One of the most common questions we get about previous family trips is about taking our kids to Jordan. Jordan might be a bucket list destination for many but the region makes many parents nervous about travelling there with kids. I’ll give you the same answer I give our friends: Travelling to Jordan with kids is one of the best, most memorable holidays we have ever taken.
Is Jordan safe for kids and families?
I’ll start by addressing the biggest concern.
The idea of travelling in the Middle East does give cause for concern with most families if they’ve never travelled in the area before. And I can see why. There’s no denying that the region suffers from more political instability than other more popular tourist destinations. However, Jordan has successfully maintained good relations with most of its neighbouring countries. This include relations with Israel and travellers are able to easily travel between the two countries.
Despite facing increased instability since the Arab Spring in 2011, security in Jordan has been pretty tight since some high-profile attacks in 2005. There were some attacks in late 2016 but, to be honest, I think you could just as easily be caught up in attacks in London or Paris as in Jordan. You will quickly find that Jordan is actually one of the more stable, moderate and progressive countries in the area. Overall, it has achieved a good balance between its religious, historical and cultural roots and its goal of being a stable country for residents and tourists.
The Jordanian people are also, on the whole, extremely friendly and welcoming. They are keen to talk to people about their country and to help tourists get to know it better.
In summary, Jordan is, actually, an incredibly safe place for families to travel to. However, I would always recommend checking your government’s advice about travel to any country before planning a trip there. Sites such as the UK FCO website are an incredibly useful resource for providing the most up-to-date information.
Planning your family trip to Jordan
We don’t usually plan our holidays in such detail but, with only eight days of travel, we knew we needed to be more organised. I’ve written an entire post on the perfect Jordan itineraries which can give you more details about planning your family trip to Jordan. Some of the things you might want to consider include:
When to go to Jordan
Located in the Middle East, Jordan is prone to the scorching summers suffered by its neighbours. Yet in the winter, temperatures can get quite cool, particularly at night. The best times to go are March to May and late September to early November. This is when the temperatures are more agreeable. Be prepared for the time of year that you are travelling in and ensure you bring appropriate clothing and protection against both the sun and mosquitoes. Always carry enough bottled water with you for day excursions.
Visas and entry admin
Depending on your nationality, you can probably get a 1-month single entry visa on arrival at the airports or at the north border crossing between Jordan and Israel. If you’re planning to cross into Israel, you’ll need to arrange a multiple entry visa before you travel. As always, check government travel advice before booking your trip.
If you’re planning on travelling to all the main attractions in Jordan then consider buying a Jordan Pass. It waives the visa fee and grants free entry to the main tourist attractions, including 3 days in Petra. It costs less than buying everything separately.
How to get to Jordan
Jordan has two international airports in Amman (where most visitors arrive to and depart from) and Aqaba. There is also a shuttle flight from Aqaba to Amman which we took so we didn’t have to drive 6+ hours back up to the capital.
Getting around Jordan
Public transport outside of the main cities isn’t particularly good so driving is really the only option. We decided to get a driver, not because it is unsafe to drive, just for comfort. We didn’t want to be driving long distances ourselves on holiday. Hiring a car and driving in Jordan, however, is perfectly safe and straightforward. It’s also a much cheaper way of seeing Jordan than having a driver. If you want to hire a driver, I would highly recommend Petra Nights Tours.
Other things to note are that there are a few security checkpoints so have your documents handy. Also, I would bring your own car seats if your Things use them.
Accommodation in Jordan
There is no shortage of good quality accommodation in Jordan to choose from. We chose the Movenpick for our stays in Petra / Wadi Musa, the Dead Sea and Aqaba. They had a 2 for 1 offer with the Entertainer App (which I highly recommend buying). The Movenpick in Wadi Musa is also one of only a small handful of hotels located at the gate to Petra. It makes a huge difference to little legs at the end of a long day.
I’d also highly recommend staying in Sun City Camp while you’re in Wadi Rum – it was an incredible experience!
Food in Jordan
The food in Jordan is typically Middle Eastern. This isn’t brilliant for picky eaters but is definitely an experience in itself. Things like mansaf and maqluba were definitely rejected by our Things but we were lucky to find some restaurants that offered kid-friendly food next to more traditional dishes. They did try mezze, hummus and falafel but weren’t massive fans. Shawarma was more successful. We were also treated to zaarb in Wadi Rum. This is a traditional dish that is baked underground. It’s an experience just to see it being dug up and we loved it but we struggled to get the Things to eat it. This was tricky since it was basically the only thing being served. That being said there were some delicious flatbreads toasted with cheese for breakfast that they ate their body weight in! In the hotels and towns, it was much easier to find something for everyone to enjoy.
My advice? If you have picky eaters then travel with snacks that you know they will eat. If heading to Wadi Rum, take something you can prepare for them in your tents. (E.g. crackers and peanut butter or some bread rolls and cheese).
What to pack for a trip to Jordan
While Jordan is a more progressive country than most of its neighbours, it is still quite a conservative country. Avoid offending the locals by wearing appropriate clothing. I recommend covering your knees and shoulders. You can cover your hair if you want but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
This isn’t a fashion trip – you’ll be spending lots of time scrambling over ruins and hiking in sandy dusty areas. Pack clothes that are durable and that you don’t mind getting a bit worn!
Other things to consider packing include snacks from home, nappies and baby food (they’re available in the big towns if you want to buy them when you get there) and protection against the sun and mosquitoes.
Where to go in Jordan
Just as I have more detailed posts on the perfect Jordan itineraries, I also have a post on each location we recommend going to as well as the things to do in each location in Jordan. Click on the links for more details on each destination in Jordan.
Amman and Jerash
Amman is the capital and biggest city in Jordan. Located in north-central Jordan, this is also where the main international airport so chances are you’ll fly in and out of here. Amman is a popular destination for tourists and businesses alike and is a fast-growing business centre in the region. It boasts some significant history, which can still be seen around the city today. It is busy and fun so there’s lots for children to see, including a few kid-friendly museums.
Jerash is the best example of a Roman provincial city in the whole Middle East. It comprises paved and collonaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, handsome theatres, and spacious public squares and plazas. The most memorable sights are the Oval Plaza, Roman colonnaded street, the Nymphaeum, the Temple of Artemis, fountains and the city walls. The kids will love running around all the ruins and exploring. I highly recommend a trip here.
Dead Sea, Mt Nebo and Madaba
At 400 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, where ever since the days of Herod the Great, people have flocked to in search of its curative secrets. The area is characterized by high annual temperatures, low humidity, and high atmospheric pressure, the air is extremely oxygen-rich. With the highest content of minerals and salts in the world, Dead Sea water possesses anti-inflammatory properties, and the dark mud found on its shores has been used for over 2000 years for therapeutic purposes. With a few precautions, floating in the Dead Sea with your kids can be a super-fun family activity.
Mount Nebo and Madaba are also interesting places to go to, to give your kids a bit of a history lesson.
Petra / Wadi Musa
The red rose city of Petra is one of the most iconic attractions in Jordan. It’s believed it was established as early as 4th Century BC by nomadic Arabs (the Nabateans), a nomadic tribe who settled in the area and laid the foundations of a commercial empire that extended up to Syria. They used it to access major trading routes which crossed at this point. It accumulated great wealth, evidence of which can still be seen today. This historical and archaeological city was originally known as Raqmu and is located in Wadi Musa (Moses’ Valley) in southern Jordan. It is thought that 90% of Petra still remains buried – there are currently some parts that are cordoned off at the base of the Treasury proving that there is more below.
The protected area of Wadi Rum is one of the most impressive desert landscapes in the world and was the backdrop for the film Lawrence of Arabia as this was the area he spent the most time in. There is a variety of activities to do in Wadi Rum with kids including a 4×4 ride with Bedouin driver/tour guide offering a tour of the area visiting the Al Hasany Dunes (red sand dunes), the Nabatean rock inscriptions, natural rock bridges, trying Bedouin tea and going on camel rides.
Aqaba and the Red Sea
The city of Aqaba is on the tiny part of Jordan’s coastline on the Red Sea. Amazingly, not far down the road is the border with Saudi Arabia. From the beach, you can see Eilat in Israel and Taba in Egypt. That’s 4 countries all joining in one place! Aqaba is more of a R&R place than one for planning a jam-packed schedule but some things you might consider doing include a scuba diving and/or snorkelling trip, a submarine and/or boat trip, Aqaba Archaeological Museum, Ayla (medieval ruins of a medieval Islamic city and port), Aqaba Fortress, Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque, Aqaba Marine Park, Aqaba Flagpole and duty-free shopping.
Jordan with kids?
Hopefully, I’ve convinced you by now! Jordan is such a beautiful country to travel in and to show your kids. It isn’t a 5-star all-inclusive resort (although if you’re reading my site that’s probably not why you’re here anyway!). It is, however, an incredible place to have a really memorable adventure.