Nothing quite compares to the feelings of adventure, anticipation and excitement you get when you embark on a solo trip. And while an element of the unknown can be thrilling, you want to be sure the destination you’re visiting is welcoming, safe, culturally rich and diverse. Recently ranked the safest among G20 nations, and with culture, nature and unique food experiences in spades, Saudi is the ultimate getaway for those who prefer to go it alone. Here’s why:
The 200-year old Qaisariah Souq is incredibly well-preserved for an instant trip to ancient times (Alamy Stock Photo)
From ancient fortifications in Riyadh and bustling souks and local markets in Al Jubail, to the hyper-modern malls of Al Khobar, there are enough fascinating attractions in Saudi to keep an inquisitive solo traveller busy for years. Tick off the big hitters: the incredible tombs of Hegra in Al Ula; the Gate to Mecca in Jeddah’s oldest neighbourhood; the Shubra Palace in Taif and the watchtowers and artefacts of Tabuk Castle. Then veer a little off piste with visits to the lesser known places such as the 200-year-old Qaisariah Souq in Al Hofuf or the fascinating museums in the desert city of Diriyah.
It’s no secret that solo travellers enjoy time to themselves, and in Saudi, there’s no end to the opportunities to enjoy a bit of ‘you time’. Why not spend a secluded couple of hours hiking through glittering sodium phosphate crystals to the bottom of the Wahba Crater and back? Or enjoy a moment of introspection drinking in the serene city views from the top of the green mountain of Jebel Al Akhdar in Abha? In Al Ahsa, solo travellers can experience the healing waters of more than 150 natural springs. And if time to yourself usually involves a little luxury, head straight for Durrat Al Riyadh Resort & Spa for relaxing yoga classes and candlelit treatments.
Wherever you travel in Saudi from hotels to restaurants and sights, you’ll experience a warm welcome and the best in hospitality (Visit Saudi)
Thanks to the seriousness with which Saudis take their hospitality, solo travellers are unlikely to experience a warmer welcome anywhere else in the world. Generous hospitality is a key cornerstone of Saudi culture; a millennia-old custom that has been turned into an art which can be enjoyed upon a visit to any restaurant, museum, hotel or home. Expect to be met with a sense of ceremony and respect, and for hosts to express their welcoming nature through coffee and an abundance of delicious food.
Innovation, reform and a progressive arts and cultural programme has helped create a safe and welcoming atmosphere in Saudi and has led to it topping the list of most secure nations in the G20, instilling deeper confidence in solo travellers looking to visit. Making now the perfect time to book your independent adventure.
The lush, verdant environs of the Farasan Islands are a must-experience for nature fans (Visit Saudi)
It may conjure up images of vast desert landscapes and arid plains – and while these are breathtakingly beautiful to experience – but the diversity of Saudi Arabia’s topography is staggering. In the southwest of the Kingdom, the Asir Mountains bristle with verdant brush and colourful flowers as fog rolls around the peaks. Along the Red Sea coast you’ll find the world’s northernmost mangrove forest, and off the southwest coast the archipelago that makes up the Farasan islands is teeming with wildlife and pristine coral reefs to be explored.
A hub for culture
Saudi has been cementing its reputation as a cultural powerhouse over the past few years, with a surge in investment for large scale arts projects and programmes. In Jeddah, the “art capital” of the Kingdom, a wide variety of galleries await culture seekers – from the boutique Darat Safeya Binzagr Gallery and its extensive collection of her mixed media artworks, to the Adham Art Center, which hosts a revolving programme of exhibitions by local and international artists. Over in the capital, Riyadh, Season is an annual five-month culture festival featuring spectacular live concerts and immersive entertainment events. Or for a multi-sensory four days of electronic music showcasing 200 acts from all over the world, December’s MDL Beast Fest is a frenetic, musical feast and perfect example of the changing face of Saudi.
From its diverse terrain to its thriving art and music scene, Insta-worthy food and natural wonders to travel for, Saudi is ready and waiting for you to discover. For more incredible, off-the-beaten track ideas for sites to see, experiences to try, and places to stay, check out Visit Saudi