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13 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN SAUDI ARABIA

bySoha Elshafey
January 31, 2024

Saudi Arabia, a country rich in history, culture, and untamed natural beauty, offers a plethora of experiences that are absolutely unmissable. This article is your guide to the top 13 things to do in Saudi Arabia. From exploring historic cities and UNESCO world heritage sites, to indulging in traditional cuisine, and adventuring through stunning landscapes - there's something for every traveler in this Middle Eastern gem.

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not just about deserts and camels, but a country filled with diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and warm-hearted people. The country is opening up to tourism like never before and is ready to share its treasures with the world. So, let's get started on this exciting journey and discover all that Saudi Arabia has to offer!

 

As you read, let each destination and experience pique your interest and stir your wanderlust. Saudi Arabia is not just a destination, it's an experience, a story waiting to unfold. So, pack your bags, bring an open mind, and let's embark on an unforgettable journey through the Arabian sands.

 

1. Explore the Historic city of Diriyah

The historic city of Diriyah, located on the northwestern outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, is a must-visit. Known as the "Pearl of the Kingdom," Diriyah is the birthplace of the Saudi nation and a testament to the country's rich history. Walking through its narrow alleys and ancient mud-brick houses is like stepping back in time.

 

The UNESCO World Heritage site of At-Turaif in Diriyah is a highlight, with its stunning Najdi architectural style and fascinating museums. Here, you can delve deep into Saudi Arabia's past, learn about its first rulers, and marvel at the traditional art and handicrafts.

 

In contrast to the ancient ruins, Diriyah also boasts a modern side. With its plush restaurants, trendy cafes, and art galleries, it's a delightful blend of the old and new. This fusion of history and modernity is what makes Diriyah an unmissable stop on your Saudi Arabia tour.

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2. Ascend the Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh

Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia, is a bustling metropolis boasting numerous attractions. Topping the list is the Kingdom Centre Tower, the third tallest skyscraper in the country. Standing at a height of 302.3 meters, this iconic structure is an architectural marvel and a symbol of modern Saudi Arabia.

 

Riding the elevator to the 99th floor, you'll arrive at the Sky Bridge, an observation deck that offers panoramic views of the entire city. The sight of Riyadh's cityscape stretching out as far as the eye can see is truly breathtaking. Whether you choose to visit during the day or at night, the view from the top is one you're unlikely to forget.

 

The Kingdom Centre Tower is not just about the view, though. It also houses a luxurious shopping mall, a Four Seasons Hotel, and residential apartments. Whether you're into shopping, dining, or simply admiring the view, the Kingdom Centre Tower has something for everyone.

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3. Discover the Coral Houses of Jeddah

Jeddah, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia, is known for its historic district - Al-Balad. Here, you'll find the famous Coral Houses of Jeddah. These traditional houses, built from coral stones from the Red Sea, are a sight to behold. With intricate wooden balconies and beautifully carved doors, the Coral Houses are a testament to the city's rich architectural heritage.

 

Exploring Al-Balad is like walking through a living museum. Each alley, each building, each corner holds a story from the past. The area is also home to vibrant souks, offering a variety of goods from spices and textiles to traditional crafts.

 

While in Jeddah, don't miss the chance to visit the Jeddah Corniche. This 30 km coastal resort area is perfect for a leisurely stroll, with stunning views of the Red Sea, lovely parks, and numerous cafes and restaurants.

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4. Journey through the Empty Quarter Desert

Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter, or Rub' al Khali, is the largest continuous sand desert in the world. This vast and desolate landscape might seem inhospitable at first glance, but it's a place of stark beauty and tranquility.

 

Embarking on a desert safari in the Empty Quarter is an adventure of a lifetime. As you journey through the endless sea of golden sand dunes, you'll experience the true essence of the Arabian wilderness. Whether you choose to ride a camel, drive a 4x4, or simply walk, the desert's mesmerizing beauty is sure to captivate you.

 

The Empty Quarter is not just about sand dunes, though. It's also home to unique wildlife such as the Arabian oryx and sand gazelle. And when night falls, the desert sky transforms into a spectacle of stars, offering some of the best stargazing opportunities in the world.

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5. Watch King Fahd Fountain in Jeddah

Jeddah is home to the King Fahd Fountain, the tallest of its kind in the world. This stunning fountain, also known as the Jeddah Fountain, shoots water 312 meters into the air at a speed of 375 km/h, making it a breathtaking spectacle. Watching the fountain in action, especially at night when it's beautifully lit, is an unmissable experience.

 

The fountain is located near the Jeddah Corniche, so you can enjoy the view while taking a leisurely walk along the coast. There are also several cafes and restaurants nearby where you can relax and soak in the atmosphere.

 

The King Fahd Fountain is not just a tourist attraction, but a symbol of Jeddah's vitality and progress. It's a testament to the city's lofty ambitions and its commitment to combining beauty with modernity.

 

6. Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site: Al Khobar

The city of Al Khobar, located in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, is known for its beautiful corniche, vibrant shopping scene, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al-Khobar Island. This island, once a bustling port for the pearl diving industry, is now a haven for nature lovers and bird watchers.

 

Al-Khobar Island is home to a variety of bird species, including flamingos, herons, and pelicans. It's a wonderful place for a leisurely walk, with stunning views of the sea and the city skyline. The island also has several picnic spots, making it a perfect destination for a family outing.

 

Back in the city, you can explore the bustling markets and shopping malls, savor the local cuisine, or simply enjoy a stroll along the beautiful corniche. Al Khobar, with its mix of history, nature, and modern amenities, offers a unique and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

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7. Try Saudi Traditional Dishes

No visit to Saudi Arabia would be complete without indulging in its traditional cuisine. Saudi food is a blend of flavors and influences from across the Middle East, and each region has its own special dishes.

 

In the central region, you must try Kabsa, the national dish of Saudi Arabia. This flavorful dish is made with rice, meat (usually chicken or lamb), and a mix of spices, and is usually served family-style in a large platter. In the western region, the dish to try is Jareesh, a wheat-based dish often served with meat or chicken.

 

Saudi cuisine also features a variety of delicious desserts, such as dates, Ma'amoul (date-filled cookies), and Kunafa, a cheese-based dessert topped with syrup and nuts. And of course, you can't miss trying Arabic coffee, a symbol of hospitality and tradition in Saudi Arabia.

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8. Experience the Ta'if Season Festival

Ta'if, a city in the mountains of western Saudi Arabia, is known for its cool climate, fragrant rose gardens, and the annual Ta'if Season Festival. This month-long festival, held in August, is a celebration of Saudi culture, heritage, and entertainment.

 

The festival features a variety of events, from traditional Souq Okaz market and historic reenactments to concerts, theater performances, and art exhibitions. There's also a rose festival, celebrating Ta'if's famous Damask roses, and a camel race, a popular sport in Saudi Arabia.

 

The Ta'if Season Festival is not just about entertainment, though. It's an opportunity to experience the rich culture and heritage of Saudi Arabia, meet its people, and create unforgettable memories. So, if you're planning a visit to Saudi Arabia in August, make sure to include the Ta'if Season Festival in your itinerary.

 

9. Dive in the Red Sea

The Red Sea, with its crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and abundant marine life, is a paradise for divers. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced diver, the Red Sea offers a variety of dive spots to suit all levels.

 

Some of the best diving spots are located around the city of Jeddah, including the Farasan Banks, a group of coral islands with stunning underwater landscapes. Here, you can swim with dolphins, encounter sea turtles, and marvel at the vibrant coral formations.

 

Diving in the Red Sea is not just about the underwater beauty, though. It's an opportunity to experience the tranquility of the sea, to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and to connect with nature in its purest form.

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10. Trek through the Asir National Park

Asir National Park, located in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, is a haven for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its verdant forests, towering mountains, and diverse wildlife, this park offers a stark contrast to the country's desert landscapes.

 

Trekking through Asir National Park is an adventure of its own. As you hike along the trails, you'll be surrounded by the beauty of nature, with stunning views of the mountains, valleys, and forests. You'll also have the chance to spot a variety of birds and animals, including baboons, gazelles, and eagles.

 

In addition to trekking, the park offers other activities such as camping, picnicking, and birdwatching. And after a day of adventure, you can relax and enjoy the cool mountain air, a welcome respite from the heat of the lowlands.

 

11. Shop at the Traditional Souks

Shopping in Saudi Arabia is a unique experience, and the traditional souks, or markets, are a must-visit. These bustling markets offer a wide range of goods, from spices, textiles, and jewelry to handicrafts, antiques, and traditional Saudi attire.

 

One of the most famous souks is the Souk Al Zal in Riyadh, known for its gold and silver jewelry. In Jeddah, the Souk Al Alawi, located in the historic district of Al-Balad, is worth a visit for its traditional crafts, spices, and antiques.

 

Shopping in these traditional markets is not just about buying goods, though. It's about experiencing the vibrancy of Saudi culture, haggling over prices, and interacting with the local vendors. It's a cultural experience that's as enriching as it is enjoyable.

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12. Swim with Dolphins at Fakieh Aquarium

Located in Jeddah, the Fakieh Aquarium is a popular attraction for families and marine life enthusiasts. This aquarium, the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, houses a variety of marine species from around the world, including sharks, sea lions, and penguins.

 

The highlight of the Fakieh Aquarium, though, is the Dolphin Show. Here, you can watch these intelligent creatures perform tricks, play with balls, and even paint! You can also take a swim with the dolphins, an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults.

 

In addition to the aquarium, the Fakieh Aquarium complex also includes a restaurant, a play area for kids, and a souvenir shop. It's a great place to spend a day with the family, learning about marine life and having fun.

 

13. Trek to the Edge of the World

One of the most breathtaking sites in Saudi Arabia is the "Edge of the World," a series of towering cliffs located about 90 km north of Riyadh. Standing on the edge of these cliffs, you'll feel as if you're on the brink of a vast abyss, with panoramic views of an endless, barren landscape.

 

Trekking to the Edge of the World is an adventure of its own. As you navigate the rugged terrain, you'll be surrounded by the stark beauty of the Arabian wilderness. Once you reach the top, you can sit back, relax, and soak in the stunning views.

 

The Edge of the World is not just a tourist attraction, though. It's a place of solitude and tranquility, where you can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature in its rawest form.

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Why Saudi Arabia is a Must-Visit Destination

After exploring the top 13 things to do in Saudi Arabia, it's clear that this country is a must-visit destination. With its rich history, diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and warm-hearted people, Saudi Arabia offers a travel experience like no other.

 

Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, you'll find something to love in Saudi Arabia. Each destination, each experience offers a new perspective, a new story, a new adventure.

 

So, are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the Arabian sands? Check out our Saudi Arabia tours and start planning your trip today!

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13 UNMISSABLE THINGS TO DO IN SAUDI ARABIA

by Soha Elshafey
January 31, 2024

Uncover the top 13 things to do in Saudi Arabia. From historical sites to natural wonders, explore the beauty and charm of this captivating country.

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