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 (and 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 ex-pats 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 ex-pats 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 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 five-star hotels.
Downtown Amman: Also referred to locally as Al-Balad, the historic center is home to the old citadel and the Roman Theater, along with a series of souqs and markets that are great for shopping. This is the most conservative part of the city, so more conservative clothing is recommended.
Cars and Traffic: I absolutely would not recommend driving a car in Amman. Hire a driver or go with an organized tour. I first visited Amman in 2012, and have returned to host my TBA Escapes Tours in Jordan in 2019, and the traffic in Amman has gotten unbearably bad. Expect to spend a lot of time in traffic.
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.
Day Trips & Tours: There are a lot of day trips and tours available in Amman—make sure to check out my 10-day Jordan itinerary for more ideas.
Where to Stay in Amman
Since Amman is a larger city, there are certain neighborhoods that cater more towards travelers. The Jabal Amman, Rainbow Street, and Shmeisani areas offer the most in terms of accommodations, walkability, restaurants, and activities. I’ve outlined the top hotels in Amman below!
The InterContinental offers modern and luxury accommodation for a very affordable price! Just one mile away from the Amman Citadel, and sitting between the 2nd & 3rd Circle, it’s in a great location for exploring the city.
The House Boutique Suites offer a beautiful, boutique vibe at an affordable price in the city center! Located right off Rainbow Street, a popular tourist destination, it’s one of the better locations to stay while exploring Amman.
Just walking into the Fairmont, 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!
Located in the “new Downtown” the W Amman is funky, cool and has an incredible staff. You’ll find stunning design throughout the hotel and rooms, plus amazing city views. This trendy 5-Star hotel is worth the splurge!
Where to Eat in Amman
I think Middle Eastern food is at the top of my list—I could eat falafel, moutabel, labneh, hummus, fattoush, and mansaf all day, any day. There are a lot of authentic Jordanian and Middle Eastern restaurants throughout Amman, as well as other fusion cuisines. Street food is also a great option in most parts of the city. Here are my favorite places to eat in Amman!
Sufra RestaurantMiddle Eastern
Located on Rainbow Street, this is a beautiful spot with authentic Middle Eastern and Jordanian cuisine, a great wine list, and awesome service. Having been here multiple times, I love everything about this restaurant!
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!
Beit SittiCooking Classes
Literally translated, Beit Sitti means ‘My Grandmother’s House’, and is an authentic and family-run cooking school. They offer a hands-on experience, creating staples of Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as the chance to try many of the country’s most popular dishes. After your class, you’ll feast on an amazing spread. Be sure to purchase some of their signature spices to take home!
Fun Fact: This is one of the highlights of my TBA Escapes Jordan Tour!
Daimeh EateryModern Jordanian
Located in the Jordan River Foundation showroom, this beautiful restaurant offers delicious food, prepared by local women, in a lovely setting. Plan to spend some extra time here so you can shop for local handicrafts that support women-empowerment causes.
Hashem’s DowntownJordanian, Street Food
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! It’s mostly outdoor seating, and be ready to stand.
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 FalafelStreet Food
This place is a local legend—it’s the oldest falafel vendor in Amman! Serving great falafel 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).
Haret JdoudnaMiddle Eastern
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.
If you’re looking for a quick coffee or iced tea, this is your spot! It’s a great place to come and work on your computer.
What to Do in Amman
Amman is a large, bustling city—there are many historic sites, centers of business, and modern sights to see. But you’ll also experience a lot of traffic throughout the city during commuting hours, so I recommend factoring that into your time and planning your activities out by area. Looking for more ideas? I’ve outlined even more of my top things to do in Amman!
At the heart of the downtown area of Amman, the historic Citadel is a wonderful place to visit and combines the ancient history of the city with spectacular, panoramic views over the entire city.
With both shops and market stalls selling spices in Amman, the streets are infused with an exotic aroma. Stop in to learn about the spices of different colors and smells. Be sure to grab some Za’atar and Sumak to bring back home to cook with!
Start with the Citadel and be sure to visit the other ancient ruins and religious sites around the city—the Roman Theater, Qasr al-Kharrana, King Abdullah Mosque, and King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque.
Since this area was once the capital of the Roman Empire, the Roman Theatre is one of Amman’s most iconic places— it’s in great condition for being built between 138-161 CE.
Try out some of the local’s favorite dishes—especially hummus and falafel! Indulge in Mezze (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 bar is very unique and offers awesome views! Come here for drinks and small bites during sunset.
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, ex-pats, and tourists here!
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!
Support local female artisans and bring home beautiful one-of-a-kind handicrafts for the home—two of my favorite things!