Once an old oasis town, modern Riyadh is a flourishing cultural capital famed for its iconic modern architecture and luxury shopping.
But the old ways prevail, and traditional pastimes like haggling in the souks and camel racing are still popular with locals and visitors alike.
Visit Riyadh to get a taste of old Arabia with all the comfort and convenience of the 21st century.
Top things to see and do
- Admire spectacular modern architecture in Riyadh, such as Norman Foster’s Al-Faisaliah Tower and the Kingdom Tower, also known as the ‘necklace’. Catch the best views of the city from the Sky Bridge on the 99th floor of the Kingdom Tower.
- Experience the thrill of camel racing in the King Fahd International Stadium. Races are held every Monday during the winter months.
- Shop for designer fashion in the Al-Faisaliah Mall or haggle for traditional Arabian goods like carpets, perfumes and gold jewellery in the Souk al-Thumairi.
- Get a rare glimpse of old Riyadh inside the five-foot-thick walls of Al-Musmak Fortress, a mud-brick stronghold built in about 1865. It has now been converted into a museum which tells the history of the Saudi Arabian kingdom.
- Try hashi (baby camel), a speciality of the Najd region in which Riyadh lies. Some fast-food restaurants even serve hashi burgers.
Tips for travellers
If you’re travelling to Riyadh around February or March, look out for the Janadriyah Festival, an annual cultural celebration held 45km outside the city. The festival showcases Arabian crafts, dance and cuisine and kicks off with the world-renowned King’s Camel Race.