The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (finest acknowledged merely as Jordan) is taken into account by many to be one of many Center East’s most mesmerizing locations. Regardless of ongoing turmoil between neighboring nations, Jordan has been persistently known as an oasis of stability in an oft-dismissed nook of the globe. As one of many area’s most secure nations, it’s additionally one of many tiniest—however don’t let that idiot you. What Jordan might lack in measurement, it greater than makes up for in tradition, journey, and unforgettable points of interest.

Residence to about 10 million individuals, the semi-arid nation sprawls over roughly 35,000 sq. miles (roughly the identical measurement as Indiana or Portugal). Its spectacular assortment of iconic websites have lengthy enchanted guests, like the traditional rose-colored metropolis of Petra; Wadi Rum’s dramatic, Mars-like landscapes; and the extraordinary blue waters of the Useless Sea, aka the bottom level on earth. However whereas most guests use Amman (the nation’s bustling capital) as a basecamp throughout their Jordanian journey, there’s a brand new hotspot that’s beginning to construct some severe buzz.

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“New” won’t be the correct adjective to explain Aqaba—contemplating the port metropolis has been inhabited since 4000 B.C.—nevertheless it’s undoubtedly having a second. Over the previous few years, Aqaba has transitioned from a once-frumpy dot on the map to an expensive waterfront retreat. Immediately, town wears its title as “Jordan’s solely coastal metropolis” with delight, providing vacationers the proper steadiness of lavish lodges, aquatic adventures, and genuine Jordanian tradition. Right here, your four-day information to exploring one of many Center East’s most fun escapes.

Ayla Island Condominium in Aqaba, Jordan Courtesy Picture

The place to Keep in Aqaba, Jordan

Encircled by towering mountains and overlooking the dazzling waters of an unique marina, the model new Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla Resort presents vacationers town’s most spectacular keep. With its modern and modern design, the picturesque property comes teeming with perks, together with 5 culinary ideas, a 24-hour StayFit gymnasium, and 286 rooms and suites (every boasting water-facing vistas). Its arrival marks the primary lodge to debut throughout the prestigious Ayla improvement, a master-planned, multiphase hub nestled on the northern shores of Aqaba.

The Kempinski Resort Aqaba is one other enticing possibility, providing upscale digs for discerning vacationers. Perched on the white-sand shores of the Pink Sea, the five-star lodge is particularly fashionable with European jet-setters and enterprise vacationers alike. With a spread of spacious suites and different room layouts, there’s one thing appropriate for everybody.

These in search of a extra refined, budget-friendly expertise ought to take into account arranging a keep on the three-star Captain’s Resort. Initially opened as a seafood restaurant (which nonetheless exists on the bottom flooring), it now payments itself as Aqaba’s one and solely boutique lodge. With 65 well-appointed rooms and a main location within the coronary heart of town, visitors are certain to really feel proper at residence.

Dining in AqabaEating at Burj Al Hamam Aqaba Ian Centrone

Thursday: Unwind in Fashion

Night: For a few of the finest Center Japanese delicacies in Aqaba, e book a desk at Burj Al Hamam, housed throughout the InterContinental Aqaba Resort. One of many metropolis’s top-rated eating places, guests flock to style their traditional flatbreads and dips, grilled lamb, contemporary seafood, and Lebanese desserts. Soak within the golden-hued ambiance of their mosaic-tiled eating room, or take pleasure in an al fresco night with sweeping sea views from the open terrace.

Friday: Uncover the Metropolis by Foot

Morning: Begin off your day with a contemporary cup of cardamom-spiced Arabic espresso to shake off any lingering jetlag. As soon as the caffeine has coursed via your veins, kick off the day with a go to to one of many metropolis’s most sought-after points of interest: Aqaba Fortress. Relationship again to the early 16th-century, the historic fortress continues to be perched alongside the shoreline of the Pink Sea. Cease by to meander via its timeworn corridors whereas studying about its storied previous.

Afternoon: Head towards city to get a greater sense of town. With a decidedly laid-back vibe, there’s by no means an actual sense of urgency in Aqaba. It’s a spot the place individuals are likely to waft. Spend a couple of hours wandering at leisure via town’s colourful downtown souqs in quest of native herbs and spices, important oils, clothes, and numerous different souvenirs. Simply don’t be shy about haggling.

Spices found in souqSpices present in souq Ian Centrone

Night: Because the day begins winding down and the solar begins to set, make a journey over to the Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque. The grand, gleaming place of worship is an icon of Aqaba, named after the emir of Mecca who proclaimed the Arab Revolt (he’s additionally the great-great-grandfather of Jordan’s present king). It’s particularly breathtaking as soon as night time has fallen and lights illuminate its putting white facade. For dinner, pay a go to to Fish Fish, a neighborhood favourite that focuses on, you guessed it, seafood.

Saturday: A Day Journey of Epic Proportions

Morning: Conveniently positioned between each Petra and Wadi Rum, Aqaba is claimed to be the third level in Jordan’s golden triangle of tourism. Benefit from town’s prime location by planning a day journey to one of many cultural icons shut at hand. Whereas there are many operators that arrange itineraries to each, your finest guess is to e book via a trusted native tour firm like Expertise Jordan. We suggest one which brings you to Al-Khazneh (The Treasury).

Afternoon: Your arrival again into Aqaba will depend upon which itinerary you wind up deciding on. However as soon as you come to town limits, take time to unwind by visiting the Hyatt’s Aqua Spa, which includes a vary of rejuvenating remedies, an outside pool, and a conventional Turkish Hammam. Or, in case you’ve nonetheless bought some steam, take into account hitting the gorgeous fairways of the Ayla Golf Membership.

Night: For a extra diversified dinner menu, take a look at Casalingo. The Italian-influenced restaurant is stacked with acquainted recipes equivalent to grilled lobster, spaghetti carbonara, and baked rack of lamb. To fulfill your sugar cravings, pop into Pistachio Sweets for dessert. The comfy outpost peddles all types of treats starting from kanafeh to baklava. Finish the night with a nightcap at InterContinental’s Martinis Lounge, which regularly options reside music and riveting stomach dancing performances.

Marina and central public beach of Eilat in Aqaba, JordanMarina and central public seashore of Eilat in Aqaba, Jordan gorsh13 / Getty Photographs

Sunday: Take in the Solar

Morning: Now that you just’ve been acquainted with Aqaba, it time to benefit from town’s infinite array of watersports. Enterprise over to the Berenice Seaside Membership, your one-stop store for all issues aquatic. Unfold over 1,600 toes of shoreline, you’ll be able to spend the morning lounging poolside or taking a dip within the sea.

Afternoon: After a low-key morning, kick issues up a notch and get your adrenaline pumping with considered one of Berenice Seaside Membership’s myriad water actions. Well-liked choices embrace yacht journeys, water snowboarding, flyboarding, parasailing, and canoeing. Due to its clear waters, Aqaba can also be a world-renowned diving vacation spot recognized for its numerous ecosystem and noteworthy marine life. Residence to just about 250 hard- and soft-coral species and roughly 1,000 species of fish, you’ll positively need to be part of a diving tour. For those who’re a newbie trying to take a coaching course or a seasoned professional, Sindbad Diving Membership can have you lined.

Night: When you’ve sufficiently soaked up the solar, there’s no higher technique to wrap up the day than with a night boat cruise on the Pink Sea. Whether or not you’re in search of a personal rental or group tour, ensure you catch considered one of Aqaba’s legendary sunsets. It’s the final merchandise to examine off your listing earlier than packing your baggage and heading residence.

People riding camels in Wadi Rum, JordanIndividuals driving camels in Wadi Rum, Jordan ibsky / Getty Photographs

Know Earlier than You Go

As an Arab nation, there are particular cultural norms vacationers ought to consider when getting ready for a go to. The Jordan Tourism Board has a full listing of helpful sources on their web site, however beneath are a couple of useful journey suggestions to bear in mind:

Contemplate your apparel. Extra conservative clothes might be appreciated. For instance, males ought to by no means stroll round shirtless in public and shorts are not often worn by males or ladies. Carry loads of free and lightweight clothes choices.

● Keep hydrated. Temperatures can skyrocket in Jordan, so you’ll want to drink a number of water and carry a reusable bottle with you (particularly if visiting websites the place clear water isn’t broadly accessible).

Not all water is potable. It’s not beneficial for guests to drink faucet water in Jordan (until specified by your lodge), however filtered water is instantly stocked in shops and eating places.

● Pack a shawl and/or hat (in addition to a number of sunscreen). It will assist preserve you cool in the course of the day, block a few of the solar’s dangerous rays, and might also turn out to be useful for girls hoping to go to spiritual websites.

Carry some money. Most lodges and bigger eating places and outlets will settle for main bank cards, nevertheless it’s all the time a good suggestion to maintain some chilly laborious money (Jordanian dinars) readily available, particularly if buying in native souqs.

Taxis are an affordable type of transportation. You may name forward or hail one from the road in Aqaba—simply you’ll want to negotiate and agree upon a fee earlier than getting in (or you might get hustled).

English-speakers are frequent. Though Arabic is the official language, English is broadly spoken (particularly in cities like Aqaba).

Drink moderately. Though yow will discover alcohol served at many eating places and lodges, public shows of drunkenness are extraordinarily frowned upon and might even lead to authorized troubles.

Test visa data earlier than arrival. Laws rely in your citizenship, the place you’re coming into from, and the way lengthy you’re staying, so you’ll want to do your analysis beforehand to keep away from any points. U.S. residents can keep updated right here.

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