Six must-try adventures in AlUla: from Saudi Arabia's fastest zip line to helicopter tours

New low-cost flights between Dubai and the heritage and cultural destination will launch in June

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Saudi Arabia’s ancient city AlUla is gearing up for a bumper summer season.

With travel back after the Covid-19 pandemic, the kingdom’s historic desert region is welcoming more tourists and has lots of adventures in store for those who visit.

Ahead of summer, low-cost airline Flynas will resume direct flights between Dubai and AlUla. Starting from June 24, the Saudi Arabian carrier will operate a weekly flight connecting the destinations. Leaving Dubai on a Friday and returning on a Sunday, the schedule is perfectly timed for a weekend getaway.

Low-cost airline Flynas will operate a weekly flight between Dubai and AlUla this summer. Photo: Flynas

Flydubai also operates between Dubai and AlUla with two flights per week. The budget airline was the first UAE carrier to connect the destinations.

Famed for its unique landscapes, millions of palm trees and 200,000 years of history in its open-air museum, AlUla is an adventure traveller's playground.

The year-round destination enjoys cooler summer temperatures thanks to a lack of humidity and the shade of its green oases. Hotels in the region have cut rates for summer stays with the eco-friendly Habitas AlUla Resort and Caravan by Habitas knocking 30 per cent off stays; Ashar Tented Resort is also introducing summer discounts.

No matter where you stay, there are plenty of bucket-list activities to try in AlUla. With everything from helicopter rides over the ancient orange landscapes to riding Saudi Arabia’s fastest zip line, here are six must-try adventures.

1. Fly Saudi Arabia’s largest zip line

Soar over ancient peaks on Harrat mountain on AlUla’s dual zip line located at the Adventure Hub. The line has just been extended making it officially the longest and fastest in the kingdom, so it’s not for the faint-hearted. Riders can reach speeds of 120 kilometres per hour as they soar some 1.5km through the sky over dramatic orange and red-hued landscapes in this one-hour experience.

From SAR180 ($48), not suitable for children under 12

2. Tackle a cliffside via ferrata

Tackle cliff face climbing on a via ferrata in AlUla. Photo: Visit AlUla

A unique way to explore the ancient mountains in AlUla is on the via ferrata — an Italian term that means "iron path" — and consists of steel cable rails, metal steps, ladders, suspension bridges and zip lines all designed to get you around the mountain. Test your limits with this two-hour aerial challenge as you scale the steep rock face on the 200-metre-high cliff.

And, just to make things harder, you'll have to manoeuvrer your way over suspended obstacles as you go. The reward will be worth it — with access to a Hammock Net where you can hangout with unique views over the valley.

From SAR180 ($48), not suitable for children under 12

3. Take a helicopter tour of AlUla

Soar above Saudi Arabia's ancient AlUla on a 30-minute pleasure flight. Photo: Visit AlUla

Soar over Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage site, see Elephant Rock from a new vantage point and catch your reflection on the world’s largest mirrored building with a helicopter tour of AlUla. The 30-minute flights take in the region’s seven best-known landmarks, including Hegra, the Hejaz Railway and Dadan.

All bookings are accompanied by a personal guide, who is on hand to share secrets about all the wonders you see below you as you fly.

SAR500 ($133) per person, up to five people, not suitable for children under 3

4. Abseil on AlUla’s mountains

Abseil down AlUla's ancient mountains. Photo: Visit AlUla

Whether you’re a climbing pro or have never scaled a mountain before, abseiling at AlUla is one to try. Taking place on the region’s mountain landscapes, you’ll be secured in a harness wearing a helmet and gloves as you step off the side of towering cliffsides. Taking it slowly, you’ll edge down the steep rock face with adrenalin rushes guaranteed. Expert guides are on hand throughout to make sure everything you do is safe, and give you some extra encouragement when needed.

From SAR180 ($48), not suitable for children under 12

5. Trek through ancient wonders

Al ula

Get your walking shoes on and prepare for a trek through the mountains. The Ridge Walk trek is a hiking experience that’s perfect for beginners, including children, as long as you have a basic level of fitness.

Set off with your local guide on a walk that will reward you with amazing views of Wadi AlUla. As you go, wonder at the natural scenes around you and celebrate your summit with even more breathtaking vistas. Bookings include transport to and from the trail, as well as bottled water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.

From SAR266 ($70), not suitable for children under 8

6. Explore Hegra via vintage Land Rover

Explore AlUla's Hegra via a vintage Land Rover. Photo: Visit AlUla

Journey through the majestic landscape of AlUla in this bucket-list experience where you’ll get to take in the wonders of Hegra, the most significant preserved site of the Nabatean civilisation south of Petra. Travelling in true style in a vintage Land Rover, you'll be accompanied by a Rawi — a guide and local storyteller who will tell you more about the destination as you drive. You'll visit the rocky outcrop Jabal Ithlib, see the region's secret ceremonial chambers and discover more than 100 well-preserved tomb sites carved into the sandstone mountains.

From SAR700 ($186) for a group of up to seven people, not suitable for children under 8

Updated: June 21, 2022, 7:53 AM