Saudi Arabia’s al Khobar city located on the shores of the Arabian Gulf offers many activities and things to do for families on the weekends. The Corniche is the heart and soul of the city and most activities in al Khobar will be found there. Lydia from Our Dreams in Color-blog tells us her suggestions for the perfect weekend in her home city of al Khobar in this guest post.
For recommended restaurants in the Eastern Province check this post: Top Ten Restaurants in Eastern Province
How to Spend One Weekend in Al Khobar
Al Khobar is one of three cities, including Dammam and Dhahran, that form one big city in the Eastern Province. Some of this plan might stray into Dammam or Dhahran but the edges merge a bit! Now, in all honesty, Khobar is not a tourist destination and is not exactly the prettiest city around. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some hidden gems to discover and fantastic times to be had. So, if you had a weekend to explore, what should you do?
First, head for breakfast at the Circle Café. This is a laid-back café with an airy family eating space and a great breakfast menu. The caramelised onion and goat’s cheese omelette or tradition foul come highly recommended and their healthy juice and smoothie options are amazing.
Filled up with yummy food and fuelled by juice-power you’ll be ready to explore. Leave the car where it is and walk along the corniche to the South. The promenade along here is beautiful and well maintained. The only downside is that littering can be a problem in the play areas. But the kids don’t notice and the children’s play areas are dotted all along the walk, with lovely stone benches to sit on and gorgeous views across the sea.
If you fancy the walk (about 6km) continue further along the corniche, or get back in the car, and head to the stretch near the Sheikh Salem Mohammed bin Laden mosque. This is such a pretty space and well worth a visit. A little further South again is the small fishing dock near where the corniche road curves into King Fahd road. This is full of small fishing boats, including a couple of traditional dhows. From here, providing it is a fairly clear day, you can see the King Fahd Causeway which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. On weekends, you can walk along the sea front near here and watch people fishing over the sea wall.
For lunch drive to Parker’s. A fairly new restaurant in Khobar (there are branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Parker’s is a welcome breath of fresh air. It is very Insta-friendly (whether you consider that a plus or not) and the atmosphere is brilliant, not always something that is easy to find in Khobar. The restaurant is all family dining and set in a fabulous greenhouse style room. Their food is just as delicious as it sounds on the menu. Save room for the Lotus Drama cake! You are meant to have a key to get in to Parker’s but they appear to have waived this for now. Check their Instagram @Parkers for more details on the hunt for a key.
After lunch drive out to the desert and spend an hour or so exploring, walking off the delicious calories consumed so far in the day. You can find a great stretch of gorgeous dunes along route 607 near Buqayq (Abqaiq). Head out of Khobar, through Dhahran, on route 40 and after about 40 minutes, make a left onto route 607. You can access these areas without a 4×4, just park up on the roadside and walk.
Although accessible, it is always best to travel in the desert with someone else, especially if you haven’t been before. This feels like “proper desert” here. Spot shy camel herds, look for desert flora and slide down sand dunes. There are also areas nearby that are great for desert rose (a beautiful crystal formation) hunting – let us know if you have found any! Take a barbeque or a picnic, some camping chairs and watch the sun go down over the picture-perfect scenery.
Saturday morning grab breakfast at Zaatar w Zeit, another chain, but this is popular for good reason. Then get to Scitech for opening time. This is an amazing science centre to find in the Eastern Province. There is an IMAX cinema, a children’s discovery play room, a space with amazing interactive displays about Saudi Arabia and several areas all about the world around us. You could easily spend all morning here!
Feeling hungry again now? Wouldn’t be a Khobar weekend without a trip to The Steak House. There are branches of this award-winning restaurant across Saudi and it is extremely popular with locals and expats alike.
Head to the souks for the afternoon. The centre area is busy and narrow and it is easy to get lost! Get someone who knows their way around to take you if you want to find a specific area (the gold souk and the craft/fabric area are awesome). Otherwise just wander around absorbing all the weird and wonderful things on offer.
If you can fit any more food in, I would recommend grabbing shawarma, spit chicken and rice from one of the local places. My favourites are along Khaled Ibn Al Walid Street but you are bound to wander past some as you explore the souk. Shawarma don’t tend to be on offer until after Maghrib (sunset) prayer but it does depend on the place.
For a last hour or two join all the local families and go back to the corniche stretch with a picnic (or head to the mall in high summer). Just enjoy people-watching as family groups spend the evening together. Children tear away from their mothers, whizzing down the seafront on bikes and scooters; young men in souped-up cars drive slowly past; fathers catch fish; grandparents nibble on pistachios and the smell of shisha lingers in the air.
The Perfect Saudi evening!
Scitech Science Center info and opening times:
Open to the public 4-9pm Sunday-Friday
all day 9am-9pm on Saturday.
Visitors should check website for holiday hours as those can change.
Entry ticket is 20sar