As you plan your Jordan itinerary, there are some places you just have to visit: the Dead Sea, for a good float. Petra, for a hike among the ruins. And Amman, the capital city, which will likely be your entry and/or exit point during your visit.
While some people arrive into Amman, hop into a car or meet their guide, and head right out to see Jordan’s other sights, I’ll provide a counter: it’s worth spending at least a day or two in Amman, and there are plenty of things to do in Amman during that time.
Below you’ll find a list of the best things to do in Amman – from exploring Jordan’s long history dating back to pre-Roman times to trying the many fascinating flavors you can find in great variety because of Amman’s city size.
Ready to come up with more ideas than you’ll have time for when visiting Amman and Jordan? Read on for the full list.
1. Explore the Amman Citadel
Visiting the Amman Citadel is, of all the things to do in Amman, one that you don’t want to miss. This archaeological site is right in the heart of the city – it can be easily accessed within 15 minutes. The ruins are composed of amazing buildings as old as the Byzantine, which, to be honest, in any other part of the world would be fenced off and only visible from afar.
Here, visitors can roam freely around the site and get close to architectural gems like the Roman Temple of Hercules, the Umayyad Palace, the Byzantine church, and the Ayyubid watchtower. Last but not least, you’ll get the best views of Amman!
2. See the Roman Theater
Amman has tons of Roman ruins scattered around – yes, the Romans even got to Jordan. The Roman Theater is the second place, after Citadel, that you should visit in the city. It’s not a big area, but the architecture certainly is impressive. I definitely recommend a climb to the top to get a full overview of the whole theater and of Amman. The admission tickets are budget-friendly, and if you have Jordan Pass, the entry is free (included), of course.
3. Visit Other Roman Ruins
If you still crave more from the Romans’ time in Jordan, you can also visit Jerash. Jerash is considered the most well-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy. This fascinating ancient Roman city that is located just 50 km from the capital and is one of the top places to visit in Amman, so expect company.
There’s all sorts of Roman architecture: plazas, fountains, columns, and temples. But, the greatest attraction at Jerash is Hadrian’s Arch, built in 129 AD to greet Emperor Hadrian when he visited. Get ready to be delighted.
4. Journey to Qasr al-Abd
It’s time to leave behind Roman culture and go a little back. Qasr al-Abd is an architectural monument of unique character in Jordan. Despite its relatively small size (in comparison to Jerash and other sites around Amman), this archaeological site is incredibly fascinating.
It’s a Hellenistic palace built between 182 and 175. The palace is constructed out of incredibly enormous single blocks of limestone which captivate the imagination. It’s also decorated with lions, eagles, and fountains in the form of jaguars. Finally, the palace isn’t one of the most popular things to see in Amman, so it’s a good plan if you want to escape the crowds.
5. See the Jordan Museum
A visit to the Jordan Museum is probably one of the Amman tourist attractions that you want to visit as soon as you arrive. The museum is a journey through all the history of Jordan – it’s a great review for the start of your visit in the country.
Jordan is at the crossroads of empires and many civilizing innovations began here, from metal smelting to agriculture. Moreover, it won’t take you more than an hour to explore it. By the way, the Museum is shut on Tuesday.
6. Visit the Royal Automobile Museum
The Jordanian Royal Family has owned some pretty cars in the last century. Luckily, they’ve shared them with us in the Royal Automobile Museum. This museum features different galleries with both cars related to the history of the Jordanian Royal Family as well as a larger collection of unique motorcycles and vehicles.
The entrance fee is 1 JD for Jordanians and 5 JD for foreigners. It’s a fun alternative for families, kids, and sure for car lovers.
7. Visit the Royal Tank Museum
Regardless of your interest in war history, the Royal Tank Museum is one of the most interesting activities to do in Amman. It is one of a kind. The enormous collection of military vehicles comes from several countries, with some of these tanks dating back to World War I – and they’re not fake.
This place is very clean and the display of these tanks is well organized. The museum is also good for learning about Arab heritage as it provides details of various conflicts Jordan has been into.
8. Admire Grand Husseini Mosque
Mosques are a must-stop for anyone visiting Islamic countries. Jordan has two. Grand Husseini Mosque is a beautiful mosque in the center of the city. It’s one of the oldest in Amman. The mosque was rebuilt by King Abdullah I in 1932 on the site of the one built by the second Caliph, Omar Bin Al-Khattab around 640 AD. The surroundings are also stunning, with souks in all directions.
If you are downtown, definitely stop by and enjoy the architectural beauty and pick up fruits, spices, bread, clothes, souvenirs, or any of the hundreds of things that you will find there. Bear in mind that the mosque is not open to non-muslims.
9. See the King Abdullah Mosque
If you’re feeling curious, King Abdullah Mosque does allow foreigners. This picturesque mosque is often referred to as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles on its dome. It’s pretty new so it’s not an ancient historical landmark. However, it’s a fantastic window to see locals practice their religion. Moreover, you can learn about Islam as there is also an Islamic museum inside the complex.
10. Stroll Down Rainbow Street
Rainbow Street has gained a lot of popularity in late years. The colorful street is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city, with its art decorations, bustling sidewalks, and cool rooftop restaurants and cafés.
Feel free to explore the area, but take my advice and make a stop at Al Quds falafel. They prepare the best falafels in Amman – it’s crunchy and deep fried to perfection, accompanied by tomatoes and pickles with a dash of creamy sauce sandwiched between toasted sesame bread. Yes, my mouth just started watering as well.
11. Sample Jordanian Foods
The falafel restaurant I recommend above allows me to introduce you to one of the best things to do in Amman: eat.
If you’re anything like me, and hundreds of other travelers, you know food and culture are inseparable. The flavors, the textures, the colors, the ingredients, they all hide a little bit of the soul of the country you’re visiting. Many Eastern World delicacies have made it to the Western hemisphere. Nonetheless, there’s more than falafel and baba ganoush on the menu.
I have a mouthwatering guide with all the dishes you must try in your visit to Jordan. Check it out here so you don’t miss any.
12. Take a Food Tour in Amman
Sticking to the culinary theme, you can also take a food tour to discover Amman’s gastronomic scene.
Amman Food Tours has amazing experiences that take you to discover the heritage of Jordan through your taste buds. Their Amman tour combines the city’s landmarks and in the most notorious restaurants. You’ll eat where the locals eat and even get to try Jordan’s national dish.
Last but not least, you’ll learn about Jordan’s coffee culture, which is nothing short of special.
13. Go Shopping in the Souks
You can’t leave Jordan without experiencing the vibrant souk life. Souks are a symbol of Islamic society and their mercantile culture. Today, they’re as vibrant as they were hundreds of years ago when merchants journeyed through the ancient trade routes that shaped history.
Souks are one of the most fun things to do in Amman. You’ll get to experience first-hand how locals shop, and, best of all, the art of haggling, which Arabs have mastered so gracefully.
14. Relax at a Hammam
When thinking of relaxing, Aqaba or the Dead Sea may pop into your head. Not so fast. In Amman, you can indulge in a spa day at a hammam. Commonly known as Turkish baths, a hammam is a public steam room, where they offer massages and exfoliation.
There are hammams for all budgets in Amman. Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Hotel offers one of the most luxurious hammam experiences. If you’d like something more authentic, Argana Hammam has designed both Moroccan and Turkish Hammam experiences.
15. Take a Day Trip from Amman
Last but not least, taking a day trip is one of the best things to do in Amman. As the capital, Amman has connections to pretty much every part of Jordan. This means you can devote a day in your itinerary to visiting nearby sights.
There are attractions to suit every interest and budget. Want some architecture? Ajloun Castle is for you. Need to laze away? The Dead Sea is ready for you. You can check out my guide with the best day trips you can take from Amman so you’re aware of the options you have based on your needs and likes.