A Guide to Amman
Amman is a captivating city brimming with culture and history. The biggest surprise to me was how large Amman was - the city seems to go on forever. I could have easily spent a week getting lost in markets, exploring new neighborhoods, and sampling Jordanian cuisine.
Where To Stay in Amman
There are many beautiful hotels in Amman, but two that stand out from the rest are the Fairmont and the Grand Hyatt.
6 Beirut Street، 5th Cir., Amman, Jordan
Luxurious does not even begin to describe the Fairmont Amman. This lavish hotel has everything you could want and more - from pillow menus to infinity pools to world-class restaurants everything about our stay was fabulous. The location was central, and it was easy to reach significant sites by Uber (no one walks places in Amman). I called the Fairmont my home for seven nights and would happily stay here again.
Hussein Bin Ali St, Amman, Jordan
The Grand Hyatt Amman is close to the city’s historical sites, boasts an incredible pool, and spacious rooms. I had a couple of friends stay at the Hyatt, and they had a wonderful stay.
Things You Must See in Amman
Amman is an eclectic blend of new and old. From the vibrant restaurant and bars of Rainbow street to the ancient Roman Amphitheater there is something for everyone.
Before you get to Amman buy the Jordan pass. The Jordan pass includes the cost of your visa and entrance to all major sites. If you plan on seeing Petra + need a visa you will break even on the cost of the pass. The Jordan pass can be purchased online here.
K. Ali Ben Al-Hussein St. 146, Amman, Jordan
It’s no secret that my favorite thing to find in a new city is the best aerial view - in Amman that would be the Citadel. You can hike to the Citadel (warning it is a VERY steep climb) or take an Uber/cab. Besides the fantastic views, there is so much history to take in. Many great civilizations have occupied the Citadel which is apparent in the varied architecture of the structures in the Citadel. I recommend spending about two hours here. For a truly unique experience arrive at the Citadel a little before the midday prayer (around noon). Because the Citadel is central in Amman, you can hear the call to prayer from many of the cities Mosques that surround the Citadel.
Taha Al-Hashemi St., Amman, Jordan
The Roman Theatre was one of my favorite sites in Amman. Climb to the top of the theatre for a great view of Amman. I recommend spending about an hour here. Interesting Fact: Amman used to be called Philadelphia during the 2nd century, and that is when this theatre was built.
King Faisal Street, Amman, Jordan
The Duke’s Diwan is Amman’s oldest home and has an open door policy to curious travelers and artists. One of my regrets in Amman was not seeing this beautiful old home and learning about its history.
Rainbow St., Amman, Jordan
If you are in search of cute cafes and unique souvenirs look no further than Rainbow Street. Rainbow street is known for its trendy restaurants & bars and boutiques. One of my favorite parts of Rainbow Street is the Souk Jara market. Local artisans sell their wares, and you can find great artwork, jewelry, and handmade goods.
Where to Eat & Drink in Amman
24 Rainbow Street، 11181, Jordan
This funky little cafe/art gallery is the perfect spot to enjoy a coffee & kick off exploring Rainbow Street.
Complex No 46, Al Rainbow St 46, Amman, Jordan
When in Jordan...drink tea. Green Turtle is a cute little tea shop off of Rainbow Street. Stop here to sample local tea varieties. I brought back their Bedouin Tea as a souvenir for family and friends.
Irbid St 30, Amman, Jordan
Who doesn’t love brunch? Blue Fig offers an extensive brunch and coffee menu making it the perfect place to kick off your explorations from. My favorite item was their zucchini fritters.
69 Mu'Ath Bin Jabal Street Amman, Jordan
If you are looking for great food and a view, look no further than Shams El Balad. Shams El Balad has an extensive offering of Jordanian dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. There is ample outdoor seating and fantastic views of the Citadel. Stop here for lunch for dinner.
Othman Ben Affan St., Amman, Jordan
Another great lunch option is Wild Jordan Center. The center has a fantastic view of the old city and supports eco tourism and local businesses. Many of the ingredients for the cafe are locally sourced.
Marwan Madi Complex، Al Azhar 2, Amman, Jordan
One thing you cannot leave Jordan without trying is knafeh - a sweet doughy dessert. It is very sweet so I recommend ordering one serving and splitting it with a friend. One of the best places to try knafeh in Jordan is Habibah Sweets.
Al-Rainbow Street, Amman, Jordan
I lived off of Falafel in Jordan. It’s delicious, cheap, and easy to eat on the go. Al Quds is arguably the best Falafel shop in Jordan and well worth the wait.
Romero Restaurant / The Living Room Restaurant, Mohammad Hussein Haykal St 3, Amman, Jordan
If you get tired of middle eastern food or are just looking for some great Italian check out Romero. They have ample outdoor seating and a beautiful patio space.
3rd Cir., Amman, Jordan
Levant was one of my favorite dinners I had in Jordan - because of the company and the fantastic food. I tried meat in a jar which sounds very weird. Basically, meat in a jar is meat baked in a clay pot with a puff pastry on top. Levant is an upscale restaurant and the dress code is formal (no jeans).
Getting Around Amman
Uber and Taxis are both reliable modes of transportation in Amman. Uber is not legal, so if you do opt to take an Uber, I recommend having someone sit in the passenger seat so that the driver does not get stopped. Before you take a taxi to make sure you establish the price. I ran into some situations with cab drivers trying to overcharge.
Day Trips From Amman
One of the highlights of my trip to Jordan was visiting the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative. The Women’s cooperative provides jobs for many local women crafting handmade wares including paper, fabric, and pottery. If you call in advance, you can also eat lunch or dinner at the cooperative. Getting to the cooperative from downtown Amman is easy. I recommend hiring a driver (it’s about a 30-minute drive) because the roads are confusing.
The Dead Sea is one of those destinations that is worth the hype. One of the struggles I had in planning my day trip was figuring out the logistics. Online information is spotty on public transit and beach entrance fees. After about two hours of research, my friends and I decided to hire a cab to drop us off & pick us up from the dead sea. We split the cost of a room at the Holiday Inn (80 USD) which got us access to a private beach, pools, an endless supply of water, and free towels. One of the benefits of booking the room was that it was cheaper than the resort day pass and we had a location to store our belongings. Floating in the sea was incredible - my only recommendation is to wear an old swimsuit since it will likely get ruined by the mud.
Petra is unlike any place I’ve been. This ancient city seems to go on forever, and it’s incredible to think it was settled as early as 9,000 BC. To get to Petra, I rented a car from the Amman airport with my friend David (he drove), and it took us about 3 hours. Petra can be reached from Amman by tour buses, a hired driver, or by rental car since we were heading to Wadi Rum after we opted to rent a car.
There is so much to see in Petra; however, the most impressive site is the Monastery. To get to the Monastery, it’s about a two-hour hike, so I recommend going there first (there are a lot of potential stops along the way) to maximize your time. There is no shade so you will want to go early. On your way back visit the Treasury and if you have time pay a guide to climb to overlook the Treasury - the view is incredible, but the climb is treacherous so make sure you are wearing good climbing shoes.
The Wadi Rum desert is hands down one of the most incredible places that I’ve been. Spend a night at a Bedouin camp 'glamping' and admiring the stars. If you have the time, I recommend spending a day with a guide exploring the desert. There are endless hikes, dunes, and caves to explore.