Medina Travel Guide
Of all the cities in Saudi Arabia, Medina places only second to Mecca in terms of cultural importance. Unfortunately for Non-Muslims, Medina is a closed city. Except for the outskirts by the airports, authorities bar non-believers from entering.
Do NOT try to infiltrate this city – offenders earn a jail sentence, followed by deportation.
If you are Muslim, though, this city is a must-visit in your lifetime. From timeless mosques to sacred grave sites, it contains sights central to your faith.
Come check out our Medina travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Start your sightseeing in Medina by taking in Al-Masjid an Nabawi. Prophet Muhammad himself built this mosque back in the 7th century AD. Today, it is the second largest masjid on Earth and the second holiest site in Islam.
With space for up to two million worshippers, it is capable of handling huge Hajj crowds. Whether you visit then or in the “off-season,” the grave of Prophet Muhammad will be the biggest attraction. You’ll find it in the Green Dome. In addition to The Prophet’s grave, it also contains the tomb of his father-in-laws.
The Quba Mosque is another must-visit masjid that should be on every visitor’s list. According to historians, it was the first mosque ever to be built. Upon Muhammad’s arrival, he placed the first stones for the masjid, leaving the rest to construction crews.
Sadly, though, the mosque that stands today is not the same structure from more than a millennia ago. When the time came for refurbishments in the mid-20th-century, the lead architect wanted to incorporate parts of the ancient mosque into the new structure. However, it proved impossible, so the old Quba Mosque was torn down and replaced with a new building.
Despite this, this place still has historical value. The Quran mentions it as a place where Muhammad prayed while waiting for the arrival of his cousin.
If you have extra time in Medina, make a day trip out to The Seven Mosques. In actuality, this complex contains only six masjids, not seven as it initially did. Start with Al-Fath Mosque – it is said the Prophet Muhammad prayed here during the Battle of the Trench. It ended in victory for Muhammad’s side, thereby granting this site notoriety.
Other masjids of note include Salman Al-Farsi Mosque, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq Mosque, and Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque. The Prophet Muhammad’s lieutenants who took part in the Battle of the Trench gave their names to this masjids.
Pay a visit to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site by dropping by Mada’in Saleh. This archaeological site predates the Islamic era, dating back to the 1st century AD. According to archaeologists, this site was once the southernmost outpost of the Nabatean kingdom.
Little remains of the residential portion of the settlement. However, more than 130 rock-cut tombs survived the eons relatively well. Within, visitors will find rock art in addition to the tomb formations themselves.
Mount Uhud offers more than just sweeping vistas of the Medina area. It played host to a significant battle between the Prophet Muhammad’s forces and those from Mecca. Both sides fought Battle of Uhud here in the year 625 AD.
It is notable that Muhammad’s Muslims almost won the battle. However, his archers, convinced that victory was theirs, abandoned their posts to pillage the Meccan camp. This move allowed the Meccan cavalry to attack Muhammad’s troops, inflicting heavy losses.
This sudden shift in fortune forced the Muslims to retreat. As a result, victory over Mecca would have to wait two more years in the Battle of the Trench. To get a fuller appreciation for this site’s history, we recommend hiring a guide.
Get a solid grounding in the history of Medina by spending time at the Al-Madinah Museum. This institution has a unique atmosphere, as its creators located it inside the old Al-Hejaz Railway Station. Within, 14 galleries relay information on everything from the rise of Islam to the natural history of Medina.
Honour prominent long-dead Muslims by visiting Jannatul Baqi, the oldest Islamic cemetery in Medina. Within, the remains of many of Muhammad’s relatives and friends lie in peace. Lore has it that Muhammad said a prayer every time he walked past this hallowed grounds.
Sadly, it is a shadow of its former self. In the 19th century, Wahhabists razed the cemetery, as their doctrines forbid monuments – this includes gravestones.
Are you tired of sightseeing? Need a place to hide from the withering sun? Spend some time within the air-conditioned confines of Al Noor Mall. You’ll find international brands like Zara here, along with a large food court.