What are the best things to see and do in Amman?

Dalia Hatuqa
  • Dalia Hatuqa

  • Correspondent

  • Ramallah, Palestine, Middle East

There’s no shortage of interesting sights and attractions in Amman, a bustling city that seamlessly blends the ancient and the modern. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to see and do in Amman. 
 
1. The Citadel. Perched atop the highest of Amman’s seven original hills, the Citadel is an archeological landmark worth the steep ascent. From its vantage point, the Citadel offers a panoramic view of the city’s downtown area and what Jordanians believe is the world’s tallest flagpole. The pillars of the Temple of Hercules are in the vicinity and the walk will lead you to an ancient palace and the National Archeological Museum, which features a slice of the priceless Dead Sea Scrolls.
 
2. The Roman Theater. This is an ancient auditorium that once held 6,000 spectators at a time. Due to the unusually high steps, be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes for this leg of the trip. Forbes Travel Guide editors found the exercise paid off with yet another mesmerizing view of the hustle and bustle of downtown Amman.
 
3. Jabal al Lweibdeh. This neighborhood is the epicenter of Amman’s burgeoning arts and cultural scene. Head to Darat al-Funun, an art-house-cum-café known for its galleries and lively performances. Even though its name means “little house of the arts,” it’s anything but: It’s home to three 1920s villas, a ruined Byzantine church and a garden that offers welcome respite. 
 
4. Rainbow Street. No trip to Amman is complete without a stroll down Rainbow Street, a one-mile stretch dotted with trendy bars, art galleries and old stone homes turned into cafés. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the street’s ubiquitous terraces offering spectacular views of the city. During warmer weather, and only on Fridays, more people flock to the area for Souk Jara, a flea market with stands filled with jewelry, pashminas and antiquities.
 
5. Wine tasting. Though Amman is not traditionally known as wine country, the Winemaker is a first-rate boutique wine tasting and retail venue for locally produced St. George Wines. Together with pairings, you can sample certified organic, award-winning wines to suit every palate.

  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What are the best places in Amman to try a hookah?

    You’ll find that hookah — the sinuous water pipe used to smoke flavored tobacco — is known by many names in Amman: argeeleh, nargileh, shisha. Whatever you call it, the hookah is a favorite amongst Ammanis. Many cafes and lounges have sprouted across the city to serve this ritual that involves smoking flavored tobacco though a waterpipe. But two cafes mostly stand out. Jafra’s relaxed atmosphere is inviting and on many nights it hosts live music, whereas TcheTche has more than ten cafes scattered across the city and offers a wide range of tobacco flavors. Rainbow Street is packed full with hookah-serving cafes; be sure to choose one with a patio for people-watching and a great view of downtown.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What is the best thing to bring home from Amman?

    You won’t want to leave Amman without a Dead Sea product in your bag. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest that you shop for mud, salts and facial products infused with skin-softening Dead Sea minerals that will make great souvenirs and gifts. Jordan is also known for its sweets. Head to one of the many Zalatimo Sweets stores (there’s one in the airport too) and grab a box of baklava or the assorted ma’mul:  pastries filled with pistachios, dates or walnuts. Your family back home will thank you if you can resist temptation on the journey back home. You might also like to take home a bottle of Arak, a colorless anise-flavored liqueur that can be mixed with water and ice for a cooling pre-dinner drink.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What are the five best Amman food experiences?

    The range of culinary experiences in Amman truly run the gamut from American fare at chain restaurants to every ethnic cuisine imaginable. But for a true taste of Amman, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you seek out these five traditionl food experiences:
     
    1. Falafel. To capture the spirit of Jordanian food, head downtown to Hashim’s. This hole-in-the-wall specializes in falafel - balls of fried ground chickpeas - and fuul - hot Fava beans mashed with garlic and lemon juice. What this place lacks in ambiance it makes up for in its mouth-watering specialty dishes.
     
    2. Mansaf. For a taste of Amman’s national dish, mansaf (a platter of lamb, rice and dried yogurt), head to Al Quds Restaurant downtown. Every cab driver knows where this reasonably-priced place is.
     
    3. Knafeh. A hidden gem bakery called Habiba, meaning loved one, creates the most delicious traditional pastries and sweets in the city. Its trademark is the knafeh — a cheese and semolina-based pastry drenched in syrup.
     
    4. Hummus. If you’re looking for a hands-on approach to Arabic food, then head to Abu Jbara, which specializes in making hummus. They’ve raised the ground chickpea snack to an art form. You’ll find Lebanese hummus with whole chickpeas mixed in and a smooth  Jordanian style topped with a sauce of spicy grated green peppers and garlic.
     
    5. Shawarma. Reem, one of the city’s most well-known budget eateries, specializes in meat shawarmas. You’ll probably have to wait in line at this roadside stand for your shawarma that starts with of lamb meat slowly roasted on a spit. It’s thinly shaved into a warm pita, and wrapped up along with ripe tomatoes, sauce and a sprinkle of onions.  However, Forbes Travel Guide editors promise that the first bite makes up for the wait.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    Where is the best nightlife in Amman?

    Amman’s nightlife revolves around clubs and bars or lounges, most of which are based in luxury hotels. For a laid-back atmosphere and a cold beer, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you try La Calle. It’s a three-story bar and restaurant with a terrace overlooking the city. Known for its wide range of spirits and beers, La Calle also features an interesting music selection ranging from flamenco to 90s pop. Amman also has a serious clubbing scene and on weekends, you can expect people to party until the break of dawn. If you want to join the crowds, then Switch 51 at the 8th Circle and Flow in Abdoun are the places for you. If you’re an 80s music fan, then head to Cube at the Shepherd Hotel on a Wednesday for a musical blast from the past.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What is the best way to see Amman in one day?

    To see Amman in one day, start at Rainbow Street, one of the most popular locales filled with cafes and galleries. Grab a cup of java at Books@Café, a trendy café/bookstore with a terrace view, then head to the Jordan River Foundation for some souvenirs. Stop by its neighbor, Balian, for an exquisite range of hand-made ceramics. Later on, take any of the dozens of steps leading downtown to the Gold Souk, then head for the Roman theater. Don’t miss the Citadel nearby for a glimpse of history embedded in ruins and a palace. Finish things off with a falafel sandwich at Hashem, followed by sweets from its neighbor Habiba.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    Where is the best shopping in Amman?

    The city of Amman has modern malls that range from upscale megacenters like Taj Mall and City Mall to laid-back, more affordable ones like Mecca Mall. At all of these, you’ll find hundreds of shops spread over multiple floors, food courts, children’s play areas and cinemas.
     
    If you’re looking for something more evocative of Amman than Western-style malls, head to al Wakalat Street in the Sweifieh shopping district, a pedestrian-only stretch dotted with stores and cafes. There’s also Jabal Al-Hussein, a neighborhood packed with independent stores that often have better values than those in the mall.
     
    If it’s arts and crafts you’re looking for, head to Rainbow Street’s Jordan River Foundation, which showcases handmade baskets and rugs, or Wild Jordan, an eco-tourism spot that sells organic goods like olive-oil soap. 
     
    If you’re a serious bargain hunter, try the massive Souk Al Jum’a market that springs up on Fridays in downtown’s al Abdali neighborhood. Be sure to bargain for the best price as you rummage through a sea of secondhand clothes and shoes. It’s an expected part of shopping and that’s how Jordanians do it!
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What are the best things to do with kids in Amman?

    The hsitoric and modern city of Amman might seem like a place that’s more appealing to adults than young visitors. But you’ll find that children are quite welcome. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five favorite things to do with kids in Amman:
     
    1. Visit the Children’s Museum. The brainchild of Jordanian Queen Rania, this museum is home to dozens of interactive exhibits about humans, nature and technology. Your kids can shop at a mock supermarket, generate wind power at the energy lab, or pretend to be mechanics or construction workers.  
     
    2. Stroll down Rainbow Street. The kids will enjoy visiting Rainbow Street, a popular destination for families, and a hub of cafes, stores and the site of the famous Friday market called Souk Jara. This outdoor flea market is endlessly fascinating and your kids will especially want to see the honey vendor with his special bee display.
     
    3. Visit a kid-friendly restaurant. For a food experience that’s definitely kid-friendly, make your way to Casereccio where your kids can make their own pizza with healthy whole wheat dough. Follow it up with a visit to Café Graffiti where your kids can channel their inner Picasso by drawing on the walls while you have coffee and a homemade dessert.
     
    4. Take a walk in the park. You’ll want to plan a day trip to the King Hussein Park, a huge landscaped garden filled with swings and slides. It’s also home to the Royal Automobile Museum, which displays the late king’s extensive car collection. Your kids will get to see a replica of the world’s first car as well as some classic Cadillacs.
     
    5. Explore Kan Zaman. Just down Airport Road you’ll find Kan Zaman, a walled village replica housing a restaurant, bric-a-brac shops and workshops where your kids can see glass being blown into bottles and carpets being woven.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Dalia Hatuqa answered the question: Dalia Hatuqa

    What are the best things to see and do in Amman?

    There’s no shortage of interesting sights and attractions in Amman, a bustling city that seamlessly blends the ancient and the modern. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the best things to see and do in Amman. 
     
    1. The Citadel. Perched atop the highest of Amman’s seven original hills, the Citadel is an archeological landmark worth the steep ascent. From its vantage point, the Citadel offers a panoramic view of the city’s downtown area and what Jordanians believe is the world’s tallest flagpole. The pillars of the Temple of Hercules are in the vicinity and the walk will lead you to an ancient palace and the National Archeological Museum, which features a slice of the priceless Dead Sea Scrolls.
     
    2. The Roman Theater. This is an ancient auditorium that once held 6,000 spectators at a time. Due to the unusually high steps, be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes for this leg of the trip. Forbes Travel Guide editors found the exercise paid off with yet another mesmerizing view of the hustle and bustle of downtown Amman.
     
    3. Jabal al Lweibdeh. This neighborhood is the epicenter of Amman’s burgeoning arts and cultural scene. Head to Darat al-Funun, an art-house-cum-café known for its galleries and lively performances. Even though its name means “little house of the arts,” it’s anything but: It’s home to three 1920s villas, a ruined Byzantine church and a garden that offers welcome respite. 
     
    4. Rainbow Street. No trip to Amman is complete without a stroll down Rainbow Street, a one-mile stretch dotted with trendy bars, art galleries and old stone homes turned into cafés. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the street’s ubiquitous terraces offering spectacular views of the city. During warmer weather, and only on Fridays, more people flock to the area for Souk Jara, a flea market with stands filled with jewelry, pashminas and antiquities.
     
    5. Wine tasting. Though Amman is not traditionally known as wine country, the Winemaker is a first-rate boutique wine tasting and retail venue for locally produced St. George Wines. Together with pairings, you can sample certified organic, award-winning wines to suit every palate.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to eat in Amman?

    As you might expect, many of the restaurants in Amman feature Middle Eastern fare. However, it’s possible to find everything from Italian to excellent sushi here as Amman draws visitors from all over the world. These are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five favorite places to dine in Amman:
     
    1. B-Snack. A popular café in the city’s 2nd Circle, B-Snack offers a succulent range of pastries. Meat lovers should start things off with the sfeeha, a pastry topped with minced meat and thinly diced tomatoes. Vegetarian options include the cheese pastry or the mana’eesh, a blend of savory thyme, sesame, cumin and olive oil. You can’t go wrong with either.
     
    2. Fakhr El-Din. This Levantine restaurant takes pride in its mezzes, a tapas-like array of cold and hot dishes, and its mashawwi, a range of chicken, lamb and beef cooked slowly on the grill. The historic-home-turned-restaurant is one of the most popular and elegant spots in town, so book ahead of time and ask for a table on their lemon-tree-filled patio.
     
    3. Blue Fig. You’ll find this casual café/bar/lounge located in Abdoun, Amman’s trendiest neighborhoods and Jordan’s equivalent of Soho. It’s the perfect spot for families trying to kick back after a busy day out. We do advise you to book ahead of time.
     
    4. Vinaigrette.  A chic and recently remodeled restaurant in the AlQasr Metropole Hotel,  Vinaigrette offers stunning views of Amman. Its menu caters to international tastes with a live sushi station and frog legs in a Provençal lemon sauce and Angus ribe-eye steak frites.
     
    5. Wild Jordan Café. It’s situated in the complex housing the offices of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. It might not seem like an obvious place for an eating experience, but the cafe is probably one of a very few offering organic food — its low fat/low carb menu uses ingredients grown in local nature reserves. You’ll be thrilled by their spacious open terrace, which offers a spectacular view of downtown Amman.
  • On July 23, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best places to stay in Amman?

    Amman is replete with luxury international chain hotels that cater to clientele from all over the world. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ recommendations of the five best places to stay in Amman:
     
    1. Royal Hotel Amman. Set in a grand building with art deco lines, the Royal Hotel is a 31 story tower that offers impressive views of the entire city. Rooms are filled with sumptuous fabrics in earthy tones and are equipped with high-speed Internet access.  The variety of ethnic restaurants on property, neo-classic pool, mall filled with boutiques and the world-class spa make it easy to stay amused without ever leaving the hotel. 
     
    2. Evason Ma’In Hot Springs and Six Senses Spa. Imagine a hotel that looks like an ancient king’s dramatic movie lair and you’ll have a vision of the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs. A wholly unique experience awaits at the Evason Ma’In Hot Springs, which is set on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Dead Sea. Adorned with natural materials from the surrounding landscape, rooms are serene and modern. Indulge at the world-renowned Six Senses Spa with its natural hot springs waterfall; lesser known amenities include the organic fare in the restaurant or the guided hikes led by the resident geologist. 
     
    3. Four Seasons Hotel Amman. Tucked away between the tony Al Sweifiyah neighborhodo and the bustling Shmeisani Financial District, the Four Seasons delivers everything you’d expect. The hotel offers a baby-sitting service as well as extensive and modern meeting facilities, making it equally appealing for leisure and business travellers.
     
    4. The Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea. Set on the famous Dead Sea, a stay at the Kempinski is like living in a vast oasis. city view. Rooms are in three luxurious areas amid gardens landscaped with waterfalls, lagoons, palms and olive trees. Swim in the infinity edge pool or take to the soothing salt waters of the Dead Sea.
     
    5. The InterContinental. One of Amman’s oldest luxury hotels, The InterContinental is a favorite of businessmen, diplomats and journalists alike. Located in the heart of Jabal Amman, this top-grade property prides itself on opulent rooms and impeccable service. Relax on the terrace overlooking the city or take a swim in the pool on a hot summer day. It’s an ideal option, especially if you have kids.