Backpacking in Jordan has been on my mind for so many years! we all surely know about Petra, but there’s a lot more in this country and upon arrival to the capital city, you will quickly discover that there are so many things to do in Amman!
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Amman is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with its history dating back some 7500 years!
Nowadays, Amman is one of the most modern Arab cities and quickly becoming a major tourist destination.
This bustling city has been conquered by many civilisations and most of them have left impressive remains of their time in power. Here I’ll show you some of the best things to do in Amman for a 1 or 2 day visit!
How to get to Amman
Assuming you already found a ticket to fly to Amman. You have two options to go to the city centre from Amman airport.
First and more expensive is to take a taxi. Sadly in Jordan is getting more and more common to try to rip-off anyone that looks like a tourist, so I didn’t even bothered in negotiating a rate. Considering that the airport is about 30Km away from the city, this is going to be an expensive ride.
So I took a bus that goes from the airport to the North Station, the ticket is sold at a ticket booth just outside the airport terminal and cost 3.3 JOD (about €4)
From the north station you need to take a shared taxi to your hostel. To go to the city centre it should not cost more than 2 JOD so make sure to not overpay as they will initially ask you for possibly double the price or more.
I was lucky to meet a local guy when on the bus from the airport and he kindly did all the negotiation (and even kind of fighting) with the cab drivers as they didn’t want me to pay like a local…
On a different day, when coming back from Jerash also at the North Station, I teamed up with other travellers and we pay 4 JOD among 4 of us. Keep reading for more on that below! 🙂
Where to stay in Amman
With the cheapest place starting at about 4 JOD per night, you will find plenty of accommodation in Amman to suit your budget. I stayed at Shurooq Sham which was about 10-15 min walk from the city centre and it was OK, nothing special but the guys running the place were super friendly.
Should you buy a Jordan Pass?
If your trip to Jordan will involve going to Petra, to buy a Jordan Pass is a no-brainer.
Just by adding the cost of the Jordan Visa (normally 40 JOD) and the entry fee for Petra (starting at 50 JOD) you’re saving at least 20 JOD.
You will also get free entry to lots of attraction with the Jordan Pass, including many attractions in Amman and nearby!
Things to do in Amman
I spent two days exploring Amman and I think that’s a good amount to do a lot, if you’re on a short trip you could even keep it on just one day. These were my favourite things to do in Amman:
Visit the Roman Theatre
The Amman Roman Theatre was my very first site in Amman and I loved it. This 2nd century landmark can sit up to 6000 people and it’s still occasionally used for cultural events.
When I went there was not a lot of people so it didn’t feel crowded at all.
There are also two small museums by its entrance, the Folklore Museum and the Jordan Museum of Popular Traditions. These two were nothing spectacular but you can just have a quick look at them if you have the time.
Explore the Citadel and enjoy the views!
The Citadel sits on one of the seven hills in Amman and you get wonderful views of the entire city.
Occupied since the Bronze Age, it’s surrounded by a 1700m-long wall, which was rebuilt many times during the Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as the Roman, Byzantine and Umayyad periods.
Two of the most striking sights are the Temple of Hercules and the Ummayad Palace. It’s thought that the statue of Hercules was 13m tall, but now only a hand and elbow remain.
On just a one day visit to Amman, the two sites above should be your must-go.
If you have some more time you can also go to the Nymphaeum (5 min walk from the Roman Theatre) and the Rainbow Street, which for some reason is famous but I didn’t find much charm on it…you’ll still find a few galleries and cafes to get a drink though.
After you wander all over town, a really good place (and cheap!) to eat is Shahrzad. This place was recommended by the owner of the hostel where I was staying and you will find many locals eating there. I went a couple of times as it was so good! try the Kofta Tahini and Arais and you will end up super full for less than 4 JOD!
Wander on the downtown street for dessert later and find some good Knafe! this sweet Arab dessert with cheese is sooo good! there’s a place in downtown where you will see huge queues from the locals, make sure to go there! I don’t know the name but it’s almost in front opposite the road from Shahrzad and has some blue signs with a large “70” on them.
Another day to explore? Go to Jerash!
Located about 50 Km north of Amman, The Greco-Roman city of Jerash has a loooong history, with remains of settlements discovered from 7500BC!
Jerash is also known as the city of 1000 columns! can you tell why!?
Its golden age was during the Roman Empire and was part of the Decapolis league of cities.
Jerash is considered one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy, although much of it has been restored as the city was vastly destroyed by an earthquake in 749.
To go to Jerash you need to take a bus from Amman North Station. As a general rule, there are no set times for buses in Jordan they just depart when they get full. I got to the station at about 9 am and left some 15 minutes later, but don’t leave it too late as there may be no more buses.
The bus from Amman to Jerash only costs 1 JOD. The same for the way back.
To go to the north station, ask for help at your hostel so they negotiate a shared taxi for you. You should not pay more than 2 JOD if travelling alone or 3-4 JOD if sharing with 2-4 friends.
Jerash is one of the attractions included with the Jordan Pass so you don’t need to buy a ticket for it.
The bus will leave you almost by the entrance of the archaeological park, but to take the bus back to Amman you need to walk some 5 minutes down the road. Check on maps.me as the stop for “bus to Amman” is marked on the app.
You can expect to spend 2-4 hours exploring the archeological site of Jerash. There’s a lot to see there!
This was one of my favourite things to do in Amman. Although this is technically outside the city but it’s a perfect half-day activity.
Finished your short trip in Amman!? it’s time to go to Petra!
If you’re looking on how to go from Amman to Petra, you have 2 options (again, I don’t consider taking a taxi for this trip)
JETT Bus, this is a pre-booked bus. Aim to book at least 24h in advance as there’s only one bus per day! sometimes they open a second bus but don’t count on it. The one-way ticket is 11 JOD and it departs from a place about 30 min walk from downtown. For me it was handy as it was only 10 min walk from the Sharooq Sham Hostel.
If you cannot get a ticket, you can also go with a local bus. These depart from the South Station,
The same as with the bus from Amman to Jerash, there are no set times for the bus from Amman to Petra, so don’t get there too late as you may find yourself without a ride.
Regarding the ticket price, I heard different prices from other backpackers, with the price-range varying between 5 and 10 JOD…it will also cost you 2-3 JOD to take a taxi to the South Station, so make your numbers and decide which combination is best for you.
Check out my post about what to do when backpacking in Petra for everythign you need to know in this world wonder!
Feel free to ask any questions or drop a comment with more ideas on things to do in Amman!
Check out the rest of my backpacking adventures around the world for more ideas on your next trip!
Happy adventures! 🙂