The Best Things to Do in Amman, Jordan

Head to the Amman Citadel to visit the grand ruins of the Temple of Hercules
Head to the Amman Citadel to visit the grand ruins of the Temple of Hercules | © Pavel Kasak / Alamy
Photo of Sara Darling
2 September 2021
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Ever since the establishment of the Kingdom of Jordan in 1946, Amman has been the political and cultural capital of the nation. Once home to ancient civilisations including the Romans and the Byzantines, today the city hums with life. So why don’t you give this artistic Middle East hub a couple of days? Here are the top things to see and do in Amman, Jordan.

You can now visit Amman with Culture Trip on our specially curated nine-day Jordan adventure, which includes a street food tour and wine tasting in the capital.

Nabad Gallery

Art Gallery, Building
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Entrance to Nabad Art Gallery located  in Jabal Amman neighborhood one of the seven hills that originally made up Amman, Jordan
© Eddie Gerald / Alamy Stock Photo
Rolling out across a beautifully renovated 1930s residence, the Nabad Gallery has been celebrating contemporary art and culture since it was founded in 2008. Today it houses a diverse inventory, made up of paintings, limited-edition prints and photography, with both established and exciting up-and-coming artists from across the world featured on the ever-changing programme. The gallery also lays on art-consultancy services for collectors along with community art classes, book signings and events.

Rainbow Street

Architectural Landmark
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Busy cafes, Rainbow Street, Jabal Amman, Amman 2ACF12J
© Ian Bottle / Alamy
Wide enough to accommodate cafes and cars, Rainbow Street is the tourist hub of Jordan. It is a prime spot to stop for a drink while you’re exploring the surrounding attractions: set on the hill of Jabal Amman, opposite the neighbourhood of Lweibdeh. Thursday nights mark the start of the weekend, so the atmosphere is electric and every Friday during the summer, Fawzi Al Maalouf St (a side street off Rainbow) transforms into Souk Jara – bring your haggling skills.

Roman Amphitheatre

Historical Landmark
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Elevated view of Roman Amphitheatre in Amman, Jordan T5WYHC
© Michal Sikorski / Alamy
Built during the reign of Antoninus Pius in 138-161CE, the Roman Amphitheatre today finds itself in the thick of downtown Amman. It’s a much-celebrated landmark, often used to host popular concerts and other cultural events thanks to a mighty capacity of no less than 6,000. While you are here, take time to explore both the nearby Jordan Folklore Museum and the Nymphaeum: a Roman public fountain that is still in terrific condition.

Wild Jordan Center

Restaurant with Rooms, Contemporary, $$$
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Wild Jordan Centre cafe and shop, Othman Ben Affan Street, Rainbow Street area, Jabal Amman, Amman, Jordan, Middle East
© Ian Bottle / Alamy

Roll up for delicious organic food and views of Amman old city, as well as the Citadel, at Jordan Center: a cafe/restaurant/education center owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature. Money raised goes to help sustain local rural communities including Mujib Nature, Dibeen Forest, Ajloun Forest, Shaumari Wildlife, Dana Biosphere, Azraq Wetland, Fifa and Yarmouk. While you’re here, snap up beautiful handmade items from the Nature Shop – you’ll generate income for hard-up families and the wares make great gifts.

Fann Wa Chai cafe

Cafe, Tea Room, Middle Eastern, $$$
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Jordanians like their tea and their art, so the peaceful hideaway of Fann Wa Chai cafe in the hip, bohemian Jabal Al Weibdeh district is naturally a popular hangout. Cleverly combining the two, visitors can expect to be serenaded with classical music as they study the art-lined walls, or sit and sip on the wide range of teas served in delightfully quaint china teacups. If you’re hungry, peruse the small but perfectly formed menu – they do generously filled sandwiches and plenty of sweet treats.

Fann Wa Chai gallery

Art Gallery
Map View

Now a local institution, the Fann Wa Chai gallery burst onto the art scene in 1988, with the intention to support the arts and artists of Jordan and the Arab world. More than three decades on, it has evolved into an oasis for the art world, overlooking the bustling downtown area of the old city of Amman. This hub is an epicentre for culture and the impressive architecture makes a fine backdrop for exhibitions of paintings, while the gardens are open to all.

Grand Husseini Mosque

Mosque
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Grand Husseini Mosque, King Talal Street, Al Rjoum, Amman, Jordan, Middle East
© Ian Bottle / Alamy
In the midst of all the urban hyperactivity is the compact but impressive Grand Husseini Mosque. It was last renovated in 1987, but still looks remarkably fresh, considering that as many as 1,500 worshippers crowd in every Friday for Dhuhr (noon) prayer – a breathtaking sight. Immersed at the heart of several busy souqs, it is possible to visit. Hang around until prayers are over, when respectfully dressed non-Muslims are sometimes admitted – just ask at the gate.

Amman Citadel

Ruins
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Umayyad Palace, Amman Citadel, Amman Governorate, Jordan
© Karol Kozlowski / imageBROKER / Alamy

Amman Citadel dates back to the Bronze Age; over the course of a near-4,000-year history, it’s been occupied by the Byzantines, Persians, Romans and Greeks. This makes it the cultural heart of the city: a rich convergence of architectural wonders. The most iconic fixture is the ruined Temple of Hercules, built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE); the giant stone hand there is a reminder of Ancient Rome’s pristine craftsmanship. Also visit Umayyad Palace – an eighth-century royal complex with a restored, domed entrance chamber – and the Jordan Archaeological Museum, which houses 6,000-year-old statues and one of the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls.

Habibah Downtown

Shop
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Employees prepare sweets at Habibah restaurant, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Amman, Jordan April 20, 2021. Picture taken April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Muath Freij
© MUATH FREIJ / REUTERS / Alamy
You will probably have to join the queue of locals if you want to try what is arguably the best kunafa in town. Since 1947, Habibah Sweets, on Al Hashemi Road, has been producing the cheese pastry drenched in sweet syrup and pistachios, with people still simply unable to get enough of it. Best eaten outside the premises immediately, if the idea of thick, gooey cheese does nothing for you, choose from a wide range of homemade treats including cakes, cookies, ice cream and cheesecakes.

Beit Sitti Cookery School

Restaurant, Middle Eastern, $$$
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Beit Sitti and Najla's Kitchen restaurants, Muhammad Ali Saadi Street, Jabal al Weibdeh, Amman, Jordan, Middle East
© Ian Bottle / Alamy
Beit Sitti translates literally as grandmother’s house and the cookery school pays homage to a much-loved granny – it was founded by three sisters who wanted to create a tribute and share their passion for home-cooked food. The practical classes provide students with the opportunity to create a real taste of Jordan. Each session is led by local women who teach you how to work magic with aromatic spices to create a selection of authentic regional dishes, which you then sit down to polish off with the rest of the group.

This an update of an article originally written by Sahar Esfandiari. Matt Mills contributed additional reporting.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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