Leisure in Riyadh


What can you do during your free time in Riyadh? What are the leisure activities which are available there? Find out in this article.

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city, is a very rich and dynamic region. It has been attracting thousands of foreigners worldwide for years, not only for its economic prosperity but also for its great opening towards an amazing cultural treasure. Hence, you are not likely to get bored if you are planning to settle there. In fact, various exotic leisure activities are available in Riyadh for locals as well as foreigners. You can enjoy family outings, visit and camp in the Al-Wahaba crater for instance.


Although tourism is not possible in Riyadh, you can definitely enjoy your leisure time by visiting its natural and cultural beauty and richness. Most foreigners working or having settled there are likely to visit places of interest such as the King Abdulaziz Historical Center, Al-Mamlaka tower, Valleys of Al-Diriyah and Hanifa. You can also go shopping in its huge and luxurious shopping malls which also offer a range of leisure and cultural activities.

In some regions of Riyadh, you can as well go camping, attend camel races, make safaris, and even indulge in cultural festivals. In fact, there is so much to discover in Riyadh during your week-ends or holidays that staying there will become a real delight.


Apart from cultural and tourism activities, you can as well indulge in sports activities in Riyadh. In fact, football, greens and horse racing are also quite popular in the Saudi capital city.

Football fans are likely to find groups of football players in the desert or on empty parking lots, usually on Friday afternoons. If you are living in a compound, you will be able to practice football in your yard. Golf fans, for their part, can visit the Dirab Golf & Country Club and the Riyadh Gold Course which are quite close to the city. Athletes in Riyadh may also join the Riyadh Street Athletes club so as to take part in the famous weekly Riyadh marathon.

If you prefer fitness activities such as gym, yoga or pilates, you can register with a local health and fitness club. Note that gyms which are strictly reserved for women no longer exist in Riyadh like in the rest of the country. However, some compounds in Riyadh offer gym facilities.

Bikers can feel free to join the Riyadh Wheelers, the country's oldest cycling club which is found in Riyadh. However, ladies wishing to ride a bike in Riyadh are required to seek the local sheikh's authorization and be accompanied by a male family member. In case your request is accepted, you will only be allowed to ride within a limited area.

Finally, horse racing remains one of the wealthy Saudi's biggest passions. You are likely to find horse racing clubs everywhere across the country. In Riyadh, the International Equestrian Stables are reserved for women while men are free to join the Nadee Alaghar Riding Academy. You can either register for horse riding lessons or for membership.

Camel races

Did you know that Riyadh hosts a very popular weekly camel race? Indeed, you can enjoy these every Thursday at the Al Riyadh stadium. The camels will run along 11 km through the city. One of the major camel races takes place during the Janadriyah festival. It brings together a thousand runners, usually in late February or early March.

Obviously, this is a non-exhaustive list as there is so much more to discover in Riyadh during your stay. You will find more information on the Riyadh forum and on the following links.

  Useful links: - Riyadh Forum 
Saudia Tourism
Riyadh Wheelers
Riyadh Road Runners
Al Khalediah Arabian Horse Festival
The Headquarters of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities
Dirab Golf & Country Club
The National Museum

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
1 Comment
3 years ago

Update: nowadays there public health club for women


See also

Most foreigners in Saudi Arabia are likely to work or indulge in professional activity there. But what about their leisure time?
Safari Resort, located about 70 km from Riyadh driving west is a fabulous location for expats to spend with their families and friends.
If you are moving to Saudi Arabia, you will probably want to drive. Most foreigners have to apply for a national driver's license.