If you only happen to have 24 hours in Aqaba, this guide will show you the best things to do in order to make the most of your time in this scenic city. Located directly on the Red Sea, Aqaba is a picturesque city that offers both ancient sights and plenty of water-based activities including boat trips and snorkeling. With easy connections to Amman, Aqaba is an ideal destination for those who are visiting Jordan for the first time.
Your Morning in Aqaba
Rise up nice and early and get your hands on a delicious Jordanian breakfast. One of the best breakfast destinations is Al Raghadan Street which is brimming with cafes and bakeries. Expect to find freshly baked pastries including the richly sweet Baklava and Knafeh, as well as savory delicacies.
After breakfast, it will be time to start exploring this laid-back city. One of the most interesting sites in Aqaba is Aqaba Fort, also known as Aqaba Castle, and Mumluk Castle. This former Ottoman castle is set along the Dead Sea and was constructed in the early 16th century. It also played a significant role in the Arab Revolt where T.E. Lawrence defeated the Ottoman army in 1917. Close to the castle is Aqaba Archaeological Museum. Set in a former palace, this museum is an ideal way to learn more about the history of Aqaba. It is home to a large collection of artifacts that date as far back as 4,000 BC.
Lunch in Aqaba
Aqaba’s Old Town is the perfect place for exploring the city’s shops and market stalls. Meander through the winding streets and you will find plenty of restaurants for a bite to eat. Expect lots of fresh fish dishes delivered that day from the local fishermen. Mansaf is a staple Jordanian dish consisting of lamb and yogurt which you will also find in most restaurants. A dish that is also popular with the locals in Aqaba is Sayadieh – a Mediterranean rice dish that is cooked together with caramelized onion, spices, and seared fish. Enjoy.
Spending your Afternoon in Aqaba
In the afternoon it will be time to experience the coastal side of the city. Take a stroll along Palm Beach, locally known as Al-Hafaeyer. Here visitors can while away the afternoon relaxing on the beach, go for a swim in the Red Sea, or, take part in an organized activity.
The city is also famous for its dazzling array of marine life and visitors can see the beautiful coral reefs below with a spot of snorkeling or scuba diving.
If you prefer to take it easy, there are also some relaxing water-based activities including a glass bottom boat ride. These boats collect passengers from the dock near the Movenpick Hotel, or, Aqaba Castle. This is a great opportunity for families to look into the ocean without having to get wet. There are also plenty of places along the seafront to sip traditional Jordanian tea whilst gazing out towards the ocean.
Aqaba in the Evening
The best way to spend the evening on a short trip to Aqaba is to attend a local festival or event. As Aqaba is the only city in Jordan with a beachfront, it should come as no surprise that the locals here make the most of their seaside destination. Souk by the Sea is an exciting event that occurs every Friday evening in Aqaba. It boasts a vibrant festival atmosphere combined with authentic live performances and plenty of places to eat. Visit local craft stalls to find homemade gifts and souvenirs, and sit back and enjoy a programme of dancers, musicians, and other performance artists.
The event is run by the non-profit organization World Associates which aims to create opportunities for local people in Jordan. Souk by the Sra is a fun-filled evening where locals and tourists can come together and watch the sunset – a perfect way to round off your 24 hours in Aqaba.
Aqaba is a perfect base to explore Jordan’s highlights such as Petra or Wadi Rum. A lot of organized tours depart daily from Aqaba, for example, all the tours you can find here.