By Summaiya Naseem
Every city has its unique flavors when it comes to life and lifestyle. A small town in the middle of nowhere could have that one flower or that one spot which makes it a special place.
Our Bride of the Red Sea, Jeddah, is not an exception to this universal rule. Here’s a list of things you must do during your time in Jeddah and once done you can probably strike them off your bucket list.
The Cultural Landscape:
- Visit the Floating Mosque at sunset.
This beautiful and mesmerizing Corniche landmark is a wonderful sight at the time of sunset. If you’re a solitary soul and don’t like crowds, you’ll enjoy it during the weekdays. For those of us who like the hum of a crowd or a gathering, the weekends are the perfect time to witness the sun setting and the lights going up. Also, You’ll get the opportunity to pray at this unique floating mosque.
- Encounter KSA’s regional architecture at Darat Safeya Binzagr.
This permanent museum is dedicated to the artwork of the famous Saudi artist Safeya Binzagr. Her Architectural Heritage series is a colorful representation of the architecture of the various regions of the Kingdom. If you harbor a love for art and culture, you will enjoy this trip. Moreover, View the artist’s Nuptials series and other sketches.
- Visit the Al Tujjar Mosque in Tahliya
One of the most famous mosques in Jeddah, Al Tujjar is a unique for its architecture and the calligraphy lining its walls. The beauty of this mosque is accentuated with its golden dome and the greenery that surrounds it. Most importantly, pray at the mosque and listen to the beautiful recitation of the Imam.
- Take a tour of Al Balad Historical District
Dated back to the 7th century, a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site feels like going back further in time and observing the beautiful architecture of the past. You are likely to fall in love with the beautiful doors and windows that adorn the old buildings. It is best to experience this historic area on foot, conversing with vendors and local merchants about the heritage and marveling at the tiny, old mosques squeezed between alleys and old buildings. You can also purchase traditional souvenirs at the souks of Al Balad.
- Visit Al Naseef House in Al Balad.
Once you walk around the streets, it is best to end the trip with a tour of the Al Naseef House museum. It was in this house that the Late King Abdulaziz stayed. The neem tree, which grows outside the house, is probably the oldest tree in Jeddah. The house is set to have a strong Turkish design influence. Doors and windows can be found in groups of threes in this 106-room house.
- Check out the largest open-air museum of the world.
When it comes to art, Jeddah exceeds expectations. Our city is home to some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. Nearly 400 sculptures adorn the streets and roundabouts of the city, which include works of world-renowned artists like Henry Moore, Victor Vasarley, Jean Arp and Joan Miro. Take a drive through the city, especially the Corniche area, to experience the wonder of these gigantic works of art.
- Have a coffee near the King Fahd Fountain.
King Fahd Fountain shoots water around 800 feet up in the air. Have a cup of coffee with a loved one and enjoy the view. From the coastal area, you’ll even witness people fishing and families spreading their mats to have traditional qahwa and dates. Bonus: Enjoy a better view from Park Hyatt’s outdoor restaurant.
Food and Festivities:
- Enjoy a meal of AlBaik.
Undoubtedly, Al Baik is the most popular fast food chain in this region. Visitors from Riyadh and abroad often have it as their first meal in Jeddah. The deep fried chicken served with delicious garlic sauce has unique flavoring and spices. Their chicken nuggets are probably the second most popular item on the menu. Don’t like chicken? Have fish or shrimps instead! Bonus: Enjoy Al Baik’s vanilla ice cream with a sweet sauce of your choice!
- Look out for a Balila and French Fries cart.
A traditional Hijazi delicacy, Balila consists of boiled chickpeas, vinegar, pickles (turshi), chopped cucumbers and other Arab spices like sumac. It is not rare to find a balila vendor with a crowd waiting to be served. The dish is best experienced in Ramadan, in Balad’s Qabel Street, where it is perfectly prepared due to the Hijazi tradition and served by Matouk Al Sahrif. Bonus: The jovial Matouk Al Sharif often sings the balila song in his musical voice. (Oh, Balila! They boiled you and at Qabel Street, they have crunched you!…)
- Enjoy a meal of Kibda in AlBalad during Ramadan festivities.
Al Balad lights up during Ramadan festivities. Tents are set up and stalls are lined with an assortment of chocolates, dates and other traditional snacks and foods ready for purchase. Take a trip to Al Balad during this Ramadan to enjoy a plate of kibda (a spicy dish made from beef liver) served with salad and cold drinks. The sights and sounds of the busy chefs and waiters delivering hot plates of food accentuate the open air seating experience.
- Enjoy scoops of Al Muhannad Ice cream.
Al Muhannad ice cream is unlike any other ice cream you’ll ever taste. It is soft, topped with powdered nuts and fruity syrup on top. The variety of flavors is the best thing about the ice cream; watermelon, strawberry, sweet melon, mango, vanilla and chocolate. The best way to have it is with all the flavours in one cup. The best part? It’s for only 4 SR. (Located in Al Safa District, near to Chennai Darbar Restaurant and Al Naseem, next to AlWan Stationary) Bonus: Get some ice cream packed for home!
- Have Fool Tameez for breakfast.
This traditional Arab dish is a creamy concoction of fava beans served with thick and buttery Nan bread. It is better to be taken as breakfast early in the morning. It’s not hard to find this flavourful dish in the streets of Jeddah.
- Then Mutabbakh for an evening snack.
Best enjoyed hot with a squeeze of fresh and juicy lemon or lime, this traditional Hejazi dish is stuffed pan-fried bread. It usually contains egg omelet and crunchy onions and is served cut into squares. Some varieties contain meat.
Indoor and Outdoor Fun:
- Turtle Pond in Jeddah International Market.
Jeddah International Centre is probably most famous for its turtle ponds. Turtles of all ages and sizes can be observed swimming and lounging in the blue water of the pool. Above the pond, a wooden structure has been placed on which visitors can stand to look at the turtles below. Bonus: Browse the amazing antique shop near the pond!
- Get a seat on Shallal’s amazing Roller Coaster
Shallal is notorious for its hair raising and thrilling rides. Shallal’s roller coaster is scary but worth the adrenaline surge. Spend a day with your friends or family at this adventurous park. Recommended rides: Sling Shot, Power Surge, Flying Carousel and Super Shot. Bonus: Enjoy food inside the park.