Once a crossroad of civilizations, Al-Ula-The land of Natural Arches preserves the fragrance of ancient civilizations whose history extends back thousands of years. Al-Ula is an eloquent symbol of extraordinary historical, archaeological wonders and abundant cultural heritage that different civilizations have left behind.
Al-Ula is distinguished by incredible sandstone rock formations spread throughout it to reflect the beauty of the golden desert plains and the palm-filled oasis valleys, making it a distinctive destination for nature lovers. Al-Ula, one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula, is rich in ancient human heritage that the visitors look forward to and reflects the beauty of nature to witness a thousand miracles.
Al-Ula has relics of forgotten history that whispers stories of the ancient civilization, immersing ourselves in an unspoken world of wonder. The rock formations themselves are so unique, and it is no wonder that prehistoric humans chose these amorphous rocks as the canvas for their masterpieces. Petroglyphs with inscriptions and drawings of camels can be seen everywhere. The epicurean culture has spell bounded my mind, and I would call it the unique place I have discovered.
How to get to Al-Ula and getting Around
Al-Ula is situated in the northwest of Saudi Arabia in Medina province. It can be easily accessed in 30 minutes from Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz Airport, Al-Ula. This airport is well connected with flights from big cities like Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. Recently, International flights from Dubai and Kuwait to Al-Ula have been launched, bringing guests from all over the world to this beautiful hidden gem of Saudi Arabia. Arriving at the airport, you can find taxi services and car rentals.
'In every grain of sand, there is a story of the earth.'
Must-Visit places in Al-Ula
Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site-Hegra which is also known as Al-Hijr. There is evidence of the human presence and use of the site dating back beyond the 1st millennium BC. This was the critical city of Nabataean civilization dating back over 2000 years ago. Over 110 remarkably well-preserved tombs carved out of sandstone, set in the aridest desert landscapes imaginable. These tombs are the skilled work of the ancient Nabatean civilization, which are elaborately ornamented facades. Don't miss the chance to book a tour on the experiencealula website to hear old wonder stories. A two-hour tour takes you to Ancient Hijazi railway station and then to Jabal Ithlib, Jabal Ahmar, and the show stopper, Qasr Al Farid. The iconic tomb Qasr Al Farid is the largest tomb which is 72 feet tall which is the tomb of Lihyan, son of Kuza.
Al-Ula Old Town
Al-Ula Old Town is a heritage site that features the remnants of mud-brick buildings revealing 900 old mud-brick houses and 400 old shops, dating back to the 10th Century. Al-Ula Old Town can be visited only by booking tours from experiencealula.com. An hour of the tour time will immerse you in local culture and history. This town was inhabited until the 1980s. After the tour, you can explore Market Street (open from 3 pm - 11 pm daily)
Dadan and Jabal Ikmah
It is said that the people of Lihyans established their capital here and named it Dadan in the 7th Century BC. Dadan was one of the most prospered cities of the Arabian Peninsula in the First millennium BCE. Jabal Ikmah, the most extensive open-air library, is filled with hundreds of inscriptions and writings dating back to the Dadanite and Lihyanite periods. A tour to Jabal Ikmah offers a glimpse into the past through its rock inscriptions, an area with a plethora of scripts and rock art in Saudi Arabia. The combined Dadan and Jabal Ikmah tour provide the opportunity to explore both sites. You can book these tours through the experiencealula website.
Nestled in the golden desert sand, Jabal AlFil, also known as Elephant Rock, is one of the famous geological marvels of Al-Ula. The enormous body connects to a slimmer 'trunk' that bulges in just the right areas that look like a giant elephant. The height of this rock is said to be 52 meters high, and hundreds of rock monoliths surround it. This awe-inspiring spot is a free spot to experience marvellous sunset or sunrise. During evenings, you can find cafes open with ensconced viewing areas to sit and enjoy this phenomenal view of wind-eroded rock mammoth.
Located in pristine Ashar Valley, Maraya is the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest mirrored building reflecting the sun out to the sky, glimmering brightly like a diamond in the desert. The entire surface is covered with mirrors, reflecting the desert landscapes and ever-present clear blue skies. Britain's moved beloved Michelin star chef Jason Atherton opens his restaurant on the rooftop of Maraya, naming it Maraya Social.
PUMP UP THE ADRENALINE RUSH
Surprise!! Al-Ula has plenty for thrill-seekers.
Al-Ula has a variety of activities for adventure-seekers. It doesn't matter if you are an extreme adrenaline junkie or just looking for a bit of rush; Al-Ula thrills aplenty.
Experience Al-Ula and Husaak adventures have curated a range of unique activities that allow visitors to enjoy the striking landscapes on offer. You can check these websites to find what do they offer.
Knock these off your bucket list:
- Cycle Trail
- Camping outdoors
- Hot Air balloon
- Helicopter Ride
- Adventure Trail
- Volcano Hike
For a stunning aerial view of Al-Ula, take a helicopter ride for 30 mins which will leave you bedazzled by the beauty of the skies.
Stay Where elegance meets the exotic
To be in the middle of it all, you will have to pony up!!
To be in the middle of it all, you will have to pony up!! Habitas Al-Ula opened the door last month. Located in the Ashar Valley, Habitas Al-Ula is the newest place where nature inspires creative expression, human connection and the pursuit of adventure. Other handpicks are the Shaden Resort Al-Ula and Sahary Resort Al-Ula, which have been open since 2019. Not to forget Al-Ula RV Canyon parks - a collection of flickering airstream caravans that provides an alternative solution for those budget travelers.
Suggested Read: Best Things to Do in AlUla Arabia's hidden gem
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Al-Ula?
A: Al-Ula is a historic and cultural region located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia. It is known for its stunning natural landscapes, ancient archaeological sites, and rich cultural heritage.
Q: What are some of the main attractions in Al-Ula?
A: Some of the main attractions in Al-Ula include the ancient city of Hegra (also known as Mada'in Saleh), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the Elephant Rock, the Al-Ula Old Town, and the Jabal Ikmah site, among others.
Q: Can tourists visit Al-Ula?
A: Yes, Al-Ula is open to tourists. However, visitors must obtain a visa and follow certain guidelines and restrictions, such as dress codes and behavior norms. Additionally, certain sites and attractions may have limited access or require special permits.