Amman is a perfect pairing of Jordan's ancient history and modern culture, providing endless viewpoints, fantastic Levantine cuisine, and one of the best art scenes in the Middle East. It's a dynamic place to spend a day—follow this itinerary to make the most of your 24 hours.

Planning Your Day in Amman

Downtown Amman cityscape

A city of hills and hospitality, a day in Amman means lots of views, food, and fun. Since your time is limited and traffic in Amman is a given, base yourself in the Jabal Amman, Jabal Al Weibdeh, or downtown areas where you can walk or easily catch a cab to the sites suggested here. Try to grab a room at La Locanda, a chic Weibdeh property (featured on our list of Jordan's Best Boutique Hotels).

Consider the seasons when deciding your travel dates. Get an early start, especially in the summer, so you can avoid being outside in the midday sun. If you travel to Amman in the winter, you'll need to pack cold-weather clothing, whereas you'll need breathable, lightweight layers and a hat for the summertime. Read more about the Best Times to Visit Jordan

Hospitality, food, and family are at the heart of Jordanian culture, so be prepared to snack your way through your stay—and don't be surprised if locals invite you in for tea or even to their home for a meal. 

This itinerary is scheduled in a way that can give you a good balance of Amman's cuisine, culture, and history, be flexible to get the most out of your experience. Locals may not have the same concept of time or punctuality as you, businesses and sites may be unexpectedly closed during advertised "business hours," and traffic may disrupt your plans. Use this itinerary as a guideline but try to go with the flow and view any unplanned changes as just another part of your Amman adventure.

9 am: Coffee & Culture to Start Your Day

View from the Citadel grounds

There is no better way to start your perfect day than sampling local cuisine and sipping a steaming cup of shai (tea) or gahweh (coffee). And lucky for you, there's no shortage of excellent cafés and cozy breakfast spots in Jordan's capital city.

Organic and gluten-free diners will find plenty of options—including a wide selection of tea and coffee drinks, fresh juices, smoothies, and local and international menu items—and a spectacular view at Wild Jordan Center in Jabal Amman. Travelers looking for lighter snacks rather than a big breakfast should head for Jungle Fever in Weibdeh, where Jordanian-made Dimitri's coffee and Turtle Green teas are served alongside locally-made treats. Or if your early morning routine starts and ends at coffee, try Ayman Coffee Shop near the Second Circle in Jabal Amman and taste one of the best Turkish coffees in the city, prepared using a traditional method of heating the water over sand. For additional coffee and breakfast suggestions, see more of the Best Cafés in Amman.

Your next stop is Jabal Al Qala'a (Citadel Hill), the historic center of the city. Allow yourself at least an hour to explore the ancient ruins of the Temple of Hercules and Umayyad Palace before heading downtown into the heart of Amman. Climb the steps of the restored Roman Theatre and snap a few photos of the old downtown area, then spend time browsing spices, Arabic coffee pots, and other souvenirs in the colorful shops along the streets—check out this list of worthwhile souvenirs to pick up in Jordan before you go.

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1 pm: Art & Authentic Street Food

The classic spread at Hashem, a must-stop eatery downtown

It’s time to take a break and grab a bite at nearby Hashem Restaurant. Don't let the simplistic decor and casual vibe fool you; this beloved restaurant serves some of the best Jordanian street food in all of Amman. So pull up a plastic chair, dive into some hummus and falafel, and enjoy the vibrant city scene in front of you. Don't forget to save room for dessert; sweet kunafeh (a cheese-filled Palestinian pastry) is just steps away at Habibah. Learn more about Jordan's many delicacies (and where to eat them) in this article

Ride that sugar high up the hill to Jabal Al Weibdeh, where some of Amman's best art galleries await. You'll find one of the first collections of Arab art in the Khalid Shoman Collection at Darat al Funan—an important historic and educational art space that fills six renovated structures and often offers workshops, discussions, and events. Less than five minutes from Darat al Funan, the lovely Dar Al-Anda Art Gallery provides a peaceful escape from the bustling city below. Admire the local and international artwork on display, then step out onto the terrace to take in panoramic views of the old city. Be sure to call ahead and inquire about any upcoming events.

If you're interested in exploring other galleries around the city, our Best Art Galleries in Amman article will guide you to some of them.

6:30 pm: Chef for a Night at Beit Sitti

Learn to make some of your favorite Arabic dishes at Beit Sitti (photo courtesy of Beit Sitti)

To truly appreciate Arabic culture and cuisine, you'll need to go directly to the place where the magic happens: the kitchen. Just two minutes walking distance from Dar al-Anda Art Gallery, Beit Sitti offers Arabic cooking lessons in the Haddad family home. Join a group class or schedule a private lesson where you will learn to prepare local dishes like kousa (stuffed zucchini), mandi (Yemeni rice with meat and spices), or moutabal (smoky eggplant dip). If the weather is agreeable (typically late spring through autumn), you may have the opportunity to cook and dine outdoors.

Check Beit Sitti's website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date info, and do book your spot in advance, as this family-run restaurant opens upon reservation only. For more opportunities to dive into local culture, take a look at the Best Cultural Experiences in Jordan

9 pm: Cocktails & Rooftop Views 

Enjoy nighttime views of Amman's twinkling hills at Cantaloupe (photo courtesy of Cantaloupe)

The evening is full of possibilities, limited only by your energy level and interests. If you're ready for a stroll and some shisha, grab a cab to Rainbow Street in Jabal Amman, where you’ll find plenty of people-watching and open-air smoking options, such as Dust Roof. If you prefer to kick back with a cocktail, try the Citadel-facing patio at Cantaloupe (located just off Rainbow Street) or the trendy terrace at District (between First and Second Circle). If it's live music you're looking for, inquire with Maestro in the La Locanda Boutique Hotel in Weibdeh or Jafra, a legendary downtown café, and restaurant.

Read more about Jordan's vibrant capital city in kimkim's Ultimate Guide to Amman