A Complete Aqaba Itinerary: 1-2 Days in Jordan’s Port City
It might seem simple to plan a trip to Jordan. There are certain things you must see, like Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea. You’ll obviously need to pass through the large capital city of Amman, too, since that’s where the majority of international flights arrive and depart. But as you do more research, you might discover other destinations and sights you want to see – and then need to research those places too.
Aqaba is one good contender you should add to your Jordan itinerary. Jordan’s port city is located on the coast of the Red Sea, and offers a number of different activities and experiences you can’t find anywhere else in the country due to its proximity to a large body of less-saline-than-the-Dead-Sea water.
I’ve been through Aqaba twice during my Jordan travels: first for an overnight stay in 2016, and again briefly in 2022. Each time I visit, I want to explore more, and am looking forward to a larger visit again on my next Jordan tour.
If you’re looking to visit Aqaba, this Aqaba itinerary will give you all the info you need: how to get there, how long to stay, where to stay, and what to do. A quick read will complete your research and fill in this part of your Jordan travel itinerary, plus give you unforgettable memories unlike any you’ll have elsewhere in Jordan.
Best Time to Visit Aqaba
There’s literally no bad time to visit Aqaba. During summer, the port city and its beaches offer travelers refuge from the sizzling temperatures. During winter, temperatures remain mild and the climate is still warmer and pleasant. Even in the middle of January, Aqaba remains sunny and warm.
However, the best time to visit Aqaba is the shoulder months of September to November in Jordan. Prices are affordable and there’s a decrease in tourism, so you won’t find a sea of tourists wherever you go.
Aqaba’s fantastic weather is a huge advantage for travelers as they won’t have to make major changes to their Aqaba itinerary
How to Get to Aqaba
Aqaba is a popular destination within Jordan, so you’ll find numerous transportation options available to reach the port city. Expect them to vary a little depending on where you’re traveling from in Jordan.
If you’re traveling from Amman, I have a complete guide on how to travel between Amman and Aqaba and the best transport options based on your budget and interests. To sum up, the best ways to reach Aqaba from Amman is by plane, private driver, or bus – it just depends on your budget and how much time you have.
Also, it’s worth noting that Aqaba is super close to another two popular destinations in Jordan: Petra and Wadi Rum. If you’re visiting either Petra or Wadi Rum before Aqaba, you can reach the port city via private car or a tour as these usually include a stop in Aqaba.
How Many Days in Aqaba
Now that you’ve decided to include a visit to Aqaba in your Jordan trip, you might wonder: how many days in Aqaba should you spend? Here’s a quick rundown – and then I go into greater detail in the rest of this post.
- With one day… you get to experience the basic things everyone does in Aqaba, meaning going to the beach and scuba diving.
- With two days… you get the chance to explore the city’s historic sites and book other fun activities a bit more off the beaten tourist track.
One Day in Aqaba
A one-day Aqaba itinerary gives you enough time to enjoy all the must-dos, provided you’ve planned in advance where you’re going and what tours you’re taking.
Relax at One of Aqaba’s Beaches
The most popular thing to do in Aqaba is lazing on its beaches. All you have to do is bring a towel and sunscreen, and find a good spot to lay. Here are a number of beaches where you can spend a few hours:
- City Beach: It sits close to the Port of Aqaba, so expect lots of people here. The beach is the most convenient option if you’re staying in the city center. Head south to find less crowded spots.
- South Beach: An amazing beach suitable for families and couples; nice calm atmosphere. It is also home to some of the best snorkeling and dive sites.
- Berenice Beach Club: This beach club offers a beautiful sandy stretch and tons of amenities, including a swimming pool, bar, and buffet. It also offers boat trips with stops at snorkeling sites.
Go Scuba Diving
The good visibility in the Red Sea and stunning coral reefs have made Aqaba a prime location for scuba diving. You’ll find tons of companies offering scuba trips over coral reefs. There are also companies that teach scuba diving lessons for those who’ve never done it.
Explore Aqaba’s Nightlife
Unlike other Jordan destinations, Aqaba has a lively night scene. There’s no shortage of restaurants, bars, and even nightclubs where you can have a good time and meet fellow travelers. The Gateway is Aqaba’s gastronomic hub. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars.
Two Days in Aqaba
There are plenty more things to do in Aqaba than just going to the beach. The lucky ones who have allotted two days in the port city can do them all! For day one, just do the things I’ve listed above. For day two, you’re going to include the following three activities in your Aqaba itinerary.
Book a Glass-Bottom Boat Tour
By all accounts, a glass bottom boat is the best way to explore Aqaba’s coral reef. The tours start off by viewing the coral reef through the glass bottom of the boat; then, you snorkel along the gorgeous seabed, looking at coral and fish. Last, you enjoy a lovely buffet lunch on the boat’s upper deck. There’s also a group of 2 to 2 guides solving doubts and helping you through the tour.
Stroll Down Aqaba Promenade
Aqaba Promenade stretches 1.8 miles along the Al-Ghandour beach to Al-Hafayer Beach. This long beach promenade is ideal for a morning or sunset stroll along the water. There are also numerous cafes and restaurants here and stalls selling local goods.
Aqaba Promenade is great to visit no matter the time of the day. In the morning and early afternoon, you can hop on a boat tour here. If you’re up for a coffee or meal, you can come here in the late afternoon or early evening.
Explore the City
Aqaba is home to a number of historic sites, including the first Islamic town built outside the Arabian peninsula. Below are
- Mamluk Castle: One of the most important buildings in Aqaba, Mamluk Castle was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century and rebuilt by Mamluk Sultan in the 16th Century after its destruction. The castle witnessed the victory of the Area Revolt as it served as a crucial base for overthrowing the Ottomans Empire.
- Aqaba Archaeological Museum: The museum is right behind Mamluk Castle. If you have a Jordan Pass, the entrance fee to this museum is included. But it’s not expensive, though. The museum consists of some interesting collections, especially about the ancient people of Jordan.
- Sharif Al Hussein Bin Ali Mosque: The Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque is a stunning white modern mosque named after one of the key figures of the Arab Revolt. It boasts a traditional style with pleasant gardens and tall iron fencing. It is the biggest mosque in Aqaba and is open to the public, but not during prayer times.
- Souks: Not exactly historic sites, but souks are intrinsically embedded in Jordan’s culture and history. Their bustling atmosphere with locals running all over and stalls selling every kind of product make it a stunning opportunity to experience Aqaba’s daily life – or find a great souvenir.
Best Aqaba Hotels
As one of Jordan’s largest cities, Aqaba has plenty of accommodation options for travelers of every style and budget. I have a few suggestions based on my travels in Jordan, but there are plenty of other options if these aren’t available or don’t suit you.
- Kempinski Hotel is the splurge-iest place I recommend in Jordan, in part because you get access to the private beach on-property. Rooms start from $212/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
- Al Manara is a luxurious beachfront option with all the amenities you need in case you don’t ever feel like leaving the property. Rooms from $188/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com
- Lacosta Hotel is where I stayed on my first trip to Aqaba; it’s more budget-friendly and is walking distance from all the main attractions and the beach. Rooms start from $64/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
Where to Eat in Aqaba
There are plenty of different places to eat in Aqaba, but here are a few of my favorites to inspire your Aqaba itinerary:
- خبزة وصينية (khubza & Seneya) – A traditional Jordanian restaurant with a huge menu, delicious food, and good prices, this is a great spot where you can avoid the chain restaurants and crowds of a beach town like Aqaba.
- Mirwas Cafe and Restaurant – Located right on the marina, the location is this restaurant’s primary selling point – but the food is good enough to justify the premium you pay for that view!
Also, the vast majority of Jordanian hotels offer half-board (breakfast) and full-board (breakfast and dinner) accommodation so you can also try a meal or two, at wherever you choose to stay.
Have any other questions about how to plan your own Aqaba itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!