Even though most travelers to Jordan come to see the famous Petra or the quintessential desert of Wadi Rum, you don’t want to make the mistake of missing the vibrant capital – Amman. In comparison to other capitals in the Middle East, Amman is one of the most dynamic cities and is well worth 48 hours of your time.
You’ll find plenty to fill two days with beautiful historic sites, authentic restaurants and cafes, and much more. Being in the center of the country, Amman is also the perfect base to explore the rest of Jordan. The city has a diverse blend of old and new, making it a unique place to explore in the Middle East.
This guide will help you decide how to spend two days in Amman, before heading out to explore the rest of Jordan.
Start Your Day at Shams El Balad
Inspired by a passion for heritage and culture, Shams El Balad is the perfect place to start your Amman adventure. This restaurant is a true gem with a focus on the farm-to-table mantra, meaning the dishes are always fresh, local and delicious.
Don’t be fooled by the modern décor of this transformed historical home. The dishes are truly traditional, incorporating Palestinian, Lebanese and Jordanian cuisines.
Don’t miss their Cauliflower Mshat Fritters, Sumac Sunny Side Up Eggs or Taboon Bread with Za’atar and Olive Oil.
Explore Amman’s Historical Sites
From Shams El Balad, it’s a 20-minute downhill walk to reach the ancient Roman Amphitheater. This astounding structure has stood strong for over two millennia and is well worth the steep climb to the top to take in the whole atmosphere. Cultural events are still sometimes held here so be sure to check with the local Tourist Office.
The Citadel is by far the most popular site to visit in Amman, situated the highest of the cities 20 hills with breathtaking views. Here you will find historical buildings that date back as far as the Bronze Age. Due to its age, there’s a mixture of structures with few remains and those that have been very well preserved. Be sure to see both the Umayyad Palace and the Temple of Hercules.
Eat Lunch at Foodie Heaven, Jafra
This hidden paradise can be a little difficult to find but well worth the journey. Located on the second floor at the end of an old covered alley, Jafra delights both tourists and locals with their traditional delicacies. The restaurant is a real life oxymoron – being both loud and bustling as well as cozy and intimate.
A must-try dish here is their Hummus Fatteh – a creamy, pine nutty mixture topped with meat. Order some Cheese and Thyme Manakish as well as other mezze items for a delicious, traditional lunch.
Visit Bohemian Jabal Al Lweibdeh
From downtown, burn your lunch off by walking up the hill to Jabal Al Lweibdeh. Popular with the expat community, you won’t be disappointed wandering around this beautiful neighborhood. Its charm comes from its laid-back ambiance, whimsical old houses, and a mixture of cultures.
This neighborhood is one of Amman’s oldest and has transformed in recent years to become a hub of lively cafes and shops. There is a growing art scene here and a visit to Darat al Funan is well worth it. This exhibition space set in a complex of three villas, all dating back to the 1920s, hosts, and showcases contemporary Arab artists. Keep your eyes peeled for some of the amazing street art here.
Be sure to stop and unwind at Rumi Café, named after the famous poet. It’s a wonderful outdoor terrace gives you ample opportunity to people watch and take in this area. This is a perfect place to wander and get lost amongst true Amman.
See the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts
Not too far from Jabal Al Lweibdeh is the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. The gallery resides in two buildings, separated by a small sculpture park, and is home to a captivating collection of more than 2,000 pieces of work from the Arab world.
Even though the gallery is small, it is an impressive assortment that gives you an insight into the contemporary art scene in Jordan. The gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions as well as events with an aim to promote cultural dialogue and artistic exchange.
Dine at Elegant-Traditional Sufra
A trip to Amman isn’t complete without eating at Sufra. You won’t find a better place to enjoy traditional Jordanian food within such a pleasant setting. The restaurant is housed in a delightful old villa and has a terrace garden perfect for enjoying the warm atmospheric evenings. This is the closest to feeling like a special guest in an exuberant Jordanian home!
They serve a wide variety of traditional Jordanian dishes but one stands out above the rest. The national dish of Jordan and Sufras signature dish, Mansef – lamb chunks slowly cooked in a yogurt sauce served on a bed of rice. Be sure not to miss their freshly baked bread as well. At one end of the restaurant is a glass room and here you can watch the bread being baked before your eyes. A real treat!
Their menu best describes the experience: “Sufra captures the spirit of the Jordanian palette and the hospitality of its people.”
Party the Night Away at Iguana Rooftop
Amman has quite a bit of nightlife, and a nightclub scene is alive and well in the city. Iguana Rooftop is not a full out nightclub, but a great way to round off your evening with a cocktail while listening to the DJ’s playlist of contemporary music.
The atmosphere and views are wonderful. The service is outstanding, and you really get the sense that the staff wants to make sure you are having a good time. Try one of the many desserts they have on offer as a nice close to your first day in a booming city in the Middle East.
Breakfast With a View at Wild Jordan Centre
Take in the breathtaking view of the Citadel over an eco-friendly and organic breakfast on the terrace of the Wild Jordan Centre. Their location mixed with floor-to-ceiling windows gives one of the most exceptional views of the city.
With an emphasis on locally sourced produce, the food here does not disappoint. Their breakfasts vary from traditional Jordanian mezze and eggs to continental French toast and pancakes. If there is a small group of you, order the large traditional breakfast for a taste of everything!
Wander Through Historic Downtown
Taking a stroll through Amman’s downtown is the best way to experience the ancient feel of the city. Souvenir shops are in abundance here but don’t be put off – there’s plenty to see. You’ll find multiple stairwells around this area as it’s well known by locals that “all hills lead downtown”. The most beautiful of them is the Prince Mohamed stairs, recognizable with its umbrella art installation and blooming flower pots.
Be sure to check out one of the many spice shops here and enjoy the sensory overload that ensues! You can also find a wide variety of fabric, clothing and antique shops to explore. The winding streets of downtown will keep you entertained and open you up to the ambiance of Amman.
Have a Relaxing Lunch at Zajal
After a morning of bustling through the downtown, this charming and modest restaurant will be just the ticket. You’ll find the entrance off the umbrella staircase mentioned earlier. The several layers of the restaurant give a variety of options to sit – whether on the pleasant patio or overlooking downtown on the terrace. Zajal has a unique, warm environment that makes it a must-visit.
You’ll feel the full effect of Jordanian hospitality here as the staff and their service is second to none. The menu is mainly Arabic but they also have a selection of international food as well. Go all in and try the mix grill – you won’t regret it!
After lunch, walk the short distance over to Habibah for some authentic Kunafeh – the most popular dessert in Amman.
See the Spectacular King Abdullah I Mosque
After lunch, grab a taxi over to see the impressive King Abdullah I Mosque. This is the only mosque in Amman to openly welcome non-Muslim visitors and it is well worth a visit. Finished in 1989, the mosque was built as a memorial to the current King’s late Grandfather.
It doesn’t matter what your faith is when it comes to admiring the dazzling architecture of this beautiful mosque. Its majestic exterior is equally matched by the impressive interior. Be sure to take your time walking around to admire the stunning blue and gold aspects of the grand ceiling.
Make sure not to visit on a Friday and to get there well before they close at 2 pm. Women are required to wear a headscarf and to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Wander the Famous Rainbow Street
This alluring stone-paved promenade attracts many visitors looking to explore the variety of shops and charming alleyways. Leave the car behind to avoid traffic and walk this area on foot to take in the full beauty of this place. The native and chic shops that line this street will not disappoint – from souvenirs to books to clothes.
Here you will also find a large variety of restaurants and cafes, which create the distinctive lively atmosphere of this area. Don’t be put off by the crowds – this is where Amman’s locals come to relax after a hectic day, which means you’ll get an authentic experience as some of the best restaurants in Amman are there.
Read more: Jordan Itinerary For First Timers
Watch the Sunset Over Dinner at District
Head up to the Second Circle to finish your 48 hours in Amman in style. Rooftops are popular here and after a visit to District, you’ll see why. Enjoy the mellow, chic vibes as you watch the sunset over the old city – with a happy hour cocktail in hand (available between 5pm-8pm).
The view is not the only thing worth coming here for. The menu is as equally delicious as their view. Try one of their many scrumptious sliders – especially the truffle & brie and the Japanese (topped with wasabi mayo).
This is the perfect ambient environment to reflect on your short trip in Amman and to look forward to discovering the rest that Jordan has to offer.
Read more: Arabian Countries Of The Gulf Worth Visiting
Do you have any tips on what to do in Amman Jordan? Please let us know in the comments below.
Shams El Balad: Shams El Balad Facebook
Citadel: Ronald Woan, Flickr
Jafra: Jafra Facebook
Weibdeh: Rumi Facebook
Jordan Arts: Jordan National Gallery Facebook
Sufra: Sufra Facebook
Iguana: The Boulevard Facebook
Wild Jordan Centre: Wild Jordan Centre Facebook
Downtown: Ben Gaech, Flickr
Zajal: Zajal Facebook
King Abdullah Mosque: Andrew Moore, Flickr
Rainbow Street: Tripadvisor
District: District Facebook