I meet a lot of people that constantly say there’s nothing to do in Riyadh, which honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. Riyadh is a huge city and has tons of things to do, it’s usually just about finding them or knowing someone.
I don’t think it’s a lack of things to do that affects people, but really it’s more of the social aspect of the country. In the west, life is much more open and friendly, and here things are more closed off and private (people too). So, of course, for expats coming into a new country with different traditions it can hard.
One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give to you, is to have a positive mindset, if you’re always saying you hate it, you will 100% hate your life and make yourself miserable. Instead, think of it as a new adventure, a chance to learn about a country that not many know about, see what it has to offer and get to know the local culture. It can be a lot of fun if you give it a chance.
I’ve always enjoyed painting ceramics, and at Cafe Ceramique you can do just that. It’s a small cafe located in Sahara Mall that has tons of ceramics to choose from, where you can sit and paint. After you’re done, they fire it, which takes about a week.
Downstairs in the basement of the Ritz Carlton they have a 3 lane bowling alley filled with tv’s, couches, tables, a bar for snacks, a pool table and a play area for small children, I always really love coming here, it’s such a relaxed atmosphere and not expensive at all.
If you know someone who works at a hospital and is part of the staff social club then you’re good to go, luckily that’s how I’m able to go to the pool every weekend, the one I go to has women’s day on Friday and families Saturday, most are probably similar. If you’re a man you’ll have no problem finding a pool to swim in, the issue lies only with women (as usual). Most people have pools at their home, and all compounds do (which is another idea) however, if you don’t have access to any of these places you can buy a membership (or day pass) at Kempinski hotel, many of my friends have the membership and just love it.
Just like Dubai, Riyadh has a snow city too, however, it’s much smaller and not quite as fun, but it’s still cold snow, so worth it every once in a while. It’s located inside of Othaim mall next to Ikea.
5. MYSTERY ROOMS
Riyadh has a few breakout rooms, I was lucky enough to do the re-branding for one and was invited to try out one of the rooms for Breakout, you all it was SO much fun. Seriously, get a group of your friends together and try it out.
Diriyah is one of my favorite spots in Riyadh, it’s just so lovely and traditional. It has a really nice park, that has water and greenery with restaurants and cafes, plus some museums and other nice little things. It’s definitely one of those places you will frequent.
There is a waterfall located in the Nimar distract which is close to diriya. It’s a park called Wadi Nimar with a little lake and the waterfall, which I think is worth a trip just to check it out and see what it’s all about.
8. SKY BRIDGE
Take in the breathtaking view of the entire city on the sky bridge which is located in Kingdom Centre. I suggest going at night so you can see all the twinkles of Riyadh.
Riyadh Hiking club offers a safe and fun adventure a weekend hiking trips. I’ve gone to two (a day hike in the Spring and night hike in the Summer) and preferred the cool day hike for sure, I plan to go again when the weather cools off, it’s a great way to meet new friends and see the real Riyadh.
11. EXPAT GROUPS
I’ve stumbled upon a few expat groups, one which is internations. It’s a forum for expats all over the world and they arrange various parties and meetups so you never feel alone. It’s a great way to make new friends and have fun at the same time. A few of the things I’ve read about are dinners, pool parties and movie nights.
Most embassies offer events from time to time for their citizens, I have personally never gone to one, but from what I’ve heard, they’re fun.
*There are actually quite a lot more things to do in the city, but we’re just getting started and I think this is a fun list to begin with.