I’m a 22 year old proud Arab woman (@nujoudoweis) from Jordan. I am currently living in London, where I am finalising my bachelor degree in Textile Design. The little nuances that truly shed light on the beauty of this community for me, I’d say would be the food, where recipes have been passed down from generation to generation; filled with unforgettable aroma and spices. Something I look forward to the most when I’m back is my grandmothers food; I highly recommend you befriend an Arab local to dine with, you won’t regret it. Another undeniable trait about Jordan that I absolutely love is its people. The sense of community and love that I feel here is unlike anything I’ve experienced; the people are essential when discussing Jordan’s beauty.
What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?
Breakfast is one of the best meals of the day when having authentic Arabic food. Honesty, a typical Arabic breakfast can feed a whole army. With that being said, the essentials for a typical breakfast in Jordan would be Manakish; a pizza-like baked dough with dried Thyme spice mix, or Za’atar as we call it and olive oil, Labaneh a yogurt-like spread, Hummus, Falafel, Fūl Mudammas; cooked beans dish, olives which are an essential in every meal really, and of course pita bread.
This mix of different dishes is considered to be a breakfast oriented meal in the modern world today, but is mainly what a typical Arabic meal looks like. The best restaurants for a delicious breakfast in Amman would be Shams El Balad; a beautiful and eccentric restaurant near the Amman’s City Center, Blue fig; for a more modern twist on an Arabic breakfast, and for a healthier menu with a mixture of different food options Books@cafe and Pepper and Pine in the Abdoun which are perfect spots for casual gatherings with friends during the summer time. There are surely a lot more delicious options, but these are personally my go-to places that never disappoint.
What is your favourite place to grab lunch?
As for lunch, all the restaurants I mentioned earlier do serve some really good dishes. however, my all time favourite places for lunch would be Vinaigrette for the best sushi and International dishes in town, Fakhreldin Restaurant for the ideal Arabic meal; where we usually go there as a whole family on the weekends as it serves every traditional dish in mind. If you’re searching for more reasonably priced options, OJ’s is the best place for a delicious healthy salad when you’re in a rush to grab a quick bite or want to get something on the go, Abu Jbarah; known for its impeccable falafel sandwiches stuffed with goodness, wild Jordan for both the best sunset in Amman and really good food, and finally Sushi Den for the best inexpensive sushi.
What is the ideal afternoon activity in a city like Amman?
To pass time in the afternoon and a way to fit the beauty of local craft and art into your schedule, walking around and visiting some shops and galleries is a must. The best shops for local produce in Amman are: Trinitae; the best soap house in the city, Badr Adduja, Al Burgan Handicrafts and Jordan River Foundation for beautiful hand crafted products, We Farm a sustainable and Eco-friendly for some fresh fruit, veg and delicious snacks to go, Izhiman Coffee for all the spices, nuts and dried fruit you need to take back with you and finally Limited Addition for some cute customisable stationary. Moreover, For a glimpse of Amman’s artists and craftsman, the best galleries to visit are Darat al Funun, Wadi Finan Art Gallery, Nabad Art Gallery Orient Gallery, Dar Al-Anda Art Gallery, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and many more. Each of these galleries display a wide variety of local art that will surely take your breath away.
Where are the best places for dinner?
To end the day with a beautiful palette of food and a fancy atmosphere, Yoshi and Ren Chai both serve the best Asian dinner in the city; whether you are craving a fantastic plate of various sushi rolls or are in the mood for an assortment of traditional Chinese dishes from sweet and sour chicken to spring rolls, these two restaurants never fail to have the best service. For a more Italian and romantic atmosphere, Romero is the perfect place to sit with a glass of wine and dine over some delicious fettuccini or any other pasta in mind. However, if you want to take it to the next level and treat yourself to a super elegant outing, Le Capital is the place to go.
In the evening, what is the city like and where do you find yourself?
The hustle and bustle of Amman blooms during the weekends and on Thursdays; the day before the weekend begins. During the week, people usually gather at a friend’s house for a chill night or head to the nice cafes for a drink. My all time favourite cafes with some music and a perfect vibe for someone wanting to have a good time and not wake up exhausted the next day would be Dali near Rainbow Street; another beautiful and young area in Amman. Books@Cafe as I mentioned earlier, is definitely a usual spot to sit and have a cup of coffee with a friend in the evening, where you are still in the middle of the crowd in the Abdoun area; the hang out spot for many youngsters but also quite relaxing.
If you’ve had a busy week and want to let out some steam on the dance floor, Shams El Balad has such a fun bar night every Thursday with an eccentric mixture of music genres. CLSTR is also a famous club that only exclusively opens during specific times of the year, but is the ideal clubbing scene. The Good Pub is also a great place to grab a drink, listen to some music that isn’t too loud to catch up with some friends too. Another chill and cool place to hang out with friends is The Nub; serving good drinks, food and games like darts and a pool table.
In a busy city like Amman, is there anywhere to chill?
Amman is definitely busy, but you can often find the cutest places to chill and escape the crowd. For a huge variety of herbal teas, Turtle Green is the cutest place to grab a book and a cup of tea with your friends. Rumi is also a super hip cafe in Al Weibdeh area which is a must to walk by foot. Seed Healthy for the best smoothies and shakes in town. A cafe known for its various coffee blends is Majnoon Qahwa which is in the city’s typical hotspot. Finally, for a very new and upcoming cafe also in Al Weibdeh area, which is prominent for its art and youthful culture, Manara Art and Culture cafe is the place to b when needing some inspiration and a place to chill with a beautiful view of Amman’s old city; the city centre as we call it.
What is there to do for something fun and different?
Exploring Jordan’s food palettes and aromas is a huge part of one’s entertainment here. However, one of the best things to do on a weekend that I personally love as a local is going to Souq Jara; a lovely market with local products, music and other events that only opens on Fridays during the spring/summer seasons. Another event in the city would be exploring the old city centre of Amman and interacting with its people; that on its own needs a whole day, where you can see many traditional products and clothing designed by the Bedouin women of Jordan, eat from the best food, and explore the little streets filled with graffiti and art.
The events mentioned are super fun when in the city, but leaving the city is when the real breathtaking adventures begin. For a night with nature and the best airbnb to enjoy the fresh air and greenery in Jordan, is Ammar Khammash’s Airbnb in Pella. He is a renowned architect in Jordan with a very aesthetically pleasing accommodation for any enthusiast of nature upon booking. When shifting from the wilderness and greenery, it is crucial to mention the sea spots in Jordan as they are essential to add onto a bucket list when visiting.
The first, would be the Dead Sea, which offers the best spas and resorts for a fun and relaxing few days. The dead sea is known for its high levels in salt that feeds your skin with all the missing nutrients it needs. From applying its miraculous mud to naturally floating on the surface with a book in hand, it is truly an amazing escape from the city.
The second sea spot, which is truly my favourite place is Aqaba; home to the beautiful Red Sea. There are many hotels that accommodate tourists such as Al Manara which is personally my favourite with top services. However, if you do make any new friends, I recommend you dwell with them for a great weekend. From fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling and collecting beautiful shells, my family always seems to have the best memories by the beach in Aqaba. Considering my love for this hidden treasure in Jordan, I’m sure you will love it.
Some other beautiful views and locations for great adventures are scattered amongst Jordan; some near the Desert like Wadi Rum, One of the seven wonders of the world; Petra, and some featuring thee natural hot springs like Wadi Mujib. If you’re looking for a night of star gazing, living in a glass igloo and witnessing the most beautiful red colours of sand dunes, then Wadi Rum is the place to be.
Bedouins living in Wadi Rum offer the chance to eat and live like them, which is a very special culture to learn from, which is great for a family or a group of friends to experience together. On the other hand, if you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway near the natural hot springs, Wadi Mujib is the place for you; healing for the body and super romantic. Leaving the best for last, Petra is on of the most beautiful locations in the world. Witnessing the hand crafted miracles created by the Nabateans is a must. Whether you walk it by foot or ride a camel through the small red streets, it is a location to fill your eyes with so much colour and appreciation for natural wonders.
Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travelers?
In regards to sleeping arrangements in Amman, Weibdeh is a very nice hip area for the young generation. Wild Jordan also allows tourists to rent room and has a primal location near the city centre that is not too far away from the rest of the city. As for locations outside Amman, there are many hotels, resorts and compounds that are mostly very good for tourists.
What season would you recommend visiting?
The ideal seasons to visit Jordan would be Spring and Summer. To get the best out of every part that this country has to offer, July up to September are the best months, where the flowers are blooming, locals are are also on holiday and the weather is pristine.
Is Amman best for a family holiday/friends holiday or couple holiday?
The best part about visiting Jordan is that it has something for everyone, although not as developed as many other countries, I assure you, it offers beauty to all kinds of people and welcomes new visitors at any time.