With a wide range of terrains — from mountains to deserts to beaches — it’s not surprising that Saudi’s weather is also diverse. And while certain generalities apply, there are important differences between regions to consider when planning a visit to Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has a desert climate, which means it’s very hot in summer all over the country. (Think: high temperatures averaging above 40 degrees C for several months in a row.)
November is considered by many to be the best month for swimming and sunbathing in the Arabian Gulf, along the east coast. Over in the Red Sea, from Jeddah south along the west coast, these activities can be enjoyed year-round because the sea and the air are warm even in winter. Between June and August, expected highs in Jeddah are around 39 degrees C with humid air.
Riyadh, the capital, is located in the center of the country, at 600 meters above sea level. From December to February, the weather is mild. In summer, it almost never rains, and the temperatures are very high, around 44 degrees C — although the relative humidity is low. “I was there in December, and it was incredibly hot during the day, despite a gentle breeze. But we went to the desert at night, and it was really chilly. We put on light down jackets and drank copious amounts of tea to keep warm!” reports Hande Oynar, an American writer who worked in Riyadh.
Makkah, which sits about 275 meters above sea level, is even hotter than Jeddah, especially in summer, when highs are normally around 43 degrees C. And it is a particularly sunny city, with as many as 3,400 hours of sunshine per year. Like Riyadh, Medina is 600 meters above sea level, but it’s milder than the capital in winter.
With a wide array of climates, cultural events and cuisines, there is no wrong time to visit Saudi. The question is, when is the best time for you to visit Saudi? The Saudi Tourism Authority has put together the following highlight reel, featuring fabulous things to see, hear, do, smell and taste every month so you can decide when to travel depending on what makes you tick:
Indulge in Olives
Al Jouf is known as the land of olives. Located in the far north of Saudi, Al Jouf is one of the oldest areas of human settlement in the Arabian Peninsula, dating back to the Stone Age. Thanks to its cooler climate, fertile soil and abundant groundwater, olive trees thrive in Al Jouf. In addition to visiting ancient castles and ruins, plan to indulge in delicious dishes that include local olives and olive oil. January traditionally sees the area’s annual two-week Olive Festival, which features cultural, social, recreational and educational events, including art contests and seminars about olive cultivation.