Everything we did in AlUla for AlUla Skies 2023

All the things you can enjoy in the historic city right now…

AlUla is one of, if not, the coolest destinations in the world. Gorgeous landscapes, amazing activities, and tonnes of wonderful sites to see. This past weekend we checked out the gorgeous city for ourselves, and trust us, you need to visit as soon as you can book a trip.

Not quite sure where to begin? That’s where we come in. Here’s everything we did in AlUla.

Where we stayed

Habitas AlUla

We reached AlUla in the afternoon and checked into the stunning Habitas AlUla. And you can leave your worries on the doorstep of this hotel, we quite literally felt like any and all tensions leaving us as soon as the kind staff on hand performed the cool crystal-centric welcoming ceremony. The hotel is divided into multiple single and double dwellings, each with gorgeous views of the AlUla landscape. You can check out the Manal AlDowayan’s trampoline installation “Now You See Me, Now You Don’t” if you’re feeling a little restless, get cosy or take a dip by the infinity pool, or check out Moon Shell and Tama if you’re a little peckish.


What we did

Day 1

Tour of Old Town and AlJadidah

Old Town AlUla

We were then taken on a tour of the historic AlUla Old Town by The Traveling Panther. Located in the narrowest part of the AlUla Valley, the area is home to a historic marketplace selling everything from local handicrafts to elegant antiques and souvenirs. You can even grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants and coffee shops. You’ll feel a connection to the magnitude of history that’s taken place within the market.

AlJadidah was an entirely different story though. You walk in and you can instantly see the difference between the two areas regardless of how close they are. At AlJadidah, we saw gorgeous painted murals, the world’s largest hand-painted carpet lines on the road for visitors, and more. The area is divided into five squares: Art Square, Gathering Square, Muayada Square, Qanat Square, and Oasis Square. Each of these has its own flair, so you need to check out all of them.

Checked out Dar Tantora

For a more historically accurate experience, you can check out (or into) Dar Tantora. Named after AlUla’s famous sundial, the boutique hotel rooms were made from sensitively restored mudbrick buildings bringing back a touch of ancient living with just a hint of luxury. There are five rooms with traditional decor and minimal modern technology to ensure you can fully relax and go off the grid for a little bit.

For more information please visit: experiencealula.com

Dinner at Asfar restaurant

dar tantora

We then headed upstairs and had dinner at the in-house restaurant, Asfar. The venue has two dining areas, an indoor majlis and an outdoor area under the stars. We’d recommend the outdoor area since you don’t get to see a sky full of stars like this anywhere else in Saudi. On the menu you’ll find camel meat, pies and more.

For more information please visit: experiencealula.com

Day 2

Hot Air Ballooning

As part of AlUla Skies, we hopped into a basket and went hot-air ballooning. We got up bright and early at four in the morning which was the perfect time to catch the sunrise. The hot air balloon takes you up in the skies with amazingly trained pilots who let you explore pretty much every aspect of the ride.

Don’t forget to snap a couple of pics for the ‘gram since there’s nothing quite like the site of a couple of hundred balloons floating around in the AlUla sky.

Helicopter tour of Hegra

For another one of the AlUla Skies activities, we strapped ourselves in for a cool helicopter tour of the historic Hegra heritage site and also checked out AlUla’s most famous landmarks like Maraya Social and heritage sites like the Mountain of the Ladies and more.

Lunch at Harrat by Banyan Tree


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To recharge and refuel, we had lunch at Harrat. It is a vibrant fine-dining venue with both indoor and outdoor seating areas. The menu features a range of regional classics and international cuisine too.

Sunset at Rainbow Rock

After a quick break, we went right back to exploring. This time around it was to Rainbow Rock. Located a 90-minute drive from the centre of the city, the bridge-shaped structure resembles a rainbow flanked by two clouds. You can hike up to the top right behind the structure and marvel at the sight.

Stargazing experience at Gharameel

This truly was one of the highlights of our visit. The stargazing tour at Gharameel takes you on a journey through the stars where an expert guide will talk you through the constellations while surrounded by spectacular desert landscapes.

Dinner at Heart of Oasis

If you’re out for a more rustic candlelit dinner, Heart of Oasis is where you want to go. The venue offers a fresh menu and is one of the only ‘farm to fork’ restaurants in the Kingdom and serves dishes curated by a Saudi chef.

Day 3

Checking out the Giant Swing

Undoubtedly one of the most thrilling experiences we’ve ever did. If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie (like us) you need to check this out. You get harnessed up and hike up some 70 metres over the rocks and reach the launch point of the Giant Swing. From there, you’re locked in safely to the wire and sent on your way. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even take a running leap from the edge of the mountain.

Andy Warhol exhibition at Maraya Social

Andy Warhol

And for the art buffs, if you’re in town, you need to check out the one-of-a-kind Andy Warhol exhibition, titled ‘FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla’, which is being showcased exclusively in the award-winning Maraya until Tuesday May 16. The exhibition shows some of the renowned American artist’s most iconic artworks.

FAME: Andy Warhol in AlUla, until May 16, Wed to Sun, 2pm to 9pm, Maraya, AlUla. Free entry. Book your visit here@artsalula

Dadan and Ikmah tour

The Dadan and Ikmah areas are some of the most significant discoveries in all of AlUla. Built meticulously of stone, Dadan dates back between the late ninth and early eighth century BCE (Kingdom of Dadan) and the fifth and second century BCE (Kingdom of Lihyan).

While Jabal Ikmah is home to tonnes of inscriptions in old-time languages like Aramaic, Dadanitic, Thamudic, Minaic and Nabataean, some of which date back to 24AH.

Harrat Viewpoint

This gorgeous viewpoint is set on top of an ancient volcanic peak and presents an elevated view of the city below. You’ll be seeing amazing views of Dadan, AlUla Old Town, AlUla Fort and the AlUla Oasis.

Dinner under the stars at OKTO


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Looking for a more upbeat and lively experience? Perched atop Harrat Viewpoint is the Greek restaurant OKTO. With live DJs and entertainment, complete with good food OKTO seems to be the the place you want to go to see the history of AlUla come together with the vibrance of the new age.

OKTO AlUla, King Abdulaziz Park, AlUla, daily 1.30pm to 8.30pm. @okto.sa

For more information please visit: experiencealula.com

Images: Provided