Aqaba is a year-round resort that has something to offer for everyone, and is a popular destination amongst all age groups. This seaside city is blessed with great weather throughout the year; hot and breezy in summer, warm and pleasant in winter.
Just about every activity a tourist could hope to experience is available. Whether it is the exciting water sports in Aqaba like sailing and diving or immersing desert activities from camel safaris to Bedouin weddings or explorations in Petra…it’s all here in this desert oasis.
Aqaba’s underwater life features some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, with a marine ecosystem that comprises more than 140 species of corals and countless varieties of brightly colored fish, some unique only to the region.
If you are looking for a taste of the rich Arabic culture and heritage, you will certainly find it here, in the melodic call of the surrounding mosques, the tempting aromas wafting from local restaurants, and the enchanting Arabic music heard around every street corner.
For the history enthusiast, Aqaba has sites reflecting human existence in the area that dates back at least 6000 years, a result of Aqaba’s strategic location at the junction of land and sea routes linking Asia, Africa and Europe. There are sites that date back to 3900 B.C Late Chalcolithic – Early Bronze like Tell Hujayrat Al-Ghuzlan and Tell Megass. A special site of interest among the ancient and medieval archaeological sites are the newly discovered site of what is thought to be the oldest church in the world, the early Islamic city called Ayla, a Mamluk Fort and a little known museum which used to be the home of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, the great grand-father of King Abdullah II.
A two hour drive north of Aqaba takes you to the world renowned rose-red city of Petra which is nominated to be one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
Petra is the legacy of the Nabataeans, an industrious Arab civilization who settled in the south of Jordan more than 2,000 years ago. From a remote staging post, they dominated the trade routes of ancient Arabia, levying tolls and sheltering caravans laden with Indian spices and silks and African ivory and animal hides.
In addition to being accomplished traders, the Nabataeans were noted for their skills in architecture and hydraulic engineering. They carved magnificent tombs directly into the rose-colored sandstone cliffs and built thousands of other structures including temples, burial chambers, theaters, shops, and houses.
Engineers developed and maintained an elaborate network of terraces, damns, and irrigation channels that allowed the Nabataeans to cultivate the soil of the surrounding plateau and bring running water into the city. At the height of its prosperity, Petra was home to a diverse population of over 20,000 people.
In 1812, a Swiss traveler named Johann Ludwig Burckhardt persuaded his guide to take him to the site of the rumored lost city. Secretly making notes and sketches, he wrote, „It seems very probable that the ruins at Wadi Musa are those of the ancient Petra“.
A forty minute drive leads you to the magical desert expanse and majestic mountains of Wadi Rum.
Famously described by T.E. Lawrence as „vast, echoing and Godlike“ and often deemed to be one of the most stunning deserts landscapes in the world, Wadi Rum is a nature-lover’s paradise.
Wadi Rum’s beauty can only be described as breathtaking. One of Jordan’s main tourist attractions, the area is spotted with fascinating yellow, white, red and brown sandstone mountains that are cut by wide canyons and unique colorfully decorated geological formations. The landscape is also distinct for its natural delicate arches and bridges, and the mushroom-shaped rock configurations carved and shaped naturally by years of wind and erosion.
Wadi Rum holds fauna and flora both rare and endemic. A greater emphasis has been placed on the Wadi’s fauna after a baseline survey detected the existence of the Ibex, Gray Wolf, Bland ford’s Fox, the rare Red Fox, and the Sand Cat within, poppies and the striking Black Iris Jordan’s national flower. Rare species of small plants and herbs can be found by the inquisitive traveler. All grow at will by the roadside and in more quiet reaches. Plants used as herbal medicinal cures by the Bedouins for centuries are found in the mountainous regions.
The several Bedouin tribes that live in Wadi Rum play an impacting role on its beauty. Although some now live in concrete homes, the majority still dress in their distinctive attire and hold on to their traditions, by leading a nomadic lifestyle in the summer, raising camels and goats and drinking their milk , as well as weaving tents from goat hair in which they dwell in during the summer.
Many travelers find a shared meal or coffee with the Bedouin to be their most memorable experience.
The natural beauty of Aqaba, where mountains meet both sea and desert, is a unique attraction in itself, displaying magical shades of red with each sunset, while the blue sea sparkles constantly, hiding beneath it some of the most colorful marine life in the Red Sea.
Local restaurants offer various specialties of Arabic and international cuisine. A downtown Souk area, in addition to a number of modern malls and shopping centers offer plenty of shopping options, and the best part is that it’s all tax-free!
Aqaba is also an ideal location for international conventions. The city offers the ideal combination of business, culture, entertainment and fun. This unique destination comprises breathtaking sights, high-standard accommodation, exquisite cuisine and countless activities. Its top hotels are fully equipped with the latest facilities, including large, multi-purpose halls, advanced audio-visual equipment, and private meeting rooms that provide an ideal venue for holding corporate meetings, conferences, retreats and seminars, complemented by an interesting and exciting experience.
So, whether here for business or pleasure, there is plenty to do and so much to see, it’s guaranteed to keep the boredom at bay; and all at very affordable prices!
Aqaba is one of those wonderful places that leave lasting memories and tempt you back time and again. It is truly a tourist haven; an oasis in the desert, and so much beyond that. Start planning your visit for some sun, fun and relaxation in this unique oasis, and come create your memories here in the ancient land of Aqaba.