This is the first in a 6 part series of posts – Jordan Adventures Part 1 – Amman.
Living in the Middle East, we took it for granted that we would visit Jordan while we were here. Even before we arrived I knew it was somewhere we should go. After 2.5 years here and hearing such inspiring stories from our friends it became a must-do destination.
There are 4 other posts on each of the places that we visited in Jordan. There is also a post on the itinerary we took (and would recommend) which you can read as more of a quick read. If you don’t have time to read all 5 posts, watch out for the itinerary post which will include details on when to go and what to take. It will come at the end of this series.
Other posts in this series include:
When you think about Jordan you probably immediately think about Petra. You might even think about floating in the Dead Sea. There is SO much more to Jordan than I ever realised until we started planning this trip.
Officially known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this little country of just 6.5 million people and occupying an area of a little under 90,000 sq km is unique in so many ways. Just starting with its history – it has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. It has seen the highs and lows of a number of empires including the Nabateans, the Romans and the Ottomans and was once a British Protectorate. A number of serious earthquakes in the region over the years have had the effect of changing the various fortunes of its cities and regions.
Now in modern times, Jordan often finds itself in the middle of a number of conflicts going on around it -both in neighbouring countries and across the region. It has striven to maintain neutrality in ever increasingly tense situations, has succeeded in maintaining a generally peaceful and safe territory, and is now home to millions of Palestinian and Syrian refugees.
One of the first questions people asked us when they heard we were going to Jordan was if it was safe enough. Despite facing increased instability since the Arab Spring in 2011, security has been pretty tight since some high profile attacks in 2005. I know there were some attacks again in late 2016 but, to be honest, I think you could just as easily be caught up in attacks in London or Paris as in Jordan. We were relieved that we felt very safe during the time that we spent there.
Jordan is a major tourist destination in the Middle East and, indeed, the world. Iconic photos of the Treasury and Monastry at Petra and of people floating in the Dead Sea are what attract tourists here. But ancient ruins, desert landscapes and the beautiful Red Sea are all additional delights that made us keep extending our itinerary as we planned it.
Amman is the capital and biggest city in Jordan. Located in north central Jordan, this is also where the main international airport so chances are you’ll fly in and out of here. Amman is a popular destination for tourists and businesses alike and is a fast growing business centre in the region. It boasts some significant history, evidence of which is still on display now.
What to do
Depending on where else you are going in Jordan there may be a lot or a little for you to do while you’re staying in Amman. If you’re only staying for a day or so, I’d highly recommend going to the Theatre and the Citadel.
If you do nothing else while you’re there, you must go to the unsung gem of a historical site: Jerash. Jerash is around 1-1.5 hours’ drive away and is locally known as the Pompeii of Jordan. Incredibly well preserved, this city is one of the best examples of Roman civilisation. Its temples, theatres and the colonnade all make it really easy to imagine how life would have been.
If you are planning on staying in Amman and taking day trips you can also go to places like the Dead Sea and Petra. This is totally doable but be prepared to spend a good deal of time in the car. There’s no right or wrong decision to make. It’s not what we did but you may only have a short time in the country. Or you may be a family that prefers to stay in one place. In either case, day trips are a great way to see the country.
Where to eat
We were only in Amman for 24 hours (including Friday morning) so it was hard to get a good feel for the best places to eat. We went to Rainbow Street as soon as we arrived and had a wander around. You must try the falafel at Al Quds – hands down the yummiest falafel we have ever had!
If you’re in town for long enough, go for dinner at Sufra. It seems to be universally recognised as one of the best restaurants in town. If you’re feeling decadent, head to the Four Seasons for afternoon tea or dinner. In festive seasons they always have amazing things on offer to coincide with the time of year.
Where to stay
We were incredibly lucky to stay at the Four Seasons. BUT it’s not the sort of place we can usually afford. If you can afford it (and your Things are better behaved than ours who got stuck in the revolving door before we had even finished unloading the suitcases) then I’d thoroughly recommend it.
If you’re looking for something slightly more budget friendly (interestingly no-one I knew could provide proper budget friendly and family friendly places), check out the following places:
- Grand Hyatt as recommended by Life on the Wedge
- Intercontinental Hotel Jordan as recommended by Nicky Williams through Middle East Family Travel Facebook Group and by Life With Baby Kicks
- Nishan Hotel as recommended by Keri at Our Globetrotters
- Thousand Nights Hotel or Sulaf Luxury as recommended by Sim Shy through Middle East Family Travel Facebook Group
Flights arrive daily into the very civilised Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. Royal Jordanian Airways is the local carrier but your country’s own carrier may well fly direct. Alternatively there are a variety of Middle Eastern airlines who may fly you via their hub for a more competitive price.
From the airport
We were collected from the airport by a driver from Petra Nights Tours. They also drove all our next destinations. They were recommended to us by several separate families. I’m happy to say Ahmad (our driver) only reinforced those recommendations.
Taxis are pretty readily available. We got one from the hotel to Rainbow Street and another one back again. The hotel one was 3.5 times more expensive so I’d definitely recommend hailing your own!
We didn’t even try to find any public transport. Lonely Planet recommends trying something called service taxis.