Looking for the best things to do in Jeddah? With many changes going on in Saudi Arabia, you’ll see that it’s time to explore the top Jeddah attractions. Read on to learn more.
Saudi Arabia can sometimes feel a bit forbidding for people in the west. The fact that it is a very religious society compared with what we are used to cannot be denied and visitors should be aware of that.
The evidence of it will be all around you from the moment you arrive. One thing you will soon notice is the absence of entertainment outlets like nightclubs and casinos, which are banned for religious reasons, although some people still play at 777 Casino and other online platforms.
Don’t let any of that put you off visiting though, as the Saudi city of Jeddah has a lot to offer. It is the country’s second biggest city and serves as gateway to the Islamic religion’s two holiest places: Medina and Mecca.
That makes it intriguing for anyone interested in Saudi or Islamic history, but Jeddah is also one of the country’s cultural centres. To give you an idea of what you can expect if you venture to Jeddah, I’ve put together this guide to the city.
The Best Things To Do in Jeddah
You will not find the sort of nightlife in Jeddah that you would expect in other major cities. There are places where you can party in the Middle East, but this is not really one of them – you need to go across the border to Dubai for that.
Jeddah is suited to people who want to explore the mysteries and wonder of a culture radically different to our own, although it does have some standard entertainment too. The best time to visit is early in the year, as the summers will be too hot for most westerners, but what should you see and do while you are there?
1- Visit the Al Rahma Mosque
It doesn’t matter whether you are religious or not, the Islamic faith and culture are at the heart of Jeddah and no visit is complete without taking some of that in.
Besides, the Al Rahma Mosque is a stunning architectural achievement that seems to float on the waters of the Red Sea when the tide comes in. It’s definitely one of the top attractions in Jeddah.
That time of the day, around sunset, is the best time to go. Inside you will find beautiful stained glass windows as well as traditional Islamic art and artefacts.
2- Do some shopping
Not surprisingly, one of the top things to do in Jeddah is going shopping! The modern world is not completely absent and it provides you with more than one shopping option.
There are over 25 malls in the city, with the Mall of Arabia being the biggest and best, thanks to its hundreds of boutiques spread over three storeys of vast floor space.
When you are in the Mall of Arabia, it can feel like you have been transported to London, New York or Paris, as all of the latest designer clothes and electronic gadgets are on sale there.
More unique and traditional shopping choices are also available though. The best place to go for those is the Souq.
This is a huge maze-like market close to King Fahd Road and the best way to navigate it is to understand that it is split into sections for different countries. The sounds, colours and scents of these mingling cultures make the Souq an intoxicating place to spend some time and money.
3- Take the family to Happy Land
Jeddah is a much more family-friendly holiday destination than you may think. It is home to the Happy Land Park, an amusement park that has all manner of fairground rides as well as a rink for ice skating.
The presence of a food court for snacks means that the whole family can spend hours just exploring the park, which is close to the centre of the city and overlooks the Red Sea.
4- Sunbathe on a private beach
There is plenty of sun to be enjoyed in Jeddah at most times of the year and the best place to soak up that sunshine is Silver Sands Beach. Found on the Red Sea coast, it is an exclusive private beach, but don’t worry – roughly £35 will secure you access to it.
It is better to visit during the week, when the beach is less heavy with tourists, and you will even find a cafe for refreshments.
5- Go Scuba Diving
The Red Sea is home to beautiful fauna and flora, as well as marine life, making it ideal for some oceanic exploration. Scuba diving in Jeddah is a very popular activity and a chance to get up close with all manner of colourful tropical fish as well as pristine coral.
Be sure to have the appropriate diving suit though, because the ocean is cooler during January and February.
Even this is only really scratching the surface of Jeddah’s cultural, entertainment and natural world wonders.