Welcome to Medina, Saudi Arabia!
Known as the second holiest site in the world of Islam, Medina is a very old city, mostly visited by devout Muslims from all over the world. Of course, as a worldwide local, you’ll know that this doesn’t mean that there aren’t great places to check out around here as a non-Muslim, but just know that Medina’s landmarks cater to a certain demographic of visitor. Still, there is something for everyone here, from the fantastic Medina restaurants to its stunning sights.
Historically, Medina is important to the world of Islam because it is the city that Muhammed migrated to after leaving Mecca. Because of its historic significance, you can expect some pretty amazing cultural sites here. This is a guide to some of the best spots to enjoy in Medina.
Worldwide Local Tip: Non-Muslims are strictly prohibited from entering central Medina. Documentation upon entering the city is usually checked to show proof of being Muslim, and those who break this rule can be deported. The airport itself and every other area of Medina are okay for non-Muslims to visit.
Step into History
One of the biggest and arguably most important sites in the city of Medina is actually located about five kilometers (3.1 miles) north of the city. Mount Uhud is a historically important area and was the site of the Battle of Uhud between Muslims and Quraysh of Makkan in 625 AD. The mountain is a significant burial site where many followers of Muhammad are buried, including the prophet’s uncle. Mount Uhud is a popular destination when visiting Medina and is certainly worth seeing as part of the local culture.
Worldwide Local Tip: Medina and Mecca, much like the rest of Saudi Arabia, are in very hot, desert country. If you’re going to venture out in to the desert where Mount Uhud is, make sure you’re wearing appropriate clothing. Something that keeps the sun off you, as well as being moderate and respectful (as it is a holy site), is recommended. Even in the city, remember to protect yourself from the hot Medina weather.
Shopping in Medina
Visiting this very unique part of the world, you’ll probably want to bring back a couple of souvenirs. After all, a worldwide local knows that sharing the culture with friends and family, is what makes traveling worth it. If you’re looking to get around with locals and do a little shopping, visit the Old Market. The Old Market has just about everything you can desire, including bags, accessories, clothes, and jewelry. Just about everything sold here features unique and Islamic-inspired designs, as well as Arabian motifs.The location itself is part of the history of Medina. City locals love it, so it’s a perfect spot to be amongst them.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Old Market is a pretty popular place among locals and people visiting Medina, so it is crowded at almost every point during the day. The best time to visit would be during the weekend. Since the area is almost always busy, you might stick out a bit, so it certainly helps to learn some Arabic before venturing off into the market.
Cool off at Yanbu Beach
As previously stated, it gets pretty hot in Saudi Arabia, but if you’re looking to get out of the city a bit and cool off, you’re in luck because nearby Yanbu is a pristine beach and community, that offers some great respite from the hustle and bustle of Medina. Located about 120 miles (around 190 kilometers) from the city, Yanbu was once a fishing village, with many fishermen’s houses still standing, but mostly these days, it’s a place for fun. Enjoy scuba diving, sailing, jet-skiing, and just about any other beach activity.
Worldwide Local Tip: There’s some amazing fishing and sailing off the coast here. Try booking a tour with a local fisherman or a guide to bring you out onto the water, and enjoy the views of the land from the water--even catch a few fish while you’re out.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Medina is an important city for a number of people out there, but if you don’t fit into that category, there’s still a lot of natural beauty. A city full of history and culture, where a worldwide local knows how to discover the most important parts of a city.