Thinking of visiting Jordan in the winter time because you think “It’s a desert, it’ll be nice and warm”? Well, think again.
Jordan is a country that is lucky enough to experience all 4 seasons fully, including winter, which, depending on who you ask, can either be a good thing or a bad thing!
However, don’t let the thought of a cold winter throw you off visiting Jordan in the winter, because although it can get cold, there are still plenty of things you can do.
Winter in Jordan
When you think of winter in Jordan, you may not think of cold, snow, or even Christmas (seeing as it’s a Muslim country in the middle of the Middle East)! But that’s where you’d be mistaken. Temperatures in Jordan can get pretty low starting from the month of October/November until February/March time. It has witnessed many snow days and snow fights.
It does tend to rain more than it snows, which can lead to flooding and wet socks, so do come prepared and don’t take unnecessary risks like jumping in puddles… I don’t know about you, but I, for one, dislike the feeling of wet socks or shoes.
An important fact to keep in mind during the winter in Jordan is that some of the older houses tend not to have any central heating and many households keep warm using an indoor gas heater or a “soba”. These are generally safe and can help keep you warm. Bonus tip: Buy a “farwa” to keep you extra toasty. A “farwa” is basically a big fluffy robe type thing. Trust me – Get one, they’re life savers.
What to wear
Other than the “farwa” I mentioned above? Your typical winter gear. I’m not saying be prepared for sub-zero temperatures or extreme cold, but a good warm winter jacket and waterproof boots won’t go a miss. Although older houses can be cold, cafés and restaurants do tend to keep their venues nice warm to entice people in to warm up with a nice cup of Arabic tea with mint or a Jordanian winter favourite – “sahlab”.
More on “sahlab” later.
So, since you’ll be cold outside and warm inside certain places, I would recommend a tip my mother always gave me – Layer Up! It’s an easy way to stay warm and, if you feel too toasty, there’s nothing easier than just removing a layer or two.
Like many hot countries, the summer tends to be the high season in Jordan which means winter is the low season (obviously). So there’s always a bargain or two you can get for braving the cold-ish Jordanian winter.
Most tourist places do tend to stay open during the winter time (unless the weather is really really bad), so you can always find a good deal for your buck while not missing out on any attractions.
Hotel rates are lower than usual and you can usually strike a deal with merchants or tour operators since business would be slow and they’d be more willing to take what they can get.
Winter foods and drinks
Since I mentioned it before, let’s start with “sahlab”. This drink is a favourite amongst Jordanians during the winter time. Sahlab is a delicious creamy and fluffy drink made by stirring milk with sugar and the sahlab powder, which is extracted from a flower. The best part? You get to add a topping. The most traditional toppings that you can get are cinnamon, nuts, raisins or coconut.
When it comes to food, luckily most Jordanian dishes are eaten all year round with extra delicious “bonus foods” that tend to pop up during the winter time.
Lentil soup is a crowd favourite; served with a wedge of lemon and some deep fried bread or croutons, it is sure to keep you satisfied and feeling warm inside.
Winter or not, you have to try the local dish which is “mansaf”. It’s rice, served with lamb meat that you pour some yogurt-type sauce on, otherwise known as “jameed”, with a sprinkle if roasted almonds and pine nuts that add a delicious crunch to every bite.
Other dishes to try would be “mulukhiyeh”, “galayat bandora”, “zerb”, “waraq dawali”, and many many more.
Best outdoor winter spots
Although most attractions tend to stay open in the winter time (depending on how bad the weather is… or isn’t), there are places that are worth visiting.
- The Dead Sea: Due to the Dead Sea being the lowest point on earth and tends to have a desert-like climate, you can visit it at any time of the year and, yes, you can go into the sea and float on the surface since the water is so buoyant due to the salt.
- Ma’in Hot Springs: What could be better than sitting in natural hot springs when it’s cold outside? You can make that experience a reality by visiting the hot springs during the winter in Jordan. Nestled between mountains, you can take a dip in natural formed rock pools and relax in the hot waters flowing in from the springs around you… Bliss.
- Aqaba: The Red Sea calls your name during the winter time. Temperatures tend to be higher than in the capital, Amman, and if you’re a fan of snorkelling or scuba diving, then Aqaba is a must visit for you (even during the winter months). With some excellent diving spots and beautiful coral reefs, you wouldn’t want to miss a couple of days down by the Jordanian seaside.
- Jerash and Ajloun: Weather permitting – Jerash and Ajloun Castle are not to be missed. One of the best kept Roman ruins in the world can be found in Jerash. Walk around the walled Greco-Roman settlement of Gerasa and take it all in before heading to Ajloun castle; a monumental structure to behold and walk around. After that, you can visit the Soap House also located in Ajloun where local women use locally grown ingredients to make health-promoting soaps.
- Madaba and Mount Nebo: A short drive from Amman, Mount Nebo and Madaba are worth the visit. At the top of Mount Nebo, you will find a church that was built in the second half of the 4th century to commemorate the place where Moses (PBUH) was put to rest. As well as the small church, you will find some of Jordan’s best kept mosaics which will definitely make you awe in disbelief of their beauty. Madaba is an ancient town in close proximity to Mount Nebo and houses the mosaic-rich church of the Virgin Mary as well as various other mosaic pieces around town. It is also just a cute little town to walk around its little narrow streets browsing its market places in one of Jordan’s friendliest towns.
If those outdoor options didn’t make you itch in your wellies to come, then not much will. 😉
Best indoor winter spots
If you’re not a fan of being caught in the cold outdoors and prefer indoor activities during winter, then do not fret… There are plenty of things to do indoors, too.
If you’re spending time in Amman during the winter, then there are plenty of options for you…
- The Automobile Museum: This place is a crowd pleaser with lots of vintage cars which belonged to the late King Hussein.
- TIRAZ Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress: A beautiful experience as you get to see traditional clothing and what they mean or represent. Each piece has a story to tell and a part of the culture to unfold.
- Art Galleries: There are a number of Art Galleries scattered around Amman, most can be found in Jabal Amman and Jabal Lweibdeh. The ones definitely worth visiting are The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Darat Al Funun, Foresigh32 Art Gallery, Orfali Gallery, Orient Gallery, and Dar Al-Anada.
- Turkish Baths: A favourite past-time during the winter time is to visit a Turkish Bath or “Hammam”. What’s better than staying warm indoors with a jacquzzi, steam room, sauna, as well as getting all the dead skin you’ve collected during the summer with a nice scrub followed by a massage? The answer – Not much. If that sounds lgood to you, there are a few options for you to choose from… Al-Pasha, Alf Layla wa Layla, Gaia’s Cocoon Spa, and Deniz Bath and Spa.
- The Blue Mosque (The King Abdulla Mosque): Allowing people of all faiths to visit and located in the heart of Amman, the “Blue Mosque” is worth the visit, with its beautiful blue mosaic dome as well as its Turkish influence in the architecture.
- Duke’s Diwan: Located in the oldest home in Amman, the Duke’s Diwan houses difference pieces of Amman’s history dating back from when the house was built in 1924. You can usually meet the duke himself when visiting the diwan, who will tell you stories of Amman that you could listen to for ages. If he isn’t there when you visit, then the house itself will tell you stories… Just listen.
Yes, yes… How come we didn’t mention Petra in the outdoors section of this blog? Well, the answer is – Because it’s Petra and deserves its own section in the blog. Don’t you agree? Of course you do.
As one of the 7 Wonders of the World, Petra is definitely worth braving the cold to see.
For one, walking around looking at the Rose City will get your blood pumping and will keep you warm. Once you’re done, there are a number of things for you to do…
The Cave Bar claims to be the “oldest bar in the world”. Nestled in a Nabataean rock tomb dating 2,000 years, this hot spot is definitely worth the visit to get a drink and get cosy.
Like mentioned before in the “indoor activities”, Turkish Baths are a great escape from the cold and there are a couple available to visit in Petra – Al Yakhour Turkish Bath and the Nabataean Turkish Bath are the two recommended to visit. And, of course, trying out local food never goes amiss anywhere in Jordan, and Petra is not different. With many restaurants to choose from, it could be difficult to choose where to go, so I would suggest either Al-Wadi Restaurant or Reem Beladi.
If you would like to divulge in cultural activities and have a meal with local families, then you can get in touch with us (Zaman Tours) and we can make it all your Petra dreams come true.
Places to eat
People always leave Jordan praising the food it has to offer… So, here is a list of the favourites:
- Shams Al Balad
- Al Quds Falafel
- Beit Sitti
- Abu Jbara
- Abu Musbah
- Kit Kat
- Bourj Al Hamam
- Karam Beirut
- Al Usra
- … And much much more.
Places to avoid
Although temperatures and weather conditions are usually okay, there is always risk or flooding in some areas which you should potentially try and avoid. Visiting wadis and canyons during the winter in Jordan is not advisable as they do tend to flood and are prone to sudden flash floods.
Always keep an eye out for possible dangers due to the weather and, when in doubt, ask locals for advice.
If you want to visit places further up North, do bear in mind that temperatures tend to be a good few degrees colder and so extra precautions should be taken for your trips.
Always check weather forecasts and call the hotel or place you’ll be visiting to check that everything is okay for you to visit before you actually visit.
Here to make your life easier
Of course, getting a planned itinerary for your visit is always less hassle (especially in the wintertime when all you can think of is staying warm), and doing it with a trusted local tour agency isn’t a bad idea. Zaman Tours will make sure you have a magical winter break in Jordan, taking care of everything you need and ensuring you leave Jordan with a big smile on your face.
As the Jordanians say to welcome visitors in all seasons… Ahlan wa sahlan.