Things to Do

The 14 Best Things to Do in Wadi Rum, Jordan’s Desert Destination

From exhilarating 4×4 excursions and camel rides across the vast expanse of the desert to stargazing under the inky canopy of the night sky, Wadi Rum offers a unique blend of experiences that stir the soul and enliven the spirit.

As a seasoned wanderer who has ventured into the enchanting realms of Jordan not once, but twice – in 2016 and 2022 – I can attest to the timeless allure of Wadi Rum, a breathtaking desert landscape that seems to have sprung straight from the pages of a spellbinding tale.

Things to Do in Wadi Rum Hero

With each visit, I found myself captivated by the otherworldly beauty of this Mars-like terrain, where the rugged cliffs, wind-sculpted dunes, and brilliant sunsets weave a magical tapestry of unforgettable experiences. The “sand”-sational adventures are endless, and there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring things to do in Wadi Rum as you embark on a journey through this mesmerizing Martian playground.

Uncover the fascinating history etched in the ancient rock inscriptions, or channel your inner Bedouin as you spend a night in a traditional desert camp, savoring the warm hospitality and the tantalizing flavors of the local cuisine. One thing is for certain: as you explore the wonders of Wadi Rum, you’ll find that the desert truly “rocks” and leaves you with memories that will echo through the sands of time.

Stop by the Visitor Center

The Visitor Center in Wadi Rum is the perfect starting point for your adventure in the stunning desert landscape.

Located opposite the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the visitor center features numerous displays and exhibits about the history, culture, and geology of the area. So it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the unique environment and get helpful tips for your activities in Wadi Rum.

You’ll also find tour operators, restaurants, and craft shops if you want a souvenir.

Take a Sunrise Camel Ride

Being in the middle of the desert is an experience in itself. But riding a camel at sunrise through Wadi Rum is something else. For many travelers, it’s one of the must things to do in Wadi Rum. The truth is that riding a camel as soon as the sun comes out is a unique way to experience the magic of the desert. And another great way to experience Bedouin culture.

Keep your eyes on the horizon at all times. Seeing how the sun rises over the towering sandstone mountains in the serenity of the desert landscape isn’t something you’ll get to live every day.

Go for a 4×4 or Jeep Tour

If adventure is more your style, going on a jeep tour is one of the Wadi Rum activities you may find entertaining. Most camps in the desert offer jeep tours, and, while they’re all unique, they share the same itinerary.

On average, a Bedouin guide, who knows the desert like the back of his hand, will take through narrow canyons, climb up sand dunes, and explore hidden valleys. He’ll also tell you all about the landscape, Bedouin culture, and the fascinating stories Wadi Rum hides.

See the Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Every inch and nook of Wadi rum is impressive. But the Seven Pillars of Wisdom is quite a sight to behold.

This rock formation was made famous by T.E. Lawrence’s book of the same name. The British leader, who had a role in leading the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, had a hideout here. To add even more mysticism, the original Arabic name is Jebel al-Mamzar, which means “The Mountain of the Plague.”

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom mountain is a popular hiking spot and one of the most photographed mountains in the area.

Visit Lawrence Spring (Ain Abu Aineh)

Visiting Lawrence Spring is one of the first things to do in Wadi Rum if you’re a hiker – or at least to get you started. This natural spring in the middle of the desert is a source of fresh water and provides a haven for wildlife and vegetation. It’s a rather short climb to the top of the spring – it’s steep though.

The view from the top is insanely beautiful! And, when you get down, you can enjoy a cup of Bedouin tea to recharge. Bear in mind this is a regular stop for all tours, jeep or camel, so it can be a bit crowded.

Hike to a Rock Arch

Fellow hikers, lace up your hiking boots and embark on a hike to one of Wadi Rum’s famous rock arches! Wadi Rum is home to many rock bridges and arches that offer a fun hike to the most intrepid travelers.

The first one is Little Bridge. It’s right at the beginning of the desert and it’s perfect for beginners. Umm Fruth rock bridge is one of the most photogenic places in Wadi Rum. It juts out 15 meters off the floor and it’s a bit farther away from the visitor center. Last but not least, Burdah Rock Bridge is the highest bridge in the area. Hiking to the top can take up to 4 or 5 hours, so it’s a better alternative for experienced hikers. 

Admire Ancient Petroglyphs

If you’re a history buff, seeing the ancient petroglyphs is one of the best things to do in Wadi Rum. The desert has been inhabited by numerous civilizations and groups throughout the centuries. And some of them have left their mark.

There are 25,000 petroglyphs with 20,000 inscriptions in Wadi Rum that date back to at least 12,000 years. These etchings depict scenes of daily life, animals, and symbolic representations. You’ll get a unique glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the area. 

Try Sandboarding

Sandboarding tours are a great way to experience Wadi Rum. These tours are offered at most Bedouin camps and involve sliding down the rolling sand dunes of the desert.

This is a very popular activity for families as there’s something for even members of the family. Small kids can play in the sand with their bucket and spade, while the big ones get an adrenaline fix on their sandboard. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, there’ll be a guide helping you get the hang of the basics. 

Go Rock Climbing

The massive cliffs that dot every corner of Wadi Rum have made the desert a popular hotspot among rock climbers. Every year, more travelers come to Wadi Rum searching for their next challenge.

Let me make a small pause to share an interesting fact: it was Tony Howard, a famous British climber, who led the first climbing expedition here in 1984. Since then, Wadi Rum has gained a reputation as being among the best desert climbs on Earth.

Back to rock climbing in Wadi Rum, there’s no shortage of rock formations and climbing routes for all fitness levels. Feel free to test your skills and enjoy panoramic views of the desert as a reward.

Take a Sunset Camel Ride

Not everyone is an early bird, especially when they’re on vacation. If that’s you, don’t worry. You can still experience the beauty of the sun painting the skies above Wadi Rum. Sunset camel rides are one of the most beautiful things to do in Wadi Rum.

Just like with a sunrise tour, you can experience life in the desert and witness the spectacular sunset over the dunes. Your guide will take you to the best vantage point so you can see the sun setting behind the mountains and the colors of the desert come alive. 

Have Tea in a Bedouin Tent

I don’t know about you, but I find that exploring the gastronomic side of a culture is one of the most amazing experiences you can have when you travel. In Wadi Rum, you can experience one of the most ancient and beautiful customs of the Bedouin culture: drinking tea.

All Bedouin camps offer tea throughout the day in their tents. While it’s simple, the beverage is just water, black tea, and sugar – seeing how they light up the wood and pour from the kettles is very special. Drinking the tea while coming up in the tent’s colorful carpets and cushions is even more. 

Try a Traditional Bedouin Zarb

Sticking to the gastronomic theme, you can’t leave Wadi Rum without tasting Zarb. Zarb is a traditional Bedouin-style barbecue, which is cooked in an underground oven that’s heated with hot coals.

This delicious meal has meat, chicken, and vegetables that a cook places in a large pot and then lowers into the oven. They cook for many hours, so you’ll enjoy a tender and flavorful dish. If you don’t have any tours before, make sure to head to the tent to see how the Bedouin chef shows off his skills. You may leave having learned a new way of cooking!

Go Stargazing

As an astronomy buff, I can’t miss the opportunity to tell you that stargazing should be on your list of Wadi Rum things to do. The sandstone desert sits under some of the most pristine dark skies, thanks to the lack of urbanization and light pollution.

You can set up your gear next to your bubble or tent, or simply find a quiet spot in the campground, lay a blanket, and let your eyes wander through the cosmos. If you happen to be staying in the part of Wadi Rum near RumSky, their stargazing tours are fantastic.

Sleep in a Martian Dome

Glamping is thriving in the tourism scene of Wadi Rum; many Bedouin camps have found a way to enhance the Martian landscape of the desert and added Martian domes to the type of accommodation they offer.

These eco-friendly domes are designed to blend in with the natural environment and provide guests with a comfortable and luxurious camping experience. You can stargaze from your bed through the glass roof or relax on your private terrace while enjoying the panoramic views of the desert. Needless to say, sleeping in a Martian dome is a unique way to spend the night in Wadi Rum. 

Have any questions about these top things to do in Wadi Rum, or have you heard of other activities you might want to do? Let me know in the comments below!

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I fell in love with Jordan after my first visit in 2016; now I love returning to explore more – and writing guides to help you do the same.

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