I liked Amman, I’ll be honest and admit that it was very much down the list of my reasons for visiting Jordan, but once I had arrived I very much fell for the unique charms of the city, it was a great place to relax (I use that term loosely where walking/driving the streets were involved) after an amazing few days down in the south discovering Petra and Wadi Rum.
Being home to over 4million people, it may be hard to imagine a middle eastern capital city of that size being a relaxing setting, but trust me, there are a few places within the city that act as a safehaven for those of you looking for a spot of R&R whilst in Jordan.
1. Chill on an Amman rooftop
Presumably you’ve either arrived in Amman after a long flight, or a whirlwind couple of days in the south of the country, visiting Petra and Wadi Rum. So with that in mind, it must be time for a little bit of down time.
Its also worth traffic watching by night from a rooftop, as the mix of car lights is hypnotic, but beautiful at the same time. A very very different experience to Petra by night, but still its own kind of magical.
We were lucky that our hostel – Jordan Tower Hostel – offered the perfect rooftop from which to take in Amman by both day and night.
2. Take a walk down Amman’s famed Rainbow Street
Yes its touristy, overpriced, loud, very non traditional, but whereas most other streets in Amman are chaotic, Rainbow Street seems just that little bit more chilled out. Maybe this is owing to few shops and stalls, and more open-plan coffe/tea houses. There is music, street art and roof-top seating offering great views over the city by night.
The prices are inflated in comparison to the rest of the city, but to spend the odd evening walking Rainbow Street and then enjoying a drink somewhere, it won’t demolish your life savings.
3. Visit the theatre
This might have been my favourite thing about Amman, the theatre. Slightly different to Roadway in New York or London’s West End, built somewhere between AD 138–61, this Roman amphitheater which was carved into a hillside, once housed up to 6000 guests over 3 different tiers. Restored in t6he 1950’s, shows still take place within the theatre today.
Like us, most visitors make the initial climb to the top few rows of the theatre and then simply sit and take in the crowds below. On occasions kids may go tearing past as they play a somewhat risky game of tag, but even then, with the sun beating down, its really relaxing to just sit and admire this structure and surroundings. The entry cost is minimal too, maybe 1-2JD if memory serves me correctly. Just be careful when climbing up and down the rather steep steps, time has seen them very warn and as such they can be quite slippery.
4. Climb a mountain to the citadel
I say a mountain, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration (its 850m above sea level), but climbing up to the citadel (also known as Jabal al-Qal’a) via to 1700m fortress wall, from the amphitheater is no mean feat. The aching calf muscles are worth it though, as from the top you are again afforded amazing views of the city, and then there’s also the small matter of being able to talk a walk around the Temple of Hercules, which was built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161–80), as well as the opportunity to explore Jordan’s National Archaeological Museum, which houses artifacts dates at around 6500BC.
**Just a little side note here, if you like the look of the citadel and its ruin, check out this post on the Roman ruins at Jaresh, about an hour north of Amman. They are incredible!
5. Eat lots of felafel, humus, pitta and all that good stuff
Last but by no means least, food!
After climbing the steps of the Roman ampithetarer, and then up the to the citadel, you’ll no doubt have worked up an apetite. It is at this point that I recommend you wander on down to Hashem Restaurant on Al-Amir Mohammed St, and grab yourself a bargain meal of felafel, pitta and humus. You’ll love the alley step up that overflows onto the bust street, and seriously, between 4 of us, our entire meal came to around £7 which is crazy cheap. Incredible food at dirt cheap prices, needless to say we ate here 4 days in a row.
So there you go, 5 easy ways to have an incredible (and relaxing) time in the Jordanian capital of Amman. It may look crazy busy from the outset, and that is one of its charms, but there are also a few spots where it is possible to unwind and appreciate the beauty of Jordan, even just for a minute.