Travel to Amman, just because it is the only gateway to Jordan – They said! And I believed! God, I was so wrong. Don’t skip Amman. It is layered beautifully and isn’t just a gateway to big giants like Petra and Wadi Rum.
Our Amman Travel Blog shows you why the old city is underrated and how you must enjoy the layers of Jordan’s capital city!
Updated on May 22 2023 : Jordan has lifted all COVID restrictions for most countries. Check their official website for details.
- Why visit Amaan
- Mistakes tourists make in Amman
- How many days to spend here
- Commuting in and around Amman
- Where to Stay in Amman
- Things to do in and around Amman
Is Amman worth a visit?
Yes! You must travel to Amman to witness it has two different sides in everything!
I will start with religion. Our driver name was Yusuf Jaber. He said we could call him Joseph too!! The blend of Christianity and Islam here is astonishing.
Jordanians are conservative when it comes to religion – It is evident in they way local people dress. That doesn’t mean, Jordanians don’t love graffiti and doing shisha by the street side!
Travel to Amman to get soaked in history that is blended with with the contemporary!
The history starts with Nabateans, goes on to Romans, comes to Christians and Islam! There are way too many layers to Amman.
What is the historical information about Amman?
Nabatean + Roman + Byzantine+ Ummayad period – The ruins that belong to all these periods stand on a hill against the bustling 21st-century city Amman, at the Citadel. You see the ruins of three different eras, three different cultures with one turnaround!.
Until I went to the Citadel, I knew only one Philadelphia (USA), but I know now one more! Amman was called Philadelphia by Romans.
An Islamic constitutional Monarchy, where women drive and come out for a Sheisha on the street cafes. This city weaves subtly yet unique contrasts- from the contemporary glass buildings to the downtown ghettos, Roman theatre – a mosque; Amman is a cultural delight for history buffs and walkers.
Common mistakes tourists do in Amman, Jordan.
Soul of our stories is modesty and honest. So here goes the mistake we mad ein Amman which you must not!
While we planned to come to Amman, “Get in, get out” is what one globe trotter advised. Others said, “Traffic in Amman is horrible.” “Amman is burly – Ruins are literally ruined.” We believed them!
Little tired after our flight journey from Cairo to Amman and getting stuck at Amman’s traffic from the airport to the city, we ditched all the plans of exploring Amman and asked Yusuf to pick us the next day to go to Petra.
Is Amman good for tourists?
With just a few glimpses of the city from the car, we assumed Amman wasn’t worth our time and decided to stretch our legs lying on the bed the whole day.
There is so much in Egypt to see; we were feeling incomplete. The best part of travelling is making friends with strangers. The worst part is saying goodbye to them after having such a fun time. We missed Mamdouh, Ibrahim, Mahmoud and Egypt! It took four long hours of lying on the bed and chatting,“ when are we going to Egypt again” and realised we were wasting our precious time on Jordan whining!
Petra was our dream, and we are in Jordan for that. But leaving Egypt behind felt as if we had left our motherland!
Shake of the laziness
A fresh cup of coffee from the hotel gave us a little jerk later, and we wondered why two keen walkers like us were acting lazy on bed. Then I remembered Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules (2014). I love Rock and was mesmerised by Hercules story.
Then, shaking our butts, we left the room to see one of the most underrated cities – Amma by 3.45 PM. Walking the first ten steps froze our hands and legs. We had done our research on the weather; we were prepared for it. But this extreme cold that too in the afternoon was not a pleasant surprise. Once we were out wandering – we regretted of staying just for a day in Amman!
The best-preserved Roman ruin in all of the Middle East is Jerash. And we missed that!
A thing you must not do when you travel to Amman.
Don’t get in and get out of Amman; it is an experience of your lifetime to a multilayered city like this. Yes, Amman traffic is chaotic – but it is worth your time, have little patience and watch how Jordanians stretch their four-lane roads to 6 lanes.
Ruins aren’t ruins; they are storytellers. Amman isn’t a mere gateway to Magical Petra but a crash course you must take to understand Jordanian culture & heritage.
We had made a similar mistake in Athens by taking rest more than what was needed to get rid of Jetlag. Because many people had suggested, Athens isn’t worth the time. We have learnt our lessons after Amman – Reading the blogs are a neat way to plan your trip. Sit back and think if the blogger’s perspective and your thoughts are similar or not. If you are still unclear, go visit, explore and know it yourself.
How many days to spend in Amman
Two days in Amman us great time to explore famous sites in and outside of the city. Three days is plenty. On the first day, wander Amman. On the next day, see the best-preserved Roman ruins of Asia at Jerash.
Where can I go next from Amman?
How to get around Amman?
The best way to explore Amman and the whole of Jordan is by taxi – the omnipresent yellow taxis with fixed rates. Uber works perfectly in Jordan. We used an Uber taxi to the Citadel from the hotel in the evening cost us 2JD/200INR for 7km. Taking a Taxi in the night is absolutely safe. We reached our hotel at 11 PM by taxi from Rainbow Street.
The bus lines are slim – They don’t connect every area. So, if you are in Amman for a week, you can figure out how to use buses. Plus, you need to know they take more time as it stops more often than you can expect!
Most hotels will arrange taxis on request for day trips to Jerash / Madaba or overnight stays at Petra/Wadi Rum/Dead Sea. Else you find lots of taxi agencies downtown.
Where to stay in Amman?
Amman isn’t a gigantic city, but built on seven hills. So though neighbourhoods are closer, you take a winding road which is pretty jammed usually except in the morning.
In general, I recommend staying in the areas where locals stay. But if you travel to Amman for the first time, I recommend otherwise- get closer to where places of tourist interest. You will have to take expensive taxis to get around which makes your Amman travel experience even more expensive!
If you choose to stay in the neighbourhoods amidst local residences, learn the local way and respect Jordanians conservative culture to avoid any conflicts
Best areas to stay in Amman
Where backpackers and solo adventurers feel at home at hostels.
Battuta Hostel is famous among backpackers and a great way to save money in Amman.
If you want to stay among backpackers, but on a budget hotel, pick Julia’s Hotel Suites
The thrifty traveller’s haven in the heart of Amman. This is where we stayed and the neighbourhood was super quiet with lots of residences around. The only problem staying here is that you must depend on taxi for everything.
We had a comfortable stay at Al Qasr Metropole Hotel which is of mid-range budget hotel and their breakfast was excellent.
Celino Hotel is one of the cheapest accommodations you can find in Shumaysani.
If you are looking for Amman luxury, W Amman with it’s unique colourful decor is a great choice.
Old Downtown Amman (Wasat Al Balad):
Amman’s ancient heart that has stood the test of time and is closer to all tourist attractions. I really wish we stayed here instead of Shumaysani as Old Town Amman is everything you need. I recommend –
Arab Tower Hotel – Budget hotel in the heart of Old Amman
Beirut Hotel – Mid-range budget hotel with more comfort.
Best things to do in Amman
The Northern part of Amman is famous for its contemporary art galleries and museums.
The city’s highlight is Amman Citadel – the view of the city from here is incredible. Then go cafe-hopping in Rainbow street. Grab some Falafels at Old souk downtown. Explore Al Baland for some souvenir shopping or window shopping.
End your day smoking Shisha by the roadside & some hot Jordanian coffee.
1. Visit Amman Citadel
Perched majestically atop Jabal al-Qal’a, the Amman Citadel is a timeless testament to the city’s rich and layered history. It is like Tiramisu – Got so many layers that come together to create an enigmatic surprising charm.
Is Amman Citadel worth it?
If you want to spend an evening among the locals watching the city from above – This is the ultimate place. It is not too touristy, but many domestic and foreign visitors love to spend their evenings here- Hence it is the best place to People watch and also wonder at the history all at once!.
This place will amaze you. Out of the historical ruins I have visited till now, we have never come across a site where you see the ruins of three different ages at once. Bronze age- Roman period- Byzantine age to Ummayad era towering over modern Amman is delightful. It poses questions that tickle our intellect, daring us to unravel its riddles.
Why is the Amman Citadel important?
As you climb the stone steps, anticipation swirls in the air, blending with the whispers of ancient tales echoing through the ruins. With its remarkable mix of Roman, Byzantine, and Umayyad remnants, the Citadel is a treasure trove of historical wit.
The beige painted town changes its colour to golden yellow as the sun is about to set. Why is it painted Beige? Next day when we asked Yusuf – “The rich who live on the hills use the stones for building and cladding, which are available in plenty. It works well for the Jordan summer heat too. One who can not afford the stones, paint it with similar colour paint” Those houses looked like Lego blocks of the same colour stagged together.
But best of Amman Citadel is …
The Hercules Temple.
As an architect, I had read and heard so many stories of Roman cities and their gods. I admire Hercules even more after Dwayne Johnson’s Hercule movie in 2014. So being there at the ruins of the temple -took me back in time imagined him walking down the steps with the Lion skin on his chest! Wait-
It is a temple dedicated to him, not where he lived or was born. Hercules did not walk on the exact steps where I was standing on that day. Did Hercules exist in reality, or is he a mythical Demi-god?
The researchers are still on their quest to discover the truth. Anyways, I love Hercules+Dwayne Johnson and Amman Citadel :D.
Oh ya, this was the time for me to click some pictures of details of Corinthian columns to teach my pupils back home in India.
You see a lot of Romance on the citadel!
Jordanians are religious, but aren’t any less romantic! What can be a better place for people to spend a lovely time together watching the stunning view of Amman’s beige houses spread across the hill like sugarcubes arrayed!
Romancing young couples, older people sharing good laughter, school girls checking out us- tourists ( they were carefully observing what we wore ) and approaching tourists for a photo! Indeed, watching people is the best thing to do sitting on a bench or even on the citadel wall.
How much is it to enter Amman Citadel?
Entrance fee – 2JD for foreigners.
Opening hrs – 8 AM to 5 PM (as of January 2019).
How long to spend in Citadel Amman?
We spent solid three hours there. A small shop near the entrance gate sell cookies & water bottles. A small museum at the hilltop has entry fees included in your ticket. – Taxi will drop you at the foothill. Then, a 5-minute uphill walk will take you to the gate. It is wheelchair friendly.
2. Go Cafe hopping in Amman
It didn’t any longer realise how expensive Jordan was after seeing the Menus in nearby cafes! A meal for two in a regular restaurant would cost a minimum of 15JD, more than 1500 INR! So we kept looking for smaller cafes- The prices were lower, but we weren’t ready to pay 2JD for a coffee.
However, there is a mall; we saw the rescuer – The Mc. Donald’s. The rates in Mc. Donald’s do vary a bit, but still better than any other authentic Jordanian restaurant. While having the burgers, we discussed selling a kidney to someone if we want to have traditional Jordanian food in the next seven days. or experience cafe culture in Amman.
Cafe hopping is fantastic- if you are ok spending. Otherwise, famous falafel joints like Hashem Restaurant serve good Falafels for less than a JD.
Jordanians, please don’t get angry – I loved Egypt falafels more than yours 🤪
3. Wander in Rainbow street
The rainbow street is lined with restaurants and cafes. Some even are located on the topmost floor and hence must be giving you a fantastic view of the city. But the best part is, you find plazas where you smoke shishas and sipping without selling kidneys!
Travel to Amman to have Shisha by the streetside!
The streetside Sheisha for 1JD or 100INR and a big cup of Jordan coffee for 1JD. Ah, finally, it may not be the trendy cafe, but Shisha in the cold weather was blissful. Plus, we got to see how liberally Jordanian women get together in public space for Shisha despite being an Islamic country.
Scam alert: A guy making coffee asked us for 0.5 JD / coffee. But after a while, another guy took over; he spoke something in Arabic. While paying, he asked for 1 JD!!!! We were, like you said, 0.5 JD. He was reluctant to take anything less than a JD. Later we saw locals paying 0.5 JD.
Wander in Old Town and go window shopping.
It was dark by the time we wandered in the old town. The locals were busy shopping gold as if they all had a wedding to attend tomorrow near King Faisal street! The narrow alleys had shops of spices and spice powders. This part of the city feels different and a great way to see Amman beyond tourist interest
Tourists like us kept smelling each thing, inhaling the Aroma. Hashem restaurant had locals and tourists in line, and we joined the q too to grab our falafels. Souvenir shops like Al-Afghani stores call window shoppers too, saying “No charge to see” Amman may not have Bazar, but the oldtown vibe gives you the true lively essence of the city.
4. Experience Rome at Roman theatre, Amman.
When we were whining, sleeping in our room, how badly we miss Egypt. Ashrith said,” We are in the Middle East. We are here for Nabateans and Bedouins. Not Romans. I don’t want to go to the Roman Ruins”
At that point, it sounded right, BUT IT IS WRONG! The magic lies where East meets West; the beauty of Amman! So not going to Roman theatre when you travel to Amman is a great loss!
How old is the Roman Theater in Amman?
The Roman Theatre in Amman is estimated to be around 2,000 years old, dating back to the 2nd century AD.
So, if you know about Roman’s gladiator’s fight and want to hear the echoes of ancient applause, you must go to Roman theatre in Amman located in the heart of the Jordan’s capital city. You may not hear, Roman’s chatting, but surely hear vehicles around and a lot of Arabic as local people come to spend time with their loved ones!
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