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Umayyad Desert Castles: Day Trips and Tours from Amman

Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a vibrant city with ancient history. Today it's a lively metropolis full of culture, art and cuisine – think bustling markets, fascinating museums and beautiful mosques.

But this remarkable remarkable city is also a crossroads — a starting point for a spectacular desert journey. Take a day trip from Amman to the Umayyad desert castles — a series of structures that date back to the early eighth century.

Here's all you need to know about Umayyad desert castles, some of the most spectacular day trips from Amman.

How to get to Umayyad desert castles From Amman?

There are several desert castles scattered around Jordan, particularly in the area surrounding Amman. The castles are spread around the Eastern Desert, which starts east of Amman and continues toward Saudi Arabia.

From Amman to the Umayyad desert castles by car

How to get to the Umayyad desert castles by car depends on which castle you want to visit. The closest, Qasr al-Mshatta, is a 30-minute drive southeast of Amman, located near the airport.

If you decide to drive north first, you'll reach Qasr al-Hallabat – one of the larger estates, about 50 minutes away. The furthest is Qasr al-Azraq, about 90 minutes drive east from Amman.

Guided tour to the Umayyad desert castles From Amman

The easiest way to get to the Umayyad desert castles from Amman is by joining a guided tour, which lasts anywhere between 4 and 10 hours. There are several companies that offer day trips and excursions, either as part of larger group tours or private packages.

The itinerary usually starts with hotel pickup and includes visits to some of the most interesting castles such as Qasr al-Mshatta, Qasr al-Hallabat and Qasr al-Azraq.

What is the typical itinerary?

Most Umayyad desert castles day trips from Amman start with hotel pickup, usually in the morning.

You'll be escorted in an air-conditioned vehicle with an English-speaking driver, and the tour will then take you to visit some of the most interesting castles in the area.

While each tour is different, many start with Quseir Amra, an 8th-century castle famed for its former intricate frescoes and nightly parties, before heading to Qasr al-Harrana near the Saudi Arabia border.

Other desert castles such as Qsar Al-Azraq – which is nearby to the Azraq Wetland Reserve – Qasr al-Hallabat, Qasr Al -Kharana (a 2-level fortress) and Qasr Al-Mshatta are also included in most itineraries.

Depending on the tour type, you may also visit other smaller castles or nearby sites such as the Dead Sea, the Cave of the Seven Sleepers or the Al Azraq Castle where Lawrence of Arabia resided, before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.

What kinds of tours are available to go to Umayyad desert castles?

There are several types of tours available to visit the Umayyad desert castles from Amman.

Guided tours to Umayyad desert castles from Amman

Usually half-day tours, these small group tours start with convenient hotel pickup from Amman.

You can expect stops at Quseir Amra, Qasr al-Harrana and other popular sites with lunch along the way.

Private tour to Umayyad desert castles from Amman

This kind of tour is suited to couples, families and small groups who want a more personal experience. It includes hotel pickup and visits to some of the most famous desert castles, with plenty of stops along the way for photos.

The tour can be customized according to your preferences, allowing you to spend as much or as little time at each castle. You'll also have an experienced guide accompanying you throughout the tour.

Umayyad desert castles day trip plus Amman city tour

An excellent choice for travelers who want to get the most out of their time in Amman, this package combines visits to some of the Umayyad desert castles with a tour of the bustling city.

In Amman, you'll visit locations such as the old markets, the Roman amphitheater, the King Abdullah Mosque, and more.

Umayyad desert castles day tour plus the Dead Sea from Amman

In addition to visiting some of the most important Umayyad desert castles, this day tour also includes a stop at the Dead Sea – one of Jordan's most popular attractions. This sea is world-famous for its high concentration of salt and therapeutic properties.

You'll be able to take a dip in the sea, cover yourself with its famous black mud, float in the water and have plenty of time for photos. The tour then takes you back to Amman in time for dinner.

How much does a day trip to the Umayyad desert castles From Amman cost?

The price of day trips to the Umayyad desert castles starts at around US$70 per person but can vary depending on the type of tour.

Guided group tours typically cost from US$70 to US$180 per person, depending on the number of castles visited, while private tours start at around US$100 to US$200 per person. Day trips that include a city tour of Amman, or a visit to the Dead Sea usually cost between US$80-US$170 per person.

What will you see and do?

A day trip to the Umayyad desert castles From Amman offers a unique opportunity to explore some of Jordan's most iconic sites.

Depending on the type of tour you choose, your itinerary may include visits to several different castles. You can learn about the region's rich history and take in spectacular views of the desert.

Many day tours to Umayyad include a Amman city tour of the capital itself. Here, you can marvel at its many monuments and landmarks, such as the Roman Theater and Citadel Hill.

Qasr Al -Kharana

Built in the eighth century, this is one of the best-preserved castles in Jordan and offers a stunning view of the desert landscape. The castle is also known for its multi-level design.

Qasr al-Mshatta

Close to Amman's airport, this castle dates back to the mid-8th century and is famous for its carved ornamentation, with detailed drawings etched into the limestone all around. The triple-arched facade makes for an incredible photo.

Qasr al-Hallabat

One of the largest Umayyad castles, this fortress has been abandoned since around 749 A.D. A comprehensive complex, it boasts a mosque, a water system with a large reservoir and a bathhouse.

Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of Jordan's (and Israel's) most popular attractions due to its high concentration of salt and title of the lowest place on earth, at 1,414 feet (431 meters) below sea level.

When is the best time to visit the Umayyad desert castles?

The best time to visit the Umayyad desert castles is during spring (March to May) or autumn (September to November), when the temperatures are a little cooler.

What are the other day trips from Amman?

Travel tips

  • Don't forget to bring your hat, sunscreen and water bottle.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes as some of the sites involve a lot of walking.
  • Book your tour online and in advance to ensure the best price and secure your preferred dates.