Riyadh, the heart of the Arabian Peninsula

Riyadh is a city pulsating with the rhythm of modernity and tradition. Set against a backdrop of sweeping desert vistas, this metropolis stands as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s economic prowess and cultural heritage.

This week, KHAMSA takes the trip to Riyadh through a detailed travel guide by Leenah AlBakr (@ohsolelo on Instagram). Leenah is a fashion buyer and luxury retail consultant based in Riyadh, one who is creating her own future by taking great strides.

In Riyadh, sleek skyscrapers pierce the sky, casting long shadows over bustling streets teeming with life. Here, as Leenah shows, the juxtaposition of ancient tradition and contemporary innovation is palpable, manifesting in the city’s architectural marvels and bustling markets. As the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh serves as the epicentre of the nation’s political, economic, and cultural realms. Its opulent hotels, gleaming shopping malls, and world-class amenities beckon travellers to indulge in a unique experience.

Top Food Spots in Riyadh

Mornings & Afternoons


Incredibly fresh and seasonal cuisine.

Easy Bakery

Baked goodness in the form of treats.


Amazing bread.


Expertly-made coffee.



Indian cuisine with a phenomenal twist.


French-Mediterranean with a gorgeous view.

Le Maschou

Great French dishes.


Delicious flavours from Peru and Japan.

Best Places for Shopping

For fashion-forward pieces, head to Mwaz, the latest multi-brand store in Via Riyadh.

Must-Visit Cultural Spots

Diriyah Biennale Foundation

Best Boutique Hotels

Consider staying at Jareed Hotel, which boasts a beautiful design and is conveniently located next to Toby’s Café that makes my favourite Matcha.

– Leenah AlBakr

Underrated Gems

Don’t miss the tea trucks around Riyadh, especially in winter, for an authentic glass of red tea, the Saudi way.

Favourite Places for a Sweat Session

Forme for reformer Pilates or Tribus for high-intensity workouts with great energy.

What to Avoid

Image courtesy Leenah AlBakr

Traffic can be challenging due to the city’s growth. Try to avoid peak rush hours from 4 to 6 pm.

– Leenah AlBakr

Must-Pack Items

Image courtesy Leenah AlBakr

Pack according to the season. For an October visit, essentials include a trench coat, a 1903 abaya, Khaite jeans and boots, SPF, and Dior lip oil to combat desert dryness.

– Leenah AlBakr

Best Time to Visit Riyadh

Riyadh offers many beautiful outdoor experiences. To make the most of them, plan your trip between September and January to enjoy the city at its best.

Tips for Tackling the City

Always ask your Saudi friends what’s currently happening when you book your trip! Riyadh has become a hub for all things art, music, culture and there’s always something new happening throughout the year.