Amman is the capital of Jordan and is a modern city filled with beautiful ruins and ancient wonders. Due to the country’s smaller size, it is easy to travel around and visit other nearby countries like Israel and Lebanon. Some of the most popular sites to visit include the Dead Sea, the historic Roman Theatre, and the archaeological site of Petra, along with a bustling downtown, lots of shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. There is also an abundance of nature reserves and seaside resorts, along with a museum that houses the late king’s personal car collection, mosques, and other stunning cultural landmarks.
One of the highlights of visiting Amman is its downtown area, which gives visitors a sample of authentic Middle Eastern life complete with busy markets and shop fronts, Arab music, coffee shops, and restaurants. The Roman Theatre is located in the heart of downtown and dates all the way to the ancient Romans. This impressive 6,000-seat theatre is one of the most famous landmarks in Jordan and offers incredible views. Within the theatre are two museums—the Folklore Museum features mannequins performing traditional crafts and has an old-fashioned living room on display, while the Jordanian Museum of Popular Traditions showcases traditional jewelry, clothing, photographs and other artifacts. Also in downtown are the Grand Husseini Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Jordan, and King Talal Street, which has lots of stores and the city’s main fruit and veggie market. Be sure to stop into Arab League Cafe—the city’s famous coffee house located across the street from the mosque. Check out Mount Nebo, which is an elevated ridge that was mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the location where Moses was granted a view of the Promised Land. The Royal Automobile Museum is the perfect place for car enthusiasts, as it displays more than 70 classic cars and motorbikes from King Hussein’s personal collection.
Everything is in close proximity to Amman, which makes it easy to travel around and go on lots of interesting road trips. The city of Petra is three hours south of Amman, and is nicknamed the “Rose City” due to the various tombs, temples and monuments that are carved into the stunning pink sandstone cliffs. Another great place to visits is the Dead Sea—a salt lake that borders Jordan on the east and Israel to the west. This hyper saline lake is a popular place for tourists who come here to take a dip and float on top of the water. The city of Zarqa is only a half hour away from Amman, and is the third largest city in Jordan. Zarqa is a very urban environment and is where several of the universities are located. Other cool places to check out include Madaba, a small town south of Amman that is known for its beautiful mosaics, and the Baptism Site of Jesus, a World Heritage site located on the east bank of the Jordan River.
Jebel Amman is the main hill (the city was originally founded on 7 but now spread to more than 20), where several hotels, embassies and restaurants are located. Weibdeh is located slightly northwest of downtown and is a hot, up-and-coming neighborhood with an artsy vibe—here you’ll find plenty of coffee shops and fun places to eat. Abdoun is one of the more trendy and affluent areas with lots of cafes and embassies. The Shmeisani area has a lot of restaurants, luxury hotels, nightclubs and shops, and is in close proximity to downtown and Jebel al-Hussein, which is where the Housing Bank Centre is located. If you want to be close to lots of great shopping, Sweifieh is another great place to go and has turned into a sprawling urban neighborhood.
Due to all of the hills, Amman is more challenging to navigate by foot (aside from exploring downtown). The most common forms of transportation are private taxis (yellow) or service taxis (white) —private taxis are everywhere and easy to flag down, while service taxis stick to specific routes and aren’t allowed to venture outside city limits. There are also car rental companies like Avis and Hertz should you choose to drive on your own. There is also a public and private bus system available as well. The public buses are yellow, green or red and run less frequently but are very reliable. The private buses are white and run more frequently.
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