For centuries, Jeddah has been a meeting point for traders, travelers and pilgrims in the Red Sea. It is a major port, an important commercial center and the second largest city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, famous for its wealth of restaurants, cafes and shopping districts and for its comparatively liberal social life. But to many the city is more important because it is a gateway for millions of pilgrims on their way to the holiest places in Islam: Mecca and Medina. It is a grand city with history, personality and tons of opportunity.
1 riyal (SAR) = 100 halalas
The working week is generally from Sun-Thu with some businesses open Saturday mornings. Government offices: 7:30am-2:30pm. Banks: 9:30am-4:30pm. Private businesses: 8am-12pm and 4pm-8pm.
Saudi Tourist & Travel Bureau Ltd.
Center Al Madinah, Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah Rd, Mishrifah, Jeddah
+966 2 665 9251
Closed on Friday
With a population of about four million inhabitants, Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, and its long history as a major port and important commercial center is clearly palpable in the cosmopolitan mix of its people. Gathering millions of Muslim pilgrims on their way to Mecca and Medina throughout its history, the city has become an amalgamation of people and cultures, flavors and aromas, customs and traditions. Nowhere is this tradition more evident than in Al-Balad, the old town, which showcases the city's architectural past with its white coral buildings, narrow alleyway souks and old city gates.
But it is also a city of fun and entertainment, as it is of fine dining, elegant cafes and great shopping. It is a place where the country's wealthy come to enjoy and indulge in the city's famous seafood and liberal attitude. The fabulous Corniche is the very essence of leisure, with friends and families enjoying pleasant strolls along the water, sunset picnics on the grass or parties at the hotels and beach resorts all along the 35 kilometers of walkway.
Many of the city's attractions and entertainment can be found along the corniche, from bizarre sculptures and a record-breaking fountain to parks, restaurants and museums. But savvy travelers will also want to stray a bit from there to discover the old town with its white coral buildings and historic city gates, or visit some of the city's fantastic museums. There are also mosques, markets and a top-notch aquarium to explore, so visitors to Jeddah are sure to have a full itinerary.
Al-Rahma Mosque (Floating Mosque)
Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum
Pilgrims, traders and voyagers have been coming to Jeddah for centuries, bringing with them the delicacies from their own lands and cultures. As a result, Jeddah's dining scene today is rich in variety and quality. The city boasts a wealth of fine international restaurants, bringing together flavors from around the world, which are then combined with local ingredients to create truly unique dishes. Visitors to Jeddah will not go hungry.
Chennai Darbar Restaurant
Sakura Japanese Restaurant
Jeddah has a long history with coffee and tea, as traders and travellers often brought different and exotic varieties of beans and leaves. Today visiting cafés is one of the city's most beloved pastimes. Friends and families gather at the numerous Arabic and Western-style cafés to enjoy hot cappuccinos, fresh teas and fruity shishas.
The cultural environment in Saudi Arabia is highly conservative. Religious law forbids the sale or consumption of alcohol throughout Saudi Arabia, so there are no bars or nightclubs. Instead evening social activities are centred on shopping or dining out in one of the city’s many restaurants or cafés whilst indulging in a delicious mocktail (a mix of fresh fruit juices) or strong Arabic coffee.
Shopping in Jeddah, like the city itself, is a mix of old and new. Centuries-old souks still function as the commercial blood vessels of the city, selling everything from clothing and jewellery to fruit and spices in narrow alleys packed with people, colours and fragrances. At the same time, huge and modern shopping centres offer all manner of international products and entertainment for the whole family.
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.
Passport / Visa
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.
Best Time to Visit
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
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.
Address: Medina Road, Jeddah
Phone: +966 9200 11233
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.
Phone: +966 55 803 0464
Saudi Post - Al-Balad
Address: Al-Balad, Jeddah
Phone: +966 9200 05700
Address: Prince Saud Al Faisal, Al-Rawdah, Jeddah
Phone: +966 55 647 9032
Country code: +966
Area code: 2
Voltage: 127/220 V
Frequency: 60 Hz
Power sockets: type A / B / F / G