One of the fastest growing cities in the world, Riyadh, is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia and mostly considered a destination for business tourists or passengers taking a connecting flight or a stopover. But Riyadh, a conservative city with a fascinating history and culture, attracts many tourists from around the world. Although a mere 24 hours might not be enough to fully explore this intriguing city but it is enough to experience few of its many charms. Here is a list of few things you could do in Riyadh, in 24 hours.
For a fantastic panoramic view of the city, a visit to the Sky Bridge at the Kingdom Centre is a must. The Kingdom Centre, also called the Al Mamlaka Tower is a skyscraper which has well and truly transformed Riyadh’s skyline. Try and visit the place just before dusk and enjoy the breathtaking view at sunset. The Kingdom Centre also houses a shopping mall, luxurious residential apartments and a number of fine restaurants.
Masmak Fortress is a mud-brick fort located in the old quarters of Riyadh and is a highly significant part of the kingdom’s history. The palace gate, also known as the palm tree gate, is made of palm and tamarisk trunks with an opening at the center called the skylight. Each of the four corners of the Al Masmak Castle has a cylindrical watch tower and a square watch tower at the centre which overlooks the palace through the upper gallery. Traditional costumes and handicrafts are also displayed in the fort for visitors to see. A visit to the Masmak Fort is definitely worth it and gives a glimpse into the fascinating history of the kingdom.
One of the best museums in the middle-east, the National Museum is a definite must-visit when in Riyadh. The museum showcases religious, geological, archaeological and architectural exhibits and gives an insight into the heritage and culture of the city. There are eight main galleries in the museum depicting different ages like the pre-historic era, the arrival of Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic civilization.
From plush shopping malls to quaint souks, Riyadh is a shopper’s paradise with a number of options to suit all types of tastes and budgets. If shopping is all that’s on your mind, check in to a hotel close to one of the main shopping districts. Al Faisaliah, Al Mamlaka and Sahara Mall are some of the swankiest malls of Riyadh. Souk al-Thumairi in Riyadh’s old quarter is a must-visit and you can shop for all kinds of traditional goods like carpets, coffee pots, daggers, jewelry, and more. Don’t forget to haggle while you shop here!
There are a number of restaurants to choose from, both cheap and fancy. Head to the Najd Village for traditional Arabic cuisine and try out dishes like lamb and chicken kabsa, moqalqal, goursan and marqooq. Mataziz, which is boneless lamb cooked with vegetables and small round bread is a must-have. There are also a number of Indian restaurants in the city and fast food chains in the shopping malls if you are not in the mood to experiment.
There are several theme parks in Riyadh offering a range of activities and entertainment options. The Al-Thumama Entertainment Village offers a number of activities like bumping cars, bikes and electronic games. The Al-Hokair Land Theme Park and the Al-Hamrah Entertainment Village are also worth a visit.