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Jeddah is many different things to its many millions of annual visitors.

To Muslims, this dazzling port city is the gateway for Haji pilgrimages to the sacred Islamic cities of Medina and Mecca. To business travellers, sprawling Jeddah—the largest port on the resplendent Red Sea—is one of the most important commercial and finance capitals of the region. And to tourists, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city is a modern Middle Eastern metropolis offering world-class dining, splendid beaches, a fascinating old town, and phenomenal scuba diving.

So explore the winding lanes and lively souqs of al-Balad, the city’s historic old town. Walk the spectacular Corniche, a coastal 30-kilometre stretch lined with huge sculptures, parks, mosques, restaurants, and amusement parks. Above all, expect to experience a city like no other in Saudi Arabia.

Getting Around

Second only in size to Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Jeddah is only walkable in specific areas, such as within the old city and along the scenic coastal Corniche. Public transportation is limited to buses, and visitors to this vibrant Red Sea port exclusively get around by car, be it a self-rental, public taxi, or private taxi service.

If not renting a car at the airport—note that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia—taxis are readily available and have negotiable fares that should not exceed around SR100 (US$26.70) to the centrally located Ascott Tahlia Jeddah. Alternately, contact your serviced residence in advance to arrange for a private transfer.

By Taxi

Taxis are the most common means of transportation within Jeddah, though the service quality varies greatly between the city’s various operators. The best companies, which include Careem, Mondo Ride, TaxiPixi, and Uber, offer downloadable apps that can be used to request a driver, in some cases choose the type of desired vehicle, track the driver’s progress, and estimate the cost. This is the easiest, most convenient way to secure reliable taxi service.

Fares are quite reasonable and generally do not exceed SR40 (US$10.70). Note that each of the aforementioned apps require users to sign up for a free account, and that some, like Careem and Uber, require or provide the option to pay automatically with a registered credit card.

Though pre-booking taxis with an app is recommended both for the convenience and service, licensed metered taxis are prevalent in Jeddah and can be flagged down from the street. Fares are comparable, though slightly cheaper, than those for requested vehicles.

Taxi drivers are legally required to have and abide by meters, but even so some cars are not equipped with them, and some drivers will suggest a flat fee, even if there is one. Politely decline and wait for a driver offering a metered fare. 

Public taxis are generally safe, though women visitors should exercise greater caution and travel with a male companion, if possible.  

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