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Saudi Arabia - Top Tops

Super Seven

1. Ad Diriya

Ad Diriya is a popular social spot for both tourists and locals in Riyadh. It's a fully pedestrianized area with a maze of winding alleyways that are filled with cafes, craft shops, and restaurants. There's a laid back peaceful vibe about this place, despite the volume of people socialising in the area. The area is children-friendly also, with lots of open space for picnics and games.

2. Al Faisaliyah Tower

There's two observation towers in the city of Riyadh, hence the ongoing debate of Kingdom Tower v Al Faisaliyah Tower. Having done both towers, the clear winner for me was Al Faisaliyah Tower. It's not the tallest (fourth tallest in KSA), but still offers great views. The observation deck is outside, you get to see Kingdom Tower in the distance, and there's a very cool reflective globe structure at the top.

3. Edge of the World

Located around a 2 hour drive from Riyadh is a stunning landscape called "The Edge of the World". It's easy to see why from the photos. You'll need a 4X4 vehicle to reach the location as it's essentially desert trail roads, but it so worth the drive. The landscape is beautiful, and the sheer drop from the edge of the mountain face is just mesmerising! If the sun isn't too blisteringly hot, there are some shaded rock areas to relax, admire the landscape, and eat a picnic.

4. Underground Caves

Within very close proximity to Edge of the World, there are two small caves to check out. You don't need any previous caving experience as there's a fixed metal ladder in place for easy access in and out. Some of the rock formations within the cave itself are impressive, as well as carvings into the rock. Best to go with a local to gain a clearer sense of understanding of their purpose. If you're there in the peak of summer like I was, it's surprising how low temperature the caves are, compared the the intense sun on the surface.

5. The Great Mosque of Riyadh

The Great Mosque of Riyadh is located in the old city centre area of the city, which is in the Qasr al Hokm district. There's a few points of interest in the area as a whole, which include the clock tower, a fort, and the local market. The mosque is architecturally beautiful and was the recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995, which was 3 years after completion of the mosque in 1992. There are no tours on offer, but providing you are respectful, you can enter the outer courtyard area for a photo.

6. Historic Jeddah

Al Balad is the official name for Old Jeddah area within the city, which is a World Heritage Site in its own right. The architecture of the local buildings here are the be admired and are over 500 years old. The defensive walls of the Old Town were torn down in the 1940's, 70's, and 80's just as the country was becoming rich with oil. The shops in this neighbourhood are not your high-end stores you find in the local malls, as it's essentially more like a market, which is operated by the many immigrants who've arrived in the country over the years. Various restoration work is planned in the area, so I would go sooner rather than later.

7. Jeddah Central Fish Market

Often referred to as one of the busiest spots in the city, Jeddah Central Fish Market is located along the corniche and is open 5am-9pm daily. The place is always busy, with a great hustle & bustle vibe, especially if you go early morning when the fishermen and bringing in their fresh daily catch. Jeddah is famed for its beautiful coastline along the Red Sea, so this is a chance to see the huge marine life, as well as people watch, and snap away with your camera.

Accommodation Advice

Accommodation in central Riyadh doesn't come cheap, with a whole host of high-end hotels across the city from all of the large hotel chains. If your stay in Riyadh is short and you want a central spot to use as a base for exploring the area, I would recommend Bazil Hotel Suites. The rooms are basic but spacious, good reviews, and won't dent your wallet too heavily. You're also within 1km of Kingdom Tower in the centre of the city.

Food Factor

Najd Village in Ad Diriya was my top food pick during my time in Saudi. A restaurant that's more booming with locals, which speaks volumes with the food quality. Fresh bed baked in front of you and an extensive menu to get tucked into. The seating layout means that you're essentially sat on the floor with your fellow diners. You'll find many local Arab dishes here and the portion sizes are large!

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