If you’re looking for a destination that combines historical significance, a heaping of adventure, and one-of-a-kind experiences, you should book a trip to Jordan stat. Not only is it an underrated vacation spot for those who love a classic seaside resort getaway, but it’s also home to vast desert landscapes, unique cultural traditions, and ancient monuments, like the site where some dude name Jesus was baptized.
Humans have been roaming the streets of Jordan since the Paleolithic era and it’s still a bucket-list-worthy location today. That said, many Western world travelers aren’t exactly sure what to expect when visiting Jordan. That was the case for Tonia Olabisi, a 27-year-old British-Nigerian traveler based in London, England who frequently ventures to places far and wide while sharing her experiences through Instagram and TikTok. And yet, Jordan turned out to be one of her all-time favorite trips so far.
“The excitement of exploring other countries, experiencing other cultures, meeting a diverse range of people, and being able to visit places I have only seen in videos and pictures inspires me to travel,” Olabisi tells UPROXX. “When I travel, I feel as though my soul really comes alive. It is definitely what I am passionate about.”
Of all the incredible places she’s gone, Jordan stands out as one of Olabisi’s most memorable travel experiences. “Jordan is a country that every single person should have on their travel bucket list, you will not regret it. The entire country is a hidden gem.”
Check out Olabisi’s travel guide below. She’s sharing where to stay, eat, adventure, and explore in Jordan.
Jordan had initially been on my bucket list for years, as I have a desire to visit all seven wonders of the world. However, I was astonished by just how many unique experiences I was able to have during my visit. The country has an incredibly diverse landscape which meant I was able to go from the busy city of Amman to the isolated desert of Wadi Rum within one trip and create so many lifelong memories.
I mostly loved how rich Jordanian history is, every site I visited had such unique stories attached. I believe Jordan is a must-visit destination because it really does have something to offer every single kind of traveler.
What’s one thing that every first-time visitor should see or do in Jordan?
Every person that steps foot in Jordan absolutely has to visit the ancient city of Petra! The ancient city of Petra dates back to 300 B.C. and it is one of the seven wonders of the world. Its highlights include the Treasury Building and the Monastery. The site is massive and I would recommend exploring the site over two to three days if you’d like the explore everything in depth.
On selected nights, there is also a night show where the site is lit up with hundreds of candles and a ceremony takes place in front of the treasury. This experience is not to be missed and usually attracts 600-plus guests each evening it is on.
What are the top historic and cultural sites to visit in Jordan?
My top historic site would have to be the Baptismal site of Jesus, an archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan. The bible is the most read book in the world and guests are able to see the exact site where Jesus Christ was baptized. Regardless of religious beliefs, being able to visit a site with such significance to so many people around the world was a very heart-warming and reflective moment for me.
Also, the Ancient City of Petra was an important cultural site. I was able to learn about the historical importance the city used to have as well as immerse myself into the Bedouin culture.
City or town with the best food scene?
I would have to say the best food scene I came across was in Amman because there was such a range of delicious options to choose from for very reasonable prices. My favorite eatery would have to be Habibah Sweets. When I visited there was a long queue around the corner consisting mainly of locals, and anyone who travels knows anywhere locals eat usually tends to have the most authentic delicious foods. This dessert store has been around for over 70 years and I can confirm it was some of the best desserts I have ever tasted whilst traveling. It’s famous for its Knafeh, which is a Middle Eastern dessert made with unripened baked cheese soaked in rose syrup.
Where to find adventure and outdoor excursions in Jordan?
Jordan is an adventure lover’s dream. My first recommendation for an outdoor excursion would be taking a jeep tour of the Wadi Rum desert. Most tours usually include a range of six to nine stops, which involve exploring some significant sites, which even include some rock climbing. My other recommendation if you prefer outdoor water excursions would be a visit to the Wadi Mujib River. Wadi Mujib is a trail that leads visits through a canyon in between beautiful rock formations and through a river.
What surprised you most about Jordan?
If I am honest, pretty much everything surprised me in Jordan. I decided to visit with a very open mind and literally had no idea what to expect, but the country was so much more than I could have imagined or predicted. I found myself constantly learning about the history of the country and its significant contributions to the world. However, if I have to choose one thing I would say learning that Jordan had famous ‘healing’ hot springs near the Dead Sea in Northern Jordan was a surprise. It just isn’t something that is usually associated with Jordan and being able to swim in the same pool as Herod the Great was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Coolest hotel or place to stay in Jordan?
The coolest hotel I stayed in whilst visiting Jordan is definitely Aicha Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum. I stayed in one of the panoramic rooms which meant I was able to watch the sunset from the comfort of my bed and then I was able to fall asleep under the stars. The staff were incredibly friendly, the food was delicious, and the facilities were great. In addition, the camp also offered a free astrology experience, whereby guests were led into the desert to stargaze and learn about some of the histories of the stars.
I have never experienced anything like it before and I would highly recommend it as a must-stay accommodation for anyone visiting Wadi Rum.
Best time of year to visit?
The best times to visit Jordan are either in the Spring (March to May) or Autumn (September to November). During these times the country is fairly dry, but the weather isn’t too hot for exploring. I visited Jordan in early October and the weather was perfect, but there weren’t too many crowds at any of the major sites.