Amman
 

 

Amman is a perfect mix of old and new. Considered as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, it is not an uncommon site to see ancient ruins set aside modern towering buildings. The first recorded civilization goes as far back as the Neolithic period of 8500BC. Later in the 13th century BC, the city was named Rabat Amon by the Ammonites who made Amman their capital.

Today, Amman has expanded into a modern capital city boasting world class hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, and cultural centers such as museums and galleries. We at Detours hope to introduce the world traveler to a side of Amman that is often overlooked and often cast in the shadow of world renowned sites such as Petra, Jerash and the Dead Sea.

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At first glance, one may see Amman as a sleepy city with not much to do. Underneath this façade however is a bustling society of café culture, art scenes, and even party goers looking for a good place to unwind.

>> CAFE CULTURE AND THE FAMOUS ARGEELEH!

You may know this as the hookah, the water pipe, sheesha, and sometimes even the hubly bubbly. In Amman it is known as the Argeeleh. Walk up and down Rainbow Street, Shmiesani, Abdoun or Sweifieh and your senses will be filled with the sweet scents of lemon, strawberry and apple aromas. Choose one of the hundreds of these cafés, order a sweet mint tea and enjoy the local atmosphere of Jordanian youths playing cards, backgammon, and chess while smoking their argeeleh.

>> ART GALLERIES AND HANDICRAFTS

Amman’s art scene has seen a large upheaval in the past decade. With the opening of several galleries, local and regional artists have been able to showcase their work and make a living through their talent. Check out Darat Al Funun for a traditional feel of the art scene located in the old and beautiful Jabal Wiebdeh. For a more modern taste, head to the Fifth Circle and brows the works of Jordan’s talents at Foresight Gallery.

Jewelry design has also gained in popularity in Jordan. Be sure to check out the works of Natalie Hijazi, Lama Hourani and Nadia Dajani. All their pieces are sought after internationally and are sure to indulge the taste of all jewelry enthusiasts. Though price ranges vary, it is guaranteed that items will be found that fit a wide array of budgets.

Several handicraft shops can be found in Amman selling traditional rugs, furniture, ceramics and clothing. Be sure to check out Silsal on the Fifth Circle for unique and beautiful ceramics including light stands, bowls, dishes and vases. You can even order custom made items with your names designed in traditional Arabic calligraphy. Bani Hamida is an organization of traditional Beduoin women who have preserved the ancient art of rug weaving. Located on Rainbow Street, be sure to visit their showroom which will give you insight on how this tradition has been passed on through the generations. Be sure to enquire about the different seasonal souks that are held once a week which sell traditional, antique and other unique items to Jordan.

 

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Several museums are located in different areas of Amman. The most popular that are always on the tourist agenda are the Archeological Museum atop the Citadel and the Folklore Museum at the Roman Theater. With rich information about Jordan’s history these two options are a must see for the archeology and anthropology buff. If you are looking for different options however, Amman has some unique exhibits that will surely interest you.

The Royal Automobile Museum showcases the private collection of cars owned by the late King Hussein. The exhibit is set up to show Jordan’s history through the different automobiles of the time. From the first desert 4x4’s used during WWII to modern supercars, the unique way in which the life of the late King Hussein is displayed offers alternative insight into Jordan’s history. Take a break from your guidebook and let your eyes feast on perfectly preserved vehicles of the past and present.

If you are travelling with your family, take some time to focus on the young ones and head to the Children’s Museum Jordan. This state of the art exhibit offers an educational experience that is unique and fun. With 150 interactive stations, it is guaranteed that this stimulating facility will be memorable and educational for children of all ages.

 

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When it comes to shopping, Amman has a perfect mix of the old and new. Take some time during your city tour, or on a free day to explore the downtown souks. Countless treasures are waiting to be discovered. Pick up a couple of Hattas (Jordanian Scarf) for the kids or take back an old antique hookah! We can guarantee that you will find something for everyone. Make sure to bargain in order to get the best deals!

Away from the bustling souks downtown are more common shopping centers. Head to Zara Center on Wadi Saqra Street for upscale and luxury brands. Otherwise, City Mall is the best place to fulfill all your shopping needs. With a perfect mix of local, regional and international brands, City Mall has it all! Boasting several restaurants, and a modern multi screen cinema, City Mall is definitely the place to be if you are tired of the tourist track and want a few hours to wind down and replace those dusty shoes you wore down in Petra!

Amman is also host to countless restaurants offering different cuisine from around the world. From world class venues to local delicacies, gaining a few pounds is not a hard task when discovering the food of Amman!

>> Cheap, local and delicious!

If you think you know what Shawerma is, I am pretty sure that in actual fact, you don’t! Before you feel offended I advise you to check out two different restaurants. For the best chicken Shawerma ask your concierge for the closest Daia’ Café. There is one on Abdoun Circle which is surrounded by several shops and other restaurants. For the best meat Shawerma in Amman, head to the famous Reem Café on the 2nd circle. There may be a line but the prize is definitely worth the wait! If you are a fan of the falafel, then you are in for a treat. Hop in a taxi and tell the driver to take you to Usra Restaurant in Abdoun. You will be seated in a bustling café full of people from different walks of life all coming for the best hummus and falafel in town.

>> Culinary Delights

If you haven’t had your fill of Middle Eastern cuisine, ask your concierge to book you a table at the famous Fakher el Din located between the first and second circle. Serving traditional mezas and Arabic delicacies, Fakher el Din is a great place to sample the diverse foods of the Levant.

After touring around Jordan, many guests feel that they have had their fill of Arabic food and would like to sample other restaurants in the city. Luckily, Amman is dotted with a variety of venues serving food from around the world. The best sushi in town is served in the newly renovated Vinaigrette located on the roof of Al Qasr Metropole hotel. For other Japanese delicacies, head to Yoshi located on the Fourth Circle. If you are craving a carb filled meal, the best Italian restaurant is the timeless Romero located on the Third Circle. With its romantic garden setting and excellent food, Romero is definitely a place to enjoy fine wines and even better food!

 

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Amman nightlife gets better every year. Clubs and bars are constantly opened and reinvented for their customers to enjoy exotic drinks and music. For a casual pub like atmosphere, head to Bonita on the Third Circle or La Calle on Rainbow street. If you are craving a drink and a hookah however, I would advise Books@Cafe also located off Rainbow Street. With its bookstore on the first floor, terraces, bars and good food on the second, Books (as the locals call it) will definitely present a good cross section of the night seeking Amman crowd.

The Living Room & The Loft are both located above Romero Restaurant on the Third Circle. Both venues are a bit more formal but also present a nice atmosphere for drinks and conversation. The food at these two locations is excellent and the music is just right to keep the drinks coming!

If you are a fan of thumping baselines then the hottest club is where you should be. Ask your concierge to book you a table at Flow located in Dier Gubar. Packed with people of all ages, Flow is definitely not for the faint hearted. But be warned, the decibels are off the charts and the drinks are extra strong so if you are up for it, then a good time awaits you!

 

 

* Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more details or other suggestions for activities in Amman

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