A first-timer’s guide… to Jordan
Hoping to take your first trip to Jordan or are you simply curious about this Middle Eastern destination?
Most famous for Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Jordan is a destination that’s steeped in history and culture. For travellers, it offers a wonderful opportunity to discover ancient cities and incredible desert landscapes.
Petra by Candlelight
Located in the Middle East, Jordan is a truly exciting place to explore. Without doubt, its star attraction is the ancient archaeological site of Petra, a Unesco world heritage site. While the nation might be most – and deservedly – famous for Petra, there are a host of other destinations and attractions that make this country the treasure trove it is for travellers. Lesser-known destinations, such as Jerash, for example, also have a lot to offer visitors; indeed, this is a particularly fantastic place to get a feel for the past, thanks to its Roman roads and forum. Jordan also provides a number of exciting holiday combinations; it is possible, for example, to extend your itinerary to include Israel as well – something that may particularly appeal if you are keen to explore and experience a wider section of this part of the world.
Temple of Artemis, Jerash
Practicalities – tips for your holiday to Jordan
Of course, when considering travelling to any destination for the first time, practicalities are often at the forefront of your mind. Fortunately, Jordan is an easy place to travel around. Here are a few useful insights to answer those common pressing first questions.
There are no mandatory inoculations for visiting Jordan, although you should always speak to your doctor just to ensure you are up to date on all of the standard shots, as well as check whether there are any vaccinations, medications or other precautionary measures that you might personally need.
The currency is the Jordanian dinar. While you can exchange your currency in the UK, the best option is to change it after you land in Jordan. You will get a better rate of exchange in the local banks rather than hotels. We also advise that you have cash in small denominations as this is easier for tipping and purchases in smaller shops.
If you are staying more than two consecutive nights in Jordan you are entitled to a free visa, which Cox & Kings can arrange through our local agent.
Most flights from the UK to Jordan take five hours.
The official national language is Arabic, though you will find many people speak English.
How long should your break be?
First-time visitors to Jordan should aim to allow 7 to 10 days for their break. The country has a lot to offer in terms of both culture and leisure, and trips of this length give you the chance to take a comprehensive tour that includes everything from a visit to breathtaking Petra to snorkelling in the Red Sea. If you have less time to spare, then you can always take a shorter break of 4 to 5 days, but will need to focus on one or two areas, instead of seeing it all.
Jordan caters to a wide tourist market in terms of the kinds of hotels it offers – five-star luxury can easily be found here, as well as more modest three-star options.
As you might expect, Jordan has a year-round warm climate. Generally speaking, the best time of year to travel is March, April, May, October and November, when the weather is warm but you avoid the often scorching temperatures of the summer months, which frequently hit the high 30s. Of course, if you are comfortable in these sorts of temperatures, then there is no reason not to travel during the summer months – though bear in mind the high temperatures don’t always suit a lot of the best activities. A visit to Petra, for instance, will see you on your feet all day – and in the height of summer, the heat can make this tiring, which is why most people opt to visit during the cooler periods.
As a quick note, it is worth remembering that while Jordan’s weather typically ranges from warm to hot, the desert destinations such as Wadi Rum and Petra can get much cooler during the winter and evenings.
Jordan has excellent roads, which makes it simple to travel around, especially if you are holidaying as part of one of our group tours as you will be chauffeured in either an air-conditioned coach or car. As Jordan is a long, narrow country, you typically either travel from the north to the south or vice versa. Excellent highways connect the key destinations and attractions, and these are punctuated with cities and services that have excellent shopping and great places to eat.
Jordan is a relaxed and welcoming place but there are a few cultural customs that are worth being mindful of during your travels. When visiting Jordan, remember it is an Islamic country and therefore modesty is always appreciated. Wearing shorts or skirts that fall below the knee is essential when visiting religious sites, and you’ll find that it is appreciated on the streets too – so make sure you pack accordingly.
If you visit during Ramadan, always follow the local rules – don’t eat, drink or smoke in public.
Unmissable destinations and attractions
Petra is the ultimate destination for first-time travellers to Jordan. Famous for its spectacular architecture hewn directly from the rock, it is truly breathtaking. Travel with a guide and you will find they can really bring the place to life with tales of the past and fascinating facts. As well as visiting during the day, be sure to come back in the evening for Petra by Candlelight. After the sun sets, the site is lit with candles and the atmosphere is wonderfully romantic.
The Treasury, Petra
Located near to the gates of Petra, Petra Kitchen is an unusual restaurant that is as much of an activity as it is a place to eat. It offers you the chance to cook a four-course Jordanian meal with fellow travellers, and is a wonderful way to meet people and delve into the local culture in more depth.
The Dead Sea
Jordan is an excellent destination for leisure as well as culture, and the Dead Sea is one of the finest places to go to for the former. Don’t miss the experience of floating on the mineral-rich waters.
Dead Sea coastline
A somewhat underrated destination, Jerash is an incredibly well-preserved example of a Roman city in the Middle East. What’s truly remarkable is that so much of it remains intact, which means that you can really get a feel for what it used to be like.
Another amazing experience that first timers should consider is spending the night in a Bedouin camp in the desert at Wadi Rum – something that’s particularly worthwhile if you are keen to get a taste of adventure, as you can embark on a 4×4 tour before settling down in the evening to sip tea while watching the sun slip below the horizon.
Find out more about Cox & Kings’ group tours to Jordan here. Alternatively, if you are interested in private travel, please either call one of our specialist travel consultants or complete our tailor-made request form and one of our experts will get back to you to help you plan an itinerary.
- Art & Architecture
- Cox & Kings Staff
- Culture & History
- Middle East & North Africa