World Wonder, UNESCO Site, constant top 10 finisher for must-visit places in the world, Petra, the jewel of Jordan, seduces one million visitors each year. Some of those visitors include children, like my own.
While Jordan is a far cry from Walt Disney World, it does not mean that it is not family-friendly. Whether it is exploring ancient Roman Sites like Jerash, riding in the back of a 4×4 and camping in Jordan’s breathtaking desert, Wadi Rum, snorkeling off the coast of the Red Sea or exploring the ancient Nabatean capital of Petra, there is plenty to do for adventure-loving families.
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When to Travel to Jordan
April and May or September through November are the best times to visit Jordan for warm weather, blue skies and to avoid the hot summer heat and cold and wet winter weather.
What to expect in Jordan with Kids
Visitors to Jordan will find a country full of smiling and friendly locals with a genuine joie-de-vivre, love of country and fierce pride in showing it to guests.
While Arabic is Jordan’s official language, families will find English spoken in all hotels and restaurants throughout Jordan, as the country relies heavily on the tourism industry headed to the Middle East.
Staying Safe in Jordan
Jordan is a safe country, despite the unrest outside its borders. Theft or violence against tourists is uncommon and unlikely, although visitors should use the same common sense that they would use at home, or in any other country.
Like in any destination, scams against tourists can occur. If something feels off, it possibly is. Read up on taxi scams, and avoid flirtatious advances from some of the more assertive local men in Petra.
Driving in Jordan
Jordan can easily be seen on a self-drive, road trip itinerary. However, if you want to avoid the hassle of navigating your own way and get a real sense of the people and the rich history of the region, taking a tour or hiring a licensed guide will make your visit that much better. There are several fantastic companies, like Experience Jordan, who can help you plan your trip and guide you through any of the sights across Jordan.
Jordan has a diverse bio-geographical climate and landscape. You will find much more than desert-like weather in Jordan. Much of the country sit at 1000m above sea level and these high elevations often see snow in the winter months. You may even get hail in Wadi Rum.
Headed to Jordan Solo? Read…
places to visit on your first trip to Jordan!
Hiking in Jordan
For parents with children who love hiking, there are dozens of hiking opportunities all over the country. Whether it is sections of the Jordan Trail, which runs over 400 kilometres from the far North of the country to the Red Sea in the south, or hiking in Petra to the 2000-year old Monastery, there is no shortage of diverse hiking options. You can also hike through Wadi Rum and Wadi Musa if you are feeling really adventurous when traveling with children.
Swim in the Dead Sea
Jordan is also home to the lowest place on Earth, where families can float in the Dead Sea and enjoy the beach resorts during their travels. Watch out for fresh cuts or sensitive skin as the mineral-rich water can be quite uncomfortable for some children. Mom- we highly recommend that you grab some of that mud you are stepping in and give yourself a nice scrub. Your skin will thank you for it!
Just remember to bring a swim suit, towel and sun screen. Many Dead Sea resorts have showers for guests to use and you will want to get all of that salt and mud off before you hop in the car.
Wadi Rum with Kids
For those looking for adventure, the Wadi Rum desert is many kids’ favorite part of the country. Not only can they ride in the back of a pickup truck as it crosses the wide expanse of desert, but they will see where the latest Star Wars film, plus where Indiana Jones and Lawrence of Arabia were filmed.
Kids (and parents) can run up and roll down sand dunes, enjoy sweet bedouin tea with locals, hop on a camel ride and camp under the Milky Way in a traditional bedouin tent. Camping out in Wadi Rum is one of the most magical bucket list experiences, which can also give your kids a new perspective on how others live through the world.
Visiting Petra with Kids
Petra, the most popular tourist site in Jordan, should be enjoyed over a few days if possible. Day trips to Petra will leave you wanting more, which is why we like to spend at least one night, if not two at this World Heritage site.
Be sure to manage your expectations with younger kids when you plan a trip to Jordan with kids, as their little legs will find the walking and hiking tiresome. With a few small distractions, whether it is searching for orange kittens or a donkey ride, a cool drink or sweet treat. You can also climb the Al- Khubtha trail to reach the Pokemon Gym from PokemonGo, parents can motivate kids to keep moving.
My boys insist on trying all of the different modes of transportation inside the site, from camels to donkeys and horses to carriage rides. I’m always trying to weave the ancient trade routes into the narrative or their understanding of the place, and this is one really easy way to do it.
Snorkeling and Scuba in the Red Sea of Jordan
The warm Red Sea waters offers families some beach time and warm temperatures, as well as some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. If you have kids who love the water, ensure that you include time in Aqaba on your trip to Jordan.
There are plenty of family-friendly resorts in Aqaba to pick from, including the new Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort and the InterContinental Resort Aqaba. Outfitters are happy to get you set up for a catamaran ride, plus a snorkel and scuba excursion. There are several beach clubs as well, if you aren’t staying at a beach resort, where you can swim all day, enjoy lunch on a patio and let the kids play in the sand.
Where to find Roman Ruins in Jordan
Roman ruins are evident throughout the country, but the remains in Amman at the Citadel and the ancient city of Jerash offer the best preserved remains of this once glorious Empire. Children can wander through the massive ruins and use their imaginations to picture what life would have looked like if they had lived alongside the Romans.
You can hire a local guide to walk you through the history of both cities, just make sure you find someone who can make it interesting for the kids. No one wants to stand through a history book lesson for two hours.
For such a small country, Jordan packs in ancient monuments, mouth-watering cuisine, world wonders, and out-of-this-world landscapes. But it is its people who will make you fall in love with the country and want to return to feel their warm welcome again and again.