Aqaba: What to See in Jordan’s Coastal City

If you’re planning a trip to Jordan, you won’t want to miss Aqaba. This beautiful city is located on the Red Sea and offers visitors a unique combination of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient ruins, relaxing on the beach, or experiencing the local cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Aqaba.

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One of the top things to see in Aqaba is the Mamluk Castle, also known as the Aqaba Fortress. This historic castle played an important role in the Arab revolt and is now open to visitors. You can explore the entire two-story structure, including the stables, prison, and execution room. Another must-see attraction is the Ayla Ruins, an ancient city located by the port. Although it’s now just a collection of ruins and excavations, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past.

If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing, head to the Aqaba Promenade. This 1.8-mile beachfront walkway is the perfect place to take a morning or sunset stroll. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants, as well as stalls selling local goods. And of course, no trip to Aqaba would be complete without spending some time on the beach. With crystal-clear waters and soft sand, it’s the perfect place to unwind and soak up the sun.

Historical Landmarks

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If you’re interested in history, Aqaba has several historical landmarks that you should visit. Here are two of the most significant ones:

Aqaba Fortress

The Aqaba Fortress is a historical site that dates back to the Mamluk period. It was built in the 16th century to protect the city from invaders. The fortress is located in the centre of the city and is easily accessible. It is a well-preserved structure that offers visitors an insight into the city’s rich history. Inside the fortress, you’ll find a museum that displays artefacts from the Mamluk period.

Aqaba Archaeological Museum

The Aqaba Archaeological Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. The museum is located in the heart of the city and houses a collection of artefacts from the Bronze Age to the Islamic period. The museum’s exhibits include pottery, coins, and jewellery, among other items. The museum also has a section dedicated to the Islamic period, which features artefacts from the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.

Overall, Aqaba has a rich history that is worth exploring. The Aqaba Fortress and the Aqaba Archaeological Museum are just two of the many historical landmarks that you can visit. Make sure to add them to your itinerary if you’re interested in learning more about the city’s past.

Natural Attractions

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Aqaba is home to some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Jordan. From the stunning Red Sea reefs to the breathtaking Wadi Rum desert, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Red Sea Reefs

The Red Sea is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. A visit to Aqaba is not complete without exploring the Red Sea reefs. You can take a snorkeling or scuba diving trip to discover the underwater world and see colourful corals, exotic fish, and even sea turtles. There are many tour operators in Aqaba that offer diving and snorkeling trips, so you can choose the one that suits your needs and budget.

Wadi Rum

Located just a short drive from Aqaba, Wadi Rum is a must-see natural attraction. The desert landscape is simply breathtaking, with towering sandstone mountains and vast open spaces. You can take a jeep tour to explore the area and see the famous rock formations, such as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. You can also go hiking or camping in Wadi Rum to experience the beauty of the desert up close.

Overall, Aqaba is a destination that offers a unique combination of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Whether you are a nature lover or a history buff, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful city.

Beaches and Water Activities

Aqaba features a long stretch of beautiful coastline with several public beaches that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Here are some of the best beaches in Aqaba:

Public Beach

The Public Beach is located in the heart of Aqaba and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The beach is free to access and offers stunning views of the Red Sea. The beach is equipped with showers, toilets and changing rooms. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas for a small fee. The beach is perfect for families with children as the water is shallow and calm.

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Aqaba is famous for its clear waters and rich marine life, making it a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The Aqaba Marine Park is home to over 130 species of coral and more than 1,000 species of fish, making it a paradise for underwater enthusiasts. There are several dive centres in Aqaba that offer courses and equipment rental for both beginners and experienced divers.

If you prefer snorkelling, you can rent equipment and explore the coral reefs near the shore. Some of the best snorkelling spots in Aqaba include South Beach and the Japanese Garden. Keep in mind that some areas are protected, so make sure to follow the rules and regulations to help preserve the marine ecosystem.

Overall, Aqaba is a great place to enjoy the sun, sand and sea. Whether you prefer lounging on the beach or exploring the underwater world, there is something for everyone in this beautiful coastal city.

Shopping Destinations

If you are looking for a shopping experience in Aqaba, you will not be disappointed. The city has a variety of shopping destinations to choose from. Here are two shopping destinations that you should definitely check out.

Local Souks

One of the best places to shop in Aqaba is the local souks. These traditional markets offer a unique shopping experience where you can find everything from spices, clothing, jewellery, and souvenirs. You can haggle with the shopkeepers to get the best prices and experience the local culture.

The Souk by the Sea is a popular local souk in Aqaba. Here, you can find a variety of traditional handicrafts, such as woven baskets, pottery, and jewellery. The market is located near the Aqaba Fort and is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm.

Aqaba Duty Free

If you are looking for duty-free shopping, then Aqaba Duty Free is the place for you. Here, you can find a variety of international brands at tax-free prices. The duty-free store is located at the King Hussein International Airport and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At Aqaba Duty Free, you can find a variety of products, such as perfumes, cosmetics, electronics, and alcohol. The store offers a convenient and hassle-free shopping experience, with knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect product.

Overall, Aqaba is a great destination for shopping enthusiasts. Whether you are looking for traditional souvenirs or international brands, you will find something to suit your taste and budget.

Cuisine and Dining

When it comes to cuisine and dining in Aqaba, you will not be disappointed. The city offers a variety of traditional eateries and seafood restaurants that are sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Traditional Eateries

If you are looking for a traditional meal, be sure to check out Al Shami Restaurant, Alibaba Restaurant, and Syrian Palace Restaurant. These restaurants offer a range of Middle Eastern and Arabic cuisine, including dishes such as hummus, fish, and salad. They are also known for their welcoming atmosphere and friendly service.

Seafood Restaurants

Aqaba is famous for its fresh seafood, and there are plenty of restaurants that offer a variety of seafood dishes. One of the best seafood restaurants in Aqaba is Floka Restaurant, which specializes in seafood and traditional cuisine. They change their recipes regularly, ensuring that their cuisine is always interesting and original.

Rovers Return is another popular option in Aqaba for those who are looking for a bar that serves food. They offer cheaper prices than most hotel bars and serve a range of dishes, including seafood.

Overall, Aqaba has a lot to offer when it comes to cuisine and dining. Whether you are looking for traditional Middle Eastern cuisine or fresh seafood, you are sure to find something that will satisfy your taste buds.

Cultural Experiences

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When visiting Aqaba, be sure to immerse yourself in the local culture by experiencing some of the city’s unique cultural events and traditions.

Local Festivals

Aqaba hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, showcasing the city’s rich cultural heritage. One such festival is the Aqaba Carnival, which takes place every summer and features parades, live music, and traditional dance performances. Another popular festival is the Red Sea Winter Jazz Festival, which attracts jazz enthusiasts from around the world.

Bedouin Culture

Aqaba is also home to a vibrant Bedouin community, and visitors can learn about their traditional way of life through a variety of cultural experiences. Take a guided tour of a Bedouin village to learn about their customs and traditions, or attend a traditional Bedouin dinner to sample their delicious cuisine.

You can also visit the Aqaba Fort, which was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and later restored by the Mamluks. The fort provides a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history and culture, and features a museum showcasing traditional Bedouin artefacts and crafts.

Overall, Aqaba offers a wide range of cultural experiences that are sure to enrich your visit to this beautiful city.

Adventure and Sports

Desert Safaris

Aqaba is surrounded by the stunning desert landscape of Wadi Rum, which makes it an ideal place for desert safaris. You can book a guided tour or rent a 4×4 and explore the desert on your own. During the safari, you will have the opportunity to see the unique rock formations and stunning landscapes. You can also take a camel ride and experience the Bedouin culture by visiting a traditional Bedouin camp.

Water Sports

Aqaba is located on the Red Sea, which is known for its clear waters and diverse marine life. It is a perfect place for water sports enthusiasts. You can choose from a variety of water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing. The Aqaba Marine Park is a great place to explore the underwater world. It is home to a variety of colourful fish, corals, and other marine creatures. If you are a beginner, you can take a course at one of the many diving schools in Aqaba.

Whether you are an adventure seeker or a water sports enthusiast, Aqaba has something for everyone. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the stunning desert landscape or the underwater world of the Red Sea.

Modern Attractions

If you’re looking for modern attractions in Aqaba, you won’t be disappointed. From waterparks to luxury resorts, there’s something for everyone.

Ayla Oasis

One of the most exciting new developments in Aqaba is the Ayla Oasis. This is a large-scale development that includes residential properties, a marina, a golf course, and a range of other amenities. It’s a great place to visit if you want to see some of the latest modern architecture in the city. The Ayla Oasis is also home to a range of restaurants and cafes, so it’s a good place to stop for a bite to eat.

Saraya Aqaba Waterpark

If you’re travelling with children, the Saraya Aqaba Waterpark is a must-visit attraction. This is a large waterpark with a range of different rides and attractions. There are plenty of areas for younger children to play, as well as more thrilling rides for older children and adults. The waterpark is located close to the beach, so you can easily combine a visit to the waterpark with a day at the beach.

Overall, Aqaba has a good mix of modern attractions and historical sites, so you can easily spend a few days exploring everything the city has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the top attractions to visit in Aqaba?

Aqaba is a vibrant city with a lot to offer. Some of the top attractions include Aqaba Castle, the Aqaba Marine Park, the Japanese Garden, and the Aqaba Museum. You can also enjoy a stroll along the Corniche, a beautiful promenade that runs along the Red Sea coast.

Can you recommend activities for a day trip in Aqaba?

If you’re short on time, you can still enjoy many of Aqaba’s attractions in a day. A great way to spend your day is by exploring the Aqaba Marine Park, where you can go snorkelling or scuba diving. You can also visit the Aqaba Castle and the Aqaba Museum to learn more about the history and culture of the city.

What are the best experiences in Aqaba after dark?

Aqaba has a lively nightlife scene, with many bars and restaurants open late into the night. You can enjoy a delicious seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants on the Corniche, or head to one of the bars for a drink and some live music.

Are there any cost-free attractions to enjoy in Aqaba?

Yes, there are several cost-free attractions in Aqaba that you can enjoy. You can take a stroll along the Corniche and enjoy the beautiful views of the Red Sea. You can also visit the Aqaba Museum, which is free for visitors.

What makes Aqaba a unique destination in Jordan?

Aqaba is the only coastal city in Jordan, making it a unique destination for travelers looking to enjoy the beach and the sea. The city is also home to several historical and cultural attractions, making it a great destination for history buffs.

How much time is typically recommended to explore Aqaba?

To fully explore Aqaba and its attractions, it is recommended to spend at least two to three days in the city. This will give you enough time to visit the top attractions, enjoy the beach, and experience the local culture and cuisine.

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