Picturesque spots that will surprise you…

Saudi Arabia is tapping into the relatively new concept of domestic tourism while also welcoming international visitors who want to discover hidden gems.

There are definitely places around the Kingdom that you’ve not been to that are worth checking out at least once. They may not always have a lot of hype around them, and they may be hard to get to, but sometimes, travelling is all about discovering spots that are unknown to most people.

Are you ready to explore more of Saudi Arabia with its charming, diverse nature, rich culture, and fascinating antiquities through ages? Here are ten picture-perfect places that may make you want to explore your own backyard.

Al Naslaa Rock

Deep in the Tayma oasis in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province lies a 4,000-year-old rock formation with an unusual feature: It is split down the middle by a straight cut with the precision of a laser beam.

This megalith consists of two sandstones supported by a naturally formed pedestal with a perfect slit down the middle. The mystery of this rock formation is still as shrouded as the first day it was found.

Al-Qandal Forest

 

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The beautiful Farasan Islands are renowned for their rich flora and fauna, particularly for their marine life. Al-Qandal, one of the northern islands in Farasan, is home to Al-Qandal Forest, amidst lush mangrove forests and land trees interspersed with waterways.

The forest is best explored by taking a boat over the crystal-clear creeks, which complement the picturesque tropical look-and-feel of the forest. The area also has various vegetation, thanks to favourable climates and the island’s untouched nature.

Al Qarah Mountain

 

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Al-Qarah Mountain, located to the east of Al-Ahsa, covers 1,400 hectares and consists of sedimentary rocks towering 70 meters high. Its network of curves and caves resulted from sub-aerial weathering, where the limestone rock has been crafted from rain and rivers rather than groundwater.

The high walls, cool limestone and gentle breeze also help regulate the temperature, making these caverns cool in summer yet warm in winter.

Al Soudah Mountain

For those seeking a brief respite from the summer heat of the Saudi desert, the climate in Asir is among the coolest in the Kingdom due to its altitude.

Take in the jaw-dropping scenery in Soudah and marvel at the highest mountains in Saudi Arabia, including the tallest peak, Jebel Al-Soudah, which rises at about 3,000 meters above sea level. It is covered in juniper forests and famous for its misty mountain tops, making the atmosphere almost mystical.

Al Wahbah Crater

 

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Measuring four kilometres wide and 250-meters deep, the sprawling Al Wahbah crater is one of Saudi Arabia’s most dramatic natural wonders: a vast hollow with an opaque lake at its heart.

Carved into the western edge of the Hafer Kishb basalt plateau, the crater is around 250 kilometres and a two-hour drive north of Taif, or about a four-hour drive from Jeddah.

Rijal Almaa Heritage Village

Located in the Asir region, Rijal Almaa – a Unesco World Heritage site – is an ancient village and home to around 60 palaces built from stone, clay, and wood.

A distinctive feature of Rijal Almaa architecture is the use of gleaming white sugar quartz to frame windows and doorways in the village’s palaces and homes. The stunning, signature effect has been likened to that of a multi-tiered assemblage of giant gingerbread houses.

Springs of Moses in Magna

 

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Several springs have been known in Saudi Arabia for hundreds of years on which many old settlements were dependent for both domestic uses and irrigation purposes. For example, in the valley of Magna, a small coastal town located on the Gulf of Aqaba, the palm trees intersect around small springs known as the ‘Springs of Moses’.

It is believed that Bir Al-Sa’idani is the well from which Prophet Moses rolled away the stone to draw water for the flocks of Jethro’s daughters.

The Marble Village of Dhee Ayn

Travel just 24 kilometres from Al-Baha, and you will be greeted by the dramatic landscape of this 400-year-old stone settlement built on top of a white marble hill. The cuboid buildings were made from slate and flat stones stacked on top of each other.

Exploring its narrow pathways is a beautiful experience, especially during the golden hours, when the light reflects on the white marble and the colourful Sarawat mountain range in the background.

Umluj, the Maldives of Saudi Arabia

Umluj is a city in the Tabuk province that spreads 150 kilometres north of Yanbu and comprises more than 100 islands. The small coastal town boasts one of the most beautiful and serene beaches – think soft white sand, turquoise waters so clear that you can see it teeming with beautiful marine life and stunning coral reefs.

Take a boat to islands like Jabal Hassan, or relax at palm-covered coastal beaches such as Al Duqm and Ras Alshaban.

Wadi Lajab

 

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Wadi Lajab in Jizan is situated between two high rocky mountains with steep sides covered by a green blanket of creepers and thick moss that resemble a hanging garden. The narrow and deep valley offers some quite dramatic viewpoints.

But the most incredible feature of Wadi Lajab is that it produces freshwater more regularly than any other valley in Saudi Arabia. The stream that runs at the bottom of the rift creates mid-sized waterfalls – perfect for those who would like to take a dip.

Images: Instagram