The vast majority of tourism in the Kingdom revolves around pilgrimages to Mecca, with more than 10 million travelers visiting Islam's holy city each year. Yet the world's largest exporter of oil and one of the richest countries on the planet is trying to change that fact and encourage travelers to stay longer. Most visitors will need to acquire a visa for flights to Saudi Arabia, although this requirement doesn't apply to citizens of certain countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, and Qatar.
The natural beauty of empty Red Sea beaches like Haql, Al-Shuaibah, Beesh, Yanbu, and Farasan; sand dunes as far as the eye can see; and rich coral reefs all provide big draws for visitors. In addition, there are more than 200 public and private museums around the country, with the National Museum in the capital city Riyadh being one of the best.
The Asir mountains in the southwest are among the most remote places on the planet. Make sure to visit Mada’in Saleh, where 131 tombs lay buried in the ground; the former trading center Al-Faw; and Najran Fort.
Hotels in Saudi Arabia range from five-star luxury to simple, clean accommodation. Al Ahsa InterContinental and the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh are two of the best, with the quirky Al-Barraq Hotel an option for an offbeat traveler.