Top 10 Things to Do in Riyadh

Known for its harmonious blend of futuristic and historical sights, Riyadh is an engaging and diverting destination for international travelers. Riyadh is the primary financial center of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its beating commercial heart. It is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers and vibrant shopping malls, as well as fine dining restaurants and family-friendly attractions. It is also home to several historical gems, attesting to its legacy as the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia. As a desert city, visitors can even experience the magic of the sand dunes and stay in nearby oases. 

There are plenty of things to do in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for international visitors. Some of Riyadh’s tourist attractions include the National Museum of Saudi Arabia with an unbeatable collection of artifacts showcasing the Kingdom’s history from its ancient past to modern times. Speaking of history, the Al Masmak Palace is one of the best-preserved fortresses in Saudi Arabia and a place where visitors can get a sense of the Kingdom’s military and civil history. For the adventurous types, Wadi Namar and other desert destinations near the city are great for a variety of outdoor adventures. After a day of seeing the sites, Riyadh offers a range of ways to relax, including shopping complexes, spas, and award-winning restaurants. 

As the capital of Saudi Arabia and one of the wealthiest cities in the world, Riyadh is a must-see for anyone arriving in the Kingdom. The energy, hospitality, and vitality of the city, along with its many sites and attractions, make it an unforgettable destination. Plus, like most cities in Saudi Arabia, it is accessible to foreigners and very safe, especially for families with children. However, with so much to see in the city, it can be a challenge to pick the best itinerary. This article features our top picks for things to do in Riyadh to help guide you through the vast array of wonderful sites in this energetic and fascinating metropolis.

Top Things to Do in Riyadh as a Tourist

From desert escapes to intercity shopping, Riyadh offers an incredible range of experiences for travelers of all kinds. The best places to visit in Riyadh will vary depending on each individual’s interests, so we’ve included a range of activities from natural getaways to urban attractions. This list is not comprehensive but can serve as a helpful starting point for an unforgettable trip! 

Without further ado, here are our top ten things to do in Riyadh:

Edge of the World

For the daring at heart, the Edge of the World is a 1.131 m high cliff located around 100km from Riyadh with awe-inspiring views and great opportunities for hiking and mountain climbing. It is one of the top things to see in Riyadh for natüre lovers.The Edge of the World sits at the edge of the Tuwaik Mountain range so the surrounding landscape is quite rocky and with mountainous qualities. We recommend going with a suitable vehicle that can handle rough terrain. The surrounding area is natural and wild, so there are limited amenities and some cell outages may occur. That being said, you can easily enjoy a day of hiking and spending time in nature by preparing in advance. Take some snacks, sunscreen, and plenty of water to make the most of the day. If visiting in winter, you will experience colder temperatures and bursts of rainfall.

Riyadh Zoo

Established in 1957, the Riyadh Zoo started as a private royal zoo and one of the best places to visit in Riyadh with family. It was opened to the public in 1987 and offers an enriching experience for visitors of all ages. With over 1,300 animals from 190 species housed in six protected areas, this sprawling 164,000 sq m park attracts roughly 600,000 visitors annually! The zoo offers educational opportunities for young children and theatrical performances featuring dancing and singing animal characters. From roaring lions to brightly colored birds, the Riyadh Zoo is a feast for the senses. The diversity of animals and zoological work being done at the Zoo is world-class. You will need to get transportation to the Al Malaz neighborhood during opening hours from 9 am to 4:45 pm daily. Tickets are priced at SR 11.50 for adults and SR 5.75 for children.

Boulevard Riyadh City

The Boulevard Riyadh City is one of the top places to visit in Riyadh City and one of the largest and most exciting entertainment centres in Saudi Arabia. From high-end shopping venues featuring international brands to award-winning restaurants serving both local and international cuisine, the Boulevard offers a vibrant experience for both adults and children. There are often live performances taking place alongside colorful light displays and a dancing fountain. You can relax in the various seating areas spread throughout the area or attend live theatre productions at venues like the Bakr Al-Sheddi Theater and the Global Theater. The acrobatic displays are especially unique. Other entertainment options include visiting the wax museum, going karting or snow skiing, or attending an immersive cinematic experience at the largest cinema in Saudi Arabia.

Al Masmak Palace

One of Riyadh’s historic splendors is the Al Masmak Palace, situated in the heart of the city. It is a top tourist destination that should not be missed. This fortress has witnessed every pivotal moment in the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Constructed in the 14th century during the reign of Imam Abdullah bin Faisal, the palace served as both a residence and a stronghold of power and wealth. Encircled by walls with only two entrances and small gun barrel openings, it stood as a fortress against the city’s enemies. Al Masmak was opened as a museum in 1995 offering visitors a glimpse into the bygone era. The Arabic term “Al Masmak” refers to a place used for storing weapons and ammunition. You can visit any day of the week from 8 am to 9 pm free of charge.

Al Faisaliah Tower

The first skyscraper in Saudi Arabia, Al Faisaliah Tower offers a panoramic view over Riyadh and a wide selection of fine dining options. Entrecôte Café de Paris and The Globe Restaurant are two crowd favorites that offer delicious French cuisine and carefully crafted cocktails respectively. As one of the newest towers in the Kingdom, Al Faisaliah facilities are top-of-the-line and outfitted with the latest technology. Families with children will enjoy the amusement park and international shopping options. For stunning views over Riyadh and high-end leisure opportunities, Al Faisaliah is a must-see in Riyadh.

Saudi National Museum

Consisting of eight galleries, the Saudi National Museum has a world-class selection of artifacts, interactive displays, and educational programs. Visitors can experience a range of topics from the origin of the universe to the development of ancient Arab civilizations and the history of Saudi Arabia’s unification. With the latest in exhibition design and visitor experience technology, the National Museum offers a multidimensional and immersive cultural experience for visitors of all ages. Seasonal festivities and artistic live performances take place throughout the year, filling the museum’s foyer with joy. The museum is open from 9 am to 8 pm from Saturday to Wednesday and from 2 pm to 10 pm on Thursdays and Fridays. It is closed on Sundays, so it’s important to plan accordingly.

Sky Bridge at Kingdom Center

Situated 300 meters above Riyadh, the Sky Bridge at Kingdom Center offers an all-encompassing view of the city and neighboring lands. The panoramic glass panels allow visitors to experience the view from all sides safely. This is a wonderful activity to do at night for a full view of the starry night sky. To get there, take the elevator to the 99th floor and enter through the ticket counter between the Mont Blanc and Carolina Herrera stores. The price is 69 SR for adults and 23 SR for children under 10. The design and experience of the Kingdom Center make this building one of Saudi Arabia’s architectural marvels and an unforgettable experience for the whole family.

Rawdat Tinhat

While there are plenty of places to go in Riyadh to get away from the urban büstle, one of our favourites is Rawdat Tinhat, the largest natural meadow in Saudi Arabia located in the King Abdulaziz National Reserve. Spanning 140,000 square kilometers, Rawdat Tinhat is a beautiful camping spot characterized by its dense green plant cover and fragrant tulips. It is the perfect spot to get some fresh air and take in the stunning scenery. The park is great to visit at any time of the day but especially at sunset or at night for star gazing. We recommend visiting in the spring when all the natural elements of the park come together to provide the ideal getaway spot for walking, camping, or preparing a barbecue. With its natural beauty, walking trails, and recreational activities, Rawdat Tinhat is a great option for nature lovers.

Riyadh Season

For the last four years, locals and visitors alike have flocked to Riyadh Season, one of the most highly anticipated events on the city’s social calendar. The event consists of 12 zones each with a unique entertainment option. From musical performances to cultural performances and five-star dining, Riyadh Season showcases a diverse range of attractions. Some of the featured zones include VIA Riyadh, Boulevard World, and Boulevard City. Each one has a strategically designed lighting and visual display that creates an immersive sensorial experience throughout the event. Most of the zones have restaurants, shops, and hotels to explore as well.

Alwaha Park

Riyadh’s parks are a great way to escape from the busy streets of the city and get some rest in nature. Out of all the fun things to do in Riyadh, Alwaha Park is one of the largest and most, featuring free parking, service facilities, and seating areas for visitors. Open 24 hours a day, the park is a great place for sports, picnics, and long walks. Families with children will enjoy the safe and clean space to spend a relaxing day. There are also plenty of seating areas, toilets, and other amenities for visitors to fully enjoy their day at one of Riyadh’s most beautiful green spaces.

A Day in Riyadh

While we highly encourage visitors to Saudi Arabia to spend more than one day in the capital city, it is possible to enjoy a full and engaging day in Riyadh. In one day, you can still get the essence of the city and see some major sites. Here is our recommended itinerary for a single day in Riyadh:


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so we recommend a delicious one at Chai and Chapati. This traditional breakfast spot serves up delicacies like sauteed lamb liver with garlic, peppers, and fresh tomato, along with fragrant zaatar, a popular Middle Eastern spice mixture made from thyme and sesame seeds, and fresh halloumi cheese. You can have local karak tea on the side to complete the experience. If you have some extra time, the Camel Step is a great place for a cup of freshly brewed coffee made with specialty coffee beans.


Fueled and ready for the day, head to Diriyah, where you can explore ancient castles, mud-brick settlements, and traditional alleyways. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Najdi architecture and the history of this area as a meeting point for pilgrims and traders in the Arabian Peninsula. The Najd Village Restaurant is a great spot for a traditional lunch in an atmospheric location. Feeling more outdoorsy? The Riyadh Zoo is a great alternative that is especially great for families with kids. There are plenty of dining options available there.


In the heat of the late afternoon, you can head to Sahara Mall for shopping and entertainment. This is one of the best spots for high-end local and international brands. Alternatively, you can head to the Boulevard Riyadh City to catch a film at the largest cinema in Saudi Arabia. End the day with dinner near the Boulevard at one of the city’s fine dining establishments.

Practical Tips and Recommendations

Riyadh is an extremely safe and accessible destination. However, travelers should follow some social and cultural customs to be respectful of their hosts and the local culture. Saudi Arabia is a predominantly Muslim country with 31.5 million Muslims living there. Therefore, women travelers are encouraged to dress modestly and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Non-Muslim women are not required to wear a headscarf but should carry one in case they need to enter religious sites. 

Alcohol and pork are prohibited in Riyadh and visitors should avoid consuming or carrying these items with them. It’s also important to be mindful that many spaces in Riyadh adhere to gender segregation, even in public spaces. Finally, it’s a nice idea to learn some common Islamic greetings to show your hosts you care about and respect their culture. Travelers should also plan their activities around prayer times, as businesses may close during these periods.

Transportation options like taxis and ride-share apps are easily accessible and can take you anywhere in Riyadh. There is a public transportation network as well consisting of the Riyadh Metro and several bus routes. The best time to visit Riyadh is fall and spring when the temperatures are milder and it is pleasant to be outside. However, during all times of the year, staying hydrated is crucial due to Riyadh’s hot and dry climate. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and take breaks as needed.

With diverse cultural and entertainment attractions, Riyadh is a must-visit destination in Saudi Arabia. As the Kingdom’s capital, there are myriad things to do in Riyadh. From visiting some of the country’s most exciting new buildings and cultural centers including the Saudi National Museum and Al Faisaliah Tower to spending the day in a park, there are many ways to experience this vibrant metropolis. Al Masmak Palace offers an unbeatable look at one of Saudi Arabia’s ancient historical sites, while Rawdat Tinhat provides a respite from the bustle of the city. To ensure the best visit, visitors should adhere to some cultural customs including dressing modestly and refraining from drinking in public. The services in Riyadh cater to international crowds and provide a safe and seamless experience from the first day to the last. A trip to this vibrant capital is sure to fascinate and enliven any visit to Saudi Arabia.


Is it worth visiting Riyadh?

Riyadh is a diverse and energetic capital city that is the cultural and commercial heart of Saudi Arabia. Due to its myriad attractions, safety, and accessibility, Riyadh is a great destination for travelers of all ages.

How do I spend a day in Riyadh?

Spending a day in Riyadh offers a blend of tradition and modernity. Start with a visit to historical sites like Al Masmak Palace, then explore the modern side by shopping at Kingdom Centre Tower and dining at local restaurants serving authentic Saudi cuisine.

Is the Riyadh season worth visiting for tourists?

Absolutely! Riyadh Season showcases the vibrant culture, entertainment, and culinary delights of Saudi Arabia. From music concerts to food festivals and cultural exhibitions, there’s something for every traveler to enjoy.

What is Riyadh popular for?

Riyadh is renowned for its rich history, modern architecture, and vibrant culture. It’s particularly famous for landmarks like the Kingdom Centre Tower, the Saudi National Museum, and the traditional markets (souks) offering everything from spices to handicrafts.

Is Riyadh good for families?

Riyadh is excellent for families, offering numerous family-friendly attractions like amusement parks, shopping malls with entertainment zones, and outdoor recreational areas like Al Bujairi Park. Additionally, the city has a variety of accommodation options suitable for families.