Petra is the top visited tourist attraction in Jordan, and rightly so because the city is absolutely breathtaking to visit. However, there’s more to Jordan than just the ancient city of Petra. Here are the top three places to visit in Jordan not including Petra.
Wadi Rum is 60km from the southern city of Aqaba and it’s 700km2 of red sand and mountains. The area has been featured in a number of films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Martian. You can see just why it would be used as an imaginary Mars. It’s also going to be used as the set for live action feature film Aladdin, due to be released in 2019. If you’ve seen any clips or trailers from these films you can get a quick impression of what it’s like.
You do have to pay to get in with the cost standing at 5 JOD (£5 / €6 / $7) for international visitors. If you’re on a tour then this is normally included within the price. We entered the Wadi Rum desert on 4×4 jeeps as we travelled for around 30 minutes through some spectacular views but seeing no-one else during that time. When we got to a base, there were many different walks and activities available to enjoy in the desert. The highlight was the rock arch walk which was a moderate walk but not great for those with a fear of heights. The views (and the pictures) at the top of the arch were amazing though!
The accommodation aspect of a trip to Wadi Rum is definitely the highlight. There are no hotels within the Wadi Rum desert, the only real option is camping. You can find campsites that suit everyone: from campsites where the facilities are very basic or more luxurious campsites more akin to clamping.
There is another option though – camping outside under the stars.
I would recommend this 100%! We camped for one evening under the stars and the sky was so clear you could see everything. It was an amazing experience which really made the visit to Wadi Rum so much more special. We visited at the start of April and the weather was perfect for camping outside. Unfortunately an iPhone doesn’t take a picture that does the night sky justice!
The Roman Ruins of Jerash
Petra is one of many ancient sites that you can visit in Jordan, Jerash is another. The city is home to Roman ruins that are said to be the best preserved outside Italy. The city is located around 55km away from the Jordanian capital, Amman. This site is actually the second most visited tourist attraction in Jordan, after Petra.
There’s a cost of 10 JOD (£10 / €12 / $14) to enter which includes access to the museum at the site too. You can also hire a local guide at the site for an additional cost of 20 JOD (£20 / €24 / $28) which is a great way to learn more about the ancient city. There is actually a 45 minute reenactment show twice a day (once a day on Fridays) that highlights legionnaires, gladiators and finishes with a roman chariot race! There is an additional cost for this but it’s definitely worth thinking about going along to watch.
The city was actually rediscovered by the western world after excavation started at the site in 1925. The ruins show just what life was like back 2,000 years ago when this city would’ve been in full flow. It can take around three to four hours to see the whole of the site with very limited signage so pick up a map and start your walk
As you enter and go through the first arch (featured picture above), there’s a hippodrome that once hosted sporting activities and could hold up to 15,000 spectators. There’s also multiple temples, churches, amphitheatres and theatres that surround the fountain and the 800m colonnaded street where the chariots would go up and down 2,000 years ago.
The Dead Sea
When you read of tourists visiting the Dead Sea, it’s more likely they’re entering from the Israeli side. There’s plenty of opportunities to visit the Dead Sea from Jordan though. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and the salinity of the water is 33% which means you can get those cool floating pictures you see on Instagram!
Due to the salinity, absolutely nothing can live in it (hence the name!) meaning you won’t have any seaweed or fish to contend with whilst floating around. We learnt that the Dead Sea is actually shrinking at an alarming rate of 1m every year. Experts have predicted that the body of water could actually be next to nothing by 2050 which is scary.
We were lucky enough to stay at the Crowne Plaza Dead Sea hotel which was extremely nice but it also had a private beach down to the Dead Sea. There are other hotels and resorts on the side of the Dead Sea but there are also many public areas where you can take a dip. Jordan is quite a conservative country so if you’re in a hotel it’s generally accepted that you can wear bikinis, bathing suits etc. but if you’re entering at a public place you should be conscious of your clothing choices.
The Dead Sea is reported to have great therapeutic qualities so you can often find spa facilities nearby or even some mud masks found next to the Dead Sea. You can also buy many products nearby that are produced using the mud or water at the sea. The Dead Sea is a must visit even to float around in for a few minutes and to try some of the products.
Top tip: Make sure you don’t drink any or get it in your eyes though! Also be careful getting out as I ended up with some pretty bad cuts on my feet but that’s might just’ve been me being clumsy!
Where else would you add to the list? What other must sees in Jordan would you recommend? Have you managed to visit Jordan and tick off all of these activities?