Yes, Saudi Airlines has a direct flight from London to Riyadh and vice versa. This direct flight is only operated from London Heathrow Airport and takes only 7 hours to complete the journey.
The best time to experience everything Riyadh can offer is between the months of November and March. During these times the temperature remains between 14°C at night to 26°C at max, during the day. The city is usually dry and hot in the summer but coming to Riyadh in the winter can really be a pleasant experience. Of all the cooler months mentioned above, November seems to be the loveliest as more travellers tend to stroll on the streets of Riyadh during that month.
The cheapest time of the year is definitely in the summer months, specifically in the month of May. Riyadh has very hot and dry summers that are perceived to be unbearable for people coming from Europe. This notion is somewhat misplaced as Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia, home to six million people, some of whom are expatriates. This modern city has its halls, malls, markets, hotels and bazaars fully air-conditioned. This means that apart from when getting in and out of your car, the heat would remain far away from you. Coming to Riyadh during these times could save you a lot of money for some extra shopping. The prices of the airfare and accommodations bounce back in June as many Saudis return back to their homeland from abroad for the summer vacations.
Riyadh is served by King Khalid International Airport (RUH). The airport is the second largest in terms of land area in the entire world. Last year, the airport assisted over 25 million passengers to reach their destination. King Khalid Airport is located 35 kilometres from the city centre of Riyadh, which amounts to be a 30 minutes ride from your downtown hotel.
British citizens can visit Riyadh by applying for a visa at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London. The embassy can take three to four days to process your visa. Please make sure that your British passport does not expire in six months from the time of entering the Kingdom. Also, please note that during the Hajj season, the authorities can either stop you from boarding the aeroplane or deny you entry in Saudi Arabia at the immigration. This rule is for both Muslim and Non-Muslim citizens and is put in place to regulate the flow of foreigners coming into the country during the jam-packed Hajj season.
Riyadh has been the capital of Saudi Arabia since 1932. The city is the seat of the Kingdom and has many landmarks that show the cultural and historical significance of the city.
- The Masmak fort is where the heroic story of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia begins. This fort was retaken by the young Amir Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman bin Faisal Al Saud, which marks the beginning of the conquest of the Arabian Peninsula by the Al Saud family. This fort can be described as the origin of modern Saudi Arabia. The fort was renovated for the centennial celebrations in 1999. The Masmak fort is now a museum that houses old military uniforms and gears used by the Al Saud as well as the weaponry; antique guns, rifles and spears. The museum also has a vast collection of ancient household artefacts that were used almost a century ago.
- The Murabba palace is situated about a kilometre away from the Masmak fort. The palace was built soon after the independence of Saudi Arabia to house the Royal family and the court of the King. The palace was named Murabba, as it means “square” in Arabic, denoting the 400 meters by 400-meter dimensions of the palace. The palace was converted into a museum in 1999. The 32 grand rooms of the Murabba palace include the guard’s room and the royal pantry. The museum also houses a picture gallery that archives many photographs of the late King Abdulaziz.
- The Royal Saudi Air Force Museum is located in the old quarter of the city of Riyadh. The museum is open the entire week except on Fridays. Buy a ticket to the museum and enter the amazing world of the aircraft. The museum houses old and decommissioned aircraft that were once used by the Saudi Royal Airforce. These aircraft include the BAC lighting, C-130 Hercules and a Tornado ADV F3. The museum also houses the aeroplane that was gifted by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the then King Ibn Saud.
Riyadh celebrates its Muslim heritage with religious fervour and zeal. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar months, which is why the exact dates of these festivals cannot be pinpointed. As a general rule of thumb, the same date of the lunar calendar arrives ten days early, with respect to the solar calendar. The Milad un Nabi festival is a celebration of the birthday of the prophet of Islam. The birthday of the prophet is celebrated by distributing sweets, candies, delights and is accompanied by merrymaking. The Eid ul Fitr festival follows after the end of the month long fasting. Devoted Muslims celebrated this event by inviting relatives and travellers into their home for a hearty meal. There are roasted meats, aromatic spiced rice and sweetened dough balls that dissolve in the mouth. The Eid ul Adha festival comes to Riyadh at the time when Muslims from all over the globe converge at Mecca to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. The Eid festival is synonymous with Barbeque parties that keep on rocking well into the night.
Being a petroleum exporter, Saudi Arabia enjoys extremely low petrol prices. The best way around the city is by taxi. Taxis are readily available throughout the city. Moreover, the rise of the apps like Uber keeps the traveller on the go. Riyadh is also destined to have its own metro system by the end of 2019. Until then, the taxi is a tourist’s best option to travel safely between the city’s many tourist attractions.
There are many hotels in Riyadh that invite the luxurious and welcome the famous. These hotels are a partnership between local businesses and foreign hotel chains, each competing for the best prices and services offered.
- Narcissus Hotel & Residence, Riyadh
- Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski
- Movenpick Hotel Riyadh
- Al Faisaliah Hotel
- Fraser Suites Riyadh