Since Saudi Arabia has allowed the westerners to enter the Kingdom, all tourists can discover its beauty. This is a game-changer for the Kingdom as it will allow the country to evolve positively and encourages them to adopt more progressive rules.
The country is vast with massive potential for tourism, which is not restricted to camels, Bedouins, and deserts. There are geographical contrasts, which range from green and high mountains to coral reefs and dunes. There are many amazing places and wondrous things that you can do in Saudi Arabia, perhaps to your surprise.
If you plan to go to Saudi Arabia in 2021, make sure you book Saudi Airlines flights well in advance to visit as many places as you can. The flight bookings system is reliable, and you can safely book a hotel you want to stay in, ranging from expensive luxury hotels to affordable rooms. As Saudi is enormous, the distances between tourist hotspots are considerable. Your journey may start from Jeddah or Riyadh, both of which are located in the middle of the country, so if you plan to visit the south and north, you have to make crazy detours for visiting Jeddah, Riyadh, Jizan, and Al-Ula, which are four major cities, and make a total of 3726km. If you are good with calculating distances, you can see how much traveling this is.
Your journey within Saudi will cover the cities that are:
- Riyadh – It is the capital, and is surprisingly interesting.
- Jeddah – It is the second-largest city and has a wonderful Old Town in the Gulf.
- Abha – It has impressive mountains as well as colorful heritage villages.
- Jizan – It has a culture like Yemen and mountain villages.
- Al-Ula – It is the replica of Petra and Wadi Rum, although without the tourists.
Why can’t you visit Mecca and Medina?
When you get a tourist visa, it allows you to go anywhere apart from visiting Mecca and Medina. Besides these places, you can go whenever you want. This is because these are the holiest places for Muslims. If you try entering them without permission, then it is illegal as well as very disrespectful.
If a non-muslim enters a sacred place, he mayl not follow the expected rituals that are supposed to be followed and cause offence. So, to be a responsible tourist, steer clear of there. You can go near the cities, but there are some lines a few meters away from the holy places you cannot cross.
Places to visit in Saudi Arabia
Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia and, as such, most flights land there, coming from Asia, Europe, and other continents. So, it can be the first city that you visit when you land in Saudi Arabia.
It is nothing like the oil-rich, fancy city like Dubai that you may expect it to be; Riyadh is a city rich in history and culture compared to other capitals in the Arab Peninsula. It has natural beauty, as well as fascinating ruins on its outskirts.
Things to do while you are in Riyadh
When you visit Riyadh, make sure you visit the following places:
- Masmak Fort, in the old city of Riyadh, where the famous battle of Riyadh took place
- National Museum and Deera Square, where the public executions are held
- Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Saudi Arabia
- Red sand dunes
- Edge of the world
- Camel trail
- Ad Diriyah
- Skybridge tower, in the modern part of Riyadh, which you can climb
Jeddah, established in the 7th century, is the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia and is a more progressive place that you must visit. Jeddah is the historic gateway for the Muslims who came to Mecca via the sea from Africa. It is a lively city with thriving cafes and parties filled with youngsters.
Things to do while you are in Jeddah
When you visit Jeddah, make sure you visit the following places:
- The Red Sea, which has an outstandingly beautiful coastline and amazing beaches. For example, Silversands, a mixed-gender Beach, where women are allowed to wear whatever they want.
- Al Wahba Crater, the crater around the area of Taif. It is believed that the meteorite created it.
- The Floating Mosque, a beautiful mosque on the ocean. It is very busy after the Friday prayer, so plan accordingly.
Abha has an ancient building and might look like a city that you can skip from the outside, but it is definitely a place that you should visit. It has fantastic traditional markets with several stalls that local Saudis own. You can find a wide range of food in them, ranging from dates to fruit and other natural and homemade food.
There are a lot of honey stalls as well because Ahba is famous worldwide for honey. Some say it is the best place to get honey in Asia. This city is a track region off the beat to make many friends while you are there. The locals are very friendly, and they might even be generous enough to show you around as well.
Things to do while you are in Abha
When you visit Abha, make sure you visit the following places:
- Rijal Almaa Heritage Village and its museum
- Traditional Markets
Jizan is strikingly different, having dramatic mountains and a culture similar to Yemen. It is distinct from other places in Saudi Arabia. You will get Yemeni food and see people wearing the dress of Yemen.
Things to do while you are in Jizan
When you visit Jizan, make sure you visit the following places:
- Jizan Corniche
- Fayfa and Absiyah, two mountain villages that it is famous for
Al-Ula is similar to Petra and Wadi Rum, and certainly with less tourists. One of the most amazing things to do in Al-Ula is to visit Madinah Saleh. Sadly, it is closed now due to vandalism, but hopefully, it will reopen soon.
Things to do while you are in Al-Ula
When you visit Al-Ula, make sure you visit the following places:
- Madinah Saleh, or Hegra, the most jaw-dropping place to stay in Saudi Arabia
- Desert around Al-Ula that is like the Wadi Rum
- Al Deerah Heritage Village (Old Town), a 200-year-old ghost town built from mud