The closest many people get to Saudi Arabia is via Walt Disney’s classic, Aladdin. But there's more to this country than hot Arabian nights and giant genies. Forget the magic carpet; hop a flight to Saudi Arabia and tour a land filled with history and lined with a bit of luxury.

Most people travel to Saudi Arabia for a visit to Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammed and Islam’s holiest city. In fact, all devout Muslims are supposed to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life. While Mecca is highly off limits to non-Muslims, the capital city of Riyadh has much to offer tourists. Thanks to a boom in oil production and sales, cheap flights to Saudi Arabia land at one of the largest airports in the world in Riyadh. The millions of dollars in oil production paid for the city’s state-of-the-art buildings, five-star hotels and exceptional restaurant and nightlife options. While it’s not likely you’ll be whisked away on a magic carpet by an Arabian prince, it’s likely your trip to Saudi Arabia will be a memorable one.

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Saudi Arabia climate

Saudi Arabia is extremely hot and dry, with slightly cooler and more humid conditions in the coastal areas, where temperatures range from 60 to 86 F. The west and southwest are sometimes hit by monsoons in the summer. Beware of sandstorms in the south.

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Best Time to Fly to Saudi Arabia

The hot Arabian nights make Saudi Arabia a popular tourist destination, especially among travelers used to the Middle East climate. Due to terrorist activity and security threats, check with the U.S. Department of State for the most updated travel information  before booking flights to Saudi Arabia.

Peak Season: The best time to plan Saudi Arabia flights is between October and May, when hot days and cool nights are the norm.

Off-peak Season: Less people book flights to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan (the ninth month in the Muslim calendar) because most attractions and restaurants are closed, making tourist activities difficult to plan.

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Getting around Saudi Arabia

You might not find a magic carpet to transport you through Saudi Arabia, but other modes of transportation are at your disposal. For domestic Saudi Arabia flights, consider Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Nas Air, which will take you from Riyah to Gizan, Guraayat, Jeddah, and Meadinah, among other places.

The Saudi Arabian Public Transportation Company operates bus and train services to and from ten cities within the country, including Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam, Abha, Gaseem, Tabuk and Hael). Also, the Saudi Railway Organization manages assistance from Dammam to Riyadh.

Taxis, abundant and low-priced, and are relatively easy to flag down on any street. Most of them are metered, but if for some reason your meter isn’t turned on, or there isn’t one, negotiate with the driver to determine the potential fare.

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Saudi Arabia Travel Information

  • National Museum: With eight galleries full of Saudi Arabia’s history, the National Museum offers a unique perspective on the natural and human-made developments in the country’s past. Depictions of Dilmun tombs, fragments of rock art, models of Dir’aiyah, Jeddah, and holy mosques in Mecca and Medina are accompanied by audio prompts (in both English and Arabic), small-screen cinemas, and virtual tours to enhance your travel to Saudi Arabia.
  • Madain Saleh: If natural history interests you, Madain Saleh will certainly appease your curiosity. A cemetery landscape, the area is laden with 131 ancient tombs that are so well preserved; you need a need a permit just to be in their presence. In order to obtain yours, fax your hotel your personal details a week before your flight to Saudi Arabia to ensure that you can set up the proper procedure. Settled among sweeping sand dunes and rock formations, Madain Saleh seems like a different land all on its own.
  • Habalah: If you’re booking flights to Saudi Arabia with the desert in mind, you might as well see it all. For the best natural views in the country, head to the tiny deserted village called Habalah. First, you’ll need to hop on a cable car, and let it take you deep into the desert, where sand stretches as far as the horizon. Once you approach the station stop, head north for the most interesting discoveries. Some homes still standing have carved interiors and early markings of Saudi Arabian people.
  • Riyadh: For the politically inclined traveler booking flights to Saudi Arabia, seeing Riyadh will be a top priority. The capital seat of the government, it holds both the Musmak Fortress (now a museum), and the Kingdom Tower, which is the country’s tallest building. Known as “the bottle opener” for its likeness to the object, the high rise is sometimes seen as the necklace of the city, and offers a sky-bridge and observation desk for tourists.

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Saudi Arabia airports

Your flight to Saudi Arabia may arrive at any one of the following airports:

Riyadh (RUH) (King Khaled International) Airport, 22 miles north of the city.

Dhahran (DHA) (Al Khobar) Airport, 8 miles southeast of Dhahran.

Jeddah (JED) (King Abdul Aziz) Airport, 11 miles north of the city.

Dammam (DMM) (King Fahd International) Airport, 19 miles northwest of Dammam.

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Passport and Visa Information

Visitors to Saudi Arabia need a valid passport and visa to enter the country. Tourist visas are rarely granted and only to official tour groups. Take note of how long are you permitted to stay in the country, which can be less time than your visa is valid for. Many visitors have been fined large amounts over this confusion. Women must be met by their sponsor upon arrival or face lengthy delays. Some visitors have been refused entry for arriving intoxicated or dressed inappropriately, by Saudi standards.

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Entry requirements

US citizens should make sure their passport is valid for six months after their intended return date. Start your visa process early, since the application can take several months to get approved. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately, by Saudi standards, before getting on the plane.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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    Approx flight times

    John F. Kennedy International to King Abdul Aziz:
    11 hr 25 mins
    John F. Kennedy International to King Khalid:
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