Also known as the White Mosque because of its beautiful while marble exterior, this impressive architectural feat juts out over the water, creating the illusion that it is floating, particularly when lit up at night. Pilgrims on their way to Mecca often make a point to stop here to admire the building and worship.
For a look at the rich sea life in the area and around the world, check out the Fakieh Aquarium. It showcases a wide range of aquatic species, including turtles, sharks, an array of colourful fish and many more forms of marine life. There are also some entertainment options for children and a buffet restaurant in the complex. The dolphin show should not to be missed.
Jeddah's massive old walls were built to protect the city from Portuguese attacks coming from the Red Sea. Although the wall no longer stands, the six impressive gates and towers can still be admired throughout the city. The gates are attractively illuminated after dark, so a nighttime stroll through the old town in search of the gates is a great way to explore Jeddah.
Seafood lovers will not want to skip Jeddah's famous fish market. It can get a bit hectic (not to mention smelly), especially during the morning's catch sale which takes place every day, where the absolute freshest specimens can be bought. Even if you end up not buying anything, the market is a unique experience.
The nearly 2,500-year old history of the Jeddah area is showcased in this superb museum, which has exhibitions on everything from pre-islamic history, though pre-modern civilizations, to the rich Islamic cultural heritage of the city. The complex also contains a mosque and the facade of an old castle.
Located in Jeddah’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel ‘Qasr Al Sharq’, in a quiet city street, this restaurant is the best option if you want to savour flavours of Italian cuisine. This elegant building with its modern décor welcomes you in a cosy atmosphere where the stunning panoramic views will make your gastronomic experience unforgettable.
This restaurant represents the ultimate combination of Indian, Indo-Chinese, Arabian and Tandoori flavours. It offers classical dishes from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The authentic taste and atmosphere may make you feel like you are on an exciting tour of South Indian culinary hot spots. The modest rates will make you want to come again.
Section B is a great burger bar that welcomes its guests with a familiar atmosphere. Food is made entirely of the finest and fresh ingredients. Having the caramelised onions topping with your burger is absolutely essential. Cold drinks are served old-school, and their tasty desserts will leave you wanting more.
Sakura Japanese Restaurant is located at the ground floor of the luxurious Crowne Plaza Hotel. Open seven days a week, it offers high quality Japanese dishes prepared by Sakura head chef and his team. Enjoy a variety of food and drink options throughout the day, from fine dining to lighter meals and relax in the comfortable and bright dining rooms.
The Belajio Resort's premiere dining option, Dar El Qamar offers a huge and varied selection of cuisine styles, ranging from Italian to Indian to Lebanese. Take advantage of the outside seating among the lush gardens that surround the area or the terrace with an enchanting sea view.
Serving up Turkish and Lebanese dishes, Yildizlar has been a local favourite for some time now. Crowds throng here for lunch, and getting a table can be difficult, so it is best to arrive early to be able to savour the world-class grill dishes or the lighter options such as soup or salad.
Titanium Cafe not only serves coffee and tea, along with some snacks and comfort food, but it is primarily a shisha café. Groups of friends gather here to spend an evening together around a hookah, enjoying the interesting flavours offered, the favourite of which is the special double apple, which uses ice to keep the smoke cool.
There are few better experiences in Jeddah than strolling through the narrow ways of Souq Al Alawi, getting lost in the vivid colours of the traditional garments and textiles and the enticing scents of the spices and herbs. Browse the countless stalls at the largest souq in the country and go home with a real find in the form of jewellery or art (and be sure to bargain for a better price).
The much loved Tahlia Center may not be as large or glamorous as some of the other malls in Jeddah, but it is a favourite in the city, especially for those shopping for beauty products. There are also some designer abaya stores and places to buy fine jewellery and accessories.
As one of the largest shopping centres in the city, Mall of Arabia is a very popular place for shopping, eating and entertainment among locals of Jeddah. With a wealth of restaurants and shops, including international brands and smaller boutiques, it provides everything shoppers need.
When strolling and exploring the city please make sure you wear the appropriate attire. Women should be covered from neck to ankle and in certain areas scarves are used to cover the face and head. Shorts and tank tops should not be worn outside of your accommodation by women. For men, loose clothing is recommended and shorts are prohibited. When visiting, please make sure you respect and abide by the laws and culture of the country.
To enter Saudi Arabia, foreign citizens will need a passport valid for at least six months from the time of the visa application. An entry visa is required, and is only granted to those with sponsorship in the country, with the exception of transit passengers that stay less than 18 hours. Tourist visas do exist, but are granted only to selected groups of travellers on a limited basis, and certain geographical restrictions apply in most cases. Always make sure you have an up-to-date passport and valid visa when planning to travel to Saudi Arabia. For further information about visas and passports, and in order to avoid migration complications, it is recommended to contact the embassy or consulate in your country or the one closest to you.
Jeddah is well known for its dry and hot weather but surprisingly it has very pleasant and cool winters. Summers here are extremely hard to handle, as the temperatures rise over 45 degrees. Jeddah is also known for its dust storms which come from the deserts in the Arabian Peninsula. The best time to visit the city is from late October to March when the weather is not unbearable and temperatures are between 10 and 20 degrees.
King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) is the largest airport in Saudi Arabia, located about 20 km north of the city of Jeddah. The famous Hajj terminal is specifically for the use of Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The two regular terminals are 8 km apart, and the only way to get between them is by taxi. This is also the best way to get to the city. Be sure to agree on a price with the driver before stepping into the vehicle.
Taxis are by far the most common way to get around the city for tourists. Buses are not commonly used, but they are very cheap and can be a bit of a cultural experience. Larger buses are government-run and don't follow a schedule. Smaller buses are privately-owned and run and can be a more reliable option. Many chain hotels also have minivan services that take guests from the hotel to some of the commercial areas of the city.
Taxis are a fast and affordable way to move in Jeddah. There are two types: regular yellow taxis are cheaper, but tend to be quite old and sometimes dirty. Newer white taxis, known as "limousines" are air-conditioned and in very good shape. There are also unlicenced taxis, but these are illegal and it is not recommended to take them. One reputable taxi company is Makkah Taxi.