Irbid is a university town and, perhaps as a consequence, is one of the more lively and progressive of Jordan's large towns. In the area around Yarmouk University, south of the city centre, the streets are lined with outdoor restaurants, Internet cafés and pedestrians out strolling, particularly in the late afternoon. The university also hosts arguably Jordan's finest museum, the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology.
The area around Irbid has yielded artefacts and graves suggesting that the area has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, although there is little evidence in the town of such antiquity. Jordan's second-largest city is nonetheless a good base from which to explore Umm Qais, Al-Himma and even Jerash, Ajlun and Pella.