The capital's most important historic landmark is an entire area known as Citadel, perched on top of Amman's highest elevation - the Jabal al-Qal'a hill. Its story dates back to as early as the Bronze Age, with various epochs bringing cultures and peoples who have all left their mark here. The Citadel's two primary attractions are the ancient Temple of Hercules (162-166 AD) and the Ummayad Palace dating back to the 8th century.
An art centre and architectural landmark in its own right, Darat Al Funun contains a frequently updated selection of exhibitions, its serene setting making for a pleasant excursion, and hillside location affording panoramic city views. Archaeological remains of a 6th century Byzantine church can be observed at the entry.
One of Amman's most entertaining attractions is the Royal Automobile Museum, mostly containing (nearly a hundred!) vehicles from the collection of late King Hussein of Jordan. Models spanning the second half of the 20th century make for an interesting look around, the latest hit addition being the very vehicle used in the filming of acclaimed "The Martian".
The spectacular Roman Theatre, although restored in the late 20th century, remains largely true to the way it was once conceptualised in as early as 2nd century AD. It's a highlight for most visitors to Amman, used as a venue to house open-air concerts and shows in the summer.
The iconic blue-domed mosque is one of the country's most recognisable attractions, a place of worship as much as a national landmark and even somewhat of a museum: a few archaeological finds and personal items of King Abdullah, who inaugurated the mosque, are also displayed here. Unlike at most other mosques, non-Muslim visitors are welcome inside, provided they follow the rules of attendance.
Amman's Children's Museum is surprisingly delightful. There are plenty of interactive exhibits allowing the young ones to get a hands-on approach to learning about the world, from the inner workings of the human digestive system to the mechanics of a car. Adults will enjoy continuing on to the Royal Automobile Museum next door.
As opposed to the omnipresent in Jordan remains of Roman and Umayyad structures, Qasr al-Abd is a rare example of architecture pre-dating the Roman era. Its exact origins remain unknown, which only adds to the fascination. Not too far from here are ancient caves dating back to roughly the same time period.
This wildly popular local eatery gathers ravenous crowds no matter the time of day, but securing a seat is most likely to happen outside of peak hours of lunch and dinner. Hashem's absolute must is the falafel, accompanied by hummus, fava bean paste, and freshly baked bread. Prices are startlingly low.
A word of advice: do not go all in with the scrumptious starters and home-baked bread, and leave some room for Tawaheen al-Hawa's Middle Eastern/Jordanian mains, including the mansaf and varied grilled meats. This one is popular with both visitors and locals, the latter often seen enjoying a leisurely shisha pipe in the evenings.
Occupying the building once owned by Jordan's first prime minister, Fakhreldin is an upscale affair, a reputable Lebanese restaurant serving a variety of dishes developed from the Levantine cuisine. There is a spacious outdoor seating area, tables laid with crisp white table cloths and elaborate appointments.
One of the latest additions to Amman's dining and nightlife scenes, Chestnut is a well-liked pub run by an enthusiastic, warm team that brought in expertise from businesses local and international. Evening vibes are conducive to a great night, and food restaurant-worthy, not limited to pub grub alone. Happy hour (1-6pm daily at the time of writing) brings 50% discounts on selected menu items and drinks.
District belongs somewhere on the bar/restaurant spectrum, and, along with serving excellent international fusion cuisine, is also a pleasant place to spend the evening having drinks in good company. It's a conceptually one-of-a-kind establishment in Amman, with a welcoming outdoor terrace and views to die for.
Local tour guides consider a visit to Habibah a city tour essential, and for good reason: this legendary sweets shop, originating in 1947 Jerusalem, has made its way across to Jordan, where it continues to sell and serve some of the finest Palestinian Kunafa (cheese pastry drenched in sweet syrup) for miles around.
One of international visitors' hangout spots of choice, Pizza Roma is a space stylised to resemble a Bedouin tent, with a scenic breezy terrace and guest musical performances by talented local youths. The cafe serves far more than just pizza, extending its offerings to dishes likely to appear rather extraordinary to some, such as the lesser-consumed parts of a sheep: the head, stomach, and even testicles.
The delightful hip cafe is a rare find in Amman. Set on a hilltop overlooking the downtown's cream-coloured buildings, Shams El Balad is much more than its scenic location – dishes served here are deliciously experimental twists on Middle Eastern classics, and quite possibly warrant a cook book of their own.
Rumi is as close as it gets to an Ammani take on a hipster coffee shop. This gem of a cafe attracts with-it locals, who thoroughly enjoy the shaded outdoor seating and Rumi's extensive selection of international teas. Snacks and breakfasts are also on offer; you can always opt for the excellent coffee.
[email protected] set out to create a space of intellectual enrichment (hence the concept of cafe cum bookshop) and mutual understanding, whether it be between cultures - of which there are many in Amman, permanent and visiting - or people of different sexual orientations (it's a welcoming gay cafe/bar known well to insiders).
It's worth finding your way to Jordan's own craft brewery hidden amidst the rolling hills west of the city. Visitors will get the chance to try several drafts (full glasses or samplers, varieties from IPA through porter) and peek at the factory floor below. The brewery doesn't serve food but bringing in your own is allowed; there are grilling facilities outside that guests are encouraged to make use of.
Although the trendy Blue Fig is a successful dining venue in its own right (their breakfasts are highly praised, and so is the eclectic international menu), what makes it especially appealing come sundown are the frequently held live music nights, which feature both live bands and DJs.
One of the city's most popular pubs can get a bit rowdy, which only adds to the good fun had here on a nightly basis. There is a pleasant beer garden outside; live rock bands play every Tuesday, and there is a pool table for further entertainment. Drinks come at rock-bottom prices, especially so during happy hour.
Sekrab is creative country, a hangout spot in every way out of the ordinary, with a VW hippy van perched on its top, and an interior dominated by recycled car parts and other creatively re-purposed pieces. The rooftop offers fantastic views, and three are a few things to choose from in terms of drinks.
Cantaloupe's swanky rooftop is one of the city's finest vantage points, affording views of the entire city and the environs, including the Jabal al-Qal'a with the Citadel perched on its top. The first floor is given over to an Italian-leaning restaurant, while the open-air second floor is arguably the location of Amman's best open-air bar.
The downtown, or Al Balad, is one's best bet for finding great bargains in Amman. The area is abundantly dotted with all manner of shops and stores, selling clothing, accessories, intricate jewellery, herbs, and various edibles. Haggling is expected - count on bringing the original price down by at least its half, unless the specific locale has a fixed-price policy.
The Centre sets out to support communities of Jordan's 8 natural reserves, protected areas inhabited by families who produce the merchandise sold at the on-site shop. Profits from crafts, jewellery, herbs, and jams (and all other pieces) constitute the communities' incomes. Wild Jordan Centre also houses an esteemed cafe with splendid city panoramas.
The JRF showroom stocks exquisite home decor pieces, rugs, accessories and Dead Sea cosmetics, along with a plethora of other pieces, all of the highest quality. Prices here are steep for good reason: the foundation supports women and youths from local communities, and all profits made are put towards development projects.
This longstanding souvenir store's roots go back to late 19th century Palestine, where the owning family first established shop. It's packed to capacity with ceramics, jewellery, lamps, and all manner of tinkles born to make excellent gifts; a trip out of downtown to come here is certainly in order.
Trinitae's cosmetics offering extends beyond soaps to include a few other skincare products, all made with organic local ingredients, from plants and oils to salts of the Dead Sea. It's a heaven of luxurious organic goods of the highest quality. Gift sets are available.
Nationals of most countries are eligible for a single-entry visa upon arrival. The visa process is normally quick and uncomplicated, with no paperwork involved. The upon-arrival visas are not issued at King Hussein Bridge or Wadi Araba land border crossing points. Having Israeli border crossing stamps can possibly complicate coming into or leaving Jordan. The Jordan Pass is recognised universally, and entitles the holder to a waiving of the visa fee. For multiple-entry visas, travellers will need to apply in advance prior to travel. Consult the link below to find out whether a visa is required for you.
The Queen Alia International Airport is Jordan's primary international air hub. Those arriving between 6am and midnight can take the Airport Express Bus connecting the airport to Tabarbour Bus Station via the Seventh Circle. These busses run every half hour from 6am to 6pm and every hour from 6pm to midnight; journey time is normally somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes. Taxis operate on a 24/7 basis and may be easily hired at the airport; fares are fixed and current prices displayed at the taxi park. Car hire is also available at the airport.
The public transportation system of Amman comprises busses, mini-busses, and service taxis. The latter are the most efficient means of transportation of the three; they adhere to fixed routes (and are therefore numbered) and only run within the city. There is a fixed ride price regardless of journey duration. There often aren't clear indications of stops, but these tend to be located at the bottoms of hills. Lines may form during rush hour.
There are plenty of yellow cabs circulating around the city, these are easily flagged down and are generally inexpensive. That said, it is important that you take note of the cab meter being reset and functioning when you get in. There have been reports of drivers trying to avoid turning the meter on for reasons of heavy traffic or bad weather, so do insist the meter be used regardless of any possible circumstance. Uber is widely used in Amman, and so is its Middle Eastern counterpart Careem.