Of all the ancient cities in the Middle East, few are as accommodating to foreigner travelers as Jordan’s capital, Amman. Organized and friendly, Amman offers a full spectrum of attractions for its guests, from the Roman Theater to the massive City Mall shopping center. The Jordanian capital is also home to the nation’s top university, so there’s an air of academia and youthful activity in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus. After enjoying the dining, shopping, and ancient Roman sites of the capital, you can plan a journey to the desert marvel of Petra, an ancient rock city that’s truly one of the world’s wonders.
Things to see
Jordan’s largest shopping center is City Mall, a massive indoor venue filled with many international retailers you will recognize. This is where many Jordanians come to escape the heat and to socialize, making it a great location for people-watching.
Of the many Roman-era sites in Amman, the Roman Theater is one of the best-preserved. The folklore and culture museums on site will help you to put Amman’s history into perspective.
If you’ve never seen an Islamic mosque in its native enivornment, plan a visit to the King Abdullah I Mosque. It’s a real beauty with its shining blue domes, and non-Muslims are allowed to enter for a small fee.
Shopping centers are always great spots to interact with locals or just watch the world pass by. Mecca Mall on Mecca Street is one of Amman’s middle-class shopping venues and is well worth a visit if high-brow retailers don’t appeal to you.
The Citadel is a must-see historic attraction for its variety of Roman ruins and Jordan’s main archaeological museum.
Hotels in Amman
As befits an international capital city, Amman has a solid range of accommodations to suit every budget and taste. There are plenty of cheap hotels catering to travelers on a budget who merely want a clean bed to crash on after a day exploring the city. Mid-range hotels in Amman are also in abudance, and are reasonably priced compared to similar hotels in other global capitals.
Amman’s luxury hotels can compete with those of any world city. Most of the big-name players are represented here, so if you have a particular five-star chain you prefer, the chances are good you can find a branch in Amman. Rates for these posh rooms don’t come cheap but the amenities, service, and atmosphere more than compensate for the price tag.
Where to stay
The 5th Circle is one of the key focal points in the center of Amman, so many of the luxury hotels have set up shop here. In terms of location, this part of town is hard to beat.
Amman’s budget lodging tends to be located around the Jett Bus Station on Jebel Amman or along the main commercial strips, such as King Hussain Street and King Faisal Street.
West Amman is the place to stay if you want to experience the capital’s heady nightlife scene, which is surprisingly liberal for an Islamic nation. There are a number of mid-range hotels in this trendy district.
How to get to Amman
Nearly every visitor to Amman arrives through Queen Alia International Airport, 20 miles south of downtown. Taxis and airport express buses are the two forms of transport into town if you don’t opt to rent a car. Land crossings from neighboring countries tend to be slow and difficult.
Amman’s public bus system is the preferred mode of transport for the capital’s working class. It’s safe, cheap, and can get you to many attractions like the Roman Theater. Taxis are more convenient and relatively cheap since their drivers must use a meter by law.