How to Reach:
How to get to Jordan By Air
Jordan’s national airline is Royal Jordanian Airlines. In addition, Jordan is served by a number of foreign carriers including British Airways, Air France, airBaltic, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Alitalia and Delta Airlines. Low-cost airline Air Arabia flies between Jordan and destinations all over the Middle East. UK based airline easyJet used to fly three times a week from London Gatwick to Amman from March 2011, cutting the cost of getting to the Middle East from the UK substantially – however low passenger numbers and high airport charges meant that they withdrew the service in May 2014
Queen Alia International Airport is the country’s main airport. It is 35km south of Amman (on the main route to Aqaba). You should allow 45 minutes to reach the airport from the downtown Amman, approximately 30 minutes from West Amman. Transport into Amman is provided by the Royal Jordanian bus service to the city terminal near the 7th circle, or by taxi (around JOD20, meant to be fixed).
How to get to Jordan by Rail and Roads
The last functioning part of the famous Hejaz Railway, twice-weekly trains used to arrive from Damascus (Syria) at Amman’s Mahatta junction just north-east of the downtown area, close to Marka Airport. However, services have been suspended since mid-2006 due to damage to the tracks, and it’s unclear when they will resume. Even when they were running, trains took a very leisurely 9 hours (considerably slower than driving), and provided a very low standard of comfort. There are no other passenger trains in Jordan.
Jordan hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year, some religious like Muharram, which celebrates the start of the Islamic New Year, but most an affair of culture. The Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival and the Jerash Festival are all held to remember the different people and traditions which make up this interesting and varied country.
Muharram is a cause for great celebration across many towns in Jordan as it marks of the beginning of the Islamic New Year in January. This happens on a different day each year according to the cycles of the moon.
Aqaba Traditional Arts Festival
The northern town of Aqaba hosts a relatively large festival in February which celebrates the unique culture of the Bedouin people. Taking the form mainly of a crafts fair, the Bedouins and other minority groups bring their handicrafts to the seaside town for sale, showcasing their unique talents and keeping these traditions alive.
This festival, which also takes place in February, is native to the city of Azraq and its sole purpose is to present the town’s wonderful art, culture and crafts. A complete celebration with music, dancing and food in the town’s streets, it is one of the smaller festivals in Jordan, but by no means insignificant.
Amman International Theatre Festival
Hosted by an independent theatre company in March every year, the Amman International Theatre Festival brings together some of the rawest and freshest talent from around Jordan. Taking on somewhat of a competitive format, each performer has the chance to showcase their skills in English or Arabic.
Held every in July in the historical city of Jerash, this festival is one of the largest cultural celebrations in Jordan. Thousands descend to participate in special art and performances. Visitors will find music, dance, literature, food, handicrafts and general merriment among the festival goers. There are also artist’s workshops and seminars which are open for everyone to attend.
Taking place in October, the Jordan Rally is a motorcar race which brings together those with the need for speed from every corner of the globe. For a few thrilling days, the festival turns Jordan’s golden dunes into a race track and a large international crowd can be seen getting their adrenaline fill.
Nestled in a secluded valley surrounded by Jordan’s rugged mountains, Petra was left deserted and hidden from the world for hundreds of years. After being rediscovered in the 1800s, the lost city of Petra is now not only Jordan’s leading tourist attraction, it’s also one of the world’s most incredible archaeological sites, and was recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. To reach Petra you walk through a narrow 1.2km gorge, known as the Siq. The rocks give way to reveal the incredible facade of Al Kazneh (the Treasury), which served as a royal tomb, but got its name from the legend that pirates hid their treasure there. The Treasury famously featured as the Holy Grail’s last resting place in the film ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’.
Past the Treasury the hidden valley widens to reveal the remains of the city proper including dozens of ancient Nabataean tombs and a Roman rock-carved street lined with temples, royal tombs, public buildings and a vast amphitheatre. Petra’s most imposing and impressive monument is Ad Deir (the Monastery), which is scenically perched above the city in the beautiful Petra Hills. The steep walk up to the Monastery takes about an hour.
Ancient riverbeds, vast pastel-coloured stretches of sandy desert and amazing rock formations known as jebels form the incredible landscape of Wadi Rum in the south of Jordan. Wadi Rum possesses unspoilt beauty forged by millions of years of geological formation, erosion and evolution. The region is home to the semi-nomadic Bedouins who live in goat hair tents, tend to their herds of sheep and goat and preserve a lifestyle that has been practised here in the Arabian desert for centuries.
On visits to Wadi Rum we take a 4×4 desert jeep ride through the heart of the stunning desert and spend a night at a remote desert camp where we watch a beautiful sunset, enjoy a traditional Jordanian meal and camp under the stars or in tents.
The Dead Sea
The lowest point on the earth’s surface, the Dead Sea is a fascinating natural phenomena. Straddling the border between Israel and Jordan, the mineral content of this 75km-long and 10km-wide saltwater lake is 33%, which is about six times as salty as a normal ocean. This incredibly high salt content means the Dead Sea is extremely buoyant, making it impossible to sink or swim in – the only option is to bob around like a cork! It’s called the Dead Sea as nothing can live in it. There are no fish, seaweed or plants of any kind in or around the water. What you’ll see on the shores are clusters of white salt crystals. These salts are mineral salts, which is just like you find in the oceans of the world, only in extreme concentrations. Many believe that these salts have curative powers and therapeutic qualities, and so the Dead Sea is a great place to try out a spot of pampering in the local spas.
Second only to Petra in touristic appeal, the 2,000 year-old Graeco-Roman ruins of Jerash are recognised as one of the best-preserved member cities of the Decapolis, a confederation of 10 Graeco-Roman cities. When Emperor Hadrian paid a visit in 129 AD, the place was buzzing. The citizens threw up a Triumphal Arch for him which still stands today. Exemplifying the finesse of Roman urban life, the town boasts a hippodrome, an old sports field that once held 15,000 spectators and a stunning amphitheatre with amazing amplification abilities. There is also the forum which gracefully links the main north-south axis of Jerash and a colonnaded street paved with original stones and the rut marks of chariots and a nymphaeum replete with ancient fountains trimmed with dolphins and various temples.
Situated on the tip of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aqaba, the laid-back resort of Aqaba is Jordan’s only gateway to the sea. Renowned for its pristine sandy beaches, clear waters and colourful reefs studded with marine life, Aqaba is just the ticket for sun, fun, diving, snorkelling and swimming. Awaba is also a great place for watersports such as waterskiing, parasailing, jet-skiing and fishing and ideal for a spot of relaxation. Historically, Aqaba boasts sites dating back to 4,000 BC, including the recent discovery of possibly the world’s oldest church dating from the 3rd century AD, the remains of the medieval walled city of Ayla and a Mamluk fort.
Cities in Jordan
- Amman — capital of the kingdom
- Aqaba — located on the Gulf of Aqaba / Eilat, with links to the Sinai and the Red Sea
- Irbid — second largest metropolitan area in the north of the kingdom
- Jerash — one of the largest Roman ruins in the Middle East
- Madaba — known for its mosaic map of Jerusalem
- Zarqa — third largest metropolitan area of the kingdom