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The Best of Aqaba City: A Guide to Jordan's Red Sea Coast

Jul 24

Welcome to the fascinating city of Aqaba, located on Jordan's Red Sea coast.

Known for its stunning snorkelling and scuba diving sites, Aqaba offers a wealth of experiences for visitors. From its rich history to its vibrant culture, this coastal gem is a must-visit destination.

This guide will explore the best things to do in Aqaba, where to stay, and where to indulge in the local cuisine. So buckle up and get ready to uncover the treasures of Aqaba's Red Sea coast.


Overview of Aqaba City and its Significance as a tourist destination

Welcome to Aqaba City, a picturesque tourist destination along Jordan's Red Sea coastline. Aqaba is a vibrant city that offers a unique blend of stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and a range of exciting activities for visitors to enjoy.

One of the main highlights of Aqaba is its pristine beaches, which boast crystal-clear turquoise waters and soft sandy shores. Visitors can soak up the sun, swim in the refreshing waters, or unwind and relax amidst the beautiful scenery.

For adventure enthusiasts, Aqaba offers many watersports activities, including snorkelling, scuba diving, jet skiing, and parasailing. The Red Sea is renowned for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, providing an unforgettable underwater experience for divers and snorkelers.

In addition to its natural beauty, Aqaba is steeped in history and culture. The city is home to the impressive Aqaba Fort, a 14th-century fortress that offers panoramic views of the city and the Red Sea. The Aqaba Archaeological Museum is another must-visit attraction, showcasing artefacts from various historical periods, including the Bronze and Islamic Ages.

No visit to Aqaba is complete without exploring the ancient ruins of Ayla, an important trading port dating back to the 7th century. These ruins offer a glimpse into Aqaba's rich history and the trade routes that once passed through the city.

Aqaba is also a haven for shopaholics, with its vibrant local markets offering a wide range of handicrafts, spices, and traditional Jordanian souvenirs. For a more modern shopping experience, visit the city's malls to find international brands and luxury goods.

Food lovers will also be spoilt for choice in Aqaba, with numerous restaurants offering a variety of cuisines ranging from traditional Jordanian dishes to international favourites. Whether you're craving fresh seafood or Middle Eastern delicacies, Aqaba has something to satisfy every palate.

Aqaba City is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural diversity. Aqaba has it all, whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or an immersive cultural experience. Plan your visit to this enchanting city and embark on an unforgettable journey along Jordan's Red Sea coast.


Exploring Aqaba's Beaches and Watersports

The stunning beaches of Aqaba

Aqaba City, located in Jordan, offers visitors stunning beaches, a major tourist attraction. The city boasts a coastline along the Red Sea, which provides picturesque views and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and various water activities. Some of the best beaches in Aqaba include:

  1. South Beach: This sandy beach is popular among locals and tourists alike. It offers calm waters and a relaxed atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for families and those seeking a peaceful beach experience.

  2. Tala Bay Beach: Located in the luxurious Tala Bay Resort, this beach offers a pristine stretch of sand and turquoise waters. Visitors can enjoy various water sports activities, including jet skiing, paddleboarding, and windsurfing.

  3. Coral Beach: As the name suggests, this beach is known for its vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Snorkelers and scuba divers flock to this beach to explore the underwater wonders of the Red Sea.

  4. Al-Kerak Beach: Situated north of Aqaba, Al-Kerak Beach offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city. The beach is surrounded by lush greenery, soft sand, and clear waters.

Whether you're looking to relax under the sun or indulge in various water activities, Aqaba's stunning beaches offer something for everyone seeking a beachside retreat.


Popular watersports activities in Aqaba

Aqaba, located on Jordan's Red Sea coast, offers a plethora of watersports activities for visitors seeking adventure and excitement. From snorkeling and diving to sailing and jet skiing, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this stunning coastal city.

Popular watersports activities in Aqaba:

  1. Snorkelling: Explore the vibrant coral reefs and colourful marine life of the Red Sea. Popular snorkelling spots include the South Beach and the Japanese Gardens.

  2. Diving: Discover the underwater wonders of Aqaba with its clear waters and diverse marine ecosystem. Dive sites such as the Cedar Pride Wreck and the Tank Dive attract diving enthusiasts worldwide.

  3. Jet Skiing: Feel the thrill of speeding across the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea on a jet ski. Rental facilities are available along the beaches, allowing visitors to experience the adrenaline rush of this exhilarating activity.

  4. Parasailing: Get a bird's-eye view of Aqaba's stunning coastline as you soar through the sky while attached to a parachute. Parasailing is a popular activity that offers breathtaking views of the city and the Red Sea.

  5. Sailing: Embark on a sailing adventure and cruise along the coast of Aqaba. Enjoy the gentle breeze and the beautiful scenery as you relax on a sailboat or a yacht.

With its warm waters and picturesque coastline, Aqaba is the ideal destination for watersports enthusiasts looking for an unforgettable experience.


Snorkelling and diving opportunities in the Red Sea

Aqaba, located on the Red Sea coast of Jordan, offers breathtaking snorkelling and diving opportunities for beginners and experienced divers. The crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea are home to a diverse array of marine life, making it a paradise for underwater adventurers.

Here are some highlights of snorkelling and diving in the Red Sea:

  1. Colourful Coral Reefs: The Red Sea is renowned for its vibrant and intact coral reefs, teeming with various underwater creatures. Divers and snorkelers can explore these stunning underwater ecosystems and witness the beauty of the intricate coral formations.

  2. Rich Marine Life: The Red Sea is home to over 1,200 fish species, including colourful reef fish, dolphins, turtles, and even the occasional reef shark. Snorkelers and divers can encounter these fascinating creatures up close and personal, creating unforgettable underwater experiences.

  3. Wreck Diving: Aqaba is known for its captivating shipwrecks, which have become artificial reefs and are now home to a wide diversity of marine life. Exploring these wrecks provides a unique glimpse into the history and stories behind these sunken vessels.

  4. Dive Sites: Aqaba offers a range of dive sites suitable for all experience levels. From shallow coral gardens for snorkelers to intricate underwater caves and drop-offs for advanced divers, there is something for everyone.

Whether you're a snorkeler or a certified diver, the Red Sea offers a world-class underwater experience. The warm waters, vibrant marine life, and breathtaking coral reefs make Aqaba a must-visit destination for any ocean lover.


Discovering Aqaba's Historical Sites

The history and culture of Aqaba

Aqaba City, located on Jordan's Red Sea coast, has a rich history and vibrant culture that captivates visitors worldwide. With its strategic location at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, Aqaba has been inhabited for thousands of years, leaving behind a treasure trove of archaeological sites and cultural landmarks.

One must-visit attraction in Aqaba is the Aqaba Fort, also known as Mamluk Fort. This historic fortress dates back to the 14th century and offers panoramic views of the city and the Red Sea. Visitors can explore exhibits on the history of Aqaba and the region inside the fort.

Another cultural gem in Aqaba is the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. This museum houses a collection of artefacts that showcase the city's historical significance, including ceramics, pottery, and sculptures from different periods.

Visiting the vibrant local markets is a must for those interested in experiencing local traditions and customs. The Souk by the Sea and the Aqaba Heritage Village offer a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture, with traditional handicrafts, spices, and colourful textiles on display.

Aqaba's rich history and vibrant culture make it a captivating destination for travellers seeking to delve into Jordan's heritage. From archaeological sites to bustling markets, there's something for everyone to explore and enjoy in this enchanting city.


Exploring Aqaba Fort and Aqaba Archaeological Museum

Exploring Aqaba Fort and Aqaba Archaeological Museum is a must-do when visiting Aqaba City. Aqaba Fort, also known as Mamluk Castle, is a historic fortress that dates back to the 14th century. It stands majestically on a hilltop overlooking the city and offers panoramic views of the Red Sea. The fort is a remarkable example of Islamic architecture, with its impressive stone walls and towers.

Visitors can explore the various rooms and corridors converted into exhibition spaces inside the fort. These spaces showcase a collection of historical artefacts, including weapons, pottery, and coins, offering insights into the region's rich history. The fort also houses a small museum that provides detailed information about its history and importance in protecting the city over the centuries.

Adjacent to Aqaba Fort is the Aqaba Archaeological Museum, which further enriches visitors' understanding of the region's past. The museum displays diverse exhibits, including ancient coins, pottery, and statues, dating back to different periods in history, including the Nabatean, Roman, and Islamic eras. These artefacts glimpse the ancient civilizations that once thrived in the area.

Exploring Aqaba Fort and the Archaeological Museum is an opportunity to delve into the fascinating history of the region but also a chance to enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the Red Sea. Visitors can immerse themselves in the stories of the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage of Aqaba City.


Visiting the ancient ruins of Ayla

One of the highlights of a trip to Aqaba is a visit to the ancient ruins of Ayla. Located near the modern city centre, Ayla is an archaeological site that offers a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the region. The ancient city dates back over 2,500 years and was once an important trading hub along the Red Sea coast.

As you explore the ruins of Ayla, you will come across remnants of old buildings, city walls, and even a well-preserved mosque. The site is still undergoing excavation and restoration, so visitors can witness the ongoing efforts to uncover and preserve its historical treasures.

Ayla also offers stunning views of the Red Sea and the surrounding mountains, adding to the charm of the experience. Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply looking to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the region, a visit to the ancient ruins of Ayla is a must-do activity in Aqaba.

To make the most of your visit to Ayla, consider hiring a local guide who can provide insightful information about the history and significance of the site. Additionally, don't forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of this archaeological gem.


Shopping and Dining in Aqaba

The vibrant local markets of Aqaba

One of the highlights of visiting Aqaba City in Jordan is exploring its vibrant local markets. These markets are a treasure trove of unique souvenirs, traditional handicrafts, and local products. Here are some of the must-visit markets in Aqaba:

  1. Souk by the Sea: Located in the heart of Aqaba, this market offers a wide range of products, including spices, jewellery, clothing, and local crafts. It is a great place to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Aqaba and haggle for deals with friendly local vendors.

  2. Aqaba Heritage Market: This market is a haven for art and craft enthusiasts. You can find handmade ceramics, traditional Jordanian embroidery, wooden artefacts, and intricate rugs here. It is the perfect place to admire the craftsmanship and take home unique souvenirs.

  3. Al-Hussein Market: This bustling market is a favourite among locals and tourists. It offers a variety of items, from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothing and accessories. Be sure to try the delicious local street food and indulge in retail therapy.

  4. Gold and Jewelry Market: If you want exquisite gold and jewellery pieces, head to this market in Aqaba. Here, you can find a wide selection of gold, diamonds, and precious gemstones, all at competitive prices.

Exploring these vibrant markets is a great way to shop for unique souvenirs and an opportunity to immerse yourself in Aqaba's local culture and bustling atmosphere.


Must-visit shopping destinations in Aqaba

If you're looking for some retail therapy in Aqaba, several must-visit shopping destinations offer a range of products and vibrant local experiences. Here are some top picks:

  1. Aqaba City Center Mall: This modern mall is a popular shopping destination for locals and tourists. It houses a variety of international and local brands, including fashion, electronics, and home goods. You can also enjoy a meal or watch a movie at the mall's food court and cinema.

  2. Al-Hussein Souk: In the heart of Aqaba, Al-Hussein Souk is a bustling traditional market with many local products, including spices, textiles, handicrafts, and souvenirs. It's a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture and haggle for the best prices.

  3. Duty-Free Shops: Aqaba is a duty-free zone, making it an excellent place to shop for cosmetics, perfumes, alcohol, and tobacco products at discounted prices. The Aqaba Duty-Free Complex is a popular spot for international brands and luxury items.

  4. Gold Souk: Known for its exquisite gold jewellery, the Gold Souk in Aqaba offers a wide selection of beautifully crafted pieces. Whether looking for a delicate necklace or a statement ring, you'll find something to suit your taste.

  5. Souvenir Shops: Many small souvenir shops are scattered throughout Aqaba, especially near popular tourist attractions. Here, you can find unique mementoes to remind you of your visit, including traditional Jordanian crafts, camel-themed products, and handmade trinkets.

Whether you're in the mood for luxury shopping or exploring local markets, Aqaba offers diverse shopping experiences that cater to various tastes and budgets. Prepare to be captivated by the vibrant colours, bustling ambience, and friendly vendors as you embark on shopping in this beautiful Red Sea city.


Delectable restaurants offering local and international cuisine

When dining in Aqaba, visitors are spoiled for choice with a wide range of delectable restaurants offering both local and international cuisine. Whether you're craving traditional Jordanian dishes or international flavours, Aqaba has something to satisfy every palate. Here are some must-visit restaurants in Aqaba:

  1. Samarah Seafood Restaurant: Located right by the Red Sea, Samarah Seafood Restaurant is a favourite among seafood lovers. They offer a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood dishes, expertly prepared and served in a relaxed, seaside ambience.

  2. Sobhy's Restaurant: Sobhy's is a popular spot for locals and tourists, serving delicious Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Their menu includes traditional Jordanian dishes such as mansaf and a variety of grilled meats, salads, and mezze.

  3. The Royal Yacht Club Restaurant: For a more upscale dining experience, The Royal Yacht Club Restaurant offers stunning views of the marina and a menu featuring international cuisine with a modern twist. Their dishes are beautifully presented, and the ambience is perfect for a special evening.

  4. Sultan Ibrahim: Sultan Ibrahim is the place to go if you're in the mood for Lebanese cuisine. They serve a range of Lebanese specialities, from mezzes to grilled meats and seafood. The restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed meal with friends or family.

  5. The Terrace Restaurant: This rooftop restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Red Sea and Aqaba's coastline. The menu features a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian flavours, with dishes like sushi, pasta, and grilled meats. It's a great spot to enjoy a meal while enjoying the panoramic views.

No matter which restaurant you choose, dining in Aqaba is a culinary delight and a chance to savour the flavours of Jordan and the world in a beautiful seaside setting.