Kempinski Blog Article
One of the most enjoyable and beautiful cities in Jordan, Aqaba has a lot to offer travellers looking to enjoy the best the Red Sea has to offer. As well as being home to a range of great sights, fun activities and a variety of excellent restaurants, the cosmopolitan holiday destination is a great starting point from which to explore the exciting things the surrounding region has to offer.
Situated on the Jordanian part of the Red Sea, life in Aqaba is heavily influenced by its coastal location. Whether you are strolling along one of the white sandy beaches, enjoying picturesque views of the sea and the surrounding mountains, or dining on freshly caught seafood, the beautiful Red Sea is an essential part of every experience.
Aqaba also benefits from the Red Sea's underwater life. The entire stretch of water is blessed with world-famous diving opportunities, giving you an amazing chance to explore the depths.
Due to its quiet currents, warm waters and lots of sunlight, the Red Sea is home to all kinds of vibrant corals and huge shoals of tropical fish, as well as turtles and dolphins. Even if you have never dived before, this activity should definitely be one to try during your trip – it is made easy due to the many dive companies in the city.
The majority of international visitors to Aqaba will arrive via King Hussein International Airport, around 20 minutes away from the city centre.
Carriers such as Royal Jordanian, Royal Wings, Finnair and a range of smaller charter airlines fly to destinations including Moscow, Copenhagen, Brussels and Cairo. There are also a large number of flights to the country's other airport in Amman, which connects to a large number of international destinations.
Ferries are available from Taba and Nuwieba in Egypt, and the city can be reached by road from Amman along the desert highway, either by car or via the JETT bus service – the journey takes around four hours.
Given the city's proximity to Eilat, Israel, travelling between the two countries is possible, with taxis operating standardised fares on the Jordanian side of the border. Trips from here to Aqaba city centre are between 10 and 20 JD.
Within the city, taxis and local minibuses are readily available – make sure to negotiate the price before you set off.
Be aware that, despite Jordan having relatively relaxed laws for a Muslim country, there are a number of rules that should be observed by visitors. Negative comments about Islam or the monarchy should be avoided, drugs should not be taken, drivers should take extra care, and photographing military or government buildings is strictly forbidden.
One of the best hotels in the city is Kempinski Hotel Aqaba. A modern, luxurious getaway on the coast, here, guests can enjoy six excellent bars and restaurants, a luxury spa and exquisitely decorated rooms, as well as outstanding levels of service.
If you enjoy seafood, restaurants such as Ali Baba Restaurant, Red Sea Grill, Floka Seafood Restaurant and the excellent Fish In Restaurant all serving up delicious seafood dishes, combining classic grilled fish with rich local flavours.
For those looking for something a little more meaty, restaurants including Your Home, Papaya Restaurant and Café and Syrian Palace Restaurant are all good choices, the latter in particular being well-known for its menu filled with all sorts of mezze and kebab dishes.
There are also international flavours to enjoy too at Formosa Chinese Restaurant, Sushi Corner, Pizzeria del Corso and The Walk Restaurant, ensuring there is something to please everyone.
In and outside of the city, there are all sorts of places to learn about the area, experience something new, or just take some time out and relax. Here are some of our favourites.
A historic castle dating back to the 16th century, Aqaba Fortress is the best place to learn more about the city and its extraordinary history. A key site of the Arab Revolt, Lawrence of Arabia famously helped attack the castle in July 1916, defeating a powerful Ottoman garrison. Aqaba Archaeological Museum is located next to the fort, housing artefacts and exhibits dating back 6000 years to the Bronze Age.
Another must-visit for history lovers, Aqaba Church is the world's oldest-known purpose-built Christian church, dating back to 293-303 AD. A large amount of the ruins still survive, all of which are older than Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.
One of Jordan's most impressive natural wonders, Wadi Rum is a huge desert valley that has remained unspoilt and beautiful, despite its popularity. 40km from Aqaba, it is easily reached via highway, and the whole area includes a range of rock bridges, ancient Nabataean ruins, rock carvings and sites used during the Arab Revolt.
One of the world's most captivating archaeological sites, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra is the jewel in Jordan's historical crown. Much of this ancient Nabataean city was carved into huge rock faces around 700 BC, and the city flourished as a trading centre until it was irreparably damaged by an earthquake 800 years later. The elegant ruins were popularised by the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and are a must-see for everyone.
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