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Riyadh: A flourishing city with modern skylines

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Book a flight to Riyadh

Book a flight to Riyadh and visit Saudi Arabia's capital, a flourishing city with a traditional vibe. Its gleaming modern skyscrapers are in stark contrast to its historic culture and reserved atmosphere. Traditional dress codes are still observed here, and it is a great place to witness the juxtaposition of old and new.

The summer months are best avoided, as temperatures can exceed 50 Celsius.

Riyadh highlights

Kingdom Centre Tower’s Skybridge will give you an excellent preview of what’s to come in Riyadh – the National Museum, Masmak Fortress, Al-Diriyah, 18 holes at Dirab Golf and Country Club, and dune-bashing in Thumama.

  • Tourist attractions

    There is no shortage of attractions to see during your trip to Riyadh, but visitors should be aware most sights are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Everything shuts during prayer hours, so sightseeing needs to be carefully planned.

    The city's most stunning sight is Kingdom Centre Tower, which is Saudi Arabia's second tallest building. The structure’s Skybridge is set into its 99th floor, connecting the twin points of the tower at a height of 300 metres. The best views of the city can be experienced after dark, when you can enjoy the view of the starry nights.

    In the heart of Old Riyadh, the 150-year-old Al Masmak Fortress serves as a museum that recounts the story of King Abdul Aziz’s raid on the complex in 1902. The main wooden door still carries the pockmarks of spearheads that became lodged in it during the battle.

    Riyadh’s National Museum is also one of the Middle East's finest. Here you will find galleries covering Arabic culture, history and art, and it is easy to spend a whole day there.

  • Leisure activities

    Travel to Riyadh and you'll find that the city is full of interesting activities to take up. Spend a night or two under the stars and enjoy the beauty of nature in one of Riyadh’s many camping sites. Rawdhat Nourah, Rawdhat Khuraim, Rawdhat Al-Khafs, and Thumama National Park are popular choices for an unparalleled camping experience with some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the area. 

    ‘Dune bashing’ in a 4x4 at the Thumama sand dunes, or guided tours of the desert, are another great way to escape the city for more adventure. 

    If you’re looking to stay active, you can tee off at the Dirab Golf and Country Club, just 30 minutes from the city, where you can also find tennis courts and a swimming pool. Football is also a popular pastime here. Matches are often held at King Fahd Stadium.

    Get a glimpse into the past with a visit to Al Diriyah boasts stunning architecture and diverse parks that usually host seasonal events, folk performances, markets and food venues with an authentic flavour. 

    If you’re visiting in winter, be sure to make time for ‘Riyadh Season’ and experience the essence of Saudi culture. ‘Riyadh Season’ is a major winter entertainment event offering vibrant shows and festivities, diverse shopping and tempting global cuisine options. 

     

  • Food

    Authentic Saudi cuisine can be found throughout Riyadh, and is definitely worth a taste. Be sure to try kabsa, a mixed rice dish made with fragrant spices, and topped with meat and nuts. Jareesh is another local favourite – a hearty porridge dish made with ground wheat, meat, tomatoes, and caramelized onions. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, then be sure to pick up some luqaimat, which are deep-fried pastry balls dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with honey. 

    Drinking tea is customary in Riyadh, but you will find it is usually served black. If you ask for milk, you may get sheep, goat or camel’s milk. Spending an afternoon at a traditional coffee house on Tahlia Street in Olaya is a great way to mingle with the locals.

    It's easy to find international cuisine here too. For breakfast or brunch, many of Riyadh's five-star hotels offer indulgent buffets, featuring a wide range of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.

     

  • Shopping

    It is easy to find unusual souvenirs for friends and family when you travel to Riyadh. Head for Souq al-Thumairi or Lamma’ah for coffee pots, carpets, silver jewellery and handicrafts. You'll find English is widely spoken and haggling essential.

    The city's air-conditioned malls line many of Riyadh's main roads and offer welcome respite from the summer sun. Al Faisaliah, one of the city's most popular, is home to designer boutiques and department stores. Al Mamlaka is also a good place to find designer labels, with the third floor specially reserved for women.

Essential facts about Riyadh

Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip

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