For travelistos and travelistas in search of undiscovered natural wonder, Saudi Arabia should be on your list. If there is a final frontier of tourism left, it is Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the Kingdom can find the sculpted red dunes of romantic Arabian deserts by day, roofed by a canopy of stars you can seemingly reach out and touch at night. Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline offers pure white sands, azure waters and a myriad of untouched beaches that are aching to be discovered. While the south is home to breathtaking mountain scenery decorated with greenery.
Throw in ancient Nabatean Tombs, spectacular lunar landscapes, dramatic colored volcanoes and acres of palm trees and you have a truly unique adventure that will stay with you forever.
Madain Saleh is the most iconic historical site of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the first to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage, in 2008. The ancient Nabatean tombs are carved from the massive sandstone rocks of the Al Ula region. It is located in the north of Madinah Province, where many other fascinating archeological sites attest to the thousands of years of human occupation of the area thanks to the underground water available for millennia.
The result of an underground volcanic explosion, this spectacular crater in the middle of the desert measures 1.3km across and 200m deep. In the middle, white sodium phosphate crystals create a milky lake whenever rain collects, and palm plantations can be seen growing along the eastern edges. A new road leads up to a visitors centre with picnic spots; and there is a tricky, hidden hiking trail leading to the bottom: note that the path is in a bad state.
Al Ula Viewpoint
The views as you wind your way up to this gem of a spot offer glimpses of what is to come. At the top, the road plateaus through a windswept, lunar landscape of black basalt rock, before arriving at spectacular viewing platform. Suddenly the breathtaking view comes into sight and the entire Al Ula valley, surrounded by majestic red-rock mountains stretches to the horizon, sprawling out before you like a surrealist painting.
The Edge of the World
The Edge of the World is part of the Tuwaiq Escarpment that runs through Saudi Arabia’s central region. The dramatic sight of the cliffs and endless panoramic view of the plains below make it an unforgettable adventure. For an exhilarating hike, follow the path up to the heads of prominent twin rocks bringing with it views across the shimmering desert.
The Farasan Islands are an archipelago of 84 islands made of coral reefs located about 40 kilometers offshore from the city of Jizan. The archipelago is a southern jewel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home to pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rare wildlife. Farasan is miles away from the deserts and sand dunes typically conjured when imagining the landscapes of Saudi Arabia.
The Empty Quarter
The ‘Abode of Silence’, or the Empty Quarter, covers almost 655,000 sq km (250,000 square miles) and evokes all that was romantic and forbidden for European adventurers, such as British explorer Wilfred Thesiger who famously crossed it. The Bedouin simply call it ‘the sands’, and its dunes, which can reach up to 300m high, form long chains of sculpted ridges that always look as if they’re missing the silhouette of a camel caravan.