There are many interesting things to do in Amman.
The capital of Jordan is a fun place to explore. Though most people who visit only spend 48 hours in Amman, I think there are plenty of things to do in Amman to keep you entertained for longer.
This is a city packed with archeological sites, markets that are fun to explore, a thriving food scene and an even more thriving art scene – something that in fact catches many (myself included, I must admit) by surprise.
Amman has a nice, easy going atmosphere. Locals are generally friendly and very welcoming – they may stop you at the park when they realize you are a foreigner so that their children can practice English with you.
In this post, I highlight the coolest things to do in Amman and share some tips that will help you plan your trip.
In a rush? Go ahead and book one of the nicest guided tours of Amman – this is one of the top things to do in Amman to get properly acquainted with the city. Tours usually go to the archeological sites scattered across town and to the markets of downtown.
Here are the best options:
- Amman sightseeing private tour – this excellent half day tour goes to the most famous attractions in town, including the Citadel, the Roman theater and King Abdullah Mosque.
- Amman Day or Night Private Sightseeing Tour – a nice tour of downtown Amman going to all the most important sites.
- Amman: Private Car & Downtown Walking Tour – this very good tour only goes downtown but you can have the add on to go to the Citadel for an additional price.
- Private Street Food and Walking Tour of Amman – a great of discovering Amman through its many flavors.
13 Cool Things To Do In Amman
Visit the Roman theater
Among the unmissable things to do in Amman there is the visiting Roman theater. Likely built in the 2nd century AD, it resembles many other Roman theater: it is cut into the side of a hill (which was once a necropolis). The theater used to have a seating capacity of 6000 people.
TIP: The best views of the Roman Theater are from the Citadel. Make sure to go at sunset for the most impressive experience.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The theater is located downtown. It’s open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturdays to Thursdays and 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Fridays. Between April and October the site closes at 7:00 pm.
Go to Amman Citadel
There is no doubt that visiting the Citadel is one of the things to do in Amman. Located on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a, at around 850 meters above sea level, this incredible archeological site counts many impressive buildings such as Umayyad Palace, built around AD 720 by the Umayyad Arabs and subsequently destroyed by an earthquake in AD 749.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Citadel is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturdays to Thursdays and from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Fridays. Between April and October it closes at 7:00 pm (except on Fridays).
Take in the view of the Roman Temple of Hercules
One of the coolest things to do in Amman is visiting the Roman Temple of Hercules, which is located inside the Citadel. Yet, what I am sure you will enjoy even more is admiring if from a distance. The remaining pillars that can be seen from various places in town. Not far from the temple, there is a fantastic lookout from where you can instead get views of the modern city.
Visit King Abdullah Mosque
One of the most unique things to do in Amman is paying a visit to King Abdullah Mosque – what’s unique about it is that this is the only mosque in Amman that is open to tourists. The mosque was completed in 1989 and can house up to 10000 worshippers – 7000 inside and 3000 in the courtyard. There is a small section that can also house up to 500 women.
Women will have to cover their head before getting in – head-dress is available at the entrance of the mosque. Modest clothing is necessary – you’ll have to cover your arms, legs, chest and back. Abayas are available as well. All visitors need to remove their shoes before entering.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The mosque is open Saturdays to Thursdays from 8:00 to 11:00 am and from 12:30 to 2:00 pm.
Enjoy Amman art scene
The Jordanian capital has a truly artsy heart and one of the coolest things to do in Amman is going to art galleries and exploring the city to appreciate the street art. Murals spread are spread around town. The best place for art, however, is Darat al-Funun, located on the hillside to the north of downtown Amman. This complex includes an art gallery with exhibits of the most prominent contemporary Jordanian artists. To top this off, the views from there are breathtaking.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Darat al-Funun is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturdays to Thursdays. It is closed in August and during public holidays. During Ramadan it closes at 3:00 pm.
Go to Jadal for Knowledge and Culture
To fully appreciate the cool vibe, one of the things to do in Amman is going to Jadal for Knowledge and Culture. This is a great combination of a café, art gallery, and a place for education. It is located in a traditional house dating back to 1933 and renovated a few years ago, you can get there from the Kalha Stairs that connect Downtown with Jabal L’Wiebdeh.
The area is a cool one to explore, as it’s bursting with creative initiatives and start-ups.
At Jadal for Knowledge and Culture visitors can take art and language classes and foreigners can enroll to learn Arabic. The center works alongside an NGO that helps refugees integrate in Jordan.
Discover Duke’s Diwan
Another of the things to do in Amman that you really should not miss is visiting Duke’s Diwan. This historic townhouse was built in 1924 and was used as a post office. It then became the seat of the Ministry of Finance; and finally a hotel. The house belongs to a local businessman who’s also the Duke of Mukhaybeh. He restored it to its original splendor, with period furnishing, and opened it to the public to appreciate it. It’s a lovely place, with a unique, vintage atmosphere. You may even be lucky to meet the Duke in person as I was!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Duke’s Diwan opens at 8:00 am and closes at dusk.
Stuff your face with hummus and falafel at Hashem restaurant
Amman is a great food scene. If eating hummus and falafel is one of the things to do in Amman, head straight to Hashem Restaurant, literally a local legend. This small restaurant is located in the downtown area is open 24/7. There’s no menu – a waiter will come take your order and clarify that all the food is vegan and that each item costs 1 Jordanian Dinar (JD).
It’s very convenient and incredibly tasty – you are likely to have the best falafel of your life. A meal of falafel, hummus, baba ganouj, olives and pita, a bottle of water and a mint tea will cost around 4 JD, about $ 5.6 USD and will be enough for two.
Walk along Rainbow Street
One of the things to do in Amman that you really should not miss is a walk along Rainbow Street. This lovely street is lined with Ottoman architecture, and street art abounds. This is also where you should hang out for the best nightlife in town.
Al-Balad is located in the old downtown, just below the citadel, and it is a great place to explore with nice historical shops, cafés and restaurants – it’s probably the best place to look for souvenirs to take home with you.
Eat at Al Quds
Trying traditional food is one of the things to do in Amman and for that you should head straight to Al-Quds – that’s the Arabic name of Jerusalem, so ask anybody where the Jerusalem Restaurant is and you will be pointed there.
It is a very matter of fact place with waiters that may at time appear abrupt, but food is good and the atmosphere easy going and very local. There is an English version of the menu but this must have been a literal translation put together with Google translate as it hardly makes sense.
Spend a day at the Dead Sea
Depending on the exact beach you want to go to, it takes little over one hour to drive from Amman to the Dead Sea, where you can spend a day relaxing in the mud baths, baking in the sun and floating in the Dead Sea. For ease, I recommend joining a guided tour that will take you to one of the beaches where you can safely swim in trunks or bikinis. These are some good tours:
- Dead Sea and Madaba tour – a very long tour that goes to the Dead Sea but also includes a stop at Madaba, one of the oldest cities in the Middle East.
- Day tour Dead Sea from Amman – this is the longest of all tours, best if you want to spend the whole day at the Dead Sea. Keep in mind the fee does not include the admission to the beach.
- Private tour to Dead Sea and Baptism site – this tour is suitable for group of up to 3 persons and also goes to the Jordan river.
Go on a day trip to Jerash
Jerash is the perfect place for a day trip from Amman, located at about 1 hour drive north of the city. Jerash has some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the Middle East. At its peak, its population grew to more than 20000 people.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The easiest way to get from Amman to Jerash is by bus. Buses leave from the North Terminal Bus Station.
You can also go on a guided tour. These are some good options:
- Jerash, Umm-Qais and Jesus’ Cave private trip – this guided tour visits some of the most interesting sites in the vicinity of Amman. It lasts around 7 hours.
- Private tour to Jerash and Ajloun – another good day trip option that includes a stop at a 12th century crusader castle.
Practical Tips To Prepare Your Trip To Amman
Using a Jordan Pass to explore Amman and the rest of Jordan
The Jordan Pass is an excellent option if you intend to spend some time in the country. It gives you access to more than 40 attractions that include some of those mentioned in this post such as the Roman Theater, the Citadel, Jerash, Ajloun, and the most famous one in the country, Petra. The pass also acts as a visa waiver so that you don’t have to pay to get in the country.
There are three Jordan Pass packages – the most basic one costs $99 USD and gives you a one day access to Petra. You can get the pass on the official website here.
Guided tours of Jordan that also go to Amman
If you want to visit Jordan but are have limited time for your trip and even less to plan it, you may want to consider joining a guided tour of Jordan. The following are some good options.
- Active Jordan Multisport Tour – this 8 days tour goes to all the best places to visit in Jordan. You get to see Amman, Ajloun, the Dead Sea, the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Check here for more details
- Classic Highlights of Jordan Tour – not as active as the previous one, this tour goes to Amman, Jerash, the Dead Sea, Karak, Petra, Wadi Rum, and Aqaba. Check here for more details
- 5-Day Jordan Tour – this tour goes around Amman, Petra, Jerash, Mount Nebo, Karak Castle, Wadi Rum, the Red Sea, and & the Dead Sea. Check here for more details
- 6-Night Best of Jordan Tour from Amman – This tour includes Jerash, the Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Check here for more details
Where to stay in Amman
I recommend staying in the downtown area for easy access to attractions and restaurants. One thing you may want to keep in mind is that many hotels in Amman call themselves boutique though they have little of a boutique hotel. Having said so, this is a selection of good places to stay in Amman:
- The Boutique Hotel (which isn’t really a boutique hotel, by the way) is a very good budget friendly option, with modest but comfortable rooms, a truly powerful hot shower and a nice host. Check here to book now and here to read reviews.
- Century Park Hotel is a very good, large hotel with modern rooms and a good on site restaurant. It it not in the center of town though. Check here to book now and here to read reviews.
- Nomads Hotel is a very good hostel with private rooms and dorms decorated in modern stylish design. It’s at a stone’s throw from Rainbow Street. Check here to book now and here to read reviews.
When to visit Amman
Amman gets really cold in the winter, and hot in the summer. The best time to visit the city and the rest of the country is in the spring time, between March and May. Alternatively, you could try to visit between October and November.
How to get from the airport to Amman
Queen Alia airport is 30 km away from Amman. You have various option to get to town from the airport:
BY TAXI: The airport is well connected to the city by taxi (the ride to your hotel should cost around $30 USD).
BY SHUTTLE: This is the most convenient way of getting to town. Shuttles are usually coordinated with flight arrivals and usually leave the airport one hour after your flight has landed – so you have enough time to go through customs and get your luggage. It costs $10 USD.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: If you feel you may be in a rush or tired after a long flight, a private transfer may be the most convenient way to go. It costs around $20 and can be booked online here.
AIRPORT EXPRESS BUS: Airport Express buses connect the airport with the city Tabarbour Station from 6:00 am to midnight. They run every 30 minutes during the day, and every hour after 6:00 pm. The ride lasts around 45 minutes to one hour.
BY BUS: A cheaper option are the local buses but these aren’t truly reliable.
How to move around Amman
If you are staying in the downtown area the best way to move around Amman is to actually walk everywhere. Places like the citadel are a bit further to reach and you will need some form of transportation to get there.
There is no real integrated public bus system in Amman so the easiest way to reach further distances is by taxi – you can recognize them because they are yellow.
Uber works in Jordan as of April 2019.
There also are shared taxis – these are white and go on fixed routes. You pay per seat, regardless of where you get off.
Jordan Visa and other useful information
If you get to Jordan by plane can get a visa on arrival at the airport: it costs JD 40.
If you are visiting Jordan as part of a larger trip across the Middle East, you may be getting there from Israel. You can cross the border to get into Jordan and get a visa on arrival at Wadi Araba, which is the border between Eilat and Aqaba, and Sheikh Hussein, north of Amman.
The King Hussein / Allenby Bridge (which is the closest crossing between Amman and Jerusalem) requires a pre-arranged visa. Unless you have a pre-arranged visa you can only use it to exit Jordan.
You can get a visa waiver fee if you spend a minimum of 3 consecutive nights in the country. The Jordan Pass is normally considered proof of having spent at least 3 nights in Jordan. There is a JD 10 exit fee.
I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip to Jordan. You can find a good one here.
Safety in Amman
I found Amman to be an overall safe place. Though it is said to be a very modern city where women don’t have to go around covered, I saw very few that were not in my time there. You don’t have to cover your head to explore Amman, but by all means wear modest clothing.
Further readings about Jordan and the Middle East
If you are planning a longer trip to Jordan or the Middle East, make sure to read my other posts:
- 11 Amazing Places To Visit In Jordan
- 13 Things To Know Before You Visit Petra, Jordan
- A 3 Day Itinerary For The Jordan Trail
- The 10 Best Places To Visit During A Trip To Israel
- 29 Things To Do In Jerusalem You Can’t Miss
- 21 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Tel Aviv
- A Guide To The Things To Do In Haifa, Israel
- 17 Truly Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike The Jesus Trail
- What You Should Know Before Doing A Hebron Tour
- Everything You Need To Know Before You Visit Palestine