Our second stop in Jordan was Madaba, a city known for Byzantine and Umayyad-era mosaics, mosques, churches, and archeological complexes. Madaba’s central location could not be better for exploring Jordan. It’s the perfect location to take in some of Jordan’s best-known sites such as the Dead Sea and Amman. These places are just one hour’s drive from Madaba.
Most of Madaba’s must-visit places are possible to see in a couple of hours but some are beyond the city’s limits. Depending on your time you can visit the Dead Sea on a different day as we did.
In this post, we will share our favorite things to do in Madaba and its surroundings.
St George’s Church
Crafted in AD 560, the map has 157 captions (in Greek) representing all the major biblical sites of the Middle East, from Egypt to Palestine. It was originally around 15m – 25 m long and 6m wide, and once contained more than two million pieces. Although much of the mosaic has been lost, enough remains to sense the complexity of the whole.
The mosaic map is very remarkable, although it can be hard to understand the meaning of it and recognize all the places. We recommend you to buy a small brochure with a helpful description at the ticket office.
The church is open from 8 am – 5 pm October – April and from 8 am- 6 pm May – September. The entrance fee is 1 JD per person.
Madaba Archaeological Park l and Virgin Mary Church
Archaeological Park ll – Burnt Palace
The Burnt Palace was used by priests from the nearby Martyr’s Church and the main highlight here remains mosaic from Byzantine times.
Both Archaeological Park l and ll are open from 8 am – 4 pm October-April and from 8 am- 4 pm May- September. The entrance is included in the Jordan Pass.
Church of the Beheading of John the Baptist
This 20th century Roman Catholic church has been transformed into an intriguing destination for visitors and pilgrims by the restoration of the ancient sites upon which it sits. The church facade was built with stones from antiquity, and Roman columns with Corinthian capitals dot the courtyard.
The church has a museum in the vaulted underbelly, but the highlight for us was a short climb to the church’s belfry. It’s worth the effort for the best panorama in Madaba!
The church is open from 9 am-5 pm October – April and from 9 pm – 7 pm from May – September. The entrance fee is by donation, we found 1 JD appropriate.
Church of the Apostles
The church is open from 9 am – 4 pm October – April and from 9 am – 5 pm May – September. The entrance is included in the Jordan Pass.
This is the place where Moses saw the Promised Land, even if it’s not true it doesn’t change the fact that the views are gorgeous.
When the weather is clear you can see the Jordan River, and also Bethlehem and Jerusalem on the Israeli side.
On the top of the hill, you will find a serpentine cross sculpture and the Moses Memorial Church with mosaics inside.
Mount Nebo is a 15 minutes drive from Madaba, if you don’t have a car you can hire an Uber like we did.
Mount Nebo is open from 5 am – 7 pm October – April and from 7 am – 7 pm November – March. The entrance fee is 2 JD.
Bethany beyond the Jordan
After buying tickets your guide will drive you to the start of the tour, the guide will walk with you to the Jordan river and explain the history of this place.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is easy to reach by car from Madaba, there are also a lot of organized tours that you can take.
Bethany Beyond the Jordan is open from 8.30 am – 5 pm October – April and from 8.30 – 7 pm March – November. The entrance fee is 12 JD; local guide and shuttle bus included.
Ma’in Hot Springs
Ma’in Hot Springs or Hammamat Ma’in are the thermal mineral hot springs and waterfalls, where Herod the Great was said to have bathed in its medicinal water, and where people have come for thermal treatments, or simply to enjoy a hot soak, since the days of Rome.
We stayed one night in the Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa and highly recommend it! We loved the pool and the natural sauna, and the food was fantastic!
How to get to Madaba
Madaba is about half an hour from Amman by car. The city is also only 25km from Queen Alia International Airport.
Busses: There are frequent minibuses from Amman to Madaba each way. The cost will be around 2JD.
Private taxis: The cost depends on your bargain abilities but it can go from JD 8 – 12.
Uber: The cost will be around 8 JD.