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Saudi Arabia Travel Guide

Discover the enchanting kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a land where ancient history and modern development converge amidst vast deserts, majestic mountains, and pristine coastlines. This diverse nation, often regarded as the heart of the Arab world, is a treasure trove of natural wonders, rich cultural heritage, and architectural marvels.

From the mystical ruins of ancient civilizations to the bustling streets of modern cities, Saudi Arabia offers a journey through time and tradition. Whether you're seeking adventure in its expansive deserts, exploring the depths of its Red Sea coral reefs, or immersing yourself in its historical sites, Saudi Arabia's unique blend of the past and the present creates an unforgettable travel experience.

10 Handpicked Highlights of Saudi Arabia

Al Ula

Al Ula is an enchanting historical region in Saudi Arabia, offering a journey back in time to ancient civilizations. This sprawling area, rich in archaeological sites, includes the breathtaking Nabatean city of Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, visitors can marvel at the well-preserved tombs carved into sandstone outcrops, bearing silent testimony to the ingenuity of the Nabateans.

Besides Hegra, Al Ula is also home to the ancient Dadanite and Lihyanite kingdoms, where ongoing archaeological excavations continue to unveil the area’s hidden secrets. This region is not just a historical marvel; recent initiatives have transformed it into a cultural hub, hosting arts and music festivals that blend the region’s heritage with contemporary creativity. Don’t miss the Oasis Heritage Trail!

Hiking Wadi Al Disah

Wadi Al Disah, nestled in the Tabuk Province of northwestern Saudi Arabia, is a natural oasis of breathtaking beauty. This valley, also known as the Valley of the Palms, is flanked by towering sandstone cliffs and nourished by natural springs, creating a lush haven in the middle of the desert.

Hiking through this serene landscape reveals hidden pools, palm groves, and a diverse array of flora and fauna, offering a stark contrast to the surrounding desert. The tranquility and natural splendor of Wadi Al Disah make it a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers seeking to capture the essence of Saudi Arabia’s diverse landscapes.

Wadi Al Disah
Wadi Al Disah

Edge of the World

The Edge of the World, part of the Tuwaiq Escarpment, is a dramatic natural wonder located near Riyadh. This site offers visitors a breathtaking panorama of an unending horizon, where the vast plateau abruptly ends, giving way to a seemingly infinite view of the desert below.

The area, accessible through a thrilling off-road drive, is a popular spot for hiking and picnics, especially during the cooler months. The Edge of the World is not only a natural spectacle but also a geological wonder, showcasing layers of rock formations that tell stories of the Earth’s ancient past.


Hegra, also known as Al-Hijr or Madâin Sâlih, is a captivating archaeological site located in the Al Ula region. This ancient city was once a thriving center of the Nabatean kingdom, second only to Petra in Jordan.

Visitors to Hegra can explore over 100 well-preserved tombs, each with unique facades carved into sandstone cliffs, bearing intricate designs that reflect a blend of Assyrian, Egyptian, and Hellenistic architectural influences. The site also includes inscriptions and rock art that provide insights into the religious, social, and economic dynamics of the Nabatean civilization.

Jeddah Old Town (Al Balad)

Al Balad, the historical heart of Jeddah, is a captivating district that transports visitors to the bygone era of the Red Sea trading hub. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its traditional Hijazi architecture, characterized by coral stone buildings and iconic Roshan (wooden lattice-work balconies).

Strolling through the narrow alleys of Al Balad, one encounters ancient mosques, vibrant markets, and beautifully restored houses that now serve as cultural centers and galleries. This old quarter not only offers a glimpse into Saudi Arabia’s rich trading history but also serves as a living canvas of the nation’s cultural and architectural evolution.

Dadan & Jabal Ikmah

The ancient city of Dadan, near Al Ula, is an archaeological gem that was once the capital of the Dadanite and Lihyanite kingdoms. This site offers a unique look into pre-Nabatean civilizations, with excavations revealing temples, tombs, and inscriptions that shed light on the religious practices and daily life of its inhabitants.

Nearby Jabal Ikmah stands as an open-air library, with its rock faces adorned with thousands of inscriptions in several ancient languages. This area is not just an archaeological site but a crucial key to understanding the linguistic and cultural diversity of ancient Arabia.

Jabal Ikmah
Jabal Ikmah

SkyBridge at Kingdom Center in Riyadh

The SkyBridge at Kingdom Center is a modern architectural landmark in the heart of Riyadh. Suspended 300 meters above the ground, this sky bridge offers panoramic views of the city, especially stunning at night when Riyadh’s lights stretch to the horizon.

The Kingdom Center itself is a marvel, combining sleek design with luxury, housing a shopping mall, a five-star hotel, and several offices. The SkyBridge is more than an observation deck; it’s a symbol of Saudi Arabia’s futuristic vision and architectural prowess, blending luxury and innovation.

The Empty Quarter Desert

The Rub’ al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, is an immense sand desert that covers a significant part of the Arabian Peninsula. Renowned for its extreme environment, it is the largest area of continuous sand in the world, featuring some of the tallest sand dunes. The ever-shifting dunes, some reaching heights of up to 250 meters, create a landscape that is both daunting and awe-inspiring.

For adventurers, the Empty Quarter offers unparalleled opportunities for desert trekking, dune bashing, and camping under the stars, providing a profound sense of isolation and connection with nature.

Red Sea Diving

Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast is an emerging hotspot for diving enthusiasts, known for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. Areas like Yanbu and the Farasan Islands provide some of the best diving experiences, with sites suitable for both beginners and advanced divers.

The underwater world here is teeming with life, including colorful coral gardens, schools of tropical fish, and even historic shipwrecks. The Red Sea’s relatively unexplored and pristine reefs offer a unique and serene diving experience, making it a must-visit destination for underwater adventurers.

Red Sea Diving
Red Sea Diving

Asir National Park

Asir National Park, located in the Asir Province, is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s geographical diversity. This park encompasses rugged mountains, verdant forests, and terraced farmlands, offering a stark contrast to the country’s desert landscapes. The park’s high elevation results in a cooler climate, making it a perfect retreat during the hotter months.

It is a haven for birdwatchers, housing a variety of endemic and migratory bird species. The park also showcases the region’s cultural heritage, with traditional Asiri villages and the unique architecture of the area’s stone and mud-brick houses, often decorated with colorful geometric patterns.

Saudi Arabia's Geography & Landscapes

Saudi Arabia’s geography is as diverse as its rich cultural heritage, featuring landscapes that range from arid deserts to lush mountains. Here’s an overview of the country’s geographic regions:

  • The Central Plateau (Najd): The heartland of the country, characterized by arid plains and plateaus. Riyadh, the capital, is located here.
  • The Northern Region: Home to ancient archaeological sites like Al Ula and the expansive Nefud Desert.
  • The Hejaz: Running along the Red Sea coast, this region is known for its mountain ranges and is the site of the holy cities Mecca and Medina.
  • The Asir Region: Located in the southwest, it features lush mountains, cool climates, and the Asir National Park.
  • The Eastern Province: Bordering the Persian Gulf, it is known for its oil reserves and includes the city of Dammam.
  • The Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter): The largest continuous sand desert in the world, covering a large part of the southern region.

Best Time To Go To Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s climate varies from one region to another, offering different experiences throughout the year. Here’s a breakdown of the seasons:

  • Winter (December to February): This is the best time to visit for those who prefer cooler weather. The temperatures are pleasant, making it ideal for exploring the deserts and outdoor activities.
  • Spring (March to May): The weather is mild, and it’s a good time to witness the blooming desert flora, especially in the northern and central regions.
  • Summer (June to August): Characterized by very high temperatures, especially in the central and eastern regions. However, it’s a good time to visit the coastal areas and highlands in the southwest, like the Asir region, where temperatures are more moderate.
  • Autumn (September to November): Similar to spring, the weather becomes milder, making it comfortable for traveling and sightseeing.

The best time to visit Saudi Arabia largely depends on the regions you plan to explore and the activities you’re interested in. Generally, the cooler months from November to February are ideal for a comfortable and comprehensive travel experience across most of the country.

Saudi Arabia Desert

Traveling in Saudi Arabia

Staying Safe

Saudi Arabia is generally a safe country for travelers, but it’s important to respect local laws and customs and be aware of regional differences. Here are 10 safety tips:

  • Respect Local Customs and Laws: Be mindful of Saudi Arabia’s conservative cultural norms and dress modestly.
  • Be Aware of Traffic Rules: Traffic can be unpredictable; exercise caution when driving and crossing streets.
  • Avoid Sensitive Topics: Steer clear of discussing politics or religion openly.
  • Travel Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.
  • Stay Hydrated: The climate can be extremely hot, so stay hydrated, especially when exploring outdoor sites.
  • Secure Your Belongings: Keep your valuables secure and be cautious in crowded areas.
  • Health Precautions: Be up-to-date with vaccinations and carry any necessary medications.
  • Photography Rules: Be respectful when taking photos, especially of people and government buildings.
  • Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency numbers, including your embassy and local emergency services.
  • Cultural Awareness: Familiarize yourself with local customs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

Getting to & Around Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has a well-developed transportation infrastructure, making travel relatively straightforward:

  • Airports: Major international airports include King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam.
  • Airlines: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is the national carrier, offering extensive domestic and international flights.
  • Road Travel: The country has an extensive road network. Car rentals are available, but be aware of different driving styles.
  • Buses: Companies like SAPTCO offer intercity bus services connecting major cities and towns.
  • Trains: The Saudi Railways Organization operates train services, including the high-speed Haramain Railway connecting Mecca, Medina, Jeddah, and King Abdullah Economic City.


Saudi Arabia offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences:

  • Luxury Hotels: In major cities and tourist destinations, there are numerous luxury hotels offering world-class amenities.
  • Mid-range and Budget Hotels: These are widely available, offering comfortable and affordable accommodations.
  • Traditional Stays: For a more authentic experience, traditional guesthouses and boutique hotels are available, especially in historical areas.
  • Price Range: Accommodation prices can vary significantly, with luxury hotels being more expensive, especially in Riyadh and Jeddah.
  • Desert Camps: In desert areas, traditional Bedouin camps offer a unique overnight experience.

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