Blog Winter
Experience Jordan in Winter

You may be wondering, is winter a good time to visit Jordan? Does Jordan get cold? Or, how can I make the most of my trip while staying warm? And of course, what should I pack?

– Don’t worry! We have the answers to those questions and more below. There are plenty of great options for sightseeing, hiking, and having an amazing experience!

How is the weather? And what to Pack?

Practically, if you are visiting Jordan between December and February: Do pack warm cloths! Although it may seem that the temperature is higher in Jordan than your home country, the feel of the temperature can be quite different. There can even be snow. Wearing layers is advisable, as it means you can react flexibly to changing temperatures (day/night, inside/outside), plus a decent coat, sturdy shoes, and warm socks.

Indoor heating may be different than what you are used to from your home country as well. In Jordan the buildings generally have room heaters (hot water carrying wall units), AC units (that are also able to blow hot air), or space heaters (electric or gas) as primary heat sources. That is instead of central heating like more modern buildings and areas. Hotels should always be comfortably heated in the winter. However, houses and older buildings are very often poorly insulated. So even inside buildings, you may want to wear a light jacket. 

Preparation is key, so be sure to check the weather forecast before you come for any signs of rain/snow!

Winter is a great season to hike in Jordan.

In summer most places are crowded with tourists, and the blazing sun can make being outdoors uncomfortable. But you can avoid both of these inconveniences by planning your trip during the winter months between November and March.

This time of the year is especially perfect for activities such as hiking, since the temperatures are comfortable for even long hikes on desert trails. For example the route from Little Petra to Petra is a fantastic hike to consider: Rated among the top hikes in the world by National Geographic, it has you enter Petra via the lesser travelled ‘back door’ route. That route enables you to explore the beautiful and wild landscape, as well as many other attractions on the way, without the heavy traffic of thousands of fellow tourists. It also incorporates the phenomenal site (and sight!) of Petra with a better grasp of cultural and historical places and traditions. 

Banner D2P Group Winter

While in Petra, you perhaps also want to take the time for a visit to Petra kitchen. It’s a great option for the shorter days of winter! There you can learn to cook traditional meals with local women. Additionally, it is a fantastic opportunity to engage with locals, sample delicious dishes, and learn more about the fundamental importance of food and hospitality in Jordanian culture.

Other Options for visiting Jordan in Winter:

A trip to Madaba, could include visits to several (heated) museums and churches, as well as a stroll on nearby Mount Nebo. The view over the Holy Land is best at this time of the year, when the dust in the air has been washed away by the winter rains. There is a renovated church on top of the mountain, boasting an array of beautiful mosaics, and on the road up to/down from the site itself you can visit the best folklore museum in Jordan: La Storia. In Madaba there are different churches that are also worth stopping by – above all the Church of St George accommodating the oldest existing map of the region. …and since Madaba is a predominantly Christian town, a December trip can incorporate the sighting of sparkling Christmas trees too!

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Another great option is to travel to the Dead Sea. Due to it’s low altitude, the climate in this region is much warmer than in the rest of Jordan, and the opportunities for relaxation are unrivaled. Even if you find it too chilly to swim in the sea, many of the hotels have heated pools, plus the spas are heavenly – treat yourself!

And last but not least, there are also many options in the capital city of Amman. In Amman there are art galleries, restaurants, cafes, cultural centers, concerts, historical sites, or local markets. As travel experts, we would be happy to recommend some options specific to your trip.

Blog AmmanCitadel
Experience Jordan’s History: Amman Citadel

Jordan has more amazing historical sites than most people realize. This historic fortress, the Amman Citadel, is located on top of Jabal al-Qal’a, the highest of seven hills on which the city was built (jabal means ‘mountain’, qal’a ‘castle’).

Travel through time…

The citadel boasts a diverse range of previous inhabitants: Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, as well as Umayyad and Ayyubid dynasties. Of course, this is a paradise for everyone else who loves history. The first signs of human occupation that archaeologists found date back to the Middle Bronze Age (1650-1550 BC). At that time, most likely either a fortress, or an agora (a public space for arts, sports and politics) occupied the hill. Today’s visitors can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, a spectacular Umayyad palace, and many other ruins and fragments. They can also visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum. In the museum many excavated artifacts are preserved, including both every day items, and the finer things of life such as jewels and statues.

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“I’m not interested in History…” – Here is why you should still visit:

You may say, “Thanks for all the information, but historical sights are not really my cup of tea. Why should I visit?” – We have a few more reasons to convince you…

1. The Location

The citadel is the perfect place to take a moment of rest. This is in particular from the busy and sometimes even stressful atmosphere in downtown. Since the site is located only a few minutes walking distance from Roman theater and Husseini Mosque (to be honest though, that’s downhill), you can fit a visit easily into your schedule. The way from downtown to the citadel is mostly a steep uphill. We therefore recommend to take a taxi (should cost less than 1 JD), or plan a few extra minutes of walking.

2. The View

From the citadel’s vantage point, situated atop the highest hill in Amman, you can see far out in every direction across the beautiful city. As you look west, the tallest freestanding flag in the world flies proudly in the wind. At the foot of the hill the amphitheater and downtown Amman buzz with life. And all throughout the year you can see flocks of domesticated doves circle over the city, that are joined by numerous kites during winter and spring time. It is a strange and fascinating feeling to stand in the ancient site that has been occupied by so many cultures, all while observing the modern city of today.

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3. The Atmosphere

Like the many locals coming to the Citadel, you can take time to relax, have a chat with friends and let you gaze wander over the sea of houses. Due to the variety of people present, you oftentimes find yourself enveloped by an atmosphere that is as diverse and multicultural as the traces of history covering the place.

Practically speaking, there are WC facilities on the mountain and a nice little market where you can get ice cream, waters, snacks, and coffee. The site closes around sunset – so make sure to be there early enough, so you can lean back to enjoy Amman in the glow of the golden hour (or any other hour of the day).

Amber Week One
One Week in Jordan

Amber Stowell’s 4 Week Journal (Week 1)

One of our summer interns has shared with us her four week journal, and now we are sharing it with you! Check out week 1 below:

Upon arrival to Queen Alia Airport in Amman, I could feel my curiosity peaking. After a few months of planning, I was ready to experience a culture on the other side of the world — with little expectations. It was midnight when I arrived and as I went to leave the airport, I was surprised to hear the sound of drums and chanting. People were doing the Dabke and gathered outside the front of the airport. Whatever was going on, I knew that it was something I would never see at home.

Stepping outside, I could even tell a difference in the air and the way it felt on my skin and in my lungs. The late-night drive to my temporary home was dark and the buildings were softly lit. I immediately noticed the difference in architecture. The traditional Arab style buildings were primarily beige stone but with their own unique details.

Life in Amman

Over the course of the week I would learn the little quirks of the house and neighborhood. For example, the musical jingle I would hear outside in the morning was not an ice cream truck, but the gas truck letting people know when he was around to exchange containers. Or being warned of a possible water shortage because the water is not directly pumped to your taps and faucets, but rather pumped to tanks on the top of the building that are refilled every week. Luckily the Experience Jordan office is only a 10 minute walk from the apartment and goes through a lovely neighborhood and shopping area.

Visiting Jerash

To my surprise, a day after arriving in Jordan I was able to go on a Jerash/Petra tour with Experience Jordan. I think the excitement of getting to see these sites gave me the motivation to overcome jetlag. I met up with a tour group who came in from Israel and we headed to the ruins of Jerash. When we arrived, I was surprised I had never heard of the ruins before. They parallel or may even surpass the impressive ruins in Greece or Rome. Amphitheatres, columns, and stone streets where merchants would sell goods gave you a perspective of what life was like for these ancient communities. That night we took a bus ride to Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp and experienced the well-known Jordanian hospitality.

In the footsteps of Indiana Jones

The following day we went to Petra. What came to mind when I thought about Petra was watching Indiana Jones find the fountain of youth. I didn’t know everything that Petra entailed, but I found that the whole area was much more elaborate than I had previously thought. I didn’t expect to see so much history in the canyon as we walked towards the treasury, the iconic structure everyone knows. Burial tombs and other carvings could be found left and right in the yellow and red streaked rocks. After walking the winding trail through the canyon, the space suddenly opens up and you’re looking up at the face of a cliff made into one of the world’s greatest wonders. Pictures don’t fully prepare you for the feeling you get when you take in the entire landscape and how much work went into this lost city. Our guide set us free to explore the different sites and walk into the ancient carved out caves.

(Edits by Juliane)

Blog Getting Around
Experience Jordan’s Guide on Getting Around

Navigating Amman’s complicated roads and the overall somewhat chaotic driving in Jordan can be a daunting task. The good news is – there are plenty of options for getting around! Our team at Experience Jordan Adventures is always happy to help you arrange transportation in- and outside Amman. If your adventure includes setting out on your own though, let us present you herewith …(*drums*)… Experience Jordan’s Guide on Getting Around:

 

Apps – Uber and Careem

 

The international ride hailing app Uber, and its Arab world alternative Careem are readily available in Amman. Careem was bought by Uber in May 2019, but will remain an independent brand. Both companies initially faced legalization battles in Jordan, but by now have emerged successfully.

 

The apps’ rating systems, GPS navigation, and automatic calculation of prices may spare you from many uncomfortable situations. They can for example prevent the driver from overcharging you. Or both you and the driver from getting lost on the way to your destination. On the other hand, it can sometimes take painfully long between ordering a ride through Careem or Uber, and that ride actually arriving at your starting point. This is especially the case during rush hours. However, you can prevent the problem by pre-scheduling your ride several hours, or even the day before.

 

All in all, experience showed that if you’re in Amman, unfamiliar with the city, and want a save, clean, and comfortable ride, Uber and Careem are great choices!

 

Taxis

 

Yellow taxis are ubiquitous in and outside of Amman, and can take you almost anywhere. They are also a bit cheaper than Uber and Careem.

 

The perhaps most important thing to know about yellow cabs: They are legally required to operate with a meter. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a cab driver to overcharge foreigners, particularly when picking them up around tourist sites or hotels. Always make sure the driver uses a meter (al-addad) and turns it on. Shaghal al-addad is the Arabic phrase for this. If he refuses, simply get out and take another cab.

 

There are some other taxis customs that travelers should regard in Jordan. For instance, it is recommended that women sit in the back, especially when travelling alone. Men usually take the front passenger seat. Also, while technically not required, it is nice to round up the fare to an easy number with for example five to ten qirsh. Just keep in mind that most taxi drivers don’t make a great salary…

 

In Aqaba, the “yellow taxis” are green. In Amman you might also see silver and white taxis driving around. The silver taxis are basically the same as the yellow ones, just more luxurious (newer models), and therefore also more expensive. The white taxis are called service. They are a type of public transportation which follows specified routes and are shared with other passengers. Visitors (and at times locals) usually find it very difficult to navigate service. We therefore recommend avoiding them in favor of the yellow (or green) taxis.

 

Private Drivers

 

A private driver is an excellent option for those looking to go on a day trip to one or more of the many sites close to Amman. These drivers generally have excellent knowledge of the surrounding areas, and often become one of the best parts of the trip, adding entertainment and information to the experience!

 

Some yellow taxi drivers or private car owners will agree to drive visitors around for the day. We, however, recommend hiring a private driver only from reputable companies. If you need assistance with this, we are happy to help! You can also have a look at our transfer services between Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel/Palestine.

 

Public Transport

 

Public transport in Jordan is very different from the one in most European or North American countries. Services tend to be more informal, and timetables or system maps are nearly impossible to find, or -if existent- unreliable.

 

An exception to this is JETT. The transportation company is running buses on longer distances at fixed rates and schedules.
For all other buses, the best option is to find out from where to take the bus (you can e.g. try asking the staff in your hotel), and then go to this place and wait for the bus to pass by. Sometimes you also have to wait for the bus to fill up with passengers. The good think is, these buses are really cheap. The bad thing is, using them requires quite a bit of regional knowledge, as well as time and flexibility.

 

We hope this guide can bring some clarity to the Jordanian transportation system. And – on a last note – sometimes, getting around is as easy as asking someone to take you there!

Coffee Stops
Break Time: The Great Coffee Stops of Amman

Unless you’re a seasoned expat, it might seem daunting finding basic lifestyle comforts that you generally get back home. For many tourists a day or two in Amman might seem overwhelming or dull as you are unsure of where to go and what to do. If you are like myself…coffee and cafés are an essential part of life and a way to see more of the city.

Here is an insider’s look of where to go to get that much needed cup of joe and a bit of ambiance in a chaotic city like Amman.

The Favorites

Whether you are looking for American coffee or Italian coffee, a place to work or a place to hang out with friends, there are options for it all. Now, you could easily go to the familiar Starbucks, Costa, Caribou or Paul, but do not underestimate the quirky and lively cafés popping up around town.

Dimitri’s Coffee

Founded in Amman in 2014, Dimitri’s Coffee is one of my personal favorites for a Friday morning coffee. By far the most skilled coffee brewers in Amman, Dimitri’s brews their coffee using methods such as Chemex, V60, AeroPress, French Press, an Nitro Cold Brew, just to name a few. If you are a coffee snob like myself, check this place out.

My Recommended Drink

  • Nitro Cold Brew

Location(s)

  • Abdali Boulevard Branch, Abdali
  • Dahiet Al-Ameer Rashid Branch, Mamdouh al Sarayra St.

Rumi Cafe

Rumi is one of those places that most expats tend to hang out. In the morning and early afternoon it is a good place to work, or relax and read, but come 5:00 p/m. you will be lucky to find a seat. If you are more into Italian style coffee, Rumi is the place to go. Yet, for those who are not coffee fans, try the tea! Rumi has some of the most amazing tea options that I have found in Amman.

My Recommended Drink

  • Iranian Tea

Location(s)

  • 14 Kulliyat Al Sharee’Ah St., Jabal Al Weibdeh
  • Abd Al Hamid Shoman Foundation, Jabal Amman (located in the library and is cheaper than the one in Weibdeh)

Turtle Green Tea Bar

Yes, they actually have turtles. But most importantly, the food and drinks are delicious, too. It is a reliable coffee option, but it is better known for its teas. The baristas are young and friendly, and the ambiance is perfect to sit and work, or meet up for a cuppa with a friend.

My Recommended Drink

  • Matcha Shake

Location(s)

  • Rainbow St., Jabal Amman

Seven Pennies Coffee

Why Seven Pennies? Well, SPC is a coffee shop with an ethical twist. Every 1JD you spend, you receive a token worth seven pennies to give to one of the featured charities on their wall. This coffee shop is always my first stop on my way to the Airport or the Dead Sea. Not to mention, they have some delicious, mouth-watering baked goods.

My Recommendation Drink

  • Flat White

Location(s)

  • Abdullah Al Hmood St., 7th Circle

Fann Wa Chai

A quirky café located next to the Italian Cultural Center provides a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle from the street down below. From goldfish swimming in a television to art exhibitions, Fann wa Chai knows how to provide a stimulating experience.

My Recommendation Drink

  • Ice Tea (any kind)

Location(s)

  • Kulliyat Al Sharee’Ah St., Jabal Al Weibdeh

Want to try some more?

  • Café Strada
  • Majnoon Qahwa
  • The Good Book Shop
  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • The Film Cafe
  • Wild Jordan Center

Yours Truly,

Caitlin B.

bekdash ice cream experience jordan
Experience Taste: Bekdash Ice Cream from Syria to You

While in Amman, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to experience the many tastes you won’t find in other places. Maybe you wouldn’t think to look for or find Syrian ice cream in Jordan, but we think you should not miss the opportunity to taste this delightful substance.

Bekdash is a well-established business, originating in Syria, and now available in different locations in Amman like: Galleria Mall, Sweifieh, on Al-Madina Al-Monawara Street and Downtown.

The ice cream is the gem of the selection: specially formulated to make it resistant to the heat and less likely to melt! So for all those people who sarcastically comment that ice cream should be made heatproof: this one is!

The recipe and method of making the ice cream remains the same today as it did when it was first created in 1895- a true taste of tradition!

Incorporating milk, heavy cream, mastic (an aromatic resin), and flour ground from orchid tuber, this ice cream is very different to other ice cream both in taste, being less sweetand in texture, it has elastic properties(!).

The rich ice cream is rolled in a thick coating of pistachios and cashews, adding a delicious salty crunch as well as aesthetic appeal- it’s almost as pleasing to the eye as it is to the stomach.

syrian ice cream in jordan - Experience Jordan

Hopefully, while you are in eating your ice cream, you will also get a chance to hear the beating of the ice cream. That’s right! The ice cream is pounded rhythmically like a drum. You will be hard put to not get up and dance.

They offer a range of flavours and toppings, but the traditional is the “Arabia with Nuts”.

To read more of the intriguing history behind Bekdash, see this article by The Irish Times.

There’s something more special than just the flavour and appearance of this ice cream though: in eating it, you are keeping something of Syria’s wonderful traditions alive. While the country may be turbulent currently, it can also be celebrated even in the simplest of ways.

Syrian Food in Jordan - Experience Jordan
Experience Culture: Traditional Tastes from Syria- Damascus Rose

Damascus Rose has unfortunately since closed.

Trying the food is one of the best experiences when visiting any new place or county. In Jordan, you can find food from all over the Arab world making it a dream come true for foodie travelers. One such place is Damascus Rose, a traditional Syrian restaurant. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.

This special restaurant is a hidden gem. Located directly on 2nd circle, you may not see it if you are not looking because it has a wall that protects their garden area from the street noise. When you step in, you feel like you have entered a family’s garden.

The décor is gorgeous, light, and spacious inside. With beautiful jeweled lights and comfortable, colorful seating it has a lovely atmosphere in which to enjoy your meal.

Syrian food in Jordan - Experience Jordan mishowee

The menu is given in Arabic and English and contains a large selection of mezze, appetizers (hot and cold), mains, sweets, and drinks. So this gem is a top choice for a full dining experience, as opposed to a quick bite.

Due to the extensive selection, this restaurant meets the needs of meat-eaters and vegetarians alike with substantial dishes in both categories.

As with most Middle Eastern restaurants, complimentary flatbread comes with your order. However the bread here is exceptional: freshly baked, still warm, light, and dusted with sesame seeds. Delicious.

The best thing to do is to go with family and/or friends and order a varied selection of dishes for all to share. The group can then order a few dips, some salads, several mains, and at least one thing you’ve never heard of. What is life without a bit of a gamble!

Syrian food in Jordan - Experience Jordan Salad

We highly recommend:

  • Mohammera bel jouz- a dip made from walnut pasts and red peppers
  • Shanklish- melt in the mouth cheese flavored with a variety of spices
  • Eggplant fattoush- this spin-off of the infamous fattoush includes delicious wedges of eggplant, a wonderful addition
  • Batata bel kozbara o toum- fried potato with coriander, deliciously spiced; another Levantine classic
  • Muskhan- a traditional dish consisting of chicken roasted with onions, sumac, saffron, and all-spice. Served over flatbread and topped with pine nuts. The meat falls apart in your mouth- divine

The dining experience is exemplary. The service is traditionally Middle Eastern- so hospitable, while the food is delicious and a true flavor of this region of the world.

We highly recommend this restaurant to everyone including, expats in Jordan and tourists alike. It makes for a wonderful experience.

For other Culinary Experiences check out: