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10 Best Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia in 2022

Since the Middle Eastern kingdom opened its gates to the world as a part of its Vision 2030 project, social media feeds have been overloaded with posts of this “new Saudi Arabia.” But what is it that makes Saudi such an appealing vacation choice? Perhaps it is precisely that it hadn’t been open to leisure tourists for as long as one can remember. Or it may be that the country is blessed with a treasure trove of discoveries for all intrepid travelers interested in experiencing new things. From vast, exotic landscapes to cultural and historical delights, uncharted landmarks, and bustling cities – the list of Arab wonders and tourist places to visit in Saudi Arabia is lengthy. Below you’ll find some of MENews247’s best picks!

1. Riyadh – Where Saudi’s past and future meet

Welcome to Riyadh, Saudi’s capital, with a unique blend of the old and the new. It’s a significant part of Saudi Arabia’s tourism thanks to its centuries-old history and rich cultural heritage, bustling markets, world-class shopping malls, glittering glass skyscrapers, and spectacular contemporary art scene. Simply put, Riyadh is a heaven on Earth for travelers from all walks of life. And as such, it deserves a place on our list of places to visit in Saudi Arabia.

While there, try to make a stop at places such as:

  • Diriyah,
  • Al Masmak Fortress,
  • the Saudi National Museum,
  • Souk Al Zal,
  • the famous King Fahd International Stadium,

Many like the city so much that they decide to stay. Riyadh is Saudi Arabia’s commercial hub with unique legal privileges and a broad range of job prospects for ex-pats, making it the quintessential ex-pat destination. In fact, foreigners make up nearly half of the city’s population.

But it’s not just the work that makes them decide to move to Riyadh. It’s the dynamic lifestyle, the modern glitz and glam combined with deep cultural roots, the undeniably excellent Saudi cuisine, and a wealth of activities to enjoy that they fall head over heels in love with. Soon after, they’re looking to team up with experts to help organize their move and begin a new life chapter on a positive note.

2. Jebel Fihrayn – The Edge of the World

Have you ever wondered what standing at the edge of the world must feel like? Well, try standing at the top of Jebel Fihrayn, and you might just find out! Ninety kilometers northwest of Riyadh is one of the most unexpected and dramatic geological wonders and top attractions in Saudi Arabia. Standing atop the 1000-foot-high escarpment offers the rolling views of the sprawling horizon brilliantly blending into the vast desert landscape of faraway dunes, dried-up rivers, and crimson-colored sunsets.

You can go there by car from Riyadh. But there’s also a range of hiking trails for those eager to hike their way to the top. If yes, consider passing through an area dubbed “the window.” From there, go down to the lower plateau and continue to the top. Your reward? Feasting your eyes on vistas that are nothing short of breathtaking. That’s something that spells a truly unique kind of happiness.

3. Eve’s Tomb, Jeddah

The second-largest city in Saudi, the ancient city of Jeddah, also has some hidden jewels, effectively preserving its historic past. Sure, we are talking about Jeddah’s historical center Al Balad, the gorgeous Jeddah Corniche, Tayebat City Museum, Witness King Fahd’s Fountain (the world’s tallest fountain), and the striking Al Rahma Mosque.

But if you happen to be in the neighborhood of Al Balad, stick around for a bit. You’re likely to come across the gates of one of the oldest cemeteries and a small sign that reads “Our Mother Eve.” Upon entering the gates, you’ll find a tomb many believe to be the burial place of Eve. Yes, as in Adam and Eve. Fun fact? Some say that the city has been named after her. Namely, Eve is known as humanity’s grandmother, and Jaddah is the Arabic word for grandmother.

4. Mada’In Saleh – Al Hijr

22 km from al-Ula in the Medina Province is a true archeologist’s delight. Mada’In Saleh (al-Hijr, or Hegra) is a city of magnificent ancient tombs carved into the golden Quweira sandstone outcrops by the Nabataean people. The intricate ornamental designs of the entrance gates and the smooth surfaces of the tomb façades speak volumes about the excellent skills of the masons of ancient times. Although not as famous as Petra, it draws visitors from all over the world looking to witness the splendor of the natural setting and Nabataeans’ architectural accomplishments.

5. Thee Ain Ancient Village, Bidah Valley

Situated in Saudi’s Al Baha region, the historic Dhee Ayn or Zee Ain heritage village is a sight for the eyes. The Marble Village has been sitting on the top of a white marble rocky hill since the 10th century AH. Being more than 400 years old, Thee Ain has seen many a tribal battle in its time before the Kingdom’s unification by King Abdul Aziz.

The village comprises 49 multi-story dwellings with unique, striking polished-stone architectural styles and Sider wood roofs. Even the road that takes you to the village is remarkable, with historical stone and slate towers dotting the way. It is a genuine archeological treasure and one of the prime Saudi Arabia tourist attractions.

6. The Judah Thumb, Al-Ahsa

In the heart of the Rub’ Al Khali desert, there is a massive, solitary rocky thumb jutting out. The Devil’s Thumb, or Judah’s thumb, is an iconic natural rock structure that is truly one of its kind. Travelers from all around the world have come to experience its mystical charm and picturesque beauty. The unique sight is a 10-minute drive away from Judah, west of Al Hofuf. And, it makes a perfect day trip for adventure junkies and anyone who’s into off-roading.

7. The Yellow Lake, Al Ahsa

Much like the Devil’s Thumb, you’ll find the Yellow Lake popping out of nowhere in the middle of miles and miles of the lush white desert. It’s roughly 2 hours away from Khobar, on the outskirts of Al Ahsa city. You’ll have to rent an SUV and drive offroad a bit to get to the lake, but it’s worth it. The never-ending vegetation, deep blue waters, and rolling hills make for an idyllic chill spot for picnicking, bird watching, and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

8. The Al Wahbah Salt Crater

Around 250 km away from Ta’if and a 4-hour drive from Jeddah is a pearly white and supremely gorgeous Al Wahbah Salt Crater that will leave you in awe. The landscape is lunarlike: a vast hollow amidst the never-ending dunes with an opaque lake at the heart. 4km wide and 250m deep, the crater is filled with white sodium phosphate crystals, which create a glittering effect on sunny days. And, after a drizzle, it looks like a heap of white and shiny pearls. The experience is near-otherworldly.

Once you reach the site, you can access the visitor center. It has a small museum where you can find out in detail about this natural wonder, the local story of origin, and its geology. Then, go to the area’s specified vantage points that give glorious views of the desert, walk around the crater’s rim, and visit the lava fields nearby. Enjoy the sunrise or the sunset, or spend a night camping under the clear sky and the shining stars.

9. Marjan Island, Dammam – “Man Made Wonder”

Marjan Island, aka “Coral Island,” is Dammam’s artificial island and a popular tourist spot for travelers and local families alike. This gorgeous slice of nature is something you don’t want to miss. If you enjoy ferry rides, take one to the island and around the bay and immerse yourself in picturesque surroundings and remarkable structures. The island features a beautiful park with excellent facilities, green spaces, playgrounds, and fishing spots. This makes it a perfect destination for a fun day with the entire family. While you’re there, don’t miss the iconic spiral white tower.

10. Wadi Al Disah

Located south of the Tabuk region sits another paradisiacal place and one of the favorite tourist destinations among locals and international visitors. This pretty off-the-beaten-path destination is packed with history and beauty. But if you take the time to pay a visit, you’ll fall in love with it. It has a massive collection of sandstone cliffs and columns, dusty desert, streams, lush palm trees, and hot springs. Also, there are plenty of outdoor activities for nature lovers to enjoy. Mornings there are ideal for hiking the entire length of this gorgeous valley and nights for camping under the stars. It is definitely one of the must-try experiences.

Which of the best places to visit in Saudi Arabia will you put on your must-see list? These are only a few of the most striking sights in this unique place. Once you start exploring, you will open the door to many more wonders of the Arabic world.

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