If you have made plans to visit Saudi Arabia for your vacation, don’t miss out on a visit to Riyadh, the country’s capital. I share here my curated list of the top activities to experience during your upcoming stay in the heart of the desert.
Discover 15 Best Things To Do In Riyadh In 2023:
Table of Contents
1. The Al Masmak fortress
The Al Masmak fortress, built in 1865, has played a prominent role in the history of the city. Visiting Riyadh is like taking a leap into history and exploring the entire reconquest of the city that took place.
Today, it is a genuine tourist attraction and a significant symbol for Saudi Arabia.
2. The King Abdullah Financial District
If Dubai is known for its extravagance and impressive skyscrapers, Riyadh is not far behind with its King Abdullah Financial District business district. It is located on the outskirts of the city, but that doesn’t stop it from being the king of horizons.
Continuously under construction, it will eventually house a Grand Mosque in the shape of a desert rose and even a futuristic metro station.
3. The Old Town of Diriyah
Founded in 1446, the city of Diriyah is located just a few kilometers from Riyadh. It is currently classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it was once the first capital of Saudi Arabia.
It is the ancestral home of the famous Al Saud family and has witnessed numerous wars. Today, Diriyah is open to the public after being restored and offers an incredible heritage to the country.
4. The Edge of the World Natural Site (Jebel Fihrayn)
This time, it takes about a 2-hour drive to reach one of the most beautiful natural sites in Saudi Arabia. It is a must-visit if you are in the area to explore Riyadh. Known as Jebel Fihrayn, it is often nicknamed the “Edge of the World” due to the breathtaking view it offers from the top of the cliff.
It is the geological result of tectonic plate movements in the country. Stretching nearly 1000 km from north to south, the two plateaus have a height difference of 300 meters. Without a doubt, it is the perfect place to capture the most stunning images of the country.
5 .The Graffiti Rock
If you want to take a trip to the desert of Saudi Arabia, not far from Riyadh, you will find ancient engraved rocks. These rocks date back several thousand years before our era and bear witness to the life that once existed here. Two easily accessible sites named Graffiti Rock 1 and Graffiti Rock 2 are located near the Mecca highway.
It is a true archaeological treasure that is both fun and fascinating to discover. You will likely recognize images of ostriches, camels, and even water buffaloes, which indicate the presence of moisture in the area over 6,000 years ago.
6. Ushaiqer Heritage Village
Ushaiqer Heritage Village is one of the most popular destinations for tourists wishing to visit Riyadh and learn more about the local culture, customs, traditions, and ancient architecture of the city.
It is a small village dating back over 1500 years, where traditions and architecture have been preserved. To such an extent that the entire village serves as a heritage museum.
7. Al Kharj Zoo
Al Kharj Zoo and its park are located just 30 kilometers from Riyadh and can be a wonderful family activity. With an area of 30,000 square meters, the zoo takes care of numerous animals. Here, there is no shortage of activities that will satisfy both young and old.
A variety of entertainment options, events, and festivals are organized to teach children about the history and lives of the different animals present in the zoo.
8. Al Bujairi Heritage Park
Location: 3134 Wadi Hanifah, 7296, Al Bujairi, Riyadh 13711, Saudi Arabia
Al Bujairi Heritage Park is located near Diriyah, the former capital of Saudi Arabia. The site is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has undergone a large-scale renovation plan.
Today, it serves as a meeting place for locals and tourists who want to enjoy the cool temperatures in the late afternoon or the incredible view in the middle of the day. It is an ideal spot if you want to take a break between visits. There are numerous restaurants and cafes where you can eat and refresh yourself.
9. The National Museum of Saudi Arabia
Location: King Faisal Road, Al Murabba, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Visiting Riyadh without taking a trip to the National Museum of the country would be a mistake. It is a must-visit if you want to learn more about the history of Saudi Arabia, as well as its culture and art throughout the centuries.
You will also find reconstructions of Bedouin camps in the desert and even traditional houses from Jeddah.
10. Al Rajhi Grand Mosque
The Al Rajhi Grand Mosque is the largest and most frequented mosque in the region. It would be a shame not to visit this architectural and cultural marvel if you come to explore Riyadh.
It is a peaceful place that beautifully contrasts with the constant activity of the city. Whether it’s the atmosphere, architecture, or the serenity that pervades the mosque, you will enjoy visiting this mosque.
11. Kingdom Centre Tower
The Kingdom Centre Tower is undoubtedly the most luxurious tower you can visit in Riyadh. It is a true landmark of the city and an impressive architectural feat.
It offers the opportunity to admire the entire city of Riyadh from an altitude of over 300 meters and provides a breathtaking panoramic view.
12.The city’s large shopping malls
Shopping enthusiasts will be delighted as visiting Riyadh also entails a mandatory tour of the city’s immense shopping malls.
The Granada Centre, Panorama Mall, Sahara Mall, Riyadh Gallery, and Hayat Mall are all shopping centers with impressive architecture. You will have a vast selection of stores, restaurants, and cafes to spend a good part of your day there.
13. Al Murabba Palace
Location: Murabba Historical Palace, الملك سعود، Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Not far from the National Museum of Riyadh, Al Murabba Palace was the former residence of King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia. It is located outside the city, on agricultural land cultivated during the winter. The palace marks the first major expansion of Riyadh during the new era of prosperity in 1938.
Today, it is open to the public and provides the opportunity to discover its incredible architecture, the history within its walls, as well as numerous objects and artifacts associated with King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud.
14. The Desert at Night
In addition to desert excursions in Dubai, it is also possible to spend the night in the desert if you plan to visit Riyadh. Come and lay down in the red sand dunes of Dhahran and admire the spectacular view of the starry sky.
It’s an extraordinary atmosphere where Bedouin traditions take center stage. Numerous activities are organized both during the day and night, offering a wealth of experiences and memories to share.
15. Al Faisaliyah Centre
Location: MMRM+4XQ, King Fahd Rd, Al Olaya, Riyadh 30194, Saudi Arabia
Al Faisaliyah Centre is a skyscraper located in the business district of Riyadh. It stands at over 267 meters tall and is currently the fourth tallest tower in Saudi Arabia, following Kingdom Centre, Burj Rafal, and Abraj Al Bait.
The skyscraper houses offices, a five-star hotel, a three-story shopping mall, and one of the country’s best restaurants, “The Globe.”