Jeddah Travel Guide
Jeddah has a long history as an important Arabian trading city. That continues today, as it is Saudi Arabia’s largest Red Sea port. In recent years, the government has made investments to transform Jeddah into a top 100 global city ASAP.
Visitors will see evidence of this along the waterfront. From Ferris Wheels to the world’s highest fountain, Jeddah is undoubtedly an interesting place to visit.
Come check out our Jeddah travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Jedda, Saudi Arabia.
The old city of Jeddah, or Al-Balad, should top the agenda of cultural travellers in Jeddah. The name translates to “The City” – however, due to its crumbling nature, most Jeddah residents moved out years ago.
Additionally, after the discovery of oil in the mid-20th-century, its narrow lanes couldn’t handle modern cars. Today, immigrants inhabit this UNESCO World Heritage Site, giving it a charming ambience.
In all honesty, the buildings here have seen better days. However, the Saudi crown has sunk $13 million to begin restoring the worst-affected structures. If decaying buildings are your thing, though, you’ll have plenty of photographic opportunities to seize here.
After exploring Old Jeddah, learn more about its past by visiting the Al Tayebat International City. This complex was built to resemble parts of Old Jeddah as they existed centuries ago. As you walk through its 12 buildings, you’ll find galleries showing off pottery, coins, tribal costumes, and more.
With a collection of 60,000 pieces and a floor space of 10,000 square metres, this museum is massive. Plan to spend at least a half-day in here (a great way to hide from the harsh midday sun!) If you are short on time, hire a guide. They will take you to the “can’t miss” parts of this institution and provide additional background as well.
Before leaving the gates of the Old City of Jeddah, check out the Gabel Street Souq. While Al-Balad looks different today, this market serves the same purpose it has for centuries. As you walk through its stalls, you’ll find merchants hawking traditional Saudi clothing, gold jewellery, and other goods. You’ll also find some great street food vendors here – be sure to try the shawarma.
Jeddah is home to many amazing masjids. However, as a coastal city, none have the atmosphere Al Rahma Mosque has. It was built atop shallows on Jeddah’s waterfront, earning it the nickname, The Floating Mosque.”
With fantastic sunset views, it is a popular place for locals and Islamic pilgrims to pray in the evening. It’s also a great shooting location for photographers, who set up on the Corniche during golden hour.
Over the past two decades, several Asian countries have traded titles for the most prominent structures in the world. For example, the distinction of having the world’s tallest skyscraper passed from Taiwan to Malaysia to the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia is currently winning the race for the world’s tallest flagpole. In 2014, its government completed the Jeddah Flagpole. It stands at a height of 171 metres, or 561 feet, and weighs over 500 tonnes. It took the title from Tajikistan, whose capital city Dushanbe previously had the tallest flagpole at 541 feet.
Why stop at flagpoles, though? Move on from the world’s tallest flagpole to the highest fountain – King Fahd’s Fountain. Construction began in 1980 and wrapped up in 1983. Shooting water to a height of 260 metres, it has held the world record since its activation.
At any given moment, 16 tonnes of water from the Red Sea is shot skyward at speeds exceeding 370 kilometres per hour. Needless to say, this is one jet of water you don’t want to get sprayed with! Plan your visit during evening hours, as over 50 spotlights light up this fountain after dark.
When the oppressive heat of the day gives way to the cooler air of dusk, the Jeddah Corniche comes alive with locals. In total, it is mindbogglingly long, with 110 kilometres of coastal pathways. Its more central portions are where you’ll find the lion’s share of the attractions.
These include outdoor sculpture parks, fishing piers, BBQ stalls, and sports fields. However, a massive multi-billion dollar development will add a botanical garden, aquarium, and a Ferris Wheel soon.
Being on the ocean does little to mitigate the heat of an Arabian summer. Despite temperatures in the high 30s Celsius rather than 40s or 50s, the humidity makes it feel worse. On days like this, hide from the unbearable heat by hitting up a shopping centre like the Red Sea Mall.
You’ll find it in the northern suburbs of Jeddah. Inside, it has 242,000 square metres of shopping space. You’ll also find a multiplex cinema, scores of restaurants, and what was formerly the world’s tallest indoor water fountain.