Salt is located only 35 km outside of Amman and has recently been nominated as UNESCO world heritage site. This ancient town was once the most important settlement between the Eastern Desert and the Jordan Valley. We figured this small town is definitely worth a visit when in Amman – here are the top 10 things to do in Salt on a day trip!

 

1. Stroll down Hamman Street and Al Ein Plaza

You should not miss a stroll down Hammam Street. With plenty of small shops lining up next to each other and full of locals, there is lots to see (and taste!). Vendors offer everything: local food and produce, clothing, household goods, handmade perfumes, delicious sweets from bakeries, old Arabic beddings, traditional crafts, more clothing and more food. Back in the days, the lower half was sued to sell cattle and horses, while the upper half was filled with shops selling fruit and veggies.

Al Ein Plaza is considered the heart of the city. Here you’ll see the local old men playing a traditional game called Manqala and you’ll hear the Islamic call for praying. Most people from As-Salt come here every day to talk to others, pray in the surrounding churches or head to the markets, as part of their daily routine.

2. Eat at Salaam (Peace) Restaurant

The perfect place for lunch on a day out in Salt! Head to Salaam Restaurant, which is located close to the Archaeological Museum for some good and local food. We ordered half a chicken with bread, cucumber salad, tahina salad and pickled vegetables – very delicious!

 

3. Head up to the mosque on top of the hill for amazing views

Climb up the hill towards the mosque on top, and you can enjoy nice views over As-Salt – in every direction! Just head towards the tower of the mosque on the hill from the Al Ein Plaza, which will also lead you through characteristic, small alleyways.

Photo by: Vadim Skorobogatko

4. Check out Salt’s museums

In Salt, there is the Historical Old Salt Museum and the Archaeological Museum that are well worth a visit. The Historical Museum has free admission and is located right next to the visitor centre. In the visitor centre, you’ll also find plenty of useful brochures and maps for walking tours through As-Salt. There is also a nice cafe with a terrace, and you can buy local produce from there. The rather small Archaeological Museum is 2 JOD per person and filled with old artefacts from the surrounding region.

5. Dinner with a local family

The perfect finishing touch for a day out in Salt: Have dinner with a local family. You’ll meet them at their home, help prepare the food and learn how to prepare a traditional dish. And then, of course, you’ll eat dinner together. This is a great way of meeting locals, learning from them and discovering new food! Get in touch with us, we can organise it for you[email protected] 

6. Empower locals by buying handmade products

The ideal place to get some souvenirs for your loved ones back home! The shop is located right next to the visitor centre and sells local products made by the people in As-Salt. It is a community project which aims to give locals the opportunity to display their items. That way, they can sell their products directly and without intermediaries, ensuring a fair price. You’ll find things like soaps, oils, jewellery, homemade jams and other produce or bags and paintings.

7. Go on a city walking tour with a local guide

A great way to get to know As-Salt is by going on a walking tour through the city with a guide, who will be able to tell you about the history and personal stories of local people. There are also several different routes, depending on your interests. The first one focuses on religious harmony in As-Salt and will take you to various mosques, churches and heritage buildings. The second trail is called Daily Life trail and is all about tasting new foods, buying unusual products and speaking to locals. Finally, you can choose to do the Educational Trail, where your guide will tell you more about the educational buildings in As-Salt, and you will pay a visit to the secondary school there. Click here for more information: http://www.saltcitytour.com/

8. Visit the churches in Salt

There are three churches you should visit in Salt: the Al-Khader Orthodox Church was built over the remains of an old chapel and Muslims as well as Christians come to pray at this church. There is also the Dormition of Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, constructed in the 16th century. The local community funded part of the refurbishment of this church. Last but not least, you should visit the Latin Church. It was designed by an Italian architect and back in the days, the basement of this church was used for storing supplies of the Turkish Army and local citizens.

Photo by: L’esc Photography

9. Go paintballing at the Mountain Breeze Resort

You can also combine your day in Salt with an overnight stay or visit to the Mountain Breeze Resort. Here you can do all sorts of exciting and fun stuff: Go paintballing (the only paintball field in Jordan!), unleash your inner Robin Hood and do some archery, play volleyball or football, hire a bike, ride ponies or go on a hiking tour! Follow this link for more info: http://www.mountainbreeze.jo/about/

Photo by: Mountain Breeze Resort

10. Get Lost

You can discover many characteristic alleyways in Salt. Most likely you will get lost, which is not as bad as it sounds: You will find small local shops, old and abandoned houses, stunning architecture and lots of friendly people who are more than happy to help you to get back on track again!

Photo by: Adeeb Atwan

Here is a list of the 7 biggest differences between Western and Jordanian culture. Some of them will blow your mind!

1. Clothing in the Jordanian Culture 

Photo: Lauras Eye

It’s pretty obvious that clothing is a major difference in culture. Especially with locals and tourists, different ways of clothing often lead to misunderstandings. If you show too much skin it can come across as disrespectful and offensive in Jordan.

You will also notice that Jordanians pay more attention to dress well than people in the West. You would rarely see someone walking down the street in scruffy looking clothes! In Jordan, both men and women, expose as little skin as possible and always cover upper arms.

 

2. Culture around invitations

Here is something worth knowing: When being offered something, it is actually considered polite to refuse a few times before accepting!

If you genuinely don’t want to accept, this is a way of saying no in a socially acceptable way. With a big smile and right hand over your heart saying ‘shukran shukran’ (which means ‘thank you, thank you’). Although, you might have to say this a few times due to the ritual of polite insistence…

A tip for female travelers in Jordan: If you’re happen to be invited to a local family for dinner, it might be handy to wear trousers instead of skirts or low cut waists. Also bring a scarf with you. Most of the people sit on the ground to eat and you need to bend over to reach the food. On this way you’re sure to not show any cleavage, whether it’s on the front or the back! Jordanians also eat with their right hand, as the left one is for the toilet. You might want to do the same if you don’t want people looking at you in a confused way 🙂

Another cultural difference exists around gift giving: Be aware when complimenting someone’s possessions. As opposed to in the West, if you show interest in an object your host is supposed to give it to you!

3. Interactions between men and women

Men and women interact very differently with each other in Jordanian and Western culture. Public displays of affection between a man and a woman like holding hands or kissing are not recommended, even if the couple is married. Though you see more couples holding hands these days, a kiss on the lips is still kept for inside the house.

It is less known that Islamic women cannot interact freely with men outside their direct family (e.g. father, brother, closest cousins). Therefore, it is also common for a man to only greet the husband. Greeting the wife could be interpreted as showing too much interest.

Tip for male travelers: A woman might place a hand on her heart when greeting you, which means that she would not like to shake hands with a strange man.

A tip for female travelers: You might automatically look everyone in the eyes at home. It’s considered a sign of honesty in the West. Though, in the Middle East it might be considered as an invitation to something more than that!

4. Status of women

You will notice a big difference regarding the status of women in Jordan and in Western countries. In the Middle East, most women are staying at home, taking care of the family and children instead of having a career of their own. However, many women actually go to university (and even more so than boys) but once married don’t work in their profession.

Motives of decision making are also different, with the Western culture being more individualistically oriented. Jordanian women, on the other hand, are more focused and make decisions based on the collective interest of the family.

In order to empower more women to work and to be self-sustainable, we organize different activities around Jordan. If you are interested, consider joining one of our excursions to the Iraq Al Amir Women Cooperative Society in Amman or the Looming Ladies of Udruth in Petra. The women there have numerous skills to teach you, like producing soap or Bedouin weaving! Click here for more info: https://in2jordan.com/tours/workshops-in-jordan/

5. Customs around social interaction

Photo: petergustafson9

Jordanians are very energetic with regards to social interaction. Even if they are strangers they will hang around for a chat and exchange opinions. Westerners, who are not used to lengthy conversations with strangers, can often come across as cold or uninterested if not being too chatty when in a shop, for example.

So, when travelling in Jordan, have a chat with shopkeepers, they are genuinely interested where you come from.

 

 

Jordanians also shake hands more often – also with strangers. You’ll notice that sometimes Jordanians also shake hands with each other while in conversation when agreeing on something or joking around.

6. Muslim men can have up to four wives

In Jordan, Muslim men are allowed to have up to 4 wives – unimaginable in Western culture! Still, in Jordan polygamy is restricted and the first wife has to give her consent. It is not very common anymore, though.

7. Family is important

Family is very important in Jordanian culture. Here, people like to stay close to their family and relatives, and daily visits are not uncommon. If the family is not in close proximity, you’ll see a lot of people talking on the phone or Skype to their relatives, sometimes for hours or while doing other things. Respect for the elderly is also a big part of the culture, as well as taking care of parents when they grow old.

If you want to interact with locals and experience the famous hospitality of Jordanian families, have a look at our community-based tourism itinerary. Click here for more information: https://in2jordan.com/tours/community-based-tourism-jordan/