Marvel at archaeological and religious history of Tabuk.
Saudi Arabia is filled with dazzling destinations. While the Kingdom is home to Jeddah, Riyadh and, of course, Mecca, there are plenty of places to visit off the beaten track. Thanks to Saudi Vision 2030, the country opened up to visitors in 2019. So, if you want to explore one of the final frontiers when it comes to tourism, here is a hidden gem within a hidden gem.
Tabuk is the capital of the Tabuk province. Located in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, it is on the border of Jordan and the Gulf of Aqaba. The city is significant as it is where Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) held his final military expedition. With history dating back to 500 BC, it boasts archaeological as well as religious wonders.
Today, Tabuk is home to the country’s air force, The Fruit and Flower Festival and it will soon welcome the new entertainment centre, Seven. The weather is milder than the rest of Saudi Arabia. The best time to visit is during the spring, as temperatures can reach up to forty degrees Celsius in the summer. Fun fact: in the winter, temperatures drop to five degrees Celsius, and it can snow over the desert. So, here are the best things to do in Tabuk.
Things to do
Tabuk is home to stunning sites. Wadi Disah and Wadi Tayyib Al Ism are great for hiking. Catalina Seaplane Wreckage Umluj comprises 100 islands, and is nicknamed the Maldives of Saudi Arabia. If you’re a fan of religious history, then this city is for you. Al Tawba Mosque is where Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) once stayed. Plus, the 12 Springs of Prophet Moses (AS) is where Moses drank water after crossing The Red Sea.
The must-visit attraction is Tabuk Ottoman Castle, which includes a museum and mosque. Dating back to 1559, it was built to protect a water station. The fortress has connections with famous travellers including Ibn Battuta and Evliya Celebi.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hejaz Railway Station, was established in 1900 and abandoned in 1920. The reconstruction offers an insight into pilgrimages from Damascus to Medina and Mecca. The station now includes artefacts, manuscripts and photographs from the past.
Boulevard Tabuk brings together restaurants, cafés and a cinema. Coffee shops range from 180 Café with pastel coloured décor and delicious desserts, to Lastoria Café with boho chic vibes. Restaurants include Burger Klowni, Italian food at Pasta Delizia and sushi at Hikari.
Algharawi Center offers plenty of choice, as there are a range of indoor and outdoor cafés and restaurants. Take your pick from coffee shops and international cuisine at American, Arabic and Chinese restaurants.
If you’re after traditional Saudi Arabian food, you’re in luck. Alath Maqloba specialises in lamb dishes, Al Saeed Restaurant and Bakery serves Adeni tea and brilliant breakfast dishes, and Hkakah is known for the locally-loved Hassawi rice.
While Tabuk doesn’t have shops to rival Riyadh, you can still secure souvenirs. Gallery Mall is family-friendly and includes local as well as international brands. Alhokair Mall sells a range of clothes for men, women and children, and includes an arcade for kids.
If you want a blast from the past, walk through history at Souq Twaheen of Tabuk. The bustling market is the perfect place to pick up a traditional souvenir. Marvel at the cushions, camel saddles and rugs.
Tabuk is home to a range of luxury hotels and resorts. Royal Tulip Sharma Resort is a five-star resort overlooking The Red Sea. Grand Millennium Tabuk draws inspiration from Al Hijaz Railway Station, and the design reflects the history of the site. The facilities include an outdoor garden, a state-of-the-art gym, and indoor as well as outdoor swimming pools. Hilton Garden Inn is a family-friendly hotel with an outdoor pool, games room, Arabic, and Western breakfasts.
How to get to Tabuk
Flynas and flydubai travel direct to Tabuk Regional Airport. Flights take approximately three hours from Dubai, and two hours from Riyadh. Plus, AlUla to Tabuk is a 320-kilometre drive.