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The Best Time to Visit Saudi Arabia in 2023

The Best Time to Visit Saudi Arabia in 2023

Saudi Arabia is a treasure trove for travelers, especially at certain times of the year. Learn the best time to visit Saudi Arabia overall, for budget trips, to avoid crowds, and the worst time to go in our guide!

The time of year you go really affects the cost, activities, weather, and crowds you’ll experience when you arrive in Saudi Arabia. We’ll show you the perfect time to go for your trip goals.

Why You Should Visit Saudi Arabia

Find your adventure in the Middle Eastern sands of Saudi Arabia, where amazing mountains, deserts, and coastal lands, historic architecture, and a rich culture create their own oasis in the desert for travelers. 

It’s home to sprawling deserts with majestic sand dunes and hidden oases, historic palaces and mosques, and the site where millions of Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca each year.

But what travelers really enjoy about Saudi Arabia is that it’s a study in contrasts.

It feels modern and advanced in some places (like the capital, Riyadh) and rugged and historic in others (like the archaeological site of Al-Hijr). 

You’ll find that contrast continuing between the vast stretches of desert, including the world’s largest (and driest) sand desert – Ar Rub’al-Khali – dotted with the largest oases in the world

In these magical oasis regions, you’ll find unexpected stands of palm trees offering much-appreciated shade and scenery along with bubbling springs that bring the lush vegetation to life in the middle of the desert. 

And where else can you visit the Edge of the World – Jebel Fihrayn – where you can see for miles atop towering cliffs in the desert?

Saudi Arabia’s abundant historical sites, palaces, and mosques also make it an excellent place to visit.

With 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 11 royal palaces, and over 94,000 dazzling mosques, sightseers can fill a trip with endless stops. 

You can even spend the night, eat dinner, and catch a bellydancing show at boutique hotels recently opened in some of Saudi Arabia’s most fascinating palaces, like Al-Hamra Palace, Tuwaiq Palace, and the Red Palace.

Visitors love checking out Saudi Arabia’s unique souqs, or street markets, to pick up unique souvenirs and get a chance to haggle with sellers offering a variety of colorful and cultural wares. 

Outdoor fun is abundant here, with camping, hiking, camel caravans, scuba diving, mountain climbing, four wheeling (or “dune bashing”), and sand sledding making great activities for adventurous travelers. 

With so much to enjoy and experience here, it might be time to start planning your trip. Find the best time to visit Saudi Arabia along with the cheapest, least busy, and worst time to go next. 

What Is the Best Time to Visit Saudi Arabia?

Zee Ain in Al-Baha region shows a desert oasis with palm trees among the carved buildings to highlight the best time to visit Saudi Arabia

malkaa0g/Shutterstock

  • Overall best time to visit: October-February
  • Cheapest time to visit: October-December
  • Least busy time to visit: March-May
  • Worst time to visit: June-August

Visiting Saudi Arabia at the right time of year is essential if you want to enjoy your stay without unbearable heat and sky-high prices.

It gets really hot in Saudi Arabia during the summer, especially in the massive deserts. It’s a dry country that receives little rainfall, which only exaggerates the heat. 

The best time to visit Saudi Arabia is October to February, when it’s cooler and more affordable to stay in the country. You’ll find sightseeing and outdoor activities best during this fall-winter period. 

The cheapest time to visit Saudi Arabia is from October to December, when flight prices and hotel rates hit their lowest point to make your visit more budget-friendly. 

The least busy time to visit Saudi Arabia is from March to May. During spring, tourism is low in the country and you’ll enjoy fewer crowds with more availability for flights and hotels. 

Try to avoid visiting during summer, from June to August. This is when the heat is at its peak, surpassing 100F and feeling even hotter without rain to cool things down. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of the best times to visit Saudi Arabia next. 

Overall Best Time to Visit Saudi Arabia

Sun rays hit the cliffs at the Edge of the World outside of Riyadh during fall and winter, the best time to visit Saudi Arabia

AFZAL KHAN MAHEEN/Shutterstock

The overall best time to visit Saudi Arabia is from October to February. This period is cooler, perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing, and more affordable for a visit. 

During the October-February period, Saudi Arabia experiences a lovely drop in temperature that makes it more comfortable for travelers. Highs range from 69F to 94F, so everything from the beach to camping in the mountains is possible! 

You’ll experience very little rainfall during this period, though there’s more than during the summer. No month receives more than 0.3″ of rain from October to February, and October rarely sees any rainfall at all.

Desert tours and activities are at their best from October to February, when the days are shorter and the heat is much more bearable among the dunes and sand. 

Try fresh dates (August-November) or olives (September-January) during the harvest, experience kashta (desert camping), see snow in the mountains (December-February) go scuba diving, relax on a beach, or head into town to visit colorful souqs and historic sites. 

The cost of visiting Saudi Arabia from October to February is affordable, with the lowest rates during December (cheapest overall), October, and November. 

  • October: $26-$67/night
  • November: $27-$72/night
  • December: $24-$64/night
  • January: $29-$78/night
  • February: $28-$74/night

You’ll also avoid most of the country’s sandstorm activity during this period. Saudi Arabia’s sandstorms occur mostly in March and May, so visiting between October and February is ideal. 

Cheapest Time to Visit Saudi Arabia

Jedda Corniche, a mosque on the Red Sea coast, at sunset on the beach shows the cheapest time to visit Saudi Arabia from October to December

Osama Ahmed Mansour/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Saudi Arabia is from October to December, when you’ll find the lowest hotel rates and airfare as the country enters its slower winter season. 

Airfare is consistently cheapest during the month of October, sometimes extending into November, December, and even January as the Saudi Arabian winter enters full effect. 

Skyscanner found that October is the cheapest month to fly to Saudi Arabia, with airfare starting around $634 compared to August averages from $1,039. 

But airfare isn’t the only concern if you’re trying to plan a budget-friendly trip. It’s a great coincidence that the cheapest months for hotels in Saudi Arabia occur during this same time frame! 

December is the absolute cheapest month to stay in Saudi Arabia, with average hotel rates ranging from $24-$72/night. October is a close second, and November is similarly priced. 

  • October: $26-$67/night
  • November: $27-$72/night
  • December: $24-$64/night

You’ll be able to find excellent deals and packages during this slower season, just after the peak fall tourism season. You might even come across better deals in shops, markets, and restaurants at this time of year! 

Least Busy Time to Visit Saudi Arabia

Mada'in Salih ancient rock carving shown at night lit from below in the desert during the least busy time to visit Saudia Arabia

Osama Ahmed Mansour/Shutterstock

March to May is the least busy time to visit Saudi Arabia, offering visitors a chance to see the country without huge crowds of tourists and the higher prices that come along with peak season. 

From March, when spring begins, through May, just as the season wraps up, you’ll find that Saudi Arabia is a little quieter, more serene, and less crowded. 

It’s perfect for a low-key visit that doesn’t feel packed or stressful. You’ll have an easier time finding and booking flights, hotels, and even reservations for dinner during the springtime. 

Saudi Arabia’s least busy months overall are April and May, with March seeing slightly higher numbers of tourists as the warm spring weather and rains begin to arrive. 

While there’s a little more rain during this period than in summer, it’s not rainy by any stretch. The most rainfall the country receives during the spring is around 0.3″ in March. 

By May, there’s almost no rain to speak of in Saudi Arabia and conditions are beginning to get very hot. Highs around 102F in the capital, Riyadh, make outdoor activities harder toward the end of spring. 

Hotel rates are generally affordable during this time of year, but prices can be much higher in April. Here’s a look at average hotel prices during spring in Saudi Arabia:

  • March: $32-$84/night
  • April: $44-$115/night
  • May: $27-$71/night

If you plan to spend time on a beach, hanging out in air-conditioned spaces, or enjoying the coastal areas, spring heat won’t be a problem. Visit in March or April for the coolest weather, or in May for the lowest prices. 

Worst Time to Visit Saudi Arabia

View of Maraya Concert Hall, a mirrored building in the desert, taking during the worst time to visit Saudi Arabia in the peak of summer

Petu/Shutterstock

Summer, from June to August, is the worst time to visit Saudi Arabia. Temperatures soar with little to no rain and hotels and flights are more expensive.

June, July, and August are the worst months to visit Saudi Arabia mainly because of the heat. Temperatures during the summer season range from 107F to 110F in Riyadh, but get as high as 130F in the desert.

Some of the most incredible activities in Saudi Arabia can become unbearable in this kind of heat, from camping and beach visits to desert tours and sightseeing. 

You’ll also have to contend with higher prices and less hotel and flight availability during this time. Skyscanner found that average flight prices peak in July and August with flights starting around $1,000. 

Hotel rates during this time aren’t at their peak, but are slightly higher than spring, fall, and winter rates. Here’s a look at average hotel prices from Google Hotels data:

  • June: $29-$77/night
  • July: $34-$89/night
  • August: $29-$75/night

People usually head to the Eastern Province during the summer to escape the heat, where there are cool, coastal breezes and a large desert oasis (Al Ahsa Oasis) as well as national parks to check out along the Red Sea coast. 

Things to Consider

Salwa Palace in At-Turaif during the afternoon indicates the overall best time to visit Saudi Arabia

Volodymyr Dvornyk/Shutterstock

Visiting Saudi Arabia can be incredibly exciting, holding a variety of new experiences that make it memorable and unique. Here are some helpful travel tips to keep in mind before you start planning your trip!

  • Keep safety your top priority. Many travelers find themselves wondering, “Is Saudi Arabia safe to visit?” The answer: It depends on where you plan to go during your stay. The U.S. Department of State has issued a level 3 travel advisory for the country, urging visitors to reconsider travel at this time. The Saudi-Yemen border, Qatif, Abha, Najran, Jizan, and Khamis Mushayt should be avoided at this time. 
  • Respect the local customs and culture. Islamic law is enforced in Saudi Arabia, so travelers will need to know and respect local customs and culture to avoid issues. Avoid drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and public displays of affection, choose modest dress that covers shoulders and knees, don’t take pictures of palaces, government, or military buildings, and note that LGBT relationships are strictly outlawed. 
  • Make sure your swimwear is approved. Women can’t wear bikinis on most public beaches in Saudi Arabia, since they don’t conform to the Islamic laws of modest clothing. Private beaches may allow bikinis, as well as areas like Red Sea Destination. Do your research before you pack your favorite swimsuit since it may not be allowed here. 
  • Get a tourist visa and vaccination proof. U.S. citizens are required to hold a valid passport with at least 6 months’ validity as well as a tourist visa to go to Saudi Arabia. Tourist visas can be obtained by applying online through the Saudi Arabia embassy. You’ll need proof of a complete course of the Covid-19 vaccination to enter the country, which you can provide through the embassy website. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Elephant Rock at sunset with colorful sky as a car passes in front for a frequently asked questions section on the best time to visit Saudi Arabia

Osama Ahmed Mansour/Shutterstock

Still have a few questions about the best time to visit Saudi Arabia or what you should know about the country? Here are the most frequently asked questions on the topic. 

What is the hottest month in Saudi Arabia?

July is the hottest month in Saudi Arabia, reaching daily highs around 110F in the capital, Riyadh and over 130F in the Rub'al-Khali desert. With no rainfall, these temperatures can feel even hotter and quite uncomfortable for travelers.

Is Saudi Arabia tourist friendly?

Tourists are generally welcomed in Saudi Arabia as long as they are willing to observe and follow local customs and laws.

Strict anti-LGBT laws mean same-sex couples and those identifying as members of the community may feel threatened or unsafe here.

Saudi Arabia is currently under a level 3 travel advisory from the U.S. Department of State, urging visitors to reconsider travel at this time due to drone and missile attacks as well as terrorist acts.

What is the coolest month in Saudi Arabia?

The coolest month in Saudi Arabia is January, when daily highs don't go past 69F and average closer to 59F.

Snowfall in the mountainous regions is possible during this time period and desert temperatures are much more bearable.

Can Americans visit Saudi Arabia as a tourist?

Yes, Americans can visit Saudi Arabia as a tourist as long as they follow the proper steps. A passport with 6 months' validity, tourist visa, and proof of Covid-19 vaccination is required to enter the country.

Most people will be able to apply for a tourist visa online through the Saudi Arabian embassy, as well as submitting required vaccination information.

How safe is Saudi Arabia for US citizens?

Right now, Saudi Arabia is not considered safe for U.S. citizens due to a current level 3 travel advisory.

Drone and missile attacks and terrorism are cited as the reasons for the advisory, which urges citizens to reconsider travel to Saudi Arabia at this time.

Some regions are more dangerous than others, so avoid the Saudi-Yemen border, the Abha airport and city, Najran, Khamis Mushayt, Jizan, and Qatif in the Eastern Province.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Saudi Arabia?

You can’t go wrong by visiting Saudi Arabia between October and February – it’s cool, pleasant, and ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing around the palaces, mosques, and historic sites. 

If budget is your main concern, go between October and December. December is the cheapest month for hotels, while October is the cheapest for airfare. 

Head to Saudi Arabia during spring, from March to May, to avoid big crowds of tourists and enjoy a more serene visit to this stunning country. 

Avoid the summer – the worst time to visit – if you want to steer clear of scorching 100+ degree temperatures and the most expensive flights. 

As long as you stay up to date on current travel advisories and keep safety your top priority, Saudi Arabia can be a magnificent and magical place to visit. 

From sunny beaches and vast deserts to hidden oases and modern cities with historic sites scattered throughout, visiting Saudi Arabia during the best time of year should be an entry on every world traveler’s bucket list.