We usually take the place we grew up in for granted, and lose the rose colored glasses that we see other countries with. Being born and raised in Jordan, I never realized how rich the country is and full of valuable gems.
With thousands of years of history, Jordan has some of the best preserved Roman ruins outside Italy. In addition to the famous Rose city (Petra) and Mars-like desert (Wadi Rum), there are so many beautiful places that deserve more attention. If you are looking for insider info to plan your trip to Jordan, you’re in the right place.
If you fly to Jordan, Amman will most probably be your first stop. Being the capital, it’s known for being a city of contrasts. The blend between old and new adds a magical vibe to it. Sadly, most tourists skip Amman to go directly to other places, which is a shame. I would suggest to hire a car rather than relying on Taxis. Public transport in Amman is not that advanced or relatable.
So…Without further ado, here’s my list of what to do in Amman :
Found on one of the highest hills of the city, the citadel provides a great viewpoint on old Amman. You can trace the great ancient civilizations through the remnants of a Roman Hercules Temple, a Byzantine church, a spectacular Umayyad palace, and many other ruins and fragments**
My favorite part there is the hand of Hercules which can be found near the temple.
Downtown & Roman Theater
To reach the downtown, you can either walk from the Citadel or take a taxi (shouldn’t take more than $2). I suggest you take a taxi to the Roman Theater directly, as it is a long distance from the citadel.
The Roman Theater dates back to the 2nd century when the city was known as Philadelphia It currently hosts some cultural activities and concerts and could seat up to 6,000 people.
Afterwards, I suggest you walk around the downtown, and feel the vibes of the city. You can find some great gifts and souvenirs, and great food. The people are inviting, friendly but can be a bit pushy, so don’t feel the need to buy something if you don’t want. And you can always negotiate the prices. Most merchants inflate the numbers a bit so they can have room to haggle.
I highly recommend going to one of the traditional cafes (Jafra, Afra…) and enjoy an authentic Arab experience. You can have Sheesha (hubbly bubbly), a nice cup of black tea and some yummy Arabic food.
You can also try one of the oldest restaurants in Amman – Hashim, where you can enjoy the best hummus and falafel in town. If you’re lucky enough, you might even meet the Royal family – It’s one of their favorite places in town. The restaurant has a wall with newspaper clippings of celebrities and royal family members who visited the place over the years.
If you feel like having something sweet, take a left turn from Hashim, cross the street and find an alley with lots of people queuing for the best Kunafa in town. Habiba opened that branch in 1951 and it’s been one of Amman’s landmarks since.
Jabal Amman/ Rainbow street
Another one of my favourite spots is Jabal Amman/Rainbow street. It’s also located on a hill and visitors can have nice view of downtown and the Citadel.. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants that serve yummy food.
If you fancy some falafel, don’t miss the chance to try the famous Al Quds Restaurant’s delicious sandwich.
Royal Automobile Museum
Located on the other side of Amman, this museum showcases a rare collection of Jordan’s vehicles ranging from Hussein bin Ali’s cars that came to Amman in 1916 to modern sports cars.*
The late King Hussain bin Talal was a huge fan of racing cars and motorcycles, not to mention the custom made cars that he owned. I heard that the museum added the Rover that was used in the Hollywood movie The Martian which was filmed in Wadi Rum.
This is the new hip area in Amman which was open in 2013-2014. You can find really cool cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a variety of delicious cuisines. It’s a great place to hang out in the summer!
I really hope this helps with your planning. Let me know in the comments below if you have other suggestions.