Rising up from its past as a mud brick waystation, Riyadh is now a gleaming contemporary vision, offering luxury accommodation and an abundance of activities. Surrounded by the arid desert landscape, Riyadh is a city of beauty, an oasis in the midst of the sand, and a fascinating travel destination. Easily reachable from King Khaled Airport, located just 35 kilometers to the north, Riyadh is full of mystical delights within convenient reach. If you are thinking of flying to Riyadh, here are a few ideas about the things you could see and do:
A landmark piece of architecture in the city, Kingdom Tower is a spectacular creation, stretching an impressive 302 metres into the air. Split into two towers, the most eye-catching part of the whole design is the 300 ton bridge made from glass and steel which connects the two parts.
If you want the best views over the city, whizz up the high-speed lifts to the top, traveling at a breath-taking 180 kilometer per hour and gaze out over the horizon from the 99th floor. Photographs are permitted from the viewpoint, but it is best to avoid evenings after 6pm and weekends as it can be extremely crowded during those times.
One of the most culturally and historically significant buildings in the city, Masmak Fortress represents the time when attempts were being made to unify the country under King Abdulaziz. Now renovated into a museum, this thick and square-shaped fortress was built in 1865 and still bears the spearhead in the doors from when it was under attack in 1902. The exhibits include a series of fascinating photographs and old maps set in fabulous traditional Arabic surroundings. The four towers at each corner of the fortified building, each reaching 18 meters tall, are surrounded by rifles. The front gate — with the embedded spearhead — is 3.6 meters tall and made from the wood of tamarisk and palm trees found locally. Free to enter, Thursdays are designated as family days; Masmak Fortress is a wonderful glimpse into the Saudi Arabia of the past.
There are many souqs in Riyadh worth visiting, but Deira offers some particular delights for the discerning shopper looking for something authentic and memorable. As well as the usual trinkets and items for sale, you will find an incredible array of upcycled creations, forged from wreckage either found in the desert or in old houses. Old wood, shutters, and doors have all been reclaimed to form some of the most intricate carvings, both large and small. The atmosphere in Deira is exotic and you will also find many items being sold that you will not be able to bring back through customs. Even though you cannot buy them, looking at the Bedouin weapons can be fascinating, and there is a huge range of authentic knives and other implements in many of the shops.
The Edge of the World
If you want a truly sensational sight like no other, and are prepared to go on an adventure to get there, visit the desert location known as the Edge of the World. Accessible from Riyadh, the trip is not a good idea to make alone as it is extremely easy to get stuck in the soft sand. Organized excursions in 4×4 are regularly on offer to transverse the 90 kilometers of natural desert landscape to reach the jagged cliffs.
Officially titled the Tuwaiq, the site is a plateau, which has a very special physical effect that makes it appear as if you have reached the end of the world. Because the escarpment is long and flat and looks to move outward, the horizon appears to be never-ending, creating the illusion that you are about to step off the edge of the planet. The wildlife in the area is stunning and its raw and desolate beauty is captivating. Do not dismiss the danger in visiting here, however take plenty of supplies and be careful when you drive as there’s no fences or road signs to warn you if you are near a cliff edge.
The city of Riyadh is an enchanting mix of history and modern culture and traveling to the city is simple thanks to the modern King Khaled International Airport, one of the largest in the world. This fully equipped airport has all the amenities you could hope for, including: free WiFi, a post office, duty-free shops, and cash machines. Traveling in or out of Riyadh is hassle-free and you will not have to endure a long trek in order to reach your destination after you land. Visit Riyadh today and enjoy some of the truly Arabian delights that await!