Jeddah Travel Guide

The commercial capital of Saudi Arabia represents both the traditional and modern aspects of Arabic life. It has everything from historical buildings, museums and famous mosques, to world-class shopping malls, international restaurants and excellent diving spots.
People from all over the Middle East come to Jeddah, for business, religious or tourism-related reasons.

Attractions and Things to do in Jeddah

The city of Jeddah has everything you could possibly need for an enjoyable visit.
Whether you’re interested in exploring its famous sites and landmarks, or want to experience something a bit more adventurous, you can find it all right here. It is also the arrival point for pilgrims from all over the world – the closest airport to the Holy Mosque in Mecca.
There’s so much to do – but we’re going to recommend out top five activities.

Fakieh Aquarium
An array of interesting sea-life creatures are hosted here at the Fakieh Aquarium. There are hundreds of different fish species, sharks, turtles and more. There’s also an ice-skating rink, a buffet overlooking the Red Sea and an arcade available for children.
Price: SR 50
Opening Times: 10am-10pm every day (Ladies only visits are Wednesday evenings)

Al Tayibat City Museum for International Civilisation
This top-quality museum comes highly recommended. It consists of four floors, full of intriguing artefacts, manuscripts, old weaponry and pottery that paints an incredibly vivid image of Saudi and Islamic history.
Price: SR 50
Opening Times: Saturday-Thursday, 8am-noon and 5pm-9pm

Corniche
If you’d like to get a taste of real Jeddah life, and fancy taking a relaxing stroll, then the Corniche should be of great interest to you. At 30km long, it runs by the Red Sea and is typically filled with locals enjoying the warm weather - eating picnics, catching up with old friends, or even studying for college exams.
Price: Free
Opening Times: Always Open

King Fahd Fountain
While you’re wondering down the Corniche, you might want to stop and witness the highest fountain in the world. The King Fahd Fountain was donated to the city, by King Fahd, in 1985 and sprays the water at an amazing speed. It actually leaves the pump at 230mph – reaching 850ft.
Price: Free
Opening Times: Always Open

Diving in the Red Sea
Like many cities based by the Red Sea, Jeddah takes advantage of this by offering scuba diving services. You can normally book a diving weekend package with a hotel located on the sea-front, where you’ll see some remarkable underwater sights.
Price: Depends on Hotel
Opening Times: Depends on Hotel


Eating Out

Without doubt, one of the best things about visiting a new city is experiencing the different types of food they have to offer.
Like most Middle Eastern urban centres, Jeddah offers a variety of dishes from around the world – but naturally specialises in Arabic cuisine.
With that in mind, here are our top five picks for you to check out during your visit:


Local Favourites


Name: Piatto
Budget: Low
Type: Italian
Piatto provides its customers with the full Italian dining experience. The decoration, the atmosphere and, of course, the food can place you right in the heart of Naples. It’s actually a chain restaurant that you can find throughout Saudi – so if you’re travelling around, and are looking for somewhere to eat, you know you can trust the Piatto name.

Name: Yildizlar
Budget: Low
Type: Turkey/Lebanese
Yildizlar is a restaurant particularly popular with the locals. It’s delicious food, which mixes dishes from Turkey and Lebanon, is available at very affordable prices. While it can get quite busy, Yildizlar is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Name: Al-Shawly Corner
Budget: Medium
Type: Filipino

With a large Asian expat community, it’s only natural that there are a host of Asian-style restaurants throughout Jeddah. And Al-Shawly Corner is one of the best. One of its selling points is the uniquely fast and reliable service, but the delicious, fresh food is why people repeatedly come here.

Name: Al Khayam
Budget: High
Type: Middle Eastern
This extravagant, luxurious restaurant is the perfect place to dine for couples. It’s decorated in red and gold to give off a romantic vibe, and the dishes are unforgettable. The Iranian breads on offer, for example, are amazing, while the variety of kebabs and caviars will leave you wanting everything off the menu.

Name: Le Ciel
Budget: High
Type: International (mainly French/Italian)
The amazing food is just one reason to visit Le Ciel – the other is the fact that this restaurant is revolving, providing its guests with a 360 degrees view of Jeddah. It’s incredibly high-brow – as evidenced by the gold sinks in the bathrooms, and will take a huge chunk out of your wallet. But if you’re looking for the ultimate dining experience – this is it.

A few things to be aware of…
Brunch is very popular in the Middle East – make sure to experience it at least once!
Restaurants are closed during fasting hours during Ramadan
Be sure to respect Islamic laws – Saudi Arabia is a conservative country


Hotels in Jeddah


There are a variety of hotels in Jeddah for you to choose from, many of which offer an enjoyable, comfortable stay.
Some are suitable for a more modest visit, while others provide a more luxurious service. Either way, there’s something for every budget.

Here are a few that we would recommend:

Radisson Blu Hotel (5 Star)
Price: SR 522 – SR 861 ($139-$229, £97-£160)
The very peak of Middle Eastern luxury. You’ll find a Radisson Blu Hotel in many cities across the region, and for good reason. You won’t find better service, friendlier staff or a more convenient location for all your business dealings anywhere else.

Mercure Jeddah Al Hamra (3 Star)
Price: SR 554 – SR 770 ($148-$205, £103-£143)
Although the Mercure hotel offers a more affordable, modest accommodation – it still provides a number of first-class services to make your visit extra special. All rooms are air-conditioned, have free Wi-Fi and access to 24-hour room service. It’s just a 20 minute drive from the King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Movenpick Hotel Jeddah (4 Star)
Price: SR 641 – SR 1,141 ($171-$304, £119-£212)
The Movenpick Hotel in Jeddah is based in a fantastic location. Its close by to consulates, ministries and the Ministry of Interior – so if you have business at any of these places, then it makes for a great choice. Rooms were recently renovated and offer spectacular views of the city.

Albilad Hotel (4 Stars)
Price: SR 1,061 – SR 1,141 ($282-$304, £197-£212)
Another four star establishment, the Albilad is based right by the Red Sea. Its ultra-modern facilities allow it to host prestigious guests, who are either in town on business or looking to enjoy a relaxing break by the sea. It also has a variety of tropical gardens to wonder through.

Jeddah Hilton Hotel (5 Stars)
Price: SR 989 – SR 2,383 ($264-$635, £184-443)
The famous Hilton name can be found practically anywhere, including Jeddah. It houses a total of 388 rooms, and has event space capable of accommodating more than 3,500 guests. If you’ve got the budget, then the Jeddah Hilton offers the perfect stay.


The Weather in Jeddah

While Jeddah doesn’t get quite as hot as other cities in Saudi Arabia, such as Riyadh, it is still typically extremely warm for most of the year. It is also a very humid city, due to its location by the sea. However all buildings are air conditioned and so you can still feel comfortable despite the heat!
The April – November months post higher temperatures than at any point during the year, normally in the 30+ degrees range.
It gets a little colder from December – March, but is still generally quite warm.


Events

Jeddah has a number of fun events spread throughout the year – here are three you should definitely check out:


Name: International Watch and Jewellery Show
Date: January
This exhibit takes place over a period of four days every January, with the finest jewellery and watches from around the world on display. It takes place in the Jeddah Hilton Hotel, with guests invited to check out the exhibits, and talk to professionals about their work.

Name: Saudi Food Event
Date: May
The country’s international food event occurs every May, when individuals within the restaurant business come together to view and discuss the latest kitchen technologies. It’s also a great opportunity to sample some wonderful Arabic dishes.

Name: Jeddah Summer Festival
Date: July
It’s the biggest non-religious festival in Jeddah, a time when the people of the city can come together and enjoy various activities (such as racing), live music and entertainment. A number of free events are held across Jeddah, while shopping malls are generally full.


Transport

Currently, there is no comprehensive public transport system within Jeddah. There is a bus service, but this is generally used by foreign workers getting to their place of work.
If you are visiting Jeddah, then the best way to get around is via car. This means you need to either rent your own for the duration of your stay, or rely on taxis.
There are plenty of taxis around that can be hailed from the streets, and you can also use apps such as Careem and Uber.
Don’t forget – women cannot drive in Saudi, and must be accompanied by a male relative when travelling throughout the city.


Other Considerations

Religious Culture
Saudi Arabia is an extremely religious country, with many of its laws based on the Islamic faith.
This means that you must show the upmost respect for the religion during your stay. Things such as alcohol are illegal. Prayer times are also an important part of the day – it is recommended that you take note of them during your visit, as shops and services close during these periods.
Jeddah is one hour away by car from Mecca, the holiest city in Islam which is visited by millions of pilgrims each year as they perform Hajj or Umrah.


Currency
The Saudi Riyal is used in Jeddah. SR 1 is worth around $0.27 and £0.19.
This source states that the cost of living in Jeddah is around 45% lower than it is in London, and 50% lower than New York City.


Insider Tips
As mentioned, pay particular attention to the religious culture of Jeddah. It’s a conservative place – if any of your behaviour is seen as offensive (even unintentionally), then you could be arrested.
Awareness for prayer times is also essential. You can find out what those times are here.
Finally, please note that the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday making up the weekend.
Friday is an especially popular day for brunch – something you should definitely check out during your visit.
To experience the wonderful culture of Jeddah yourself, book a cheap flight to the city today with flynas.


Key Facts

Weather

Time & date

Local Time

Date

Time Zone

About

Area

1,686 km2 (651 sq mi)

Population

3,976,000 (2014)

Population density

2,500/km2 (6,400/sq mi)

More info

Currency

Saudi Riyal

Languages

Arabic, English.