Native Eye’s Best Places to visit in Saudi Arabia: 7 unmissable sights

18th May 2022

Arguably one of the world’s last travel frontiers, the magnificent Middle Eastern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a challenge to visit for some time.  We’ve been pioneering trips here since 2017 and as such, we think we know the country, how to travel there and places to visit in Saudi Arabia better than most.

Still shrouded in mystery – and controversy – we aim to show travellers just why Saudi Arabia is one of the most rewarding, safest, and most welcoming countries in the region, with some of the world’s best archaeological and architectural attractions.

Unlike any other trip, this is a real journey of surprises that will challenge what you think you know about this enigmatic corner of Arabia. No wonder it’s become a surprising hit for travellers wanting something truly different.

Here’s our pick of Saudia Arabia’s best places to visit. We’d love you to join us!

Seven unmissable places to visit in Saudi Arabia

1. Witness ancient and modern in Riyadh

Riyadh cityscape with Kingdom Tower, best places to see in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh cityscape – old and new – with the Kingdom Centre

Who could miss the capital city of Riyadh as the best place to visit in Saudi Arabia? The country’s largest city is home to some of the most amazing contemporary architecture on the planet. The apex of modernism is undoubtedly The Kingdom Centre which, at 41 storeys and over 300 metres, dominates the skyline like a giant sleek bottle opener, and from which you can get the best views of the city from its giant Sky Bridge observatory. In complete contrast to the vibrant commercial hub, there are also the oldest buildings in the city, such as the Masmak Fortress and the beautiful Murraba Palace built in traditional style by King Abdul Aziz.

2. See incredible rock art at Jubbah

Places to visit in Saudi Arabia - rock art, Jubbah
Take in Jubbah’s rock art on Native Eye’s Saudi Arabia tour, the Forbidden Kingdom

History is everywhere in Saudi Arabia and no more so than in Jubbah, northwest of the city of Ha’il, where you’ll see ancient petroglyphs which give a glimpse into a life gone by. You’ll witness a variety of male and female figures, wearing ancient clothing and hairstyles, as well as hunting scenes of the pastoral nomads who once lived here. The finest carvings date from 5500 BC and are found in an area covering 39 square kilometres. Some of the best rock art you are likely to ever see, which makes it one of the best places to visit in Saudi Arabia.

3. Visit Madain Saleh, Jordan’s ‘Petra’

Al Ulla
Nabataean tombs at Madain Saleh

For many travellers, seeing the numerous tombs and burial chambers hewn into the rocks at Madain Saleh is the trip highlight on a visit to Saudia Arabia. Far well less known – and less visited – than Jordan’s Petra but fascinating and impressive, the site was built by the Nabataeans as their second, ‘southern’ capital. The imposing structure became Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

4. Take a jeep through Saudi’s ‘Wadi Rum’

Bajdah Desert - Saudi Arabia
Wadi Bajdah

Although far less known than Jordan’s Wadi Rum, in terms of scenery, Saudi Arabia’s Bajdah Desert (or Wadi Bajdah) is similar. Located around 100 kilometres northwest of Tabuk, the best way to explore this mesmerising area is to take a 4WD off-road jeep safari across the blood-red sand dunes and desert floor, where you’ll be surrounded by towering sandstone monoliths. Extraordinary.

5. Visit the lush landscapes of the Asir Mountains

Asir Mountains - a popular place to visit in Saudi
Visit the Asir Mountains on our Forbidden Kingdom tour, one of our favourite places to visit in Saudi Arabia

At an altitude of 2,200 metres, the Asir Mountains have a completely different climate and therefore landscape from the rest of the country. Frequent rainfall makes the surrounding lands fertile, verdant and good for agriculture. One of the best ways to get a great view of the Asir highlands is by taking the cable car up Mount Souda in nearby Abha.

6. See the ‘coral houses’ of Jeddah

Jeddah's old town - Al Balad
Tightly packed houses, mostly built from blocks of coral and wood, make up Jeddah’s old town, also known as Al Balad

Unlike Saudia Arabia’s buzzing cosmopolitan capital, Jeddah, the ‘second city’ is steeped in history, having been built on the wealth of ancient trade routes and its location by the Red Sea. As one of the best places to visit in Saudi Arabia, a highlight is visiting Jeddah’s ‘coral houses’, old Ottoman properties constructed from coral and wood, a nod to the city’s historical maritime influence.

7. Marvel at the mud-brick village of Ushaiger

Mud brick town of Ushaiqer
Traditional architecture in Ushaiger

One of the more unusual places to visit in Saudi Arabia is the well-preserved mud-brick village of Ushaiger, a collection of about 400 houses and 25 mosques which line a maze of pathways amidst palm trees and orchards.

 

Be inspired by the places you visit in Saudi Arabia on our Forbidden Kingdom tour!

For more information about what’s included in our Saudi Arabia small group tour, see our Forbidden Kingdom itinerary. Or simply call us on 01473 328 546 or e-mail us using our contact page.

We’d love to hear from you.

Jebel Fihrayn, nicknamed the Edge of the World
Native Eye travellers visit Jebel Fihrayn, nicknamed the Edge of the World

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