Aqaba is Jordan's window on the Red Sea. Historically the same city as Eilat on the Israeli side of the border, plans for a shared international airport and other forms of cooperation have cooled down in the past few years during a period of political tension. Aqaba has seen a lot of development in the last few years. This has improved the infrastructure and facilities. Be prepared for road maps to be incorrect/out of date.
Ferries run regularly from Aqaba across to Taba and Nuweiba on Egypt's Sinai peninsula, bypassing Israel and the sometimes complicated border arrangements. Taba is the best port for tourists (the crossing is shorter, so cheaper and less likely to be cancelled due to bad weather). Generally there is no visa fee for entering Jordan through Aqaba since it is a part of the free trade zone. For contact details and timetables see Ferries in The Red Sea
The Desert Highway terminates in Aqaba. There are frequent buses to Amman and other points along the highway. The JETT buses leave from Abdali at 7:00, 9:00, 11:00, 14:00, 16:00, and 18:00. Tickets cost 8.80 JD. Note that there are several security checkpoints along the way, just show your ID when the police enter the bus. At one checkpoint you may be required to exit the bus, retrieve your luggage from the baggage hold and run it through an X-ray machine. (September 2014)
Amman to Aqaba is about 350km using the Desert Highway. It will take about 4 hours to travel this distance at a reasonable speed. Do remember that service/fuel stops are not very frequent on this road.
The Israeli border at Arava (for Eilat) is only a short hop away. The Saudi Arabian checkpoint is also visible on a clear day, but visitors without a visa can only look.
If you are planning to come to Aqaba directly from northern Israel (e.g. from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be'er Sheva, etc.) by catching an Egged bus to Eilat, you should ask the driver to let you off at the "Eilot stop to Jordan", which is the last stop before the Egged station in Eilat, and then walk the <1km to the border checkpoint. The stop is located exactly after the interchange(circle) of road 90(Jerusalem-Eilat) and road 109 (from Interchange to the boarders).
Note: that the journey across the boarders Taba to Eilat to Aqaba, back to Eliat and finally Taba again (so in any direction) can be done without any stamps being placed in your passport. No extra fees are incurred and all stamps are placed on separate cards given to you by immigration officers. You must ask for this nicely, but the procedure was simple and quick with little hassle.
It will appear (once you throw out the cards) that you have never left your starting country.
Done with Canadian Passports in January of 2014, though it appears that nationality had no bearing whatsoever to the officers.
Minibus rental with driver from Petra costs 45 JD and it takes about 2 hours to get from Petra to Aqaba.
If you are coming from Eilat, Israel, you will cross through the Yitzhak Rabin Terminal. This is open Sunday-Thursday from 6:30 to 20:00 (8 p.m.) and Friday-Saturday from 8:00 to 20:00, except for Yom Kippur and the Moslem New Year. Taxi from Eilat center to the Border is 30 NIS (March 2012). The fee to exit is 107 NIS (June 2014), you can pay with credit card. For citizens of most countries (including U.S.), you can get a two-week Jordanian visa at the border, but some countries' citizens are subject to other requirements, so check in advance. If you leave Aqaba through this border, you also have to pay an exit tax of 11 JOD (June 2014).
Taxis at the border belong to one company, which has a monopoly, and is therefore much more expensive than a typical Jordanian taxi: 11 JOD (June 2014) for a 15-minute ride to the Aqaba bus station. Going the other way from Aqaba city center to the border can be done for 4-5 JOD. If you are on a budget, you will probably want to take the border taxi into town and switch to another taxi to continue on, especially if your hotel is in the South Beach resort area.
Official taxi rate from Aqaba to Petra is 50JD. However heading to the King Talal street local bus station with buses to Petra you will be sided by taxi drivers starting negotiations directly from 35JD. We manage to pay 27JD(December 2012) to the visitor centre of Petra.
Sign detailing taxi prices on the Jordan side of the border
There is a problematic man running the taxi service, which has been likened to the "Mafia", just outside the customs gate. As soon as you see him, he will let you know that sharing a taxi is not allowed (three men were forced to take three separate taxis in Dec 2011). If you want to share a taxi, you must form your group before exiting the customs area and insist that you are all part of the same group.
Also, if he sees you call your hotel or any other car to come and pick you up, they may be stopped and forced to go back to Aqaba. The man has said, "we will close their hotel" and "we will take their driving license". To try and avoid this, call your hotel or private car while still in the customs area, before being seen by the taxi man.
For those trying to walk the 500 meters to the main road, the taxi mafia has connections with the military personnel and may have you brought back.
It is possible to bargain them down, but you will need to be persistent and enlist the help of the border police to mediate. Don't try and set the price too low. Stay polite, but be firm and explain to the border police that it is not a good first impression for tourists to have and that you will write to the Ministry of Tourism. This threat normally sees the 'Taxi Mafia' back down, but there are no guarantees.
They will not go below the prices posted on the sign. For example, 5 JD to the airport is about as low as they'll go, and it will be 11 JD to Aqaba City Center (February 2014). They will not negotiate the price into Aqaba City Center and will simply point you to the sign.
The situation has improved as there is a huge sign stating the taxi fares for all important destinations which makes the annoying haggling obsolete. A ride downtown Aquaba will be charged with 10 JD or 15 Euros now. "Mafia man" will still try to cheat you by saying that prices have increased a few days earlier and that the sign will be updated. Insist on the official government-set price, and threaten to contact the tourist police at the border. That will cool him down. Generally speaking, many people will attempt to cheat you for a few extra JD's everywhere you go.[Feb 2013]
Taxis are easily available in the city. A ride within town should cost no more than 2 JD. A ride outside town (to a beach near by or to any border crossings) costs around 5 JD. However, if your hotel calls you a taxi, you may end up paying double for it as they receive a kickback (this is especially true if you are staying on the South Beach).
While taxis are yellow all around Jordan, early 2008 Aqaba taxis have been painted green and blue: the logo colours of Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ).
When negotiating the price of a taxi, make sure to determine whether the final cost is the total or "per-person" price, as you may otherwise receive a surprise at the end of the ride.
Local minibuses connect residential areas with downtown. The fare is 17 Piasters (170 Fils or 0.17 JD) regardless of the length of the journey. Passengers can get on and off at any point of the route.
The central bus station is located in front of the Police station in King Talal street, less than 10 min walk from city centre (ayla square, Al-Hussein Bin Ali Mosque).
Aqaba Fort. Originally dating to the 14'th century, although the present structure was built by the Mamluke sultan Qansawh el-Ghawri (1501-1516) and has been revised many times since then. (In reparations as of February 2014, so only outside view permitted)edit
Ayla, (next to the Mövenpick resort). The old city that was established when Islam came to the area in 622 AD.free. edit
The oldest purpose-built Christian church in history, (across the street from the JETT bus station, which is just west of the Mövenpick hotel.). A posted sign gives a little bit of information on the church.edit
Except the sea and diving, Aqaba doesn't have a lot of things to offer. The following could be of interest but could easily be done in one day. The Fort and the museum are right next to each other.
Aqaba Fort (in reparations as of Feb 2014, only outside view permitted)
Aqaba museum, 1 JD in Feb 2014
Fourth century roman church
To get money, there are many ATM on Al-Hammamat Al-Tunisyaa street in city centre.
Aqaba Heritage Museum, Grand Arab Revolution Square. 8:00-14:00. This unique museum is surely one of Aqaba's main attractions as it displays a large variety of heritage items as well as real size models of traditional life in one of Jordan's most important cities. It also contains a collection of rare historic images from the beginning of the past century until today. free admission. edit
Zara Spa, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba, South Beach Road - Tala Bay Area, P.O. Box 2425, ☎ +962 3 209 0300 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 3 209 0301), . 9.00 am – 9.00 pm. As well as a sauna, steam room and a hydro pool with skylight, Zara Spa Tala Bay offers the latest in spa facilities. Included is an "ice fountain" designed to stimulate circulation and tighten the skin. A variety of fragrances and coloured lighting effects are available for showers and also supposedly designed to increase blood circulation. A hair salon, a nail studio and a shop with a variety of beauty care products are also on premises.edit
Aqaba's Anchor Diving Centre, Bur Sa'id Street, PO Box 1522, Aqaba, Jordan, 77110 (Behind Jordan Post), ☎ +962 (0) 799385261 (email@example.com), . 24. A scuba diving centre in the middle of the city, teaching PADI courses from beginners to PADI divemaster in English, Arabic, Turkish and Swedish. A tailored and quality service in scuba diving for learners and qualified divers with free local pick up on request.edit
Ahlan Aqaba Scuba Diving Center, Al Nahda St., Hotel area in the heart of the city (The road behind the Movenpick Hotel), ☎ +962 (3) 2062242 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 (3) 206 2243), . 24. edit
Intel.Arab Divers Village, South Beach Road (South Of Aqaba), ☎ +962 (3) 2031808 (email@example.com), . 24. 35 JD for introduction dive, 40 JD for 2 dives. edit
Red Sea Dive Center, South Beach Road (South Of Aqaba), ☎ +962 (3) 2022323 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 (3) 202 2323), . 24. 40 JD for introduction dive, 40 JD for 2 dives. edit
Casalingo, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba, South Beach Road - Tala Bay Area, P.O. Box 2425, Aqaba 77110, (email@example.com), . 6.30 pm – 11.30 pm. The Italian restaurant has a distinguished Mediterranean contemporary decoration with a live cooking counter and wooden fire pizza oven. Casalingo serves authentic Italian dishes, seasonal specialties and piping hot pizza and a selection of fine wines will compliment the specialities, prepared by our Italian master chef. Guests can enjoy their dinner on the terrace or in the air conditioned restaurant.edit
Red Sea Grill, Mövenpick Resort & Residence Aqaba, King Hussein Street, P. Box 678, 77110 Aqaba, ☎ +962 3 203 40 20 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +962 3 203 40 40), . 7.00 pm - midnight. Open during the summer months for dinner only, the Red Sea Grill serves up some of Aqaba's best fresh seafood specialties. These include grilled fresh fish and shellfish dishes combined with an Afro-Arab cooking twist in one of the best locations in the country. Complete with magnificent panoramic view of the Gulf of Aqaba from our popular terrace restaurant located on the hotel's private beach.edit
* Alerzal restaurant, Aqaba Gate complex, ☎ +962 3 201 3 733 (email@example.com), . Al-Erzal Lebanese Restaurant strategically located at the northern shores of the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba) inside the Aqaba Gate Complex, offering their guest a variety of Lebanese dishes and Mezza along with Sea Food and Barbeque delights. Truly it's the finest Lebanese restaurant in Aqaba; fine food can be enjoyed in the restaurant where they offer both inside and outside setting, or on the Harmattan Boat where they offer lunch and dinner cruise in the Gulf of Aqaba, for an added excitement, guests can experience the beautiful Corals of the Red Sea when diving (onboard we have certified diving instructors) http://alerzal.com .edit
One of the finest, The Royal Yacht Club. It is situated next to the water in an upscale neighbourhood. They serve exquisite fare (mostly seafood fresh from the sea) for prices that are reasonable by Western standards. Service is fast and courteous. Note however that they are not open all afternoon, but only reopens at dinner, so not available for a mid afternoon snack after coming from the beach.
Not far from the Yacht Club, situated behind McDonald's, is a very nice restaurant/bar called "35 Degrees East" (Aqaba's longitude), which is open during the afternoon and serves very well prepared Western food (including steaks and seafood) for prices that are also reasonable by Western standards, though higher than many other restaurants in Jordan. This is also a great place to get a good photo (from land) of yourself with the famous Aqaba flagpole in the background, without it being obscured by trees.
* Syrian palace restaurant, P.o.Box 1527 - Jordan - Aqaba // on Raghadan Street, Hayl al madina, Al Awsat (At the right side of Al Shuala Hotel when you are looking to the hotel), (fax: 314788). edit
In the center of the city one can find very good hummus, Falafel and Shwarma (lamb meat in pita bread) places in many local restaurants. Prices starts form 1.5 JD for a Showarma dish.
Formosa Chinese Restaurant, The Gateway Aqaba, ☎ 032060098, . 1200-2300. Indulge yourself with the authentic home-cooking Chinese food. Cozy and warm yet relaxing atmosphere makes you home away from home.US$8 up. edit
You can ask for fresh fruit juices in most restaurants, and they are a treat! Many also serve the lemon juice with fresh mint in it, and it is very delicious.
Fish Fish, Al-Sa'adah Street (Opposite Golden Tulip Hotel), ☎ 00962 795 245 599. If you're hungry for seafood, Fish Fish is the place to go. From shrimp, lobster, fresh fish to traditional Jordanian and Italian cuisine, one is sure to find a fantastic meal at an affordable price! Also offered are a variety of mezze, crisp salads, and freshly-squeezed fruit cocktails. Sit inside the cozy and romantic dining area or outside on the shaded patio. End your dining experience with a choice of flavored hubbly-bubby. 4JD - 18JD. edit
Intel.Arab Divers Village, 11Km from Aqaba city centre along South Beach, ☎ 00962 797085623 (fax: 00962 3 2030566), . www.aqaba-divevillage.com TVs in rooms, free wi-fi, pools for paddling, full diving equipment available including PADI courses. Extremely relaxed, loads of chill out spaces including roof of Village, Bedouin tent type cushioned areas, loungers by pool, seconds from the beach and chilled atmosphere. Extremely good value for money, but expect basic room provisions. Shisha pipes available but no alcohol, although they are happy for you to drink on site. Really quiet, great escape from bustle of Aqaba city itself. Shipwreck to dive at and corals. Ideal for single travellers, as there is good communal space to meet others. It is a drive out of town, but with really decent food and the beach a stone's throw away, it's a haven.30 JD triples and full range of other prices also, includes breakfast. Camping available. edit
Dune Village, ☎ 00962 (0) 78 8378 914. Is located 12 km east of Aqaba's center, and offers singles\double\shared rooms with breakfast included. The places also offers scuba diving equipment and guided dives. The place organizes transportation for guests to/from airport and border crossings.7.5-17 JD PP. edit
Dweik Hotel. Small rooms, but bathrooms are in good condition. Some rooms have TV, with access to satellite channels, but you do have to get the front desk to tune the satellite for you.20 JD. edit
Jordan Flower Hotel. 10 JD singles/12 JD doubles/14 JD doubles with bath/16 JD triples. edit
Bedouin Garden Village, 11Km from Aqaba city centre along South Beach, ☎ 00962 777 627 933 (fax: 00962 3 2034081), . www.Bedouin-hotels.com TVs in rooms, free wi-fi, pools for paddling, full diving equipment available including taster courses. Extremely relaxed, loads of chill out spaces including roof gardens, Bedouin tent type cushioned areas, loungers by pool, seconds from the beach and chilled atmosphere. Extremely good value for money, but expect basic room provisions. Shisha pipes available but no alcohol, although they are happy for you to drink on site. Really quiet, great escape from bustle of Aqaba city itself. Shipwreck to dive at and corals. Ideal for single travellers, as there is good communal space to meet others. It is a drive out of town, but with really decent food and the beach a stone's throw away, it's a haven.45 JD triples and full range of other prices also, includes breakfast. Camping available. edit
Amer hotel, Raghadan Street, Hayl al madina, Al Awsat. clean, satellite tv, no breakfeast, no internet, fan/ac, bathroom, lot of noise (near mosquee, shops, restaurants, some strange phone calls)15 JD singles/25 JD doubles, Feb 2011. edit
The Bedouin Meditation Camp, Wadi Rum, Aqaba, ☎ +962 795506417 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Located in Wadi Rum World Heritage Area. You sleep in the Red Desert but can see the White Desert 700 metres away. It is the perfect place to relax for a few days and enjoy the Sunset.5 JD shared single 9 JD Double 21 JD Family, includes breakfast. Camping available. edit
Wadi Rum Protected Area Camp, Wadi Rum Protected Area (11km past Rum Village), ☎ 00962776365182, . checkin: 7:00am; checkout: 9:00am. Traditional Bedouin Camp, package includes dinner and breakfast. Optional tours available. Professional guides and service.10-20JD. (29.48336,35.39370)edit
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba, South Beach Road - Tala Bay Area, P.O. Box 2425, Aqaba 77110, ☎ +962 3 209 0300 (email@example.com, fax: +962 3 209 0301), . checkin: 15:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Tala Bay Aqaba is a striking new property on the idyllic southern shores of the Red Sea, an area blessed with year round sunshine. 302 rooms, including 145 family rooms, various suites and two Grand Suites all share a generous and modern design and light-coloured furnishings. All rooms have air-conditioning, TV, coffee and tea making facilities, direct dial phone/voice-mail, wireless LAN throughout the resort as well as hairdryer, 24-hour room service, in-room safe box. Superior rooms and suites allow for added comfort. Non-smoking rooms and rooms for the physically challenged are also available upon request. A special benefit is the free minibar, available in all rooms.Rates starting from JOD 99.00++. edit
Mövenpick Resort & Residence Aqaba, King Hussein Street, P. Box 678, 77110 Aqaba, ☎ +962 3 203 40 20 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 15:00 hrs; checkout: 12:00 hrs. Located in the centre of Aqaba, overlooking the Red Sea, the Mövenpick Resort & Residence is a high-quality resort hotel. This architectural delight features a mix of European and Arabesque designs, with a feeling of grandeur and luxury. All 296 rooms, suites and apartments include self-controlled air conditioning and heating, satellite TV, direct-dial phone with voice mail, public wifi throughout the resort, coffee and tea-making facilities, hairdryer, complimentary minibar, and a safe. Our lavish suites comprise additional amenities and a balcony or terrace from which you can enjoy remarkable views of the country's world-renowned archeological sites, the Gulf of Aqaba and neighbouring countries. Guests staying at the residence also enjoy access to all facilities of the resort without limitations. Connecting rooms, non-smoking rooms, and rooms for the physically challenged are also available on request.Rates starting from JOD 88.00++. (29°31'56.37N,)edit
Radisson Blu Tala Bay, South Beach (Head South from Aqaba), ☎ +962 (3) 209 0777, . New luxury hotel south of Aqaba. Has very nice swimming pools, restaurants and beach. All the services to be expected at a 4/5* hotel.edit
Most destinations that are not north of Amman can be reached on a day trip. You can set up your own flexible day trips by hiring a taxi for the day. Make sure when you set up the trip that you have agreed on the destinations to be included in the trip (or you may need to discuss your price while on the road and do not have other options that your current driver).
Petra — Jordan's top attraction, an ancient city carved out of sandstone and one of the new 7 Wonders.
Wadi Rum — barren, isolated and beautiful, granite cliffs contrasting with desert sand
Dead Sea — The lowest point on earth and the most saline sea
Dana Nature Reserve — Stay in a village little changed since the 15th century, enjoy unforgettable hiking in an offshoot of the Great Rift.
Aqaba is relatively close to both Wadi Rum and Petra. Public buses go to both. Alternatively, there are a lot of tour companies around town who would happily arrange excursions, in particular to Wadi Rum. Petra will take 2.5 hours by car.
Rabin border crossing is the Israeli border crossing between Eilat and Aqaba. There is a 10JD exit fee (Nov 2014).
There are must see sites also in Israel in Eilat area and north to it just like
Eilat Mountaiins Nature Reserve
Timna Valley - Ancient Mines from King Solomon and the Egyptian periods, Timna has also unique geological finds.
Masada - ancient mountaintop fortress and palaces of King Herod, related to Mukawir in Jordan but way bigger than it.
Ein Gedi - a qunique nature reserve with a Canyons and Waterfalls (some of them inside caves), the most biggest collection of Nubian Ibex are living there, there are also ruins of Chalcolithic Temple, ruins of archaeological hill, Tel Goren and in the outskirts of the trail, an ancient synagogue from 5th century with beautiful mosaic.
Jerusalem- The holiest city in Christianity and Judaism, also the third holiest city for Islam, there are many holy sites even outside Jerusalem's Old City
Moa - one of the many Nabataean caravanserais in the Negev Desert which located on the board between Eilat to the Dead Sea, this is the first stopping point in the Nabataean Incense Route after the city of Petra, it cannot be compared to Nabataean cities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Israel (and at least this is not a city) but it is must see if you're driving on this road