City Guide: One Day in Aqaba
Aqaba is a holiday spot for Jordanians and international tourists alike, and retains the atmosphere of a resort town with pleasant temperatures year-round. Located on the southern tip of Jordan, it’s possible to look out over the water and see both Israeli and Egyptian shores. International travelers don’t typically spend more than a day here as there’s not too much to see in terms of historical attractions, unless they plan to spend some time scuba diving in the crystal clear water that’s home to some of the finest coral in the world. For us, strolling on the beach, visiting the castle and eating a couple of great meals made for a perfect day in Aqaba.
The BeachA stroll along the garden-lined beach in the late afternoon was a great way to unwind from a full day of travel, as we had taken the bus from Jerusalem and crossed the border into Aqaba from Eilat. Mostly local families picnicked under the trees while the children swam, and glass bottomed boats waited to take tourists out to see the coral. Be sure to drop into the nearby Al-Sharif Al-Hussein bin Ali Mosque, if you’re properly dressed for a visit.
The beach is lined with plenty of restaurants that cater to tourists. We thoroughly enjoyed the food and service at Ali Baba Restaurant on one of the main street corners. That night, we had a late dinner at Lebnani Snack, a fast-food joint that had a huge menu with everything from burgers and pizza to healthy smoothies and enormous fruit cups. Both restaurants were located within walking distance from the beach and from the Doubletree Hotel where we stayed.
Aqaba CastleSaturday–Thursday: 8am–4pm
Entry: 1JD (included in the Jordan Pass)
The castle was built in the early 1500’s by the Mamluks, but was most famously the scene of a great victory for the Arab Revolt in 1916, which you may remember from Lawrence of Arabia. It is located very near the beach and the enormous flag which you can see from all over the city. You can purchase a ticket at the nearby Archaeological museum, which houses a few rooms of ancient artifacts, but entry to both the fort and the museum are included with the Jordan Pass.
Our time in Aqaba was short, but the relaxed atmosphere of the beach made for a pleasant day and left us wishing for more time to explore the city. Aqaba makes a good base for exploring the nearby Wadi Araba desert on your way to Petra, and if you’re a diver, you’ll definitely want spend a few days here to enjoy the incredible coral reefs. Read more about our trip to Jordan and get inspired for your own trip here: