Seasons and climate

Despite Jordan’s small size, its climate is divided into three distinct zones. The largest is the desert zone to the south, which covers 80% of the country. Jordan’s cities and archaeological sites are mainly found in the western mountain heights, while the Jordan Valley – found 300m below sea level has an entirely different climate.

Month-by-month

March to April and September to October are the best – and busiest – times to visit Jordan. Tolerable temperatures make these months perfect for exploring Jordan’s natural beauty, from discovering ancient Nabatean history at Petra and taking a camelback safari in Wadi Rum to tackling a section of the country-length Jordan Trail and relaxing with a dip in the Dead Sea. Look out for the yellow and purple wildflowers that blanket the country in spring.

The mercury plunges between December and February, ushering in a winter season that can be surprisingly grey and rainy. Snow sometimes dusts the tops of the rocky tombs of Petra, but the cooler weather means you might just have the site all to yourself. The colder season is also a great time to soak up knowledge and history in the museums of Amman and marvel at the mosaic map of the Holy Land at St George's Church in Madaba. The summer months between May and August are scorching, but if you can tolerate the heat, bargains abound across the country. Outdoor activities are essentially off-limits at this time of year, but you might find a cooler respite in the community-run B&Bs in Jordan’s far northern reaches.

Jordan_petra_flowers

Wild desert flowers growing in front of the monastery, Petra

Festivals and events

Perhaps because of Jordan’s rugged environment, many of the country’s events focus on athleticism and endurance. Since the inauguration of the 650km-long Jordan Trail in 2015, which runs the entire length of the country from Umm Qais in the north to Aqaba on the Red Sea coast, the trail’s association has hosted an annual thru-hike in March and April for intrepid trekkers that lasts 46 days. Also in April is the Dead Sea Marathon, which starts in the hills of Amman 900m above sea level and drops down to the lowest point on earth, 400m below sea level. In September, runners descend on the sandy paths of the ancient Nabatean capital for the Petra Desert Marathon, which races past the delicate tombs along the Street of Facades and then out into the surrounding desert.

For those keener on culture, the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts takes over the Roman ruins during evenings in July to host folk dances, theatre, poetry performances and handicraft stalls. Jordan is a majority Muslim country, so the holy month of Ramadan brings on a spiritual and festive atmosphere. It also means that opening hours are often shortened and that it’s polite to eat and drink behind closed doors during daylight hours out of respect for those who are fasting. The dates of Ramadan align with the lunar calendar, so they shift slightly earlier each year in the Western calendar.

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When to go to Jordan

By Lauren Keith

Lauren Keith is a guidebook author and travel writer specialising in the Middle East and North Africa and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Lauren was previously the editor for the Middle East and North Africa at Lonely Planet, where she’s written extensively about the region. Follow her adventures in the Middle East and beyond on Instagram @noplacelike_it.

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