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
- 1 The Best Things to do in Amman Jordan
- 1.1 Amman Citadel
- 1.2 Roman Theatre
- 1.3 Eat at Hashem
- 1.4 Visit Downtown Amman
- 1.5 See New Amman
- 1.6 Enjoy Kunafa at Habibah
- 1.7 Visit the Amman Souq
- 1.8 Rainbow Street
- 1.9 Jabal Amman
- 1.10 Enjoy Falafel in Amman
- 1.11 King Abdullah Mosque
- 1.12 Day Trip to the Dead Sea
- 1.13 Day Trip to Jerash
- 1.14 Day Trip to Madaba
- 1.15 READY TO VISIT?
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.
You can get more information on the Amman Citadel by clicking the link.
After seeing it from above at the Citadel, the 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.
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 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.
Popping into a restaurant for a warm drink and something to eat is a great part of any January Amman trip!
King Abdullah Mosque
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.
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.
Day Trip to Madaba
READY TO VISIT?
Where to Stay
Safety In Amman
Overall, Jordan is safe and welcoming to tourists. Common sense goes a long way, whether 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.
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. Taxi’s are cheap to get around the city, and use the car as you head out of town on your day trips and beyond.
5 Things to Bring with You to Jordan
Appropriate clothing is the most important thing to bring to Jordan with you. Depending on the season, your wardrobe is going to be quite different as wet and cold winters mean that you will need winter coats. When planning your trip to Jordan, check out what to wear in Jordan.
I have always been a guide book person and physically having that book in your hand as you plan your day, in addition to blogs like this one, can help immensely. Pick up a Lonely Planet Guide to Jordan (or the kindle version) before your trip to Jordan.
Whether you want to keep the sun off your head or want to show a little modesty, a scarf goes a long way in Jordan any time of the year. You can bring one with you or pick up one when you arrive, but don’t leave your hotel in the morning without it! It can serve as a hat to keep the sun off your head and neck in the summer and can add some warmth in winder and can offer modesty to cover shoulders for women.
A Grayl Water Bottle is something I recommend for every traveller, not just those going to the Middle East. Some people say the water is safe to drink from the tap, others say it is not; it is not something I am going to chance. And Jordan has a HUGE garbage problem. The streets, the forests and even the desert are littered with plastic bottles.
If you consider drinking at least 1-2 big water bottles a day while you are there, think of how much plastic that creates when every visitor and the population’s 9 million people do the same. With a Grayl, you can filter any tap water (or actually any water source) and have clean drinking water in seconds. Since most people travel with water bottles already, consider one like this with a filter so that you are not just pouring from big water bottles to small. It might sound expensive, but when you compare it to spending a few dollars per day on water while you travel (and do not forget how expensive the water is inside airports), you will pay for this very quickly.
An inexpensive Universal Travel Adapter is another must for Jordan. You will find an assortment of 220V plugs, from European 2 pin, another style of 2 pin and UK Plugs. While European 2 pin is most common, it is best to carry one of these adapters with you. With a handy USB input, you do not need to bring your plugs from home.
Kleenex or Wipes are another thing to put on your list. Jordan’s public washrooms (and even restaurant or hotel lobby washrooms can often be unstocked. Unless you are good with a bidet sprayer, bring yourself some kleenex or wipes just in case! You will find that most washrooms in tourist sites and rest stops have an attendant that will give you toilet paper and paper towel for a small tip. Usually, half a dinar is fine.
In Jordan, the plumbing is not set up to handle toilet paper. Every bathroom (even hotels) you should use the garbage can beside the toilet for your toilet paper and any sanitary products.
Travel Insurance for Jordan
There are a few other things to think about when it comes to travel. The first thing is travel insurance. Whether it is an emergency room visit for something as simple as strep throat, or an emergency appendix surgery, or an unfortunate moped incident things do go wrong when people travel everyday.
I highly suggest travel insurance and a good policy. I personally never travel without it, and I even checked into my policy about care for my children if I am ever in an accident or hospitalized. There are just too many things to think about.
You can find out more information and buy your travel insurance here.