48 Hours in Riyadh: A Suggested Itinerary

If you are traveling to Saudi Arabia for the first time, in an ideal scenario you will have much longer than 48 hours to spend in the country’s capital. However if you are visiting the city as part of a wider Saudi Arabia trip, you may have a limited amount of time to spend in each stop and fortunately, two days are enough to enjoy a whistle stop tour of the country’s highlights.

Day One: An Introduction to Saudi Culture

10am: Browse the Collections at the National Museum

Take things slowly today while you get accustomed the a new culture and recover from the jetlag of your flight. After a leisurely Arekah breakfast, head across to the National Museum. This beautiful contemporary structure is no doubt one of the most impressive of its kind in the entire Middle East. The collections here are spread over eight floors and demonstrate an array of Saudi artwork, history, and jewelry collections. There is also a reconstruction of a tomb here from the Nabatean settlement Mada’in Saleh. The Museum makes for the perfect first glimpse into Saudi life.

12pm: Enjoy Lunch with a View at The Globe Restaurant

Experimenting with local dishes and a completely new cuisine is as much a part of traveling as seeing the sights. The locally adored Globe Restaurant is one of the best places to see and be seen in Riyadh. Perched atop Al Faisaliah tower, the restaurant gives incomparable views of the Saudi capital below and helps you to get your bearings. Introduce your taste buds to the flavorful exotic spices of Saudi cuisine and sample a traditional Kabsa or Roz Bukhari.

Make the most of this great photo opportunity at Al Faisaliah and prepare for your next stop.

1pm: Relax at Wadi Hanifah

In the Arabic language, wadis are desert oases filled with palm trees, lush vegetation, and pools of water. Wadi Hanifah is one such place, and its waters happen to flow through Riyadh. Several towns and villages exist along its length, and Wadi Hanifah is a popular spot for Saudi families to come and relax. Rest beneath the sun, dip your feet into the cool pools and enjoy this experience mingling with the locals.

4pm: Haggle Your Way Through Souq Al Jamal

Feeling fully rested and rejuvenated, head to the Souq al Jamal – Riyadh’s largest bazaar. Here you can find almost every product imaginable for sale – from fragrances and jewelry, to Arabic spices and dried fruits. This is a great way to understand how locals shop, and also to pick up some one of a kind souvenirs for family and friends back home. One important thing to remember when shopping at a souk is that you should never accept the first price offered. The first prices are generally somewhat inflated, since it is expected that you negotiate the cost. Aim to drive the vendor down to a price that is at least ⅔ of his initial asking price.

6pm: Watch the Sunset at the Kingdom Center Tower

The Kingdom Center Tower is an impressive structure in itself. It demonstrates the very best of Saudi Arabia’s trendy, modern architecture. From the top however, you have another stunning view point. The tower is the fifth tallest building in the Saudi Kingdom and is the perfect place to watch the sunset as the blue skies are replaced with red and orange hues.

8pm: Enjoy an Evening at Al Salam Park

Al Salam park is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest and most loved park areas. You may question why you ought to visit a park in the nighttime, however Al Salam is not built like other parks. Come nightfall, the park really begins to come alive. Contemporary pieces of artwork are scattered through the park, and the grounds are illuminated with picturesque colorful lights. Families and locals enjoy picnics on the grass and relax in the outdoors. For dinner, dabble in some authentic street food from one of the kiosks here.

Day Two: The Best of Riyadh

Day one was enjoyed at a laid back pace, but today you should strap on your comfiest walking shoes as you have a lot more ground to cover. Again, there is no major hurry to get up at the crack of dawn, so enjoy breakfast and coffee in the comfort of your hotel before heading to our first stopping point.

10am: Get Spiritual at the Jami’ Masjid Mosque

As a conservative Islamic nation, mosques are scattered everywhere throughout Riyadh and Saudi Arabia. One of the most beautiful however, is the Jami’ Masjid Mosque. As the call to prayer plays through the streets, it is an almost magical experience. From the outside of this religious site, you can gain some truly beautiful photographs .

11am: Scale Masmak Fortress

In the center of Riyadh’s old town awaits Masmak fortress. The building is made up of mud brick and clay and is quite a sight to behold. The fortress has significance in Saudi history since it is from this location that King Abdulaziz conquered and united all forces within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A small museum is located inside that contains historic artefacts and information on the conquest.

12pm: Browse the Markets By Masmak Fortress

Upon exiting the Masmak fortress, you will see market stalls as far as the eye can see. They may seem somewhat touristic, however they sell an array of wonderful wares and handicrafts. From here you can sit outside one of the tearooms and enjoy people watching the crowds that go by. You can also fill up on street food dishes on offer at the various stalls.

1pm: Watch the Animals at Riyadh Zoo

San Diego zoo may consider itself as one of the most impressive and expansive zoo sites in the world but Riyadh’s equivalent is equally fascinated. Here, contained within 40 acres of land are over 1500 diverse species of animals. The grounds are beautifully decorated and with various shows and attractions scheduled throughout the day, this is a fun day out for all of the family.

5pm: Feel Like Arabian Royalty at Najd Village

If you ever found yourself wondering what life is like as an Arabian Prince or Princess then Najd Village holds the answers. The restaurant is lavishly decorated as if you were in a Palace fit for a Sultan. As you admire the plush interiors, you sip mint tea with Riyadh locals and enjoy traditional dishes with a modern, quirky twist.