Abha is a Saudi gem that is beginning to attract more tourists and visitors every year, as they escape the city’s summer heat. Whereas much of Saudi Arabia is desert, this glittering city sits 2,200 meters above sea level and is considerably cooler than the rest of the country. This makes it a true oasis that has a stunning mountain backdrop and is vibrant with green lawns, bright flowers and cool, white structures based on the classical Arabian designs.
Abha is also a busy city that welcomes business entrepreneurs. Book a flight to Abha with Qatar Airways and you’ll quickly discover that this city is not your typical desert location, but has a distinctive personality of its own.
Take a trip to Abha and you’ll find that it’s a predominantly new city, with remnants of the old city tucked away down winding alleys and narrow streets. Southwest of the Grand Mosque is the town square, where you’ll also find some fine and well-preserved examples of older properties. Beware that if you want to take photographs of the Town Hall, then you must ask permission first.
A couple of hours’ travel from the centre is the hanging village of Habala. Built during the Ottoman period, it was originally only accessible by hanging ropes (hence the name), but today a thrilling cable car ride takes you down to this unique attraction.
In the middle of the city is the Green Mountain, which is actually a hill that offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city. At the top you’ll find a restaurant and café serving traditional mint tea, making it a wonderful location to simply sit back and watch the sunset.
To find out more about the region and its history during your trip to Abha, take an excursion to Bin Hamssan Cultural Village, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the inhabitants of the area.
When travelling to Abha, it’s advised to have –or at least consult – a tour guide, who is more familiar with the region so that you can make the most out of your time.
This mountainous region is perfect for hiking and trekking— although you should watch out for the baboons, which are wild and shouldn’t be approached. You can also take an air balloon cruise over the region for an awe-inspiring experience.
Saudi Arabia’s tallest peak, Jebel Soudah, is well worth a trek if you’re relatively fit. The mountain rises to 2,910 meters and is breathtakingly beautiful.
The Al Soudah cable car ride takes you down to Rijal Al Ma’a mud brick village, where you can explore more of the area’s history at a well-run museum. While you’re there, you can stroll through the valley while enjoying lush greenery and beautiful flowers..
Indulge in traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, with plenty of family-run restaurants serving a fabulous selection of mezze and meals, such as stuffed aubergine and chicken tajine.
Vegetarian options are also plentiful, and the most common drink is mint tea – which is a fresh and delicious alternative to the notoriously strong coffee.
A selection of street vendors selling light snacks and local specialties are available, as well as some more generic fast food restaurants. The premier quality restaurants tend to be focused around the city centre.
If you travel to Abha and want to do a bit of retail therapy, you’re in luck. For locally-made arts and crafts the Tuesday Market is hard to beat. Here you’ll find a plentiful selection of souvenirs, gifts and rare items such as traditional camel leather baby carriers and clay ovens.
While branded shops and boutiques tend to be located at the heart of the city, you can buy traditional Asir clothes for children from the museum, and silverware in the Khamis Souq.
Qatar Airways’ flights to Abha arrive at Abha Regional Airport.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Abha, click here to check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
Voltage: 127 / 220 V 60 Hz
Plugs: Type A / B / F / G
International dialing code: +966
Explore Discover Qatar’s stopover packages offered by Qatar Airways Holidays. Book hotels, desert safaris, city and architectural tours including visits to Katara Cultural Village, Souq Waqif and The Pearl.