5 summer holiday destinations in Saudi Arabia to beat the heat
Retreat from the cities to cooler climes without leaving the country…
Thanks to the vast and varied topography in Saudi Arabia, there’s beaches, mountains and even forests to discover year-round. While the temperatures may be scorching in the city, there’s plenty of spots to escape to without leaving the Kingdom, where cooler climes and fun-filled adventure await.
So skip that expensive flight and staycation at one of these summer holiday destinations in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah and the Red Sea Coast
Average temperatures: 36C to 39C
Why go: Though the temperatures in Jeddah are still in the high thirties through the summer, the coastal sea breeze means that daytime adventures are still possible. The best place to start is with the array of water-based activities that shine a spotlight on the dazzling underwater world: fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving are all popular pursuits in the shimmering, unspoiled waters of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast. For a more relaxing break, hit up one of Jeddah’s many beach clubs, and finish the day with a stroll along the picturesque Corniche.
Stay here: Make the most of the scenic seaside with a stay at the five-star Narcicuss Resort and Spa Obhur Jeddah, on the northern coastline. A luxurious take on beachfront bliss, the 60-key, all-villa resort is home to the largest spa in the city, a private beach and a trio of swimming pools found both indoor and outdoors.
Rates from SAR2,128, narcissushotels.com
Average temperatures: 21C to 30C
Why go: Pleasant year-round temperatures and the eternal possibility of rain make Abha a popular choice for a summer holiday in Saudi Arabia. Pack your camping gear and sense of adventure and head for this southwestern region where time has truly stood still. Set 2,200m above sea level between the Sarawat Mountains, a trip to Abha invites you to discover historic castles, ancient homes that have been transformed into living museums, and a fascinating creative culture scene. For the most scenic mountain views, be sure to take the Abha cable car.
Stay here: There are a handful of traditional hotels that would serve as a great base for your summer holiday in Abha, but for a more authentic experience, a farm stay or caravan park in Abha is the way to go. Wake up for sunrise hikes, and admire sunsets in the mountains. Gathern is a great place to start, with rates from SAR300.
Rates from SAR300, gathern.co
Average temperatures: 26C to 34C
Why go: Live amongst the cotton candy clouds with a summer escape in Taif. Another mountainous city, this time in the eastern slopes of the Sarawat Mountains, Taif is characterised by its cooler climes, thanks to its positioning 1,700m above sea level. You’ll want to venture into its more southernly areas, where elevation tops out at 2,400m, to enjoy a slice of the rural life where tradition is at the beating heart of life. Taif is famed for its production of roses, with the area in full bloom between March and April each year, but the production of fruits like figs, grapes and berries takes place year-round. Fruitful markets, historical monuments and beautiful untamed gardens are a handful of the highlights of a trip to Taif.
Stay here: The three-star Meral Oasis Resort is the ideal base for your Taif adventure, set 4.7km from Al-Anoud Park. Each of the 33 rooms is fitted with a balcony and mini-kitchen, and some come with lovely garden views. On-site, you’ll find a wading pool and playground for the little ones, but with so much to see and do in Taif, you’ll spend much of your time exploring.
Rates from SAR1,539, meral-oasis-resort.hotels-saudi-arabia.com
Average temperatures: 22C to 31C
Why go: When the city temperatures soar, Al Baha is most beautiful in the spring and summer, making it the perfect spot to getaway this season. Thanks to its moderate climate and cool breeze through May to August, visitors can look forward to days spent basking in nature at Al Baha’s many verdant parks, gorgeous gardens and dense forests. In the summer, a layer of thick fog regularly blankets the mountains side of the city, keeping the heat at bay and inviting visitors to enjoy the fruitful lands that produce an array of fruit and vegetable crops. Between forest hikes, alfresco yoga, souk tours and ancient village strolls, no trip to Al Baha should be completed without sampling the local honey, one of the area’s most important exports. There’s even a honey festival for a fortnight in August.
Stay here: The self-catering Sar Inn is a collection of quaint wooden cottages, each with a private pool, where guests can enjoy a rural mountain escape. Surrounded by wooden plants, this relaxing destination in Bani Sar village is all about encouraging interaction with the great outdoors.
Rates from SAR1,800, booking.com
Average temperatures: 25C to 41C
Why go: A summer staycation in the desert might not initially sound that appealing, but thanks to low humidity and mild temperatures at night (as well as more wallet-friendly rates at the top hotels), there’s a strong case to spend your summer in AlUla. Conduct much of your experiences around AlUla valley’s majestic mountains, and start your day with a sunrise hike, and conclude it with an evening of alfresco dining. If you prefer to spend your days indoors, there’s still plenty to check out – like shopping your way around Old Town, taking a tour of Maraya Hall or admiring the pieces within the galleries at AlJadidah Arts District. Then use your early mornings for strolls along the Oasis Trail or the adrenaline-pumping AlUla Swing; and late nights for sunsets at Elephant Rock and stargazing.
Stay here: AlUla’s hotel scene has welcomed a collection of luxury resorts in recent years, and among the standout stays in AlUla is Habitas AlUla. Habitas AlUla is a true desert sanctuary for those seeking rest and relaxation. Fused with Arabian aesthetics, its modern architecture is inspired by the natural desert environs captivates. All 96 villas in the resort offer private outdoor lounge decks and king-sized beds positioned to take advantage of the picturesque canyon views. They also come with an electronic bike, so you’ll have the chance to explore the property – but if you prefer, there’s always a buggy to ferry you around.
Rates from SAR1,215, ourhabitas.com
Images: Getty, supplied