When traveling to Saudi Arabia visiting the two gems of the country Jeddah and Riyadh is a must. There are countless places to explore in these cities, from the beaches to the architectural masterpieces, like the almost-completed Jeddah Tower, the highest skyscraper of Saudi Arabia and the world, to the gorgeous landscape of the Red sea and the delectable cuisine.
Here’s what else not to miss when visiting the two gems of Saudi Arabia Jeddah and Riyadh:
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Top Places to Visit in Jeddah
Al Rahma Mosque
This mosque, also known as ”the floating mosque”, is one of Saudi Arabia’s architectural masterpieces. Its pillars are rooted in the water, which gives it the appearance of floating over the water, making it a real beauty, especially during the golden hour. Most people visiting Hajj usually make a stopover for a pilgrimage in the Al Rahma Mosque.
If you want to discover the Arabic architecture of 500 years ago, Al-Balad is the perfect place for you. Founded in the 7th century, Al-Balad is the historic and oldest neighborhood of Jeddah and one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
In the area, you can visit the Nasseef House Museum, built in 1881 for the governor of Jeddah, Sheikh Omar Effendi Nassif, the Bab Jadid, one of the gates into the neighborhood, and Baleelah lane.
Al-Balad is also a great place to mingle with the locals and enjoying authentic Saudi Arabian cuisine.
Founded in 2009, Athr Gallery is a leading contemporary art gallery that houses some of the most significant local and international art pieces. In the gallery, you can see the work of the famous Saudi artists Ahmed Mater, Nasser Al-Salem, Ayman Yossri, Dana Awartani, and more.
Al Shallal Theme Park
Al Shallal Theme Park is one of the best places to visit in Jeddah with your family. Spread over an area of 60 000 square meters, the park features a roller coaster, an ice rink, and many other adrenalin-inducing activities. You can enjoy delicious meals and drinks in a family-friendly setting.
If you are looking for a peaceful experience then head to Al-Saif beach. Simply relaxing on this beautiful beach all day long and watching the sunset at the end of the day are the two best things to do here.
Make sure to bring some food for a picnic and a good book. The beach is among the top beaches to visit in Jeddah, so don’t be surprised if it is a little bit crowded – locals love to hang out there and spend quality time with their families.
Top Places to Visit in Riyadh
Al Masmak Fort
One of Riyadh’s top attractions is the clay and mudbrick Al Masmak Fort. Built in 1865 the fortress played a vital role in the Unification of Saudi Arabia with the Battle of Riyadh taking place in the fort. This battle is one of the most important conflicts of the Saudi unification and is also vital to the local community. There is a legend about it that says that should the fort fall, the kingdom would fall with it, too.
Nowadays, the fortress is turned into a museum showcasing one of the most important landmarks of Saudi heritage.
One of the best places to visit in Riyadh for shopping is the Deerah Souq. Want to purchase artistic products? This is the place to go to.
Located in the old part of the city near the Al Masmak Fort, the souq is filled with little shops in which you can find gold and silver, carpets, traditional clothes, antiques, souvenirs, furniture, and more. The shop owners are very friendly and helpful and will assist in your shopping. Most of them also speak English so language shouldn’t be a barrier.
Visit the former home and court of King Abdul Aziz, founder of modern Saudi Arabia. The houses complex are architectural masterpieces which makes them a must-visit point in the city.
Diriyah, the birthplace of the first Saudi state, once housed a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce. The city was named the country’s capital in 1745, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia. Diriyah’s district At-Turaif was the original seat of power for the kingdom’s Al Saud family.
Later on, in 1818 Diriyah fell at the end of the Wahhabi war and the nearby settlement of Riyadh was declared as the new nation’s capital. Currently, the ruins of this legendary city are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and restorations are made to bring the historical legacy of the place back to life.
The National Museum
Established in 1999, The National Museum of Saudi Arabia is a national museum in Riyadh part of the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre. The museum houses some of the oldest artifacts in Saudi Arabia including historical, archeological, cultural, and art items on top of many others.
Visiting Saudi Arabia
Visiting Saudi Arabia is easy nowadays, thanks to the 30-day visa processing period. All you need is to have a passport which you will be expected to present at the major entry points like airports and train stations. If you have been planning on taking a vacation to Saudi Arabia, visiting Riyadh and Jeddah would be perfect.
**This article was written and contributed by the freelance writer Hanna Johnson.