Saudi Arabia travel guide

Saudi Arabia Tourism | Saudi Arabia Guide

You're Going to Love Saudi Arabia

As the largest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia offers a plethora of striking landscapes. The undulating red dunes of The Empty Quarter stretch along a large portion of the Arabian Peninsula and deliver backdrops that will make you feel as though you're no longer on Earth. Coastline port cities provide time for silent reflection and the ability to float in the Red Sea. An abundance of marine life and coral awaits in the ocean to explore by scuba diving, snorkeling or boat trips.

Islam is considered to have emerged from Saudi Arabia and as such, it holds deep significance with Muslims across the world. The cities of Mecca and Medina are home to incredibly sacred mosques that draw millions of visitors each year; however, foreign non-Muslims are not permitted to enter these sites.

What to do in Saudi Arabia

1. Experience the Bustle of Jeddah

Recognized as the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is bursting with activity and has traditionally been a gateway for Islamic pilgrimage. After a day of checking out the fusion of modern and ancient architecture, you can dip your toes in the Red Sea to rejuvenate.

2. Take a Trip to Madain Saleh

The mystifying archaeological site has 131 carved rock tombs that is believed to date back to the 1st century. It became the country's first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

3. Marvel at the Hejaz Railway

The infamous railway network extends through the Hejaz region and was under control by the Ottoman Empire until World War I. Sections have been restored and offer a glimpse into what was an integral transport link in the early 1900s.

4. Deep Dive into the Farasan Islands

Dip under the water here and you'll discover a flourishing ecosystem of sea animals and coral. The group of islands is a renowned scuba diving location and has dolphins, turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, and dugongs that inhabit its surrounds.

5. Feast on Dammam's Incredible Cuisine

As one of the most culturally diverse regions of Saudi Arabia, Dammam is a dream for food lovers. Western cuisines blend with Asian markets to deliver something for every palate.

1. Experience the Bustle of Jeddah

Recognized as the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is bursting with activity and has traditionally been a gateway for Islamic pilgrimage. After a day of checking out the fusion of modern and ancient architecture, you can dip your toes in the Red Sea to rejuvenate.

2. Take a Trip to Madain Saleh

The mystifying archaeological site has 131 carved rock tombs that is believed to date back to the 1st century. It became the country's first UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

3. Marvel at the Hejaz Railway

The infamous railway network extends through the Hejaz region and was under control by the Ottoman Empire until World War I. Sections have been restored and offer a glimpse into what was an integral transport link in the early 1900s.

4. Deep Dive into the Farasan Islands

Dip under the water here and you'll discover a flourishing ecosystem of sea animals and coral. The group of islands is a renowned scuba diving location and has dolphins, turtles, manta rays, whale sharks, and dugongs that inhabit its surrounds.

5. Feast on Dammam's Incredible Cuisine

As one of the most culturally diverse regions of Saudi Arabia, Dammam is a dream for food lovers. Western cuisines blend with Asian markets to deliver something for every palate.

When to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia in July
Estimated hotel price
$62
1 night at 3-star hotel
Saudi Arabia in July
Estimated hotel price
$62
1 night at 3-star hotel

Home to one of the driest climates in the world, it is best to travel during the calmer winter period (December to March).

How to Get to Saudi Arabia

Entry Requirements

Citizens of many countries from across North America and Europe can enter on visas that can be acquired upon arrival. It is important to note that Saudi Arabia enforces strict Islamic law and shoulders and knees should be covered at all times.

Plane

It is possible to fly into airports located in the cities of Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah or Riyadh. Some of the smoothest long-distance routes are from Paris and Frankfurt via Emirates, which can be purchased from roughly 2,720 SAR (725 USD).

Car

Border crossings from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait are reasonably hassle-free, though entering from Iraq will lead to many questions by customs officials.

Bus

Direct services depart from many neighboring countries and can even be purchased from Egypt. Bus fares from Bahrain cost roughly 50 SAR (13 USD).

Entry Requirements

Citizens of many countries from across North America and Europe can enter on visas that can be acquired upon arrival. It is important to note that Saudi Arabia enforces strict Islamic law and shoulders and knees should be covered at all times.

Plane

It is possible to fly into airports located in the cities of Dammam, Jeddah, Madinah or Riyadh. Some of the smoothest long-distance routes are from Paris and Frankfurt via Emirates, which can be purchased from roughly 2,720 SAR (725 USD).

Car

Border crossings from the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Kuwait are reasonably hassle-free, though entering from Iraq will lead to many questions by customs officials.

Bus

Direct services depart from many neighboring countries and can even be purchased from Egypt. Bus fares from Bahrain cost roughly 50 SAR (13 USD).

Popular airlines serving Saudi Arabia

Lufthansa
Good (4,392 reviews)
KLM
Good (799 reviews)
SWISS
Good (901 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,144 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (2,228 reviews)
Air France
Good (959 reviews)
Iberia
Good (1,519 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,812 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,452 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,080 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (5,289 reviews)
LOT
Good (672 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (860 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (805 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (366 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (684 reviews)
Cathay Pacific
Good (451 reviews)
Egypt Air
Good (180 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Good (164 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (304 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Saudi Arabia

There's a lot of choice: from lavish hotels with rooftop pools and royal suites to affordable, budget options. Smaller hotels may only accept upfront cash payments.

Where to stay in popular areas of Saudi Arabia

Most booked hotels in Saudi Arabia

Narcissus Hotel & Spa, Riyadh
5 stars
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$421+
Swissôtel Makkah
5 stars
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$238+
Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel
5 stars
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
$269+
Swissôtel Al Maqam Makkah
5 stars
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$290+
Pullman Zamzam Madina
5 stars
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$293+
Anwar Al Madinah Mövenpick Hotel
5 stars
Good (7.1, Good reviews)
$280+

How to Get Around Saudi Arabia

Public Transportation

Bus services are present in most urban cities, though taxis and private cars are more commonly used.

Trains

Several rail networks connect major cities and high-speed trains link Jeddah to Mecca and Medina. Overnight sleeper cabins can be purchased for lengthy commutes.

Bus

Services are operated on modern vehicles and reach all corners of the country, yet road travel can be considerably slow for long-distance trips.

Plane

Flying becomes a convenient option when considering the vast size of Saudi Arabia. Flag carrier SAUDIA links more than 25 domestic destinations, with flights starting at around 150 SAR (40 USD).

Public Transportation

Bus services are present in most urban cities, though taxis and private cars are more commonly used.

Trains

Several rail networks connect major cities and high-speed trains link Jeddah to Mecca and Medina. Overnight sleeper cabins can be purchased for lengthy commutes.

Bus

Services are operated on modern vehicles and reach all corners of the country, yet road travel can be considerably slow for long-distance trips.

Plane

Flying becomes a convenient option when considering the vast size of Saudi Arabia. Flag carrier SAUDIA links more than 25 domestic destinations, with flights starting at around 150 SAR (40 USD).

The Cost of Living in Saudi Arabia

International credit and debit cards are widely accepted, especially in hotel chains and big restaurants. Tipping is not very common. You can eat at a cheap restaurant for about 20 SAR (5 USD). At the supermarket, a 0.2 gallon of milk and a loaf of bread will cost around 7.5 SAR (2 USD).

Popular cities in Saudi Arabia