VN Woman's Day
Book a flight to Hofuf and explore the Al-Ahsa oasis for yourself. Located conveniently at the halfway point between Riyadh or Dammam, Hofuf is renowned for its archaeological sites and rich history.
Five-star hotels, Ottoman castles, bustling souqs and limestone caves await you in this Arabian city. You can fly to Hofuf with Qatar Airways and explore all the region has to offer, from camel racing to shopping at luxurious malls.
Take a trip to Hofuf and head for King Abdullah Fountain. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the world's largest fountains. Local families and tourists flock here throughout the year. The 500,000 square metre park is also home to restaurants and playgrounds.
Many visitors are keen to learn more about the region's history, and Hofuf has several historical attractions that you cannot afford to miss. Jawatha Mosque, built around 629 AD, is today an archaeological site. While most of the original building is gone, you can still see the mud-brick arches of the old construction.
Visit Qasr Ibrahim, an Ottoman castle designed with a fascinating blend of military and Islamic architecture. The building was renovated in the 19th century but still retains many of its original features.
Hofuf attracts visitors all year round, but it can get uncomfortably hot during the summer months. Visit during the spring, when the weather is cooler, and head east of the city to Jabal Qara. These mountains house limestone caves, canyons and unusual rock formations, ripe for exploring. This is also a great spot to pick up souvenirs – a shop at the base of the mountain sells local pottery and crafts created by artisans native to the region.
Travel to Hofuf and you simply must spend a morning exploring Qaisariah Souq. This is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Arabic coffee with locals or haggle for fabric, clothing and Eastern perfume. Head outside the city for the camel market. Held every Thursday, it's a great opportunity to watch camel racing.
If you have time during your trip, Hofuf Museum is well worth visiting. The ultra-modern exterior of the building is in stark contrast to the antiquities within.
Traditional Saudi Arabian cuisine is easy to find in Hofuf and there are also plenty of Indian restaurants. Make sure you experience authentic Arabian coffee – the coffee houses near the souq are the best place to try it.
Falafel, fried chickpea fritters and mezze, small dishes designed to share, are popular dishes here. Food in Hofuf is heavily influenced by Turkish and Persian culture. Make sure you try a baklava with your coffee. This sweet filo pastry with nuts and sugar syrup is the perfect accompaniment to the strong black coffee favoured by locals.
The city's five-star hotels are the best place to head for international cuisine and fine dining. Many offer lunchtime buffets that provide high-quality international-style dishes. For dining on the go or fast food, Hofuf's malls have food courts where you can choose from a range of different options.
The palm trees in the surrounding area produce over half a million tonnes of dates every year. Dates and date confectionery are a great souvenir of your trip to Hofuf. You'll also find that ornamental swords and daggers, copper and brass and cloth are produced in the region (but do check that you will be allowed to bring any type of souvenir sword or dagger back through your home country’s customs checkpoints first before you buy). For antiquities and brass products such as traditional Arabian coffee pots, head for the Qaisariah Souq. A stroll through the bustling streets lined with traders will reveal high-quality cloth, traditional clothing, locally produced crafts and Eastern perfumes. Haggling here is essential for the best prices.
For luxury goods and designer brands, the city's malls are hard to beat. The largest is Al Ahsa Mall followed by Othaim Mall, which are home to international brands as well as Arabic brands. Most malls also have food courts offering a range of fast food and more traditional options. Indoor playgrounds and activities for children are usually available, making malls a great choice for families visiting Hofuf.
Travel to Hofuf and you will find everything here is closed on Fridays, the Muslim holy day, with many attractions and shops also closed on Thursdays.
Prayers are called up to five times a day, and it's not unusual to find many establishments close their doors at prayer time. It's traditional to dine later in the evening, after evening prayers, so bear this in mind when looking for a restaurant.
While English is widely spoken in malls and the city centre, head further out of the city and learning some Arabic phrases will be helpful. Women should ensure they dress modestly when visiting mosques or other religious sites.
Four weekly Flights to Hofuf with Qatar Airways arrive at Al Ahsa Airport. You must have at least six months left on your passport before you fly to Hofuf.
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 Hofuf please 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