Best attractions in Saudi Arabia: Top 12

One of the world’s three remaining absolute theocratic monarchies, Saudi Arabia attracts visitors from all over the world with its abundance of attractions. The attractions of Saudi Arabia meet tourists at every turn - it is important to distribute your time rationally, choosing to explore those that are well located and interesting for you and your companions (friends, family, etc.). The country maintains the ancient traditions of the Islamic people, so you should see everything with a guide. We tell you what to see in Saudi Arabia in 1 day and where to go if the holiday is long. All you need to do is to choose the most attractive sights.

What to see first in Saudi Arabia

Whatever sights you decide to see in Saudi Arabia, remember to observe restrictions on dressing up, drinking alcohol, and socializing with the local girls. Penalties for breaking the laws (official and unofficial) are serious, up to deportation and imprisonment. It is extremely risky to leave the hotel in Saudi Arabia without an escort. You should also be careful when choosing clothing - during the tourist season it is very hot here - you will need hats, breathable shoes and means of protection from the sun. There is air conditioning inside buildings and at bus stops.

The main options for what to see in Saudi Arabia are historical monuments and cultural sites, but there are also natural wonders that outdoor enthusiasts will love. Among the top attractions are:

1. City of Mecca

View of the Royal Clock Tower in Mecca

The city of Mecca is the most important city for the followers of Islam, where tens of thousands of people make the hajj every year. Located an hour’s drive from the Red Sea coast, it is struck by the abundance of historical and architectural monuments. If you are not a Muslim, Mecca should be off the list when planning what to see in Saudi Arabia. Especially for pilgrims in the vicinity of the city, where Muslims come to pray in the Holy Mosque, created a tent camp. In Mecca itself the old buildings are interspersed with ultramodern complexes, such as the Abraj Al-Beit. Since 2010, there is a ground metro.

2. Al-Haram Mosque

Al-Haram Mosque during night prayers in Mecca

The Al-Haram Mosque - also called the Great Mosque - was built over several centuries, beginning in the seventh century A.D., becoming world-famous for its location inside the main Islamic shrine (the Kaaba Kubah). Covering an area of more than 357,000 square meters, it has more than forty entrances to accommodate the maximum number of worshippers. During major holidays there is a crush, so choose when to go see this Saudi Arabian landmark carefully.

3. Ka’ba - cube

The Kaaba is a Muslim shrine in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque

The Kaaba - cube is a unique construction in the form of a rectangular black structure about thirteen meters high, to the side of which Muslims bow during prayers. According to legend, the cube was built by angels who came down from heaven, but it has since undergone many alterations and reconstructions. Extensive restoration work was done in the 7th, 17th, and 19th centuries.

4. Al-Nabawi Mosque

Masjid Al-Nabawi or Mosque of the Prophet in Medina

Al-Nabawi Mosque is the second most important temple for the followers of Islam, the creator of which is considered to be the Great Prophet himself. It is worth visiting this site in Saudi Arabia for the burial place of Muhammad and the many minarets, which are more than a hundred meters high. Also buried here are two caliphs of the country. Mosque is designed for simultaneous prayers of 600 thousand Muslims and during the Hajj their number increases to one million. The peculiarity of the design is the courtyard of the open type in the form of a rectangle. The principle of construction of the shrine became the basis for the architectural designs of other mosques. It used to be not only for prayers but also for court sessions, social gatherings, lessons of Islam and solemn events.

5. Al Quba Mosque

Big domes and minarets of Al Quba Mosque

The Al Quba Mosque is a universal solution for where to go in Saudi Arabia, as any tourist will want to see with their own eyes the oldest temple built for believers in the Prophet Muhammad. It was originally built at a distance from Medina, but gradually the city expanded and now the temple is located in its territory. In the twentieth century a grandiose reconstruction was carried out according to a design proposed by an Egyptian architect. A huge mosque with a prayer hall, offices, a book depository, living areas, a place of purification and ancillary rooms was erected on the site of an ancient building. The building has six domes and four minarets, by which we can judge the size of the prayer hall.

6. The Fahd Fountain

The powerful flowing water of the Fahd Fountain Bassam.salim

The Fahd Fountain is a Saudi Arabian landmark visited by tens of thousands of foreigners, located in Jeddah and dedicated to the state’s 5th ruler. To ensure the smooth operation of the fountain, a powerful pumping mechanism is equipped under it, capable of pumping up to six hundred liters of water in one second. The height of the formed jet is 312 meters, and the speed of the flow almost reaches four hundred kilometers per hour.

Official site:

7. King Fahd Bridge

The highest height of King Fahd Bridge above the water

The King Fahd Bridge is a complex of bridges and dams built to move conveniently from the country to neighboring Bahrain and cost the local government over a billion dollars. It took five years (1981-1986) to build the reinforced concrete structure, and the name was chosen in honor of one of the kings. Traffic jams regularly form on the 25-meter-long bridge, and when necessary it is used for the transfer of police and military personnel.

Saudi sights: what else to visit in Saudi Arabia

A trip to this mystery-filled state can be even more exciting if you use the recommendations below on what to see in Saudi Arabia. Our review includes the best attractions according to reviews, so if you have free time, it’s worth including them in your trip itinerary.

8. Masmak Fortress

Masmaq Fortress wall with tall round towers at the corners

Masmaq Fortress is a fortification complex built in 1865 that passed to Abdul Aziz (the country’s first ruler) in the twentieth century and is considered one of the most visited sites in the capital. In addition to the preserved old buildings, guests of Er-riyad can learn more about the history of the city thanks to the museum exhibits, and for the faithful Muslims a mosque is equipped.

9. Madain Salih

Ancient structure in the Madain Salih complex

Madain Saleh is a great choice for those pondering what to visit in Saudi Arabia during an extended vacation. On the territory of the complex are the ruins of the most important in the first century B.C. settlement of Kherga, where traders from all over the peninsula came. What makes the attraction interesting is the collection in one place of monuments of architecture of different nations: Assyrians, Phoenicians and Egyptians.

10. Asir National Park

Flowering apricot trees in Asir National Park

Asir National Park is steadily included in the list of Saudi Arabian attractions as one of the few areas with preserved flora and fauna. Available activities for travelers include walks through the park’s vast area, during which you can see rare animals (including the Nubian ibex and chamois) and plants in their natural habitat, grilling and picnic areas, and play areas for children and athletes. Some areas are designated for camping, so you can come here for a few days. The reserve has been in operation since the eighties and is fully funded by the state.

11. The Burj Al Mamlak skyscraper (Kingdom Centre)

The Kingdom skyscraper against the background of Riyadh's low-rise buildings

The skyscraper Burj Al-Mamlaka (Kingdom Centre) - built in just three years at the beginning of the 21st century, a huge structure that has become one of the popular attractions of Saudi Arabia. At three hundred meters high tourists can admire stunning views of the largest metropolis, filled with modern and ancient buildings. It has a total of 99 floors, which gives it the right to occupy the 115th place in the list of the tallest buildings in the world. The main part of the premises is occupied by offices, and at the very top you can see an unusual extension in the form of the needle’s ear. For its design solution the skyscraper won the nomination of the most original in the world in 2002.

12. The Rub al-Khali Desert

Sunset over the sand dunes of the Rub al-Khali Desert Javierblas

The Rub al-Khali Desert - Tourists interested in what to see in Saudi Arabia to get closer to the locals are advised to go to the desert, a leader in temperature and hiding the ruins of ancient settlements. In summer the thermometers steadily show more than +50 degrees Celsius, so people who can not stand the heat of this excursion is not suitable. Among the endless dunes are the oases of El Ain and Liwa, where there are greenery and water.

Having at your disposal the rating of attractions in Kuwait, it will not be difficult to plan a trip that will leave behind stunning memories. If there is no desire to do the organizing on your own and risk breaking local traditions, you can study the photos with descriptions and hire an escort. Guides in Saudi Arabia, speaking Russian, is quite a rarity, so it is better to look in advance. An experienced guide not only knows the main interesting places in the city and the surrounding area, but also will recommend a good restaurant and souvenir stores with reasonable prices. Read also about the best attractions in Kuwait and be inspired for your next trip to the Persian Gulf!