It’s no secret that we love Aqaba. If you’re not yet convinced that Aqaba is the place to go for your next holiday, here are ten good reasons why it should be!
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #1: Easy to get there
With regular Turkish Airlines flight from most cities worldwide via Istanbul, reaching Aqaba has never been easier. And what a flight! Turkish Airlines had won the coveted title of Best European Airline three years in a row, and it’s easy to see why. Seats are more spacious and comfortable than other airlines, service is friendly and professional and their prices are very competitive. Plus, hot meals and on-demand entertainment system are available even on short-haul flights.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #2: Visa Free
Travelling to Amman will bust your budget even before you get out of the airport, with a $30 fee for visa on arrival. On the other hand, Aqaba is visa free. This is why Aqaba is part of a special economic zone, termed ASEZA (Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority). Free visa are the first of many benefits in this little corner of the world.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #3: Shopping
The main advantage of Aqaba’s special economic zone is that taxes are much lower than elsewhere in Jordan. That means cheaper hotel rooms, cheaper duty free goods, and of course cheaper shopping in the town’s souq. If you add the fact that Aqabawi market folk are not nearly as pushy and aggressive as in other Middle Eastern cities, that makes for an amazing shopping experience. So, head to the labyrinthine souq; that Bedouin necklace might not blow your budget after all.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #4: Beach Life
On the shores of the Red Sea, Aqaba is a wonderful beach destination. What is more, it has something for everyone. Those in search of R&R can head to Berenice Beach Club, with a wonderful resort-style beach and loads of activities on offer, from snorkelling, to jet skiing and kite surfing. If you like hustle and bustle, walk downtown to Aqaba’s public beaches, for a slice of local life that would entertain even the most avid people-watchers. For more info, check our Five Aqaba Tips article.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #5: Top Class Diving
It’s no secret that the Red Sea has some of the most beautiful dive sites of the world. The flip side of the coin is that famous resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam are so overrun by tourists that they feel like an underwater supermarket. Aqaba is relatively new as a tourist destination, so not only it guarantees a reef in great condition and clear waters year round, but tourist numbers are also far lower. Near Aqaba, you can do wreck dives, night dives and even dive near a sunken tank. A tank. Yes, that’s correct. For more diving info, contact Berenice Beach Club. Check this article about scuba diving in the Red Sea to learn more!
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #6: Close to Petra and Wadi Rum
If you are not a beach person, don’t despair. Aqaba, Wadi Rum and Petra are part of the so-called Golden Triangle of Jordan, and both destinations are super-easy to reach. The amazing landscapes of Wadi Rum are only a 45 min drive away, and the rose-red city of Petra is a couple of hours at the most. Even the Dead Sea can be reached in about three hours. Travelling to Wadi Rum and Petra from capital Amman would mean six-seven hours through dusty desert highways.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #7: Food
I had never heard of Jordanian food before this trip. I wonder why, because it’s amazing. Every single meal was mouthful after mouthful of heavenly sensations. Aqaba topped it all, with great food from breakfast to dinner, from street stalls to top-notch restaurants. Not to mention the quality of the ingredients. I bought sachets of spices from the market for a few dinars; after a few months they are still fresh and fragrant, reminding me of Aqaba every time I open my kitchen door. For more info, check our Jordan in ten dishes post!
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #8: Atmosphere and Safety
Many people tend to avoid the Middle East for various reasons, from security to hassle. Let’s make things clear. Jordan is perfectly safe, perhaps safer and more politically-stable than most European countries. In terms of hassle, Aqaba folk in particular are very courteous and friendly; single women are likely to be greeted with kind words rather than gawking stares. The atmosphere of Aqaba is chilled out, a bustling and sleepy bach town at the same time. May I say? I’d love to live there.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #9: Four Countries Border
Personally, I am not a box ticker, but there are many out there that love to tally up countries. Aqaba is an ideal place to add stamps to your passport. It’s only a few kilometers away from Eilat, Israel; and a half-hour boat ride away from Egypt. Both countries can be visited as a day trip, or you can use Aqaba as a crossing point to continue your travels in those countries. Aqaba is also very close to Saudi Arabia, but unfortunately visiting the country is off-limits to most western tourists.
Good Reason to visit Aqaba #10: Booming tourist industry
Aqaba is relatively new as a travel destination, but it’s growing fast. There are many hotels and tourist services already, and many more are being built. So, whether you would like to stay at international favourites like The Doubletree or Kempinski, or local digs like the beautiful and great-value Jardaneh Hotel, Aqaba has it covered. Several more openings are on the pipeline; worth a mention is the Red Sea Astrarium, the first Star Trek theme park in the world. Trekkers (or Trekkies, I can never remember) book your flight!
The best reason to visit Aqaba: amazing people
After all, people are what makes a journey special. After years of travelling, my fondest memories are related to the people. The people of Aqaba are perhaps the most hospitable I have ever met. After being in town for a week, I have forged friendships that I hope will last a lifetime.