Come to Riyadh, the impressive capital of one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Riyadh King Khalid International Airport (RUH)
Approximately 35km north of the city centre of Riyadh is the King Khalid International Airport (RUH), which services flights to the capital of Saudi Arabia. In terms of facilities, RUH Airport is fairly well equipped; allowing passengers to access banks, ATMs, free WiFi, duty free shops, as well as snack bars, restaurants and cafes. Please be aware that you will not find alcoholic bars, as alcohol is forbidden in Saudi Arabia.
Airlines to Riyadh
You’ll find that there aren’t direct flights to Riyadh from Australia, and all flights will stopover in an international hub like Dubai (DXB) or Abu Dhabi (AUH).
Airlines that offer routes from Australia to Riyadh include Air India, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, and British Airways.
Getting into Riyadh
If you do not have a car and are not being picked up, then you will have to take a taxi into town. These are generally paid for in advance of a journey, and cost around 60SAR ($21). Look for cars with the airport logo.
You can secure a rental car within the airport, and there are reliable brands like Avis and Budget that operate out of RUH Airport, but it should be noted that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.
What can you do in Riyadh?
The glittering capital of Riyadh cannot fail to impress: it is one of the richest cities in the world and its wealth and power can be felt from its shining skyscrapers, gleaming malls and golden sunlit avenues.
This is a busy city, with lots going on all the time, but make no mistake, Riyadh is still a conservative place and it is fascinating to see the contemporary financial powerhouse meet national tradition. Start your journey into the city by stepping into the National Museum, and learn about Saudi culture, art and history, which will serve as a base for understanding and enjoying the attractions elsewhere in the city.
Visit the Old Town and the Masmak Fortress, built in 1865 and then lovingly restored in 2008. Explore the Al Bujairy, where you can see the ruins of the palace and old city, and then wander through the marketplace. It is also worth making the time for the Kingdom Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the nation, with a Skybridge that can offer you the best views of the city, especially when the sun goes down.
Outside of the inner city’s attractions, Riyadh is a great place for leisure sports, such as golfing, and for many, shopping. Find your way to Lamma or Souq al-Thumairi for a taste of true bargain hunting, and to the Al Faisaliah for designer goods.
When should you go?
You will find Riyadh hot and dry. Expect December to February to be the coolest months with lows of 18°C and highs of 29°C. Summers are hot, hot, hot, never sinking beneath 27°C and often reaching highs of 40°C.
What do you need to know?
Currency: Saudi Riyal (SAR)
Visa: It is most likely that you will need a visa for Saudi Arabia, most foreign nationals do. Please note that Saudi Arabia has strict visa policies and applicants will need to be granted sponsorship to obtain a tourist visa. You can find more detailed information on the process here.
Please note all information is current as of March 2016.
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