Al Ula Viewpoint

Top choice in Al Ula

The views as you wind your way up to this gem of a spot offer glimpses of what's to come. At the top, the road plateaus through a windswept, lunar landscape of black basalt rock, before arriving at a sad-looking park with a precarious fence at its edge. Suddenly the breathtaking view comes into sight and the entire Al Ula valley, surrounded by majestic red-rock mountains disappearing into the horizon, sprawls out before you like a surreal painting.

Standing here, it's easy to see why the likes of the Nabataeans chose this Martian-like landscape, suited as it was to hiding entire settlements completely out of sight. Few panoramas in Saudi Arabia compare.

To get to the road for the drive up, head west at the junction north of old Al Ula, where routes 375 and 70 meet. From here, drive into the mountains along the unmarked road, and soon a pair of rusty little frames will announce the start. The road is safe enough but has no lighting and should not be attempted after dark.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Al Ula attractions

1. Umm Al Daraj

0.76 MILES

A few kilometres north of old Al Ula, Umm Al Daraj (Mother of Steps) is worth a detour. Climbing the hill reveals three red-sandstone religious structures…

2. Al Ula Fort

1.25 MILES

To protect the ancient village, inhabitants in the 6th century used red-sandstone blocks to build this castle on a promontory that gives a 360-degree view…

3. Al Ula Heritage Village

1.27 MILES

There are plans to make this a formal tourist venue in the near future, but for now you can enjoy freely wandering among the beautiful mud ruins where…

4. Jebel Khuraibah

1.61 MILES

The fortress and three peaks of Jebel Khuraibah once formed part of the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Lihyan. Rock-cut tombs squat at the foot of the…

5. Al Ula Antiquities & Heritage Museum

2.34 MILES

This small museum is attractively designed, with some intriguing and informative displays on the history, culture, flora and fauna of the area, as well as…

6. Mt Almejder

3.34 MILES

This 300m-high mountain east of Al Ula features stone settlements and caves with pre-Islamic inscriptions and drawings, but there was no access to it at…

7. Elephant Rock

6.61 MILES

Arabia's only 'elephant' is a huge red rock three storeys in height. The enormous 'body' connects to a slimmer 'trunk' that bulges in just the right areas…

8. Madain Saleh

12.61 MILES

Often dubbed the 'second Petra', Madain Saleh, for many, is on a par with – if not more impressive than – its famous cousin across the border in Jordan…