Here we reveal the 10 Best Things to do in Aqaba. Jordan’s only coastal city, Aqaba lies in the far south of the country, on the gulf that takes its name. Dating back thousands of years, it’s full of historic and natural attractions. The ‘Bride of the Red Sea’ is close to a number of other incredible attractions. Try our 2-day tour of Petra, Wadi Rum, and Eilat to explore some of the best things to do nearby!
1. Aqaba Castle
Also known as Mamluk Fort, this castle incorporates a huge amount of history. Built by Christian crusaders in the 1100s, it was destroyed by Saladin and rebuilt by the Mamluk dynasty in the 1500s. Later, in 1917, it was pivotal in the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, made famous by Lawrence of Arabia. Just seek out the 130-metre flagpole adjacent if you’re having trouble finding it.
2. Souks in Aqaba
A busy port for centuries, Aqaba’s traders certainly known how to bargain. A stroll through the city’s many souks, or markets, is a must. Divided by type, you’ll find local fruits and vegetables around Raghadan Street, and the rich aroma of heaped spices around Zaharan Street. For mementos, head to the Friday night Souk by the Sea, which has all manner of items handcrafted by local artists.
3. Marine Park
No one should visit the Red Sea without slipping into its warm clear waters with a snorkel or aqualung. Aqaba is the prefect destination to do this. Stunning corals and more than a thousand species of fish mean there’s always something more to see. Dive sites are both natural, such as the Japanese Garden (a favorite with turtles), and man-made, including the Taiyong Wreck.
4. Archaeology Museum
The Archaeology Museum is opposite the castle. It occupies the former residence of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, King of the Hejaz (part of modern-day Saudi Arabia). Its collections cover some 6,000 years of continuous habitation. Look out for the bronze age Lady of Aqaba, and early Islamic inscriptions from the ninth century AD.
5. Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque
Though only constructed in 1975, this active place of worship is a wonderful example of traditional Islamic architecture. Its gleaming white stone is intricately carved amid arched doorways and onion domes. Outside of prayer times, visitors can walk through its colonnaded marble courtyards to take in the spectacle close up.
6. Aqaba Corniche
Running along the seafront, King Hussein Street is a popular place to come for a stroll. This is particularly true in the early evening when the sun begins to set. It is lined with restaurants and bars and cafes, and provides a real insight into life in the city.
7. Ruins of Ayla
In close proximity to Aqaba’s main hotel district, Ayla was the first Islamic city built outside the Arabian Peninsula. Dating to around 650 AD, it was only rediscovered in 1989. An important stop en route to Mecca, its ruins include the city walls 2.5 meters thick, gateways, and a mosque.
8. Al-Hafayer Beach
Parallel to King Hussein Street, Al-Hafayer Beach (or Palm Beach has it has become known), is a good expanse of golden sand. However, it’s better known for the relaxed ambience of its surrounding cafes. For time on the sands, head instead to Berenice Beach Club. It has three pools and diving center, in addition to a private beach.
9. Bird Observatory
Close to the border with Eilat, Aqaba Bird Observatory boasts man-made wetlands and forests. They welcome birds flying in on their migrations from Europe, Africa, and Asia. Even if you’re not a natural bird watcher, the chatter and movement of 400 different species soon becomes absorbing.
10. Wadi Rum
While not in Aqaba, we couldn’t end a list of the 10 things to do in Aqaba without Wadi Rum. Tours to this sandstone and granite valley 60 kilometers away are a real treat for anyone who adores desert landscapes. Our 3 day Petra and Wadi Rum tour is the perfect way to explore this famous region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to the Zalabieh tribe, who help organize everything from camel caravans to jeep safaris.
Adventure in Aqaba
Make the most of your time in Aqaba by using our tips for the 10 best things to do in Aqaba. That way you won’t miss a thing! Learn more about the city with our info on Aqaba.