Where to stay
- Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, Kingdom Center, Al Urubah Rd; +966 11 211 5000; www.fourseasons.com/riyadh. A sophisticated five-star hotel near Riyadh’s business and commercial centers.
- Hotel Al Khozama, Al Olaya St; +966 11 465 4650; www.alkhozamahotels.com. A renowned business hotel located in the heart of the Olaya financial and shopping district.
- Hotel Ibis Riyadh Olaya Street, Al Olaya St; +966 11 419 9995, www.ibis.com. A clean and comfortable three-star hotel with free WiFi and a 24/7 front desk.
- Radisson Blu Riyadh, Al Mubarakiah Plaza, King Abdulaziz St; Tel: +966 11 479 1234; www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-riyadh. A stylish hotel with rooms that feature either Scandinavian, Italian or Andalusian decor.
- Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Al Hada Area, Mekkah Rd; +966 11 802 8020; www.ritzcarlton.com. Look forward to the royal treatment at this opulent hotel. Be sure to adhere to its strict dress code – shorts, sleeveless tops and sports shirts are not permitted.
Where to eat
- Brasserie on Four, Radisson Blu Riyadh, Al Mubarakiah Plaza, King Abdulaziz St; +966 11 479 1234. Global fusion and Pan-Arabian fare, served either a la carte or buffet-style.
- Buffalo’s Southwest Cafe, Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz Rd, As Sulimaniyah, +966 11 279 2123. Fill your belly with hearty American fare like St. Louis ribs, omelettes, burgers and pancakes.
- Hamburgini, various locations, www.hamburgini.com. A homegrown brand serving up what are possibly the best burgers in the country. The patties are made with fresh with quality ingredients daily.
- Najd Village, Abubakar Siddique Rd; +966 11 225 0034; www.munajem.com/najd-village. For a genuinely Saudi Arabian experience, plop down on the carpeted floors at Najd Village and take your time sampling the kasba (meat with rice). If you’re eating with a group, order the set menu — for about SAR100, you get 14 different mains, Arabic coffee, tasty dates and bachoor (incense).
- The Globe, Al Faisaliah Hotel, King Fahad Rd; +966 11 273 2222. If you’re willing to splurge, book a table at this glass-sphere restaurant, which offers spectacular views of the city. Feast on Arabic and modern European dishes while admiring the cityscape.
What to do
- Al Dir’iyah. Visit the ancient city of Al Dir’iyah, the original home of the Saudi royal family and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although currently under restoration, there are still many areas that can be explored.
- Edge of the World. Rent a 4×4 vehicle and journey to the cliffs of the Tuwaiq Escarpment, located about 90km northeast of Riyadh. Here, you’ll enjoy some truly spectacular views of the vast desert.
- Half Moon Bay, Alkhobar. Take a relaxing day trip to this bay, whose shallow waters make it an ideal spot for activities like scuba diving.
- Kingdom Centre, 2239 Al Urubah Rd, Al Olaya. This 41-story shopping center is for the extravagant shopper who doesn’t mind shelling out extra moolah for designer-branded items and jewelry. But even though this shopping destination is more on the high-end side, you can still find pretty good deals because shopping in Riyadh is tax-free.
- Kingdom Tower Sky Bridge, Kingdom Centre, No. 94, Al Olaya St; +966 11 211 2222, kingdomcentre.com.sa. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city from this popular landmark, which spans 65m in length.
- Kuwaiti Souk, King Fahd Rd. Shop for gold, jewelry, abaya (a traditional robe-like dress) and more at this street bazaar.
- Mada’in Saleh, Al Ula. A UNESCO world heritage site featuring 131 rock-cut monumental tombs of the Nabatean kingdom.
- National Museum of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz Historical Center. This modern museum will leave you gawking, with its eight halls of intriguing artefacts that showcase the history of the Arabian peninsula. The exhibits on display are elaborate, informative and well laid-out.
- Red Sand Dunes. Drive around the magnificent dunes in a quad bike or an all-terrain vehicle. It’s best to visit during wintertime, as temperatures soar during the summer.
- Saqer Aljazirah Aviation Museum, Eastern Ring Branch Rd; +966 11 492 2303. Learn more about civilian and military aircraft in Saudi Arabia through 3D movies and simulators.