For many people Jordan begins and ends with the magical ancient Nabataean city of Petra. And it's true, Petra is without doubt one of the Middle East's most spectacular, unmissable sights, battling it out with Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat for the title of the world's most dramatic 'lost city'.
Yet there's so much more to see in Jordan - ruined Roman cities, Crusader castles, desert citadels and powerful biblical sites: the brook where Jesus was baptised, the fortress where Herod beheaded John the Baptist, and the mountain top where Moses cast eyes on the Promised Land. Biblical scenes are not just consigned to the past in Jordan; you'll see plenty of men wearing full-flowing robes and leading herds of livestock across the timeless desert. But it's not all crusty ruins. Jordan's capital Amman is a modern, culturally diverse Arab city which is lightyears away from the typical cliches of Middle Eastern exoticism. The country also offers some of the wildest adventures in the region, as well as an incredibly varied backdrop ranging from the red desert sands of Wadi Rum to the brilliant blues of the coral-filled Gulf of Aqaba; from rich palm-filled wadis to the lifeless Dead Sea. Ultimately it's the sensual delights of daily life in the Middle East that you'll hanker for longest after you return home; the bittersweet taste of cardamom coffee or the smell of a richly scented nargileh (water pipe); the intoxicating swirl of Arabic pop sliding out of an Amman doorway and the deafening silence of the desert.
Jordanians are a passionate and proud people and the country truly welcomes visitors with open arms. Despite being squeezed between the hotspots of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Israel & the Palestinian Territories, Jordan is probably the safest and most stable country in the region. Regardless of your nationality, you'll be greeted with nothing but courtesy and hospitality in this gem of a country.
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Best places to stay in Jordan
Take to the skies: the world's greatest airborne adventures
Got a head for heights? Soar into the ether in some of the world’s most inspiring locations. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Paragliding at Pokhara, Nepal Paragliders over Pokhara, Nepal by momo. CC BY 2.0.
Jordan destination guides
Amman is a modern Arab city rather than one of the great cultural centres of the Middle East; it has never rivalled Damascus or Cairo as a grand Islamic city of antiquity.
How to plan a trek along the Abraham Path
A new series of walking trails through the Middle East is opening up trekking opportunities in a region more often seen solely as a historical destination.
A journey uncovering the extraordinary history and geographical delights of Jordan
Private 4-Day Jordan Special Tour: Petra, Wadi Rum and The Dead Sea
On this 4-day tour you'll travel south from Amman to the ancient city of Petra to see the magnificent Treasury (El-Khazneh). Continue to Wadi Rum, a uniquely shaped mountain that rose amongst the rosy red sand of the desert. Later visit the Dead Sea where the salt content of the water is so high, no fish can survive. This tour will also take you South of the kingdom to Petra.
Petra: secrets of Jordan’s lost city
Vast stacks of sandstone loom over the arid valley of Wadi Musa like giant handfuls of sun-baked clay. But even in this parched landscape, there are places where the sun casts no light.