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Local Guide To Saudi Arabia

Where to visit in Saudi

Thinking of booking a flight to Saudi Arabia but not sure which city? Where you go in Saudi depends on the reason you're going for. Riyadh for example, is perfect for those who enjoy busy nightlife, fun activities and shopping. Whereas Mecca is perfect if you're visiting for religious purposes as there are fewer activities and is exclusive to Muslims.

Visiting Riyadh

Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia and a lot busier than other cities. In Saudi Arabia, there are a lot of things to do. If you are visiting with family or friends then Riyadh is perfect as it has lots of exciting excursions such as Boulevard World which is a new theme park that only opened in 2022. It's the perfect place for families or couples as there is so much to do, including outdoor cinemas, cafes, and restaurants besides hosting multiple sports, music and theatrical events. Opening times are 4 pm to 12 am due to the hot weather.

If flying in a hot air balloon is on your bucket list then visiting Riyadh could make this happen! We recommend you step out of your comfort zone and into the sky. A shared hot air balloon experience costs SAR995 per adult and SAR795 per child in Riyadh. The best time to plan this excursion is between April and October however, if the weather isn't suitable on the day then you will be informed.

If you're looking for a holiday filled with fun activities in the desert then when in Riyadh we think you'll love to take part in a camel safari. who wouldn't want to spend a day acquainting yourself with the camels in their native environment? Guides lead most camel excursions and provide tourists with coffee or an evening meal to fully enhance their experience and just another great way to get a glimpse into the country’s rich culture and traditions. This can be quite expensive and we recommend booking ahead to make sure there is availability.

If you want to seek an adrenaline rush then you can't go wrong with dune bashing or quad biking in the deserts of Riaydh. The dunes and rocks of the desert in North Riyadh are perfect for outdoor adventure, with activities such as quad biking, sand boarding and dune bashing. These excursions last around 1-2 hours and include pick up & drop off services from your hotel or residence in Riyadh. Sometimes you can book quad biking and camel riding in the same package for around £200 per person but will last 5 hours.

Riyadh skyscrapers

Visiting Jeddah

Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, after the capital Riyadh. If you are a female or a solo traveller we think Jeddah would be the best city to visit as it's known for being the the safest in Saudi. If you are considering visiting Jeddah then here are one of the popular activities is scuba diving along the coast of Jeddah. The Red Sea has lots of underwater caves that were formed thousands of years ago, making it a popular destination for divers and other water sports enthusiasts.

Another one of the top sites for tourists in Jeddah is King Fahad's Fountain which is recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's tallest jet. The highlight of this site is its evening fountain show, a must-see experience included in the list of nighttime activities in Saudi Arabia.

Red Sea Mall is one of the best places in Saudi Arabia to visit if you are with family and friends as it has a joyful and vibrant atmosphere. There are more than 600 stores and shops of the latest women's and men's fashion, including high-end international brands. When visiting the Red Sea Mall there is also a cinema which is perfect for a family day out, they also sell sweet, salty or cheesy popcorn! Also worth visiting is the indoor go-karting, pool tables, blowing or restaurants.

When in Jeddah, we think the Fakieh Aquarium is worth a visit with more than 200 species including Sharks, Groupies, String Rays, Napoleon Wrasse, Sea Horses, and Murrays amongst others. Families can also enjoy the amazing Dolphin and Seal Lion show every day, and when it opens they will the the opportunity to swim with the Dolphins.

Jeddah Saudi Arabia

Other cities include Mecca, Medina, Damamman and many more. Head over to our page on cities in Saudi Arabia for more information

When is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia?

Wondering when the best time to visit Saudi Arabia is? We've highlighted what you should expect for each season, so you can decide when the best time to visit Saudi Arabia is for you. Visiting Saudi Arabia at any time of the year is a good idea, there's always something to do. The type of trip and reason for travel will be the deciding factor as to what time of year you choose to visit Saudi Arabia. It's important to note that Saudi Arabia is a vast country with diverse climates, and the best time to visit may vary depending on your destination and the specific activities you have in mind.


Spring in Saudi Arabia roughly falls between the middle of March to the middle of June, but by May, the climate mimics what most places would classify as summer. Rainfall and sandstorms are at their highest during the Spring season so it's important to consider this when planning your itinerary for your visit to Saudi Arabia. Throughout April, May and June, there is a significant increase in tourists taking part in watersports such as scuba diving in the coastal regions, and after sunset activities in the desert when the temperatures drop down. Spring is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia if you're keen to have lots of fun experiences while visiting this country as there are plenty of opportunities both during the day and also at night when the climate is cooler.

Ramadan falls in the Spring time so it's important to be aware of cultural practices during your travels.


Is summer the best time for you to visit Saudi Arabia? If you love the heat, then yes! Saudi Arabia in the summer has an average daytime temperature of around 45C and an average nighttime temperature of 28C, meaning there is little relief from the summer sun no matter the time of day. The summer season in Saudi Arabia runs between mid-June to mid-September. Much like in Spring, tourists flock to coastal regions like Jeddah and Dammam to bathe in the cooling waters or take part in activities like scuba diving or snorkelling. The Red Sea has one of the most resilient ecosystems and is teaming with diverse sea creatures, perfect for your undersea adventures!


Saudi Arabia's autumn season starts in the middle of September and runs through til December. This season often has the most pleasant temperature which means more can be done comfortably while you're there however, as a result of this it's a lot more popular to visit around this time and maybe a more expensive time to go. The autumn is perfect for dining outdoors, hiking up the mountains, or taking a stroll along Jeddah's waterfront with daily average temperatures of between 23C and 26C.


The winter season is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia for many reasons, there are always plenty of activities, festivals and experiences for you to take part in. The winter season in Saudi Arabia starts in mid-December and lasts until mid-March, with average daytime temperatures around 20C and the coldest dropping to just 8C. As the winter evenings draw in a more comfortable temperature, it is the perfect time of year for outdoor festivals in Saudi Arabia. Some of the most popular festivals in the country are Soundstorm and Winter at Tantora, both welcoming thousands of tourists and residents alike.

Weather in Saudi

Travel requirements and regulations

Making sure you have the correct documents is one of the important things to know before travelling to Saudi Arabia. You need to make sure you have the correct travel documents such as visas and a valid passport.


Make sure your passport has at least 6 months of validity before the date of your departure. You may be required to have 2 recent passport-sized photographs with you as well! Your visa application form is essential - you need to make sure it’s accurate too. If you’re a resident of the UK, US or the EU, you should be able to easily apply online with an e-Visa application. You can also apply for a tourist visa on arrival at any of Saudi Arabia’s international airports. With Saudi’s e-Visa, you can choose between a 30-day visa and a 90-day visa. However, please be aware that if you stay any longer than your visa allows, you will be deported and fined! Find out more about Saudi Arabia's visas here at Alternative Airlines. Don't forget to add travel insurance to your booking, especially if you're planning to do lots of activities when you're out there.

Travel documents

Dressing Modestly

Saudi Arabia follows conservative Islamic practices. This means you need to dress modestly with clothing that covers your shoulders, arms and legs. Women are advised to wear loose-fitting, modest clothing that covers the arms and legs - this could be a long tunic or top that extends below the hips and paired with pants or a long skirt. Women can also choose to wear an abaya (a loose-fitting black cloak). Non-Muslim women don’t need to wear a headscarf (hijab) however carrying one to cover your head in certain situations can be a sign of respect. Men also need to dress modestly and avoid clothing such as shorts and sleeveless shirts. Wearing long trousers and a shirt with sleeves is recommended to avoid being disrespectful. But what about swimwear? It’s generally acceptable to wear swimwear at private hotel beaches or pools, however, it is very inappropriate to wear revealing swimwear in public areas in Saudi Arabia. Try to opt for more modest swimwear options wherever possible.

A woman and a man looking out to the desert in Neom, Saudi Arabia


As well as dressing modestly, there are a few do’s and don’ts that you should follow when visiting Saudi Arabia. These include things like If you’re visiting Saudi Arabia with your partner or spouse, avoid public displays of affection as it can be seen as disrespectful. You’ll also need to adhere to local customs and traditions, such as avoiding criticism of the royal family and respecting prayer times. In many public places in Saudi Arabia, there are separate areas for men and women. You need to respect these designated spaces and adhere to any gender segregation guidelines. If you’re visiting Saudi Arabia for a business trip, avoid scheduling meetings or appointments on Fridays as this is the Muslim holy day. If you’re a non-Muslim visiting Saudi Arabia during the holy month of Ramadan, you need to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during daylight hours out of respect for Muslims who are fasting from sunrise to sunset. Lastly, to ensure you have a smooth and respectful travel experience in Saudi Arabia, you’ll want to think about your communication with locals and using the Arabic language.

Saudi Arabia mosque


Is alcohol illegal in Saudi Arabia? Alcohol consumption and possession in Saudi are strictly prohibited by law. This originates from both cultural and religious contexts. Islam, the predominant religion in Saudi Arabia, forbids alcohol consumption as it's considered intoxicating and harmful. To uphold these principles, the Saudi Arabian government enforces a complete ban on alcohol. If you're wondering whether alcoholic beverages are served on flights to/from Saudi Arabia, here is your answer - the complete ban on alcohol extends to airlines, regardless of their origin, who are not allowed to serve alcohol within Saudi airspace once they enter the country's jurisdiction. You also won't be able to bring your alcohol into the country. Before visiting

A glass of wine with an in-flight meal

It's important to research more about cultural sensitivities, dressing modestly, respecting alcohol regulations and being aware of gender segregation practices. You can find out more information about this in our blog - Saudi Arabia Travel Advice.

Language and communication

To ensure you have a smooth and respectful travel experience in Saudi Arabia, you’ll want to think about your communication with locals and using the Arabic language. Greeting respectfully and politely addressing people is an important cultural practice in Saudi Arabia. When meeting someone, use the appropriate greeting depending on the time of day. Address people using titles and appropriate honorifics.

Be wary of using hand gestures when communicating, especially hand gestures that are unfamiliar or potentially offensive to the local culture. Thumbs-up and peace signs are generally understood but it's best to rely on verbal communication wherever possible.

It’s advised to maintain eye contact when speaking as this is a sign of attentiveness and respect. But avoid prolonged eye contact between unrelated men and women as this can be considered inappropriate. In general, maintain a relaxed and friendly demeanour during conversations.

Arabic Phrases

English is widely spoken in Saudi Arabia, however, making an effort to learn and use basic Arabic phrases can go a long way in enhancing your interactions and showing respect for the local culture during your Saudi Arabia trip. Some greetings you can learn include:

“As-salaam-alaykum” (peace be upon you)

“Wa alaykum as-salam” (and unto you peace)

“Marhaba” (hello)

“Shukran” (thank you)

“Min fadlik” (please)

Learning these words can help you create positive connections with the locals. You should also try to learn numbers as these can be used for everyday transactions, especially if you’re planning to do some shopping while in Saudi Arabia and need to negotiate prices. It’s also a good idea to learn the names of the locations you wish to visit and the landmarks you want to see!

Camel riders in a desert in saudi

Getting from A-Z in Saudi

Saudi Arabia has a continuously expanding transportation network. Depending on the city you’re visiting, different modes of transportation will be available.

Public Transport

Saudi Arabia has been investing significantly in its public transportation network to improve connectivity between its cities and regions. Major cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam have developed modern and efficient bus networks that provide an affordable and convenient way to get around. There’s no need to worry about getting too hot in a stuffy bus - Saudi Arabia’s buses are equipped with air conditioning and are always on time, making it a popular mode of transportation for both locals and tourists. Other than buses, Saudi Arabia has introduced a high-speed railway system called the Haramain Train. This train connects key cities such as Mecca, Medina, Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City. It’s a comfortable and efficient way to travel between these destinations, especially for those on pilgrimage leisure trips!

Taxis and Ride Sharing

Taxis are always available in Saudi Arabia. Many taxis in Saudi Arabia don’t have meters so it’s recommended that you negotiate a fare before starting your taxi ride. Make sure to use licensed taxis from reputable companies. You can also use ride-sharing services such as Uber and Careem. With these services, you’ll get upfront pricing and you can track your ride in real time. Payment is done safely and securely through the app.

Car Rental

If public transportation isn’t your thing, you can opt for a car rental instead. Renting a car for your trip to Saudi Arabia is a great option if you’re planning to explore multiple cities in the country. Saudi Arabia has well-maintained highways and road networks, making your road trip more enjoyable. However, if you’re considering hiring a car, you’ll need to have an International Driving Permit (IDP), as well as a valid driver’s licence from your home country. You’ll need to familiarise yourself with local traffic rules and regulations - seat belts are mandatory for all passengers and mobile phone use while driving is strictly prohibited. 

Domestic flights

Want to explore all corners of Saudi Arabia? The easiest way to do this is by booking multi-city Saudi Arabia flights or domestic flights within Saudi Arabia. Popular airlines that operate these types of flights include Saudia, the nation’s flag carrier airline, Flynas, a Saudi low-cost airline, and Flyadeal. With these airlines, you can visit multiple destinations within Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina, Dammam, Abha, Tabuk and Gassim, among others. You could even book flights to NEOM

Whichever mode of transportation you choose, you must plan ahead of time the cities/towns you wish to explore in Saudi Arabia so that you can have a stress-free, enjoyable experience without getting lost!

Road in Saudi Arabia


When travelling to Saudi Arabia it's helpful to find out which airport is the closest where you have decided to stay. For those contemplating a journey to Saudi Arabia, we advise securing direct flights to King Abdulaziz International Airport. As the primary entry point to the country, this ensures a convenient and smooth transition to your chosen destination within Saudi Arabia. There are a total of 29 airports across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this includes 12 international airports, 3 regional airports and 14 domestic airports.

King Khalid International Airport

If you're looking to fly into Riyadh then this airport is perfect as it is situated 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It's a busy airport consisting of five operative terminals, 40 Passenger boarding bridges, around 11,600 car parks and over 217,000 flights a year therefore, we recommend getting to the airport 3 hours before departure to ensure you don't miss the flight. This particular airport collaborates with over 38 domestic and international airlines and flies to 80 destinations. The airport is a hub for Saudi Arabia's flag carrier, Saudia and low-cost airlines Flynas and Flyadeal.

How to get to King Khalid International Airport?

By Driving- From the centre of Riyadh City, the drive to King Khalid International Airport typically takes around 45 minutes. Upon reaching the airport, various parking choices are available, including short-term parking, long-term parking, an international car park, and valet car park service.

By Taxi- At the airport, a variety of taxi services are at your disposal, provided by reputable organizations like Careem, SAFWA, Airport Taxi, and SATCO. Additionally, you have the convenience of booking taxis online through platforms such as Uber and Bolt.

Car Rental- King Khalid International Airport offers several car rental services for your convenience. When renting a car in Saudi Arabia, you must adhere to specific rules and regulations, which we advise you to familiarise yourself with before making arrangements in Saudi Arabia. If you're a non-Saudi resident planning to rent a car in the country, it's essential to obtain an International Driving Permit before your arrival.

Plane departing

King Abdulaziz International Airport

King Abdulaziz International Airport, also known as Jeddah International Airport (IATA: JED), serves as an international gateway for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. From King Abdulaziz International Airport, passengers can easily access a wide range of destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa, with flights connecting to over 100 cities worldwide. Whether you're travelling for business or leisure, this airport provides a seamless gateway to explore Saudi Arabia and beyond. Serving as a hub for various airlines, including Saudia, the airport also serves as a base for other airlines such as Flynas and Flyadeal.

How to get to King Abdulaziz International Airport?

By driving- It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive from Jeddah city centre to King Abdulaziz International Airport. Parking options are both at the airport and in the nearby area. We recommend researching and arranging parking ahead of your travel to the airport for convenience.

By taxi- at the airport, you have access to a range of taxi services offered by reputable companies. Moreover, you can conveniently book taxis online using platforms like Uber.

Car rental- At King Abdulaziz International Airport, car rental services are available. When renting a car in Saudi Arabia, it's important to understand and comply with the local rules and regulations, which we recommend familiarising yourself with before making any arrangements. For non-Saudi residents planning to rent a car in the country, obtaining an International Driving Permit before arriving is crucial.

Flight over Saudi Arabia

If you are looking to plan a visit to Saudi and wondering which airport is more suitable then we have a page on Airports in Saudi Arabia for lots more information.


Airlines flying to Saudi Arabia

Airlines that fly to Saudi Arabia include Malaysia Airlines, British Airways, Saudia, Turkish Airlines, Etihad Airways, EgyptAir, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Air India, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Philippine Airlines. Low-cost airlines that fly to Saudi Arabia would include Wizz Air, Flyadeal and Pegasus Airlines.

Main airlines in Saudi Arabia

Saudia: Saudia serves as the primary airline of Saudi Arabia, recognized for its extensive network connecting the country to various global destinations. Notably, Saudia has the most expansive domestic route coverage within Saudi Arabia. Being the designated national carrier of Saudi Arabia, Saudia ensures a comprehensive full-service experience on its flights. Consequently, ticket prices tend to be relatively higher compared to budget airlines operating within the country

Riyadh Air: Riyadh Air is an emerging airline positioned to function as a supplementary flag carrier for Saudi Arabia, complementing the existing national carrier, Saudia. Riyadh Air has its operational base at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

Flynas: Flynas is another low-cost airline that offers domestic flights around Saudi Arabia. The airline is the country's longest-serving low-cost carrier and also flies to over 10 destinations within the country. The airline has four hubs in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is its main hub and Dammam, Medina and Riyadh are all secondary hubs.

Flyadeal: is one of the leading domestic airlines in Saudi Arabia. The airline is owned by Saudi Arabia's national carrier, Saudia and offers low-cost flights around the country to more than 10 different destinations. These destinations include Abha, Dammam, Jeddah, Qassim, Riyadh, Tabuk, Jizan, Medina, Ha'il, Taif and Yanbu

Saudia airlines

Ready to travel to Saudi Arabia?

To summarise, a journey to Saudi Arabia requires a balance of preparedness and respect for its rich culture and traditions. Navigating the visa process dressing modestly, choosing the right city and airport and effectively communicating through language and gestures are all essential elements for a fulfilling travel experience in Saudi Arabia. By immersing yourself in the beauty of the landscape and engaging with the warmth of its people, you'll create lasting memories while contributing to a mutual exchange of understanding and appreciation.

More useful resources:

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