Children are universally adored in Jordan, so you’ll find that taking the kids adds a welcome dimension to your trip. Children are instant ice breakers and will guarantee contact with local people, especially as foreign families are still something of a novelty.
Best Regions for Kids
Don't miss the Children's Museum in Amman. This brilliant interactive centre offers features in English and Arabic and staff are wonderful with the kids.
- Northwestern Jordan
Kids studying the Romans will love Jerash, where centurions bring history alive.
- Dead Sea Highway
Children can swim with extra buoyancy in the very salty water – if warned to be careful with eyes.
- Central Jordan
With tunnels and passageways, there’s heaps to explore about the Crusaders at Karak Castle and its Islamic Museum.
A pre-trip viewing of Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade should nail it.
- Southern Jordan
Teenagers can learn to dive in Aqaba while younger kids paddle in the temperate sea. Camel rides, 4WD adventures and sandboarding make Wadi Rum a hit.
- Eastern Desert
Youngsters will enjoy searching for oryx and ostriches on the Shaumari Wildlife Reserve safari.
Jordan for Kids
Expect a Warm Welcome
While few concessions are made for youngsters, except the occasional high chair in a restaurant and baby-changing facilities in modern city malls, you’ll find people go out of their way to make your family feel welcome, especially on buses and in shops, hotels and restaurants.
The Jordanian Family Way
Child-oriented activities are still a novel concept in Jordan as normally children are included in adult outings and entertainments. Jordanians enjoy socialising in groups, so there’s usually an extra pair of hands to mind the kids. As a result of this child-inclusive approach, most adult highlights are treated as children’s highlights too.
Cultural Highlights a Hit
Feedback from parents on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum is very positive about the experience of taking children to Petra, Jerash, Karak and Wadi Rum, although it pays to get the family curious about the destination in advance. Jordan is a gold mine for school projects on the Romans, for example.
- Jordanian sweet shops A treat for all the family with honey-drenched pastries. Try Habibah in Amman or Al Baraka Sweets in Madaba for giant, colourful platters of kunafa – shredded dough with cream cheese.
- Fruit juice stalls A healthy way to beat the heat – watermelon and pomegranate juices are favourites. Wild Jordan Center in Amman does a particularly healthy range but almost every town has a stand or two with a blender at the ready.
- Snack pack Picnic boxes are prepared by some hotels, particularly in Petra, making a long day out seem more like an adventure.
Rainy Day Activities
- Haya Cultural Centre, Amman Includes an interactive ecomuseum.
- Children's Museum, Amman This fun and informative interactive centre, with its emphasis on engineering and human biology, is likely to keep mum and dad as engaged as the kids.
- Climbat, Amman Offers a child-friendly introduction to climbing with a starter wall.
- Malls A great retreat on a rainy day (or when midsummer temperatures soar), Amman's modern malls, such as Mecca Mall, have cinemas and activity areas for kids.
When to Go
Spring is the best time for a family visit. The weather is great, attractions are open and the peak tourist season brings evening amusements.
The heat of summer (mid-May to mid-September) is difficult for children to tolerate, restricting your activities to early morning and late afternoon. Winter months (mid-November to mid-February) can be freezing and many activities are restricted or too cold to be enjoyable. The risk of flash floods in wadis is an added anxiety.
Coping with High Temperatures
At any time of year, temperatures are comparatively high, particularly around noon. Trips to Petra and Wadi Rum involve long periods of sun exposure, and it’s not always easy to find shade: plan visits around early mornings and late afternoons. Follow local custom and take a family nap after lunch: this has the advantage of keeping the kids out of the worst of the sun and ensuring they're fresh for an evening out.
To prevent stomach complaints, children should stick to bottled mineral water, which is readily available, and avoid peeled fresh fruit and washed salads.
Fresh and powdered milk is available, but it's worth checking that fresh dairy products (such as milk, cream, yoghurt and cream cheese) are made with pasteurised milk. Ice cream is usually best avoided in rural areas where the electricity supply is often unreliable, leading to frozen goods defrosting and refreezing.
General hygiene might not be the priority it is in many Western countries; carrying a hand sanitiser is a good idea in case the local water supply is suspect.
Breast-feeding in public is culturally acceptable providing you are reasonably discreet. Carrying an extra garment, like a shawl or a cardigan, to tuck around you and the babe might help keep male curiosity at bay.
What to Pack
Disposable nappies (diapers) are not readily available outside Amman and Aqaba. Come prepared with plastic bags to avoid contributing to Jordan’s ubiquitous litter problem.
Mosquito nets and repellent are handy in the warmer months; malaria is not an issue in Jordan, but itchy bites can easily become infected in the heat.
Car seats are not a big thing in Jordan so bring one with you. Pavements, or lack of, will be challenging for most prams, but the locals seem to cope with them!
Jordanians are tolerant of Western norms, but you will earn local respect if the kids dress appropriately. This is particularly the case with teenage girls: provocative clothing, however fashionable elsewhere, will bring unwanted attention and stares.
Travelling in Jordan is generally safe for the family, with low incidences of crime.
For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.