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26 Things to do in Amman

In January 2013, I won a nine-day trip for two in Jordan, courtesy of EXPLORE, a leading tour company based in the UK. A few days ago, together with a friend, we claimed that prize.

I’ve never ever tried using a tour company for my whole trip before and to be honest, I didn’t really expect much from it. I thought its going to be a hurried kind of tour, moving from one place to another, running against time and will be bombarded with instructions, these and those.

Boy, was I wrong! Explore is an excellent tour company. From scheduling to organizing accommodations and transports, from places to eat to experiencing local culture, we were all given time to absorb everything without hassles. The pace of our trip was carefully planned out but wasn’t that different from a trip one would take alone.

Amman Things To Do

I’m not saying this because the tour was free. I’m saying this as a backpacker who loves to get lost in a strange city–among the ruins and complicated street signs, who loves to do things on his own and who takes loads of travel photos. I’m very glad that I still did ALL of these things with Explore tour without being forced to be in the group ALL the time. Not that I don’t want to be in a group, but the feeling of being free when traveling gives me a sense of independence without having to ask the tour guide ALL the time about the whats and whys of a certain attraction. Traveling, for me, is getting to know the unknown, marvel at the beauty of the country and learn from the locals–on your own.

With Explore Tour, I’m impressed. Jordan is a relatively small country. Our 9-day trip across from North to South was like getting to know the whole country itself. Our tour guide Mo, who majors in Jordan Antiquities, brought us to the ancient realm of the Byzantine, Biblical, Ottoman, Nabatean, Roman and Modern Times. From ancient wars, cultures, traditions and symbols, he dazzled us with stories beyond our capacity to internalize at once. He’s a walking history book!

Our first and a half day in Amman was spent sans a tour guide. My friend and I made our own itinerary to get to know the city on our own terms. Then, at the end of the whole trip, we had extra two days (because Egypt Air cancelled our original flight) to get to know more about the city. We explored it mostly on foot, reveled in its unfamiliar sights and wondered in the habits of the locals.

So, here are our 26 things to do in Amman.

1. Climb to the top of the Citadel Hill.
See the sweeping view of the city that’s built on seven  mountains. Inside the old city, you can explore the remnants of the Temple of Hercules, Umayyad Palace and and an ancient mosque. Take a look inside the Jordan Archaeological Museum. Entrance fee: 2 JD

26 Things to do in Amman

Things to do in Amman: Climb the Citadel Hill.

2. Run up the stairs of the Roman Ampitheater.
This surviving, impressive architecture is at the heart of downtown Amman. It’s good to visit here in the morning. Entrance fee: 1 JD

26 Things to do in Amman

Also, on both sides of the stage, you can find the Museum of Folklore museum (closed when we were there) and the Museum of Popular Traditions.

26 Things to do in Amman

Museum of Popular Traditions

3. Walk to the Houseini Mosque.
Walk to your left when exiting the Roman Ampitheater. If Houseini Mosque is closed, go people-watching on the square in front of it. Or visit any mosque around the city, like the King Abdullah Mosque or the King Hussein Mosque.

26 Things to do in Amman

4. Stroll at the little alleys and souks around the Housseini Mosque.
Souk Al-Sukar (Sugar Market) is on your left when facing the mosque. Though there was no sighting of sugar, it’s still worth a visit if you like the smells of fresh, organic vegetables, fruits and spices.

26 Things to do in Amman

5. Buy something at the souks.
Across Houseini mosque are souks that sell everything you can think of, old and new.

Things to do in Amman

6. Drop by at Duke Diwan, Amman’s oldest building.
There are old photograph displays, antique pieces of furniture, news clips, books, old stuff, etc… It’s free.

Things to do in Amman

7. Go window shopping at the Gold market.
If you have a fortune to spare, treat yourself with gold blings. It’s a couple of steps from Duke Diwan. It’s on a tiny alley you can’t miss. Those gold bracelets, necklaces, bangles, rings, etc… are on display to make you feel so poor. :))

Things to do in Amman

8. Walk along Rainbow Street, the city’s district for hedonists.
Cafés and shops abound. Don’t be fooled by its name as a gay district. There’s no sign of rainbow flag there!

Things to do in Amman

9.  For some arts, visit Nabad Gallery.
They have some interesting displays of contemporary arts. Not far from here is Wild Jordan–for more arts stuff. Entrance fee: Free.

Things to do in Amman Nabad Gallery

10. Stroll around King Hussein Park 
This might be Amman’s answer to New York’s Central Park. It’s a green space where local families go for some quality time. 5JD by taxi from downtown. Entrance fee: Free

Things to do in Amman King Hussein Park

Things to do in Amman.

11. Let the children play at Children’s Museum.
It’s inside King Hussein Park.

12. Take a journey inside the Royal Automobile Museum.
Here you’ll see two, three and four-wheeled cars collected by the Royal Family through the years. From 1916 Cadillac to elegant Rolls Royce; from rugged Harley Davidsons, to head-turning Porsche; from sand-covered sports car to shiny Lincolns. If you are a car enthusiasts like my friend, F, this gem of a museum is a paradise. Cost: $3JD for non-Jordanians.

Things to do in Amman Royal Automobile Museum

13. Take a peek at Martyr’s Memorial and Military Museum.
We were supposed to go the National Gallery but our illegal taxi driver didn’t know where the place was. He brought us to this museum insisting he was right (but, of course, wrong!). Inside, there’s a great display of maps and history of the Great Arab Revolt, the foundation of the Trans-Jordan and Arab Legion and the development of the country’s Armed Forces.

Things to do in Amman Jordan Military and Martyr Museum

14. Be awed at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
Two buildings on opposite sides of the park between them, this gallery hosts local and international talents/artists.

Things to do in Amman Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts

15. Visit an Orthodox Church.
If you haven’t been to one, go and see it. It’s pretty interesting.

Orthodox Church Things to do in Amman

Things to do in Amman.

16. Visit a Coptic Church.
Few steps from the Orthodox Church, this Coptic Church is my first. Go, if you haven’t been to one, too. 😉 Across the street is the King Abdullah Mosque.

Things to do in Amman Coptic Church

17. Walk downtown.
Depends on the time of the day, the two-lane streets are crowded with both foot and automobile traffic. Cars and trucks can literally park anywhere on the streets which make it more complicated.

Things to do in Amman downtown

Things to do in Amman.

18. Go on a day trip outside Amman.
There are a lot of sites to see outside Amman: the Baptism Site, Mt. Nebo, Madaba, Jerash and the Dead Sea. (A separate blog entries for these places will be posted).

Things to do in Amman Mt. Nebo Jordan

Moses once stood here and saw the Promised Land.

19. Dine at Books@Cafe.
Known as the hangout for gays, this bar resto doesn’t really scream gay at all. There’s no sign of feather boas, glitters and beads. It’s a relaxing place for everybody! Part of the dining area has a nice view of the houses on the other side of the mountain. Below the cafe is a bookstore. They serve, mostly, western food.

Books at cafe Books@Cafe Amman

Things to do in Amman / Books@Cafe.

20. Try sisha (water pipe) 
Almost all restaurants and cafés offer sisha.

Sisha in Amman Jordan

Things to do in Amman.

21. Try Jordanian sweets.
In a tiny corner few steps from Duke Diwan, Habiba sweets shop (next to the Arab Bank) is a paradise for those who were born with sweet tooth.

Habibah Amman Sweets Amman Jordan

Things to do in Amman.

22. Eat at Hashem Restaurant.
This restaurant is your typical Jordanian street restaurant with no air of class or luxury. But, guess, what, even the Royals once ate here. They serve falafel, organic vegetables and fruits, naan bread, hummus, chick peas and fries.

Hashem restaurant Amman / Things to do in Amman.

Things to do in Amman.

23. Go people-watching at the Taj Mall
Or at any other malls. Here, you’ll see local people, especially the teenagers, yuppies and the moneyed collide.

24. Watch the sunset at Citadel.
Simply because you will be blown away.

Citadel Hill Amman Sunset / Things to do in Amman.

Things to do in Amman.

25. Ride a taxi.
It’s a thrill ride zigzagging through dangerous slopes in hills and mountains. I love the feeling. :))

26. See the Cave of the Seven Sleepers.
It’s a bit far from downtown but it’s interesting. This cave was mentioned in the Quran, Islam’s sacred book. The story says that seven Christian men escaped Roman persecution by hiding in a cave.

Cave of the seven sleepers Amman

Hire a taxi going there. It should be about 10-15 JD round trip, including waiting time.

 

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7 Responses to “26 Things to do in Amman”

  1. Gerry
    January 4, 2014 at 8:24 AM #

    Hi Alain,

    I think your blog is terrific, looking forward to seeing more of your pictures of the tour. Your pictures of Amman look great, I feel I missed it entirely.

    I’ll circulate the link to my stuff shortly.

    All the best

    Gerry

    • TheSojourner
      January 4, 2014 at 8:30 AM #

      Thanks, Gerry!
      Now, I have another fan! :))

      Alain

  2. Helen
    January 6, 2014 at 2:47 PM #

    My gawd! I’ve done only 16 of these when I was in Amman for 3 days! I guess, I need to go back!

  3. B. Traveller
    January 6, 2014 at 3:11 PM #

    So, what’s inside the cave?

    • TheSojourner
      January 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM #

      Hello B,
      We weren’t able to go inside because it was closed due to the on-going afternoon prayer at nearby mosque.

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