Jordan is full of Middle Eastern promise – where dreamt-of adventures come to life. The ancient desert city of Petra and the Dead Sea are among the high spots. Read on to find out how to travel solo successfully in this Arabian destination.
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An Arab country in the Levant region of the Middle East, Jordan is home to one of the seven new wonders of the world, the rose city of Petra, as well as the lowest point of dry land in the world, the Dead Sea. It is defined by its timeless monuments, archaeological sites and nature reserves, while Amman, the flourishing capital, is rapidly evolving in terms of technology and lifestyle.
When you’re visiting Jordan, it is best to consider staying in Amman, as the city offers plenty of adventures and sights worth seeing. It’s also possible to see visit many places in Jordan on day trips from the capital.
Amman has a wide variety of hotel types, catering to various budgets and in different locations. If you are looking for a memorable location and five-star luxury, look up one of Amman’s best hotels. Renting a furnished apartment, whether shared or not, can be significantly cheaper, and may be ideal for solo travelers on a budget. Neighborhoods to look out for include Jabal Al Lweibdeh, Jabal Amman, and Abdoun.
Food is an exciting part of travel in Jordan. Jordan’s traditional dish is mansaf (lamb cooked in yoghurt sauce and served with rice), so be sure to try this. Traditional cuisines and restaurants are found in every city, but the most diverse food venues are found in Irbid, Aqaba and, of course, the capital Amman. Other, smaller towns and cities offer more down-to-earth food ventures that usually specialize in traditional dishes only.
Since Amman is used as a base by most people visiting Jordan, and is filled with all sorts of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and pubs, this guide will take you from there.
Falafel, hummus, fatteh and mutabbal are traditional breakfast dishes here. Head to the famous Hashem Restaurant in the downtown area, Rakwet Arab in Jabal al-Lweidbeh, or Al-Kalha in Abdoun to enjoy them.
For lunch, try Jordan’s national dish, mansaf, at Sufrain Jabal Amman – where you can tuck in at a table on the terrace. Restaurants serving all types of cuisine can be found throughout Amman, from local food to Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Armenian, and contemporary sushi.
Amman has a plentiful choice of dinner options for every taste, so when trying to narrow down your options, it’s best to consider the venue rather than just the menu. Dining in Amman can be breathtaking if you find the right place.
A great dining option is Little Italy, which serves simple but well cooked Italian cuisine. The pasta and ice-cream are handmade in-house, and the views over Amman by night are dazzling. For delicious Japanese food, Skyline Sushi is the place to go, and for more of an authentic local culinary experience, head to Wild Jordan Centre. Both restaurants also offer superb views overlooking the city.
The country is especially beautiful in spring, and if you want to avoid the vicious heat, then visit between March and May or from the end of August until October. Jordan is home to numerous archaeological sites, awe-inspiring mountains, and vast deserts.
It takes about a week to explore Jordan from north to south, and a moderate budget is required to cover transportation, snacks, water, gas, and souvenirs. If you are planning to take day trips from Amman, you won’t need to stay in alternative hotels. If you’d like to stay outside the city, you can plan a trip that encompasses all of Jordan’s iconic sights, such as Petra, with its must-see attractions like the treasury and Al-Siq, Wadi Rum, the Colonnaded Street of Jerash, Ajloun Castle and more. A larger budget should be factored for this.
A lot of Jordan’s scenery has featured in famous films. The red sands of Wadi Rum may provoke dejá vu, as it appeared in the 2015 sci-fi movie, The Martian. The Jordanian desert was the perfect stand-in for the red planet. As for Petra, the Treasury was featured in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. It’s definitely one of Jordan’s most prized landmarks.
Amman itself, although a rather small city, is home to many historical monuments. Visit the magnificent Roman Theatre while strolling downtown, then head up to the hill of Jabal Al Qala’a. There, you will find some of Amman’s oldest Roman ruins, the Citadel and the Temple of Hercules.
There is so much to see and do in Jordan. Hiking, biking and jogging are popular, and you can find out more about the best hiking trails in Jordan by visiting the official website for the Jordan Trail. This long-distance hiking trail extends from the north to the south of the country, ending at Aqaba Port. It takes 40 days to finish the whole trail, but you can always sign up for shorter distances. Walking the Jordan Trail is walking the history of Jordan; you will pass 52 villages and town, breathtaking landscapes, archeological sights, deserts, mountains, dunes, rugged valleys and cliffs.
Solo travellers often worry about being lonely, but forming bonds with the people of Jordan is easy. Locals are very welcoming and yearn to connect with visitors. There are also many expatriates living in the hills of Amman, and you can easily find them in Jabal Al Lweibdeh and Jabal Amman. Regular meet-ups for expatriates and tourists are often held in these areas, so keep an eye out on social media.
At the end of long staircase, running down from Jabal Al Lweibdeh, Beit Sitti offers daily cooking classes, where you get to meet food-loving people and prepare a meal. What better way to socialise than by cooking and eating a meal together?
Taxis are the main way of getting around Jordan, and there are two types, yellow and white. White ones, called “service taxis”, are much cheaper as they take several passengers at once and have a fixed lane they can drive along. They can be a bit complicated to figure out, as no maps or written directions are available, but you can always ask locals for help.
Unfortunately, some taxi drivers may try to take advantage of non-Arabic speakers, so check the meter (next to the driver) for the amount you should pay at the end of the trip – and always ask for the meter to be turned when you set off.
Public buses are also common in Jordan; however, trains are not. The main advantage of public transportation is that it’s very cheap. Taxis are a bit more expensive, but they are the most convenient way to get from one city to another and the most common way of getting around. Apps such as Uber and Careem are becoming widely used as an alternative.
Like every country, Jordan has its own rules, regulations and customs. Jordan is an Islamic Arab country, and traditions should be taken seriously and handled sensitively. Before visiting, you should take note of the socially conservative culture and dress code. Baring flesh is a no-no for men and women, and public displays of affection are also frowned upon. However, as strict as some of these customs might sound, the people of Jordan are generally generous, helpful and warm-hearted.