Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia and is located in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula. This city has a rich history, the most beautiful buildings, and colourful markets that offer a peak into its vast cultural diversity. So, there are plenty of things to do in Riyadh that will help you enjoy your vacation in this Middle Eastern paradise.

Things to do in Riyadh

1. Diriyah

Diriyah Riyadh

Diriyah, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, was the first capital of the Emirate of Diriyah. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace are the most popular attractions here and offer a glimpse into Saudi Arabia’s rich culture and history. Another place to visit is Wadi Hanifah, a beautiful valley full of greenery and historical sites. Visiting between November and April is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia and experience the Diriyah Season which is a cultural festival featuring handicrafts, food, and performances. Also, don’t miss the Diriyah Museum, which houses significant historical artefacts.

2. Masmak Fortress

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Masmak Fortress is a mid-19th-century fort in Riyadh mostly made up of clay and mudbrick. It holds great significance because this was the place where a bold raid was led by Ibn Saud in 1902. Now, it has been carefully restored and is a captivating museum. Explore chambers like the grand audience hall and soldiers’ quarters and learn about their past lives through exhibits of weaponry and other personal belongings. The main gate holds a spearhead believed to be from Ibn Saud’s raid.

3. The Kingdom Centre Tower


One of the best places to visit in Riyadh is The Kingdom Centre Tower which is the tallest building in the city! The building has a really unique shape that makes it stand out from the rest and looks kind of like a giant oval with a bridge called the Skybridge going through it. If you go up to the bridge, which is made of glass, you can see the entire city from way up high. The building has loads of different things inside it, like a hotel, some offices, and some really fancy stores and restaurants.

4. The National Museum of Saudi Arabia


The National Museum of Saudi Arabia is a great place to learn about Saudi Arabia’s interesting history and culture. It has a vast collection of artefacts and covers everything from the earliest of times to the present-day Saudi. Here, you can see all kinds of exhibits that tell you about how people used to live in ancient times, what kind of things they made and used, and how the country has changed and evolved over time.

5. The Edge of the World


The Edge of the World is also known as Jebel Fihrayn. It is a stunning geological formation located 90 km northwest of Riyadh. It offers a great panoramic view of the Arabian Peninsula and was formed over millions of years by the erosion of sedimentary rocks. If you are looking for adventure, you can enjoy activities like hiking, rock climbing, camping, and even desert safari tours in Riyadh. The location provides a sense of calm and an escape from the noisy city life.

6. Quad Bike Ride in the Desert


Take in the thrill of the Saudi desert with quad biking or camel riding which offer an exhilarating way to explore its beautiful desert. The best time to visit Riyadh is between the months of November and March when the weather is great for quad biking allowing you to explore the desert with speed and agility. Additionally, camel rides offer a relaxing experience and help you connect with ancient Bedouin traditions.

7. Souq Al-Thumairi

Explore the vibrant Souq Al-Thumairi, also known as Deera Souq. It is the centre of traditional commerce. You will find hundreds of narrow alleys filled with various shops. Here, you can bargain and haggle to get the best deals and choose from a wide range of items like hand-woven carpets with intricate designs, fragrant spices, beautiful silver jewellery, and soft, flowing clothing. All these display the exceptional artistry and craftsmanship of Saudi artisans.

8. King Abdullah Park

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King Abdullah Park in Riyadh is one of the world’s largest urban parks. It covers an area of 1 million square metres and offers a peaceful oasis with over 500,000 trees and plants. Visitors can enjoy a boat ride or a leisurely walk around the park’s beautiful 600-metre man-made lake, surrounded by green spaces perfect for picnics and gatherings. The park also features jogging and cycling paths, as well as a traditional open-air theatre that hosts cultural performances.

9. Saqer Al-Jazirah Aviation Museum

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The Saqer Al-Jazirah Aviation Museum in Riyadh is a gold mine for aviation and history buffs. It has a large collection of aircraft from early propeller planes to modern jets. This museum shows the evolution of Saudi Arabia’s aviation capabilities that completely transformed travel and trade in the country. You can explore the plane’s cockpits and simple instruments in the interactive exhibits that allow you to dive deeper into the technical aspects of aviation. Also, check out the informative displays showcasing the various milestones and achievements of Saudi Arabian aviation.

10. Murabba Palace

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The Murabba Palace used to be home to King Abdulaziz ibn Saud but now it has been turned into a museum. The palace is built from mud brick and decorated with very detailed geometric patterns showing traditional Najdi craftsmanship. Inside it, you can find that the palace has been restored and its rooms show the complete grandeur of the royal household. The museum also has interactive exhibits, historical artefacts, and a rooftop terrace with a view of Riyadh, making it a must-visit for understanding Saudi Arabia’s rich history.

11. The Al Rajhi Mosque


The Al Rajhi Mosque, which is also known as Sheikh Sulaiman Al-Rajhi Mosque, is the most important Islamic centre in Riyadh. It was established in 2004 and is a beautiful mix of traditional Islamic design and modern aesthetics. The mosque can hold over 20,000 worshipers and has a library, research facilities, lecture halls, and conference rooms. It’s a stunning example of Islamic architecture, with intricate calligraphy and geometric patterns that truly reflect the rich artistic heritage of Islam.

12. Deera Square

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Deera Square, which is also known as Justice Square or Safa Square, is a historical landmark and social hub in Riyadh. It was originally a site of public executions and it now offers a welcoming atmosphere for locals and visitors to enjoy things like Arabic coffee, open-air picnics, and children’s play. It also has many restaurants and cafes surrounding it which means you can try a variety of treats.

13. The National Theatre

The National Theatre in Riyadh is a famous performing arts centre that really shows us Saudi Arabia’s creative spirit and the love it has for performing arts. It has over 1,000 seats and the theatre hosts a large number of traditional and contemporary performances. It also hosts art exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs along with local and international films.

14. The Riyadh Zoo

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The 55-acre Riyadh Zoo is a global animal sanctuary and has over 1,500 species. You can experience interactive secessions like bottle-feeding baby goats or watching roaring lions. The zoo also has a charming petting zoo for children and educational programs that teach them about animal habits, their habitats, and rescue & conservation efforts. You can also enjoy a picnic lunch in green spaces or a restaurant within the zoo campus. A visit to the Riyadh Zoo can be a memorable family outing, fostering a passion for wildlife conservation.

15. The Riyadh Desert

Come to the Riyadh desert to enjoy the beauty of the stars against the desert’s dark sky. There are thousands of stars that you can easily spot, even constellations like Orion and Ursa Major. There are stargazing tours that you can be a part of that have experts who will teach you and help you point out planets, nebulae, and distant galaxies. These tours include sessions on topics like astronomy, and mythology.

Here are some FAQs to help you plan your trip:

1. What are the must-visit attractions in Riyadh?

The Masmak Fortress, Kingdom Centre Tower, and Diriyah are must-sees.

2. How can I experience the traditional culture of Riyadh?

Explore the historic Souq Al Zal, attend a traditional Arabian horse show, or visit the National Museum.

3. What are the best outdoor activities available in Riyadh?

Enjoy quad biking or camel riding in the desert, or visit King Abdullah Park for a verdant escape.

4. Are there any family-friendly attractions in Riyadh?

Families can enjoy Riyadh Zoo, Al Hokair Land, or the Children’s Museum for interactive learning.

5. Can you recommend unique experiences or hidden gems in Riyadh?

Take a desert safari to the Edge of the World, or visit the Murabba Palace for a glimpse into Saudi royal history. So, plan your Riyadh tours soon and be sure to have the wonderful Riyadh on your itinerary!

Janhavi Dalavi is a digital nomad who has turned her passion for exploring the world into her profession. She has packed her life into a backpack to take the road to adventure and excitement. She is a solo backpacker who never leaves without her camera and guitar.

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