Although not especially celebrated for its tourism opportunities, Saudi Arabia has some wonderfully enriching sites making it a memorable destination. Apart from the religious pilgrimages, there is growth in Saudi Arabia's leisure tourism sector, promising for those hoping to visit the country on holiday.
The cities are bustling and vibrant. Riyadh offers excellent hotels and some breath-taking sights, including the Al Faisaliah golden geodesic dome, one of the tallest buildings in the region and the Al Musmak Castle, an important landmark and heritage site.
The historic city of Jeddah is certainly worth the visit. The preserved ancient city is listed as a 'tourist site', as it is the city's seafront corniche, a popular spot with the air of a British seaside resort that draws the country's own domestic holidaymakers. Among it all, the magic of Arabia shines through in the souks (markets) where vendors enthusiastically tout everything from carpets to camel milk.
Rules and regulations can sometimes make sightseeing difficult for foreigners wanting to travel independently, so booking tours is the safest and most stress-free option. However, sites like the ruins of 15th-century Dir'aiyah (the nation's first capital) and trips to the world's largest camel market make for one-of-a-kind experiences which make some sightseeing a must in this somewhat enigmatic country.
The place to see and be seen in Riyadh is at the remarkable Kingdom Centre, the fifth tallest building in Saudi Arabia, owned by a Saudi prince and built to an unusual elliptical award-winning design. The 99-storey colossus is the world's third largest... see full details
Al Masmak Castle
The clay and mud brick fort of the Masmak Fort is an important landmark and heritage site in the centre of Riyadh. Built around 1865, the site is associated with the foundation of the Saudi Arabian kingdom as the original stronghold of King... see full details
Al Murabba’a Historical Palace
Just outside the original city walls, is the spectacular Al Murabba'a Historical Palace. Built in the early 1900s, the palace originally functioned as the private accommodation for the king of Saudi Arabia.
Now a principal component of the King Abdulaziz Darat, an institute... see full details
City of old Diriyah
The ruins of the historically significant city of Diriyah, statuesque and silent in the desert about 12 miles (20km) northwest of Riyadh city centre, provide an interesting excursion. The city, originally the stronghold of the powerful Saud family, was the site of an important... see full details
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of his first revelation of the Quran, Mecca is the holiest city in the Muslim world and is the direction towards which the world's Muslims pray five times per day. The pilgrimage to Mecca... see full details
Located in the mountains near Mecca, Ta'if is a popular summer holiday resort in Saudi Arabia. One of the few places in the region that is open to non-Muslims, Ta'if is a lush region known for its rose farms, as well as... see full details