Medina is beloved by pilgrims for its stunning beauty and its peaceful ambience. In fact, many pilgrims choose to include an extra day or two in their Umrah trip so that they can explore this holy city properly.
Here are just a few of the reasons why you should schedule an extended stop in Medina…
1. Visit Jannatul Baqi (the Garden of Baqi)
Situated to the south-east of The Prophet’s Mosque, this ancient graveyard is a peaceful place to pray and reflect. It is the final resting place of some of the greatest warriors in Islam, as well as a number of the Prophet’s family members. All the wives of Muhammed (except Khadijah bint Khuwaylid) are buried here, as well as Muhammed’s children Ibrahim, Roqayyah, and Fatima.
This palm-fringed seaside city feels like it is a million miles away from the desert splendour of Medina. In fact, it is only 125 miles away.
As a busy port and business hub, the city itself is surprisingly modern and cosmopolitan, with a huge expat population. But north of the harbour, you will find a succession of sandy beaches, desert islands, and coral reefs.
Yanbu coral reefs are among the best in the world, bursting with colour and life. Snorkel, dive or simply paddle out into the warm water and look for clown fish, baby turtles, manta rays, and dolphins!
3. Old Bazaar
This traditional Arabian souq is the perfect place to stock up on cheap cotton abayas, traditional jewellery and souvenirs.
Situated just behind the Prophet’s Mosque, it is one of the largest markets in Saudi Arabia, and gets really busy just after isha prayers, when thousands of people gather to eat, trade, and socialise among the stalls.
Spend a few hours browsing the wares and haggling for a bargain. Look out for traditional Medina style prayer mats, freshly picked local dates, and unique iturs – heady, non-alcoholic perfumes made from the oils of Saudi flowers and herbs.
4. Al Rashid Mega Mall
In complete contrast to the Old Bazaar, the Al Rashid Mega Mall represents modern-day Saudi shopping habits. Of the many malls in Medina, this is by far the biggest, and it is so much more than simply a place to shop.
Al Rashid Mega Mall boasts its own bowling alley, billiards suite, food courts, fountains, and a life-sized pirate ship for the kids! It even has an ice-skating rink – so you can become one of the few people who have actually ice skated in the desert.
5. Dar al-Madinah Museum
By far the most impressive museum in Medina, Dar al-Madinah is full of fascinating artefacts and documents from the era of Muhammed.
Miniature reconstructions of the old city allow visitors to imagine the Medina that the Prophet knew, making it an essential stop for anyone who wants to learn more about the area, before or after completing their pilgrimage.