Riyadh History and Culture
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Exploring Riyadh history, culture and food

A city in the Riyadh region

Where Saudi’s past and future meet

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Activities in Riyadh

When in Riyadh, go and explore

Trace Riyadh’s history

Trace Riyadh’s history

Built in 1865 and superbly preserved, Al Masmak Fortress is a vast clay and mud-brick citadel that’s a favorite among tourists wanting to step back in time and explore Saudi’s roots. In 1902, King Abdulaziz captured the fortress and took control of Riyadh (his ancestral home) after having lived in exile in Kuwait. From this fortress, Abdulaziz Al Saud conquered and united the different kingdoms and provinces that make up the Saudi nation as we know it today.
Another must-visit location is the Saudi National Museum, which has more than 3,700 antiquities on display, documenting the grand history of Arabia over millennia. 

Shopping in Riyadh

Shopping in Riyadh

From ancient labyrinthine souqs to luxury malls and quirky boutiques, Riyadh sets the standard for a destination shopping city. The city’s most famous market is the Souq Al Zal, which remains as noisy and vibrant as when it first emerged in 1901. Everything from gold coins to quirky handicrafts and dusty antiques can be found here, including traditional Saudi items such as dallah coffee pots and mabkhara incense burners. For more modern shopping venues, choose from Riyadh Park Mall, with an IMAX cinema and arcade under its palm trees and wave-like glass roof; the open-air precinct The Zone, where stores and restaurants are clustered around a main plaza; or the shops at the Kingdom Centre, which are almost as impressive as the shiny skyscraper itself.

Sample Saudi cuisine in Riyadh’s Restaurants

Sample Saudi cuisine in Riyadh’s Restaurants

One of the best ways to experience Riyadh’s cultural fusion is through its cuisine. Najd Village combines the dining and heritage experiences, with faithfully re-created Najd architecture and authentic recipes such as kabsa, jareesh and hashi. More contemporary takes can be found at the sophisticated Takya, serving Saudi fusion food inspired by the country’s regions, and Suhail, with its modern spin on traditional Saudi favorites.

King Fahd International Stadium

King Fahd International Stadium

Established in 1988, King Fahd International Stadium (KFIS) has been an iconic landmark, both in design and events it hosts.

Besides holding local and international high profile sports events, such as WWE’s Crown Jewel 2019, KFIS was part of the rapid strides taken by the Kingdom’s entertainment industry as it hosted K-Pop sensation BTS for a massive concert on its 500.000 sqm stadium in 2019, along with a showing of Cirque du Soleil.

Travel tips

  • Where to stay

    Riyadh has no shortage of hotels to choose from, many offering spectacular views across the city. Choose from the Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh, the sleek Hilton Riyadh Hotel, the chic Le Méridien Riyadh or the stylish Burj Rafal.

  • Where to eat

    Sample Mediterranean, mezze-style spreads at Bistro by Tao, a chic eatery in Riyadh’s Nojoud Mall, or visit Fairouz Garden for contemporary local dishes with rooftop views. Try Eastern flair at Hualan, or drink in Riyadh’s famed coffee culture at cafés Bateel, Five Elephants or Elixir Bunn, the latter in Riyadh’s ancient Diriyah.

  • Where to have fun

    Explore the contemporary capital with a trip to the Riyadh Front, where deluxe shopping and dining await, or step back in time with a trip to the 1,500-year-old Ushaiger Heritage Village. Thrill-seekers will enjoy testing their skills at Doos Karting or taking in the views from the Edge of the World.

  • Rent a car

    Riyadh has a wealth of car rental companies for those wanting to explore, including Sixt, IDrive and Budget.

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Travel Responsibly

Travel Responsibly

Travel Responsibly

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