Best things to do in Saudi Arabia
Find out more about those top places in Saudi Arabia
If you are looking for a well-rounded city to spend your holidays, then look no further than Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s capital and largest city with over 7 million people. Located at the eastern part of the Najd plateau, the city has always been a power house for civilization even in old times starting out as a small tribal village before transforming into a top commercial center.
With many attractions to keep you well invested, it is quite impossible to run out of activities in Riyadh. Some top sites include the Masmak Fort, Deerah Souk among many others.
Built in 1865, the Masmak is a place of great significance in Riyadh – it was at the fort that the capturing of Riyadh, led by leader Ibn Saud (first founder of Saudi Arabia) occurred on 14 January 1902. The fort is as most typical fort made in those days – it was made using clay and mud-brick and has strong walls and four watchtowers. The most exciting part about the Masmak fort is its museum, which displays antiques, guns, old photos, costumes and traditional South Arabia house set up.
There is no better way to experience the “real” Riyadh than visiting the Deerah Souk, where things occur at a frantic pace. Located on Faisal Road, the souk is an extended part of the Masmak fort and not only offers visitors a chance to test their bargaining skills, it also provides an avenue to socialize with locals. The shops are organized by products sold and the traders speak a bit of English, so it is easy to navigate your way through the market – some items on sale include antiques, clothes, groceries, souvenirs and gold.
One of Riyadh most exciting modern attractions, the Kingdom center was once the tallest building in Saudi Arabia but has been surpassed by several others, however still holds the record of being the world’s tallest building with a hole. Its major attraction is the Sky Bridge located on its 99th floor - the bridge spans over 65 meters and sits atop the building at a height of 300 meters. Visiting requires passing through two high-speed elevators, with the first one taking you to 180 meters, and second takes you to the Sky Bridge – all done in about 90 seconds.
To get easy understanding of Saudi Arabia and its history take a trip to its National Museum. Established in 1999 the museum is part of the King Abdulaziz Historical center, its exterior and interior are very impressive typical of most of Saudi Arabia’s tourist attractions. The museum is divided into 8 galleries namely; man and the Universe, Arabian Kingdoms, The Pre-Islamic Era, The Prophet’s Mission, Islam and the Arabian Peninsula, First and Second Saudi States, The Unification and The hajj and the Two Holy Mosques.
See a bit of ancient Riyadh by exploring the Old Diriyah. Now in ruins, it was once the official capital of the Emirate of Saudi from 1744 to 1818 and also the home of the Saudi Royal family – located in Wadi Hanifa, you can still see its mud structures and is well-organized streets layout. Its main attractions include the Saad bin Saud Palace and the Saiwa Palace.
Regarded as “the holiest place” in the world, Mecca is Islam’s most sacred city. Forbidden for non-Muslims the city is located in the Hejazi region of Saudi Arabia, it is the birth place of Islam’s most revered Prophet Muhammad and the site of Muhammad’s first revelation of the Quran.
Mecca has a population just above 2 million which rapidly increases during the Hajj Pilgrimage. The Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for any Muslim who is physically and financially able to carry it out. Most of the attractions in Mecca, as expected, are linked to Islam and Prophet Muhammad such as the Great Mosque of Mecca and Jabal an-Nour, but there are also side attractions that can be explored by visitors.
The Great Mosque of Mecca officially known as the Al-Masjid Al-haram, is the most sacred mosque to Muslims. The mosque has a capacity of 1.5 million people and is the largest mosque in the world. It is filled with many structures of great interest like the Kaaba, the Black Stone, the Station of Abraham and ZamZam Well.
This ultra-modern shopping center is the number one stop for buying and selling in Mecca, it features brands from all over the world. Designed to suit the customer it has different sections to appeal to the desires of visitors, there are jewelry sections, books sections, souvenirs sections among others.
The Al Wahbah is a volcanic crater in Mecca about 820 ft (249.94 m) deep and 2 km wide. Located a few Kilometers away from Taif, the Al Wahbah Crater is not one of the Mecca’s most popular tourist sites but it presents something different for visitors to explore. Going to the bottom of the crater and back to its top takes approximately 2 hours.
The Jabal an-Nour which translates to “Hill of the Illumination” or “Mountain of Light” is a sacred mountain located in the Hejazi region near Mecca. It also has a cave called the Cave of Hira that is very revered by Muslims because it was said that the great Prophet Muhammad spent much time in the cave meditating. The mountain is over 2,106 ft (641.91 m) height and it usually requires some hours to get to its peak. It is one of the most visited destinations in Mecca and its said to be the location where Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation of the Quran on the Night of Power.
The Al Kiswah factory produces “Kiswah” which is used to cover the Kaaba, it embroidered and stitched together to form the popular Islamic wear. The factory located on the old Jeddah road opened in 1977 and it generates a large part of the city’s wealth. Visitors can tour round the factory and see the manufacturing process.