In the north of Jordan, about 70 kilometers northwest of Amman, you will find the fertile highlands of Ajloun and the greenest area of Jordan. Ajloun highlands are rich with unique flora and fauna and diverse wildlife making them a great destination for eco-tourism and hiking. History enthusiasts will also find enough things to do in Ajlound such as visiting the Ajlund castle, the 12th-century medieval castle nested in Ajlund highlands, and the Tell Mar Elias archeological site.
Situated within a convenient distance from Amman, Ajloun is easily accessible, making it an ideal side trip for those exploring Jordan. Compared to touristy and overcrowded Petra and Wadi Rum, Ajlound is still developing as a travel destination in Jordan. So you have a chance to explore Jordan off the beaten path with lesser crowds. Let’s dive deep into things you can do in Ajloun and why you should visit this little green paradise surrounded by desert.
Getting from Amman to Ajloun
Ajloun town is located 76 kilometers northwest of Amman which is about 1,5 hours driving by car. You can either rent a car or take a taxi from Amman. Both Ajloun Forest Reserve and Ajlound Castle have free parking spaces for visitors. Driving in Jordan is relatively easy and straightforward. Outside of Amman, there is not much traffic on the roads.
You can also get to Ajloun by public buses. The so-called JETT bus operates on the Amman — Ajloun — Jerash route and costs 15 JOD for a roundtrip. The bus usually starts at 08:30 AM from the Tabardour North Bus Station and it only leaves when it is full, so you might need to wait a bit.
Best Things to Do in Ajloun
Standing proudly at 1250 meters above sea level overlooking the Ajlound highlands, the castle of Ajlound is one of the highlights of Jordan that I highly recommend visiting. The castle was built on the site of an old monastery in the 12th century by IYY al-Din Usama, a nephew of famous Muslim general Salah ad-Din (Saladin). The strategic location of the castle enabled Saladin’s army to look out across the Jordan Valley for invaders. It played a significant role in defending the region against Crusader inventions and controlling the iron mines in the surrounding hills.
Ajloun Castle is an impressive example of Islamic military architecture. It contains many chambers, carvings, and towers making it a great place to visit as a day trip from Amman. Tourists can explore the well-preserved structure, climb its towers for panoramic views over the Jordan Valley, and learn more about the history of Jordan and importance of the this fortification for the region. The entrance fee to Ajloun Castle is 3 JD ( price in 2023).
Opening Hours of Ajloun Castle
|November through April||Summer||April and May||During Ramadan|
|8:00 am – 4:00 pm||8:00 am – 6:30 pm||8:00 am – 5:30 pm||9:00 am – 5:00 pm|
Tell Mar Elias
Tell Mar Elias is an archeological site just 10 minutes drive from the Ajloun castle which is associated with the birthplace of prophet Elijah. Here you will find ruins of a Byzantine monastery dedicated to the prophet including two churches. You can use the same ticket you used for the Ajloun castle to visit Tell Mar Elias so it might be worth the extra drive. Artifacts from the site, including marble carvings and religious objects, are displayed in the archaeological museum of the Ajloun castle. Near parking and the visitor center you will find stairways leading to the archeological site located on top of the hill. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views over the Ajloun highlands and nearby town. Beautiful mosaics from the Byzantine era are still visible on the floors of the ruins of the churches. In the middle of the archeological site, you will find the atrium with olive trees and staircases where you can sit in the shadows and relax a bit.
Ajloun Forest Reserve
Ajloun Forest Reserve located in the Ajlound highlands is a Nature Reserve under control and protection from the Royal Society for The Conservation of Nature (RSCN) of Jordan. It covers over 13 square kilometers area and offers various marked trails for hiking and exploring. The reserve is renowned for its rich biodiversity and the scenic beauty of its forested landscape. Here you will find rare trees such as Evergreen Oak, Pine, Carob, Wild Pistachio, and Wild Strawberry trees. That’s why it is a popular destination for eco-tourism and nature enthusiasts. All the hiking trails are well-marked. The reserve preserves local wild plants and animals and takes care of the hiking trails.
Where to Stay in Ajloun Forest Reserve
When you arrive at the Ajloun Forest Reserve, you can park for free in front of the Visitor Center. There is also a restaurant and cozy wooden cabins for the guests to stay overnight. The wooden cabins are very basic but you have all the amenities for staying a night or two. This is a very peaceful and relaxing place away from the crowds and major tourist hotspots and I really enjoyed staying there. I highly recommend coming here at the beginning of March to see wildflowers all over the hiking trails and around the lodges.
Ajloun Forest Reserve Zipline
Directly in Ajloun Forest Reserve near the Visitor Center, you will find the highest zip line in Jordan where you can enjoy a nice panoramic ride. The registration and the pickup point for the ride are directly at the Visitor Center. The zip line is quite easy and short, with a length of only 330 meters in total, making it very tempting for beginners to ziplining to try out a new thing. If you are an experienced adventurer, like me, you might find it a bit boring. I skipped it due to my schedule but other guests enjoyed the ride. This zip line is especially popular among families with children.
Best Time to Go to Ajloun
The best time to go hiking in Ajloun is in Jordanien Spring between the end of February and April. The trees are in blossom during this period of the year and hiking trails are full of wild forest flowers. It rarely rains in Jordan in spring and temperatures are ideal for hiking this time of the year.