Beneath the Surface: Reasons to visit Saudi Arabia if you haven't already

Beneath the Surface: Reasons to visit Saudi Arabia if you haven't already

Not to be overlooked, a trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will surpass all your expectations, the nation has more to offer than what you might think
07 June 24
سحر الشعاب المرجانية في البحر الأحمر، المصدر: إنستغرام visitredsea Image source: IG visitredsea

From the cool, green mountainous regions of Aseer and Taif to the luxurious Red Sea resorts, Saudi offers a diverse array of experiences that cater to every traveler’s desire.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, cultural immersion, or a mix of everything, this rapidly transforming country has something for everyone

Discover a Different Saudi

Often portrayed in films and documentaries as an arid landscape of endless sand, Saudi Arabia boasts more than meets the eye and is welcoming tourists with open arms and a treasure trove of gems.

Although the vast Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali) is indeed one of the world's largest sand deserts; even within its dunes lies a wealth of treasures waiting to be explored. International media outlets often focus on and emphasise these beautiful desert landscapes, but the Kingdom also has greener, cooler and more mountainous regions such as Taif and Aseer.

A Cooler Saudi

Visitors can escape the summer heat in Aseer and Taif, Saudi Arabia's cooler highlands.

With average temperatures of 24°C and a steady breeze throughout the year, Aseer offers both locals and tourists a greener and mountainous Saudi. adventures . Take the famous cable car and enjoy the breathtaking views, or enjoy outdoor pursuits such as kayaking, and hiking, or relax in the verdant beauty of Al-Soudah Park. Explore Abha's Cowboy Town, or time your visit with the bloom of the purple jacaranda trees in late April and early May.

Taif is also known as the "city of roses," boasts year-round coolness at 1,700 meters on the Sarawat slopes. Explore Taif's history at the Al-Shareef Museum and savor a local breakfast. Learn about Taif's famed bees and honey, and visit Rose Factory Alhada to witness rose petals transformed into precious rose water and oil, pick the juiciest strawberries at a farm and feed friendly wildlife.

A Tropical Saudi

Saudi's Red Sea coastline has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, the 28,000 square kilometre paradise that runs along the Kingdom's west coast, is now home to several new eco-concious, luxury resorts.

Fast becoming stiff competition for far flung destinations such as The Maldives and Bora Bora, Saudi's Red Sea destination offers visitors pristine beaches alongside sweeping desert dunes, and natural wonders, including thriving coral reefs. The crystal-clear waters teem with marine life and unique oddities such as sunken ships, making it one of the best diving spots in the world.

Although more resorts are set to open soon, the Six Senses Southern Dunes will give guests the ultimate luxury desert retreats whilst the island escapes of The St. Regis Red Sea Resort, and Nujuma, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve have already been favourites of celebrities such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

A Vibrant Saudi

Although a country that protects and promotes its local culture, its rich history and natural beauty, there is so much more that makes up the social fabric of the Kingdom.

Known to host high-octane sporting events alongside globally popular music festivals, Saudi is one of the up-and-coming locations for internationally acclaimed events. From elite boxing matches that have been streamed across the world to eSports internationals, inaugural and history making fashion events and unmatched music festivals, in addition to the nation's own regional 'seasons' or city-wide festivals, there is an almost constant buzz across the Kingdom.

Its is no surprise that the Kingdom is home to some of the world's best shopping destinations, discover the high end stores that Via Riyadh has to offer, or discover the creations of local artisans in AlUla's Old Town.

A Taste of Saudi

Traditional Saudi Arabian cuisine is loved near and far, and the Kingdom does not shy away from sharing its pride in national and regional dishes. In January, the Kingdom's Culinary Arts Commission revealed the nation's signature dishes, each celebrating the diversity and cultural richness of the Kingdom's thirteen provinces. And Riyadh's Mandarin Oriental Al Faisaliah now hosts a weekly brunch that invites guest to indulge in the authentic flavours of the Kingdom's favourite dishes.

Riyadh, AlUla and Jeddah have also been the chosen locations for a number of internationally acclaimed restaurants. Form high-end fine dining, to casual burger bars, viral cookie stuffed croissants and delicious designer coffee shops, a selection of business lunches and dining on a budget, everything is possible in the Kingdom. New restaurants open regularly across the Kingdom, click here for the newest openings in Jeddah, and click here for the newest openings in Riyadh.

An Adventurous Saudi

Saudi Arabia is bursting with adventure opportunities.

Hike through dramatic canyons, on the edges of extinct volcanos or explore the verdant mountains, swing like Tarzan over 85 meters above the ground, gliding in a thrilling 70-meter arc or feel like you're flying as you zipline through the air. The Kingdom has an array of adventure activities that will unleash your inner adrenaline junkie with sand-boarding down colossal dunes, scuba dive in the crystal blue waters of the Red Sea to discover the marine life and incredible coral reefs, or chase the sunset across the desert on an ATV excursion or take in the beauty of the Kingdom's landscape from a helicopter.

Whether you seek heart-pounding thrills or breathtaking natural wonders, Saudi Arabia has an unforgettable adventure waiting for you.

An Accessible Saudi

The Kingdom's eVisa program now welcomes citizens from 66 countries and several different special administrative regions, including those residents of GCC countries and the UAE.

Tourists from almost 50 countries are able to get a 'visa-on-arrival' when visiting Saudi Arabia. To obtain a visa-on-arrival, travellers are required to pay a fee of SAR 480 (approximately US$130 or 120). The price of the visa encompasses full health insurance during your stay in the Kingdom, and a processing fee. Check out our full list of countries that can get a visa on arrival in Saudi right here.

Several new direct air routes established links with Saudi and a number of European destinations such as Nice, Malaga and Athens, with British Airways also reintroducing direct flights on the much-anticipated route connecting London and Jeddah after a five year hiatus.

The Kingdom has also introduced a number of new airports such as the Red Sea International Airport, and even a floating runway serving the Ummahat Islands of the Red Sea and has announced significant upgrades in progress for others.

For more on exploring Saudi this summer,