On a trip to Jordan, is a stay in Amman worthwhile?
I'm planning a short break in Jordan. Is it worth stopping in the capital before we see the sights of Petra in the south?
Yes. Amman at first glance is noisy and polluted, but its old-fashioned charms are well worth seeking out - if you know where to look.
The Roman Amphitheatre is the most impressive Roman site and stands today as the main attraction for tourists. Inside is the Jordan Folklore Museum (00 962 6 4651 742), which recreates the life of local people with exhibits of costumes, furniture, instruments and utensils dating to the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The museum is open every day from 8am to 6pm, except on Friday, when it is open from 9am to 4pm. Entrance costs a Jordanian dinar (Dh5) for foreign nationals.
Also worth a visit is the well-preserved and grand Roman city of Jerash, 50km north of Amman. With soaring arches, a hippodrome and grand pillars, you can readily imagine Roman life here. There are also a variety of shows available to watch.
Amman also does not lack for evening entertainment, thanks to its wide selection of restaurants, cafes, lounges and clubs. If you're in the mood to party with techno and trance music, visit the chic H2O Pool & Lounge at Kempinski Hotel Amman in Shmeisani (www.kempinski.com/amman; 00 962 6 5200 200; open from 8pm to 2am). Experience live entertainment with Arabic singers and shisha at the famous restaurant Jana Al Sharq (00 962 6 4641 879) in Jabal Amman (open from 12pm to 2am) - local dishes worth trying are warak inab (and the mixed grills.
Jordanians love shopping as much as their Middle Eastern neighbours, and Amman is home to many modern shopping centres. The City Mall (www.citymall.jo) on King Abdullah II Street is considered one of the largest malls in Amman. Across its four floors you will find a range of stores, cafes, restaurants, fashion brands, a huge family entertainment zone and a 10-screen cineplex.
For more information about Amman and things to do, visit www.visitjordan.com, the official website of Jordan's tourism board.