Travelers around the world have a new obsession: Saudi Arabia! Since the country has opened its gates to the world in 2018, there’s been an influx of curious adventurers ready to discover the country. A mix of old and new, contemporary and ancient, Saudi Arabia has all the right ingredients for a festival of senses. There’s more to Saudi Arabia than its religious past and safari adventures. From its mind-bending malls and glitzy malls to its fascinating mountains and infinite desert, the country promises a world of experiences.
The second-largest city in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is the epitome of contemporaneity meets antiquity. If at first, you’ll be dazzled by its abundance of skyscrapers and shopping centers, as soon as you decide to delve into the city’s past, you’ll discover the intriguing Al-Balad, the city’s historical quarter and its coral stone and wood buildings.
Bargain your way to local products, candles, Arabic perfumes, and leather merchandise at the oldest souk in town, Souk Al Alawi, and enjoy the allure of ancient Saudi Arabia. Walk along the magnificent Red Sea waterfront and hide away from the summer heat in one of the many malls in Jeddah. Don’t miss a tour of the hypnotic Floating Mosque and have tons of fun at the Al Shallal Theme Park where adrenaline shots are infused in every ride.
Mountains in Saudi Arabia? Sure thing! Best visited in the summer to escape the city’s heat, the Asir National Park comprises no less than 1.1 billion acres of land and sea. This is where you’ll find Jabal Soodah, the highest peak in the country, as well as a splendor of misty mountains.
Dressed in dense and pristine forests from head to toe, the Asir Mountains are home to an impressive variety of rare flora and fauna. Outdoorsy folks will fall in love with the abundance of activities available in the park. From trekking and hiking to cable car rides and camping, the Asir National Park makes sure everyone is entertained and active. Moreover, there’s no better place to encounter Hamadryas baboons than on the trails of the Asir Mountains, often accompanied by hornbills and eagles.
Mada in’Salej is an unworldly destination that will take your breath away. The sight exudes history at every turn and tells stories about the ancient Nabatean people. Known as the founders of the beautiful city of Petra, the Nabateans were caravan traders that traveled between Southern Arabia and the Jordan Valley. Mada in’Saleh is a must-see for archeology aficionados unveiling thousands of years old secrets. However, there’s much more to the settlement than the tombs of the Nabatean people and their story. The site is crossed by the Hejaz railway built by the Ottomans, while close by awaits the oasis, mud village, and museums of Al-Ula.
A breathtaking palm oasis that stretches across a major part of eastern Saudi Arabia, Al-Hofuf is what people stranded in the desert dream about. A lush green paradise, Al-Hofuf boasts gardens and streams and a mysterious cave complex. Hosted inside the al-Qarah Mountain, the cave labyrinth is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and a wonder of nature. But Al-Hofuf is much more than an oasis adorned with over two million palm trees. It also is an oasis of culture and history, ideal for travelers who want to familiarize themselves with the country’s traditions. Just an hour train ride away from Hofuf railway station, you’ll discover the splendid Uqair Beach. Caressed by crystalline water and adorned with dunes, the beach is ideal for water sports and camping. Don’t leave Al-Hofuf without indulging in Arab coffee and shopping for artisanal objects from the local shops to remind you of your incredible experience.
The first capital of the Saudi dynasty, Ad Diriyah is situated on the outskirts of the new capital, Riyadh. The first thing that amazes the traveler is its out-of-this-world serenity. Dating back to the 15th century, Ad Diriyah is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a beautiful example of Najdi architecture illustrated through colorful doors, gates, and window shutters.
Once an important political and religious center, the city is now a place of wonder. Home to a sensational citadel, beautiful mosques, and the ruins of stunning palaces, Ad Diriyah is currently undergoing restoration works to become as glorious as it once was, when it was known as the “jewel of the kingdom”. For superb views of the city, you should visit the new Al Bujairy center while the local cafes, restaurants, and shops will keep you busy for more than just a few days.