Things to do in Jeddah
Jeddah is considered the most cosmopolitan city in Saudi Arabia, and the constant expansion of the concrete threatens to engulf the beautiful coral architecture of the Old Town, which is in a sad state of disrepair. However, some buildings like the Naseef House have been restored to their former glory, complete with camel-friendly ramps.
The Souk Al Alawi is a fascinating place, even if you aren't there to buy. The biggest bazaar in Jeddah, the narrow streets are bursting with merchandise, the market is especially busy during hajj. Another market worth seeing is the fish market in Al-Balad, where dozens of species ranging from hammerhead sharks to squid are sold at auction between 5am and 9am.
Another popular place for sightseeing in Jeddah is the 22-mile (35km) Corniche, a busy meeting place where families and friends gather for picnics and other activities on warm summer nights. A number of interesting sculptures line the promenade north of the port.
To learn something about Jeddah's history, visit the Al-Tayibat City Museum for International Civilisation, which has more than 300 rooms filled with fascinating artefacts ranging from beautiful Islamic manuscripts to ancient pottery and furniture.
Travellers wanting to see a different side of Jeddah can explore the abundant sea life in the Red Sea. Scuba diving in Jeddah is a popular activity, with several stunning coral reef systems and shipwrecks in the area. Above the surface is the incredible King Fah's Fountain that sprays seawater over 1,000 feet (312m) into the air. While the fountain is visible throughout the city, visitors can go to Al Andalus pier to get a closer look.
Souq Al Alawi
The oldest and most traditional market in Saudi Arabia, the Souq Al Alawi in Jeddah is a wonderful way to immerse oneself into local culture and see how shopping among traders and …
Souq Al Alawi
The oldest and most traditional market in Saudi Arabia, the Souq Al Alawi in Jeddah is a wonderful way to immerse oneself into local culture and see how shopping among traders and pilgrims is done in this unique part of the world. In this bustling market, visitors can find anything from beautiful Islamic art, to one of a kind Arabic jewellery. Crowded and buzzing, the market has made a name for itself and is truly a sight to behold. Visitors are encouraged to bargain, with haggling being the name of the game.
Address Al Alawi Lane
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Mecca is the holiest city in the Islamic world and is the direction towards which the world's Musli…
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Mecca is the holiest city in the Islamic world and is the direction towards which the world's Muslims pray five times per day. The pilgrimage to Mecca as part of the Hajj is the centrepiece of Islam's Five Pillars and a peak experience in the life of any devout Muslim. Unfortunately, the city cannot be visited by non-Muslims.
The key sites in Mecca are the Masjid al-Haram, the Grand Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the world and can accommodate one million worshippers; Jabal Rahmah At Arafah, the tall white pillar marking the place where Adam and Eve met after 200 years of separation; and Muzdalifah, where pilgrims pray and collect stones to be used in the Hajj rituals. Hira, another important landmark, is a cave on the mountain Jabal Al-Nûr where Mohammed received his first revelations from the angel Jibreel.
Mecca is located in the Sirat Mountains, 45 miles (72km) from Jeddah. The city's entire economy depends on the Hajj, and the large number of pilgrim immigrants from all over the globe have made it one of the most diverse in the Muslim world. The area is also considered an important archaeological site, with fossil discoveries dating back nearly 30 million years.
Located in the mountains near Mecca, Ta'if is a popular summer holiday resort in Saudi Arabia. One of the few places in the region open to non-Muslims, Ta'if is a lush region known…
Located in the mountains near Mecca, Ta'if is a popular summer holiday resort in Saudi Arabia. One of the few places in the region open to non-Muslims, Ta'if is a lush region known for its rose farms, as well as grapes, pomegranates and honey production; there are said to be more than 3,000 gardens in the area. The fragrant valleys are especially good for hiking, but those less keen on a workout can take a cable car to the top of the mountain in Al Hada. There are also some good restaurants and shops in Ta'if, and a popular souvenir is the rose water and perfume made from the rose farms in the area.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Ta'if, such as the Al Rudaf Park, a large natural park with interesting rock formations and a small zoo. Around 25 miles (40km) to the north is the Rock Carving Site that was the site of a huge pre-Islamic souq or gathering place. Another interesting place is Wadi Mitna, the sanctuary for the Prophet Mohammed in the year 662. Visitors to Ta'if should also be sure to visit Al Shafa, a small village high in the mountains with incredible views. Non-Muslim visitors to Ta'if should be aware that they will need to take the non-Muslim Bypass when driving from Jeddah, which adds a few miles to the journey.