Posted by on 25 Jan 2024
Amman, the vibrant capital of Jordan, is an incredible city to visit. It’s a bustling, modern metropolis with a spectacular skyline and upscale cafés and restaurants.
At the same time, its ruins and archaeological sites in the Citadel and the older corners of town make it feel like an ancient civilization frozen in time. By marrying the old and new, this city is truly one for the books and a must-see if you’re travelling to the Middle East.
Whether you are interested in exploring ancient sites built centuries ago or prefer more hip, contemporary scenes in the city, there’s something in Amman for you. Here are six of the best things to do in Amman to get the ultimate Jordanian experience from the nation’s capital.
Marvel at the Ruins of the Amman Citadel
If you ask Jordanian locals for advice on what to do in Amman, they will likely point you in the direction of the historic Amman Citadel. This archaeological site of ancient ruins is perched on the top of Jabal Al Qala'a, the largest hill in Amman and one of the seven original hills that the city was built on centuries ago.
The most popular site to see here is the Temple of Hercules, which is believed to have been built in the time of Geminius Marcianus between 162 and 166 A.D. Two 30-foot-tall pillars make for magnificent remnants of the temple, along with broken stone sculptures resembling fingers and an elbow—fragments of what was then a gigantic statue of Hercules. Other points of interest at the Citadel include the Jordanian Archaeological Museum and the ruins of an old Byzantine Church.
The Amman Citadel has an air of mystery that rivals other historical ruins, like ancient Thira in Santorini and the Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome. Aside from the ancient ruins you can admire and explore, the Citadel also gives you spectacular panoramic views of Amman.
Visit the Historic Roman Theatre
History and architecture aficionados need to visit the iconic Roman Theatre, a time-honoured, 2nd-century amphitheatre with a 6,000-seat capacity. An inscription on one of the theatre’s pillars suggests that the architectural gem was built to honour Emperor Antoninus Pius from way back in the Roman Period when Amman was still called “Philadelphia.”
Today, the theatre is used for cultural shows and even music festivals. It’s a beautiful way to preserve the city’s history while making the most of what it used to be. Pro-tip: if you sit in the upper rows of the theatre’s seats, you’ll be treated to a stunning view of Amman’s downtown.
Eat a Delicious, Authentic Jordanian Meal
If you’re a foodie, sitting down at a restaurant in Amman and enjoying an authentic, flavour-packed meal is one of the best things to do in Jordan. The country’s cuisine is incredibly diverse, having been influenced by Arab and Mediterranean dishes. From hummus made with exquisite aromatic herbs to hearty and filling flatbreads, Jordanian cuisine is a must-try for those craving Middle Eastern delicacies.
Sit down at one of the many authentic, Jordanian restaurants and try the delectable dishes this country’s cuisine has to offer. One dish you simply need to try is mansaf, also known as Jordan’s national dish. This hearty dish is made of cooked lamb and rice, topped with a rich, creamy yoghurt sauce. And you can’t miss out on classic falafels—deep-fried chickpea balls packed with flavoursome spices and herbs, similar to the popular Greek street food revithokeftedes.
Shop and Have Coffee Along Rainbow Street
Are you an urbanite with a love for cute cafés and Instagram-worthy streets? Make sure to stop by Rainbow Street, a trendy street tourists love for its classy rooftop bars and charming coffee shops. There are plenty of international food options here in case you want a break from Middle Eastern meals. But take note—the price of food and drink here can be a bit more expensive.
There are also plenty of boutiques along this street if you want to shop for souvenirs, including clothes, artisanal crafts and some jewellery. On Fridays in the summertime, this area is home to Souk Jara, a market where all kinds of authentic wares, snacks, handicrafts and art are sold.
Admire Amman’s Beautiful Mosques
The gorgeous blue dome of the King Abdullah I Mosque in Amman is a must-see for any architecture aficionado. Around 7,000 people can worship inside the structure, while the vast courtyard outside can accommodate up to 3,000 more. It is the only mosque in all of the capital city that welcomes non-Muslim visitors. Just make sure to follow the dress code (long pants for men and covered hair and limbs for women) before visiting.
Another stunning mosque to see in Amman is the Grand Husseini Mosque. The cream-coloured, intricately designed exteriors and the towering minarets make for a remarkable sight. Non-Muslims aren’t allowed inside the mosque, but it’s still a beautiful, meaningful structure to observe from the outside.
See Vintage and Modern Cars at the Royal Automobile Museum
When you first think of what to do in Amman, you probably don’t think of visiting a museum full of cars. But the Royal Automobile Museum, the first public museum dedicated to automotive machines in the Middle East, is a must-visit for any car lover.
The museum was opened in 2003 to honour the late King Hussein. It displays almost a hundred of his old cars and motorcycles, as well as of the royal family’s, to chronicle the timeline of his and his heirs’ reign in Jordan. The museum also houses the rover from the Hollywood film The Martian, which was famously shot in Wadi Rum, Jordan.
Add These Stops to Your “What to Do in Amman” Bucket List
There are plenty of things to see and do in Amman, from the enigmatic mystery of ancient ruins to the trendiness of modern street cafés and boutiques. If you want to explore a city where old meets new, Amman is one you simply need to add to your travel bucket list.
Ready to explore and experience Jordan’s captivating capital city firsthand? Plan your upcoming Amman holiday with Entire Travel Group to make sure you score the best Holiday Packages.