Riyadh vs Jeddah: Which City to Visit For Your First Trip to Saudi Arabia?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is like no other country, with the unique natural beauty of the desert landscape combined with its rich history and culture. This Middle-Eastern country is alluring to tourists for more than one reason, and thanks to Saudi Arabia’s tourism initiatives, the country is now more accessible than ever.

Saudi Arabia is a country that has so much to offer that visitors are usually spoilt for choices, not knowing where to visit. Two such swoon-worthy locations are Riyadh and Jeddah. On your first trip to Saudi not knowing how to choose between Riyadh and Jeddah? Which city should you visit? Keep reading to find out.

Accessibility

As a tourist, one of the most important aspects of travelling is the ease of getting to Saudi Arabia. Due to its latest advancement to improve tourism, the Kingdom has regular flights flying in and out from its major airports. Both Riyadh and Jeddah are equipped with their regional airports. The King Khalid International Airport in the capital city of Riyadh serves over 51 international and domestic airlines with over 105 destinations in total and over 217,000 flights a year. Frequented by over 28.5​ million passengers a year, the airport is perfect for your entry and exit to Saudi Arabia. However, the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah serves even more passengers and has earned the title of being the busiest airport in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah Airport is located 19 km north of Jeddah and is well-connected to the rest of the country.

Affordability

Saudi Arabia itself is a country of lavish extravagance and luxury, and both Riyadh and Jeddah are generally considered to be expensive. However, there are tons of budget-friendly hotel (فنادق) options available in both cities within just a few clicks online. While the administrative capital of the country’s Riyadh, Jeddah is crowned as the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, with a large number of international companies and organizations having a presence in the city.

Places to visit

It is hard to pick favourites between Riyadh and Jeddah when it comes to tourist attractions as both cities are special in their own ways. Riyadh is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, and it is a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the rich culture and history of the country. There are many things to see and do in Riyadh, including visiting the National Museum, which showcases the history and culture of Saudi Arabia and touring the Masmak Fortress, a historic fort that played a key role in the country’s modern history. Meanwhile, Jeddah is known for its Corniche and Waterfront, with a promenade that stretches for over 25 kilometres along the Red Sea. It is a popular place for walking, jogging, and bike riding, and it offers beautiful views of the sea and the city skyline.

Infrastructure and connectivity

While Jeddah and Riyadh are metropolitan cities with cutting-edge technology and towering skyscrapers, the cityscape of Riyadh is more energized and rich with modern wealth. However, Jeddah is also rapidly developing to surpass Riyadh with its infrastructural prowess. One such developmental project is the Jeddah Towers, built in Jeddah that will overpower the Burj Khalifa to become the tallest skyscraper in the world once completed. Both cities are well connected by public transport and other amenities.

To conclude, both cities are special in their own ways. If you are visiting for religious purposes, you should fly to Jeddah as the city is a major port city and is a gateway to Mecca and Medina, the two holiest cities in Islam. If you are up for a modern vacation amidst luxury resorts, while exploring the culture of the country, stop by Riyadh.

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