Planning a trip to Jordan is both exciting and exhausting. If you’ve never been to Jordan, or the Middle East, you probably have a myriad of questions about what it will be like – and if you’re up to handling the culture shock you experience (at whatever level that might be). Luckily, Jordan is one of the easiest countries in the Middle East to visit; people are incredibly hospitable, many signs and services are offered in both Arabic and English, and you can easily explore the top sights and big cities without knowing more than a few helpful phrases.
Almost all travelers pass thruogh Amman, Jordan’s capital city, at some point in their Jordan itinerary. It might be at the beginning, the end, or both, since most travelers fly in and/or out of Queen Alia International Airport while visiting Jordan. You might wonder then what to do during your time in the country’s biggest city.
You’re in luck: below you’ll find all the info you need to plan an incredible Amman itinerary. As you’ll soon discover, there’s plenty to do in and around Amman with whatever time you have. While most people limit their time in the city or skip the sights in the historic core, I recommend giving yourself one or two days to immerse yourself, then strike out to explore other parts of the country like Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea.
If you’re ready to get this part of your Jordan travel planning sorted, read on to learn about visiting Amman and all the fascinating things you can do during your time there.
Best Time to Visit Amman
Much like all attractions in Jordan, Amman is worth visiting and exploring any time of the year. Spring is the best time to visit Amman and Jordan in general. The spring weather is mild and stable, so you won’t have to deal with freezing temperatures or blazing hot weather. Instead, you can expect a comfortable balance of warm days and breezy nights.
How Many Days in Amman
Some travelers are unsure how many days in Amman they should allocate for their trip. As with any capital, two days is a good starting point for designing an Amman itinerary as with any capital.
- With One Day in Amman… You’ll have to confine your visit to the highlights and barely scratch the city’s surface.
- With Two Days in Amman… You get the chance to explore beyond Amman’s urban cores and visit attractions located on the periphery of the city.
One Day in Amman
If you only get one day in Amman, I advise you to focus on exploring the city’s highlights, which I’ve detailed below. While some might advise heading out of the city for nearby sights and attractions, I suggest staying in Amman to appreciate what makes Jordan’s capital city so special.
Visit the Citadel
The Citadel is an archaeological site located right in the center of downtown Amman. The site dates back to the Neolithic Age and houses stunning historic buildings and a lovely museum.
The site’s highlights are the Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and the Umayyad Palace. This enormous palatial complex served as the house for one of the Governors of the Territory of Jordan during the Umayyad Dynasty.
Explore other Ancient Attractions
Jordan is a country rich in history, and its capital is full of fascinating ancient sites worth exploring during your stay. The best news is that they’re all close to each other, allowing you to visit all of them in one day.
- Roman Theater – Built in honor of the Roman emperor Antonius Pius, The Roman Theater is one of the most famous landmarks stepping back 2,000 years in time. The sight is impressive, housing nothing less than 6,000 seats inside! Moreover, the Jordanian government has done an excellent job preserving the landmark, so the theater still stands in all its grandeur. There’s a small museum where travelers can learn about the Roman period in Jordan and how
- Nymphaeum – You’ll find the Nymphaeum, a partially preserved Roman public fountain not far from The Roman Theater. Dating back to the 2nd Century AD as a public gathering area. Visiting the Nymphaeum is another excellent opportunity to explore the Roman influence on Jordan.
- Qasr al-Abd – Qasr al-Abd is an unfinished Hellenistic palace dating back to the first quarter of the second century BCE. There’s not much historical reference to the palace, and its purpose is still a mystery.
However, scholars agree that the Tobiads, a notable Jewish family of the Second Temple period, built the structure. The ruins are perfect, and travelers can visit the site for free.
Take a Stroll down Rainbow Street
Located in the historic area of Jabal Amman, Rainbow Street is the epicenter of Amman’s tourism and nightlife. It runs east from the First Circle to Mango Street and is full of bars, restaurants, and cafés. Head to Rainbow Street from Thursday night through Sunday, if you’d like to taste Amman’s nightlife
Get Lost in a Souk
Souks are the equivalent of open-air markets in the Western world. These venues have been part of Arabic culture for centuries and are places where you can find the most diverse goods, from souvenir shops to antiques to traditional food. It’s also a perfect opportunity to experience the art of bargaining, which Arabs dominate so well. Here are a few souks you could include in your Amman itinerary:
- Souk el-Joumea: open on Fridays, this souk sells second-hand clothing, and you can spend at least half a day browsing the stalls.
- Souk Jara: also open on Fridays; Souk Jara is an open-air handicrafts market. Innumerable stalls sell locally produced goods, including antiques, soaps, and spices.
- Souk el-Khodra: this is a vegetable market where locals get their fresh fruits and vegetables during the week.
Two Days in Amman
As I said before, two days in Amman will give you enough time to visit attractions in nearby towns. Keep reading to learn about the things to do in Amman if you get a second day in the capital city.
Visit an Amman Museum
Jordan is a country rich in history, and the capital’s museums are one of the top ways to discover it. Below I’ve listed three possible museums you can explore in the Jordanian capital:
- The Jordan Museum: This museum is a fantastic way to explore different eras of Jordan’s past. A real treasure trove for history buffs.
- Jordan’s National Gallery of Fine Arts: An exquisite museum to appreciate the traditional outfits and jewelry Jordanian people have worn throughout the times.
- Royal Automobile Museum: most tourists can’t believe how many cars this museum houses. The museum has an impressive collection of luxury cars from the era of the late King Hussein. Also, there’s a good motorbike collection.
Explore the Roman Ruins of Jerash
If I’m being honest, I always recommend visiting the Roman Ruins of Jerash in your Amman itinerary; there are a number of great day trips from Amman, but Jerash is the most popular and well worth its status that way.
Jerash’s nickname is “Pompeii of the East” and is well-deserved. The beautiful town is home to one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman cities in the Middle East.
You’ll find stunning structures from colonnaded avenues, ceremonial gates, temples, and theaters. Hadrian’s Arch, a triumphal 13m-tall structure, is one of Jerash’s highlights. The Sanctuary of Zeus, temple ruins dating back to AD 162-166, is another must-see within Jerash.
Visit Ajloun Castle
A 12th-century Muslim castle, Ajloun Castle sits in northwestern Amman. The castle is one of the finest examples of Islamic military architecture and used to serve as a fortress that safeguarded the routes between Damascus and the south of Jordan.
The castle’s structure is magnificent, and you can cover the place in an hour. By the way, views from the roof are spectacular as you can see all of northern Amman.
Best Amman Hotels
There are plenty of hotels across the range of amenities and price points in Amman; here are some of the ones I’ve stayed at and recommend:
- La Locanda – I stayed here on my most recent trip. This is a music-themed hotel where each room is named for a famous Arabic-speaking artist; it’s up in the trendy Jabal al Webdeh neighborhood. Rooms start from $96/night; book on Booking.com.
- Le Royal Hotel – This imposing hotel sits high atop a hill and towers over the city. It offers incredible views and a bit more luxury, but is further from the historic parts of Amman. Rooms start from $123/night; book on Booking.com.
- Imperial Palace Hotel – Located out near the fourth circle, this hotel is a bit more affordable but well away from the hustle and bustle of the historic city center. You’ll need to take a taxi to reach basically all of the sights in Amman if you stay out here. Book on Hotels.com.
However, there are plenty of options; Booking.com lists over 600 accommodations in Amman to choose from, so you can certainly find something!
Best Restaurants in Amman
As you can see, there are some incredible Jordanian foods that you’ll have to try while visiting Amman. While I obviously haven’t been able to eat everywhere in Jordan’s capital city, here are some of my favorites:
- AlQuds Falafel – A walk-up food shop that has incredible falafel sandwiches, popular with locals and visitors alike. (41 Rainbow Street)
- Cantaloupe Gastro Pub – While the name isn’t exactly Arabic, the panoramic view of Amman is unmissable. This is a great spot for Happy Hour at least, if not dinner. (Rainbot Street at Tahir Al Juqah Street)
- Jafra Restaurant & Cafe – A popular spot for visitors and local groups, this restaurant is part of a family that serves a variety of Jordanian dishes. (15 Prince Mohammad Street)
- Rakwet Arab Cafe – Another restaurant in the Jafra family, there are plenty of Jordanian dishes on the menu, as well as beautiful decor. (Al-Baouneyah Street near Paris Square)
- Habibah Sweets – There are a number of locations for this popular sweet shop, which is widely agreed to offer the best knafeh in town. (King Hussein Street at Sha’aban 9 Street)
- Al Sahel Al Akhdar Sweets – Another sweet shop, this one is more of a local’s spot and has a wide variety of sweet treats. (Al Hashimi Street opposite the Hashemite Plaza)
If you want to make the most of your time in Amman and try as much as possible, try checking Amman Food Tours. This company was started by a fellow blogger who loves Jordan as much as I do.
And now that you know what to, where to eat, and where to stay, you’re all set to finalize your own Amman itinerary. Have any questions about planning your time in Amman? Let me know in the comments!