Road Trips from Jeddah: Explore more of the Kingdom
Road Trips from Jeddah: Explore more of the Kingdom
Day trips to natural wonders and historical enclaves, journey beyond Jeddah's hustle and bustle
If you’re reading this after strolling along the corniche, marvelling at Al Rahma Mosque, and having caught a sense of life in Jeddah, you probably don’t need much reminding of the beauties of this Kingdom.
But for those with a sense of adventure, and an appetite to seek out more, there are further destinations, some just a short drive away, where you can take in the extraordinary natural and historical wonders scattered among the Arabian plains.
While you’re in Jeddah, take the opportunity to venture out, a little beyond the beaten path, and you won’t be disappointed with what you discover – flowing springs, verdant fields, ancient ruins, and calm oases.
Drive Time: 2hrs 30m
You cannot talk of Taif without talking of roses – the air in the city is perfumed with them.
More than 700 farms grow roses in Taif, and the city has been known as the City of the Roses for centuries. The fragrance of the Damask rose, Taif’s speciality, is said to be so dizzyingly beautiful that brands like Chanel, Guerlain, and Hermès extract it for their perfumes. Just one walk around Taif’s central market will leave the imprint of the Damask rose on you forever, so pervading is its scent and the delicacy of its colour.
There is, however, more to Taif than the rose. The city is heralded as one of the Kingdom’s cosiest – a tranquil mountain respite from the beating summer heat, and as such, Saudi’s unofficial summer capital. Often visited by Hajj pilgrims on the way to Makkah, Taif is renowned for its spot among the clouds, boasting impeccable views of the desert beyond, with grapes, figs, and pomegranates growing plentifully amid the craggy mountainscape.
And thankfully, Taif is one of the closest day trips you can take out from Jeddah: you can be in the City of the Roses in just two and a half hours by car.
Drive Time: 2hrs 40m
If you’re looking to keep things coastal, but you’re looking for a break from the bustle of the Jeddah promenade, the city of Al Lith (also written Al Laith), a little over two and a half hours south, could be the perfect pitstop for you.
Life moves a little calmer in Al Lith; its Al Ahlam marina is built to remind you of Greece at its finest, all cool blues and whites. And much like the coast of the eastern Mediterranean, its shimmering blue waters and sprawling islandscapes are a huge part of its appeal: for divers, snorkellers, or even just sunbathers, it’s something of a paradise.
Once you’ve landed, take a boat ride out to the governorate’s finest island, Jabal Al Lith, and be astounded. The pearlescent sea reveals coral reefs thriving below, positively glowing with colour. Its beaches are bright white and fine, untroubled by the world around for miles – total serenity, with only the lapping shore at your feet to beckon you back to reality. Mangroves sprawl through the lush forest, breathing life back into the water, protecting and purifying the Red Sea surrounding it.
All this, and more, awaits you with a trip out to Al Lith.
Drive Time: 5hrs
A little further out than Taif and Al Lith, but no less captivating, Al Baha is the jewel of the Kingdom’s south: a lush, sprawling city in the Sarawat Mountains, strewn with trees, valleys, and waterfalls, punctuated by centuries-old towers.
Al Baha has thrived for generations – some of the nation’s oldest tribes have called it their home and keep its traditions alive to this day. As a city on a hill, with plenty of foliage surrounding it, all manner of wildlife share Al Baha with its residents, too. And most Saudi honey comes from right here, and its inimitable florality and sweetness comes from the acres of flowers and plants surrounding the area.
Where Al Baha really stands out, however, is in its preservation of history: all over the city, you can find perfectly preserved examples of ancient fortresses, some that are said to have stood for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Here, upon visiting, you will be welcomed just as visitors have always been – with sweet dates, Saudi coffee, and a performance of the traditional Saudi sword exhibition, Ardah.
Head off early in the morning – the drive is just over five hours – and step back in time, bearing witness to life as it has always stood in this region.
Drive Time: 6hrs
Khaybar is a considerable trip from Jeddah – a little bit under six hours by car – but if you’re looking for an experience like few others on the planet, you’ll make the time for it.
The city is one of extraordinary natural beauty, a monumental landscape forged by volcanic activity and desert winds, where waves of settlers have lived and thrived amid the flowing of its freshwater streams and placid oasis atmosphere. It is, in fact, one of the Kingdom’s oldest settlements, and one of the oldest in the entire region: to visit is to be met with that immense history, natural and cultural, all now restored and waiting for you to arrive.
Once you get to Khaybar, there are guided tours you can take that show you all the city’s hidden wonders – rock formations that dangle like chains on a pendant and neolithic paintings from 5,000 years ago that display the passions and creativity of our forebears. There are few places so enchanting, not just in the Kingdom, but in the entire region.