Visit Amman, Where Ancient Ruins Meet Modern Malls

In Jordan, tea equals peace.

No matter whether you visit the bedouins in the desert or go rappelling some waterfalls or just stop by a market stall in a busy town’s street – you’ll have a cup of sweet black tea in your hand before you can even finish your Salam Alaikum.

As a tea lover to the core myself, there’s no way around saying: Jordan is absolutely gorgeous. But not only because of sweet beverages, terrific nature and landscapes, but because of the people. I bet their babies can say “hospitality” before “mommy”…

Amman came to be one of several stunning stop across my 10 day visit to Jordan. Let’s get you hooked as well!

Making friends with Bedouins in Wadi Rum

Visit Amman, a city of contrasts

Amman just has it all. You’re a history nerd AND a shopping queen AND an adrenaline junkie AND a coffee addict?

No worries, this city gotcha.

Whether strolling one of the many markets, visiting the Roman theater, chilling in cafés and trying local food, or using it as a base to visit the North, the Dead Sea area, closeby nature reserves or historical sights – it’s all right there. Accommodation-wise, I was happy with couchsurfing, but also stayed in the Tower Hostel, which I found to be a nice mix of location, price, and offers.

Explore Amman Downtown

View from Amman's Citadel over the downtown area.

Located in the hills between the vast desert and the fertile Jordan valley, Jordan’s capital will easily allow you to enjoy a full Middle East experience; in the urban west with its many cafés, bars and commercial heart of the city, and the traditional east, letting you discover its more conservative pulse. One step will lead you past modern malls, and the next one along traditional souqs (markets) and ruins.

Around Rainbow street, there’s this whole hipster-ish area of town full of alternative bookshops, pop-art style cinemas and cafés where they give you the Wifi password before the menu. Especially give Wild Jordan with its splendid view over the city and its information center about ecotourism a try!

If you prefer a more traditional Arabic cardamom-spiced coffee, one of the ancient-looking coffee shops in the older downtown area will serve you well.

Get your hands on local food

That’s why we travel, isn’t it?!

Eating some traditional bread in Jordan

First, you’ll want to go to Hashem.  Best. Hummus. Ever. It’s said to be the oldest restaurant in Amman and is quite famous for it’s Falafel and hummus that go perfectly with a fresh mint tea. And you don’t even have to worry where to fit it into your day: it’s open 24/7!! I can die happy now.

When you leave the restaurant and turn left past the Art Hotel and a bookshop, you’ll find a small alley to your left. With all those people carrying paper plates, a line that leads directly to Habibah. Time to satisfy the sweet tooth, folks: Knafeh. A sticky goat-cheese desert topped with rose water. YUM.

A typical Arabic coffee spiced with cardamom.

Visit Amman’s Historical Sites

The restored Roman Theater has been incorporated into Amman’s downtown area and today is one of its most famous landmarks. For 1 JD, you can climb to the top and watch the hustle and bustle in the streets, catch a sunset, or just chill at the plaza and watch kids play soccer or fly their kites. The theatre itself was built in the 2nd Century and boasts 6.000 seats.

Also in the center, you can head to the Grand Husseini Mosque, where locals gather throughout the day to pray. It was built in 1924 and features a lot of Ottoman style elements. Just around the corner from here, you can stroll through a fruit and vegetable market, with vendors singing their offers in the constant fight over the shopper’s attention.

View from the citadel of Amman, Jordan

A little further from the center but quite worth the walk is the Citadel of Amman, featuring numerous Roman, Byzantine and early Islamic remains. Sitting on the highest hill of the city, it first of all allows a vast overview of the capital (which is pretty darn huge considering it’s hosting a population of 4 million). What’s most impressive to see on the site itself are surely the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. The museum on the grounds even features statues that date back to 6.000 – 8.000 BCE, and several artefacts from Bronze Age show that the area was an important place of commerce and politics for thousands of years.

Still haven’t got enough? You can read more about Amman’s historical sites here.

Off the beaten track in Amman

Alright folks, we all love markets and cafés with wifi. But Amman has a lot more to offer…

Great museums to give a try are the Folklore Museum or the National Gallery of Fine Arts.

In one of the plenty shops downtown you can get creative and make your own perfume.

Jordan is full of sports enthusiasts for out- and indoor! Go rock-climbing at Climbat!

visit the markets in Amman

The foodie in you is still not satisfied? How about a cooking class?

And if you agree that it’s now time to chill… Check out one of Amman’s amazing Turkish Baths.

Daytrips from Amman

Jerash, the Ancient Roman City

While Jerash’s modern part with its little markets and winding streets doesn’t suggest any glorious past, this impression will change as soon as catching a glimpse of Hadrian’s Gate, marking the entrance today. The ancient Roman city of Jerash was never on a major trade route, but spoiled with fertile land and year-round fresh water – so no matter what route you take and what season it is, you’ll pass the omnipresent fruit stalls in every alley. Dates, apples, berries, plums, YUM. We took it all in and then easy, walking at a leisurely pace, and allowing time for sitting on fallen columns to enjoy the views…

Jerash, Jordan


Now you might say, just the city-life isn’t for you, your itchy feet yearn for some actual nature beneath them, and your adrenaline addiction just isn’t taken care of by market bargaining, you should try canyoning. I personally had some experience in rock-climbing, but never did any abseiling… and had a thrilling tour in Wadi Zarqa Ma’in with two fun dudes from Tropical Desert. The day was a fun mix of a road- and camping trip. With some additional random hanging some 30m above the ground while a waterfall massaged my back, and watching that guy below running back and forth to take my pictures.

Rappelling in Wadi Zarqa, Jordan

Drive down the King’s Highway

I had no problem whatsoever to hitchhike my way through Jordan, but if you wanna be more flexible, rent a car and do a few roadtrips. Right southwest of Amman, the King’s Highway will lead you past Madaba, Mount Nebo and Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Madaba, the “city of mosaics”, astonishes with its two million pieces of Byzantine-era colored stone. Relive ancient navigation when examining the famous 6th century map on the floor of St George’s Church, and take time to stroll through the extensive archaeological park and museum complex. Meanwhile, Mount Nebo and its 4th century church mark the site of Moses’ death, overlooking the vast panorama with the Jordan River Valley, the Dead Sea, Jericho and Jerusalem. And from here, it’s just a short drive to Bethany beyond the Jordan, believed to be the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

So folks. If this doesn’t make you wanna book your ticket to Amman, I don’t know what will.

It’s just this awesome combination of a vibrant growing city while still retaining its traditional Arabic charm… So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll indulge in a little more hummus now.

Visit Amman where ancient ruins meet modern malls

Got more tips, infos or inspirations? Lemme know! 🙂

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  • Reply
    jordan 2s
    December 19, 2017 at 7:30 am

    This web site is my inspiration, really wonderful style and Perfect content.

    • Reply
      January 14, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Thank you so much! Jordan was indeed an inspirational place to visit.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

    What a great article with fantastic shots.A very helpful tips for visitors to Amman.BTW shot of Roman theater from looks few years old

    • Reply
      August 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks so much for your feedback! I really enjoyed traveling Amman. I mean, no surprise considering all the good food haha. And all photos are from my visit in April 2017 🙂

      • Reply
        August 30, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        did you eat MANSAF “traditional food in jordan”

  • Reply
    Marvi of Osmiva
    August 23, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Canyoning looks exciting! Do you need to have experience on rock climbing to try this?

    • Reply
      January 14, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Hi! No, I did not have any previous experience in canyoning. I was rock climbing once a couple of years ago, but wouldn’t say I’m anything of a professional climber. Just let the guides / the company know before, and they’ll arrange something suitable for your skills.

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