With its vast ochre deserts, rugged green mountains and glorious coastline, Saudi Arabia is a country made for road tripping. There’s a route for everyone, whether family travelers, outdoor explorers, history buffs or cultural connoisseurs. Arabia has an allure that few destinations can match. But before you throw your luggage in the trunk and hit the open road, you’ll want to be prepared. Here, we offer a practical guide to the tools and tips you need for an unforgettable road trip, no matter the route you pick.
The northeastern city of Tabuk has long been a resting point for Jordanian and Egyptian pilgrims, with a rich Bedouin culture that can be felt in the bustling Souq Twaheen, which still supplies patterned rugs and goat-hair tent covers for modern nomads.
It doesn’t take long to work out why this small coastal town and region is often referred to as the Maldives of Saudi Arabia.
The port of Yanbu, just a few hours’ drive west of Medina, is really two distinct cities: the new city to the south, with its oil refineries and plants, and the old town to the north, an ancient spice route staging post where T.E. Lawrence lived.
Jeddah’s unofficial motto is Jeddah ghair, or ‘Jeddah’s different’. No Saudi city has been more open to outside influences over the years than this ancient port.
Just reaching Taif is a thrill. From the hollow of Makkah, a beautiful serpentine road winds up through the mountains to the plateau where Taif sits, passing fruit markets, rose farms and deep valleys.
A journey to Al Baha is a journey to a different Saudi Arabia. In a Kingdom that’s often characterized by ochre desert, this high-altitude city is a place of ancient towers, lush forests and winding valleys.
The southern endpoint of the Red Sea coast, Abha is the culturally rich capital of the Asir region, and a great base for exploring this mountainous part of the Kingdom.
From the ancient palm-roofed fort that overlooks the town, to the merchant houses or evocative stone buildings of Al Qassar Village, Jazan’s appeal is as varied as its scenery.
Riyadh is at first glance a modern metropolis, its highways hives of activity under the glare of its urban high-rises. But delve beneath its shiny new façade and the city’s fascinating centuries-old history can still be found within its atmospheric souqs, compelling museums and ancient architecture.
Boasting endless views of a tranquil Arabian Gulf, Dammam is a modern metropolis that thrives on its coastal location. Along with nearby Al Khobar and Dhahran, these ‘triplet cities’ are tailored to a lifestyle in the open air, brimming with lush green parks, airy waterfronts and sandy beaches.