Why choose a cruise to Aqaba?

Aqaba is a relaxed port town where you’ll see more locals than tourists. It has a glitzy, modern waterfront, where you’ll find upmarket boutiques and cafés. But venture into its historic centre and you’ll uncover crumbling forts, a local souk (marketplace) and restaurants selling traditional dishes.

Located on the coast, Aqaba is surrounded by pristine white-sand beaches, fringed with palm trees. Technicolour coral reefs lie just offshore – take a scuba diving or snorkelling trip to see them for yourself. The town is renowned for its glowing sunsets, too. Meanwhile, the atmospheric desert of Wadi Rum is only 40 miles away.

aqaba jordanA guide to Aqaba’s hotspots

Wander away from the port into the old town, where you can get lost in the maze of streets surrounding the souk. Stalls display brightly coloured mounds of spices and aromatic teas, while shops sell local handicrafts and ornately decorated lamps – it’s a great place to buy unique souvenirs. Afterwards, find a local restaurant where you can dig into hummus, pita and succulent kebabs.

Head on down to South Beach, a picturesque family-friendly beach just south of the centre. You can soak up the sun or enjoy a drink at one of the beachfront bars. There are also several water-sports centres, offering yacht cruises, jet-skiing tours and scuba excursions.

Take a jeep or camel safari around Wadi Rum desert. It’s a vast, arid wilderness of interesting rock formations and distinctive red sand. There are several Bedouin camps hidden in the desert – visit them for a meal, and to find out more about this traditional, nomadic way of life.

Many people disembark at Aqaba to visit Petra, an ancient city recently voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. It blends dramatically into the desert and the distinctive red-rock cliffs that surround it. Walk through the entrance, a large rift in the cliffs, and you’ll encounter metres-high temples and houses hewn out of the rock.

aqaba jordanCruise lines that sail to the port of Aqaba

The best time to visit Aqaba

Visit this desert area during April, when the skies are clear and temperatures average 24°C (with highs of 30°C).

Temperatures soar during the summer months, averaging 33°C in July and August. But visit during this time and you can enjoy the month-long Jordan Festival, which includes live performances, art exhibitions and other cultural events.

Did you know?

· Petra is also known as ‘Rose City’, due to the colour of the stone it’s carved from

· Aqaba boasts one of the world’s tallest free-standing flagpoles – more than 130 metres high

· Scenes from the film The Martian, starring Matt Damon, were filmed in Wadi Rum