Looking for a holiday destination that offers sun, culture, and something a little different? Look no further than Saudi Arabia! After years of keeping its borders closed to all but religious tourists, the Kingdom has now thrown open its doors to international tourists — and are we glad it has!
From fascinating ancient ruins to beautiful mosques to the ultra-modern cityscape of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is far more than just the desert landscape people tend to imagine. In fact, the mountainous south of the country blooms green, while the waters and islands in the Red Sea are comparable to the Maldives.
Saudi Arabia is now welcoming travelers from all over the world as it stokes its growing tourist industry. There is now even a Saudi Arabia online visa to make it super-easy for visitors to authorize their trip. With so much to offer, it is little wonder that it is one of the biggest up-and-coming tourist destinations on Earth. Here are the top 5 spots to visit in this unique country.
Check out the top 5 places to visit in Saudi Arabia…
#1. Al Ula
Take an adventure deep into the desert to take in the ancient wonders of Al Ula. As if the natural golden rock formations that surround the town weren’t enough, many have been hewn into great tombs and other structures by the ancient Nabateans that ruled this part of the world around 2000 years ago.
The huge monolith of Hegra (also known as “Mada’in Saleh” or “Al-Hijr”) could give Petra in Jordan a run for its money — and comes with the added bonus that you don’t have to compete for space with crowds of tourists. These marvelous structures make up Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO heritage site. It is well worth making the trip to see these wonders of ancient engineering.
Saudi Arabia’s capital is a must. The largest city in the nation is also one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Home to 4000 beautiful mosques as well as Saudi Arabia’s National Museum, there is no shortage of things to see and do.
Riyadh is a city where old meets new. The ultra-modern towers that make up the neon skyline evoke Dubai, while the historical sites are second to none. Check out the imposing Al Masmak Fortress and the At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah — another of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If you’re interested in history, beautiful buildings, and Islamic culture, Medina should be the number one destination on your list. Indeed, this city makes many people’s travel bucket lists. The second holiest city in the Muslim faith, Medina is the place where the Prophet Mohammed founded the religion. He also spent much of his life in the city and his tomb is located here.
Although non-Muslims are not allowed into the huge Al Masjid an Nabawi Mosque complex in the center of the city, you can get a great view of the impressive structure from elsewhere in the city. For the best view, take a hike up nearby Mount Uhad.
The Al-Madina Souk is also worth a visit. One of the oldest traditional markets in the country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of vibrant stalls and stalls that give you a real slice of life in the Middle East.
#4. The Red Sea Coast and Islands
The coastal areas of Saudi Arabia have a whole different flavor to the rest of the country. The shallow, turquoise waters off the coast of Umluj and Al Wajh are teeming with life. It is the perfect place to take a boat trip out over the coral reefs, spotting fish and dolphins. It’s no
surprise that they have often been described as Saudi Arabia’s answer to the Maldives.
Although many of the paradisical islands in the Red Sea are currently off-limits, the sea itself is yours to explore. If you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving, this is the place for you. After all the excitement of the day, you can relax on the beach, enjoy the region’s famous hospitality, and dine on the catch of the day.
#5. Abha and the Asir Mountains
The region of Asir in the south of Saudi Arabia is a far cry from the desert that encompasses most of the nation. The dramatic slopes and peaks are covered with green vegetation and forests thanks to the summer rainstorms. The big draw is the unspoiled wilderness of the Asir National Park. With panoramic vistas, over 300 animal species, and a surprisingly cool and pleasant climate, this is a haven for hikers.
The city of Abha is a great place to make a base while staying in Asir. The highest large city in Saudi Arabia sits 2270 meters above sea level. Its streets and squares line the slopes of the hills, with fantastic views over the nearby valleys. This gives Abha a truly unique feel within
Saudi Arabia. Hike to the top of Jebel Al Akhdar to take in the beauty of Abha and the surrounding area.
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