Things to do in Jordan: A kid’s guide
We wanted to write a kid’s guide to things to do in Jordan because our boys loved it. Jordan is one of those places that they still talk about so it made a great impression. We thought it would be fun to ask them which places they liked and why and to pass those nuggets of information on.
This is ultimately a kid’s guide to Jordan as it includes information on the best places to visit in Jordan from the perspective of our kids. We’ve also included a little helpful information from the parent’s perspective.
It’s interesting reading about this from a kid’s perspective because their answers differ somewhat from ours. Most notably Petra would be no.1 on our list because it has been a bucket list destination for so many years for us but for them, meeting a gladiator was more important!
Firstly, a little information for the adults on visiting Jordan with kids.
Visiting Jordan with kids
Where is Jordan?
Jordan (officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) is an Arab nation and is bordered by Syria, Israel, Iraq, Palestine and Saudi Arabia. It’s located right at the crossroads to Asia, Africa and Europe. Interestingly, it only has a 26km stretch of coastline.
Is Jordan safe to visit?
Reading the above, you may be wondering whether it is safe to travel to Jordan. At the time of writing this in 2019, it is perfectly safe to travel to Jordan. The King of Jordan has made it one of his missions to promote tourism and to ensure their safety.
We never at any time felt unsafe. In fact, the Jordanian people were so friendly towards us, particularly the children. There were many times where people would come over to us and want to ruffle the kid’s hair (probably because they are blonde). They called them ‘Habibi’ which is an Arabic word that translates as ‘my love’ in English.
What is the best way to get around Jordan?
We hired a car and did a self-drive 10-day tour of Jordan which was the best choice for us as we much prefer the flexibility having our own car gives us. The roads were good and the towns were well sign-posted. You can, of course, arrange tours or a driver but this will be a lot more expensive.
What is the food like in Jordan?
The food is good. If you think of the more popular Lebanese style of food, you won’t go far wrong. Our boys spent their time eating chicken shish kebabs, flatbread and hummus, vegetables, lamb and rice dishes. We found some great street food vendors selling very cheap kebabs and these were delicious.
What is the best time of year to visit Jordan?
The best times of the year to visit Jordan are between March to May and September to November. We went to Jordan in April which was great in terms of the weather but being Easter, accommodation was quite expensive.
Amman and the Dead Sea were relatively cool, around mid-20s. The south of the country (from Wadi Rum down to Aqaba) and Jerash were quite warm and would reach the low 30s. Between May and September would probably be unbearable. December and to February may even feel a little cold, especially if you are doing early morning hikes around Petra. You’ll find a more comprehensive guide to the best time to visit Jordan here including information on the climate in different parts of the country and public holidays.
What is the best age for kids to visit Jordan?
The boys were 4 and 5 and we found that this was a good age. They were both old enough to tackle some hiking around Petra and deal with the heat. They also appreciated their surroundings, marvelling at the views on our Petra hike and learning some interactive Roman history in Jerash.
Jordan is very child-friendly though so we would recommend it for any age.
Top tip on visiting Jordan
Before you go to Jordan, get yourself a Jordan Pass. On the Jordan Pass website, they put it quite well. It saves you time, money and effort. It includes entrance to over 40 sites in Jordan. You can either print your pass or download it onto your phone.
The pass including 1-day access to Petra and your entry visa costs 70 JOD ($100)
The pass including 2-day access to Petra and your entry visa costs 75 JOD ($106)
To put into perspective how good this deal is, visiting Petra for 1 day costs 50 JOD ($70) and your entry visa into Jordan costs 40 JOD ($56). You’ve already saved money buying it! Here’s a list of entrance fees to all of the sites in Jordan.
We thought that Jordan was the perfect destination for a family trip. Here are the top things to do in Jordan with kids, from the point of view of the kids and adults.
What the kids say about Jerash
They chose Jerash as their number one thing for kids to do in Jordan because they got to meet a real gladiator and watch a gladiator battle.
What the adults say about Jerash
Jerash is a city in the north of Jordan, about one hour (50km) north of Amman. It’s famous for its Greco-Roman ruins (supposed to be the best-preserved outside of Italy). Make sure you get there early because this place can get hot and busy.
Entrance is free with your Jordan pass but if you want to watch the gladiator show, that is extra. You can see beautifully preserved ruins, particularly the Roman amphitheatre. Climbing to the top is a must-do for an amazing view but you need to keep an eye on little ones as it is a long way down with no barriers.
Remember to take lots of water with you. There’s a great fresh juice bar as you come out of the ruins which was very refreshing, particularly the lemon and mint one.
What the kids say about Petra
It was fun playing with all the stones there. There were some dark caves but they smelled like a toilet. We liked the views from the hike but it was very tiring. The pony ride back was a good idea so that we didn’t have to walk.
What the adults say about Petra
For our first visit to Petra, we decided to walk the Siq, the 2km long passage to the ‘entrance’ of the Lost City. We didn’t want to miss out on that first sighting of the Treasury at our own pace. You can take a horse and cart but then you would miss that first sighting. If you time if right, there’s a chance you will have the place to yourself.
We got there at about 4 pm and explored the area immediately around the Treasury including the Street of Facades, the Royal Tombs and the Theatre. The crowds had all but disappeared and we enjoyed the beautiful sunset light on the red stone. We were the last ones to leave just as they were lighting the candles for Petra by Night. It looked like it would be incredible but our kids were just worn out and wouldn’t have managed to do it. It’s not included in the Jordan Pass.
The second day was an early start and we had the place to ourselves. We took a horse and cart at 6 am just to ensure we would be ahead of anyone else. It was a fun experience for the boys and saved their little legs for the hike.
We chose not to do the hike up to the Monastery because we knew that it would be too far for the kids. Instead, we hiked up to the High Place of Sacrifice. The views on this hike are absolutely spectacular. For the kids, it was challenging enough to make them feel like it was a real adventure and an achievement, but not too strenuous so they gave up and wanted to be carried. We had regular snack and view breaks which helped.
It’s pretty easy to do the hike without a guide. We had the route to ourselves most of the time, and if we weren’t sure of the route at any point, we would take a break until someone came along. We finished our hike at around 11 am and put the boys on a pony from the Treasury to the exit. They were exhausted and it was starting to get warm so there was no point in pushing them and spoiling the experience.
Top tips for visiting Petra
Stay in Wadi Musa. It makes visiting Petra so much easier. Ultimately, you want to avoid the tour buses that start arriving about an hour or two after the gates open. If you can, get to the gates at 6 am when they open.
What the kids say about Wadi Rum
It was really cool to ride a camel in the desert and ride in the bouncy 4×4 jeep around the sand dunes. We also loved sledging down the dunes.
What the adults say about Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum, located in the south of Jordan, is the second most popular attraction behind Petra. Unless there’s something you know that we don’t, Wadi Rum is as close as you’ll get to experiencing a Martian landscape! There is mile upon mile of red sand and giant rock formations. You just have to see it.
You can do it on a day trip from Amman or Aqaba, but we highly recommend the overnight experience, staying in a bedouin tent. If you are self-driving, most camps will arrange to pick you up from their designated car park because you can’t drive to the camp yourself. This is just the start to your desert adventure.
The best camps are further into the desert, away from the main road and town lights, particularly if you want great views of the stars at night. We chose Rahayeb Desert Camp because it had a family tent with a bathroom and had excellent reviews for their food. We had the best experience with them. They organised our 4×4 sunset drive and our morning camel trek. We just wish we had stayed longer than one night.
The Dead Sea
What the kids say about the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea was really funny because you could float but the water stung our skin.
What the adults say about the Dead Sea
You can’t really come to Jordan and not visit the Dead Sea but please take note of some important facts that you might not have read about elsewhere.
- Keep an eye on your children, even if they are good swimmers. Although you float, you can also drown because it’s hard to right yourself if you flip onto your front and it’s hard to lift your head out of the water.
- Make sure to keep the saltwater out of your eyes and do not swallow it
- Due to the high mineral content, if you have sensitive skin or eczema, the water will sting – a lot!
- Take flip-flops or similar footwear because the stones to the water are hot and can burn little feet.
- Take an old swimsuit as that mud does not wash out easily.
That said, it was an interesting experience, especially covering ourselves in the mud and I’m glad we did it, but don’t go expecting it to be relaxing.
If you can’t find accommodation in the hotels right by the Dead Sea, then you can get somewhere nearby and buy a day pass at one of the hotels. We did this at the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea because it was very reasonable and had a great pool area for the kids.
Kerak (Karak) Castle
What the kids say about the Kerak Castle
It was so much fun exploring all the dark places in the castle with our head torches.
What the adults say about the Kerak Castle
Kerak Castle is a large Crusader castle located in al-Karak, Jordan. It’s a little detour off the main north to south highway and well worth a visit. It is perched high up on a hill in the centre of town and the views over the surrounding landscape are incredible.
It’s not in the best state of repair, but there are still lots of areas to explore, some underground, and we advise taking head torches to make the most of it. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring.
Entrance is included with your Jordan Pass.
The Red Sea
What the kids say about the Red Sea
The Red Sea was a fun place to take a submarine and see the fish.
What the adults say about the Red Sea
The kids didn’t have much to say about the Red Sea because to them it was just another beach. They didn’t enjoy the snorkelling that much because the water stung a little and it was very rocky getting into the water. They loved the pools at our accommodation though.
For us, it was a great place to end the trip. It was incredibly relaxing after a busy week on the road. We had a fantastic apartment for a couple of days booked on Airbnb in the Tala Bay Resort and then we moved to the Movenpick Tala Bay for a couple of days.
We much preferred Tala Bay to Aqaba. The beaches in Aqaba were not that appealing, but we were still close enough to go and eat there in the evenings and wander around.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of plastic waste in this area. We collected a lot even on the perfectly manicured hotel beach and the plastic bags floating in the water kind of spoiled our experience. We took a submarine tour from Tala Bay of local dive sites and were shocked to see plastic bags floating around the tank wreck and divers pushing the bags out of their way.
Conclusion on visiting Jordan with kids
We felt that our 10-day itinerary was just the right length of time to see the highlights of Jordan. When we ask the kids whether they would go to Jordan again, the answer is always a resounding ‘Yes!’. Next time we go back, we will make sure to visit Amman because it supposedly has some great things for kids, including a kids museum and more fantastic Roman ruins.
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