Located in the heart of Saudi Arabia, the capital Riyadh is a blend of ancient and modern, home to both the historical roots of the kingdom and a modern-day metropolis. In Riyadh, history and heritage come alive in the most contemporary of ways.
In the age of social media, there is no higher currency than the perfect backdrop for a post. You’ll find plenty at the dramatic Edge of the World or Jebel Fihryan, 90km outside of Riyadh, and part of the vast Tuwaiq. Hikers can choose from a range of routes to the top where they’re rewarded with stunning views. An SUV, a good GPS and the right gear are a must – tour guides can also arrange overnight camping.
Dotted across the city and its suburbs are landmarks of the birth of the nation. Al Masmak Fortress stands tall amongst those sites, a 150-year-old clay and mud citadel in the city’s old quarter, it’s an iconic reminder of Saudi’s past. Now a museum, this is a perfect spot to begin a visit to Riyadh.
No trip to any Arabian city is ever complete without a wander through its market. Riyadh’s Souq Al Zal offers traditional handicrafts, spices and incense, traditional attire, antiques and a wide array of woven carpets, rugs and tapestries.
The National Museum of Saudi Arabia tells the story of the kingdom from prehistoric times all the way to modern day, through eight galleries encased in a modernist building. For culture lovers, this is an evocative experience that features both permanent collections and a roster of visiting exhibitions. Beat the crowds by going on weekdays.
If Riyadh has a heritage epicenter, historic Diriyah can safely claim that title. Made up of several districts including Al Bujairy and At-Turaif, the ruins of which were designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2010, the district is a beautiful illustration of the architecture of the region. This is the birthplace of the first Saudi state, historical crossroads for pilgrims and traders, and home to the kingdom’s most ambitious heritage developments. Visit for both a glimpse of the past and a sense of the future.
Riyadh is home to a wealth of restaurants, ranging from street food to fine dining, but Najd Village restaurant is the best place to experience traditional local dishes. The dishes at Najd are prepared by talented local chefs for an unforgettable feast in an authentic space – Saudi dining at its most memorable.
The oldest inhabitants of Arabia, Bedouin culture has evolved through centuries and across lands. Spend a day in the desert for a glimpse of this nomadic world, where open fires, tented camps and the stillness of a starry sky awaits. For adrenaline seekers, sand boarding, dune bashing and hiking are just some of the activities on offer.