Jeddah, the commercial and entertainment capital of Saudi Arabia, is located on the Red Sea coast and thus offers many forms of aquatic entertainment and sights as well as a plethora of shopping for tourists. From traditional Arabic markets to ultra modern shopping malls. The weather is at it’s best between October to May, but the Red Sea ensures the city does not suffer from the extremes experienced in the inland desert. Hence, a visit can be planned at any time of the year. Being in close proximity to Makkah and Medina being a 4 hour drive away, Jeddah is also known as the Gateway to the Two Holy Cities. It offers tourists an immersion into the Saudi Arabian culture and history through it’s many museums & heritage centers, besides the many recreational activities including amusement parks, gardens, beaches and water sports. For an extended stay, the mountain resort of Taif and desert escapes such as Wabha Crater are added attractions.
- The Red Sea – Corniche, Corals and Marine Activities
- Kings Fahad Fountain
- Floating Mosque
- Medina Gate
- City Squares
- Amusement Parks
- Further Afield
- The Two Holy Cities
The Red Sea – Corniche, Corals and Marine Activities
Jeddah’s nickname “Bride of the Red Sea” is well justified. The Red Sea is the cities playground. The Corniche runs all along the waterfront for over 60 km. North and South of the Corniche there are good beaches. Underwater there are wonderful coral reefs waiting to be explored that offers spectacular marine life, including corals. There are many scuba diving, deep sea diving and water sports clubs in Jeddah that offer you a safe and memorable marine experience. Most are located in the Obhur area along the North Corniche.
Exploring Balad is stepping back in time. This is where Jeddah was founded by fishermen over 2500 years ago and where for over 1000 years hundreds of thousands came ashore on their way to the Holy city of Makkah. Many houses in the old district date back to this period, built from traditional coral stones and palm wood lattices. It is a great place to explore and find your own treasure in the many souks lining the streets.
Kings Fahad Fountain
When visiting the Jeddah Corniche, the King Fahad Water Spring – the world’s largest water fountain, cannot be missed built on the sea shore. Do make it a point to visit the Corniche in the evening to enjoy the sun setting along the Corniche and then viewing the fountain enhanced with excellent lighting.
The Floating Mosque is located on the North Corniche jutting into the Red Sea giving an illusion that it is floating in water. The interior of the Mosque is spectacular and also has provisions for a hot shower in winter. The mosque is a favorite with Makkah pilgrims on a Jeddah excursion. Due to it’s white marble exterior it is also known as the “White Mosque”.
The Bab Medina Gate is one of the only remaining city gate and formed part of the old city wall that used to surround Balad on all sides. This marvelous, huge city gate is made of limestone and is embedded with corals. Like many other city monuments, it is attractively illuminated at night.
Jeddah has many statues and sculptures on key locations including roundabouts. Popular sightseeing spots include Bicycle Square, Lantern Roundabout and Globe Roundabout. Bicycle Square is one of the largest squares in Jeddah which has a splendid sculpture of a large bicycle that is almost 50 feet in height. It has been designed by a Spanish sculptor Julio Lafuente. Do visit the square at night as the bicycle is illuminated spendidly and is a great place for photography in Jeddah.
Jeddah is the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia and is a shoppers paradise. The many shopping districts, malls and souqs offer something for everyone. Hunt for souvenirs and local artifacts in the old town of Balad, Join the locals in the Heraa, Palestine and Gabel Street areas, or spend a day in the high fashion and exclusive boutiques of Tahlia Street, the cities Golden Mile. Alternatively, head for the large shopping malls such as Mall of Arabia, Roshan mall or the Red Sea Mall where international brands rub shoulders with regional favorite boutiques.
Jeddah being the gateway to Makkah and Medina, many of the many city museums offer a view into the rich culture and history of the Islamic Civilisations. The Municipality Museum, showcasing the development of Jeddah from fishing village to modern metropolis, has interesting artifacts from World War I that are a must see. Other museums that should not be missed include Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum, and Nasief House in Balad.
There are a number of amusement parks along the North Corniche, with Attalah Happyland being the newest with some spectacular attractions. The Al Shallal Park, also called “Fakieh Paultry Farms”, boasts the largest roller coaster in Saudi Arabia and also has an ice rink, restaurants that serve multiple cuisines. During the warmer months many shopping malls also feature indoor amusement parks.
There are many natural and man made points of interest not far from Jeddah. These include Ottoman-era forts along the pilgrim trail from Makkah to Medina as well as the mountain town of Taif. This town and the nearby village of Al Hada is built high on top of the Red Sea Escarpment and enjoys a wonderful cool climate. Attractions include the many rose bud nurseries, a spectacular mountain cable car and mountain roads. For the adventurers and explorers, the deserts beckon with interesting destinations such as the volcanoes of Wabha.
The Two Holy Cities
Jeddah is only a 1½ hours easy drive from the Holy City of Makkah and a return trip to the Holy Mosque is easily arranged. Return transfers can be arranged through hotel Concierge desks. The Prophets Mosque in Medina is approximately 4 hours one way. Full day excursions to the city can again be arranged through the hotel Concierge. Note that both cities can only be visited by followers of the Muslim faith, and the city centers of both cities are closed off to all visitors not holding a pre-arranged pilgrimage permit during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.