Epic Road Trips: Unique Routes for Exploring the Vast Beauty of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a land of diverse landscapes and rich history, offers some of the most epic and unique road trip experiences. From the majestic dunes of the desert to the scenic mountain passes and the hidden gems of ancient civilizations, each route promises an adventure like no other. Here’s a guide to some of the most unforgettable road trips you can embark on to explore the vast beauty of Saudi Arabia.

unique places in Saudi Arabia

1. The Red Sea Route: Jeddah to Umluj

  • Route Overview: Begin in the bustling city of Jeddah and travel north along the coast of the Red Sea to the beautiful beaches of Umluj.
  • Highlights: Explore Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district, then head towards the untouched beaches near Umluj, often termed as the ‘Maldives of Saudi Arabia.’ This route offers stunning sea views and opportunities for snorkeling and diving in the Red Sea’s vibrant coral reefs.
  • Distance: Approximately 700 kilometers.
unique places in saudi arabia

2. The Desert Explorer: Riyadh to the Edge of the World

  • Route Overview: Travel from the capital city, Riyadh, to Jebel Fihrayn, popularly known as the ‘Edge of the World’ for its dramatic views.
  • Highlights: Experience urban life in Riyadh, then drive towards the majestic cliffs of the Tuwaiq escarpment. The journey is a blend of modern cityscape and raw desert beauty, ending with breathtaking views from the Edge of the World.
  • Distance: Around 100 kilometers from Riyadh.

3. The Ancient Trade Route: AlUla to Tayma

  • Route Overview: This route takes you through the ancient Nabatean city of AlUla to the historic oasis town of Tayma.
  • Highlights: Explore the archaeological wonders of AlUla, including Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue to Tayma, an ancient oasis with a rich history as a trading hub. Don’t miss the Tayma astronomical complex and the historic Bir Haddaj well.
  • Distance: Roughly 380 kilometers.
unique places in saudi arabia

4. The Asir Mountain Adventure: Abha to Al Soudah Park

  • Route Overview: Traverse the mountainous region of Asir, starting from the city of Abha to Al Soudah Park, the highest park in Saudi Arabia.
  • Highlights: Discover the colorful traditional architecture of Abha, enjoy the cool climate, and take in stunning mountain views. In Al Soudah Park, experience the lush green landscapes and the region’s unique flora and fauna.
  • Distance: About 25 kilometers.

5. The Coastal Trail: Dammam to Uqair Beach

  • Route Overview: An enchanting drive along the Arabian Gulf from the city of Dammam to the serene Uqair Beach.
  • Highlights: Enjoy the coastal scenery of the Eastern Province, with stops at Tarut Island and the historic village of Al Qatif. Uqair Beach offers a tranquil retreat with its pristine beaches and historical sites, including the Uqair Fort.
  • Distance: Approximately 130 kilometers.
unique places in saudi arabia

6. The Northern Frontier: Tabuk to Al-Jouf

  • Route Overview: A journey through the northern part of Saudi Arabia, from the city of Tabuk to the olive groves of Al-Jouf.
  • Highlights: Explore the rich history of Tabuk, including the Tabuk Castle. Drive through the dramatic desert landscapes, visiting the ancient rock art at Jubbah, another UNESCO World Heritage site. End in Al-Jouf, known for its vast olive gardens.
  • Distance: About 700 kilometers.

7. The Green Mountains Route: Abha to Najran

  • Route Overview: Traverse from the high-altitude city of Abha to the historically rich Najran, passing through the verdant mountains of Saudi Arabia’s Asir region.
  • Highlights: In Abha, explore the Asir National Park and the cultural village of Rijal Almaa. The drive to Najran takes you through breathtaking mountainous terrain, leading to the unique architecture and archaeological sites of Najran.
  • Distance: Approximately 200 kilometers.
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8. The Oasis Trail: Al-Ahsa to Riyadh

  • Route Overview: This route takes you from the lush oasis of Al-Ahsa to the bustling capital city of Riyadh.
  • Highlights: Begin in Al-Ahsa, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its natural springs and palm groves. Visit the Al-Qarah mountain and the traditional souqs. The journey towards Riyadh showcases the dramatic transition from green oases to the urban landscape.
  • Distance: Roughly 400 kilometers.

9. The Hejaz Railway Trail: Medina to Tabuk

  • Route Overview: Follow the historic Hejaz Railway line from the holy city of Medina to the northern city of Tabuk.
  • Highlights: Start from Medina, one of the holiest cities in Islam, and head towards Tabuk, passing through historic stations of the Hejaz Railway. The route offers insights into the region’s history and stunning desert vistas.
  • Distance: About 750 kilometers.
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10. The Sea to Sand Route: Yanbu to Al Ula

  • Route Overview: A journey from the Red Sea coast in Yanbu to the archaeological wonders of Al Ula.
  • Highlights: Yanbu is known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs. From there, the road takes you inland through the desert landscape to Al Ula, home to ancient civilizations and natural wonders.
  • Distance: Approximately 500 kilometers.

11. The Southern Highlands Route: Najran to Jizan

  • Route Overview: Explore the southern highlands of Saudi Arabia from Najran to the port city of Jizan.
  • Highlights: The route offers a mix of cultural and natural attractions, including Najran’s Al-Ukhdood archaeological site and the Farasan Islands near Jizan, known for their rich biodiversity and pristine beaches.
  • Distance: Around 300 kilometers.
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12. The Coastal Escape: Jeddah to Yanbu

  • Route Overview: A scenic coastal drive from the bustling city of Jeddah to the peaceful beaches of Yanbu.
  • Highlights: Along the way, stop at beautiful beach resorts and dive spots. The Red Sea coastline offers splendid views and a chance to explore underwater treasures.
  • Distance: Approximately 350 kilometers.

13. The Eastern Province Loop: Dammam to Al Khobar

  • Route Overview: Circumnavigate the vibrant Eastern Province, starting from Dammam and moving towards Al Khobar.
  • Highlights: Visit the Corniche in Dammam, known for its scenic views and artwork. Explore Al Khobar for its bustling shopping areas and waterfront promenade. The trip also offers a chance to experience the unique blend of modernity and tradition in this oil-rich region.
  • Distance: About 50 kilometers.
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14. The Heritage Trail: Buraidah to Hail

  • Route Overview: Traverse the heartland of Saudi Arabia from Buraidah to Hail, exploring the country’s agricultural and heritage-rich sites.
  • Highlights: In Buraidah, witness the traditional date market and farms. The drive to Hail takes you through desert landscapes with stops at ancient rock art sites. In Hail, explore the city’s historic palaces and museums.
  • Distance: Approximately 300 kilometers.

15. The Western Coast Journey: Jizan to Thuwal

  • Route Overview: Travel along the western coast of Saudi Arabia, starting from the port city of Jizan up to Thuwal.
  • Highlights: This route offers spectacular Red Sea views. Enjoy the tropical ambiance of Jizan, visit the Farasan Islands for their rich marine life, and explore the pristine beaches along the coast. Thuwal, near King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), provides a glimpse into Saudi Arabia’s investment in education and research.
  • Distance: Roughly 700 kilometers.
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16. The Nafud Desert Adventure: Sakaka to Arar

  • Route Overview: Experience the mesmerizing beauty of the Nafud Desert, traveling from Sakaka in the Al Jawf region to Arar in the Northern Borders Province.
  • Highlights: The journey offers a chance to see the expansive red sands of the Nafud Desert. Visit the Rajajil standing stones near Sakaka, and explore the traditional markets and farms of Arar.
  • Distance: About 250 kilometers.

17. The Southern Asir Journey: Abha to Tanomah

  • Route Overview: A drive through the lush landscapes of southern Saudi Arabia, from Abha to Tanomah.
  • Highlights: In Abha, enjoy the cool climate and mountain scenery. The route to Tanomah takes you through breathtaking green mountains and offers opportunities for hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of the Asir region.
  • Distance: Approximately 120 kilometers.
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18. The Gateway to Rub’ al Khali: Najran to Sharurah

  • Route Overview: This route leads you to the edge of the Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter), starting from Najran and ending in Sharurah.
  • Highlights: Experience the diverse landscapes from Najran’s fertile plains to the vast desert of Rub’ al Khali near Sharurah. The journey offers a unique perspective on the less-traveled southern parts of Saudi Arabia.
  • Distance: Around 500 kilometers.


Each of these routes presents a unique aspect of Saudi Arabia, from coastal drives and desert adventures to journeys through historical cities and lush highlands. Whether you seek the thrill of off-road exploration, the serenity of pristine beaches, or the allure of ancient sites, these road trips across Saudi Arabia promise a captivating and diverse exploration of this vast and enchanting land. Remember to respect local customs, prepare adequately for desert conditions, and immerse yourself in the diverse experiences that await you on the open roads of Saudi Arabia.

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