Top things to do in Amman

Top Things To Do In Amman Jordan

Amman, Jordan’s capital, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Considered one of the most liberal and westernized Arab countries, it’s safe to visit and fun to explore, has ruins and sites to see, is a great place to experience Jordanian culture, and makes a great base for visiting Jordan’s amazing sites. This post covers the top things to do in Amman, Jordan, as well as the top day trips including; the Dead Sea, the Roman ruins in Jerash, Madaba’s ancient mosaic map of the holy city, the Dana Biosphere Preserve, and Mount Nebo.

Of course the amazing city of Petra is just a few hours away, as well as the intriguing Wadi Rum Desert. The perfect way complete your trip to Jordan.

Top Things To Do In Amman, Jordan

Founded around 7,000 BCE, Amman is one of the oldest cities in the world. It’s rich with history, having been ruled by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Seleucids, the Romans, and the Umayyads.

It’s safe for solo travelers and easy to explore with many things to see and do.

Most of the top sites are close to the downtown area, making them easy to get to by walking. Let’s explore the top things to do in Amman, Jordan.

Visit The Roman Theater

This beautiful Roman theater was built in the 2nd century, when the city was known as Philadelphia, or the ‘city of brotherly love’. It was renamed from Ammon when this area was ruled by Ptolemy II Philadelphus. It sits on a hill opposite the Amman Citadel.

This theater is so well-preserved, it’s used for concerts and events today. Ask at your hotel for current schedules.

Ancient Roman Theater Things to do in Amman and Jordan Travel Guide
Amman Roman Theater

If you have time and are interested, look for the small museum here dedicated to Jordanian folk tradition.

How To Get To The Roman Theater: The Roman Theater is centrally located in downtown Amman. If you’re staying in the downtown area, it may be close enough to walk. Taxis, including Uber and Careem, are also an option and inexpensive in Amman.

Explore Citadel Hill

The ancient citadel sits on top of Jebel Al Qala’a, a hill overlooking the old city. One of seven hills that make up the city. Around 1,200 BC, this was the capital of the Kingdom of Ammon, home to the Ammonites. According to the New Testament, the Ammonites trace their origins to Lot, nephew of Abraham.

Citadel Ruins | David Bjorgen

Along with several historical sites and ruins, this hill provides a stunning view over Amman and its seven hills, especially at sunset. The main sites in Citadel Hill include:

The Temple of Hercules

Scholars think this temple was never completed. If it was, it would have been larger than any in Rome. All that remains are the ruins of the structure, some columns, three giant fingers, and an elbow, believed to be part of a statue of Hercules.

Temple of Hercules | Terry White

The Umayyad Palace

The Umayyad Palace provides a glimpse of life into the Umayyad Caliphate of the 8th and 9th centuries, a time when Jordan flourished. It’s empire, the Umayyad empire, was vast, spanning northern Africa, the Straight of Gibraltar, and into the the Iberian peninsula and central Asia.

The Byzantine Church

The ruins of a Byzantine church built around the 6th century.

The Jordanian Archeological Museum

The Jordanian Archaeological Museum is also here, showcasing Jordanian artifacts from Neolithic time to the 15th century.

How to Get to Citadel Hill: Citadel Hill is about a 20-minute walk uphill from the Roman Theater, or an 8-minute drive.

Visit Rainbow Street

Near the Roman Theater and Citadel hill is Rainbow Street, full of cafes, restaurants, rooftop bars, sheesha tea shops, and antique shops. A social hub in the old town, popular with tourists and locals.

The street, originally Abu Bakr al Siddiq street, gets its name from Rainbow theater, a popular cinema in the 70’s. On Fridays, look for the pop-up market on the side street Fawzi Al Maalouf.

It’s also where you’ll find the famous Falafel Al Quds, reputed to be the best falafel place in the Middle East. Try it if you can.

How To Get To Rainbow Street: This street is a 20-minute walk or 15-minute drvie east of the Roman Theater.

See Art At Durat el Funan

Durat el Funan is a center of art showcasing modern Arab artists. Housed in six historic buildings, it organizes exhibits, talks, film screenings, educational projects, and more.

How To Get To Durat el Funan: Located a 15-minute walk from the Roman Theater at the top of Al Weibdeh hill,

Visit The Jordan Museum Of History

This museum showcases Jordanian history, including the Copper Scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the world’s oldest statues created over 9,000 years ago, animal bones 1.5 million years old, and more.

How To Get To the Jordan Museum: This museum is north of Rainbow Street.

Explore The Street Art Scene

Another one of top things to do in Amman, Jordan is to explore its vibrant street art scene. Although you can stumble around and find works on your own, it’s best to book a tour to see the highlights. Underground Amman offers a tour called Underground Amman. It’s donation based, with 5-10 JD ($7-14 USD) suggested.

Exploring street art is one of the top things to do in Amman
Street Art Amman

There’s even a festival celebrating street art in Amman, the Baladk Street & Urban Art Festival. They work with artists, communities, and neighborhoods to help transform spaces into artwork. Check their Facebook page for future events.

To see examples of recent street art in Amman, visit the Instagram page @ammanstreetart.

Take A Free Walking Tour

A free walking tour is always a great way to get a better perspective on a city. These tours are usually run by locals, and offered on a tip bassi, meaning the tour itself is free, but you leave a tip based in the quality that you think you receive. If you Google, there are several free walking tours. Currently, I see one on Facebook called Free Walking Tour, and one called GuruWalk, although there are others as well.

Top Day Trips From Amman, Jordan

There’s also a lot of things to see and do that’s relatively close to Amman, making it a great base when visiting Jordan.

Explore The Romans Ruins Of Jerash

Settled as far back as the 8th to 6th centuries BC, this area belonged to Rome after 63 BC. During this time the city thrived, becoming one of the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities in the Near East.

It’s one of the most well-preserved Roman sites outside of Italy, and definitely one of the highlights of the area. The following are just a few of the ruins at this must-see location.

It really is beautiful, positioned in the center of the modern city of Jerash. you can see Hadrian’s Arch, built in honor of Roman Emperor Hadrian, the stunning Oval Forum, Temples, ancient churches, and more.

How To Get To Jerash

Located about an hour from Amman, you can easily rent a car, take a tour, or hail an Uber. There is also a bus. To learn more, see my post on Jerash (coming soon).

See The View From Mount Nebo

Mount Nebo offers a stunning view of the Dead Sea, West Bank, the Jordan River Valley, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. According to the Bible, this is where Moses saw the promised land of Canaan.

View From Mount Nebo

You can visit a museum covering the religious history of the area, visit a church dedicated to Moses, and see the Serpentine Cross. This cross represents the bronze serpent Moses created and the crucifixion of Jesus. Or you can just admire the view.

How To Get To Mount Nebo

Located a 45-minute drive south of Amman, or 10-minutes from Madaba, it’s best to hire a driver or taxi, or take a tour.

Visit The Ancient Mosaic Holy Land Map

Originally a Byzantine basilica, this church has an ancient map of Jerusalem designed in mosaic on the floor. Created in the 6th century, it’s the oldest surviving original cartographic map of the Holy Land.

Map Of The Holy Land

The map spans from Lebanon in the north to the Nile Delta in the south and the Mediterranean in the west to the Eastern Desert. Unfortunately, only about 30% of the map survived. The holy land is in the oval (above), while the boat in the water near the top represents the Dead Sea.

Today, the church is still active, with a congregation of over 10,000 members.

How To Get To Madaba

Madaba is located 23 miles (37 km) southwest of Amman. You can take a taxi, or a bus from the Tababour station in Amman, or a mini bus from the 7th Circle.

Swim In The Dead Sea

The Dead Sea is one of the most iconic day trips from Amman. It’s the lowest spot on the earth, literally, 1,388’ (423 m) below sea level. It’s water content and mud are full of minerals, making it popular to bask in a mud treatment here, as well as to float in the salty sea.

How To Get To The Dead Sea

A taxi from downtown Amman to the Dead Sea will cost around 20 JD (about $28 USD). It will cost more from a Hotel, so best to walk away to catch one. The cheapest way to get to Amman Beach at the Dead Sea is by bus. Take it from Mujaharin bus station to Rame, then catch a taxi. The bus will cost less than $2 and a taxi around $6. JETT bus also offers a bus from the 7th circle to the Dead Sea and back for about 14 JD ($20 USD).

Explore The Dana Biosphere Preserve

This nature preserve covers 123 miles² (320 km²) and has 4 different bio-geographical zones, Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian, and Sudanian penetration.

There are a variety of hiking trails from 1 hour to 10 miles (16 km). Some require a guide and some do not. The park is located close to Petra, with the trek between the two noted by National Geographic as one of the 15 best in the world.

Note that if you hike this into Petra, you need to purchase a pass for Petra in advance as it does not go through the main entrance.

How To Get To The Dana Biosphere Preserve

This preserve is located 2.5 hours south west of Amman.

Other Top Destinations in Jordan

Petra is one of the top sites in Jordan, full of ancient carved temples and tombs. There’s a lot to see here, so plan to spend at least 2-3 days at the archeological park.

The Wadi Rum desert, in southern Jordan, is about 2 hours further south of Petra and another must-see. Taking an overnight trip to see the ancient petroglyphs, riding the sand dunes, sand surfing, Bedouin food and music, and watching the sun rise in the desert are highlights.

If you’re planning a trip here, see my Jordan Travel Guide, which provides all the top sights in Jordan, how to get around, safety, scams, logistics, and more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my overview of the top things to do in Amman, Jordan. If you’ve been here and have anything to add, please drop a note.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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