Once a walled region along the trading routes, Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia is not only a major financial, administrative and political hub but also one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Riyadh, literally translating to garden, boasts of a modern character with stunning high-rise structures dominating the desert and stylish automobiles crowding the highways. The city is deeply rooted in its culture and has over 4000 mosques. With opulent hotels, restaurants, high-end shopping centres, malls, and some of the most brilliant tourist attractions, Riyadh becomes a definite addition to your travel list. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to explore Riyadh.
Best time to visit: October to March is the ideal time to explore Riyadh. Let us take a look at the various seasons round the year to help you plan your trip better.
Most spoken languages in Riyadh
Visa and Immigration requirement: If you are an Indian passport holder travelling to Saudi Arabia, you are required complete an online application form on www.mofa.gov.sa. Once the form is submitted, please take a printed copy of the form along with the mofa number or reference number and submit along with the necessary documents. According to the new rule, the visa fee needs to be paid online and not in cash at the Embassy.
How to Reach Riyadh
Designed like a central-region village, Najd Village is a unique place to visit for authentic Saudi food in a local setting. Try their kasba – meat with rice or hashi – baby camel, a specialty of the Najd region.
It is the first and only restaurant serving Armenian cuisine in the region. Their specialty includes, the traditional Armenian soborak, gapama - pumpkin stuffed with rice, meat, and nuts and then baked to perfection and pastry layers stuffed with cheese.
If you are looking for a romantic spot for dinner with your special one, then do visit the Globe restaurant in Al Faisaliah Tower. The stunning view and dimly lit cozy ambience makes it one of the most sought after and best restaurants in Riyadh.
Tuǧra is the first Turkish restaurant in Riyadh, serving delicious flavours dating back to the Ottoman era. It is famous for dishes like cokertme kebab – grilled meat on skewers and kuzu guvec firin - lamb stewed with artichokes in a clay pot.
Almost all the streets in Riyadh are filled with markets, shopping malls, and boutiques. You will get to see some of the most beautiful malls in the city, including Al Faisaliah, Al Mamlaka, Granada Mall, Sahara Mall, to name a few. Along with the modern malls and shopping centres, Riyadh is also home for some of the traditional souks such as Souk al-Thumairi. Shop for some souvenirs from Riyadh, that includes leather goods, Persian rugs, and local jewellery. Remember shopping in Riyadh is tax-free, so, do look for good deals on high-end and luxury brands.
Al Nakheel Mall: Riyadh has a lot of malls, Al Nakheel Mall is comparatively new and a favourite among the locals and tourists. You can shop for a wide range of products starting from affordable ones to high-end brands. The mall also includes an entertainment centre, several food courts as well as dining options.
Souq Al Thumairi: If you are looking to buy traditional handicrafts, then you should visit Souq Al Thumairi. The small lanes are full of shops selling ornate silver jewellery, silver daggers, coffee pots and beautiful carpets.
Owais Souq: From beautiful fabrics to gold jewellery, this souq is an ideal place to shop for traditional items. Brush up on your bargaining skills before you hit this market.
Riyadh Airport Marriott Hotel Located 5 mins away from the King Khalid International Airport, this 5-star property features an array of amenities starting from an outdoor pool to air-conditioned guestrooms. It is best suited for business travellers as it boasts of a high-end business centre and banquet facilities. It is also known for its poolside barbeques organised every evening.
Lavender al Narjes If you are looking for a place to stay where you can chill and relax, then this is it. With barbeque facility and a seasonal outdoor pool, this hotel makes for a comfortable and luxurious place to stay. It is also close to several tourist spots in the city.
Fairmont Riyadh Located at a 15 mins drive from the airport, Fairmont Riyadh is a stylish and well-designed hotel, equipped with modern amenities. All the rooms come with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV with satellite channels and the hotel boasts of a fitness centre, spa and five amazing restaurants.
Braira Qurtuba This hotel offers a comfortable stay to its guests with modern amenities such as, a fitness centre, an indoor pool, spa and wellness facilities. It is close to several tourist spots making it ideal for regular travellers.
Here are some of the other places to check out on your trip to Riyadh.
You can’t leave Riyadh without visiting Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most exciting places in the world for artefacts and antiques. Spread over an area of 13.4 km, it is home to 131 monumental rock-cut tombs intricately carved on a rock with ornamental facades from the Nabatean kingdom. Out of all the tombs, you must visit Qasr-al-Farid, for its simplicity and exceptional size. Do remember to you include Mada’in Saleh in your itinerary and explore this fascinating ancient site.