What to see in Amman, Jordan

What to see in Amman, Jordan

Upon your arrival in Jordan the first city you will see will most likely be Amman, the capital of Jordan, the ancient Philadelphia . Amman represents a pleasant introduction to the welcome and warmth of the Jordanian people. Even though it is quite small, it offers many interesting places to see which, if you wake up early in the morning, can be visited in just one day. If you are wondering what to see in Amman in this post you will discover all the places you should visit and which will not take you more than a day.

It is a pleasure to walk through the streets of downtown , a neighborhood that contains the typical characteristics of Arab cities, noise, markets, music, shops open until late .
It is equally surprising to go outside this ancient, rather limited center and discover a new city that is expanding rapidly where modern and cutting-edge malls and shopping centers are being created which, despite not being a lover of these places, I believe are worth visiting, at least to experience the enormous difference and learn about the different faces of the most populated city in Jordan.

Amman is a city that doesn’t give enough time to. Tour operators frequently skip it or use it as a base for the first night, then immediately head to Jarash before driving to the Dead Sea and Petra. Which is a shame.

I, on the other hand, spent 5 days in Amman, which may seem like a lot, perhaps they are, but which day after day helped me to appreciate the capital, almost creating a routine neighborhood life without me doing much (in the end the downtown it’s small and I’m quite a creature of habit). In Amman I felt halfway between the ancient Middle Eastern Arab world and the modern one made up of glittering malls and trendy cafes, which at first sight I thought impossible could co-exist.

If you are wondering what to see in Amman in one day this post is for you!
Start from the southern part, downtown, where the souks, the Roman theater and the citadel are located, and then discover the northern part with luxury shopping centres, skyscrapers and nightclubs.

Whether you stay for 1, 2, 3 or, like me, 5 days, Amman always has something to offer, and what follows is my personal selection of places to visit in Amman, the capital of Jordan.

If you are planning a trip to Jordan make sure you also read these posts:

The JordanPass and entry to sites of interest + Visa
I remember that the JordanPass which is possible, in fact I highly recommend doing so, purchase online starting from 70JOD, this cumulative ticket on entrance tickets to the main attractions of Jordan, including Petra, includes also the cost of the entry visa. I used the JordanPass to get into all of the sites mentioned in this


Where to sleep in Amman 

I couldn’t consider any other place to sleep other than Downtown , very close to all points of interest but above all incredibly alive during the day and in the evening, so this is definitely my favorite neighborhood. For those who prefer 4 or 5 star hotels then there it will have to move to other areas, about 5 km away, where luxury and high-category hotels are concentrated.

  • La Locanda Boutique Hotel – This small hotel is in a very attractive location in the center of Amman in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods. The rooms are spacious and bright , clean and have nothing missing to be an excellent option for those looking for comfort at an honest price. Breakfast with typical Jordanian products is included in the price.  Double rooms starting from US$100
  • Nomad Hotel Nomads Hotel is located 400 meters from Rainbow Street and 800 meters from Hashem Restaurant. This 2-star hostel offers a 24-hour reception, shared areas, a kitchen, a lounge and a terrace. Minimal but very pleasant hotel. The rooms are spacious and all with private bathrooms. Double rooms starting from €50.
  • Amman Rotana – A beautiful 5 star hotel in the residential area of ​​Amman, a modern and luxurious hotel near Abdali Mall. The rooms are very spacious, and offer wonderful views of the city. Breakfast is included in the price. The hotel also has a swimming pool and an outdoor solarium area and an evening bar on the sixth floor.  Double rooms starting from US$150 per night

7 places to see in Amman

Whether you stay for one or more days, Amman is a city that knows how to conquer in its being a part ancient city and a part modern metropolis. So if you only have one day available I recommend you start very early in the morning and discover the most important places that I recommend you see in Amman

Downtown Amman Head Souk 

I love this part of Amman , lively and fun, probably the most touristy as it is exotic and characteristic, full of restaurants and cafes open all day until late in the evening.
This neighborhood represents the stereotype of Arab cities in the Middle East , noisy, horns and music, restaurants always open, people walking through the streets at all hours, the soul of the city which is a shame to miss if you pass through the city. The souq, behind the Mosque , is very large, even if apparently hidden, each area is specialized by sector.

The souks that I recommend visiting are the following:

  • Souk Mango – Here you can find wedding dresses, some of which are quite daring!
  • Souk El’atareen – It is located behind the mosque and is where the pharmacists selling spices and natural remedies are concentrated
  • Souk El Sri Lankiytat – The migrants’ souk where there are mainly numerous Indian restaurants. You can also find some great fabrics and sarongs here
  • Souk Asfour – This souk specializes in traditional clothing and embroidered products such as personalized cushions and tapestries.
  • Souk El-Sagha – Souk of beautifully crafted gold jewelery and objects. Obviously pay attention to what is sold!
  • Souk El- Share3 Eltalyani – This is the bale market, bales of clothes, shoes, bags, curtains, bedding… basically anything that can be put in a bale and sold is found here. Most of the things sold are second hand, but you can also find new things, just for those who have time to spare!
  • Souk El-Joura – This is the place to find sofas, tables, beds, cabinets and home supplies
  • Souk El-Boukhariyeh – This souk specializes in haberdashery.
  • Souk El-Khoudra – The beautiful and colorful fruit and vegetable souk, probably my favourite!
  • Souk Elkoutoub – For those who want books, in Arabic, and for those looking for sacred texts (always in Arabic!)
Amman market

Roman Theater and Citadel in Amman

The Amman Citadel , known as Jabal al-Qal’a, on one of the seven mountains that made up Amman, recounts the occupation of the territory since the Neolithic, considered one of the oldest inhabited places in the world .

Its history of occupation by great civilizations is still visible today thanks to the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad buildings among which you can walk while also enjoying the wonderful view of the city and the amphitheatre.
Over the centuries, the hill has served as an agora and a fortress, representing the political and economic center of the city.

The main buildings of the site are the Temple of Hercules , built under Marcus Aurelius, the remains of which are large columns, a Byzantine church, destroyed by the earthquake and which still retains some mosaics and the Umayyad Palace , which is believed to be the home of governor of Amman around 720AD, but which was destroyed by the earthquake of 749.

Right at the foot of the citadel there is a beautiful Roman theatre, still used in the summer months for concerts and shows, and which represents the best preserved monument in the city. Next to it is an Odeon. Entrance to the sites is paid but for those who own the JordanPass it is included .

citadel Amman

He Jordan Museum

The Jordan Musem presents Jordan’s history and important cultural heritage in a series of beautifully designed galleries. The purpose of the museum is to represent the history and culture of the country we are about to discover in an engaging and constructive way. Definitely an interesting way to start your journey!

The museum is open from Friday to Wednesday from 9 am to 4 pm, on Friday it closes at 2 pm. It is closed on Thursday. The cost of the ticket is included in the Jordan Pass.

 The new part of Amman – Boulevard and Abdali Mall

I’m not a lover of shopping centres, but Amman’s Boulevard and the Abdali Mall which is located next to it tell the story of a very different city from that of Downtown.

As my friend Ayman pointed out to me, this is the only place where you can walk without cars cutting across the road and in peace, there are security checks at the entrances.
Right behind the Boulevard there is the large #ILoveJo sign with which you will most likely want to take a photo.

Definitely a strange place to visit especially if you are in Downtown and which strikingly shows the incredible growth that the city is experiencing, also becoming a place where people from the United Arab Emirates come on holiday to have fun.

A nice place to smoke a shisha and drink a strictly non-alcoholic cocktail in one of the many trendy bars.


Rainbow street the restaurant street

Although it is one of the oldest areas of Amman, this short street of just 900 meters is today a very popular meeting place among locals thanks to the numerous variety of cafes and restaurants.

Rainbow street is located a short distance from Downtown, and can be easily reached on foot.
If during the day it presents itself as a pedestrian street in which to do a bit of shopping, in the evening it transforms into a meeting place to have dinner and spend time in a street much loved by the inhabitants of Amman.


Smoking shisha in one of the downtown bars

An Amman experience that I gave myself every evening, a tea to remember while smoking shisha on the small and lively balconies of the cafes along Downtown. The choice is varied, from the slightly more fashionable ones to the purely local ones, my favourites, probably less attractive and rather basic, no one speaks English, but certainly with character!

Eat the most famous felafel in the city and taste knafeh (original from Neblus)

I didn’t know that I had a falafel lunch in the most famous restaurant in the city known for its falafel: Hashem , quite popular among locals, including the King, and tourists (but I think it is popular among tourists because it was mentioned by Lonely Planet).

There is no menu at this restaurant, the service is fast, as you have to be quick to leave if there is a queue, but generally the dishes served are felafel , moutabel ( with aubergines), ful medames (based on broad beans), hummus, and fattit hummus (a variation of hummus that I find delicious!). Two people for an abundant plate of felafel, hummus and two bottles of water (a sort of cover charge quite common in Jordan, you still have to pay): 3JOD.

You cannot miss the Knafeh at the Habibah pastry shop , which has a real shop and a stall very close to Hashem which apparently is very popular among the locals who buy the same sweet there and wait in a very long queue, especially on Friday which is day of celebration, are linked to the first location of the well-known pastry shop.

This dessert is typical of Nablus , Palestine, made with kataifi, phyllo dough in threads, or without (what I prefer) cream cheese which when cooked is sweetened with sugar syrup and chopped pistachios. The history of the Habibah shop dates back to 1947, when Al-Haj Maumoud Habibah from Nablus, but living in Jerusalem , decided to dedicate herself to the world of sweets.

The following year he moved to Amman bringing with him the recipe for the typical dessert of his hometown, making his shop the best known in the city today. Even those who do not particularly like Middle Eastern desserts, which are quite sweet, will not remain indifferent to this spectacular dessert.


What to see around Amman

Amman is an excellent base for daily visits to the surrounding area, in particular the beautiful Jerash and Azraq and its castles in the desert. 

Visit Jerash

Less than 50 km from Amman, there is the wonderful archaeological site of Jerash (or Gerasa) , whose entrance through the imposing Hadrian’s Gate introduces you to the once prosperous and very powerful ancient city.

Unlike other cities in the country whose importance was due to the fact that it was on the trade routes, Jerash, despite never having held this role, was instead located in a very fertile area , which still bears fruit today. .

The city is considered one of the best preserved among Roman cities , thanks to the almost intact state of numerous structures. The city was born under Alexander the Great, but the most visible remains today date back to Roman times. Pompey conquered the region almost 400 years later, making it one of the cities of the Decapolis, an aggregate of territories in the Transjordan.

In the 1st century the city was completely redesigned according to Roman architecture, clearly visible from the cardo maximus, to continue expanding under Trajan.
The marvelous and imposing Hadrian’s Arch , built in 129 AD, 37m high and 13m wide, was erected in honor of Emperor Hadrian visiting the city.

In the 3rd century the city reached its maximum splendor until an earthquake killed three quarters of the population and Jerash was abandoned, until at the end of the 19th century the importance of the site was understood and its splendors returned to light.

On the way back from Jerash, if by car, I recommend returning via the city of Salt , 40 minutes from the Jordan Valley, considered an open-air museum of Ottoman architecture.

Visit Azraq and the castles in the desert 

100km east of Amman, in the heart of the eastern desert of Jordan, is the only inhabited center and source of refreshment for travellers, generally truck drivers, between Saudi Arabia and Iraq , the city where no more than 10,000 people live.

The route, a long road that is practically always straight, crosses a beautiful desert, leading to suggestive castles in the desert that date back to the Umayyad dynasty, considered the seventh largest empire in the history of humanity. The castles are numerous but visiting them on a day trip from Amman, the choice fell on the main ones:

  • Qasr al-Azraq – The blue castle, name derived from the fact that at the time the area was a rich and fertile oasis, the only source of water in the eastern desert. Built by the Romans, today’s structure was built by the Umayyads. Used by the Ottoman army, it became the residence of Lawrence of Arabia during the Arab revolt.
  • Qasr al Hallabat – Originally this was a fortress built by Caracalla to protect the people from the Bedouins and although the site appears to date back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD there are traces of Nabataean finds. This was a fortress along the road connecting Aqaba to Damascus. Revalued by the Umayyad Hishab Abd al.Malik it became the largest desert complex of all.
  • Qasr Amra – The most famous palace with the Qasr al-Azraq, an excellent example of Islamic architecture. Used as a retreat for the Caliph and his family, it is still decorated with frescoes (currently under renovation with the patronage of Italy). The castle has been included in the list of World Heritage Sites.
  • Qasr Kharana – One of the castles whose purpose was the summer residence of the caliphs, it seems in fact that it had no military purposes, and is in excellent condition.
  • Qasr Al-Mushatta – This castle also seems to have been built by the Umayyad dynasty, today the façade of the Mushatta is preserved in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In fact, in 1840 it was donated by Sultan Abdul Hamis II to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Since 1932 it has been at Pergamon even though it was seriously damaged during the bombings.

Renting a car in Jordan

For both visits I recommend renting a car , you need an international driving license, they are both possible in a day from Amman.
We rented the car on Rentalcars for the entire duration of the trip. I remember that in Jordan car rentals require an international driving license.
I noticed that some rentals don’t require it, but read the terms and conditions carefully in this regard or, to travel without problems, simply have an international driving license!

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