When you visit Saudi Arabia, you can expect to find a lot more than just desert towns. In fact, it’s one of the wealthiest countries in the world and features a diverse mixture of beautiful landscapes, bustling CBDs with skyscrapers, and historical towns that preserve Saudi Arabian culture.
If you’ve ever wondered ‘where is Saudi Arabia’, it’s located in the Middle East, surrounded by countries such as Yemen, Oman, Iraq and Jordan. The major Saudi Arabian religion is Islam, and the country is home to thousands of mosques and relics of the past. In short, the country is simply breathtaking and offers something for everybody.
Here are 8 unique places to visit in Saudi Arabia.
The city of Al Bahah is perched high in the mountains, about 2,200 metres above sea level. The city itself is surrounded by over 40 forests, giving you an indication of the rugged landscape in the region. The local Raghdan Park provides breathtaking vistas for those who want to soak in the scenery.
If you venture around 24km out of Al Bahah, you’ll also find Dhee Ayn Village, which dates back over 400 years. Dhee Ayn is often called the marble village, as it is built on a small marble mountain. The entire Al Bahah region is beautiful, and a must-see for those who like to explore historical architecture and local culture in an often lush, green setting.
Nestled in the heart of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, The Kingdom Centre is a 303m skyscraper that was once the tallest in the country. This impressive tower boasts 99 storeys, packed with hotels, offices, dining, shopping, entertainment and more. It’s a must-see on any visit to the Saudi Capital, and a memorable part of all Saudi Arabia tours.
While the building is impressive, the real drawcard is the Sky Bridge on the 99th floor. Taking a high-speed lift, visitors can walk across the enclosed sky bridge that hangs 300m in the air. The view of the city below, and indeed the entire city beyond, is absolutely breathtaking. If you’re looking for photo opportunities, you won’t find much better than the Kingdom Centre Sky Bridge.
An hour north of the town of Hail, you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of Jubbah. In the Al Nafud desert, Jubbah is home to desert rocks featuring some of the Arab world’s first Neolithic rock inscriptions. Since some of this artwork is over 9,000 years old, it is carefully protected but visitors can view and learn about the Saudi Arabia people’s rich history from a knowledgeable guide.
The city of Jubbah is mostly agricultural and is home to around 20,000 residents. It lies on an ancient lake bed, and is known for its fertile grazing lands. In fact, some of the rock art found at the World Heritage site depicts ancient farming activities, giving an insight into the region’s history from thousands of years ago.
Another gem in the AlUla region is the Sharaan Nature Reserve. This 1,500 square kilometre reserve has been the focus of considerable conservation efforts, allowing many native species to thrive. As you journey through the reserve, you might spot any number of local wildlife, including gazelles and ostriches, in the dry desert grasses. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for the very elusive Arabian wolf that lives in the region. For lovers of the outdoors, the Sharaan Nature Reserve simply must be on your list of things to do in Saudi Arabia.
The Red Sea’s high-salinity water is well known around the world for its relaxation and therapeutic properties. But you can do a lot more than just float in the Red Sea. From the thriving seaport of Jubbah, you can take a cruise on the Red Sea, including a chance to sample some delicious Saudi Arabian cuisine prepared by the crew.
Even better, why not use the snorkel and swim amongst the diverse marine life, including turtles, eels, lionfish and even reef sharks? Take a cruise and let your guides show you the very best of the Red Sea.
Abha is a fascinating city surrounded by large mountains and steeped in rich traditional culture. One of the highlights of visiting Abha and the surrounding Asir region is the Hanging Village of Habala. This small settlement clings to the side of a cliff, which is a sight to behold.
The village was originally built this way as a deterrent to invaders, but it still stands strong today. The only way to access the village is by cable car, but even viewing the village from below is an incredible experience.
AlUla is a large region in Saudi Arabia that blends natural beauty, rich history and modern convenience. The list of activities in AlUla is almost endless, and it really depends on your personal preference.
The Nabataean site of Hegra dates back to the first century BCE and includes well-preserved tombs, rock art and formations, desert sands and other geological marvels like Elephant Rock.
You can also visit the historic city of AlUla, which used to be at the crossroads of the Silk Road and Incense Route, and has been beautifully renovated to feature trendy dining venues and shops along its winding alleyways.
A trip next door to the ‘new city’ of AlUla places you in a vibrant city environment, surrounded by towering cliffs and rich sunshine. If you visit Saudi Arabia, make sure you enjoy an afternoon drink on a terrace as you watch the sun change the colours of the cliffs around you.
We’ve talked about the sights in Riyadh a lot, and that’s because it’s the nation’s capital and the largest city by population, being home to over 4 million people. But one of the most stunning places to visit in Riyadh is The Murabba Palace. Built between 1936 and 1938 by King Abdulaziz as the first major expansion outside of old Riyadh’s city walls, the palace is a must-see historical monument.
Today, this impressive former royal palace has been renovated into a living museum and is still used for occasional international dignitary visits. The architecture alone is worth the visit, and you can explore the unique design that effectively incorporates a series of palaces into one.
Contact Crooked Compass today if you’d like to enjoy any of these perspective-shifting experiences in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We offer a range of Saudi Arabia tours that will change your opinion of this Middle Eastern Kingdom forever.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.