Rising up from the desert sands, Riyadh is contemporary and affluent – with glittering skyscrapers and sophisticated shops. But a closer look reveals ancient mosques and exotic sites, with streets that are lined with date palms.
A sparkling jewel – this contemporary city beats with an ancient heart.
Things to do
HISTORY & CULTURE
Explore the towers and gates of Al Musmak Castle. This fortress still bears the marks of historic raids, and you can see a spear head still buried in one of the doors. Step out of the sun into the cool interior of the National Museum and marvel at ancient tombs, colourful art and cultural artefacts – spread over eight floors. Be sure to check ahead, as some sites and monuments have certain men-only hours.
The Saudi Arabian dishes you’ll find in Riyadh are alive with exotic flavours and colourful spices. Expect to find plump dates in many recipes. You’ll also have plenty of international fine dining restaurants to choose from.
For a spot of retail therapy, Riyadh won’t disappoint. Here you’ll find international stores like Harvey Nichols, as well as the vast Sky Shopping Mall and Kingdom Centre. For authentic souvenirs, head to a local souk. In the winding lanes you’ll find an alluring range of local handicrafts from carpets to brassware.
Camel racing has become something of a local pastime in Riyadh. Time your visit to coincide with the King’s Camel Race and watch over 2,000 riders take to the track.
Top tip from SLH