Make the most of your days

Places to visit in Jeddah at day and night

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Close your eyes and imagine a city that glistens during the day and glows at night. In the air, a faint scent of salt from the Red Sea wafts by as you hear the crash of a wave hit the shore. Open your eyes and you’ll see one of the world’s tallest fountains, an impressive sculpture park and so much more. Welcome to Jeddah, the Bride of the Red Sea. This historic port town is packed with things to see and do not only during the day, but also at night when the city lights up — literally.

Day Adventures in Jeddah

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Make a Splash on Jeddah’s Beaches 

Take full advantage of Jeddah’s location on the Red Sea, which offers water enthusiasts yearlong warm temperatures. When the sun’s out, embark upon an underwater adventure by scuba diving, or skim the surface looking for Red Sea creatures by spending an afternoon snorkeling. For more water sport activities — like jet skiing or paddle boarding — rental options are available at private beach clubs.

Explore Al Balad 

History buffs will love strolling through Al Balad, the city’s historic district founded in the seventh century. Made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, the neighborhood’s well-preserved architecture is a must-see. Many of its homes are built with coral limestone from the Red Sea and feature ornate wooden details around the doors and windows. The highly decorative wooden bay windows and balconies are known as rawasheen; merchants began carving them after the Suez Canal opened in the mid-1800s and expanded trade.

“Al Balad is really a magnificent place. It’s so deep in its history and its culture,” says Saleh Khalaf, a Jeddah local who runs several Airbnb rentals in the city. “I’ve been there hundreds of times. Every time I go back, I see something new, or I smell a new smell, or I experience something else.”

Make your way to the Nasseef House, a cultural center and museum located inside this 106-room home of former elites. Fun fact: Until the 1920s, the tree to the left of the Nasseef House was the only tree in Jeddah.

Discover the Jeddah Waterfront

The Jeddah Waterfront, also known as the Jeddah Corniche, is one of the city’s biggest attractions. Spanning the coastline, the corniche features beaches, parks, play areas for kids, dancing fountains and dedicated sports and fishing areas. It’s also home to Jeddah’s Outdoor Sculpture Park — the largest open-air museum in Saudi — featuring 21 statues from prominent artists like Maha Malluh, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and Joan Miró. Here you can also see one of the world’s tallest fountains at night (read more below).

Nightlife in Jeddah

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King Fahd Fountain

If you’re planning to spend an afternoon at the Jeddah Waterfront, do yourself a favor and don’t leave before sunset. At dusk, King Fahd Fountain — one of the tallest in the world — lights up with more than 500 lights. Backdropped by the Red Sea, the fountain is a site to behold as it shoots a plume of saltwater 312 meters in the air at nearly 375 kilometers per hour. 

“The sunset on the Red Sea is just absolutely amazing. It’s really a great place to spend a late afternoon, early evening,” Khalaf says. “[There are] plenty of options of food, plenty of entertainment, and a lot to do there. It really is where all of the locals go to hang out.” 

Tip: To get a great view of the fountain, Khalaf recommends going to the Park Hyatt. “The Park Hyatt is definitely my favorite spot to eat,” he says. “Not only is the food there amazing, but they have a lot of outdoor spaces, and you get the most incredible view of the Jeddah water fountain.” 

Al Alawi Souq

Start practicing your bargaining skills in advance of heading to Al Alawi, the oldest souq in Jeddah. Located in the Al Balad district, here you’ll find traditional textiles, local spices, and Arabic perfumes and jewelry. Visit in the evening right before the last call of prayer for a memorable experience. 

Tip: Bartering is welcome and encouraged. For tips on how to haggle, check out “Souqs in Saudi: How to shop like a local” on visitsaudi.com. Within the piece, Saudi-based photographer Tasneem Alsultan gets tips and tricks from Saudi locals like Manal Ali and her son, Abdualla, who shop for Eid gifts and clothes at their neighborhood souq every year during Ramadan. 

“I buy abayas, home clothes, perfumes and even kitchen appliances from here,” she says, adding that if a store is old and disorganized, “it means they’re expecting you to negotiate the price.” 

Al Shallal Theme Park

Thrillseekers should add Al Shallal Theme Park to their evening itineraries. The park stays open until 1 or 2 a.m. (depending on the day of the week), and in the evenings, the park’s many attractions light up. Daredevils can enjoy the park’s roller coaster or slingshot rides, while families may enjoy favorites like Samba Tower, which takes riders 6.5 meters high in hot air balloon-shaped gondolas they can steer. In addition to rides, enjoy arcade games, or strap on skates because this theme park is also home to an ice rink.

—Lisa Zimmermann is a travel writer and editor who has previously written for Club Traveler, Boston magazine, New England Travel, American Airlines and Atlas Magazine and more.

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