Amman is the vibrant, exciting and bustling capital of the Kingdom of Jordan. Traditional coffee houses rub shoulders with modern hotels, and ancient ruins are just walking distance from trendy cafes. Amman is a destination not to be missed with its perfect combination of nature, culture, and urban convenience.
Home of the Spice Girls??!!
Amman has a rich history, dating back to at least 3500 BCE. Once a vital location along the ‘King’s Highway’, an ancient trade route that connected the civilisations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia, the city has been a beacon of stability since the formation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The current Hashemite royalty, based in Amman, can trace their kingdom back directly to the 10th century when they ruled from the thrones of the Hejaz (Mecca and Medina), Syria, Iraq and Jordan.
Amman was built on 7 hills (yes, just like Rome), but now spans more than 19 hills with 27 districts and is ever-expanding. This city has been a melting pot of cultures for millennia and now has over 4 million people calling the city home.
Here’s a Pro-Tip: The currency used is the Jordanian Dinar (JD). One Dinar is roughly equal to £1.10 British Pound, though the exchange rate regularly fluctuates.
Most travellers arrive in Amman through Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan’s main and largest airport located about 30km south of downtown. Several large international airlines offer direct flights. My favourite way to reach the city from the airport is to use the airport shuttle – you’ll need to pre-book your shuttle online and it will drop you off directly at your destination. Other ways to reach the city from the airport are by taxi, which costs between 38-48 Jordanian Dinar (between £40-£50), or by bus service which drops off passengers at Abdali bus station each hour and costs about 5.50 JD (£6).
The most widely spoken language is Arabic, but most people in Amman can speak English well. Greet people with an enthusiastic “Salamo Alaykom” (“Peace be with you”) and you’ll receive a warm “Alaykom Salam. Marhaba!” (“And with you. Welcome!”). The word “Shukran” (meaning thank you) is a good word to use often throughout the Middle East.
Amman is a destination where you can climb around ancient ruins before dining on a traditional breakfast, then shop up a storm at the souks, before ending your day with a traditional coffee or tea at one of the ubiquitous gathering spots. This city is a treasure trove of sights to see and do. Check out my favourite attractions:
- Amman Citadel – The Citadel is a large open complex of ancient ruins. One of the city’s most recognisable landmarks sitting on the highest of the original seven hills, you’ll find spectacular views overlooking Downtown Amman.
Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears!
- Roman Theatre – This ancient theatre is an impressive monument from the Empirical era of Amman when the city was known as “Philadelphia” (“City of brotherly love”). Cut directly into the northern side of the hill and built to seat 6000 people, the theatre now hosts concerts and music festivals. Enjoy an unforgettable performance on a warm evening.
- Jordan Museum – Known as one of the best museums in the Middle East, the Jordan Museum is housed in a beautiful modern building. Here you’ll find interesting displays on Jordan’s epic history and culture with a large collection of art. This museum houses the oldest-known human statues and portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls!
- Rainbow Street – One of the oldest streets in the city, these historic cobblestones are surrounded by the best restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
- Downtown Amman – Also known locally as Al-Balad, this area is filled with souks and boutiques, making it a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find everything from produce, to antique rugs, spices and jewellery.
- Arabic Cooking Lesson – The Beit Sitti Cooking School, affectionately known as ‘Grandmother’s Kitchen’, is a great place to try your hand at cooking iconic dishes from the region. Enjoy meeting the passionate sisters who run the cooking school.
Amman is home to many different cultures who have all brought their favourite cuisines and flavours to the capital, making it a great city for food lovers. Check out my favourite places to eat below:
- Hashem Restaurant – A firm favourite for locals and tourists alike, Hashem is one of the oldest restaurants in the country and is well-known for its hummus and falafel.
- Sufra – For me, Sufra is Amman. Located on Rainbow Street, this bustling restaurant has excellent food with impeccable service. I love best enjoying lunch on the patio with an ice-cold white wine and the mezze selection from the chef.
- Abu Jhabra – Known for its excellent hummus and fateh, cheap prices and attentive staff, this local favourite is busy from morning till night. Order “shai bi na’na” – tea with mint – to go with your meal. Even in the hot summer months, this refreshing tea tastes great with your meal.
Glamorous rooftop bars offer views and ambiance to rival any, and the nightclub scene is alive and well, with places staying open until sunrise. Many of the venues serve more than one function, so don’t be surprised to find dinner, drinks and dancing all under one roof. Check out some of my favourite spots:
- District – A rooftop bar perched on top of the Shepherd Hotel, you’ll find a beautiful space to rub shoulders with fellow travellers and residents. For cocktail lovers, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose a single favourite from so many options on the menu.
- Books@Cafe – What may seem like a simple book store and cafe, Books@Cafe is more than meets the eye. An institution for residents, the upstairs bar serves moderately-priced cocktails on the terrace and a DJ provides the tunes for a good evening.
- Radiance Club – For some serious dancing in a nightclub, this is the place to visit. Boasting a large dance floor and an impressive lighting system, Radiance’s leading local and international DJs keep the party hopping.
When it comes to accommodation in Amman, you’ll need to decide whether you’re looking for a budget hotel or a luxury stay. Both options pride themselves on hospitality and provide excellent service to make you feel welcome. Check out my favourite hotels below:
- Four Seasons Amman – This is one of the most reasonably priced Four Seasons Hotels in the entire world! Incredibly comfortable with a style that mixes modern conveniences and ancient Arabic charm, you’ll love this hotel as much as I do!
- The Conroy Boutique Hotel – A charming 3-star hotel, The Conroy is a short walk from the bustling city centre that has been hosting travellers since 1997. It’s home to one of Amman’s popular drinking spots, “The Murphy Pub”.
- The House Boutique Suites – This 5-star hotel is a luxurious stay right in the heart of the traditional city centre. Their spacious and comfortable suites offer a grand view of old Amman while you experience their state-of-the-art facilities.
Amman is an ancient city with a modern heart and soul. It is a place where tradition and history mix perfectly with hospitality and fun. You’ll love this comfortable jewel!