We started our two-week trip to the Middle East with a flight from Frankfurt to Amman, where we arrived in the middle of the night. It’s the time of the day (or night) when long immigration procedures are most welcome (it was an easy one though). But thankfully it was easy to find our driver Mr Mohammed or Ahmed (Sorry, we forgot his name) who brought us to our hotel.
In total, we had a whole day to explore Amman. The first part of the day we spent sleeping. Nevertheless, we had more than enough time to see what we wanted to see.
Amman – City on Seven Hills
Many moons ago, this city was called ‚Rabbat-Ammon‘. The Greeks called it ‚Philadelphia‘ later before folks named it Amman some time afterwards. JFYI.
The first thing standing out in Amman: There are cars, cars, cars everywhere. Therefore it’s noisy and the air is polluted. If you don’t like it, just go (or take a cab) upon one of the city’s seven hills, on which Amman once was built on. The air up there suddenly gets a little bit better and the view over the sandstone coloured sea of houses is just wow. Really impressive.
People in Amman are really nice. They’re not getting tired of lavishing you with ‚Welcome‘! They’re happy about people visiting their town or country and built a great tourist infrastructure.
Street art is obviously really popular in Amman, as you can find it anywhere in town!
Around half of Jordan’s population is living in Amman and its surroundings. The other half is in the desert region, but more about that later.
Half a day was enough for us to see the most important sights of the city. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to see the King-Abdullah-Mosque. We focused on the Old Town. The Mosque is located a little bit outside and you need a taxi to get there. Unfortunately, traffic is really bad in Amman. You’ll have to add this in your Amman plannings. This means, there was no time for us and we honestly were really tired at the end. But it is said to be really beautiful.
Avoid taxis in Amman – our experiences
As always we’ll recommend you to do a lot by foot. It can be really exhausting with high temperatures walking up the hills and smelling the exhaust gases while walking down.
On the one hand, you’ll see corners you probably wouldn’t have seen without, on the other hand, you’ll avoid taxi scammers. Taxis are cheap in Amman. For tourists as well, if the driver is willing to use the taximeter. Mostly, they’re trying to bargain fixed prices which were in general double or triple the usual prices. It’s about principles.
A story for you: We took a cab up to the citadel. We knew we had to pay some tourist price. During the drive the taximeter was on, so we weren’t thinking about it. When we arrived at the citadel, he said it’s 2 JD. We showed him the taximeter (which said 0,75 JD). He said it doesn’t work. We said: Yes, it does. He said: Ok, let’s make 1 JD. We were ok with it. This is just a little bit more of what locals pay.
After we saw the citadel, we wanted to drive down to the Roman Theater and bargained before. They weren’t willing to agree on a price. They’re funny though. When we tried to make them use a taximeter, they laughed and said ‚The taximeter is in the hospital‘. We politely said goodbye to each other and walked down the hill.
This was the best thing ever. Walking down, you’ll have great views all the way long. Furthermore, you’ll see more about the life of Jordan people.
What we want to say is: Taxis are still cheap for us despite the scams. Nevertheless: It’s firstly not worth using them in the Old Town and secondly, no one wants to feel like a cash cow.
As said in the previous post: Get yourself the Jordan-Pass before your trip. It includes all entry fees for all major sights.
Citadel in Amman
The Citadel is on the highest hill of the city. On the one hand, there’s the reasonably well preserved Temple of Hercules. On the other hand, the view over the city is amazing. You’ll get an idea of what a moloch Amman actually is and still possesses a beauty of its own. Yes, you might get a bit poetic here. It’s really that impressive!
The area is huge and well visited as it’s the Amman’s main attraction. The citadel hill is one of the most ancient settled areas in the world. For its many conquerors, it was of strategically high importance.
As said before, the Temple of Hercules takes center stage. It was built under Roman rule, at the same time as the Roman Theatre.
The Umayyaden Palace is also located on the citadel hill. And did I already mention the view? It’s absolutely fantastic from all sides.
Roman Theatre in Amman
It’s really good preserved and totally worth the visit. For Amman’s locals it’s obviously the place to be and somehow it was like we were the attraction for them!
But seriously: The theatre is well preserved and if you make the effort to walk all the steep stairs up, you’ll be rewarded with another good view. But be careful, it’s steep!
The Romans during those days must have been beasts considering their clothes and gear – these steps were their everyday workout!
Rainbow Street and surroundings in Amman
A really nice and calm quarter. Rainbow Street is known for its bars, restaurants and cafes. But we liked its surroundings even more. There are cafés with great views over the city and good prices. One of them is called ‚Old View‘. With Cay (black tea) and Hummus, the exhausting way up was rapidly forgotten. (Don’t take a cab. It’s exhausting but worth it.)
The quarter around Rainbow Street is obviously really wealthy. The houses, the flowers, the cars and everything is clean and calm – you’ll see that immediately. Lots of expats and diplomats live here. The Western vibes here are real!
Eating in Hashem Restaurant, Amman
Before our arrival, we tried to find out where to get the best hummus in Jordan or Amman. And most reviewers agreed on this one. Hashem is the place to be and we went on a mission to convince ourselves. They say, even King Abdullah II came here to eat. Conclusion: Best Hummus in town!
Look at the picture and believe us, we only payed 7 JD for it all. Everyone gets served the same thing. There’s no menu. Special requests must be told in advance. Hashem Restaurant looks totally basic from the outside. But the food… Hashem was a dream!
For a good night’s sleep, we’ll recommend the Gallery Guest House in Amman. The location is perfect (close to the Old Town) and it has a roof top terrace. The rooms are clean and big. They serve breakfast on your room or on the roof top, as you wish. Service staff is super friendly. We recommend this place!
If you still have questions or anything to add, as always, just reach out to us!