If you love Arabic food, warm friendly hospitality, and a mix of both modern and ancient history, you’re going to love Jordan!
Home to nearly half the population, Amman is the biggest, busiest, and most energetic city in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Although many travelers only remain in the city for a day or two before traveling to some of the more famous sites like Petra or the Dead Sea, I really enjoyed staying in Amman, and I think it’s a city that’s well worth exploring for a few extra days, or even a week if you have the time (especially if you love food).
In this Amman travel guide for food lovers, I’m going to share with you a little bit about where my wife and I stayed, what we did, and some of the top restaurants we tried during our trip to Amman.
Arriving and Leaving Amman
Queen Alia International Airport, the main Amman international airport is located about 30 km from Amman city center. My wife and I flew directly from Bangkok to Amman on Royal Jordanian.
The easiest way to get to the city is by taxi at the official taxi stand at the airport. Fare should cost 22 – 25 JD and the journey takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic.
Tourist visas cost 40 JD (about $56) for single entry and they are available upon arrival at the airport for many nationalities.
Safety traveling to Jordan
I usually don’t get into safety information all that much in my city travel guides, mainly because safety and traveling is such a relative subject, but for visiting Amman (and for traveling in Jordan in general), I thought I’d quickly share my thoughts.
Jordan is known for being one of the most politically stable, modern, and progressive countries in the Middle East. Yet due to their geographic location, surrounded by Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Palestine, and Israel, Jordan’s safety doesn’t always get the best international view.
For what it’s worth, my wife and I experienced no safety issues when we traveled in Jordan, and I never felt threatened or fearful of security during our visit. Additionally, I thought Jordan took thorough security measures, especially in tourist destinations and attractions.
For females, I don’t really have a full say as I can’t speak from any experience, but from what I observed, and from how my wife felt, I think overall women are treated respectfully in Jordan. You’ll see plenty of women walking and hanging out on the streets of Amman, both with and without a hijab or head covering, and there’s not a strict policy on this issue.
What’s most likely to happen when to you travel to Jordan, is that people say hello, offer you food and tea, and show their genuine hospitality and generosity.
However, you can think about safety and traveling in two ways: think you’re either safe anywhere you go, or think you’re not safe anywhere you go – and both could be true for any destination in the world. It’s mostly up to you how you view it.
It is a good idea to read up on safety information, keep alert, and follow current events, but for myself, I would not let safety concern deter me from visiting Jordan.
Where To Stay In Amman?
Amman is a large modern Middle Eastern city, and there are plenty of places to consider staying when you visit.
- La Locanda Boutique Hotel – For my entire stay in Amman, my wife and I stayed at La Locanda, one of the only boutique hotels in the city. Along with being clean, what I also really liked about it was its location – just a short walk from downtown Amman (not far from the Amman Citadel), and within an old neighborhood (Jebel Al Weibdeh) of the city that’s at the moment transforming back into a heritage trendy area of town. For a change from one of the major chain hotels, a place with character, I would recommend it. Only thing is that downstairs there is a bar, which can be a bit loud during the night (although I couldn’t hear anything in my room).
- For a budget option, you could try a place like Arabian Suites, decent apartment style rentals in a good location for a fair price. Nothing fancy but very suitable and more of an apartment style rather than a hotel.
- For luxury, Amman offers many of the major high end international brands like Four Seasons Amman and InterContinental Amman.
Also, take a look at the hotel selection on Booking.com for a wide range of hotels in Amman.
Personally I would recommend staying somewhere in the Jebel Al Weibdeh neighborhood – it’s an old area of Amman, but it’s making a comeback as a heritage and trendy area of town, with nice shops, cafes, and restaurants, and it’s just a short walk from downtown.
*NOTE: The links above are affiliate links, meaning if you book a hotel, at NO extra charge to you, I will receive a small commission – which will help me continue writing and publishing blogs like this. Thank you for your help!
Jordanian Food: My Favorite Dishes
When I visited Egypt a few years ago (which by the way I thoroughly enjoyed and loved the food there too), some of the Egyptian friends I made told me that you have to go to Jordan to eat the best falafel in the Middle East.
That was years before I knew I’d be taking a trip to Jordan.
Now, I can confirm.
Jordan truly has some of the world’s finest falafel, along with lots of other incredibly delicious things to eat.
Also check out my full Jordanian food guide here.
One of the things I immediately loved about eating Jordanian food in Amman is that due to its strategic position, at the crossroads between the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, and positioned within the Levant, there’s a huge diversity of food available.
This is by far not all the Jordanian dishes available or even an extensive list of what I ate, these are just a few of my personal favorites – the dishes I’d fly to Jordan just to eat:
- Falafel – Like I already mentioned, Jordan is known for having excellent falafel, which consist of ground chickpeas and spices, deep fried in little patties until golden brown and crispy. They are eaten plain or often stuffed into a sandwich for a common street food snacks.
- Fattet hummus – I know you’ve heard of hummus, and you’ll undoubtedly have some of the best hummus you’ve ever had in Jordan. But something I had never tried before visiting was fattet hummus, the combination of hummus with bread which is soaked into the hummus making the hummus more fluffy and not as dense. It’s amazing.
- Moutabel – When it comes to dipping dishes (part of the greater mezze spread), moutabel in Jordan was one of my favorites. The combination of creamy roasted eggplant, garlic, sesame paste, and olive oil is a flavor and texture that’s hard to beat.
- Manakish – Manakish is one of the staples of Levantine cuisine, and you’ll find it all over Amman, as a popular meal and snack. It’s sort of like a pizza, in that the base is a circle of dough, which is traditionally topped with olive oil and za’atar (a thyme herb mixture) and baked. They also have versions of manakish with halloumi cheese and egg that are also superb.
- Shish kebabs (kofte) – There are lots of wonderful vegetarian dishes in Jordan, but I have to admit I’m a meat lover, and few things satisfied me in Jordan more than shish kebabs. The minced meat, usually lamb or beef, is mixed with salt and parsley, formed into sausage shapes, and grilled over charcoal. The salty and fattiness of the meat brings out an incredible smokey taste.
- Kousa mahshi – For this excellent dish, which is common around the Levantine region, zucchini are hollowed out, stuffed with a combination of rice and minced lamb, then cooked for hours on low heat until they become fall apart tender and the lamb fat has fully flavored the entire dish. It’s also excellent with grape leaves.
- Maqluba – Literally translated to upside-down, maqluba is a dish that includes chicken and spices on the bottom of a pot, cooked with rice on the top. Once the dish is fully cooked, it’s flipped over onto a tray, so the rice goes to the bottom and the meat or chicken remains on top.
- Mansaf – Known as the national dish of Jordan, mansaf is a meal that totally sums up the culture of Jordan, its generosity and hospitality, and the love for lamb and yoghurt. The dish includes lamb that’s cooked until fall apart tender in jameed (a type of dry goat yoghurt made into a gravy), and served with rice, more jameed, and topped with pine nuts. What’s also fascinating is how mansaf is eaten, off a communal tray, with balls of lamb and rice rolled into ones hand, and consumed without touching your fingers to your mouth (might need to watch the video demonstration below for this one). It’s also customary for the host to feed guests!
It’s safe to say, you’re in for some good eating when you visit Jordan!
Restaurants and Street Food
Amman has a great selection of restaurants, ranging from hole in the wall spots to very nice relaxing and luxurious dining. There’s a decent selection of international food as well, but I focused all my attention of local Jordanian and surrounding regional food when I was there.
In this Amman travel guide, I’ve included some of the best restaurants I tried:
- Hashem Restaurant – Visited by nearly every politician, famous person, and even Jordanian royal family members, Hashem Restaurant is one of Amman’s most popular and well known restaurants in downtown. They serve falafel (included the famous stuffed falafel), ful medames, moutabel, and some crazy good hummus. This place is also vegetarian.
- Falafel Al-Quds – Meaning Jerusalem in Arabic, Falafel Al-Quds, located on Rainbow Street, serves only falfael sandwiches (you can’t even order plain falafel), and they are some of the best falafel I had in all of Amman. The sandwiches come in a sesame seed bun, filled with falafel, tomatoes, and seasoned with tahini.
- Salaheddin Bakery – This is one of the oldest bakeries in Amman, and I think it’s almost safe to say that the majority of Amman agrees that they make one of the best sesame seed rolls in the city. It’s an awesome place, you walk in, grab a fresh roll, fill it with hard baked eggs, cheese, and a pinch of salt and za’atar, and eat. It was incredible.
- Shawarma Reem – When it comes to beef and lamb shawarma, one of the Amman standards is Reem. Their meat is sliced thin so it’s both juicy and crispy, salty and a bit citrusy. Wrapped in a fresh pita, and combined with tahini, onions, and tomatoes, it was incredibly good.
- Al Osrah Restaurant – If you’re looking for local Jordanian comfort dishes, Al Osrah is neighborhood winner. They have a huge selection of different dishes like an excellent fattet hummus (hummus with bread in it), chicken liver sautéed in oil and lemon juice, and wonderful ful medames.
- Habibah Sweets – Located in downtown Amman, Habibah Sweets is an institution for kanafeh, a wildly popular cheese based dessert. You buy a piece and can then sit and eat it around the downtown patio area.
- Shams El Balad Cafe – I really enjoyed this place, it’s a cross between a cafe and restaurant, but it has a real home feel to it. They serve mostly local, organic, and healthy Jordanian food, including seasonal specials. Both the indoor, and the outdoor patio section overlooking downtown Amman, are lovely.
- Rakwet Arab Cafe – On my last day in Amman, my wife and I were just walking around the Paris Circle, and found Rakwet Arab Cafe, a restaurant, and shisha cafe. The food, including tabbouleh, mixed grill, and chicken in a claypot, was all excellent, as was the Arabic coffee and shisha I enjoyed post meal.
- Tawaheen Al Tawa – This is one of the largest restaurants in Amman, and while I saw some tour groups here as well, it’s also extremely popular with local Jordanians. They have two specialities, barbecue meat like shish kebabs, and they serve an awesomely delicious mansaf – something you don’t want to miss eating when you’re in Amman. Eating mansaf at Tawaheen Al Tawa was one of my favorite experiences within this Amman travel guide.
- Sufra Restaurant – If you’re looking for a higher end restaurant that serve top-notch Jordanian food, Sufra is an excellent place. The venue, situated in an old heritage home on Rainbow street, paired with delicious food, makes it a fantastic restaurant. I especially loved the kofta bi tahini, minced meat with tahini and potatoes, and the sajieh chicken, chicken braised in olive oil and all spice.
These are just a few of the best restaurants I personally ate at while in Amman – you can check out many more Jordanian food suggestions on my full Amman food guide.
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Things To Do In Amman
Food is the main reason you and I travel, but sometimes we have a little extra time beyond food, so in this Amman travel guide, here are a few of the things you can consider doing when you’re in Amman… but I know eating is your priority!
- Amman Citadel – Amman has an ancient history, and the citadel, located on the hill above modern downtown, is evidence of the layers of history and civilizations that have called Amman home. One of the highlights of visiting the Amman Citadel is the Temple of Hercules, and although only the foundation, a few of the columns, and the hand of Hercules remains, it’s one of the most significant and recognized ruins at the site. There are also amazing views of Amman from the Citadel. Entrance price – 3 JD ($4.22)
- Roman Theater – Another significant Roman creation, just down the hill from the Citadel is the theater. Carved into the side of the mountain, with stone bleachers, the theater can hold up to 6,000 people. What amazed me is how the sound carries throughout the entire theater (with no electrical microphone equipment), and it’s also still used today for concerts. Entrance price – 2 JD ($2.81)
- King Abdullah Mosque – One of the most prominent mosques in Amman is the King Abdullah Mosque, with its incredible blue dome. Along with visiting the mosque, there’s also a small museum. Entrance price – 2 JD ($2.81)
- The Royal Automobile Museum – Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit the Royal Automobile Museum, but I heard very good things about it, and if I’m ever in Amman next trip, I will make it a point to visit. The museum was set up by King Abdullah II as a way to remember his father King Hussein, and houses a beautiful collection of automobiles. Entrance price – 3 – 5 JD
- Downtown Amman / Al-Balad – In order to experience the action and busyness of Amman, walking though the narrow markets streets of downtown Amman is a must. You’ll find just about everything you can imagine for sale, from shoes and clothes to fresh fruits and vegetables, and dry spices. While it can be quite busy, in comparison to other major cities, it’s quite easy to navigate and overall quite a friendly downtown.
- Rainbow Street – Another great part of Amman to just walk around and browse is Rainbow street, a quiet and pleasant road, not too far from downtown, but far from the loudness of downtown. Along Rainbow street in Amman you’ll find lots of great restaurants, cafe’s, and a contrast of both traditional and modern trendy shops and restaurants.
Apart from these main famous things to do that I included in this Amman travel guide, one of the things I also enjoyed doing was just walking around the streets of Jebel Al Weibdeh, going to different cafes and restaurants, walking up and down hills and staircases, and just enjoying the atmosphere of Amman.
How To Get Around?
Unfortunately there’s not really a fantastic way to get around Amman as a tourist other than by taxi. However, taxis are relatively inexpensive and safe, but just make sure the meter is always used as soon as you get in.
When I was in Amman, because I was with the Jordan Tourism Board, my wife and I had access to a private vehicle, which really did make things much easier to get around.
However, we spent a few extra days in Amman on our own, and staying at La Locanda Hotel, we were able to walk places as well. If you’re staying in the center of the city, Amman is decently walker friendly, and you’ll get a good workout too with all the hills and staircases.
Prices and Expenses
Jordan is on a whole more expensive than I thought it would be before going.
Perhaps it’s because I’m normally based in Bangkok where the cost of living and traveling is still relatively low for a major international city. Although you can get by on a budget for some things, Amman is a pretty expensive city to visit and live in.
For accommodation, there’s a range of hotels and accommodation options, but for a mid-range private room, you’re looking at about $60 – $100 USD per room per night. You can book cheaper accommodation for about $30 – 40 USD for a double room at the minimum.
As a traveler for food, you can still get by on budget meals of falafel, hummus, tabbouleh, and sandwiches in the price range of 1 – 3 JD ($1.41 – $4.22), but I noticed that if you start to branch out into more meat based dishes like kebabs and lamb dishes, you’ll spend likely spend 10 – 15 JD ($14.07 – $21.10) per person or more at a nicer sit down restaurant.
The prices below are estimates based on things I bought and my experience in Amman, but take them loosely as ideas to help you plan.
- Hostel bed: $20 – $30 USD
- Mid-range hotel: $60 – $100 USD
- High end: $100 USD and up
- Taxi: 3 – 5 JD ($4.22 – $7.03) for a short rice, 5 – 10 JD ($7.03 – $14.07) for a long ride
- Sample taxi ride from airport to Amman: 22 – 25 JD ($30.95 – $35.17)
- Food snack: 0.20 – 1 JD ($0.28 – $1.41)
- Local restaurant meal: .50 – 5 JD ($0.70 – $7.03) per person
- Nice indoor restaurant: 10 – 20 JD ($14.07 – $28.13) per person
- Arabic coffee: 0.30 – 1 JD ($0.42 – $1.41)
- Western coffee shop coffee: 2 – 4 JD ($2.81 – $5.63)
- Big bottle of water: 0.30 JD ($0.42)
- Draft beer at bar: 5 – 8 JD ($7.03 – $11.25) – alcohol is pricey
- Budget: 25 – 40 JD ($35.16 – $56.27) per person per day
- Mid-range: 40 – 70 JD ($56.27 – $98.47) per person per day
- High end: 70 JD ($98.47) and up, per person per day
*JD (or JOD) = Jordanian Dinar, at the time of writing this 1 JD = $1.41 USD
Here’s are some more interesting prices on cost of living and traveling in Amman.
Jordan Travel Videos:
When I knew I was going to visit Jordan to travel and eat I was thrilled. I decided to make full day videos, including just about everything we did, experienced, and ate during each day. There are 12 full days of Jordan packed into these videos!
Press play above to start watching my entire Jordan travel video guide series.
(Alternatively you can watch all the videos on YouTube here)
Amman, known as the white city because of the common white stone construction, is the modern capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The city, which once started on a single hill, now occupies around 19 hills (maybe a few more), and has a population of nearly half the country.
Along with an ancient history, and a number of impressive historical attractions, Amman is also home to museums, art and cultural centers, nightlife, excellent cafes, bustling markets, and a great selection of restaurants and hole in the wall eateries that serve delicious Jordanian food.
I hope this Amman travel guide for food lovers will give you some great ideas and insights for what to do and especially what to eat when you’re in Amman, Jordan!
Are you planning to visit Jordan? Have you already visited?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
MORE ON JORDAN:
- Coming soon
Disclosure: I was invited to visit Jordan by the Jordan Tourism Board, who sponsored my trip. But all thoughts, opinions, photos, and videos, are my own. Big thank you to Jordan Tourism Board for such an amazing trip.