Landscape in Ashar Valley National Park in AlUla


A captivating symbiosis of cultural richness and extraordinary nature in Saudi Arabia

Immerse yourself in the fascinating region of AlUla in Saudi Arabia, which enchants visitors from all over the world with a rich history and breathtaking scenery. From breathtaking rock formations to modern structures and historic tombs, an unparalleled experience awaits you here. Immerse yourself and discover with us the highlights of this magical region.

The Hegra Tomb in Alula can be seen located in the middle of a desert
© Copyright by Royal Commission for AlUla
A woman sitting on a bench in a old city
© Copyright by Light Hunters Photography
an aerial view of a deserted village with palm trees.
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Felsformation Elephant Rock in Alula
© Copyright by Light Hunters Photography

Alula: An emerging destination

AlUla refers to both a region and a city in northwestern Saudi Arabia, specifically in Al Madinah province on the Frankincense Route. The entire region covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometres. This makes AlUla larger than Belgium. In recent years, AlUla has experienced remarkable developments as a tourist destination. Extensive investments and the creation of sustainable infrastructure are making the region increasingly accessible to travellers, Fortunately. AlUla is a place that combines the beauty of the past with the most modern innovations, inviting visitors from all over the world to discover it.

The Hegra Tomb in Alula can be seen located in the middle of a desert
© Copyright by Royal Commission for AlUla

Alula Oldtown

Narrow alleys, traditional adobe buildings and architectural treasures: The old town of AlUla is at the top of many visitors' to-do lists. With good reason! The historic district offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region. Here you can stroll through the colourful variety of markets filled with traditional products and handicrafts. Mosques and historic buildings narrate their own story and give you a glimpse of the architectural splendour of times past. Moreover, century-old arts are waiting to be marvelled at in one of the Handicrafts Pavilions. Here you can also admire the craftsmanship of local contemporary artists. If you're looking for some unique souvenirs, you're sure to find what you're looking for in AlUla's old town: Numerous stores and markets invite you to purchase handmade souvenirs, local products, spices, and so much more.

Did you know?

  • The history of AlUla Oldtown dates back to the 6th century.
  • AlUla Oldtown is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • AlUla Oldtown includes about 900 historic adobe buildings, 400 stores and 5 marketplaces.
  • AlUla Oldtown has a relatively small population consisting mainly of locals.
  • Extensive restoration work has been done in recent years to preserve the historic buildings and streets.
  • Oldtown is a popular venue for cultural festivals, art exhibitions and traditional events.

In the footsteps of the past: Alula's historical sights

From impressive rock formations to magnificent temples and well-preserved rock engravings, AlUla is a true treasure trove of historical masterpieces. Join us on a journey through time and discover the rich history and cultural diversity that AlUla has to offer. Immerse yourself in the stories of the past and be inspired by the beauty and magic of these impressive sites.

Hegra: where history is carved in stone

Hegra, also known as Al-Hijr or Mada'in Salih, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important ancient cities in the region. As such, it was an important hub along the ancient trade route, also known as the Incense Route. Probably the most characteristic feature of Hegra are the fascinating rock tombs carved into the massive sandstone cliffs. These tombs are elaborately detailed and display a unique combination of Nabataean and Hellenistic architecture. In addition to the rock tombs, remains of dwellings, temples and fountains in Hegra bear witness to times long past. Walk through the ancient ruins, enjoy the breathtaking scenery and explore the fascinating history of the Nabataeans. The site is staffed by expert guides who will provide you with valuable information about the history and significance of Hegra.

Tomb of the son of Kuza in Hegra
© Copyright Light Hunters Photography

Dadan, the cultural heart of Alula

A day in Dadan is an unforgettable adventure full of culture and history. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of this important ancient kingdom and discover its well-preserved remains. Start your day with a guided tour of the ruins of palaces, temples and homes. Admire the elaborate inscriptions and learn about the lives of the former inhabitants. Feel the mystical atmosphere of times past as you stroll through the historic streets. For the particularly inquisitive, further insights into the fascinating history of Dadan await you at the informative visitor center. The romantic ruins invite you to take a shady breather. How about a delicious picnic amidst the unique scenery? Alternatively, you can settle down in one of the cozy restaurants and enjoy delicious specialties.

A man standing on top of a rocky desert with bigger mountains in the back
© Royal Commission for AlUla

Jabal Ikmah: the legacy of the inscriptions

A visit to the "rock library" of AlUla is worthwhile for anyone interested in Saudi Arabia's rich history: Jabal Ikmah, meaning "Mountain of Wisdom," is a striking rock formation and one of the region's most important landmarks. Travel far back into AlUla's past and go in search of clues among thousands of inscriptions and engravings. The rock engravings are written in ancient languages such as Aramaic, Nabataean and Thamudic and date back to the first millennium BC - a dizzying testimony to days gone by.

A man infront of the Jabal Ikmah mountain in Alula
© Royal Commission for AlUla

Khaybar: history and beauty of nature combined

Khaybar's history dates back to prehistoric times. The ancient city was once a thriving oasis, as water springs and wadis served as a lifeline for flora and fauna. The fertile soil allowed the cultivation of date palms and grain and helped the inhabitants of Khaybar to prosper. Even today, ruins of forts, dwellings, farms and other historical sites offer a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives and traditions of the people who once lived here. But Khaybar is not only a place of historical significance. The surrounding landscape delights with striking rock formations, deep gorges and picturesque views.

Historical site Khaybar
© Light Hunters Photography

Tayma: Ancient treasures in the desert

History buffs take note: Tayma is the oldest human settlement in the history of Saudi Arabia. The ancient oasis and archaeological site once played an important role as a trading center and settlement in AlUla. Embark on a journey into the past and discover ancient temples, palaces and tombs. A special highlight, besides the stone palace Al Ridham, is the so-called Bir Haddaj - the largest water fountain in the Arab world. You should also not miss the Al Fajr Museum.

A desert landscape can be seen with ruins in the back
© Alula Moments

Incense trail: always follow the scent

The Frankincense Road was a major trade route in ancient times and played an essential role in the exchange of goods, especially the precious frankincense. Since the valuable resin was abundant in AlUla, the city was one of the important hubs along this trade route. The frankincense trade brought prosperity to the region. Archaeological remains can still be found along the Frankincense Route today, including trading posts, caravan resting places and ancient settlements. These testaments to the past are fascinating places to learn more about the importance of trade and cultural exchange along the historical trade route. Numerous restaurants and cafes along the Incenses route invite you to linger. Lively markets and souks entice visitors with local products: Visitors can purchase authentic spices, delicious honey, juicy dates and other regional delicacies and take home a piece of AlUla's culinary heritage.

A woman walking through a walkway covered by palm trees
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 Road through rock formation in AlUla
© Light Hunters Photography

Are you ready to experience AlUlas highlights with your own eyes?

Adventure Alula - activities that guarantee the thrill

Adrenaline junkies will get their money's worth in AlUla. The spectacular landscape is perfect for all kinds of outdoor activities that provide fun and thrills. In AlUla, nature is your playground - whether you want to breathe in the mountain air or explore the surroundings on a mountain bike. Get out of your comfort zone and have unforgettable experiences in one of the most fascinating outdoor destinations in the world.

Giant Swing over the rocks in AlUla
© Royal Commission for AlUla

Giant swing

The "Giant Swing" is not for the faint of heart: Here, you jump from a mountain edge into the depths and experience actual free fall for a few seconds - secured by a rope, of course. After this ultimate adrenaline kick, you swing through the canyon landscape at a lofty height and can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape and majestic rock formations. Experienced guides are by your side and guide you through the process step by step.

Stairway in AlUla
© Copyright by Royal Commission for AlUla

Alula Stairway

The AlUla Stairway takes you to lofty heights. The floating ladder stretches over 45 meters. Those who overcome their fear and climb it will be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view. Step by step, the adrenaline level rises - but so does your courage. Once you reach the top, a new adventure awaits you. The way back leads over a 150 meter long zipline. The refreshing wind, the spectacular view and the incomparable thrill turn this moment into a memory that will stay alive forever.

Helicopter flight over AlUla
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Helicopter Tour

Take off and change perspective: Enjoy AlUla from a helicopter. Catch a glimpse of the fascinating desert landscapes and landmarks like the Elephant Rock and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra. Only from above will the vastness, impressive size and unique beauty of AlUla be revealed to you in its full glory.

A man on a mountain bike going downhill on a mountain slope

Mountain biking

Discover AlUla from a completely new perspective while mountain biking. Experience the beauty of the landscape while cycling on exciting trails through fascinating scenery. With every pedal stroke, you will feel the freedom of nature. Experienced guides will show you the best routes and scenic highlights. Hence you will get not only expert guidance but also interesting information about the surroundings and the cultural significance of the region.

Aerial view of a desert landscapes with various rock formations
© Light Hunters Photography


Explore the AlUlas Desert in an adventurous way while ziplining and whizzing through the impressive mountain landscapes at a speed of one and a half kilometres. The breakneck speed of up to 120 kilometres per hour will take your breath away, as will the spectacular panoramic view. Don't miss out on this exciting experience!

Rock climbing in AlUla
© Copyright by Royal Commission for AlUla

Rock climbing

Climb the spectacular rock formations of AlUla. Previous climbing experience is not necessary: During a detailed introductory session, you will learn the basics of climbing. Set yourself the challenge! Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views.

Pool terrace at Banyan Tree AlUla
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Art and culture in Alula

Everywhere in AlUla, you will find inspiring elements - the red rocks sculpted by the wind, the soothing green palm trees and the breathtaking contrast of blue sky and golden desert. In this valley, the spirit of art pulsates in many forms. So it is hardly surprising that artists of different epochs and cultures have been inspired by AlUla's unique atmosphere. Art and culture enthusiasts can look forward to contemporary art that is simultaneously inspired by traditional influences. Whether it's street art, exhibitions, galleries, musical events or festivals, the creativity and diversity of the art scene in AlUla - will delight you.

Aljadidah art district

Life pulsates in the up-and-coming artists' quarter of AlJadidah: Stroll through the pretty alleys and marvel at the countless colorful paintings. An absolute highlight: In AlJadidah you can admire the largest hand-painted carpet in the world. In addition to regular art exhibitions featuring local and international artists, visitors can look forward to a variety of stores, restaurants and galleries.

Art workshop in Al Jadidah in AlUla
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Maraya concert hall

A perfect modern homage to the past, Maraya is considered the centrepiece of AlUla's growing cultural scene. The stunning work of art in the desert canyon of the Ashar Valley rises from the sand like an illusion. Translated, Maraya means "mirror" or "reflection," as the state-of-the-art structure is covered with 9,740 mirror panels that reflect the beauty of AlUla, making the contemporary canvas the largest mirror building in the world. Maraya was designed not only as a work of art but also as a fully functional multi-purpose event venue. It has already hosted major events, including concerts by global superstars such as Enrique Iglesias and Hiba Tawaji. Perched atop Maraya is the three-Michelin-starred Maraya Social restaurant.

Mirrored Maraya Concert Hall in the middle of the desert in Alula
© Copyright by Royal Commission for AlUla

Alula outdoor cinema

It doesn't get much more romantic than this: The AlUla Outdoor Cinema offers a unique movie experience under the starry sky of the desert. From classics to current blockbusters, a wide variety of films are shown at the open-air cinema venue. The comfortable seating and spectacular scenery create an incomparable atmosphere.

Outdoor cinema in Alula
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Culinary: Typical specialities of Alula

The aromatic scents of dates, almonds and exquisite spices beguile the senses and magically attract visitors to AlUla. Whether in the alleys of the old city, the green oasis or the vast desert - culinary delights await you everywhere in the city, waiting to be discovered. Immerse yourself in the variety of gastronomic highlights, ranging from traditional Arabic cuisine to tempting desserts. In the cosy cafes, lively bars and inviting restaurants, you can enjoy the authentic tastes and aromas of the region and embark on a culinary journey of the senses.

There is a table covered with a blanket, on the table in the middle is oil and around it other spices and dates.
© Royal Commission for AlUla


Mandi is a true classic in AlUla that will enchant your senses: Tender, slow-cooked meat, be it juicy lamb or delicate chicken, combined with amazing-smelling and flavoured rice. The traditional dish is spiced with saffron and cinnamon. Well, is your mouth watering already?

View of a man preparing Haneed, a slow-roasted lamb dish
© Saudi Toursim Authority


Taste Harees a hearty dish that has been loved for generations. Finely ground wheat and tender lamb meld into a creamy consistency that makes every bite a true delight. Harees are elaborately prepared, and a true delicacy often served on festive occasions and during Ramadan.

A beautifully laid spread of atchaars around a lamb Kabsa, a famous Saudi traditional dish
© Saudi Tourism Authority


A tender roast of chicken, lamb or beef garnished with roasted nuts and raisins - Kabsa perfectly reflects the rich Arabic cuisine. The side dish is juicy rice, refined with turmeric, cumin and black lime.

Among the drinks, there are some classics that are typical of the AlUla region too. Start the day with a Qahwa. The strong Saudi coffee is considered a sign of hospitality and gathering throughout the country. Wherever you go - you will be offered a Qahwa. Another speciality is Sahlab, a warm drink made from orchid tubers. The tubers are ground and mixed with hot milk or water, sugar and spices such as cinnamon and cardamom. Sahlab has a creamy consistency and a sweet, spicy taste. On sweltering days, jallab is a refreshing drink made with date syrup, rose water and grapefruit or raisin essence. It is served with ice and pine nuts and tastes almost like a dessert. If you prefer something a little less sweet, you should try Laban: The traditional yoghurt drink is made from fermented yoghurt, water and spices such as mint or cardamom. The refreshing drink is often served with spicy dishes.

Alula, a paradise for nature lovers

AlUla has, even more, to offer than art and culture: the oasis town is a breathtaking open-air museum of nature. Explore AlUla from camelback or lace up your hiking boots to climb rugged mountains and sandstone cliffs. See natural wonders such as the majestic elephant rock of Al-Fil, as well as the "dancing rocks" that grow from sand blown by the wind. Visit the oasis valley of AlUla - a lush green paradise that exudes beguiling scents of lemon and fig trees.

Desert tours through alula's vast sandy landscapes

Fancy an adventure? Experience AlUla's desert up close and be enchanted by the endless expanses, golden dunes and mysterious rocks. How? That is up to you! The choice is yours...

  • Camel Ride: Discover the authentic desert life on the back of a camel and feel the serenity and tranquillity that comes with travelling on the back of a camel. Enjoy the slow, gentle movements of the animal as it leads you through the sandy trails, giving you a unique sense of connection with nature. An experienced camel guide will accompany you on your tour, sharing his knowledge of the desert and Bedouin culture. Learn more about the desert dwellers' traditions, customs and stories and be inspired by their hospitality.
  • Off-road adventure: Feel the adrenaline rush as you race through the dunes in a rugged off-road vehicle. Explore remote locations and enjoy breathtaking views of the desert. An experienced guide will lead you safely through the terrain for an unforgettable adventure.
  • Magical Desert Nights: Spend the night in the desert and admire the stars - it doesn't get more exciting than this. Whether Bedouin tents or luxury camps: this is an experience you will probably never forget. The clear and pristine desert night of AlUla is the ideal setting to admire the sparkling night sky. With minimal light pollution and a multitude of visible stars and planets, the desert offers optimal conditions for astrophotography and stargazing. From guided stargazing tours to astronomy workshops, you'll have the opportunity to expand your knowledge of the universe and discover the beauty of the night sky.
Girl on a sand dune in AlUla
© Copyright by Light Hunters Photography

Good to know

  1. Climate and clothing: The desert region of AlUla can be sweltering, especially during the day. Therefore, wear light, airy clothes that protect you from the sun. Do not forget to bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
  2. Water and food: Be sure to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated. Food may vary by tour provider, so inquire in advance if meals or snacks will be provided during the tour.
  3. Equipment: Bring comfortable shoes that give you sound footing in the desert. A lightweight backpack can be helpful for storing personal items such as water, snacks, sunscreen and a camera.
  4. Respect for the environment: Respect nature and the environment during your desert tour. Avoid leaving trash and be careful not to disturb fragile ecosystems.
  5. Safety Instructions: Follow the instructions of your tour guide and adhere to safety guidelines. Be aware of desert hazards such as extreme heat, sandy and rough terrain, or sudden weather changes.
Young man in a stone gorge in AlUla
© Copyright by Light Hunters Photography

The magic of sandstone canyons

AlUla is known for numerous spectacular rock formations and sandstone gorges. This is a great opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the region's impressive geological history and natural beauty. The different colours, textures and shapes of the sandstones excite the senses and create plays of light and shadow - a unique setting that offers spectacular subjects for photography enthusiasts. AlUla's sandstone gorges are also popular destinations for trekking and hiking. Last but not least, the rock formations sculpted by wind and weather are also home to a rich flora and fauna: plants and animals live here that have adapted to the gorge's harsh conditions over time.

The most popular gorges at a glance:

  1. AlUla Gorge
  2. Al-Khuraybah gorg
  3. Qasr al-Saneh gorg
  4. Kaf al-Mar'a Gorge
Landscape in Ashar Valley National Park in AlUla
© Copyright by Light Hunters Photography

Ashar valley national park: natural paradise of Alula

In the Ashar Valley National Park, breathtaking landscapes and diverse flora and fauna mix with a rich history. Nature lovers and culture enthusiasts alike get their money's worth here. A particular highlight is the Dadan archaeological site. Here visitors can explore the remains of ancient temples, palaces, dwellings and tombs and immerse themselves in times gone by. Away from the historical sites, the national park delights with its diverse wildlife. Bird lovers can observe rare species such as the Arabian cormorant and the red-necked raven. Vegetation varies from dry desert plants to lusher areas along riverbeds. In Ashar Valley National Park, visitors have the opportunity to explore the natural beauty and tranquillity of the area on hikes along marked trails. Optionally, you can book a game-viewing tour to experience the wildlife up close with an expert guide.

palm trees in the desert in front of a steep rock formation
© Light Hunters Photography

Wadi Al Disah: the alula oasis valley

The Oasis Valley of AlUla is also called the "oasis of palm trees": The extensive valley stretches over 20 kilometres and is known for its lush palm tree vegetation. Ideal for escaping the urban hustle and bustle for a while and unwinding. However, Wadi Al Disah is not only good for the eyes and the soul: citrus and fig trees exude a beguiling fragrance. Majestic mountains and rock formations lie like a protective frame around the rich diversity of plants, making the setting perfect. Visitors can take hikes along the Wadi paths and sit down to a picnic in the shade of the palm groves. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of rare birds, gazelles or foxes. Leopards can also be found here. Adventure fans can look forward to various activities such as climbing, jeep safaris and camping. A particular highlight is the sunset over the mighty rock formations.

A rock formation in the form of an elephant

Jabal Alfil Elephant Rock

The famous Elephant Rock (in Arabic: Jabal AlFil) is a true work of art - with a unique feature: Even if it seems an artist made it, it was not anyone but nature alone and is the fascinating result of erosion and weathering. The majestic rock is reminiscent of an elephant due to its shape and structure, hence the name. The stone elephant is made of sandstone and rises fifty meters into the air. Set against an impressive desert backdrop, Elephant Rock is one of the region's most popular sightseeing destinations. Visitors can either reach it by jeep or combine it with a hike.

a view from the top of a mountain in Alula
© AlUla Moments

Harrat viewpoint

Harrat Viewpoint is a popular vantage point that you should not miss: The high plateau offers visitors a breathtaking view of a volcanic field formed by lava flows from the shield volcano Harrat 'Uwayrid. Harrat 'Uwayrid has not been active for a long time but has left behind a fascinating spectacle that can be marvelled at from Harrat Viewpoint: Myriad hues and unusual geological formations blend into an almost otherworldly beauty. Have you ever enjoyed a sunset over a volcanic landscape? If not, this is your opportunity!

A view at night across a field to the mountain landscape in the background of Daimumah

Daimumah: hidden gem in the desert

This natural rock formation rises majestically from the sand and fascinates with its impressive size and unique shape. Nicknamed the "Queen of the Mountains" by locals, Daimumah offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and is a popular spot for hiking and photography. Immerse yourself in the history and beauty of this impressive formation and be enchanted by its unparalleled splendor. A visit to Daimumah is an unforgettable experience that will immerse you in the wonders of nature and give you a touch of adventure in the desert of AlUla.