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Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula – Saudi Arabia

Here's a travel itinerary for visiting inside the Madain Saleh in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.

Madain Saleh, a breathtaking ancient city in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, invites you on a unique journey. This UNESCO World Heritage site, Al-Hijr, boasts over 100 magnificent tombs carved from towering sandstone. Here, history comes alive, telling tales of the Nabateans’ ingenious engineering and artistry. Wander through this marvel, where every corner holds a story. Madian Saleh is a testament to the past, offering insights and wonders at every turn. It’s a must-visit for explorers and history enthusiasts alike.

Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula - Saudi Arabia Al Diwan
Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula – Saudi Arabia (Al Diwan)

Visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

For many years, Saudi Arabia, a country in the Middle East, has been closed to tourists and visitors. You could only enter the country if you were on a work permit or visa. Since September 2019, the KSA has finally opened its borders to tourists by issuing visitor visas. However, tourists are reminded to still observe the laws of the conservative country—dress conservatively/appropriately. Bringing alcohol and other illegal substances can lead to severe punishment. 

Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula - Saudi Arabia Elephant Rock
Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula – Saudi Arabia (Elephant Rock)

Tours in Madain Saleh, Al Ula in Saudi Arabia

Tourism in Saudi Arabia is still new, and the country is still building its tourism infrastructure. The best way to see Madain Saleh is by joining a tour to learn about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have to fly from Riyadh to Al-Ula, a small city near the border with Jordan. Consider the following tours to explore Al-Ula and Madian Saleh: From Riyadh: 3-Day Al Ula Tour Package with Hotel Stay, All of Saudi Arabia 14 days Tour, Saudi Arabia: Madain Saleh Tour, and Hiking in Al-Ula

I’ve been to Madain Saleh thrice – and each time was a great experience. I was there before women were allowed to drive and before the Kingdom issued tourist visas. The famed Banyan Tree Hotel was non-existent, and everything in Al-Ula was still untouched by the modern structures you see nowadays.

How to Get to AlUla

Reaching Al Ula is straightforward. Opt for a direct domestic flight from Riyadh or Jeddah. There are also direct international flights from Dubai and Cairo. Upon arrival, consider renting a car or hailing a taxi for local travel. If you’re on a tour, your agency will likely arrange an airport pickup.

Where to Stay in Al Ula

In Al Ula, travelers find a range of accommodations. For luxury, Banyan Tree offers lavish comfort with stunning views. Book in advance because this is the most sought-after accommodation in Al Ula, as it is also photogenic. Caravan by Habitas AlUla is a medium-priced hotel that blends modern amenities with cultural touches. Budget travelers can enjoy Sahary Al Ula, a campsite that promises affordability and a friendly atmosphere. 

Athleb Mountain Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula - Saudi Arabia
Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula – Saudi Arabia (Athleb Mountains)

Inside Madain Saleh

If you’ve been to Jordan, you would recognize that many of the tomb structures in Madian Saleh are similar to those in Petra.  

Qasr al-Farid stands out as Madain Saleh’s crown jewel. Locals call it “The Lonely Castle.” This vast, unfinished tomb has a majestic entrance carved from a single rock. Its detailed carvings catch everyone’s eye. Even unfinished, it shows the Nabateans’ incredible skill.

Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula - Saudi Arabia Qasr Al Fareed
Visiting Madain Saleh in Al Ula – Saudi Arabia (Qasr Al-fareed)

Next, Qasr Al-Bint amazes with its preserved beauty. Its facade and detailed entrance draw you in. The name means “The Palace of the Daughter,” echoing ancient tales and legends.

The Diwan offers a peek into social life back then. Carved into the rock, this space hosted key gatherings. Leaders discussed social and political issues here, showing the Nabateans’ advanced society.

Al-Khuraymat impresses with its large tombs and diverse styles. The area’s facades mix influences, highlighting the Nabateans’ wide connections.

Jabal Al-Ahmar shines with its red sandstone tombs. These tombs, vivid against the desert, preserve detailed carvings, offering insights into Nabatean art.

Not a Nabatean site, the Hijaz Railway Station marks a historical crossroad. This early 20th-century site reflects a time when modernity met ancient traditions.

Lastly, the Water Wells showcases Nabatean engineering genius. These wells, essential for desert survival, highlight their mastery of water management.  

Madian Saleh in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, is a gateway to an ancient world. This remarkable site, rich in history and beauty, beckons travelers and history buffs alike. With its majestic tombs and intricate carvings, Madian Saleh offers a glimpse into the Nabateans’ extraordinary craftsmanship. It mesmerizes with its architecture and tells a story of resilience and innovation. A visit here guarantees memories that last a lifetime. Truly, Madian Saleh is a treasure worth exploring. When you leave, you may change your preconceived ideas about Saudi Arabia. 

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