The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is an Arab country located in Western Asia. It is known for being the home of the Lost City of Petra. It may not be the first country that comes to mind when planning a trip with small children, but Jordan is safe and has a lot of cool and touristy activities for all ages. So, if you’re heading to Jordan and want to know the best things to do in Jordan or things to do in Amman Jordan, you’ll find plenty to keep you and your family entertained on your trip to Jordan.
Where is Jordan located?
The beautiful country of Jordan can be found in the Middle East. The country is bordered by Aqaba, Israel, on the West, Syria in the North, and Saudi Arabia and Iraq are on the Eastern Border. However, in political terms, you may have heard the country being referred to as situated in South West Asia. While both terms are technically correct, it is predominantly considered a part of the Middle East.
What is the population of Jordan?
Jordan’s population currently stands at 10,000,000 people, which ranks it as the 88th most populated country in the entire world. The total land area of the county measures approximately 89,000 kilometers squared. 91% of the Jordan Population live in urban environments. The most popular of which is the capital city, Amman, home to 1,275,000 residents.
The capital city is truly the centre of the cultural life in Jordan. Amman, despite being a relatively youthful city amongst its neighboring Middle Eastern countries, still holds thrilling history and architecture for all visitors to enjoy. There are plenty of sights for you to enjoy here, making Amman one of the most popular middle eastern cities. When visiting Amman, downtown of the city is a must see. Spectacular ruins from Roman times, international standard museums and other cultural elements such as mosques and souqs are key to what makes Jordan so popular.
What language do they speak in Jordan?
The official language of Jordan is Arabic. Almost the entire population of Jordan will speak Arabic. Most media and documents will be in Arabic, and even minority communities will use Arabic. As Jordan is largely an intersection between Arabia and the Middle East, there are various dialects which are spoken in the country, and it differs from the East to the West.
Given that Jordan was also a British Colony, it shouldn’t be of any surprise that English is the first foreign language. It is taught alongside Arabic in schools, which creates a unique position for the language in the country.
If you are visiting Jordan, it is therefore likely that most bar and restaurant staff will speak English. However, it won’t hurt to learn a couple of local phrases and they will be highly impressed!
When is the best time to visit Jordan?
The best time of year to visit Jordan is probably the spring and autumn months, when temperatures hover between 70°F-80°F. During the summer, there is virtually no rain, and temperatures can get up to 105°F. Especially when the hot, dry wind, known as the sirocco blows, it may even causing sandstorms. Winters, on the other hand, are short and cool. Temperatures hover at around 40°F, and 70 percent of the average yearly rainfall comes during this time period.
What currency is used in Jordan
In Jordan, the Jordan Dinar is used. It would be possible to visit Jordan solely using a credit card, as there are many ATMs available all over the country, except in small towns. There are no local charges, but you should make sure to check any limitations on withdrawals with your card provider. It is not difficult to change money when in Jordan. Most major currencies including US Dollar and British Pound are accepted, and can also be exchanged to Jordan Dinar.
How to get to Jordan
The main airport of Jordan is Queen Alia International Airport, which can be found 35km south of the capital city of Amman. The recent refurbishment has left ATMs, Foreign Exchange encounters, departure lounges, and a whole range of duty free gift items.
There is another international airport in Aqaba, which is where some carriers will make stopovers before continuing to Amman. The national airline, Royal Jordanian, is an established airline with a high-quality safety reputation. They have flights to most major European cities, and other Middle East capitals as well.
Flights are available from cities in the US & Canada, such as New York, Montreal and Chicago directly to Amman, but also, there are a range of connecting flight paths that you can use to reach Jordan.
How to get around Jordan
The most popular method for getting around is by bus. However, you may want to keep in mind, that if you’re from the West, you shouldn’t expect a public transport system as sophisticated as the one that we have here. Buses rarely run by timetables, often only departing once they are full. You should keep this in mind if you are planning on getting around by bus, particularly on more remote routes.
You should also note that there is no official train system in Jordan. So if you aren’t going to use the bus, driving is probably your best option. Again, driving here can be different to the US. Apart from always keeping to the right and obeying police officers, various road rules can have subjective interpretations. For example, various roads do not have any markings on them, meaning overtaking may occur from the right or the left side.
Renting a car is surely a possibility, but you may wish to organize it before you arrive, and ensure that all of your files and driver’s license and ID are in order.
Is Jordan Safe?
Jordan is considered to be a highly safe country. Despite the ongoing crises in surrounding countries such as Iraq, and most notably, Syria, you are highly unlikely to feel any of the turmoil going on whilst in Jordan. As tourists, you should be most concerned about petty crime. You should always keep a close eye on your belongings and use common sense.
Where is the Jordan River?
The Jordan river can be found in the slopes of Mount Hermon, in the mountain range between Syria and Lebanon. It flows southward to Northern Israel. From there, it divides Israel and Jordan, before eventually reaching the Dead Sea. The river Jordan itself is 223m long yet due to the twisting meanders, it is only 124 miles between the source and the Dead Sea.
Things to do In Jordan With or Without Kids
1. Float effortlessly in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the famous salt lake bordered by Jordan and Israel. It is the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world and is about ten times as salty as the ocean. With its density of 1.24kg/litre, swimming in the Dead Sea would feel like floating. If you are not yet set on what to do in Jordan with kids, having a Dead Sea vacation would be a great item on the list. The kids would be able to swim with extra buoyancy, but make sure to make them wear goggles since the salty water is not very friendly to the eyes.
If you are planning of driving in Jordan and land in Amman on your first day, Amman to Dead Sea takes only about an hour. If you are Catholics or just history enthusiasts, there are also places near the Dead Sea that are worth visiting such as Most Nebo, Bethany, and Madaba. Most Nebo is said to be where Moses was shown the Promised Land. Bethany is the place where Jesus was baptized by Moses in the river. Madaba, on the other hand, is popular because it is the location of the world’s oldest mosaic map. So if you’re wondering about things to do in Jordan, add swimming or rather, floating in the Dead Sea to your list.
2. Spend a day or two in Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan, which is very likely that you will be flying in here from your home country. You might want to head to other cities to check out Jordan historical sites; however, exploring the city of Amman for a day or two is highly recommended.
What to do in Amman, Jordan, you may ask?
Well, first you can visit the Roman Theater and the Citadel Ruins which are famous landmarks here. Also, visiting the Children’s Museum is one of the cool things to do in Amman, Jordan with kids. This is an interactive hands-on museum where kids can play dress up and do role play of working in a construction site or taking control of an airplane. Another place to visit in Jordan is the Jordan Museum.
This is a great place to start your tour in Jordan since it will give you an overview of the country’s culture and traditions. The museum tour usually starts with a film showing showcasing anything that is related to the country. Usually this involves showing important historical events and how these events shaped the country and its people to what it is and what they are now. Spending an afternoon in the Jordan Museum would be a great culture trip for you and the entire family. This is one of the best things to see in Jordan.
3. Explore the Lost City of Petra
One of the best places to visit in Jordan is the city of Petra. Petra, Jordan has been long-time referred to as The Lost City because it was lost to the western world until its rediscovery in 1812 by a Swiss traveler named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It is also called as the Rose City because of the color of the stone which it is carved out from.
The city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and has been described as one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage. It would be great to explore the city that has appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well as in Arabian Nights. One should not miss The Treasury while visiting Petra. This unique architecture that was completely carved out of stone was built as a tomb for the Nabatean King Aretas III. This is an amazing Jordan ancient site as well as a historical site to visit.
The Monastery as well as the High Place of Sacrifice are also must-sees in Petra. Exploring the whole place on foot is a bit challenging for some, so if you are not up for it or would like to take the less tiring route, donkey, camel, and horse rides are also available. There are a couple of restaurants and souvenir shops, so you can pretty much stay all day. It would be great to catch the sunset in Petra as well.
The weather in Petra, Jordan is pretty much the same in Amman and other cities in the country. The hottest months are May, June, July, August, and September. It begins to cool down from November, December, January, February and March, which is the best months to travel here as tourists. So, if you need to see some Jordan sights like this, or add some more Jordan sightseeing to your vacation, knowing the right months to visit will help you get more out of your vacation.
4. Go camelback riding in Wadi Rum
Another item to add in your “what to do in Jordan” list is to visit the village of Wadi Rum. If you are planning of driving in Jordan, taking a trip to Wadi Rum would be a good route. Also known as the Valley of the Moon, this valley is located in southern Jordan and is cut into the sandstone and granite rock.
Just before sunset, the best activity to do here is to go on a camel back riding tour with kids. There are guided tours available to ensure safety in the desert. Watching the sun set in the golden desert would be such a treat for the whole family. Wadi Rumi luxury camping packages are also available. It would be a great accommodation to retire to in the night after a day or excursions in the desert as well as best of Jordan things to do!
5. Visit Historical Sites in Aqaba
In Jordan and wondering about things to do in Jordan or what to see in Jordan? One of the greatest places to visit in Jordan is the city of Aqaba. Aqaba, Jordan is the only coastal city in the country and is a popular tourist and local destination for beach trips. It currently has a couple of luxury hotels such as Tala Bay. Most tourists come here for water activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling, or to simply relax at the beach on a hot day.
Aside from that though, Aqaba is home to some of the best Jordan historical sites. One of these would be the ruins in Ayla. Sandwiched between a luxury resort and the marina, Ayla’s remnants as Aqaba’s old port and its first settlement still remain. You can see the ruins of old city gates, markets, and a mosque, to name a few. Aqaba is also known for its Mamluk Castle, which is also called the Aqaba Fort or Aqaba Castle.
It got its name, Mamluk Castle, after it was rebuilt by Mamluk Sultan. The castle was originally built in the 12th century by the Crusaders. It is a great place to get introduced to the history of Aqaba, Jordan. From here, you can drive directly to Aqaba Archaeological Museum where you can find displays of artefacts that celebrates and commemorates the country’s culture, history, and tradition. Visiting this castle is one of the top things to do in Jordan and if you’re wondering, what is Jordan famous for, then you already know the answer – Mamluk Castle!
6. Drive up north to the Roman Ruins of Jerash
Driving in Jordan for tourists is pretty convenient, but if you prefer to rent a hire with a driver, that may be best to optimise your stay and make the most of your time. For those who are still unsure of what language do they speak in Jordan, it is Arabic which means most of the street signs are in Arabic, too. Hiring a local tour guide that speaks English would add convenience to your trip when you drive up to the city of Jerash. Jerash is the capital city of Jerash Governorate in Jordan.
Some of the best places to visit in Jordan can be found here, so you might want to spend at least a day or two here exploring. For one, The Temple of Artemis draws a lot of tourists. This was built dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting and fertility and the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Seeing it as what it is now, it’s hard to believe that this was built between 150-170 AD. The Corinthian columns of the temple still stand up to this date. Of course, the famous Roman Ruins of Jerash is one of the places to visit in Jordan.
This site is an archaeological treasure. Here you can find the remains of the original Roman city which include colonnaded avenues, ceremonial gates, temples, and theatres. The best time to visit would be from January, February and March when the temperature is a bit colder. If you come on a hotter season, make sure to wear sunscreen, shades, and a hat because the area is pretty much a wide open space with direct sunlight. Coming here alone can show you the best of Jordan scenery as well as famous sights in Jordan.
You can wander on your own, but exploring with a local guide is more informative and entertaining. There are also cafes and shops near the area where you can cool down and grab something to eat if you want to take a break from the tour. This area is kid-friendly and your kids will love wondering around, exploring and discovering new things!
Jordan is a truly a kid-friendly country that you should consider visiting!