Jordan is a small – but mighty – country, jam-packed with outdoor and adventure activities including hiking, biking and scuba diving.
Interested in visiting Jordan? Let our local insider show you the best of the country on Culture Trip’s exclusive Jordan tour.
The country of Jordan may be best known for the lost city of Petra – a Unesco World Heritage Site and New Wonder of the World – however this small, yet geographically diverse country is bursting with outdoor and adventure opportunities. Hiking and cycling opportunities run throughout the country and superb scuba diving await visitors in the south. Read on to learn about the best hiking, biking and scuba diving across Jordan.
Day hikes outside of Amman, mountainous hikes around Petra and desert hikes within Wadi Rum are all great additions to any visit to Jordan – and you can do so with Culture Trip by joining our action-packed nine-day Jordan adventure. True hiking enthusiasts should also plan to spend a bit more time in the country and explore the Jordan Trail. Dubbed the Inca Trail of the Middle East, the Jordan Trail takes you through the rich heritage and history of Jordan via a 643km (400mi) route that runs the length of the country.
From green hills in the Mediterranean-influenced north to the seaside city of Aqaba in the south, the Jordan Trail allows hikers to view a side of Jordan that remains hidden to most visitors. The route passes through mountainous landscapes and rural villages – visiting both Unesco World Heritage Sites and some of the most significant Biblical sites in the Holy Land.
The entire Jordan Trail can be hiked in about 40 days, but travellers looking for shorter treks could tackle a single segment of the trail. The route from Dana to Petra is widely considered to be the most beautiful so if you’re short on time, prioritise this section. Note that much of the trail is unmarked and lacks facilities so licensed guides are strongly recommended.
Cycling is not a popular pastime or means of transportation in the metropolitan cities of Jordan, but cycling enthusiasts should definitely tackle the Jordan Bike Trail. Beginning near the northern border with Syria, this 730km (454mi) mixed-surface cycling route stretches to the southernmost city of Aqaba – making its way through dirt trails and backroads. The trail takes riders through the Ajloun Forest Reserve – one of the last endemic oak forests in the Middle East – and on through dramatic canyons and desert landscapes.
Unpaved roads can get dangerously muddy in the event of flash floods so check the weather before you head out – or better yet, consider going with a local guide. Experience Jordan helps to scout and develop resources along the route, as well as organising group tours and private trips along the trail on request. Though the entire trail is worth riding, the Best of the Jordan Bike Trail tour is perfect for cycling enthusiasts who want to blend a bit of biking with traditional sightseeing.
In the north of Jordan, the Dead Sea may be too salty for most organisms to survive, but the Red Sea in the south is teeming with plant and animal life. Near the modern city of Aqaba, tropical waters provide a home for spectacular coral reefs and a myriad of reef fish, eagle rays and turtles.
If you’re interested in scuba diving at the Red Sea check out Cedar Pride – a Lebanese cargo ship that the late King Hussein intentionally sunk in 1985. The wreck gives divers a chance to swim through holes in the ship, get up close with animals and pop up through a small underwater air pocket. Most of the dive sites in Aqaba – including a sunken American anti-aircraft tank – can be accessed by shore. Alternatively, if diving isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of great snorkelling spots in the Red Sea, too, which is also included on Culture Trip’s specially curated small-group Jordan tour.
Jordan is an extremely safe country and while pre-planning has its benefits, it’s also possible to arrive in Jordan and finalise day trips and multi-day adventures on the day. Some group tours to Jordan include scuba diving, cycling and hiking, but independent travellers will find no shortage of on-the-ground operators eager to help them plan their own adventures through the country.