We spent a few busy days at the kingdom’s most famous destination. Al-Ula is a living museum of preserved tombs of ancient cultures, historic dwellings, dramatic rock formations, sand-swept dunes, and natural wonders.
For thousands of years, northwest Saudi Arabia attracted people who came to take advantage of the abundant resources offered by its fertile oases. Al-Ula was one of them and became a vital crossroads along the famous incense-trading routes running from southern Arabia north into Egypt and beyond. With oases dotting the area, it offered a much-needed respite for weary travelers, becoming a popular place to rest, commune, and recharge.
Al-Ula was also the capital of the ancient kingdoms of Dadan and Lihyan, which controlled the caravan trade. Hegra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the principal southern city of the Nabataean kingdom, famed for its spectacular monumental tombs. Today, Old Town AlUla is an abandoned labyrinth of tightly packed streets to create a defensive wall seemingly built over an ancient settlement.
It’s perfectly well maintained, and many municipalities worldwide should come here to see how you can manage the fusion of old and new towns. There are many boutique shops and cozy cafés and restaurants. We had dinner at Circolo (Pepperoni pizza – 80 SAR, San Pellegrino – 1 l / 48 SAR) and Somewhere (Chicken Musakhan Rice – 85 SAR, Beef Shawarma Rice – 87 SAR, Lemon-Mint juice – 27 SAR, Fiji water – 1 l / 27 SAR). The only fast food is in Winter Park, where from noon Burger King serves large Whopper meals for 45 SAR and Big King meals for 31 SAR. There you can get all information and buy tickets for sightseeing tours in Al-Ula.
Al-Ula & around
Heart of Oasis by day
Charming Al-Ula by night
Parking location – Al-Ula: 26.634806N 37.908665E