Hidden Gems: Underrated Saudi Arabian Destinations Worth Exploring

Saudi Arabia is a land of stunning contrasts, where ancient history intertwines with modern development, and vast deserts coexist with lush mountains and vibrant coastlines. While cities like Riyadh, Jeddah, and Mecca often steal the spotlight, there are numerous lesser-known destinations that offer unique and captivating experiences. For those looking to delve deeper into the Kingdom’s diverse landscapes and rich cultural tapestry, here are some hidden gems worth exploring.

1. Al-Ahsa Oasis

Al-Ahsa Oasis, located in the Eastern Province, is one of the largest oases in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts lush palm groves, historic sites, and natural springs.

Experience: Explore the stunning landscape of over 2.5 million date palms and the numerous springs that feed them. Visit the historic Qasr Ibrahim, a fortress that dates back to the Ottoman era. The Jawatha Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the region, is also a must-see. Don’t miss the Al-Ahsa Traditional Market, where you can experience the local culture and buy unique handicrafts.


2. Al Bahah

Nestled in the mountains of the southwestern region, Al Bahah is known for its cool climate, breathtaking scenery, and ancient villages.

Experience: Wander through the ancient stone village of Dhee Ayn, also known as the Marble Village, which is perched on a white marble hill. The village’s architecture and natural setting are truly unique. Hike in the Raghadan Forest Park to enjoy the greenery and panoramic views. The area is also famous for its honey production, so be sure to sample some local honey.

3. Najran

Located in the south, near the border with Yemen, Najran is a city steeped in history and culture. It offers a mix of ancient ruins, vibrant markets, and natural beauty.

Experience: Visit the ancient ruins of Al-Ukhdood, which date back over 2,000 years and hold significant historical importance. The Najran Museum offers insights into the region’s rich past. Explore the traditional mud-brick architecture of the Najran Valley, and don’t miss the opportunity to visit the local souks, where you can find traditional textiles, silver jewelry, and more.

4. Al Jouf

Al Jouf, located in the north of Saudi Arabia, is an agricultural heartland known for its olive groves, historic sites, and beautiful landscapes.

Experience: Explore the ancient Marid Castle in the city of Dumat Al-Jandal, which dates back to the Nabatean period. Visit the nearby Omar Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the region. Al Jouf is also famous for its olive oil, so be sure to visit an olive farm and sample some local products.

5. Farasan Islands

Off the coast of Jizan in the Red Sea, the Farasan Islands are a hidden paradise of pristine beaches, clear waters, and abundant marine life.

Experience: Snorkel or dive in the crystal-clear waters to explore the vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. The islands are also home to the endangered Farasan gazelle, which you can spot in the Farasan Island Marine Sanctuary. Relax on the stunning beaches and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. The Ottoman fort and traditional coral houses offer a glimpse into the islands’ history.

6. Al Qassim

Located in the heart of Saudi Arabia, Al Qassim is known for its agricultural heritage, particularly its dates, as well as its traditional festivals.

Experience: Visit the date markets of Buraidah, the capital of Al Qassim, especially during the date harvest season, which features one of the largest date markets in the world. The Al Qassim Date Festival is a vibrant event where you can taste and buy various types of dates. Explore the Al Bassam House, a traditional mud-brick house showcasing local architecture and culture. Enjoy a stroll through the King Khalid Park and Zoo.

7. Tabuk

Tabuk, located in the northwest, is a region rich in history, with ancient ruins and stunning natural landscapes.

Experience: Discover the ancient rock art and inscriptions at Jubbah and Wadi Rum. Visit the Tabuk Castle, which dates back to 1559 and offers insights into the region’s history. The stunning landscapes of the Tabuk region, including the Red Sea coast and the nearby mountains, are perfect for outdoor adventures.

8. Ha’il

Ha’il, located in the north-central part of the country, is known for its historical sites, mountains, and desert landscapes.

Experience: Explore the rock art of Jubbah and Shuwaymis, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which feature ancient petroglyphs and inscriptions. The A’arif Fort, situated on a hill overlooking the city, offers panoramic views and a glimpse into the region’s history. Ha’il is also a gateway to the Nafud Desert, where you can experience traditional Bedouin culture and desert adventures.

9. Asir National Park

Asir National Park, located in the southwestern region, is a haven for nature lovers, with its diverse flora, fauna, and stunning landscapes.

Experience: Hike the trails of Asir National Park to discover its lush forests, deep valleys, and high mountains. The park is home to rare wildlife, including the Arabian leopard. The nearby city of Abha offers cultural attractions, traditional markets, and the beautiful Al-Soudah Park, known for its breathtaking views and cool climate.


10. Hofuf

Hofuf, in the Eastern Province, is part of the Al-Ahsa Oasis and offers a mix of historical sites and natural beauty.

Experience: Visit the stunning caves of Al-Qarah Mountain, which provide a cool escape and panoramic views of the surrounding oasis. The Ibrahim Palace, with its unique blend of Islamic and military architecture, is a must-see. Wander through the traditional markets and enjoy the local cuisine, which features a variety of delicious dishes made from dates and other local produce.


Saudi Arabia’s hidden gems offer a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking to explore beyond the well-trodden paths. From the lush palm groves of Al-Ahsa Oasis and the ancient ruins of Najran to the pristine beaches of the Farasan Islands and the historical sites of Tabuk, these underrated destinations provide a deeper connection to the Kingdom’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Whether you’re an adventurer, a history buff, or simply looking to unwind in serene landscapes, these hidden treasures promise unforgettable memories and a unique perspective on Saudi Arabia’s diverse offerings.

Also read: Top 10 Must-See Attractions in Saudi Arabia for First-Time Visitors