An Insider’s Guide to Amman
Nafsika Skourti gives us the go-to spots in Amman. It’s not just Petra!
Amman is bustling, modern, capital city Jordan. Represented by its chic ambassador, Queen Rania of Jordan, this contemporary metropolis has so much to discover – from its rich history, to its delicious food scene and its innumerable beautiful buildings.
Amman-based fashion designer, and Vogue favourite, Nafsika Skourti, has curated a special guide for MILLE, sharing her local knowledge of the city’s best gems.
Where to stay
You can never go wrong at the Four Seasons – plus they have a great restaurant.
You’ll like it if: You need to be in the heart of the city.
We love: The view.
Always a good option. I would recommend looking for an Airbnb in Weibdeh. It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in Amman and has got a really unique and authentic vibe.
You’ll like it if: you are on a budget and want to be closer to downtown but still stay somewhere nice.
We love: the cool cafes and restaurants in the Weibdeh area – they’re all within easy walking distance.
Amman is 100,000 times cooler with a local.
You’ll like it if: you want to be immersed in a typical Jordanian household.
We love: learning new traditions and tasting local cuisine whilst feeling right at home.
Where to shop
A little piece of New York City in Amman – The Rail has a great selection of clothing and is immaculately curated by Hannah Rasekh and her sisters. It’s a wonderful place to go find something that will make or complete an outfit.
You’ll like it if: You are looking for a unique addition to your wardrobe.
We love: the modern slant of each piece – every item is super-sophisticated.
After a week in Jordan you’re going to want a beautiful jar of zaatar, olive oil, or sumac to take home. Get it from here.
You’ll like it if: You’re a foodie, you will be able to get the best Jordanian food products (which also happen to make great gifts).
We love: the pomegranate molasses.
A must-see if you’re curious about Arabic pop culture and humour. They work with really witty, talented artists who make graphic T-shirts with Arabic/English puns along with other fun accessories.
You’ll like it if: you like fun gadgets, the store has an amazing choice.
We love: the true millennial take on our humour – Arabs are actually really funny and Mlabbas reminds us of that.
Nisreen, the owner of the store, makes artisanal cheeses and dairy products and works with real shepherds. Every Saturday morning – when milk is in season – Nisreen has an open house in her kitchen where locals and ex-pats gather around a cheese tasting table.
You’ll like it if: you’re a cheese lover, not lactose-intolerant, and are passionate about great probiotic dairy.
We love: how passionate and educated Nisreen is about dairy.
The Soap House
The Soap House is a cute family business transformed into a success story. The place smells amazing with its large range of beauty products from soaps to scrubs.
You’ll like it if: you believe that smelling great is the ultimate luxury.
We love: the packaging.
Jordan River Foundation
Local Jordanian Crafts turned into home décor and accessories.
You’ll like it if: you want contemporary Jordanian pieces in your house.
We love: the training programs offered to empower women and children, and having a coffee in their beautiful garden at their showroom on Rainbow street.
Our go-to concept store in Amman. Shams Shop is a carefully curated store by founder Maha Dahmash that combines international and regional home décor as well as plants, flowers, and more.
You’ll like it if: good taste in your house, or want to send a thoughtful gift, or just a shopping experience in a beautiful 1940’s house in the heart of Jabal Amman.
We love: the displays and that it’s adjacent to Shams El Balad café.
Tumayr is run by Amani Safarini, a landscape designer and plant freak, the store offers good looking healthy plants, garden accessories, and tools for gardeners.
You’ll like it if: you’re into turning your house into a jungle.
We love: The recommendations and plant care tips provided by Amani, who is a master.
Where to eat
Jasmine House Art and Food
Artsy setting, meaningful and great food. Go eat incredible homemade pasta in an art gallery setting that features really great photography exhibitions.
You’ll like it if: you enjoy art and food.
We love: the interiors, and that everything from the food to the floors is made from the heart. Be sure to ask about their story.
Fancy place with fancy people in a fancy setting. Everything is excellent from the floor to the wine to the lighting. One of those see and be seen places.
You’ll like it if: you want perfection.
We love: the beautiful design and decor of the location. It has a gorgeous Art Deco mosaic floor, and a secret bar in the back.
Fatty Dabs offer the best burger in town. The atmosphere isn’t anything special, but the food is top notch.
You’ll like it if: you are looking for a good steak sandwich – it’s delicious.
We love that we: can go in sweatpants. It’s super low-key.
If you are on a health kick, this place is the spot for the best juices, smoothies and other guilt-free snacks.
You’ll like it if: you appreciate good branding.
We love: that you can buy MedShed from them. Best snacks in Jordan – check them out and don’t forget to stock up before you go to Wadi Rum or on any other excursions!
Best chicken wings in Jordan hands dowwnnnn. They also have good seafood and grilled meats. Sit all the way upstairs (it’s 3 floors) and enjoy the view.
You’ll like it if: you want to experience downtown Amman and are on a budget, but still want a multiple course meal at great value.
We love: that they serve alcohol here and that the food is truly finger lickin’ good.
This is the most authentic cooking experience in Amman. The owners are passionate about great products and home cooked food, and you can take cooking classes.
You’ll like it if: you want to learn how to make delicious Arabic food yourself, and are looking for more than just a meal.
We love: the cozy atmosphere created when everybody is cooking together. It’s a great place to meet people and make new friends
Shams Al Balad
Shams al Balad is the best brunch place ever! The restaurant is located in the heart of Downtown. Be sure to check out their shop upstairs.
You’ll like it if: you love a leisurely and delicious brunch experience. It’s also perfect for vegetarians.
We love: sitting outside on their beautiful terrace. And their new dinner menu.
Where to hangout
Amman’s very own micro-brewery. I don’t drink beer but people who do are pretty passionate about it. Go to the brewery on a Saturday and hangout (it’s 20-minutes from the city center and has an amazing view). You should also get a tour of the place, it’s got a pretty inspiring story!
You’ll like it if: you are into craft beers.
We love: watching the sunset behind of the rolling hills of Fuheis
Off the record
A cool speakeasy bar with good tunes and a small quality menu. Cocktails here are great. It’s also got great lighting (lol).
You’ll like it if: you are looking for a drink in a stylish, low-key setting.
We love: the food!
About the closest you can get to an actual pub in Amman. Known for their great live music and band scene.
You’ll like it if: you want a chill hang out spot.
We love: it on a Saturday.
Cozy and relaxed bar / tapas spot. Be sure to sit outside on their beautiful patio during the summer.
You’ll like it if: you want a good bar where you can still have a conversation.
We love: that the owners sometimes let you plug in your own iPod.
This café is the go-to hangout for Weibdeh’s hipsters and expats. The corner location and outdoor seating makes it a great place to people watch and meet friends. Plus they make great cappuccinos, Turkish coffee, and ice coffee.
You’ll like it if: you need a caffeine pick-me-up and want to experience Amman’s lively coffee culture.
We love: the combination of Yemeni Tea and cardamom cake. All of the teas come in super cute little teapots too.
Lives up to its name. Good prices, good vibes and good beer.
You’ll like it if: you want a fun night out.
We love: when Isam (the DJ) plays hip-hop there.
Where to party
Cluster is Amman’s only pop-up club.
You’ll like it if: You want to dance to great music.
We love: That it’s a pop-up club.
A lively new spot that’s located in the basement of Blue Fig bar and restaurant. Home to Amman’s first record shop.
You’ll like it if: you’re looking for a cool night with good music.
We love: that you can go in your sneakers.
What to visit
Located on top of one of the original seven hills of Amman, the Citadel contains the ancient ruins of both the Roman Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace. But the stunning 360° view of Amman is the real reason I love this place and one of my favourite ways to introduce someone to the city.
You’ll like it if: you are a history buff or just want a really great photo-op.
We love: the little archaeological museum there – enough beautiful artifacts that you feel very cultured, but not so many that you leave exhausted.
Excursions outside of Amman
The most magnificent, spiritual desert. There’s just something about it. Do a Bedouin camel ride before sunset, or rent out 4x4s to go deeper in, then camp out under the stars and just feel at one with the universe.
You’ll like it if: you want to be completely floored by nature.
We love: that no matter what you feel about outdoor camping, there is an overnight option for you – from luxury ‘glamping’ to more authentic bare-bones tents.
A must. I haven’t been in ages but every time I meet someone who has just been, their reaction reminds me how grand it is.
You’ll like it if: you want to feel like you just discovered a hidden ancient civilization. It’s described as “a rose red city half as old as time.”
We love: the dramatic entrance and that it’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
It’s the lowest point on earth, you float in the water, and it’s amazing for your skin. Enough said!
You’ll like it if: you like lounging by the beach or pool.
We love: the mineral rich mud, and that it’s nature’s oldest spa.
There are a bunch of Wadis filled with water and they’re soo fun. Great outdoor adventures when it’s too hot to do anything else.
You’ll like it if: you are an adrenaline junkie.
We love: the action-packed waterfall hikes.
Overlooking Dana’s wildlife reserve, Feynan is a 26-room adobe lodge the colour of the desert around it, with solar powered showers, candlelight at night and delicious vegetarian dinners, making it a peaceful retreat for wilderness- and nature-lovers.
You’ll like it if: you want to connect to nature.
We Love: that you feel like you’ve gone back in time
Art galleries and design spaces
Darat al Funun
This may be one of Jordan’s oldest private art collections. They have really interesting art and history exhibitions here, but the space alone is worth a visit. It’s located in a couple of beautiful historic old houses, and there are also archaeological remains of a Byzantine church on the property, where they sometimes do movie nights in the summer.
You’ll like it if: you want to learn about the regional art scene. It’s the OG of art in Amman.
We love: having coffee on their scenic terrace cafe overlooking the city.
Great gallery that focuses on contemporary Arab art.
You’ll like it if: you want to discover local artists.
We love: the gorgeous historic building where its located.
The place to go for photography, poster art, and silkscreen prints.
You’ll like it if: you’re into buying prints, or arts for your house.
We love: that it’s very well curated.
Dar al Anda
A venue comprised of several old houses, each connected by beautiful terraces, leading into exhibition spaces
You’ll like it if: you want an art gallery experience with a view.
We love: their location and exhibitions.
Wadi Finan Gallery
Wadi Finan is housed within a small-scale street level showroom, and a beautiful historical house with a garden right on the same block.
You’ll like it if: you’re walking around old Amman, and into beautiful low-key art surprises.
We love: their openings.
Turbo is one of the leading independent design studios in Amman.
You’ll like it if: you’re into finding cool spaces in downtown Amman.
We love: their bright yellow espresso machine, tall Bamboo trees, and their tiger sculpture.
Eyen is a multidisciplinary design space in Amman, run by Omar El-Zo’bi and Yousef Abedrabo.
You’ll like it if: you’re into art/design publications, they have a library filled with the greatest magazines and print.
We love: their good graphics really turn me on, so ya.
Arini is a design studio specializing in architecture, design, curation, and research.
You’ll like it if: you’re into non-traditional architectural practices.
We love: their canopy installation at Amman Design Week 2017.
MMAG is a new gallery space, library and upcoming art school.
You’ll like it if: you want a gallery experience inside a meticulously renovated historical house.
We love: their spaces, their gardens, and the romantic architecture of the yet to be renovated villa.
Makan Makan Makan
Makan Makan Makan hosts its annual artists residency program ‘Spring Sessions’.
You’ll like it if: you want to know more about the Jordanian art scene.
We love: that most of the talks and workshops provided for the resident artists are accessible to the public as well.