Seen the Citadel, been to the Roman Theatre and had enough of the downtown souks? Then read on, fellow explorer! Here you’ll find out what else there is to see and do on an alternative Amman tour. Amman might not appear to have a lot to offer at first sight, and many would consider skipping it, but the capital actually has a lot of hidden gems.
- The Friday Market
- Fuheis & Carakale Microbrewery
- Mansaf at Jameeda Khanum
- Visit a Turkish Bath
- The Wild Jordan Centre
- Rainbow Theatre
- The Duke’s Diwan
- Soap making at the Syrian Jasmine House
- Relax on a rooftop pool
- Cantaloupe Gastro Pub
1) Head to the bustling Friday Market (Souq el Jumea)
If you’re in Amman on a Thursday or Friday, you are in luck: the Friday Market is up and running! From Thursday afternoon to Friday evening, you can dig into the mountains of second-hand clothing in search of some hidden gems. Located on a square in downtown near Ras al-Ayn, it is one of the biggest clothing markets in Amman. Here, you can find everything: from old fur coats to wedding dresses, sleeping robes and all sorts of funky clothing from the last decades. In between, coffee and tea are being sold, along with cups of seasoned sweet corn, to keep you going! Unless you have a (very) strong stomach, stay clear of the meat pastries.
2) Visit Fuheis and the Carakale Brewery
Situated 15 kms northwest of Amman, you will find Fuheis, a predominately Christian small-town. Right next to it is Jordan’s one and only craft beer microbrewery: Carakale! Together, these two places make a nice addition to an alternative Amman tour.
In Fuheis, walk down into the newer part of town – all year round you will come across Christmas decoration shops, so in winter, it is particularly festive here. If you like, stop at B&B (Burger & Beer) for a round of pool or table soccer (and a pint). Their burgers are also very tasty! Continue to the older part of town known as al-Balad, and head (half an hour walking) to El Housh, a small café showcasing the work of local artists. Here, you can also sit outside on the lovely terrace, surrounded by lush greenery and flowers. The place serves local food, great coffee and you can also buy home-made foods.
Then, continue to Carakale, which is a 10 minute drive away from Fuheis. The brewery is surrounded by nature, giving a great view over the surrounding green hills. This place is particularly nice for sunset, as you can sit on the terrace sipping on your beer, enjoying the view and your company. The Brewery also offers various tours, for those who wish to know more about the beer making process!
3) Forget Jabri, try the best Mansaf in town at Jameeda Khanum!
Although everyone says Jabri is the best place for Mansaf, we don’t quite agree. Located in downtown Amman, Jameeda Khanum is a real hidden gem: Decorated and set up like you are sitting in someone’s living room, serving Mansaf that is more rich, and comes closer to the home-cooked version. This place is also a great ending to an alternative Amman tour. To read more about Mansaf, check out this blog post: https://in2jordan.com/mansaf-jordans-national-dish/
On some evenings, Arabic live music is played, and it’s a great place to try one of the many Shisha flavours. Some of the little crafts and artwork on the wall are also for sale, and make a great souvenir. There is also a lovely rooftop terrace to sit on, for those who prefer it more quiet. Fun fact: there is a bathroom with two toilets in it – next to each other! If you’re curious, take the other door next to the normal male and female toilets…
4) Pamper yourself at a Turkish Bath
If you consider hitting up a Turkish Bath anywhere in Jordan, then head to either the 1001 Nights Turkish Bath (near Waha Circle) or Al Pasha Turkish Bath (Jabal Weibdeh). The 1001 Nights Turkish Bath costs a little more than the others, but is well worth the money.
Here a little guide on Turkish Baths, for those who have never been: After showering, you’ll head into the Jacuzzi (keep your bathing suits on, here we don’t go “European-style”), while sipping on a fresh juice. Then continue to the Steam Bath, followed by laying onto a hot stone. Afterwards, scrub your full body, shower again and go to soak in a soap bath. Last but not least, you’ll have a 15-minute mud massage. At the end, you can go into the restaurant for a coffee or tea.
The 1001 Nights Spa can also accommodate male and female visitors at the same time. It is common for genders to be separate. Usually women can go during the day, and evenings are reserved for men.
5) Stuff your face at the Wild Jordan Centre
The Wild Jordan Centre is a great place to come for lunch or dinner, for a coffee or just to have a look around. Located on the downhill side of Rainbow Street, you’ll have great views over downtown, Jabal Weibdeh and the Citadel. There is also a small Nature Shop in there, selling various products which were handmade in Jordan, by women or local community members. The centre aims to provide an income for the rural communities located in the nature reserves protected by RSCN. In the reception area, you’ll also find plenty of information about the various reserves.
The restaurant in the Wild Jordan Centre has a summer and winter menu, which consists of a variety of Jordanian dishes with a healthy touch, made out of seasonal foods. Unlike many other restaurants in Jordan, they also serve vegetarian, vegan and gluten free meals.
6) Go for a free movie screening at the Rainbow Theatre
Just off the famous Rainbow Street, you’ll find the Rainbow Theatre, an independent arts and entertainment venue. It opened in 1957, showing the latest international blockbusters. Nowadays, the Theatre mostly shows cultural and independent movies from the Middle East, but also from other countries around the world with changing themes (like French Film Week). Some movies will cost entry, but many are screened for free. Sometimes, there is a Q&A or discussion hosted with the producer/ author afterwards. Click here to check their programme: Royal Film Commission Upcoming Screenings.
7) The Duke’s Diwan
The Duke’s Diwan is the oldest residence in Amman, hidden in the bustling downtown area. This place should not be missed in an alternative Amman tour.
The house was built in 1924 at the space of 12 King Faisal Street, and until today you can see the magnificent architectural heritage of Old Amman. In the following decades, the space has been used as a central post office, as an annex of the Ministry of Finance and finally as a hotel (Haifa Hotel).
Today, the residence has an open door policy to everyone who wants to explore the storied rooms. The caretaker of the house welcomes every visitor with a cup of tea. Entering the house feels like stepping out of a time machine. Much of the original décor from the 1920’s is still where it used to be, along with pictures from the “old days” on the walls.
8) Soap making at the Syrian Jasmine House
Join the women of the Syrian Jasmine House and learn how to make the famous Aleppo Soap! Made out of shea, coconut and olive oil as well as bay leaves, it is a purely organic soap which can be used on a daily basis. The soap moisturizes the skin, and helps to regain a more youthful look. While you wait for your soap to dry, you can sit and enjoy a hot tea or coffee.
Overall, the Syrian Jasmine House offers much more than only soap making. The women employed offer a range of Syrian products including food, handicrafts and candles, which bring a taste of Syria to Jordan and make a nice souvenir for a loved one at home.
9) Relax on a rooftop pool
Unfortunately, Amman has no access to the sea, but there are options to swim and sunbathe in the middle of this concrete jungle! Several of the 5* hotels in the city offer day passes to access their pools and spa facilities, and you can relax and pamper yourself for a day. And in the evening, you can catch the beautiful coloured sunset sky over the city.
In the Grand Hyatt Amman, you can use the rooftop pool with a great view over the city (and the King Abdullah Mosque), and the bar offers a great selection of delicious drinks. The U Roof Lounge would be another great place to spend a day lounging at the pool. On weekend evenings, the lounge turns into an atmospheric party venue. The Amman Rotana Hotel is Jordan’s first and tallest tower, so needless to say that their rooftop pool has a spectacular view.
10) Cantaloupe Gastro Pub
For the perfect ending of an alternative Amman tour, head to the Cantaloupe Bar and Restaurant. It’s located at the end of Rainbow Street and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but as the saying goes, you should never judge a book by it’s cover. Their rooftop terrace boasts an almost 360 degree view over Amman’s skyline. Don’t miss going there for a drink or dinner just before sunset, to see how the colours of the sky and the city change. If you want to be sure to get a good spot, call in advance and ask for a table overlooking the Citadel.
Of course, we can also put together a whole trip for you, based on alternative activities and sights. Our dedicated travel consultants live all over Jordan, therefore, we can give you the best insider tips. To get started on your personal trip plan for a holiday in Jordan, get in touch with us.