Pillars, pediments and pavements from ancient Rome are liberally strewn across Jordan, making the country one of the best in the world to see evidence of this once mighty empire.
Jerash Centurions once clashed swords in the hippodrome in the extensive ruins of Jerash.
Gadara With a view of the Golan Heights, these atmospheric ruins still command a strategic location.
Pella Little visited, these ruins represent one of the 10 cities of the ancient Decapolis.
Citadel Perched above the modern capital, these ruins afford a vantage point of Amman's ancient amphitheatre.
Colonnaded Street, Petra The Roman presence at Petra is found in the detail – in a hero’s tomb or fallen pillar.
Views of the Promised Land
On the east bank of the Jordan River, latter-day pilgrims can follow in the footsteps of former prophets. More than 100 sites in Jordan are mentioned in the Bible.
Bethany-Beyond-the-Jordan The most important biblical site in Jordan, this is the suggested location of Jesus’s baptism.
Mt Nebo Moses supposedly finally saw the view of the Promised Land from here before dying.
Madaba Famed for the earliest map of the Holy Land, Madaba is notable for its Christian population.
Castle of Herod the Great Only a pillar remains atop the hill where Salome is said to have danced in Mukawir.
Lot’s Cave She looked back, and for that Lot’s wife allegedly turned into salt.
Jebel Haroun Revered equally by Muslims and Christians, this sacred site is thought to be Mt Hor of the Old Testament.
Moses' Spring Moses allegedly struck the rock either near Mt Nebo or in Wadi Musa near Petra.
You don't need to be a kid to love a good castle, and Jordan has plenty. Once guarding ancient trade routes or repelling religious adversaries, their crumbling battlements are a highlight of Jordan.
Karak Castle The king of castles, the Crusader stronghold of Karak commands sweeping views of the valley below.
Shobak Castle Built by Crusaders in the 12th century, this is the most picture-perfect of Jordan’s castles.
Ajloun Castle Commanding the high ground, this castle was part of Saladin’s defensive fortifications against the Crusaders.
Qasr Al Azraq The winter home of TE Lawrence and Sharif Hussein bin Ali in 1917, Azraq Castle protected an important oasis.
Castle of Herod the Great This is the haunting site of Salome's seductive dance in Mukawir.
Qasr Kharana One of the collectively misnamed Eastern 'castles', this quirky Umayyad building invites exploration of the surrounding desolation.
Springs & Bathhouses
Jordan boasts dozens of thermal springs where the water averages 40°C and is rich in health-giving minerals. For those who like their bath with bubbles, the Dead Sea spas offer paradise.
Hammamat Ma’in Steam vents pepper the hillside at this spring near Madaba; it’s suitable for single women.
Hammamat Burbita West of the King’s Highway near Tafila, these springs have pools and basic facilities.
Al Pasha Turkish Bath Steam rooms, Jacuzzi and obligatory scrubbing are available at this Amman favourite.
Petra Turkish Bath With separate baths for women, this is the place to unwind after hiking in Petra.
Dead Sea Spas Offering the ultimate in healthy bathing and luxurious pampering.
Flora & Fauna
The desert may look dead, but it is home to the greatest survivors – both animal and vegetable. The desert comes alive in spring, from early April to late May.
Wildflowers In profusion across Jordan in mid-April, the best floral displays are around the northern hills near Gadara.
Strawberry Oaks Ajloun Forest Reserve protects this rare woodland of red-barked trees.
Birdwatching Azraq Wetland Reserve hosts migrants and residents in the heart of the desert.
Black Iris Jordan’s national flower blooms with deep purple petals at Dana Biosphere Reserve – if they escape the resident ibex!
Oryx Showcased at Shaumari Wildlife Reserve, these elegant antelope are back from the brink of extinction.
Fish The Red Sea is renowned the world over for underwater diversity – as seen from Neptune Submarine Vision.
Royal Botanic Garden Home to many of Jordan's native species, this botanic garden is located 25km north of Amman.
Crafts with a Conscience
The revival of cottage industries is helping to sustain traditional ways of life in Jordan. Madaba offers souvenirs that leave as much as the buyer takes away.
Hand-loomed Rugs Goat-hair rugs are bringing life-changing opportunities to the women of Bani Hamida Weaving Centre.
Palestinian Embroidery The Haret Jdoudna Complex in Madaba provides an outlet for the once-dying art of cross-stitch.
Mosaics Associated with mosaic-making for centuries, Madaba's Lawrence Arts & Crafts makes portable tree of life designs.
Painted Ostrich Eggs Ostriches once roamed the region; the art of egg painting has been preserved at Azraq Lodge.
Environmentally Friendly Products Wild Jordan Center in Amman sells a range of ecocrafts from Jordan’s nature reserves.
Lawrence of Arabia
Jordan is ‘El Lawrence’ country, the land the eccentric, camel-riding, dagger-wielding Englishman made his own during the Arab Revolt of 1917–19.
Wadi Rum Lawrence’s ghost haunts Wadi Rum, which he termed 'Rumm the Magnificent', passing cliffs named ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ in his honour.
Hejaz Railway The goods train rattles by on the mended tracks of the Hejaz Railway once dynamited by Lawrence.
Dana The ‘chess-board houses' of Dana, within today's Dana Biosphere Reserve, overlook Wadi Araba, ‘fresh and green, thousands of feet below’.
Azraq Castle Lawrence was proud to ride between Aqaba and Qasr Al Azraq in three days; the journey now takes one.
The West Lawrence left Azraq riding into the sunset while flocks of cranes flew in company overhead – just as they do from Azraq Wetland Reserve today.
For centuries the Bedouin have inspired admiration for their adaptation to the harshness of desert life. Nowadays many make their living sharing that life with visitors – an experience not to be missed.
Camping under Goat Hair With stars, tea and storytelling, Bedouin camps such as Rum Stars at Wadi Rum offer a night to remember.
Camel Trek More driven than ridden nowadays, camels are still available for hire at Rum Horses and within Petra.
Sampling Mensaf In Petra you can try mensaf, the Bedouin lamb, rice and pine nut speciality served, for example, at Oriental Restaurant.
Ammarin Bedouin Camp The museum in this camp outside Petra features the lives of the local Bedouin tribe.
Bedouin Staples Camel's milk, dates and goat's cheese are staples of Bedouin food; learn how they are prepared at Feynan Ecolodge.
Walks on the Wild Side
Exciting hikes across sand dunes, through forests and via the lush gorges of seasonally dry riverbeds (wadis) are possible mid-March to mid-October. See Di Taylor & Tony Howard’s Jordan: Walks and their Walks, Treks, Climbs & Caves in Al Ayoun for details.
Jordan Trail Tracing the length of the country, this new trail (representing around 40 days and 650km of hiking) is Jordan's defining trek.
Siq Trail This rewarding scramble (2km, three hours) leads through Wadi Mujib in knee-high water.
Wadi Dana Trail A classic Dana hike (16km, six hours), this steep trail descends through Bedouin grazing grounds.
Prophet’s Trail Winding through Ajloun’s orchards, this hike (8.5km, four hours) leads to Prophet Elijah’s alleged birthplace.
Makharas Canyon Hike This plod through soft sands (8km, 2½ hours) opens up the best of Wadi Rum.
Wadi Muthlim Enter Petra the Indiana Jones way (5km, 1½ hours) through this unnervingly narrow slot canyon.