Saudi Arabia, one of the most hermetic countries in the world for non-Muslims seems that it is finally changing and opening its borders to international tourists.
Let me tell you something:
Saudi is a great country, composed of lovely people, extremely hospitable, and home to some stunning natural sites, as well as jaw-dropping archaeological sites that you would never imagine.
It is really one of those countries which requires a couple of months to discover because, given its dimensions, there are loads, loads of things to see.
Seriously, I can’t recommend Saudi enough.
For all the practical information, including visas, don’t forget to read how to travel to Saudi Arabia
Capital – Riyadh
Population – 33 million (40th)
Language – Arabic
Many nationalities can finally get an online tourist visa for Saudi. My practical guide contains the latest information regarding this topic.
Unlike what you may have read in the Western media, Saudi people are seriously great and there is absolutely nothing wrong with visiting the country independently.
For more information, read: Is it ethical to visit Saudi?
How to access blocked sites
Remember that in Saudi, the internet is censored, which means that some websites are blocked. If you want to access them, you will need a VPN, and I recommend ExpressVPN.
Learn more: How to find the right VPN for Saudi
Solo female travel
Saudi is very safe for solo women.
Best time to visit
If you don’t want to melt, avoid coming here from end May till end of September, when temperatures average around 45ºC.
The health care system in Saudi Arabia is crazy expensive for foreigners, so travel with the proper travel insurance. I recommend World Nomads:
- The only company that offers unlimited medical coverage
- You can hire it while on the road
- It covers the largest amount of adventure activities
Top 5 experiences in Saudi
- The Old City of Jeddah – Built in the 7th century as a gateway for Muslims going to Mecca
- Explore the green mountains of Jizan – Dramatic landscapes and Yemeni-like culture
- See the sunset in the deserts around Riyadh – Ancient camel trails and breathtaking cliffs
- Get blessed by the local’s hospitality – Saudis are some of the most hospitable people on Earth
- Travel back in time in Madinah Saleh – A replica of Petra but even more remote
For more information, don’t forget to check my Saudi Arabia 2-week itinerary
How to move around
Public transportation is really bad, so ideally:
- By plane – Given the big distances, taking domestic flights would save you a lot of time. Flyadeal is a local airline with pretty economical flights. Tip: There is no city made for walking in Saudi, so even if you fly, you will have to rent a car.
- Car – Feasible, assuming that you don’t mind driving long distances. I recommend booking it via Rental Car, a search engine that finds you the best deals all around the world.