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Lonely Planet Writer

11 free things to do in Amman, Jordan

Amman is considered the most expensive city in the Arab world. Thankfully, it’s also home to affordable street eats (hello, fresh falafel for under one Jordanian dinar!) and a variety of fee-free activities. Whether you’re on a tight budget or prepared to splurge on your Jordan adventures, you won’t have to part with so much as a piastre to participate in these experiences.

Several Roman columns stand tall and alone atop a hill, with the city in the distance as a backdrop; the sky is an incredible shad of pink and purple; Free things to do in Amman, Jordan
Roman ruins continuing to stand tall at the Citadel, with the centre of old Amman spread out below  © mbrand85 / Shutterstock

Walking tour

Find your feet on arrival and mingle with other travellers during a guided two-hour walking tour around the downtown area of Amman. Stops include local markets, artisan shops, and popular street art. Tours are offered daily at 10 AM and 5 PM, setting out from the Amman Pasha Hotel (located across from the Roman Theatre).

Where: 4 Al Shabsough St

Fruit and vegetables are piled high on both sides of a narrow walkway under a covered market; shoppers push carts or carry bags, while sellers stand behind their goods on raised platforms; Free things to do in Amman, Jordan
Strolling through the atmospheric markets of Amman is a sensory experience © Sunny Fitzgerald / Lonely Planet

Window shopping and market hopping

It won’t cost you a single Jordanian dinar to join the throngs of locals streaming along Al Balad, the historic heart of Amman. Snap photos on the colourful stairways. Duck into spice shops and side street souks (markets). If you’re in town on a Friday, check out Souq Al Juma’a, the Friday flea market. Or take a Thursday night stroll down Rainbow Street for some weekend window shopping and people watching. And don’t forget to look to the sky every now and again – you’ll want to scout a restaurant or café terrace to enjoy a traditional tea with mint when you’ve tired of wandering.

Where: Al Balad is located in the valley between Jebel Lweibdeh and Jebel Amman

Diwan Al Duq

Step back in time when you step inside Diwan Al Duq, a preserved piece of Amman’s history. Serving as Amman’s first post office in the 1920’s and later a hotel, the site is now open to the public and furnished in traditional Levantine style. Admire old photographs and get a feel for a former era.

Where: King Faisal St

Shot with a wide-angle lens, this image looks from the ground up at the large blue dome and towering minarets; the lower part of the mosque is tan coloured with blue mosaic tiles; Free things to do in Amman, Jordan
The blue-domed King Abdullah Mosque, which is also the site of a museum © JPRichard / Shutterstock

Mosques

Located in a Muslim-majority country, Amman is home to a number of architecturally intriguing mosques, including the King Hussein Mosque (Jordan’s largest) and the blue-domed King Abdullah Mosque. In general, active mosques do not charge a fee to visit or view from the outside. However, there is a small (JD 2) fee for non-Muslims entering the King Abdullah Mosque and on-site museum. It’s also important to keep in mind that respectful attire is required and mosques may be closed to non-Muslims during prayer times and holidays.

Where: King Abdullah Mosque is found on Suleiman Al Nabulsi St, Jebel Lweibdeh

Art galleries

Plot a creative art crawl to art galleries around Amman and get inspired by local and international artists’ work. Most of the art galleries – including Darat Al Funun, Nabad Art Gallery and Salam Kanaan Gallery – are free to enter, but do call ahead to double check that they are not closed or charging a fee for a private event.

Where: various locations in Jebel Lweibdeh, Jebel Amman and beyond

Local and international films at Rainbow Theatre

Throughout the year Rainbow Theatre in Jebel Amman participates in a variety of film events such as Women’s Film Week in March, the Franco Arab Film Festival in July, and Swiss Film Days in October. Oftentimes, these include free screenings open to the public. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for fee-free film details.

Where: 47 Rainbow Street, Jebel Amman 

Sunset with a view of the Citadel

If you find yourself at Souk Jara or near Rainbow Street in the early evening hours, wander down to Wild Jordan and grab a seat at one of the outdoor picnic tables located just before the entrance. From here you can catch the colours of the setting sun as they wash over Lweibdeh and the Citadel. Locate other sunset spots around Amman in our best viewpoints article.

Where: Othman Bin Affan St, Jebel Amman

In front of the city that seems perched on a hillside is the Roman Theatre, with its semi-circular seats arching around its centre stage; Free things to do in Amman, Jordan
A view down over the Roman Theatre from the Citadel © Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

Citadel and Roman Theatre

If you’ve entered the country on the Jordan Pass, entrance to the ancient ruins at Jebel Al Qala’a (the Citadel) and the Roman Theatre are also included. Climb the stairs of the restored Roman Theatre in the early morning and watch the city come to life. Then head up to Jebel Al Qala’a to check out the towering Temple of Hercules, Umayyad Palace, and the 360-degree views of Amman from atop this historic hill. Both sites include museums to provide further context. Keep in mind, although these sites are located in the heart of old Amman, they are separate sites so you’ll need to allow ample time to walk or drive between them.

Where: the Roman Theatre is located at Al Heshemi St and Jebel Al Qala’a is accessed from K Ali Ben Al Hussein St

Al Hussein Park

Green spaces in Amman are few and far between so this large public park is a popular place for locals to walk, jog, people watch, and picnic – particularly on Fridays. You might also find a pickup football game to join or pay a visit to the King Hussein Mosque. If you plan on the latter, be sure to dress appropriately and inquire about opening hours for visitors, as this is an active mosque and entrance is not guaranteed.

Where: King Abdullah II Street in western Amman

Souk Jara

Every Friday from June through the end of September, a side street off Rainbow Street transforms into Souk Jara, an open-air flea market. Enjoy the summer vibes and live entertainment alongside locals while perusing handicrafts and culinary treats.

Where: Fawzi Al Malouf St off Rainbow St, Jebel Amman

Running Amman

Those looking for a unique fitness challenge and a chance to meet locals might consider joining a group run. But be warned: this activity is not for the faint of heart. Amman is built on hills, the streets can be quite congested with traffic, and sidewalks are inconsistent and often obstructed by parked cars and potted trees. So running in this city is akin to tackling an obstacle course! If you’re game, Running Amman arranges three weekly group runs around Amman and often dine together afterwards. There is no charge to join a group run but participants pay for their own food and drinks if they attend a meal.

Where: starting points vary, depending on the route so be sure to consult their events calendar.

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