Here are ten terrific ideas for your next trip to Saudi Arabia
18 July 2019| Last updated on 18 July 2019
These top Saudi Arabia attractions will have you itching to book a trip there today...
Despite being one of the richest countries in the Middle East in terms of culture and history, Saudi Arabia may not sound like it's high on your list of places to go. The Saudi government is striving to change that ever since the country began issuing tourist vias in 2018, welcoming more conventional visitors.
People who have never been there often think of KSA as a one-trick pony - "the" site for religious tourism and desert safaris - nothing more, but the kingdom is actually a multifaceted place with a wide array of attractions both modern and historical.
There's an incredible variety of stunning destinations in KSA. That's why, if you ever find yourself with the question "I have some time in Saudi Arabia, where should I go?" - here's our reply. We've curated the top 10 things to do in Saudi Arabia.
A trip to Saudi Arabia wouldn't be complete without traveling to the city of Mecca, a city famous for being the birthplace of Islam. The place has long been a popular site for Muslim tourists and, in fact, every Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if they have the financial means.
It's important to note that non-muslims are not allowed to enter the city of Mecca, including the area around the famous Kaaba stone.
2. Mada'in Saleh
A stunning archeological site with impressive architecture from the Nabateans - ancient Arab settlers who inhabited northern Arabia. The tribes first appeared in 6 BCE, and a trip to Mada'in Saleh will give you an insight into their history and lifestyle with the many empty Nabatean tombs, which have been carved into huge rocks. The site has stood witness to over two thousand years worth of development in language and culture through the many civilisations that came and left.
Other recommended historical sites to visit in the area include the ancient village of Al Ula, the Lion tombs, the Elephant Rock, and the Lehyan library.
Pictured: Mada'in Saleh
3. Riyadh's Kingdom Centre Tower
Located in the capital of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom Centre Tower is an iconic piece of modern architecture.
A trip to the observatory will make you feel like you have the whole city in the palm of your hands, with gorgeous aerial views of Riyadh and plenty of Instagrammable opportunities. Best visited at sunset and night time when the city lights up and sparkles.
4. The Red Sea
A hot spot for scuba diving, snorkeling, and exploring over 1,200 species of marine life and corals. Swim alongside the many brightly coloured fishes and see if you can out-swim the world's fastest fish - the sailfish - which swims at 68 miles per hour. The Red Sea has a thriving aquatic biodiversity thanks to its coral reefs, which is 1,240 miles long by the coastline and some are even as old as 7,000 years.
Experts also say that swimming in the Red Sea is healthy for you because the salt levels can improve blood circulation. The waters are around 35% saltier than most seas, so you can even float without worries.
It's been suggested that the Red Sea is given its name due to the seasonal alga which makes the waters look a dark orange-red. Others claim it's because of Harei Edom, the red-tinged mountain range nearby. The waters are also warm enough throughout the year, with temperatures ranging between 18°C - 29°C.
Whether you want to stick to the surface or dive deeper, the Red Sea is one of those places you must visit.
Pictured: The Red Sea
5. Edge of The World
A truly remarkable place. Despite its daunting and intimidating name, the Edge of the World in Riyadh offers views of an amazing desert landscape. If you've got a head for heights, you'll love this thrilling spot.
Just be careful, the space is open so its quite dangerous to sit and stand on the edges. You'll also need to do some off-road driving with a 4x4 to reach there.
Pictured: Edge of the World
6. Al Masmak Fortress
A once traditional fortress and an informative museum in one, visitors to Al Masmak Fortress can experience an overview of Saudi history, culture, and the build-up to the present-day kingdom. Explore a collection of well-preserved ancient weaponry such as swords and sabers, and other artifacts. Information in the exhibits are available in Arabic and English, and best of all - the entrance is free.
7. Heet Cave
A beautiful hidden gem in Riyadh, the Heet Cave is a natural swimming pool and well worth a visit for a dip in its deep, turquoise waters. It's dangerous to descend into the waters with a risky jump due to the rocks lining the mouth of the cave - best to climb down the rocks and swim from there.
Pictured: Heet Cave
8. Riyadh Zoo
A well-maintained zoo with over 40 species of animals - this is one family-friendly attraction to bring the kids to. Riyadh Zoo is the largest zoo in Saudi Arabia, with a fun train to ride that will provide a 20-minute tour of the place.
When the weather gets cooler, there's also a variety of exciting shows to watch.
9. Janadriyah Festival
You don't want to miss this cultural extravaganza. The Janadriyah Festival is an annual festival in Riyadh where you can see some of the region's oldest homes, enjoy traditional dances and performances from across Saudi Arabia, check out plenty of trinkets to buy, and sample a wide selection of traditional food. Different parts of the event are dedicated to various regions in the kingdom, including a few other countries, so you'll be able to check out the architecture, art, and food that's unique to each one. The event is suitable for people of all ages.
Pictured: Janadriyah Festival
10. Equestrian Club of Riyadh
Arabian horses are some of the most prized and award-winning breeds in the world. Keep an eye out for competitions and races so you can catch a truly outstanding display of equestrian sport. The race tracks are very classy and well-maintained. The races are best enjoyed with a booked dining spot and meal.