Weekend in Riyadh: where to explore, shop and stay

Take a highlights tour of the Saudi Arabian capital…

Whether you’re making a flying visit through Riyadh or want to acquaint yourself with the capital’s must-see sights, discover where to explore, shop and stay in Riyadh.

Al Masmak Fortress


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Regarded as the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia, this 150-year-old clay and mud citadel is located in the city’s old quarter.

Al Masmak Palace Museum, 6937 Al Thumairi St, 3153, Riyadh. Sun to Thu 8am to 9pm, Fri 4pm to 8pm, Sat 9am to 8pm. Tel: 11 411 0091. 

Souq Al Zal


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Meaning ‘the carpet market’, Souq Al Zal is a treasure trove of handwoven textiles, antiques, leather goods and incense. Dating back to 1901, it’s the oldest and biggest marketplace on Riyadh.

Souq Al Zal, Ad Diriyah, near Masmak Fortress.

National Museum of Saudi Arabia


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This modernist building is home to eight galleries, showcasing the evolution of the kingdom from prehistoric times to the current day.

King Faisal Rd, Al Murabba, Riyadh. Mon to Thu and Sat 8am to 8pm, Fri 4pm to 8pm, Sun 8am to 2pm. SAR10. Tel: 11 402 9500. nationalmuseum.org.sa

Ad Diriyah


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The heritage heartland of Riyadh, Ad Diriyah is home to UNESCO heritage sites and revitalised villages. Weave through the mud-brick alleyways of Al Bujairi, stopping at cafes and craft stores, visit Diriyah Museum, or enjoy a picnic along the river at Wadi Hanifah.

Ad Diriyah, 20 kilometres northwest of central Riyadh 

Edge of the World


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Northwest of Riyadh lies this geological spectacle, known locally as Jebel Fihrayn). There’s no public transport to the Edge of the World, so you’ll have to drive or join a tour group for the two-hour drive from Riyadh. Keep an eye out for fossils on your way to the top. Time your visit for before dawn to watch the sun rise through the clouds.

Najd Village Restaurant


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Sample authentic Saudi cuisine at this local icon, which has been serving since 1996. Signature dishes include the tender lamb moqalqal and matazzez dumplings.

King Abdul Aziz Branch Road, Alyasmin Riyadh. Sat to Thu noon to 12.30am, Fri 1pm to 12.30am. Tel: +966920033511. najdvillage.com 



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For a modern twist on Saudi Arabian fare, dine at Takya, where traditional ingredients and flavours are brought bang up to date.

2874 Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Musaid Ibn Jalawi St As Sulimaniyah, Riyadh. Daily, 10am to 7pm. Tel: 55 0402000. takya.sa



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Splash out for your weekend in Riyadh with a stay at the Ritz-Carlton. A favourite among Saudi royals and the country’s elite, this palatial hotel features marble-clad interiors, glittering chandeliers, and exquisite details at every turn. Rooms here come with eye-popping prices to match…

Al Hada, Riyadh. Tel: 11 8028020. ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/saudi-arabia/riyadh