Saudi Arabia’s most relaxed and enthralling city
Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s second largest city and its major commercial centre. For centuries, Jeddah has been a trading port and it has a relatively relaxed, cosmopolitan feel. The city has numerous shopping centres, restaurants and cafes, and a waterfront area dotted with modern hotels and beaches. The occasional bikini-clad girl is testament to Jeddah’s more laid back feel in an otherwise stringent Saudi Arabia. Jeddah’s old town or al-Balad is the city’s most interesting area. Here the crumbling coral houses and busy souqs play homage to a bygone time. Jeddah is the main arrival point for those on the Hajj Pilgimage to Mecca and Medina, the sacred cities of Islam and many pilgrims remain in al-Balad. Like other Saudi Arabian cities, nightlife is low-key, free of alcohol and centred around the shisha cafes and coffee shops.
Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s most relaxed city with a fascinating old town district. Visiting the souqs of al-Balad is a magical experience and the waterfront of Corniche offers breathtaking views of the Red Sea. Sample every cuisine imaginable with a cultural melting pot of cooking traditions and browse the stylish shops including the opportunity to purchase gold.
When to Go?
Summers in Jeddah are extremely hot with temperatures often soaring up to 40°C during the day and 30°C at night. In winter Jeddah remains warm with daytime temperatures around 25°C and 15°C at night. Rainfall is rare in Jeddah and usually occurs in December. The busiest time to visit Jeddah is around the Hajj Pilgrimage, which is usually November/ December time.
How to get there?
There are direct flights to Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport (JED) from London Heathrow, and indirect flights from other UK airports. Jeddah’s airport is 35km from the city centre. Flights to Jeddah are most expensive and hardest to come by during the Hajj Pilgrimage. Taxis are available into the city.
Visit the 853-foot high King Fahd Fountain, the tallest fountain in the world. It looks stunning at night when it is illuminated. Wander to the Gold Souq and haggle for 18k or 24k gold. Walk along the Corniche and enjoy the beautiful views of the Red Sea. Stroll around the old town and marvel at the coral houses. Note that all restaurants in Jeddah have separate sections for single men and families. Dating is forbidden but most restaurants allow couples into the family sections. Women should wear a headscarf.