Riyadh City Guide

Riyadh City Guide
Quick Facts
Country:Saudi Arabia
Known Names:
Population:7.677 million (2018)
Area Code:+966
Currency:Saudi Riyal (SAR)
Time Zone:Arabia Standard Time - UTC/GMT +3

General Information / Guide

Riyadh, the sprawling capital city of Saudi Arabia, is situated in the country with the most extensive land area in the Arabian Peninsula. Encircled by vast deserts, the city commands attention with its towering skyscrapers. Riyadh, bolstered by a strong economy, experiences continuous growth and development. Notably, the city's robust economy has resulted in water being more costly than oil.


Climate / Weather / When to Go

Riyadh's desert climate brings intense heat during the summer with average temperatures hovering around 42 degrees Celsius and sometimes peaking at 50 Celsius degrees. This season is also marked by dry conditions with almost no rainfall. Conversely, winter is significantly more comfortable, boasting average temperatures of around 23 degrees Celsius. Thus, for a pleasant visit to Riyadh, it's recommended to schedule your trip during the winter months.


How to Get There

The most effective way to get to Riyadh is to use air transportation. Direct flights to  Riyadh King Khalid International Airport are available from many airports worldwide.  Apart from this, flights to Riyadh can be made with connections from many cities around the world.


Food / Restaurants / What to Eat and Drink

Riyadh boasts a rich gastronomic scene steeped in local Saudi traditions and flavored by global ethnic influences. Predominantly meat-based, the cuisine primarily features lamb and chicken, commonly prepared as grills, roasts, and kebabs. Camels, central to Saudi culture, contribute both meat and milk to their distinctive cuisine. The region's close ties to North Africa, the birthplace of coffee, also ensure the popularity of Arab coffee among the well-known tastes of the Arabian Peninsula.


Important Places / Places to Visit

Riyadh National Museum: Houses a vast collection of antique artifacts, manuscripts, and war vehicles spread over 28 thousand square meters.


Kingdom Centre: The most monumental structure in Saudi Arabia, occupying an area of 94,230 square meters.


King Abdulaziz Military Museum: Showcases military vehicles, and equipment, and chronicles the Saudi army's historical development.


Riyadh TV Tower: An iconic 170-meter-tall building completed in 1981.


Masmak Fortress: The historically significant fort is tied to King Abdulaziz's conquest of Riyadh.


King Fahd National Library Museum: A captivating museum with a collection of around 10,000 unique manuscripts and coins.


Geology Museum: Exhibits stones, fossils, and metals found within the Kingdom.


Al Faisaliyah Center: Saudi Arabia's second-largest structure, featuring a golden ball housing a restaurant and shopping center.


Royal Aviation Museum: Established in 1999, the museum presents aircraft from the Saudi Air Force's inception to date.


What to Do

Top activities in Riyadh include visiting the city's impressive skyscrapers, like the award-winning Kingdom Centre, and the Al Faisaliyah Center, both renowned for their unique architecture and panoramic city views. Visitors can also immerse themselves in local culture by exploring the peripheral desert areas, participating in camel markets and races, or enjoying traditional Arab entertainment and dances on special occasions. Don't miss a visit to the historic Masmak Fortress, a Riyadh must-see.


Nightlife / Bars / Entertainment

Nightlife in Riyadh is relatively subdued due to the significant influence of religious police. The temperate evening climate sees men socializing outdoors until midnight. However, Saudi laws prohibiting alcohol consumption and possession restrict the typical nightlife one might expect elsewhere.


Shopping / What to Buy

Riyadh's bustling shopping scene is attributed to its numerous malls, though it's worth noting that not all are accessible to single men. Al-Jazeera, a vast 22,000 square-meter shopping center, tops the list of preferred shopping destinations, offering a wide range of items under one roof.


Festivals / Events

Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Adha

Mawlid al-Nabi


Holidays / Festivals / Important Days

Independence Day: September 23

Eid al-Fitr: Lasts for 10 days and is calculated according to the Hijri calendar, so it changes every year.

Eid al-Adha: Lasts for 10 days and is calculated according to the Hijri calendar, so it changes every year.


Things to Pay Attention to / Important Information

In Riyadh, the scorching weather, particularly from 12:00 to 16:00, often results in business closures and a slowdown in city life. Strict Islamic rules govern the city, necessitating a woman's presence when entering many shopping centers. Furthermore, Muslim women are required to cover their heads, and the streets clear out during prayer times, with everyone adhering to the call to prayer. Non-compliance may draw attention from the religious police, or "mutawa."



In Riyadh, the preferred mode of transport is personal cars due to low-cost petrol. Nonetheless, buses and taxis also service the city, and the metro system is under fast-paced construction. With well-maintained and organized roads, coupled with the high engine power of available cars, renting a vehicle might be a beneficial option for in-city navigation.

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