Encompassing the south-west corner of Jordan, the Aqaba Governorate is one of the country’s 12 administrative districts. It was visited by Sinbad the Sailor on his legendary voyages and was the site of a key battle during the Arab Revolt of World War I, which saw Lawrence of Arabia’s men claim victory over the Ottoman Empire.
Things to do in Aqaba
Ancient sandstone landscapes, underwater wonders and a lively modern port - the Aqaba Governorate is understandably one of Jordan’s top tourist destinations.
Sightsee in Aqaba. Serving as a major port, Aqaba is the only coastal city in Jordan. It has a rich history dating back to around 4,000 BC and is watched over by a 16th-century Mamluk-built fortress. Originally established as a caravanserai on the pilgrimage route to Mecca, the Aqaba Fortress offers magnificent views across the Red Sea. Don’t miss the white marble Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque with its huge dome and colonnaded interior.
Explore the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum. East of Aqaba lies one of Jordan’s most photogenic landscapes, Wadi Rum, which has been nicknamed the “Valley of the Moon” due to its seemingly barren terrain. It was here that scenes from “Lawrence of Arabia” were filmed and the area is now dotted with Bedouin-style desert camps run by the Zalabieh tribe. 4x4 tours are the best way to explore Wadi Rum’s magnificent rock formations and petroglyphs.
Go scuba diving in the Red Sea. Aqaba is a deservedly popular destination for scuba divers due to its setting on the shores of the Red Sea. Join one of the local operators to explore the Yamanieh coral reef or visit the American M42 tank that was purposely sunk within Aqaba Marine Park in 1999. Snorkelers can get up close to a variety of fish and sea turtles at the Japanese Gardens.
Getting around Aqaba
King Hussein International Airport is a 10-minute drive from the city of Aqaba and has flights to destinations across the Middle East and Europe. Buses connect from Amman to Aqaba and travel to towns and villages throughout the governorate.