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The Mundane Magic of Walking in Cities: Things to do in Riyadh City on Foot

The Mundane Magic of Walking in Cities: Things to do in Riyadh City on Foot

Last Updated on by Admin


Walking through a place is the most intimate exploration of its stories

The benefits of walking through cities are numerous. Besides minimising our carbon footprint & helping us get fitter, walking opens us up to the experience of surprises in a new city.

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia and the largest city in the Arabian peninsula might not be the first city that comes to mind when we think of walkable cities. Yet, beneath its bustling traffic and towering skyscrapers, the streets of Riyadh carry the most vibrant footprints of everyday life. From sparking conversations with locals to just strolling the serene parks around the capital’s landmarks, the possibilities to walk in Riyadh are brief but worthwhile.

Best Time to Visit Riyadh

Riyadh experiences a desert climate characterised by hot summers. Walking around in that scorching heat would be quite difficult. But winters are milder, making the Saudi capital worth visiting for tourists. The months of October to March are perfect for the Riyadh season. Walking around to appreciate popular landmarks or hidden gems as the breeze gently blows is a pleasant experience during the cooler weather of Autumn and Spring.

Moving Around Riyadh by Taxi

Taxi services are a convenient way to navigate around Riyadh, especially for tourists. The most common types of taxis in Riyadh are the white sedans and the yellow cabs. You can also opt for Taxi services such as Uber and Careem while in the city.

During peak hours, taxis are in high demand. So, efficiently planning your Riyadh city trip can make the experience seamless and enjoyable. Additionally, do carry cash in the local currency (Saudi Riyal) as not all taxis accept credit cards.

Does the City Layout of Riyadh favor Walkability?

Cities in Saudi Arabia are seldom walkable. These expansive spaces transitioned quickly from walking to private transportation with the advent of the petroleum revolution. Riyadh’s organized grid system and the prominent skyline buildings such as the Kingdom Tower allow easy navigation. With the Riyadh Metro coming up soon at the new King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), the capital city is only gradually awakening to public transportation. Generally, spending a day in Riyadh would entail driving around in a private vehicle to visit popular attractions or hiring a taxi.

Let’s journey through this captivating city and discover the top things to do in Riyadh while walking.

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Enjoy The Walking Trails of the Diplomatic Quarter

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This exclusive area is where expats lived. Also known as DQ, this is where the embassies are located. The best part about this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood in Riyadh is that you can walk around freely and enjoy meals at the numerous cafes.

Walk back in time at Diriyah Square: Immerse into Culture and History

Riyadh holds a significant position as the cultural capital of Saudi Arabia, boasting a rich history and heritage that dates back centuries. The old Riyadh city, especially is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and cultural centers that showcase the country’s diverse traditions and customs. The most prominent location to step into the past is the historic district of Diriya, the nation’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the narrow streets lined with mud-brick buildings adorned with intricate wooden balconies, and immerse yourself in the rich history of the first Saudi state.

Riyadh National Museum

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Start your journey by delving into Riyadh’s fascinating history at the National Museum. Contrasting the urban pace of the city, this landmark located at al-Murabba invites you to slow down and delve into the history of the Arabian peninsula. The space is big, expanding into 2 floors. So, it would take you around 1- 2 hours of walking to appreciate this cultural treasure trove showcasing artefacts and exhibits from ancient civilizations to the modern era of Saudi.

Masmak Fort

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Next, make way to the iconic Masmak Fort built by the Emir of Najd in 1865.  Al Masmak is an Arabic word that means ‘a sturdy and strong building’. Enter the fort through the strategic al-Khokha, an opening on the door big enough for one person to fit to find yourself where the Battle of Riyadh was fought. Walk around the captivating museum that preserves the Kingdom’s past in meticulous artefacts and interactive exhibits. Learn about the pivotal role it played in shaping Arabian history. Make your way to the Mosque within the premises for some moments of solitude.

Stroll through Spiritual Spaces: Explore Mosques in Riyadh

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Riyadh is also home to the most beautiful mosques that offer a profound journey into the heart of Islamic culture and architecture. Beyond their architectural splendour, the mosques in Riyadh serve as vibrant hubs of community life, where worshippers gather for daily prayers, religious lectures, and cultural events. They provide a sense of belonging and unity, fostering a deep connection among people from diverse backgrounds.

The Masjid Prince Abdulaziz Bin Fahad

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One of the most notable mosques in Riyadh is the King Fahd Grand Mosque, a majestic complex that exemplifies modern Islamic architecture. Observing the towering minarets and expansive prayer halls adorned with intricate geometric patterns and calligraphy can be a lesson in the nuance of Islamic artistry. The mosque’s vast courtyard with the gentle sound of flowing water from ornate fountains provides a tranquil space for reflection and prayer. After your visit, you can stroll through the surrounding gardens, where lush greenery and fragrant blooms provide a refreshing escape from the bustling city streets.

Check Out, Things to do in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan

Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Mosque

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The Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Mosque at al-Deera Square is a landmark of historical and religious significance. The mosque is named after the founder of the second Saudi State, Imam Turki bin Abdullah, and is known for its architecture and peaceful atmosphere.  The old minarets featured a mix of Ottoman and Egyptian styles and were later rebuilt in the neo-Najdi style. Legend has it that the mosque was once built using traditional building materials of mud, fried milk, and roof of palm tree trunks. The facade of brown Arriyadh limestone sparkles golden in the lights at night to create a breathtaking ambiance.

Run Exotic Errands: Shop for Souvenirs & Spices at Souqs

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Follow the trails of fragrant spices and musky Oud to enter the alleys of Riyadh’s busy marketplace. Browse these heritage shops for old handicrafts. It’s not just your chance to shop for souvenirs but also engage your senses with sights, sounds, and smells of Saudi cultural heritage.

Souq al Zel

Derived from the word Zulliya, the Arabic word for ‘rug’, this is one of the oldest marketplaces in Riyadh famous for carpets. Besides textiles, you can also explore this landmark on foot to find rare coins, old utensils, vinyls, and other such ancient keepsakes.

Thumairi Local Market

Explore the elaborate selection of antiques from jewelry to textiles to handicrafts while exchanging stories with the locals. Don’t miss the chance to attend an antique auction, a highlight of Thumairi. Maybe you can bid for a cherished souvenir like a coffee pot or an old lamp.

Al Magiliah Market

Explore a diverse range of wholesale and retail goods suitable for all ages in this compact yet bustling market. From antique trinkets and vintage clothing to handmade jewelry and one-of-a-kind artworks, the Al Magliah Market is a treasure trove of rare finds waiting to be discovered.

Tour Riyadh’s Iconic Landmarks & Modern Marvels

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No visit to Riyadh is complete without experiencing the architectural marvels that dot its skyline. Explore the sprawling corridors of Riyadh’s renowned shopping malls, such as the iconic Kingdom Centre Mall and the luxurious Al Nakheel Mall, where designer boutiques, international brands, and local artisans beckon with their wares.

Sky Bridge at Kingdom Center

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Catching sunsets at Sky Bridge is one of the most heartening things to do in Riyadh. So, don’t miss the adrenaline-pumping experience of crossing the sky bridge. Reach the 99th level of the Kingdom Center for a panoramic view of the city.

Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk fight at Kingdom Arena

For boxing fans looking for extraordinary things to do in Riyadh, look no further than making it to the “Ring of Fire” in Kingdom Arena this Summer. The Undisputed Heavyweight Champion title fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk is happening on May 18 2024 in the capital city. This 30,000-seater football stadium boasts state-of-the-art facilities perfect for hosting this monumental occasion. Expect top-notch amenities, ample parking, and efficient transport options to and from the venue, ensuring a hassle-free experience for spectators.

Boulevard Riyadh

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Stroll along Boulevard Riyadh, a vibrant promenade lined with shops, cafes, and entertainment venues. Experience the city’s dynamic energy as you soak in the sights and sounds of this bustling thoroughfare.

Take a brisk jog after indulging in Culinary Delights of Arabia

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After a day of exploration, treat your taste buds to a culinary journey through Riyadh’s diverse dining scene. From traditional Saudi fare to international cuisine, the city boasts an array of restaurants and eateries to satisfy every palate. For a taste of authentic Arabian cuisine, head to Najd Village and savor traditional dishes in a charming setting reminiscent of a bygone era. Alternatively, explore the vibrant flavors of Riyadh’s bustling food markets, where local delicacies abound and tantalising aromas fill the air.

Hike to explore Riyadh’s Natural Beauty – 1 Day Trips from Riyadh

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Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture into the serene landscapes of Greater Riyadh. Imagine A retreat amidst lush greenery, flowing streams, and picturesque scenery. Sounds like the perfect recipe for rejuvenation right?

Here are our favorite getaways for hiking activities and adventure in Riyadh Province.

Lake Prodan

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This small desert lake in the vast dunes of Qasab is our little secret hideaway for peace. The crystal clear waters of this perennial natural spring hide amidst a mirage of palm trees and red sandscapes. So, you might not find it if you’re travelling without a local. But once you find this serene oasis, you’re in for a tranquil treat.

You might like this anecdote about a happy encounter in Lake Prodan

Wadi Hanifah

Escape the city and explore the natural beauty of Wadi Hanifah. This serene oasis offers a tranquil retreat amidst lush greenery and flowing streams, perfect for a day of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Here are some things to do in the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia

Edge of the World

Take a drive you’ll never forget 100 km from Riyadh to the Edge of the World. This cliff of 1,131 is a hidden treasure for mountain climbers and hiking enthusiasts of all ages. Challenge your adventurous friends on a moderate-intensity hike to climb to the top of this geological wonder.

Enjoy Restful Arabian Outdoors with a Keshta

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Riyadh offers a captivating blend of culture and adventure from historical landmarks to modern marvels. Whether you want to wander through the bustling souks, escape to the tranquil oasis, or marvel at the modern skyline, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in walkable Riyadh.

So lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a journey of discovery through the everyday magic of this dynamic city. Enjoy your adventurous outings in Riyadh with a Keshta, an open-air Arabian picnic set-up. Carry it along for pit stops and camping anywhere around Saudi Arabia.

Book a Keshta on your Red Sand Dunes Adventure.

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