Jordan offers a great introduction for those who are new to traveling the Middle East, providing a nice balance between the traditional and cultural aspects of the region with a modern atmosphere. Amman is a great example, providing many modern luxuries, while still retaining its uniquely Jordanian culture. Travelers come to see ancient ruins—the historic Amman Citadel, the Roman Temple of Hercules, and the 8th-century Umayyad Palace complex. Plus, it sits only three hours from the archaeological city of Petra. Use this ultimate Amman travel guide to plan an exciting and unforgettable trip to Jordan!
What to Expect in Amman
Amman is a vibrant city, and a treasure trove of historic sites and cultural activities! If you’re looking to explore the Middle East for the first time, Amman is the perfect destination. Here are some of the main things you should know before traveling to Amman:
Language: The most widely spoken language is Arabic, but most people in Amman will have a basic knowledge of English that should allow most people to get by.
Currency: The Jordanian Dinar (JOD). Currently, the exchange rate is $1.14 USD to 1 Dinar.
Credit Cards and Banks: ATMs can be found in many places around the city, while major hotels and restaurants will accept Mastercard and Visa.
Safety: Traveling in Jordan is easy and very safe, as is traveling solo. Because Jordan is a relatively small country, it’s easy to get around and the country has modern infrastructure.
Climate: Amman is warm throughout the year, even during winter, and the best time to visit is between March and May, and from September to early November, when the daytime temperatures are pleasant but not excessively hot. You’ll find the warmest temperatures in Amman from June through September!
Getting Around in Amman
Amman is separated into many different districts and neighborhoods; each offering a unique flavor of the city! The most popular communities are:
Rainbow Street (or Jabal Amman): Named for the old Rainbow Cinema that has sadly closed down, it is still a popular and modern area that has cobbled streets, a series of cafes and art galleries, while also being home to several embassies and impressive residences. You’ll find a lot of young professionals and expats here.
El-Weibdeh: A historic district of Amman that has been rejuvenated with new restaurants, less expensive bars, and lots of live music. It is a relaxed and modern part of the city and you’ll find that a lot of expats call this neighborhood home.
Abdoun: One of the most affluent parts of the city, Abdoun has some of the city’s most expensive homes along with its most popular bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The Taj Mall is a also a good place to go shopping.
The Al Hussein Public Park: A lovely part of the city in which to relax, the public park is home to many leisure facilities including tennis courts and football and basketball facilities, along with the Children’s Museum and the Royal Automobile Museum.
Shmeisani: The most modern district in Amman—here you’ll find everything from fancy supermarkets to the five-star hotels.
Downtown Amman: Also referred to locally as Al-Balad, the historic center is home to the old citadel and the Roman Amphitheater, along with a series of souqs and markets that are great for shopping.
Car: If you are comfortable with driving in a foreign city, and plan to do some exploring outside the city, renting a car is your best choice. Rush hour can get a little hectic, so I'd recommend this to confident drivers only, but the main roads are in great condition and road signs are in English.
Taxi/Uber: You can use Uber in Amman! If that's not your kind of thing, there are 2 types of taxis. You'll want to opt for the "private taxis" instead of the "service taxis" because they can take you anywhere in the city (or outside), and they use a meter.
Shuttles: A lot of hotels offer tours and shuttles, as well as guided tours to Petra, so check with your accommodation.
Jordan Tower Hotel
This is a budget hotel and hostel that offers dorm rooms and air conditioning, plus it’s near the Roman Amphitheater. Prices are from $10 USD per night and the communal lounge has a large TV screen with satellite channels, Wi-Fi access and a lovely rooftop terrace.
Accommodation: Budget / Hostel
Price Range: $
Just walking into the Fairmont Amman, you’ll be blown away by the marbled stone and design of the reception area. The bedrooms are stunning and their onsite restaurants are gourmet and offer some of the best food in town. Breakfast at the Nur restaurant will knock your socks off!
Location: Shmeisani / Fifth Circle
Price Range: $$$
This budget hotel offers great value— it’s right around the corner from the beautiful King Abdullah Mosque, the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the staff is super helpful. They also offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast is included!
Accommodation: 3-Star Hotel
Price Range: $
Fakhr El-Din (Fine Dining)
Offering a superb taste of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, Fakhr El-Din has an amazing atmosphere that makes for a wonderful dining location- especially in the evenings. They also offer an excellent range of local wine. It’s the local favorite!
What to Order: Kibbeh Nayyeh—it’s basically raw meat and cracked wheat, served with garlic paste. Be sure to eat with their freshly made pita bread!
Sufra Restaurant (Casual Dining)
Located on Rainbow Street, this is a place with a great history and Middle Eastern authentic cuisine. A simple homey decor (it’s a renovated house) and great service.
Beit Sitti (Cooking Classes)
Literally translated, Beit Sitti means ‘My Grandmother’s House’, and is an authentic cooking school. They offer a hands-on experience to Arabic cuisine, as well as the chance to try many of the country’s most popular dishes.
Hashem’s Downtown (Cheap Eats)
Identified by the crowds of locals at all hours, Hashem’s serves a meal of falafel, hummus, bread and tea for cheap (a meal is about $4 USD). It is located on King Faisal Street!
What to Order: HUMMUS
Rumi Cafe (Casual Dining)
This tea room and coffee shop is located downtown, and has a cozy atmosphere plus an outdoor patio! The perfect spot to start your morning and observe some of the local camaraderie.
Al Quds Falafel (Cheap Eats)
This place is a local legend—it’s the oldest falafel vendor in Amman! Serving great felafel sandwiches from a small booth on Rainbow Street, make sure you go to the Al Quds Falafel (not to be confused with Al Quds downtown).
One of the best restaurants in Jordan is Haret Jdoudna, but it’s just slightly outside of Amman in Madaba. You can easily get there quickly by car (or cheap bus), and you can squeeze in a visit to the mosaic map at St. George’s church. The food there is heavenly, and the atmosphere is equally so, as it is set in an old house, with trees and authentic decoration everywhere.
The Amman Citadel
At the heart of the downtown area of Amman, this historic citadel is a wonderful place to visit, and combines the ancient history of the city with a great location offering spectacular views over the city.
Explore the Spice Shops
With both shops and market stalls selling spices in Amman, the streets are infused with an exotic aroma. Stop in to explore the spices of different colors and smells!
Explore Ancient Ruins + Religious Sites
Start with the Citadel and be sure to visit the other ancient ruins and religious sites around the city— the Roman Amphitheater, Qasr al-Kharrana, King Abdullah Mosque and King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque.
Eat + Drink
Try out some of the local’s favorite dishes—especially hummus and falafel! Indulge in Mezze (basically like tapas) which is a variety of vegetarian delicacies, including fattoush, hummus and baba ganoush. Most start their mornings with an Arabic coffee, or if it’s hot out, they’ll sip on sweet sugar cane juice from the street vendors!
This street, lined with shops, cafes, and street art, is that perfect place to hang out, grab a bite and take in the impressive Ottoman period architecture! You’ll find lots of young professionals, expats and tourists here!
Take an Arabic Cooking Lesson
The Beit Sitti Cooking School gives you the chance to learn how to make the iconic dishes of Jordan. It’s a fun introduction to Arabic cooking. Plus, the view of the Citadel from your chopping board is pretty incredible!
Sunset on District Urban Rooftop
This bar is very unique and offers awesome views! It’s located on Rainbow Street, on the top of the Shepherd hotel. Come here for drinks and small bites!
Create Your Own Scent
Perfume has long been one of the most popular items produced in Jordan, and there are shops in Amman’s downtown area that offer the chance to bottle up your own brand!