Top 10 things to do in Aqaba

aqaba-jordanie

Planning a trip to Jordan? Discover the 10 best things to do in Aqaba, in the extreme south of the country!

Situated on the gulf that bears its name, opposite the Israeli resort of Eilat, Aqaba is a Jordanian city renowned for the beauty of its waterfront. It is also the only city in the country with its own port. A visit to Aqaba means discovering the ruins that bear witness to its rich past, its rich biodiversity and the aquatic activities it offers.

It is also frequently visited as the ideal starting point for an escapade in the Wadi Rum desert, on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Planning to visit Aqaba on your trip to Jordan? Take a look at our top 10 things not to miss in this beautiful city!

1. The Aqaba souk

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock – Globe Guide Media Inc.

Because any self-respecting discovery of a city in the Arab world begins with a visit to its souk, start your visit to Aqaba there. Let yourself be surprised by the many colors and smells wafting through the tiny alleyways encrusted with stalls of all kinds.

Now’s the time to do some shopping: spices, sweets, and why not some Jordanian handicrafts to bring back to your loved ones. Feeling peckish? Take advantage of the opportunity to grab a quick bite to eat.

2. Aqaba Castle

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – suronin

One of the first things you think of when visiting Aqaba is, of course, its castle, the oldest fort in the region. If you’re a fan of military history, you’ll enjoy your visit, which will be all the more rewarding if you have the luxury of being accompanied by a guide who will comment on the stones and the role of this edifice built at the beginning of the 16th century.

3. The archaeological museum

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Photo credit: Facebook – Mina Hotel Aqaba

With its four small rooms, this modest museum is one of the places to visit in Aqaba to discover the city’s heritage in depth. Retracing the Roman, Byzantine and Nabataean eras, it houses exhibits that witnessed the city’s rich trading past. Allow no more than an hour to visit this museum, admission to which is free.

4. The ruins of Ayla

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – suronin

To the north-west of the town center lie the ruins of the city once known as Ayla, during its Islamic period. Dating back to the 6th century, pillars and walls still stand, conjuring up images in the minds of curious visitors of what this important city might have looked like in those days.

The site isn’t very large, but it’s well worth the detour to get a feel for the city’s past. There are a few explanatory panels along the way, but it’s best to have a guide accompany you on your visit to Aqaba.

5. Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – suronin

As with all other mosques in Jordan, the Sharif Hussein Bin Ali Mosque in Aqaba can be visited outside prayer times. High above the city, this religious edifice, whose whiteness pierces the blue sky, is surely the most beautiful mosque in Aqaba.

It epitomizes the grandeur and splendor of Islamic architecture. Its breathtaking view over the bustle of the souk and city center contrasts with the calm and meditative atmosphere that reigns here. A must-see in Aqaba to immerse yourself in the Jordanian way of life and customs!

6. Aqaba’s public beaches

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Miroslav Orincak

One of the reasons to visit Aqaba are the long, sunny beaches stretching to the horizon. While they are not particularly suitable for swimming (for that, prefer the private beaches of the big hotels), people come here to enjoy their unrivalled ambience and to stroll along their long sandbanks.

Talk to one of the street vendors and rent a hookah, enjoy a shawarma or sip a cold drink.

7. Beaches and private clubs

Like all seaside resorts, Aqaba has a rather large number of private clubs with access to the sea. A relaxing experience that will mark a short break in your visit to Aqaba.

Le Berenice Beach Club

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Photo credit: Facebook – Berenice Beach Club

Divided into two areas, the Berenice Beach Club has access to the sea, where you can try your hand at diving, water-skiing or take a cruise to the Egyptian Island of the Pharaoh.

The second part of this vacation club-like complex features a swimming pool, a bar-restaurant and countless sun loungers. In short, if you come to Berenice Beach Club when visiting Aqaba, it’s first and foremost to relax and unwind.

Ayla Oasis

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Photo credit: Facebook – Ayla Oasis واحة أيلة

Comprising a huge golf course, several idyllic private beaches and bars and restaurants, the Ayla Oasis is a unique experience in Aqaba. A veritable village within the city, it even includes shops. You can also book excursions here, from hot-air ballooning to scuba diving – there’s never a dull moment!

8. Wildlife

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the city’s greatest unsuspected assets is its wealth of wildlife. Here are a few ideas for outings in Aqaba to admire it in all its splendour.

The ornithological observatory

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Photo credit: Facebook – Aqaba Bird Observatory مرصد طيور العقبة

This observatory is in fact an artificially created wetland that has become, in spring and autumn, one of the major rendezvous points for several species of migratory birds on their journey between Africa, Asia and Europe.

It is also home to the birds that live on Jordanian soil all the time. The observatory boasts a total of 390 species, including ducks and waders, which have a field day among the small lakes and low bushes.

The marine park

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Photo credit: Facebook – AQABA Marine Park

Stretching over 7 kilometers, the park was created in 2004 to protect the immense diversity of the coastal seabed. Around twenty dive sites are located within the park. If you plan an underwater excursion, you’ll have the chance to observe a multitude of different corals and fish.

The aquarium

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – suronin

Discover the treasures of the Red Sea with a visit to the Aqaba Aquarium! Located inside the Marine Science Station, which was founded in the 1970s to give impetus to seabed research, this aquarium will give you a good idea of the fauna you’ll have the opportunity to observe if you happen to go snorkeling or diving during your visit to Aqaba.

9. A glass-bottomed boat trip

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Free_styler

One of the most original things to do in Aqaba is probably a trip on one of its famous glass-bottomed boats. What are they?

Quite simply, it’s a small boat with a glass hull. This allows you to observe the seabed, and as luck would have it, the Aqaba seabed is astonishingly pure and rich in marine life. You’ll see many colorful fish and corals. An unforgettable experience for your stay in Jordan!

10. Jordanian specialities

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Fotokon

One of the memories of your stay that will stay with you for a long time is, of course, the sweetness of the country’s gastronomic specialities. Enjoying a typically Jordanian meal is one of the things to do in Aqaba. Largely influenced by that of its neighbors, Jordan’s delicately spiced cuisine has many faces. Here are a few emblematic specialties to try during your trip:

  • Mezzés: hot or cold starters influenced by Lebanese cuisine. You’re probably familiar with hummus, which is one of them;
  • Kebabs: Jordanians often enjoy their meat, cooked to perfection, with bread(khobz), which is one of their staple foods;
  • Baklava: it’s hard not to fall for these sweet end-of-meal treats. With almonds, pistachios and much more, we’re sure you’ll tell us all about them!

How to get to Aqaba

Aqaba airport is one of the three largest in Jordan. In other words, finding a flight to Aqaba shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re already in Jordan and want to make a detour to Aqaba, the easiest way is to rent a car. Alternatively, you can hop into a shared cab: this means of transport is both fast and inexpensive.

Last but not least, there’s a flight from Amman to Aqaba. The scenery on this route is superb, so to speak, and the fare is very reasonable. To find the best deals, don’t hesitate to use a flight comparator such as Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Aqaba?

Aqaba’s hotel offer is made up of a number of large establishments. One thing’s for sure: you’ll be well accommodated in Aqaba! To make your choice, don’t hesitate to use a hotel comparator, or you can also find accommodation on Airbnb.

In the city center, you’ll find a number of inexpensive options for sleeping in Aqaba. If you’re on a larger budget, don’t hesitate to opt for a large seaside complex: in addition to the beautiful views, you’ll find unrivalled comfort and hospitality.

So, are you clearer about your Aqaba visit schedule?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Aqaba