities – most importantly freshwater showers – for after your swim. Extending your excursion with an overnight stay is also very popular and leaves you with more time to explore peaceful, nearby, old towns such as Madaba and Mukawer, best seen just before the sun sets and the stars come out.

Another option of a day trip, or a stopping point on your journey from Amman to Wadi Musa (for access to Petra), is the Dana Biosphere Reserve. Claiming some of the best stages of the nation-long Jordan trail, Dana is home to some amazing hiking routes and provides an opportunity to spot threatened species such as the Nubian ibex and caracal.


3. The view from the High Place of Sacrifice, Petra

The Lost City of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is the highlight of most trips to Jordan. Spread across an enormous site, the Treasury (Al-Khazneh) reveals itself to visitors after a dramatic two kilometre walk through the Siq canyon, the morning sun illuminating the rock carved façade at roughly 8 AM. Learn the story of the Nabatean people who first built and occupied the city almost 2,000 years ago as you wander down the former colonnaded high street, imagining the market stalls of this ancient city. The High Place of Sacrifice, a challenging climb from the lower plain, rewards your effort with views across the site and the mountains beyond (picture 3).

4. The view of Wadi Araba, Petra

To maximise your time, return for a second day, this time taxiing to the “back entrance” with the appropriately named Little Petra next door. An hour gives you plenty of time to explore this diminutive version of the historic wonder as well as a chance to stop for çay (tea) or coffee at the café perched on the side of the canyon at the far end. Return by the same route and begin your hike, or hop into one of the 4×4 buses, that brings you to the base of the first steps. From here it’s time to start (or continue) walking. You’re first treated to stunning views across Wadi Araba (picture 4) which accompany you along narrow paths and up the many steps to the Monastery (Ad Deir),one of the most amazing sites in the world (picture 5). After soaking up the majesty of Ad Deir, begin your descent through the rest of the Petra site, arriving back in Wadi Musa at sunset.

5. Ad Deir (The Monastery), Petra

Wadi Rum

6. Sunrise light in Wadi Rum

From a Wonder of the World to a location totally out of this world! The short drive from Wadi Musa (Petra) to Wadi Rum feels like you’ve been transported to Mars. Used in the filming of Dune, Star Wars and a number of other Hollywood blockbusters set on the Red Planet, the red sands and rock faces give Wadi Rum its magical feel (pictures 6 and 7). There are accommodation options both in Wadi Rum Village and, for the true desert experience, into the Protected Area itself. Trips run from the village and most camps each day with 4×4 touring the most popular way to get around. Make sure to visit Barreh canyon and the Little Bridge for two iconic Wadi Rum photo spots.

7. Wadi Rum


Often overlooked by those on a whistle-stop tour, Jordan’s second city, Aqaba, is situated right on the coast at the top of the Gulf of Aqaba. Like many Red Sea destinations, Aqaba has some fantastic hotel resorts and incredibly diving and snorkelling opportunities for all abilities. Continuing Amman’s trend for delicious, authentic food, Aqaba is home to a number of bakery and pastry shops serving knafeh and a multitude of sugar-soaked delicacies. For the best hummus I’ve found across the Middle East, visit Al Mohandes Cafeteria. Do not be put off by the unassuming interior and plastic plates, just sit back, order a Hummos Fatah off the menu and enjoy!


  • For those planning to continue on to Egypt from their visit to Jordan, daily ferries run from Aqaba to Nuweiba, on the Sinai Peninsula. Be sure to check out our Egypt blog for how to maximise your time in Egypt.
  • Introduced in 2015,the Jordan Pass covers entry to most tourist sites across the country and purchasing one waives visa fees (provided you stay in Jordan for at least 3 nights). When purchasing decide between one, two or three days consecutive entry to Petra (adding additional days at the Petra entrance gate is considerably more expensive).
  • Çay (tea) and coffee are common throughout Jordan but both with a local twist! Keep your tastebuds on the lookout for sage in your çay and cardamon in your coffee.

Interested in sustainable travel?

Sign up to our free mailing list and receive Sustainable Travel

Yes I agree to be signed up to NJT email newsletter. View our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

The world is waiting for you.

Get your regular dose of travel inspiration when you sign up!

Yes I agree to be signed up to NJT email newsletter. View our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.