Al-Musmak Castle in the Al-Bathaa district serves as a great starting point. Located in the centre of the city, this fortress and museum symbolises the unification and foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This stronghold has several notable landmarks including the Palace Gate on the western side, the mosque to the left of the gate, the sitting place across from the gate and the well at the northeastern side of the Castle. Notice the four watch towers at each corner of the palace and the square tower at the centre. Continue past the Palace Gate towards the western edge of the district until you reach the Riyadh Museum for History and Archaelogy. This museum houses an impressive collection of cultural artefacts tracing the diverse history of the region.
The main street in the Salahuddin district is King Fahad Road, and no visit to Riyadh would be complete without discovering its secrets. Start at Prince Fahad Al-Faisal Park, one of the oldest in the city. Follow King Fahad Road until you reach the King Fahad National Library Museum, home of rare manuscripts and coins, including a copy of the Quran from the Third Hijra century. Many of Riyahd's upscale restaurants line King Fahad Road, and so you will find plenty of eating options on this street.
Outside of Riyadh
Wadi Al-Jafeir is perfect for those looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Located approximately 100 km from Riyadh, this quiet, acacia-filled valley is accessible only by jeep via Salboukh road and Zahrat laban, the western ring road bridge. The villages of Haferat Nasah and Hegrat Al-Gafeir are nearby, as well as the parks Jararah and Al-Mahaleyah.
Another city escape is Rawat Nourah, a meadow 129 km northeast of Riyadh. Visit during the spring, when the lush greenery and trees are in full bloom. Al-Hissi and Tameer are located in the general vicinity and offer basic necessities, should you decide to overnight.
A dry and sharply defined riverbed begins about 40 km north of Riyadh and runs in a north-south direction for over 120 km, cutting through the western edge of the city, known as Wadi Hanifah. Wadi Hanifah was once the lifeblood of the Riyadh area, rich in groundwater, filled with palm groves and farms and dotted with a string of small towns and villages throughout history. In recent decades, the wadi has been used as a large dumping ground for wastewater, sewage, and industrial waste, but a recent ambitious rehabilitation project has just been completed. An 80-km stretch running through western Riyadh is now essentially an 80-km desert park, though many parts of the wadi floor are occupied by private estates and farms with high walls.
Wadi Hanifah has several entry points, but perhaps the easiest route is by taking King Abdullah Road west past the university and into the town of Arqah. Eventually, you will reach a large round-about. Take the exit heading downwards into the wadi. Follow the road even as it winds and weaves its way through the wadi (do not be tempted to turn onto any side streets). Eventually, you will reach a police checkpoint, to the left of which is an an entry point to the wadi floor. A narrow paved road runs along the wadi floor. Heading southwards, you will eventually find designated picnic and barbecue spots facing the wadi's cliff-like walls.
While dry for most of the year, wadis can flood very quickly with a moderate amount of rain. Never approach a wadi during the rain or even its immediate aftermath. Even looking over the edge of a wadi can be dangerous as the wadi's edges can break off during the rain. Every year, several deaths are reported from flash floods all across Saudi Arabia.
Located on a hill overlooking Wadi Hanifah, Al-Dir'iyyah, on the northwestern outskirts of Riyadh, is the ancestral home of the Saudi royal family and served as the Saudi capital until 1818. The ruins of the old city are currently being restored and renovated and are thus closed off for tourists, but the surrounding area can still be worth the visit in the meantime.