Lying just east of the holy city of Mecca in the west of the country, Ta’if is Saudi Arabia’s summer capital. It’s also the seasonal residence of Saudi Arabia’s royalty thanks to its gentle climate, peaceful atmosphere and beautiful views.
Ta’if is also famous for its roses, grapes, figs, honey and other crops which flourish on its green slopes. It has a rich history too, and was occupied by the Turkish until 1916 when it became part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Top things to see and do
- The impressive Shubra Palace is a historic building that contains a cultural centre, a museum, and a library. It’s also the former residence of King Abdul Aziz, and a must-see for anyone visiting Ta’if.
- Pilgrims travelling to Mecca from Ta’if for Hajj can do so in style, taking in breathtaking views of the mountains as they travel down from Ta’if by cable car. The cars run regularly between 15:00 and 00.30am during Ramadan.
- Lovers of the outdoors should visit Al Rudaf Park, an expansive nature reserve with trees and natural granite rock features, a lake and waterfall and even a small zoo which is home to both native and exotic species.
- North of the city, you’ll find Okaz Souk, one of the oldest souks in the region and once a major gathering place for reciting poetry, trading, and political and social gatherings. Today it’s still a thriving marketplace where you’ll find crafts, gifts, perfumes and jewellery.
- Near the Okaz Souk is the Turkish Fort, site of many legendary battles, including one apparently fought by Laurence of Arabia. You can still find graves of those who died in battle here.
- Visit Wadi Mitna, the sanctuary of Muhammad, where he famously came in search of support from the local Hawazeen and Tawfiq. There’s a small house, now a mosque, where his supporters are said to have sheltered him.
Tips for travellers
Take a trip to the village of Al Shafa, high in the Sarawat mountains. Here you’ll find the majority of the city’s fruit orchards and gardens, and you’ll be able to buy and enjoy the freshest fruits, nuts and honey.