I'm thinking of going to visit Jordan over late November, and join a tour visiting the Amman, Dead Sea, Jerash, Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Wadi Mujib, Kerak, Petra, Beida, and Wadi Rum.
What are some of the off the beaten path activities in these locations? (Especially Petra, since I'm planning to spend 2-3 days there), and are there other locations that are worth a trek to go see not on the list? Would love to do/experience things that are a little more local and non-touristy as to get to know the culture.
Hi Annie. Joining up with the tour group seems like you hit all the good spots. If you are based in Amman, you can take a trip up north and hit two extra spots close to Jerash (which is about 1 hour north of Amman) that you have not listed – Ajloun Castle and Umm Qais. Ajloun Castle is located about 45 minutes west of Jerash (about 1.5 hours from Amman). It is an amazing castle located in a lush green valley. If you go up there, there is a local soap shop called Orjan Soap House. All soaps are made from olive oil and natural oils grown on site. From what I understand, you can go in and see how the products are made and talk to the local women who make the products. In Ajloun, you can hike around and take many different routes. Then there is Umm Qais which has amazing Roman architecture. It is about 2 hours north of Amman, and has a very nice museum with high quality roman statutes and such. It is similar to Jerash, but the museum is set in a quaint courtyard in the middle of the “city.” It has a small café where you can eat and drink (I know they serve beer, I imagine they serve wine as well). You can see the Sea of Galilee and Israel, Syria and Lebanon.
My most loved spot in all of Jordan hands down is Jerash. I love the Roman architecture, columns, amphitheater and temples it offers. It is all very accessible so you don't have to worry about "standing behind the ropes" looking at everything. In fact, pretty much all of Jordan is “hands on” so you really can get in there and experience everything (unlike Europe where much is roped off). Petra is spectacular as well. I have not spent more than one day at Petra and have covered all of it but Aaron’s tomb, which is quite the hike and I didn’t care much for it, but I imagine it has incredible views. I think that there is a Turkish Bath in Petra City and that may be something you want to check out if you have time, but I haven’t been there (but there is a really nice one in Amman). It is all pretty much a very touristy location because of the main attraction. about 5 years ago
I can recommend a fantastic restaurant in Madaba which is popular with locals and tourists alike – Haret Jdoudna. Don’t miss this if you are visiting Madaba, which has an excellent mosaic museum. Tons of local hot and cold mezzas, small plates and full meals (suggestion, go with lots of mezzas for your entire meal and you can sample everything!). Great local wines available as well. The menu is listed in both Arabic and English and the prices are posted (which is a plus) and is very reasonable.
Amman has lots of wonderful things, the Amman Citadel and Temple of Hercules, Roman Theater and downtown souks. The souk is definitely a local thing, get lost and find yourself an off the path restaurant or meander through the vegetable market and pick up something to snack on and bring it with you to the top of the Citadel/Temple of Hercules or the Theater and enjoy a wonderful view while you nosh. You can also wander over to the First Circle/Rainbow Street where there are lots of cool cafes that have great views from patios (but not sure if they will be open, some may keep open with heaters, others may close completely).
Late November is a wonderful time to visit, nicely brisk and rainy, but not too cold. I prefer it much more than the summer months. My first visit was in late December/early January a couple years ago and I loved the rainy weather (I now live here permanently). I hope you enjoy your time and if you want any more information, feel free to message me :) about 5 years ago