Dhee Ayn Village, Al Baha
Dhee Ayn, which glows white in the sunlight, is known as the Marble Village thanks to the rocky marble outcrop on which it is built. The houses themselves – and there are only about fifty left today – are of ordinary light colored stone and slate, but are still impressive. Dating back to around 400 years ago (although the village was founded around the 10th century), they were left abandoned a few decades ago until the Saudi Tourism and National Heritage Commission launched a program to turn this heritage site into a popular destination for to transform visitors. A stroll through the sleepy, quaint streets is perfect fodder for the ‘Gram.
Carved red rock, mysterious origins, ancient tombs and gathering places make up the fascinating archaeological site of Hegra deep in the desert of AlUla. Most of the remains date from almost 2,500 years ago when the site was a settlement of the ancient Nabatean nomads. There are still 111 structures – mostly decorated, monumental tombs – that became Saudi’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Come during the day when the sun casts elaborate shadows, or at sunset when the sinking rays set the red sandstone ablaze.
Al-Naslaa Rock, Tayma
Enigmatic, magnificent and gravity defying are the words that will come to mind as you pull out the camera to capture Al Naslaa Rock. This ancient petroglyph consists of two huge boulders balanced on two small platforms of rock separated by a razor-thin fissure – as if it were once a single boulder sliced in half by a laser. Photos may not do justice to the majesty of this amazing landmark, but it will certainly make for an excellent talking point in the comments.
Yellow Lake, Al Asfar, Eastern Province
Surrounded by sand dunes and lush greenery, this shallow body of water in the Eastern Province wetlands is a thriving, diverse wildlife habitat. During the breeding season, winter birds come to the lake and are excellent subjects for budding nature photographers. Getting to the top of the sand dunes can be a bit of a challenge, but your efforts will be rewarded with sensational shots of the calm water and its bright green edges.
Al Balad, Jeddah
The historic center of Jeddah is famous for its intricately designed houses built from coral from the depths of the Red Sea and featuring colorful rawasheen balconies – intricately patterned and painted wooden structures that maximize natural light and air flow – known as mashrabiyyahs . Known as the gateway to Mecca (Mecca), Al Balad is listed as another UNESCO World Heritage Site. With some of the buildings estimated to be over 400 years old, these elegant structures make a perfect backdrop for photos.
Al-Wahbah Crater, Hejazi
Almost 4km wide and 250m deep, this volcanic crater rewards the time it takes to get there with a lunar-like landscape that is perhaps the most stunning in all of Saudi Arabia. A two-hour drive from Taif, followed by a two-hour climb to the summit, you’ll finally peer into the heart of the crater, where sodium phosphate crystals form a glittering layer visible from the sky. Photo ops include circling the crater rim, walking down to its plateau, or visiting the rocky lava fields nearby.
Jacaranda season in Abha, Asir
Majestic, mountainous Abha offers a dramatic backdrop all year round, but in late April and May the beautiful blooms of the jacaranda trees that line the parks and streets create incredible, almost surreal shots that just beg for a #nofilter caption . For more purple beauty, head to Wild Iris Flower Fields, Tumair, Riyadh, where a field of these delicate flowers blooms each spring.
Elephant Rock, AlUla
AlUla is dotted with dozens of interesting sandstone rock formations, shaped into unusual shapes by thousands of years of wind, rain and sand erosion. One of the most famous is Jabal AlFil, also known as Elephant Rock thanks to its resemblance to an elephant with its head and trunk tilted towards the ground. It is 52m tall and its combination of orange, red and brown tones and dramatic shapes and shadows make it a worthy addition to your grid.
From its diverse terrain to its thriving arts and music scene to Insta-worthy food and natural wonders to travel for, Saudi is ready and waiting for you to discover it. For more incredible off-the-beaten-path ideas for places to visit, experiences to try and where to stay, see Visit Saudi