Group Tour 8 days from £3695 per person

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  Places Visited: Jeddah – AlUla – Hail – Riyadh

This 8-day tour of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia traverses through some of the world’s most spectacular desert scenery and mountainous landscapes including, the ‘Edge of the World’. The birthplace of Islam, the Kingdom is also home to historic sites of Babylonian Roman and Ottoman settlements. Discover the UNESCO-protected sites with prehistoric inscriptions and rock art, grand tombs of ancient Arabian Kingdoms of Dadan and Nabataean Hegra (the modern Mada’in Saleh) at Alula.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1

You will be met at Jeddah airport and transferred to Centro Salama or similar hotel for two nights’ stay.

A 3000-year-old city situated on the east coast of the Red Sea, Jeddah is Saudi Arabia's most cosmopolitan city of Saudi Arabia with millions of international visitors passing through it each year. The region has been inhabited for thousands of years, as indicated by Bronze Age tombs found nearby at Harrat Al-Jabriya, Harrat Nuqrah and the 2000-year-old inscriptions carved into stone amongst the Wadis. Legends also suggest that Eve descended from heaven here and is buried in the city at Maqbart Ummana Hawa’a, the Cemetery of our Mother Eve.

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Day 2

Explore the ancient port city of Jeddah, starting at Al Balad, a treasure trove of 19th century tower houses with unique architecture and intricate woodwork. Later visit Tayebat City Museum and Floating Mosque before ending the day at Jeddah Corniche.

In the seventh century AD, the city rose to prominence as a commercial port city and later became the gateway to Mecca for pilgrims of Islam. Today the cultural heart of this ancient port city can be explored at t Al Balad, the Old Town, where the 19th-century tower houses of wealthy merchants still rise above the street with elaborate, colourful wooden Roshans. The waterfront around Al Balad is dotted with cafes, restaurants and shops and is great for people-watching in the evenings when locals come out to enjoy the cool air along the corniche.

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Day 3
Jeddah – Medina – AlUla

Take a morning high-speed train to Medina, the second holiest city for Muslims after Mecca. Visit Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, the second largest mosque in the world housing the tomb of the Prophet. Later driven on to AlUla. Stay at Shaden Resort or similar hotel for two nights.

Originally a Jewish settlement of some significance known as Yathrib, it later became known as Medina, the second most holy city for followers of Islam. Its importance comes from the role it played in establishing Islam.  The Prophet Mohammed and his followers fled to Medina in 622AD after being persecuted in Mecca for their beliefs. This event marked the re-setting of the Muslim calendar back to zero and re-naming the city as the City of the Prophet, Madinah Al-Nabawiyah. It is also the location of the first mosque, The Quba Mosque, the stones laid by the Prophet himself.

The most important mosque in the city is the Al-Masjid An-Nabawi, which enshrines the tomb of the Prophet and the first two caliphs that came after him. It is the second-largest mosque in the world, after Mecca and is an integral part of the Hajj rituals.

Although much is changing in Saudi Arabia a few sites remain out of bounds to leisure travellers. Still, we will have plenty to do, see and experience in this incredible and holy city at close quarters.

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Day 4

Drive into the desert to visit Hegra (Mada’in Saleh), a UNESCO Heritage-listed site. Also visit Dadan, to see the tombs cut into a cliff-face and Jabal Ikmah to see prehistoric rock art. Stop at Elephant rock to admire some of the desert’s natural wonders. End the day with a visit to AlUla’s old town.

Al-‘Ula, the undiscovered hidden gem of Saudi Arabia, was the capital of the ancient Kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan. It controlled the caravan trade along the famous incense-trading routes between Southern Arabia, Egypt and beyond. As caravans passed through they  took advantage of its abundant resources and enjoyed much-needed respite along their journey in return for taxes. 

Recently opened to leisure travellers, this largely undiscovered region holds remarkably well preserved, a timeless and complex history spanning 200,000 years. Evidence of prehistoric habitation with the discovery of Paleolithic stone tools, inscriptions and rock art, through to burials and funerary monuments of the Bronze age, the grand tombs of ancient Arabain Kingdoms of Dadan and Nabataea from 600 BC, Roman settlements dating back to 106 BC and traces of water management systems from the early Islamic period 600 AD through to modern-day. 

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Day 5
AlUla – Jubbah – Hail

This morning, drive to Jubbah – a UNESCO World Heritage Site with fascinating, exceptionally well-preserved petroglyphs, inscriptions, and rock art. Then drive on to Hail. Nestled between Mount Shammer and Mount Salma, Hail was once the capital of Arabia and served as the gateway to Al Nafud Desert. Stay overnight at Millenium Hotel or similar.

Nestled between Mount Shammer to the north and Mount Salma to the south, the city of Hail was once the capital of the entire Arabian Desert. It is home to legends like Hatim Tai, the Arabian poet whose altruism earned him his place in the “Tales of One Thousand and One Nights”.

Today Hail is the capital of the northern region and remains an essential point on the pilgrimage trail of Islam. The city itself has some impressive sites including the Barzan and Al Qishlah Castle and the A’arif Fort located atop a mountain peak with commanding views of the city. In addition, the city’s Souq’s and market provide excellent insight into desert life.

Critically Hail is also the gateway to the red sands of the Al Nafud Desert and Jubba, the site of some incredibly well-preserved rock art, inscriptions and petroglyphs that trace human habitation 10,000 years back. These UNESCO World Heritage protected carvings depict men rearing cattle and hunting wild animals such as ibex, big cats, possibly lions, ostrich, and others.

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Day 6
Hail – Riyadh

This morning explore the markets of Hail with an array of Souq. Also, visit the hilltop A’arif Fort and the Al Qishlah castle. In the afternoon take a high-speed train to Riyadh, the political and historical heart of the Kingdom. Stay for two nights at Centro Olaya by Rotana or similar hotel.

The political and historical heart of the Kingdom, Riyadh is one of the largest, most spread out cities of the Kingdom. Yet, despite its modern exterior, it has a far more conservative outlook than others, and this should be borne in mind when venturing out for shopping or to any of its plethora of great restaurants.

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Day 7

Enjoy a full day exploration of Riyadh including Al-Masmak Fortress – a National Museum displaying a unique collection of Kingdom’s history, King Abdulaziz Historical Centre, and Kingdom Tower Sky Bridge, showcasing the modern-day architecture of the city. Later visit UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ad Diriyah, historic home of the Saudi State.

The city's principal and historic attractions are all located in Batha’, the centre of town. They include the Al-Masmak Fortress, from where King Abdul Aziz planned and carried out the process of unifying the Kingdom, an excellent National Museum displaying a unique collection of the Kingdom’s historical part with a large section devoted to Islam. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of D’iriyah is the historic home of the Saudi state, the city sacked by the Ottomans in the 19th century and primarily neglected since. Now with ambitious plans to preserve this heritage, four rather impressive museums have been designed to sit sympathetically between the mud-brick houses, with the aim of protecting some of the oldest parts in situ, unobtrusively, without detracting from the overall ambience. The walls of these museums are made of glass, as are sections of the walkways so the site can be enjoyed without too much interference from modern structures.

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Day 8

Transfer to Riyadh airport for your onward flight.

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Group Tour 8 days from £3695 per person

What's included

  • Arrival and departure transfers

  • Internal travel by road and train

  • Accommodation for 7 nights as listed

  • English-speaking guides

  • Entrance fees at the monuments

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