July 15, 2024

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Family-Friendly Summer Travel Guide to Jordan

10 min read

As summer approaches, the whole family—especially the little ones—is brimming with restlessness and excitement. And who can blame them? With long days off on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to cast aside daily routines, indulge in a well-deserved break, and embark on a thrilling vacation adventure. 

Unsure where to visit this summer? Jordan has everything to create the perfect holiday memories with your family this year.

With its temperate summer climate and strategic location, Jordan is an ideal getaway with easy access from any major cities around the world. Beyond its geographical convenience, Jordan presents a plethora of attractions for families and children, seamlessly blending urban chic with natural wonders. 

From luxurious boutiques and sumptuous dining to awe-inspiring wadis and ancient ruins, the nation offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Iconic sites like Petra, verdant forests, exhilarating water sports, and the unforgettable sensation of floating in the Dead Sea provide plenty to captivate young minds. Take your family on a hike through lush forests, explore vibrant cities, and engage in thrilling water sports for an unforgettable adventure. 

The sheer variety of attractions can make it overwhelming to decide where to start and end your journey. 

Begin your adventure in Amman, the capital, which encapsulates the diverse experiences Jordan offers.

Amman provides a convenient entry point and offers easy access to various destinations, allowing you and your family to decide where to go next. This makes it the perfect place to base your stay in the country.

Amman: your ideal starting point in Jordan

Amman, Jordan’s dynamic capital, epitomizes a captivating fusion of ancient history and modern charm. Serving as the central hub of Jordan’s well-developed transportation network, Amman provides convenient access to the country’s myriad wonders. 

Here are some of the top activities to indulge in while in Amman.

Museums

For those eager to explore Jordan’s history and heritage, Amman is home to some of the country’s most prestigious museums, offering a comprehensive journey through the region’s cultural legacy. The Jordan Archaeological Museum at the Citadel showcases prehistoric artifacts dating back to the 16th century. 

For a taste of Jordanian art and culture, consider these four recommendations:

  • Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions – Delve into the world of traditional weaving and embroidery.
  • Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts – Discover art, sculptures, photographs, and ceramics with an Islamic touch.
  • Jordan Folklore Museum – Explore old utensils, clothes, jewellery, and mosaics from Jordanian churches.
  • Martyr’s Memorial – Discover the military triumphs spanning from the Great Arab Revolt of 1916 to the present day, gaining insight into Jordan’s significant historical contributions and strategic developments. 

Infotainment

Although spending excessive time in museums might bore the kids, fortunately, Jordan’s museums offer diverse experiences beyond history.

The Royal Automobile Museum, featuring cars used by the late King Hussein Bin Talal, is a must-visit for automotive aficionados. 

The Children’s Museum offers interactive activities and entertainment for kids under 14, including an outdoor theatre, a cafe, and a planetarium. Both museums are located in King Hussein National Park, which also features beautifully themed gardens, a Cultural Village, sports facilities, and a children’s playground.

Entertainment

When seeking relaxation, meander down Al-Wakalat Street, brimming with shops and cafes, ideal for a leisurely evening with your family. Downtown Amman offers a unique atmosphere with bustling crowds and the enticing aromas of local dishes. 

Amman boasts several shopping malls where you can catch a movie and savor meals from well-known global chains. For children’s entertainment, there are numerous kids’ clubs and horse-riding clubs throughout the city. Moreover, Amman hosts several water parks, promising a delightful and unforgettable experience for the whole family.

Exploring beyond Amman

Amman is an excellent base for exploring the rest of Jordan. Beginning your journey in Amman allows you to experience the best of Jordan while providing a comfortable and entertaining environment for your family. 

From here, you can plan trips to iconic sites like Petra, the Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, and more, catering to the interests of every family member. This ensures a journey filled with diverse and unforgettable experiences, showcasing the unique charm of each location. 

Places of high historical significance in Jordan

Jordan is a treasure trove of historically significant sites and cultural landmarks. Here are three standout locations that you must visit for their historical depth and iconic status:

Petra

After exploring the vast expanse of Amman, Petra is the next destination. As one of the world’s wonders, it’s a place you simply cannot miss! An early morning drive of about 230 km from Amman, taking roughly 3 to 3.5 hours, brings you to Petra, which can be thoroughly enjoyed in a single day.

Dating back to the 6th century BC, Petra is one of the most renowned archaeological sites globally, featuring a stunning display of rock-cut architecture and carved structures. Adventure-loving kids will have an unforgettable experience riding horses, camels, or donkeys from the entrance to the Siq.

For a taste of Jordanian culture, visit the Petra Kitchen. Here, you can cook and savor a traditional Jordanian meal with guidance from a chef. Artistic visitors can also create their own sand bottles, tapping into their creativity. If you plan to stay longer, luxurious hotels around Wadi Musa, just outside Petra’s gates, offer comfortable accommodations.

Extending your visit allows you to experience Petra’s magic on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. At night, the city is illuminated by 1,800 candles, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere. Traditional musicians enhance the ambiance, blending harmoniously with the serene surroundings. This experience under the starlit sky offers a profound connection to one of the world’s wonders and a unique cultural perspective. 

Jerash

Jerash is another remarkable destination, easily accessible from Amman with just an hour’s drive. Buses and private taxis make the journey convenient. The town is a blend of modern residences and ancient Roman ruins.

The city’s Roman architecture, including Hadrian’s Arch, the impressive Hippodrome, and the expansive Oval Plaza, is so grand it might fool your children into thinking they are in Italy. 

For the ultimate family entertainment, consider timing your visit with the famous 45-minute chariot show, RACE (Roman Army and Chariot Experience). This show runs twice daily at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, except on Fridays when it runs once at 10 AM. During winter, performances are at 11 AM and 2 PM, with no-shows on Tuesdays.

Madaba

Madaba is renowned for its historical significance. The town is especially famous for the 6th-century mosaic map at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, made of two million coloured stones, detailing the area up to the Nile Delta.

This charming town offers a deep dive into religious history and artistry. Explore numerous churches adorned with beautiful mosaics that tell stories from the past. The Madaba Institute teaches and practices mosaic restoration, and visitors, including children, can try their hand at creating mosaics. Cycling from Madaba to Mount Nebo’s Moses Memorial is another enjoyable activity for families. Madaba’s vibrant markets and shops offer unique handcrafted souvenirs, providing a tangible piece of Jordanian culture to take home.

These three destinations highlight Jordan’s rich historical and cultural heritage, making them indispensable stops on any visit to the country.

Tranquil sanctuaries in Jordan

For those seeking an escape from city life, here are a few recommendations for some serene sanctuaries in Jordan overseen by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

Ajlun

Just a two-hour drive from the bustling capital of Amman lies Ajlun, a hidden gem with lush green hills, dense woodlands, and a 12th-century fortress offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. 

Ajlun’s natural beauty and historical significance make it a must-visit destination for those looking to explore Jordan’s rich past and enjoy peaceful hiking trails suitable for children. 

This city’s landscape is a stark contrast to other parts of Jordan, with its pine forests and olive groves. The 13-square-kilometre protected area provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban living. 

Enjoy natural trails and stay in chalet-style accommodations set in a large grassy clearing surrounded by oak, pistachio, and strawberry trees, presenting a perfect countryside staycation.

Azraq & Shawmari

The Azraq Wetland Reserve and the Shawmari Wildlife Reserve, located approximately an hour and a half drive from Amman, stand as two prized natural treasures of Jordan. These protected areas epitomize the nation’s untouched beauty and offer unparalleled wildlife encounters.

At the Shawmari Wildlife Reserve, visitors can witness inspiring international conservation efforts aimed at rescuing and breeding endangered species. Here, specially constructed watchtowers provide prime viewing spots to observe magnificent creatures like the Arabian Oryx.

For avid birdwatchers, the Azraq Wetland Reserve serves as a haven, providing a crucial resting place for migratory birds journeying between Asia and Africa. Featuring seasonally flooded marshlands and expansive mudflats, this reserve offers spectacular tableaus of diverse avian ecosystems.

Guided tours are available, rendering insights into the unique flora and fauna of the area. With its commitment to wildlife conservation and its pristine natural beauty, the Azraq Wetland Reserve stands as a beacon of undisturbed nature in Jordan. 

Dana biosphere reserve

A three-hour drive from Amman, the Dana Biosphere Reserve sprawls across 30 kilometers, serving as a vast sanctuary for 555 plant species and 200 animal species, many of which are endangered. The Rummana Campsite, nestled within its bounds, offers an ideal starting point for mountain hikes and birdwatching expeditions, especially during migration seasons.

The reserve is a paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts, offering trails suitable for everyone in the family. Dana Village, with its traditional stone houses and modern eco-lodges, invites visitors to immerse themselves in local Bedouin culture and cuisine.

A standout feature of the reserve is the renowned Feynan Ecolodge, situated at its western gateway. Recognized as one of the world’s top fifty eco-lodges, this 26-room retreat operates solely on solar energy and champions various green initiatives. 

Activities such as mountain biking, canyoning, and exploring ancient copper mines with knowledgeable Bedouin guides provide a unique experience for families. The lodge’s secluded location makes it perfect for a lowkey retreat and family bonding, all while promoting environmental stewardship.

The Wadis of Jordan

Wadis are valleys or dry creek beds found in several parts of the Middle East. Jordan proudly boasts two of the most renowned wadis: Wadi Rum, an expansive desert adorned with striking mountain vistas, and Wadi Mujib, a scenic river winding through mountain crevices.

Each wadi presents a distinct adventure, beckoning travelers to explore their wonders. From the vast expanse of Wadi Rum’s desert dunes to the lush beauty of Wadi Mujib’s riverine landscapes, both are essential stops on any journey through Jordan.

Wadi Rum

Nestled four hours from Amman, Wadi Rum offers the quintessential Middle Eastern desert experience. With its vast, endless desert views and cinematic rugged landscapes, this protected desert wilderness is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a perfect destination for family-friendly rock climbing, hiking, and adventurous jeep tours that children will love. 

You can hire camels to trek through unexplored canyons and dunes or opt for a 4×4 jeep tour with a local Bedouin guide. For an unforgettable experience, consider soaring above the expansive desert on a hot air balloon ride.

Known as the “Valley of the Moon,” Wadi Rum offers an otherworldly ambiance perfect for relaxation, storytelling, and enjoying traditional Bedouin hospitality. Stay in desert camps, relish local cuisine, and forge cherished memories with your loved ones.

Wadi Mujib

Wadi Mujib, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is just an hour and a half from Amman. As the lowest reserve in the world, Wadi Mujib offers unparalleled views that will make your Instagram followers envious. The mountains carved by the river create a panoramic illusion, while the flowing water offers a soothing soundtrack.

Tailor your adventures to suit your family’s preferences, whether it’s hiking or floating in the river. However, please note that some trails may have age restrictions, especially for younger children. 

The reserve’s diverse wildlife and spectacular scenery, featuring dramatic cliffs and gorges, ensure that everyone, from kids to the elderly, will enjoy their visit. While exploring Wadi Mujib, seize the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea, the saltiest body of water in the world, where you can experience the unique sensation of floating effortlessly.

The Seas of Jordan

Jordan is home to two unique seas that should be on every travel itinerary: the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Both offer unique experiences.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, where the waters of Wadi Mujib converge, is the ultimate destination for relaxation. Float in its hyper-saline waters, known for their therapeutic properties, and indulge in spa treatments using the mineral-rich mud. 

Just a 40-minute drive from Amman, the Dead Sea is ideal for both swimmers and non-swimmers, as the primary activity is floating. Nearby luxurious beachfront resorts offer excellent spa treatments to leave you relaxed and rejuvenated.

Families will enjoy the Dead Sea’s water park, which boasts a variety of rides and attractions that children will love. For more active pursuits, explore Wadi Mukheiris with its canoeing, hiking, and abseiling options, though some trails have age restrictions. 

Enhance your visit by exploring historical sites such as the ancient fortress of Masada and biblical locations along the Jordan River, adding a rich cultural and historical dimension to your trip. 

Aqaba

Aqaba, Jordan’s gateway to the Red Sea, is ideal for water sports enthusiasts.  Dive into activities like windsurfing, waterskiing, jet-skiing, snorkeling, diving, and sailing. The tropical ambiance, featuring white sandy beaches and palm trees set against the backdrop of mountains that change colors at sunset, transforms Aqaba into a mysterious wonderland. 

Visit the Aqaba Marine Park to see the protected coral reefs and marine life. For more hands-on exploration, go scuba diving or snorkeling. Certified divers can take advantage of the excellent diving opportunities. Aqaba also offers micro-flying training courses, allowing you to earn a license.

Families seeking softer adventures can opt to rent bikes or embark on horse carriage rides to explore the city’s flat terrain. Visit the Aqaba Archaeological Museum to learn about the city’s historical significance as an important trade route. Alternatively, wander through the bustling Aqaba souk to experience its lively atmosphere. 

Wrap up your day in Aqaba with a memorable beach camping experience. Lounge on mats with your loved ones, swap stories, and bask in the cool sea breeze and the mesmerizing golden sunset, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. 

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