The Best Places To Visit In Riyadh
The Best Places To Visit In Riyadh

The Best Places To Visit In Riyadh

Riyadh has a rich history and a bright future. From neighbourhoods for wandering to timeless desert destinations and our pick of the contemporary art scene, these are the best places to spend quality time in and around the city…

All products on this page have been selected by our editorial team, however we may make commission on some products.

NEIGHBOURHOODS

KAFD

The King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) is a hub of business activity, but dotted around its high-rise central plaza there are plenty more reasons to spend an afternoon here. Riyadh’s metro network is due to open in 2025 and KAFD will be a major stop – not least because its futuristic station is one of the final projects of the late, great Zaha Hadid. International chains such as Sushisamba are also on their way here. In the meantime, there are murals to see by local female artist Noura bin Saidan.

Visit KAFD.sa

Diplomatic Quarter

In between the embassies and upscale residential compounds, the Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) is home to some of Riyadh’s best restaurants. Particularly in the city’s cooler winter months, it’s also a great area to wander for a few hours – there’s a walking trail that will take you around Tuwaiq Garden and give you views of Wadi Hanifa valley. Rock Park is fun for kids, while the King Salman Science Oasis is a place for anyone to get hands on with the latest in robotics and biotech.

Visit Rcrc.gov.sa

JAX District

On the western edge of the city, an old industrial area within Diriyah has recently become a focal point of the Riyadh art scene. At its centre is the Saudi Arabian Museum of Contemporary Art, hosting three exhibitions a year. Around and about it, warehouses have been turned into gallery spaces and cool coffee-fuelled hangouts.   

Follow ‎@JaxDistrict

Edge Of The World
Edge Of The World

HISTORY

At-Turaif

Diriyah is now a town on the north-western fringe of Riyadh. Three centuries ago, it became the first Saudi capital. At its heart is the even older At-Turaif district, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Head here to explore original mud-brick buildings, including palaces and mosques in the Najdi architectural style that’s unique to the Arabian peninsula. When you’re done, repair to nearby Bujairi Terrace, an ultra-modern restaurant complex where truffle-specialist Chez Bruno sits alongside Hakkasan and more casual options like Joe & The Juice.

Visit VisitSaudi.com

Al Masmak Fort

This 19th-century clay and mud-brick fortress used to protect old Riyadh from invasion. Today, it’s a thick-walled, atmospheric place to learn the story of the al-Saud family and how it unified modern-day Saudi Arabia – don’t miss some rare photos of Saudi life in the early 20th century.

Visit VisitSaudi.com

At-Turaif, Diriyah
At-Turaif, Diriyah

NATURE

Edge of the World

The ‘Edge of the World’ is a 300m-high cliff around 100km north west of Riyadh at the end of the Tuwaiq mountain range. You could hire a 4x4 and follow the desert trails to enjoy its spectacular 360º views – but those desert trails aren’t always well sign posted, and can sometimes drop away sharply, so we’d recommend a guided tour with a local pro who can provide everything you need to enjoy a remote place with few modern amenities. 

Visit VisitSaudi.com

Dirab Golf & Country Club 

Forty-five minutes outside the city, Dirab Golf & Country Club is best known for its lush championship course. But it’s also a great place for riding in the desert. All levels are welcome, though for experienced riders, an hour’s hack on an Arabian horse will take you through rocky terrain and onto bright open sands for a sunset gallop. Just ask for rider Saleh – he will look after you. 

Visit DirabGolf.com 

Wadi Hanifa

This 120km-long valley cuts a swath through western Riyadh. Running half its length, there’s a water channel that supports some unusually green landscapes and no fewer than six parks. There are walking trails to help you explore them all in full, though the undoubted highlight is the Wadi Namer – a waterfall that feels thrillingly unexpected in the desert.

Visit VisitSaudi.com

Riyadh ART
Riyadh ART
VIA Riyadh Cinema
VIA Riyadh Cinema

ENTERTAINMENT

Sky Bridge

It takes two escalators to reach one of Riyadh’s key attractions. The first takes less than a minute to whisk you to a transfer level at around 180m; the second requires another 40 seconds to get you to the Sky Bridge. Three hundred metres up in the air, and stretching 65 metres between the twin peaks of the Kingdom Centre, it offers unmatched views of a fast-changing city. Evening trips are popular, but the daytime panorama is just as spectacular.

Visit KingdomCentre.com.sa

VIA Riyadh Cinema

Among the top-end boutiques and world-class restaurants of the luxe VIA Riyadh complex, there’s a state-of-the-art cinema offering a next-level experience. Alongside its boutique 22-seat Interstellar main auditorium, it has a range of seven unique private screening rooms. In the Avant Garde suite, the usual plush seats have been replaced by four double beds. For families, the Oasis suite has its own ball pit, though we’ll always struggle to pass up the plush surrounds of the Orient Express suite.

Visit VIARiyadh.com

The Arena

This is the venue to know in Riyadh for big-time events. The modern, 6,000-capacity facility has hosted everything from Phantom of the Opera and Shrek the Musical to exhibitions of Elvis memorabilia and the annual Sandclash fitness competition.

Visit TheArenaKSA.com

The Arena
The Arena

ART

MiSK Art Institute

Funded by the Crown Prince’s MiSK Foundation, this non-profit tries to do two things: support local artists in furthering their careers, and build a younger new audience for art in the kingdom. Leading Saudi artist Ahmed Mater is the institute’s director, overseeing a carousel of exhibitions exploring local yet universal themes such as landscape and the power of ritual. 

Visit MiSKArtInstitute.org

Gallery Naila

Riyadh’s best-known private art gallery is a female-founded organisation that uses the latest tech to make its extensive collection as accessible as possible. As well as organising 3D digital exhibitions, it offers an evolving source of inspiration at its IRL HQ between King Khalid Grand Mosque and the Kingdom Centre. 

Visit GalleryNaila.com

Riyadh Art

Helping advance the city towards its Vision 2030 goals, Riyadh Art is transforming its public spaces. As well as filling neighbourhoods, parks, transport stations and other corners with thought-provoking pieces, it runs a couple of annual events, including Noor Riyadh – the world’s biggest annual festival of light art. 

Visit RiyadhArt.sa

Hewar Art Gallery

On the 52nd floor of the Kingdom Tower, pieces at the Hewar Art Gallery need to be good to take your attention away from the views. Luckily, collector Shadda al Tassan can call on an array of fine pieces from artists across the Middle East and beyond.

Follow @HewarArtGallery

Burble

Head down to Burble on a given day and you’re as likely to find yourself drawn into an architectural workshop as a jewellery pop-up. This multi-disciplinary lays on shows, exhibitions, classes and more across art, food, fashion and beyond. 

Follow @Burble.SA

Enter your email to download the Riyadh City Guide

By entering my email I agree to the SheerLuxe Middle East Privacy Policy (we won't share your data & you can unsubscribe at anytime).

Filter content by:

Close this tab to continue viewing all content.