My journey to Jordan was nothing short of extraordinary, so good it ranks as one of the best trips I’ve ever experienced. I started on this adventure with a sense of curiosity and a touch of uncertainty, not quite knowing what to expect in a country with a unique blend of tradition and modernity. However, the more I explored the more I fell in love. Captivating landscapes, the rich cultural heritage, and the diverse culinary delights, I was left heavily impacted by the beauty and warmth of Jordan.
As an LGBTQ+ traveler, I found Jordan to be a destination that offered a remarkable mix of history, and hospitality, with a growing sense of social acceptance. While the LGBTQ+ community is still not where it wants to be the experience around my appearance and gender was significantly less of an issue than I was anticipating. The vibrant capital city of Amman was a great place to get started, even offering a glimpse of the city’s LGBTQ+ community around Rainbow Street and the trendy Abdali Boulevard neighborhood. It was in Amman that I discovered a thriving LGBTQ+ community, comprising both locals and fellow travelers who shared insights into the city’s queer-friendly spots.
My Jordanian journey was so extraordinary that I’m thrilled to announce that EveryQueer is planning a group trip to Jordan in 2025, promising an unforgettable experience for LGBTQ+ travelers seeking to explore this beautiful, unique, and welcoming country.
Is Jordan Safe for LGBTQIA+ Travelers
Jordan is a country with a conservative culture, but it’s more progressive than some other Middle Eastern nations. Same-sex sexual activity has been decriminalized in Jordan for consenting individuals over the age of 16 since 1951. However, same-sex marriage is not recognized, and there are no legal protections against LGBTQIA+ discrimination in the workplace or housing matters.
While LGBTQ+ individuals won’t face criminalization, there’s still a deep social stigma. Public displays of affection, regardless of one’s sexuality, are frowned upon and can lead to prosecution or discrimination for “disrupting public morality.” LGBTQIA+ travelers are generally safe as long as they display discretion and respect for local customs, especially in areas outside major cities and tourist hubs.
I have found in destination I find more challenging as an LGBTQ traveler that going with a group and a local guide has a huge comfort in that little nervous voice in the back of my head.
Queer Culture in Jordan
Jordan doesn’t have a real queer scene, but Amman, the capital, has several queer-friendly bars, cafes, and restaurants. While the LGBTQ+ scene is low-key, Amman’s LGBTQ+-friendly areas include Jabal al-Weibdeh, Jabal Amman, and downtown Amman. Some popular venues include Café de Paris, Dali Bar, Turtle Green Tea Bar, The Corner’s Pub, Blue Fig Café, and Books@Café.
For more information on LGBTQ+ issues in Jordan and the Middle East, you can explore My.Kali, a webzine that delves into local social problems, LGBTQ+ issues, gender, sexuality, women’s rights, art, and freedom of speech.
For LGBTQIA+ travelers, understanding local customs and displaying discretion is crucial for a memorable and safe trip.
Tips for LGBTQ Travelers in Jordan
Respect Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with Jordanian customs, including greetings, dining etiquette, and appropriate dress. Showing respect for local traditions will go a long way in making your trip enjoyable.
Be Discreet: Avoid public displays of affection, as they are frowned upon for all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation. Exercise discretion to avoid unwanted attention.
Day 1: Amman
Kickstart your Jordanian journey in the bustling heart of Amman. While it might be tempting to head straight to Petra, take a moment to appreciate what the capital city has to offer.
Cultural Exploration: Begin by exploring Amman’s rich cultural heritage, with visits to iconic sites like the Umayyad Palace and the Roman Theatre. These historic landmarks provide a glimpse into Jordan’s fascinating past.
Chic Accommodation: Enjoy a stylish and comfortable stay at the W Amman, located in the trendy Abdali Boulevard neighborhood. This vibrant area is also the city’s prime shopping district, making it a perfect base for your adventures.
Relax and Recharge: Unwind at the AWAY Spa on-site, where you can indulge in a rejuvenating massage to shake off any travel fatigue. Afterward, explore the Abdali Mall, ideal for shopping or a stroll.
Culinary Delights at Sufra: Your culinary journey begins at Sufra, an upscale restaurant housed in a charming early 20th-century villa along the renowned Rainbow Road. Not only is the ambiance captivating, but the menu also features delectable homestyle Jordanian cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor mansaf, the national dish of Jordan, featuring a delightful lamb and rice dish with yogurt sauce.
LGBTQ+ Explorations: While Amman may not have a bustling LGBTQ+ scene, the trendy Abdali Boulevard neighborhood, home to W Amman, is a welcoming area for diverse individuals. Here, you’ll find LGBTQ+ expats and tourists who can offer insights into LGBTQ+-friendly spots in the city.
Day 2: Amman to Wadi Rum
On your second day, it’s time to bid farewell to the captivating city of Amman and set your course for the enchanting desert landscapes of Wadi Rum. Although parting with Amman might be tough, rest assured that you’ll return to explore the city more thoroughly at the end of your journey.
Transfer to Wadi Rum: Many travelers opt for rental cars to make the journey from Amman to Wadi Rum. However, for those less inclined to drive, a private transfer (arranged easily through your hotel) offers a comfortable and scenic alternative. The drive along King’s Highway not only provides beautiful vistas but also glimpses into local life, making the approximately 4-hour ride pass quickly.
Arrival at Memories Aicha Luxury Camp: As you arrive at Wadi Rum National Park, the staff from Memories Aicha Luxury Camp will warmly welcome you just outside the park’s gates. Get ready for a unique experience as you’re invited to climb onto a cushioned bench in the back of a 4-wheel drive pickup, which will transport you to the camp. The journey through the desert, with red sand dunes flanked by towering sandstone mountains, is a surreal and unforgettable experience. You might even spot a Bedouin man leading a caravan of camels on the horizon, a moment that embodies the essence of Jordan’s captivating landscapes.
Luxury in the Desert: Memories Aicha Luxury Camp, your home for the day, is a unique and immersive desert resort. Nestled in a secluded patch of the desert, framed by majestic mountains, the camp offers two room styles: luxury safari-style tents and panoramic domes for stargazing. There’s no roughing it here – all accommodations come with en-suite bathrooms, hot showers, heating, and air conditioning.
A Stargazing Extravaganza: Wadi Rum is renowned as one of the world’s top destinations for astrophotography. Strict regulations on light pollution ensure that the desert maintains a level of darkness rarely found elsewhere. Each evening, all guests are invited to participate in a stargazing walk led by the hotel’s General Manager. With the aid of a laser pointer, he’ll reveal constellations and even serve as an expert photographer. Don’t forget to pack a flashlight and tripod; the sheer number of stars visible here is a breathtaking spectacle.
Day 3: Wadi Rum
Begin your third day in the serene Wadi Rum desert with a satisfying breakfast to fuel your exciting day ahead.
Camel Trek in the Martian Landscape: Your adventure commences with a remarkable camel ride, as you are introduced to your trusty companion, FuFu, a gentle and friendly camel. Climb onto FuFu’s back and set out to explore the otherworldly terrain of Wadi Rum. The Mars-like landscape stretches as far as the eye can see, and this unique experience provides you with a fresh perspective on the desert’s grandeur.
Exploration of Wadi Rum: Upon returning to camp, you’ll meet Khalil, a Bedouin guide who will accompany you on a private tour of the desert. This full-day adventure allows for customization, with approximately 8-10 stops throughout the day. You’ll have the opportunity to visit iconic sites such as Khazali Canyon, Um Fruth Rock Bridge, Little Bridge, Lawrence’s House, and Abu Khashaba Canyon.
Tailored Experience: It’s worth noting that this desert tour can be physically strenuous, involving walking on loose sand. If this doesn’t align with your preferences, don’t hesitate to communicate your comfort level with your guide. There are numerous stops and alternative options available that don’t require extensive hiking.
Savor a Delicious Buffet: Dining options are limited in the desert, but you’re in for a treat at the camp’s on-site dining room. This welcoming space, located within a large geo-dome tent adorned with vibrant Bedouin textiles, offers a generous and delectable buffet. Feast on platters of grilled meats, fresh pita, a variety of salads, dried fruits, and cheeses to cater to diverse dietary needs. Be sure to savor local delights like pomegranates, olives, fresh hummus, and hot tea.
Day 4: Wadi Rum to Petra
On the fourth day of your Jordanian expedition, prepare to leave the serene embrace of Wadi Rum and embark on a 1.5-hour drive to the legendary city of Petra. Although you may find it challenging to bid farewell to the desert, one of the Wonders of the World awaits you on the other end of this captivating journey.
Digital Detox and Reconnection: A remarkable aspect of your desert stay was the unexpected three-day digital detox, free from the distractions of Wi-Fi. It allowed you to relish quiet mornings and evenings, where you could immerse yourself in reading under the starlit desert sky or the gentle morning light. As you embark on the short drive from Wadi Rum to Petra, you’ll feel the familiar buzz of your phone, bringing mixed feelings as you reconnect with the outside world.
An Enchanting Evening: Petra at Night: Your day in Petra doesn’t conclude with a drive; it continues with one of the most magical experiences you’ll ever encounter – Petra at Night. The 1.25-mile walk from the Petra entry gate through the siq (canyon) to the Treasury is illuminated by the soft glow of 1,500 candles. Local Bedouin guides and merchants will offer you hot tea as you sit on the cool sand, taking in the unforgettable atmosphere. It’s important to note that capturing great photos here can be challenging, so consider bringing a tripod for steady long-exposure shots. Local guides can also guide you to the best photo spots.
Luxurious Rest at Movenpick Resort Petra: For your stay in Petra, indulge in the luxury of the renowned Movenpick Resort Petra. This five-star hotel boasts opulent amenities and is conveniently located just outside Petra’s visitors center and main gate. From the hotel, you can relish breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, making it the ideal base for your Petra exploration.
Day 5: Petra
As you step into the fifth day of your journey, prepare to uncover the ancient marvel of Petra, one of Jordan’s most remarkable attractions. Nestled in a valley surrounded by cliffs and sandstone rocks, Petra is an awe-inspiring archaeological treasure that has earned its place as one of the wonders of the world.
Exploring the Ancient Wonders of Petra: Dating back to around 300 BC, Petra served as the capital of the Nabataean Kingdom. This remarkable site showcases over 1,000 ancient tombs and temples intricately carved into the rose-colored sandstone cliffs, each narrating tales of an ancient civilization. Even for those not deeply immersed in history, strolling through this age-old temple complex, surrounded by deep canyons and towering cliffs, is truly enthralling.
Hiking Marvels of Petra: One valuable tip from a local guide is to access Petra from the back gate of the complex. Typically, visitors enter through a narrow canyon known as Al Siq, which leads directly to Petra’s most famous structure, The Treasury. Beyond the Treasury, the complex opens to a network of trails stretching across 102 square miles. If you embark on a journey from the Treasury to the top of the ruins complex, where the second most famous landmark, The Monastery, is located, it involves roughly 5 miles of walking and 850 stone steps. The return journey can be equally demanding. For most travelers, exploring Petra from end to end is a full-day adventure. Starting at the back gate and progressing towards the front gate is a strategy that eliminates the need to walk the same trail twice, saving time and energy.
Following the “Indiana Jones Way”: For breathtaking views of the Treasury from above, engage with one of the Bedouin guides in front of the Treasury and inquire about the “Indiana Jones Way.” This alternative route leads through the mountains, with stops at various viewpoints, allowing you to savor hot sage tea while enjoying panoramic vistas.
Gastronomic Delights at My Mom’s Recipe Restaurant: To satiate your culinary desires, visit My Mom’s Recipe Restaurant, a quaint eatery adorned with vibrant Bedouin fabrics, conveniently situated blocks away from Petra’s entrance gates. Commence your meal with fresh, airy pita bread accompanied by olive oil and za’atar. The menu offers tempting choices such as Musakhan (featuring sumac, onions, and chicken), grilled meats, and an array of refreshing salads. The exceptional food quality made it a daily dining favorite during your stay in town.
Day 6: Petra to Amman
Your sixth day in Jordan begins with a drive from Petra back to the vibrant capital city of Amman. This drive isn’t just a journey; it’s a full-day exploration in itself. Once again, you’ve chosen a private transfer to allow for stops and the flexibility to travel at your own pace.
Discovering Little Petra: Your adventure commences with a visit to Little Petra, a smaller yet equally impressive archaeological site constructed for another ancient king. The journey takes you through winding mountain roads, offering picturesque views, and eventually leads to lush farmlands where roadside vendors proudly display their fresh produce. Before your next destination, you’ll pause for a simple lunch.
The Enchanting Dead Sea: One of Jordan’s most popular attractions awaits you – the Dead Sea. Despite being referred to as a sea, it’s actually a salt lake, and its name is derived from its extraordinarily high salt content. The Dead Sea is unique in that its salt concentration is so high that you can effortlessly float on its surface. Don’t forget to bring your swimwear and towels for a truly buoyant experience. While here, explore the locally crafted skincare products made from the mineral deposits found in the Dead Sea, offering benefits for your skin.
Luxurious Rest at InterContinental Amman: Upon your arrival in Amman, you’ll check in at the InterContinental Amman, one of the city’s luxurious hotels. It is conveniently located and offers impressive views of both Amman and its ancient surroundings. The rooms are a perfect blend of simplicity and comfort, featuring soaking tubs and rainfall showers that are particularly delightful after days spent in the desert. The hotel boasts a range of amenities, including several restaurants and bars, a fully-equipped fitness center, a day spa, and a refreshing swimming pool. If you visit in the winter, you’ll appreciate the cozy ambiance in front of one of the many lobby fireplaces.
Day 7: Amman Exploration
With a delightful breakfast that included made-to-order omelets and fresh-squeezed juice, you’re all set for an exciting day of exploration in Amman. As you have just one full day to uncover the treasures of the city, you’re determined to make the most of it by immersing yourself in ancient ruins and experiencing the vibrant modern-day culture of Jordan.
King Abdullah I Mosque: Your day commences with a leisurely walk from your hotel to the King Abdullah I Mosque. This beautiful blue mosque is a testament to the late king’s grandfather and is a significant religious and cultural landmark in Amman. The mosque’s sprawling complex can accommodate over 7,000 worshippers and provides visitors with a glimpse into the life of devout Muslim Jordanians.
Amman Citadel: After your visit to the mosque, head to the Amman Citadel, a historical site perched high on the hills, offering panoramic views over the modern city. Here, you’ll encounter a captivating juxtaposition of ancient ruins set against vibrant street murals. From this vantage point, you can also catch a glimpse of the Roman Theater, a symbol of the city’s rich past.
Rainbow Road – A Culinary Journey: After immersing yourself in the city’s history and culture, make your way to Rainbow Road, renowned for its shopping and dining experiences. While the road is lined with popular high-end eateries, consider taking a recommendation from a local Uber driver and discover Al Quds, a tiny food counter specializing in one exceptional item – hot, fresh falafel. Served in a pita or on a sub roll with tomatoes and pickles, it’s a simple yet delicious culinary experience, and you might just find it to be the best falafel you’ve ever had. This culinary adventure provides a perfect conclusion to your incredible journey.