Explore Beyond the City: 6 destinations to rediscover the natural beauty of Saudi Arabia

Explore Beyond the City: 6 destinations to rediscover the natural beauty of Saudi Arabia

For a change of scenery, these close-to-home destinations are perfect for breaking away from the crowds
15 March 24

The daily grind of city living often has us searching for a breather – this inclination to seek quieter, calm places that can help improve our physical and mental health, regain vitality, organise our thoughts, and prepare for the coming week.

There are many great getaways not far from Saudi’s busiest cities, breathtaking spots that are positioned to enhance your overall wellbeing – all you have to do is drive for about an hour or two at most to leave those skyscrapers behind and embrace the great outdoors.

Near Jeddah

Bayada Island

Perfect For: Swimming

Listening to waves, walking on soft white sand, filling your lungs with the cool salty air, basking in the sun – known among residents as the Maldives of Jeddah, Bayada Island is a much-needed coastal experience. To access this picturesque spot, cross over from Jeddah by boat or scheduled cruise, a journey that takes around 40 minutes.

Tip: Tour operators usually organise cruises from 6am-12pm, or 1pm-7pm. There are many opportunities for water-based activities, including swimming, diving, snorkelling, and water games. Or you can simply relax on deck and enjoy the sunshine and views!

Near Riyadh

Rawdat Tinhat

Perfect For: Camping

Relaxation usually conjures up images of beautiful landscapes, fresh air, and activities that help rebalance and recharge the mind and body. If you’re based in Riyadh and looking for a trip that sees you leaving all the commotion and pressure behind, why not camp at Rawdat Tinhat? This haven – imagine a flawless painting – is considered an ideal sanctuary. Located 185km north of the capital, its major attraction is its tranquil environment and wonderful foliage, extending 140,000km.

Visitors to Rawdat Tinhat live an unforgettable camping experience, unwinding amid the scenery, not to mention exploring a world of flowers – that lavender scent can’t be ignored. It’s also a great destination to enjoy a peaceful sunset and the sounds of nature.

Tip: We recommend visiting during spring when the weather is mild and the area is in full bloom.

King Khalid Royal Reserve

Perfect For: Hiking and Cycling

If you’re on the lookout for a destination that allows you to lose yourself in nature, then King Khalid Royal Reserve is for you. Known for its peaceful atmosphere and wonderful weather, it’s the perfect place for a picnic, a hike, or to hop on a bicycle tour and explore the area, which is some 90km away from the centre of the capital.

Those hills, plains, and valleys have their way of enhancing your feel-good factor and stimulating positive energy. And the impressive biodiversity is a plus. There are over 200 species of plants, including acacia and sidr, as well as fungi. There are also a number of animals, most notably the Arabian squirrel, Arabian oryx, and wild deer.

Tip: Many private companies organise trips to the reserve, offering an activity-packed programme that can include camping, mountain climbing, and archery.

Near Madinah


Perfect For: Exploration

Discovering historical areas makes for a unique experience, and if you're in Madinah, you're in luck. Khaybar, one of the prominent tourist destinations in the region, is 153km away. The old town’s historical ruins tell stories about its past residents. And as well as being an excellent choice for those interested in ancient homes, Khaybar in an oasis surrounded by palm trees, and the stunning landscape has made it a coveted spot for those looking for peace and quiet. The calm sounds of nature and bird songs make it a true example of finding tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Tip:While visiting Khaybar, you can enjoy different types of activities, whether it’s long hiking trails, visiting nearby volcanoes, or taking helicopter tours over ancient tombs.

Near Dammam

Al Asfar Lake

Perfect for: Relaxing

Al Asfar Lake, or Yellow Lake, is another top destination for escaping from the stresses of city life. The lake is also a habitat for wildlife and vegetation, helping to make it a nature lover’s dream destination. It is one of the largest reserves in the region, covering 326 million square metres with water, green spaces, and wonderful sand dunes, which makes it a great place to watch migratory and endemic birds.

Tip: Add activities like camping, skydiving, cycling, boating, and bird watching as highlights to your trip.

Uqair Beach

Perfect For: Camping

It's time to enjoy life and unwind while surrounded by calm sea and charming natural landmarks on the Eastern Province’s most beautiful coast. The surroundings of Uqair Beach, which overlooks the Arabian Gulf, have historical importance, evident in the port and fort ruins visitors should make time to visit. Camping with family or friends by the sea is a fabulous way to soak in some healing energy and experience the wonderful calm atmosphere.

Tip: Don’t forget all the camping essentials as the beach is pretty isolated.