15 BEST Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia

Are you in the mood for some Middle Eastern cuisine or camel rides? Well, then Saudi Arabia should be your next travel destination. The country is home to vast deserts that allow you to ride camels under the hot desert weather, among other interesting outdoor adventures. It is also the home to unique and diverse landscapes, ancient cities, and modern architecture.

The Saudi Arabia landscape is so vast and interesting for any travel enthusiast to ignore. But does this landscape have a place for kids? If you intend to tour Saudi Arabia in the company of your kids, worry not. This country boasts of many wonderful places to explore as a family. If you want to visit the country to have fun then remember you won't find any nightclubs or bars here.

Enjoy the major Saudi metropolitan cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, which offer the best restaurants, mega-shopping malls and cafes in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia is the cultural hub of the Arabian culture and the big brother to all other Middle East nations. It is also the home to Islamic, making it a must-visit destination for any Muslim faithful who wants to instill faith in his/her young kids.

And even if you aren’t a Muslim, this country is a great getaway for anyone looking for pleasant weathers during winter. If you are coming from November to January then you will find most of the places with cool or pleasant weather. In other months of the year you will find it very hot, so pack your bags accordingly. The people here are hospitable, so you don't have anything to worry about.

Saudi Arabia is full of natural wonders that have been undiscovered and untouched for thousands of years, mainly because Saudi Arabia has long been closed for foreign tourism. There are better road networks now, many hotels with relaxed rules for tourists - especially women, and an all-around improved hospitality sector.

It is also easier now to apply for Saudi Arabia Visa regardless of your religion. Booking tickets from the UK or US to Saudi Arabia is also effortless. All these factors make the country friendly for family vacations.

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With that in mind, here are fun places to visit when vacationing in Saudi Arabia:

1. Al Ahsa Oasis

This oasis represents tons of Saudi Arabia’s deepest and most ancient culture. Although the kingdom's cultures vary from one region to the other, the Al Ahsa Oasis is a hub for most of these cultures. Your kids will enjoy learning the local culture as well as exploring the unique terrain around the oasis.

The Qasariah souq and the Al Qarrah caves are located not far from the oasis, so you can explore them as well before taking a flight back to Riyadh. This oasis is also easily accessible by train.

2. Riyadh

Riyadh is the jewel of modern Saudi Arabia. Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia, so you can bet that accommodation and food options are in plenty. There are also many international visitors in the city, so you won't feel like the only non-Muslim or non-Arab around.

When in the Riyadh Zoo, the kids will enjoy watching flamingos, kangaroos, swans, kangaroos, and many other animals that aren't found in the west. The endangered houbara bustard bird lives here as well.

The Edge of the world, two hours drive away from Riyadh, offers the opportunity to witness the endless deserts of Arabia! The view from the top is breathtaking, and it will leave you in sheer awe! You will spot dried rivers across the land, and see camels and their herders moving far below in the middle of the desert.

Riyadh is an outdoor city because the weather is pleasant most of the year (except for the summer months of June, July and August). There are plenty of local and international restaurants and cafes (including Michelin star restaurants). The city has large parks and is a great base for quick getaways to the desert (camping and hiking) or to nearby cities such as Dammam and Qassim and even to countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE (and Riyadh lies in the center of Asia, Europe and Africa, so on average it is 8 hours by plane to the countries in Asia, Europe and Africa).

3. Al Jubail

Al Fanateer beach is second to none in the world when it comes to cleanliness. It is lined with beautiful palm trees, the greenery here will make you feel like you are touring the Amazon, and the hospitality of the locals is unmatched. Your family will love the barbeques in the area as well as the many picnic areas.

If you are looking for a place where you can engage in family outdoor activities, this beach has the most bays to cruise in, tracks for family jogging, and the best malls for family shopping.

4. Ad Diriyah

Visiting the Al Bujairi Heritage Park allows you to taste the kingdom’s traditional dishes and entire dining experience. It is home to the Najd Village and is located in the Dariyah District. Your kids will also learn lots of Arabian history, from the formation and growth of the Arabian Peninsula to the history of Saudi’s greats Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab and Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud. You will find it all here.

5. Hegra

With almost 2000 petroglyphs and cave paintings, this country is one of the richest open-air museums in the world. Cradle and spiritual headquarters of Islam, Saudi Arabia has many tourist attractions like Mada'in Saleh, a pre-Islamic city that, like Petra, was inhabited by the Nabataeans.

Hegra is located in the northwest of the country. There are perhaps no more recognizable sights in Saudi than the monumental rock-cut tombs scattered in the majestic desert. These beautifully carved tombs were built in the first century AD by the Nabataeans.

6. Jeddah

Jeddah combines modernity and old with a captivating old center with coral buildings and the coast of the Red Sea offers first-class diving options. The Red Sea offers the best diving experience in the world as it still has pure and colorful coral reefs. The Red Sea is warm throughout the year and helped coral reefs to adapt to the hot temperature over thousands of years, unlike the dying corals found all over the world.

7. Mecca

And for the Muslim travelers, Mecca and Medina is supposed to be the most sacred destiny. Located in Mecca, the Abraj Kudai is a mammoth of a hotel. This massive $3.6 billion project offers an unprecedented level of luxury and brilliance and spans a massive 1.4 million square meters or, in other words, around 262 American-sized football fields. Now, what exactly will you find within this mega hotel?

10,000 rooms, 70 restaurants, 4 helipads, a bus station, a whole shopping mall, a ballroom, the largest dome atop a hotel, and a conference centre among other things. The hotel has 45 stories, along with five floors dedicated entirely to the Saudi royal family. It has not been completely built yet, but once it is, it will carry the title of the world’s largest hotel, beating First World Hotel, Malaysia, which has 7,351 rooms.

After coming here if you want to go out for shopping or eating then plan ahead according to timings of salah (prayers) because all businesses would close during prayer timings (five times a day).

8. Abha

Saudi Arabia is not all desert! The country has very green mountain villages, countryside and oases, mostly found in the north and the south of the country. Another tourist attraction is the Asir region, culturally and geographically close to Yemen. It is a mountainous region that breaks the desert stereotype of the country.

The men in the south are known as the Flower Men. Their traditional outfit is different from other regions in Saudi.

9. Jazan

The coastal region of Jazan, near Asir, also offers some appeal. Jazan is located in the southern region of Saudi Arabia, known to be the most beautiful part of the country. It’s traditional and quiet unlike big cities like Riyadh and Jeddah. You would enjoy the areas around Jazan more like Farasan Island. It’s a holiday destination for both Saudis and expats living in Saudi, especially on weekends.

10. Farasan Island

Specifically, the Farasan Island offers cultural and scenic assets.

11. AlUla

AlUla is one of the interesting historic spots in the Arabian Peninsula. The place is filled with carved houses, tombs and inscriptions. Traditional Souqs, or markets, are scattered all around the kingdom. Practice your bargaining skills, and you might get a very good deal!

12. Tabuk

Al Disah Valley, northwest of the country, is going to be one of the best hikes in your life as the great mountains of Arabia with their unique rock formation that surround you will leave you speechless.

13. Al Hofuf

Asfar Lake, in the east of the country, will astonish you with the contrast between the blue lake and golden dunes. It will especially be charming at sunset as the colors change the water, sand and sky.

14. Taif

Al Wahbah Crater is only 4 hours drive from Jeddah. You can camp and hike down to the bottom of the crater which is covered with white sodium phosphate crystals.

15. Umluj

Umluj is a coastal town famous for its warm, clear waters and abundant coral which make Umluj the best place for diving and snorkeling. You can also rent a boat for few hours or the whole day for fishing or just exploring the nearby islands.

Kalyan Panja