Posted 06 December 2022

If you’re spending the Holiday season in Riyadh, here’s what you should know

The holiday season is synonymous with family time, fun activities, lots of shopping, and a big meal with your loved ones. The season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year. Christmas is one of the main festivals of the holiday season. 

Like any other part of the world, Christmas is celebrated in Riyadh too. However, it is not celebrated on a grand level like other western countries but one can celebrate it with their loved ones within the rules and regulations of the country.

However, there are several other reasons why one should visit Riyadh this holiday season. Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. From having a rich heritage to being the financial capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is one of the most visited tourist places in the world. 

Its location also adds to the reason why thousands of tourists visit this place annually. Riyadh is situated in the middle of a desert known as an-Nafud. It has the world's best museum and a world heritage site that is a testimony of the story of its origin. 

Riyadh is also famous for its sand dunes and food. Other than roaming around the city and appreciating its heritage, one can visit its numerous tourist attractions.

Cultural Festivals to look out for in Riyadh this holiday season

 

Al-Jinadiriyyah

Other than desert safaris and desert tours, tourists can also attend Al-Jinadiriyyah. Al-Jinadiriyyah is one of the major and largest cultural festivals held every year near Riyadh. The event is a testament to Arab national heritage and culture.

This cultural festival is held for two weeks. The major characteristics of the festival are folklore art shows, camel races, and poetry reciting among other cultural events. 

The festival is normally celebrated in February or March. 

Riyadh Spring Festival

Riyadh Spring Festival is held every year for three months generally from October 15 to December 15. The event is celebrated on a grand level and attracts over 1,50,000 visitors. As the name suggests, the Riyadh Spring Festival celebrates the spring season and nature. 

In the festival, visitors can treat their eyes with the visuals of an array of flowers, gardens, ornamental plants, and landscape architecture.Loosen up and mellow out in the beautiful landscape and mesmerizing views of the flowers. It is an ideal place for a family outing. 

Sharqiah Season Festival

The Sharqiah Season Festival is one of the major cultural festivals celebrated in Riyadh. The main characteristics of the festival include hosting a range of international artists, film screenings, traditional events, and sporting events.

The event goes on for 10 days. Visitors can explore Saudi Arabia’s heritage and culture during the festival. 

The Sharqiah Season Festival also introduces new movies and talents. 

Museums

Apart from housing the world's best museum, there are other museums in Riyadh that one can visit to know more about the city. Some of the museums in the city are SaqerAljazirah Aviation Museum, Al-Hamdan Museum, and Salwa Palace.

National Museum Riyadh

National Museum, located in Riyadh, is the world’s best museum. The main aim of this museum is to show the history of Islam to tourists. It houses 10 galleries and several courtyards. It also has a section in the museum which has fancy cars and other personal items of Saudi Arabia's founding king.

  • Location: The museum is 42 km from Riyadh international airport. 
  • Timing: Between 8 am and 8 pm from Saturday to Thursday and 4 pm onwards on Friday

SaqerAljazirah Aviation Museum

The museum highlights the history of the Royal Saudi Air Force from its inauguration in the 1920s to the present day. The museum boasts of a modern and large indoor museum and an outdoor static park.

  • Location: The SaqerAljazirah Aviation Museum is located at a distance of 28 km from the Riyadh airport.
  • Timing: From 8 am to 9 pm

Al-Hamdan Museum

The Al-Hamdan Museum is one of the major tourist spots and an important museum of Riyadh. The museum showcases the old Najdi heritage arch-style. It houses antiques and primeval relics belonging to the locals of the Najd region.

It is a private museum with a collection of ancient and assorted heritage pieces and tools. The museum also has a section for traditional old currencies. It is a paradise for car lovers as the museum houses several numbers of modern and vintage cars. 

  • Location: The museum is located at a distance of 30 minutes drive from Riyadh international airport. 
  • Timing: Friday to Saturday from 4 pm to 10 pm

Historical sites

Know about the history of Riyadh by visiting historical places like Al Masmak Fortress, Murabba Palace, and Kingdom Centre Tower.

  • Masmak Fortress: Masmak Fortressalso known as Masmak Palace, is a mud-brick and clay-made fortress. It is located in the centre of Riyadh. The fort was built for prince Abdurrahman ibn SulaimanAlDabaan in 1865.
  • The fortress played an important role in the unification of Saudi Arabia. The Masmak Fortress has been turned into a museum since 1995. If you want to have a look at the history and heritage of Saudi Arabia, head to the museum. 
  • Murabba Palace: Murabba Palace is a mud-brick palace in Riyadh. The palace was built by King Abdulaziz and is placed within a mile from another tourist attraction Masmak Fort. Tourists can witness traditional Najdi architecture at the palace.
  • Kingdom Centre Tower: The Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh is the tallest construction with a modern architecture style. According to tourists, the place looks more beautiful during sunset.

It is a 99-story skyscraper completed in 2002 and developed by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. Kingdom Centre Tower holds the rank of being the third-tallest building with a hole in the world. 

Read more about - Witness the best of history in these top 4 international cities

Eating options

Riyadh has a wide range of dining options from budget restaurants to exclusive fine-dining restaurants like The Globe, Elements, and Spazio. Enjoy traditional delicacies at their budget restaurants and luxurious hotels.

The country’s food culture has largely been inspired by neighbouring countries so visitors can gorge on some of the best local and international dishes while in Riyadh. Some of the must try food options in Riyadh are Kabsa, Tamees, Umm Ali, and Falafel among others. If you are in Saudi, never forget to try their dates. Saudi Arabia offers all kinds of dates to sample.

Some of the best dining options near Riyadh airport are Najd Village, Lusin Restaurant, The Globe, and Turkish restaurant Tuǧra.

Read more about - International food destinations - The foodie-favourite checklist of international destinations

Shopping centers

Tourists can shop from a variety of shopping options in Riyadh from malls to shopping centers. Riyadh Gallery is one such shopping option that tourists must check out in Riyadh.Dheera Souq is considered to be one of the best shopping places in Saudi Arabia. Shoppers will find it their paradise. Visitors who love old art, heritage, and antique should visit this place. 

Riyadh is relatively cheaper than other middle-eastern cities. Moreover, shopping in Riyadh is tax-free. Lay your hands on some good high-end and luxury brands and souvenirs from Riyadh including leather goods, Persian rugs, and local jewellery. Electronics are also cheaper in Riyadh.

Things Riyadh is best known for

The culturally rich city has a heritage that explains the origin of the city. Thousand and millions of tourists visit Riyadh to witness its heritage and culture every year.

  • Cultural tours: Cultural tours in Riyadh can include desert safari, heat cave tour, local tour in Riyadh, and can also take Abha trip to see the beauty of the city. As the city is located in the middle of a desert, Riyadh is one the best locations for desert tours or desert safari.
  • Al Bujairi Heritage Park: The Al Bujairi Heritage Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of tourists each year. The Al Bujairi Heritage Park is the original home of the Saudi royal family.

Tips before visiting Riyadh during the holiday season

  • Tourists should know the basics about any country or region they want to travel to. Riyadh, like other cities in Saudi Arabia, is a Muslim majority region.
  • Muslim festivals like Eid ul-Fitr and Eid Al Adha are marked in style in Saudi Arabia. However, that does not mean that other religions’ festivals are not celebrated.
  • You are free to celebrate your festivals abiding by the rules and regulations of the country. 
  • Respect its law and rules like any other country.
  • Plan your itinerary in advance while visiting Riyadh as you will need enough time on your hands to explore the rich culture and heritage of the city.
  • One can also book a package in advance. 

How to reach Riyadh?

Riyadh is well connected with most of the cities in Saudi Arabia as well as international cities. King Khalid International Airport is Riyadh’s international airport and is located just a 23-minute drive from the city center. 

IndiGo flights offer non-stop and connecting travel to Riyadh from major cities of the country. The frequent IndiGo flights to Riyadh are to New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. Other than providing superlative deals on prices, IndiGo also offers lucrative discounts and deals for the passengers to benefit from.

Best time to visit Riyadh

The holiday season falls in the winter months. Winter is the best season to visit Riyadh as it experiences pleasant weather. The best time to visit Riyadh is from November to March. The temperatures range from 26.6°C to 18.3°C during the coldest months. 

Riyadh is scorching during summers. The high temperatures make it impossible for visitors to travel around the city during summers. The hottest summer months are from April to July. 

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