15 Fabulous Things to do in Amman for an Authentic Jordanian Experience

There are plenty of things to do in Amman to experience authentic life in Jordan. Depending on how much time you have in Amman, you for sure want to visit the Citadel and Roman Theatre and have something to eat in downtown Amman.

If you have more than a few hours there are more than just the top sights this list will give you what to do in Amman beyond the typical tourist must-sees!

Whether you are a foodie, want to see the local culture, are there for the history or just want a vibe of this diverse city, these things to do in Amman will give you a sense of Jordan and its people.

The Best Things to do in Amman Jordan

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Amman Citadel

The Amman Citadel is one of Amman’s most recognizable landmarks and stands in downtown Amman atop Jebel Al-Qala. You can walk up the hill or there are steps across the street from the Roman Theatre that will take you to the top, drive your rental car and park in the Amman Citadel parking lot, or take a taxi. If you do take a taxi, ask them to take you to Jebel Al-Qala as that is what the site is known to locals as. They do not call it the Citadel.

The cost to visit is JD2 (USD3) per person and is included in the Jordan Pass.

Expect to spend an hour at the site, longer if you like to take your time or are planning on taking a lot of photos. This is also a great place to book a local photoshoot in Amman!

You can get more information on the Amman Citadel by clicking the link.

Amman - Amman Citadel in September
Amman Citadel is one of the most popular things to do in Amman for visitors. It is a focal point of the city, viewable from many points in the city.

Roman Theatre

After seeing it from above at the Citadel, the Amman Roman Amphitheater deserves a visit. You can walk down a series of steps (past some beautiful graffiti) from the Citadel and cross the street to find the entrance of the theatre. The toughest part about the route from the Citadel to the Roman Theatre is actually getting across the street. Once holding thousands, you will likely have the place mostly to yourself where you can climb to the top, or preach from the bottom and hear the centuries-old acoustics fill the room as you can be heard in every seat in the house.

The theatre was cut into the side of a rock cliff, likely to protect many of the 6000 spectators it could hold, from the sun. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is an impressive remnant and one of the most places to visit in Amman.

About 30 minutes is enough time to have a quick look around. Do not miss the Audium, a smaller theatre, once used for city meetings, to the right of the stage. Read more about visiting the Amman Roman Theatre

Jordan - Amman Roman Theatre
Climb to the top of the Roman Theatre in Amman and enjoy this view

Take A Food Tour

Food tours are popular all over the world. Amman finally has walking food tours. These are ideal for curious food lovers and those who want to meet and interact with locals without feeling like they are engaging in a transactional service. When you plan your itinerary for Amman, spend an evening taking a food tour with Amman Food Tours! It is an authentic local food experience and you will leave the food tour feeling like you really got to know someone who lives and works in Amman.

Arabic sweet “Konafa” or “Knafeh” with white cheese and pistachio

Eat at Hashem

Hashem Restaurant is the most well known restaurant in Jordan and has been doing business for over 80 years. Despite its appearance, it will seat King Abdullah II, celebrities in town, locals and tourists alike. It is a must for any foodie! You will find Hashem Restaurant in every guide book about Jordan as one of the best places to eat. It is also included in one of my suggestions for the best breakfasts in Amman.

Dining on plastic chairs, this 24 hour vegetarian restaurant serves up excellent falafel and hummus and I guarantee you will leave with a full stomach! It does have indoor seating, but literally wedged between two buildings, most of the patrons spill into the patio and enjoy their meal outdoors.

If you arrive right at dinner time, expect it to be busy with locals and a few tourists wanting to try Hashem’s well known dishes. Try and pick a non-peak hour to visit if possible. At peak times you can see lineups down the street on account of its excellent food, cheap prices and strategic location downtown.

A meal at Hashem for two people will cost about 4 JD – 10 JD.

READ MORE: Best Restaurants in Amman

Visit Downtown Amman

The bustling downtown is where most of the locals continue to do business. Whether it is their meat, veggies or even home goods, many Jordanians continue to do business with small vendors. Downtown Amman is the best place to see this day to day business.

While wandering downtown, look for colorful staircases, corner fruit juice stands, souvenir stands and watch for the bustle of cars and locals!

I always suggest people check out where the local’s shop and downtown Amman is a great place to see this. It is not a tourist souq, it draws locals who need to do their shopping. On Fridays, the downtown is also set up garage sale style with locals who have used clothing or goods to sell. Most Jordanians still fix things instead of throwing them away and you will find many repurposed and fixed appliances and goods of all kinds!

It is also worth visiting a local grocery store while in Amman, it is one of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city. You can find international names like Carrefour and Safeway as well as local grocery stores like C-TOWN.

See New Amman

Brand new stores, restaurants and high end hotels are the cornerstone of the revitalized neighborhood of Amman.

Enjoy Kunafa at Habibah

The most popular Kunafa in Amman will be found at Habibah in downtown Amman. Kunafa is a must for you to try while you explore Amman and you can watch it being freshly made at Habibah. Situated in a tiny alley, you will likely dine with over 20 others, enjoying their dessert with a foam plate and plastic fork. There are two types of kunafa, most easily explained in English as “soft” or “rough.” One is topped with shredded wheat (kheshna) and the other is topped with semolina… (na’ma). Try both and see which one you like better. A small portion is around 1-2 JD.

Visit Habibah across the street from the downtown police station. It is beside the main branch of the Arab bank.

Visit the Amman Souq

One of the things to do in Amman that all of the tourists want to see is the Amman Souq. The Souq in Amman is as chaotic as the streets. Shoppers weave around stalls as sellers hawk their goods to passerby. When I took my boys here, they were wide-eyed with the commotion of buyers and sellers, with the “Welcome to Jordan”, flashy smiles, and the auctioneer style chants, as sellers compete to gain attention (and well, to make as much noise as possible). It was a busy place, as Jordanians bought fresh fruits, veggies and other wares to take home. While Amman has built modern malls in recent years, and does boast a large grocery store to two (one was even a Safeway), a lot of food is still bought from traditional markets or roadside stands. Make sure you save some time to shop for Jordanian souvenirs! 

Rainbow Street

Rainbow street is one of the popular things to do in Amman at night. Whether it is enjoying tea from a roadside vendor or dinner in a local restaurant, you will find the streets full of locals, late into the night.

Enjoy Falafel in Amman

I already mentioned that you should enjoy falafel from Hashem while in Amman, but there are a few other places that might not be as famous (in Lonely Planet’s eyes) but offer up even better falafel according to locals.

A few of these are listed in my breakfast in Amman post and you can also read more about them in this post on best restaurants in Amman.

Popping into a restaurant for a warm drink and something to eat is a great part of any January Amman trip!

Falafel

King Abdullah Mosque

Amman with Kids

Are you visiting Amman with the family? read my guide to Amman with kids that includes a lot of these must-sees as well as local parks and things to do specifically for kids.

Day Trip to the Dead Sea

A Dead Sea Day trip is one of the popular things to do from Amman. Just 45 minutes away by car, it can easily be done in a day. You can rent a car and drive, or go by taxi, or on a tour, or even on a daily bus. You can read how to get from Amman to the Dead Sea.

The lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea, is located on Jordan’s Western border with Israel and offers visitors access to some of Jordan’s beaches. It lies 400m below Sea Level. Its position at the lowest point on Earth offers more than a salty dip attraction for curious tourists. The air has a higher oxygen concentration in this area and its mineral-rich properties bring people from all over the world who are suffering from various types of skin diseases and rheumatism.

The Dead Sea is vanishing at an alarming rate.  If slathering yourself with mineral-rich mud is on your bucketlist, get to Jordan and tick this one off before it is gone!

If you want someone to take care of all of the logistics, consider one of these Dead Sea tours:

Madaba, Nebo and Dead Sea Private Tour: This tour gives you entrance to Dead Sea Beach, as well as a visit to Mount Nebo and Madaba in a private air-conditioned vehicle.

Amman and Dead Sea Tour: This tour offers a driving tour through Amman including a visit to the Amman Citadel and the markets. The tour then makes its way to the Dead Sea. It does not include entrance fees however so expect to pay entrance fees to the Amman Citadel and a private beach at the Dead Sea.

Madaba and Dead Sea Tour: This one includes a visit to Madaba and Saint George’s Church, as well as Mount Nebo, the baptism site and the Dead Sea. It does not include any entrance fees.

Israel Jordan - Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth and its mineral rich waters allow swimmers to effortlessly float on the water!

Day Trip to Jerash

About 1 hour’s drive north of Amman is Jerash, the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome. The site is massive, for anyone who has to explore Ephesus or other Roman ruins, this site blows them all out of the water! From colonnaded streets to theatres to the massive Hadrian’s Gate, it can take a couple of hours to have a quick walk through the site. It was only in recent years that the beautiful oval was discovered. Soldiers were camping on the site, and after hitting hard ground, they began excavating, and what was discovered was the massive oval. Much of Jerash’s preservation is due to mud covering much of the site. There are still excavations going on, although most of the major structures have been found. What has not been uncovered is where the homes were of those who lived here.

If you have not rented a car, consider book this tour to Jerash from Amman

Day Trip to Madaba

One of Madaba’s most famous attractions is the Mosaic Map, located in the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George. The mosaic is a 6th-century map of the Holy Land, depicting Jerusalem and other biblical sites. It’s considered one of the oldest maps of the region.

While in Madaba, visit Mount Nebo. Mount Nebo is believed to be the site where Moses saw the Promised Land before his death. The summit offers panoramic views of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and parts of Israel.

Madaba offers a unique farm to table experience at Carob House. If you want a meal to wow you, stop in while you are in Madaba.

Overwhelmed with Planning a trip to Jordan?

Want to skip all of the planning and access my detailed Jordan Itinerary and Guide? I have been to Jordan several times and after being asked again and again for suggestions, not only did I build this website but I created an interactive PDF guide to help you plan the best trip to Jordan! It includes an interactive map, multiple itineraries for up to 10 days and as little as three days and plenty of practical information about renting a car and driving in Jordan. Get the guide by clicking the button below. 

Step into Jordan Guide and Itinerary Preview of Cover

Safety In Amman

Overall, Jordan is safe and welcoming to tourists. Common sense goes a long way, whether at home or abroad. Pickpocketing is rare and tourist scams are not common practice. Have a read of my post “Is Jordan Safe” so you are aware of local customs, culture, and what you do want to watch out for.

Rent a Car

Rental Cars are very popular in Jordan, get a quote on renting a car before you arrive. It makes day trips out of the city much easier

If you are working on a self-drive itinerary or plan to see the country independently, there is a guide on getting around in Jordan.

Amman is very busy. Home to millions, and millions of cars, I do not recommend doing much driving as parking and gridlock can be a nightmare. Taxis are cheap to get around the city (or use Uber or Careem), and use the car as you head out of town on your day trips and beyond.

What to do in Amman
Best Things to do in Amman Jordan