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Not traditionally known as a tourist destination, Amman nevertheless has much to offer visitors. This fast-developing metropolis is today complete with well-maintained highways, luxurious hotels, top-notch restaurants and numerous shopping centres. As the capital city of Jordan, it is the gateway to the rest of the country and is often used as a base for travelling around domestically. Most major attractions within Amman can be discovered on foot or by taxi though car rental is the best way to visit attractions outside of the city centre as well as the most convenient way to take excursions to destinations further away, like the Dead Sea, the historical town of Madaba and the incredible Roman ruins in Jerash.
Who to Book With
A number of well-established car hire suppliers have a presence in Amman as well as at Queen Alia International Airport. Europcar, Hertz and Sixt depots can be found in downtown Amman as well as at a number of hotels in the city. Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Alamo and Thrifty have a presence at the airport.
Best Time to Go
Though Jordan itself is known as a dry, hot country, Amman’s location makes its climate much more pleasant than that of many other cities in the Middle East. It is actually one of coldest cities in the Levant, with the temperature rarely rising above 32°C. January is the coolest month of the year and can sometimes see temperatures drop to below 4°C, with snow sometimes appearing in the higher elevations within the city. The summer is the most popular time to visit Amman as a result of its mild weather though it is also the most expensive time to be here.
Need to Know Essentials
You will need to present the following documents in order to collect a hire car:
- Both an International Driving Permit and a UK driver’s license
- An additional piece of identification
- The credit card used to book the vehicle
- Confirmation of booking
The most undeveloped parts of the city have steep, narrow streets that drivers may find challenging to navigate though the roads in the areas most visited by tourists are paved and in good condition. Most car hire companies give visitors the option of a driver for the same rate as without a driver, which is ideal for those hirers who are not confident driving themselves. All major highways in Jordan pass through Amman, which makes it easy to get in and out of the city but causes heavy congestion. Parking is easy to find along the city’s streets as well as in car parks. There are two multi-level car parks in the Swefieh nightlife district, and many restaurants and hotels in the posh areas of the city offer valet parking.
Read more information on driving here by looking at our guide to Jordan.
Driving is the preferred way to travel around the city, be it by rental car or taxi. Grey and yellow taxis are best, and are easily hailed from nearly anywhere in the city. Some parts of Amman are walkable thanks to routes such as the Jabal Amman 1st Circle Walking Trail and the pedestrianised shopping district of Wakalat. There are also municipal buses though they are rarely used by visitors even though they are safe.
Surprisingly, there is no metro system in Amman even though the city has a population of nearly three million people. Amman Railway Station has train service to Damascus, Syria, along the historical Hedjaz Jordan Railway tracks, passing through Zarqa and Mafraq along the way. This is the only passenger railway currently running in the country.
The city is currently undergoing plans to provide two Bus Rapid Transit lines. In the meantime, visitors can use the cheap municipal buses to get around. Buses are numbered and bus stops are usually marked by shelters though drivers drop off and pick up passengers almost anywhere along the buses’ designated routes. Long-distance buses are provided by Jordan Express Tourist Transport (JETT) and leave from Tabarbour Bus Station, serving numerous cities throughout the Middle East as well as the ancient city of Petra.
Grey and Yellow are the designated taxi colours in Amman, with taxis of other colours coming from other cities in Jordan. It is illegal for taxi drivers from other cities to pick up passengers here. Taxis run on a metre and no journey within the city should cost more than around £3. White taxis are shared taxis that run on a specific route and set off from Tabarbour Bus Station.
All roads pass through Amman, making it a great place to use as a base for exploring all of Jordan. The entire country is only 57,000 square miles in size though most destinations that appeal to visitors can be found in the western half of the country and surrounding the Dead Sea. Daytrips can easily be taken from Amman to nearly any part of the country, but visitors with time on their hands can explore further into the Southern and Eastern Desert regions.
Dead Sea – The world’s lowest point is its second-saltiest body of water and can be reached from the city in one hour. Most visitors prefer to take the more scenic route via Mount Nebo to see the panoramic views of Jerusalem as well as to make a side trip to the Baptism Site of Jesus. Once here, you can float in the sea or cover your body in therapeutic mud.
Jerah – This archaeological site is nearly as impressive as Jordan’s other famous archaeological site, Petra, though it is much closer to the capital city. The ancient Roman ruins, known as the Antioch on the Golden River, are less than a 1-hour drive north of Amman. The site is extensive but everything can be seen on a daytrip from the city. The most outstanding sights here are the Oval Plaza, the Cardo, the Temple of Artemis and the South Theatre.
Madaba – Home of the 6th century mosaic Madaba Map, this small town makes for an easy daytrip from Amman, which is around 30 minutes’ drive away along the King's Highway. The ancient Madaba Map, located in the Greek Orthodox Saint George's Church, is the main draw here. The map is part of a floor mosaic that maps out Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Other things to see in Madaba include the Madaba Archaeological Park and the Madaba Museum.