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How to Get Around by Public Transportation

 Getting from A to B (to C) in Riyadh will soon be even simpler thanks to the billions of dollars being pumped into Saudi Arabia’s transport infrastructure. The Riyadh Metro is all set to open by the end of 2021, while there are ambitious plans to expand the current bus network to cover almost the entirety of Saudi Arabia’s capital. For now, you can traverse Riyadh with minimal fuss (and little expense) using the existing bus routes or its fleet of modern, environmentally friendly taxis. Here’s how to take the leg work out of navigating this amazing capital…



For decades, the bus network in Riyadh offered a white-knuckle ride for a flat fare (latterly SAR2). In 2018, these were replaced by the shiny red SAPTCO buses that offered a far more relaxing trip with infinitely more comfort.

Once the Riyadh Metro opens, this rosy hued fleet will be joined on the capital’s roads by the so-called Riyadh Bus (more on that later) but for now SAPTCO offers half a dozen routes around the city.

Route 7 (Al Batha-King Khaled University Hospital) takes in the King Khalid Grand Mosque, while if you want to visit King Abdullah Financial District you can hop on a number 8 (Al Batha-Dallah Driving School).

If you fancy a spot of shopping and sightseeing at Kingdom Tower then Route 9 (Public Transportation Center-North Vegetable Markets) is the way ahead.

Off to the footy or for a day out at Riyadh Zoo? Climb aboard a number 10 (Al Batha-Al Rawdah District) that stops at King Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.

Should retail therapy be on the agenda, Route 16 (Al Batha-Jeddah Road Bridge) will drop you at both Al Maglya Shopping Center and Albadeah Mall.

And if you happen to work in Riyadh’s industrial zone, Route 17 (Al Batha-Industrial City) is the one for you.

Each route runs pretty frequently (every ten minutes during the week on average, more often on Friday afternoons) and run daily from 5.30am to 11.30pm. Paying the SAR2 fare couldn’t be easier as you can just download the SAPTCO app and put money in your account or get hold of a Smart Card that you top-up as you go along.


The most common way of travelling around Riyadh is in the back of a taxi and while they are certainly more pricey than hopping on a bus, you have the luxury of not being tied to particular routes and can effectively go wherever you want in the city.

Over the past few years Riyadh’s roads have become home to the rather smart state-owned green cabs that initially started out as airport taxis but have since expanded their scope. These run on an electronic meter, although you can still negotiate a price for your journey depending on the drivers themselves. There are also private hire cabs, or limousines, that can be pre-booked through a number of companies. These are the most expensive but can booked for a whole day if you have visitors in tow and want to take a longer tour of Riyadh. Many independent ‘street taxis’ still exist and with these haggling over the fare is a must. Uber and its local equivalent Careem have soared in popularity over the years, no doubt because it’s just easy to book one via a smartphone app and you’ll get an instant quote about how much your trip will cost.

Riyadh Metro

After years of meticulous planning the dawn of the Riyadh Metro era is almost upon us (woo hoo!). Spanning some 176km of the Saudi capital with 85 stations on six colour-coded routes, the Riyadh Metro promises to revolutionise the way people navigate this great city. The $23billion project began in April 2014 and when it opens in the final quarter of this year, it will become the world’s largest single-phase metro system. During the opening trial phase, Riyadh Metro will have a capacity of 1.16million passengers per day and the plan is to have 3.6million commuters using it daily within a decade. Alongside this incredible feat of engineering will run a massive network of buses – 3,500 of them covering 5,000 stops in Riyadh. Fares on these routes will range from SAR3 to SAR5. The idea is to cut car use in the capital to about 250,000 daily trips, with Riyadh Metro and its sister buses covering some of the most highly congested traffic areas universities, schools, hospitals, employment hubs and shopping malls. The project will also create more than 7,600 new jobs, providing a huge boost to the local economy. As the capital goes green expect the days of huge traffic jams to come to an end. We seriously cannot wait for this one…

Inter-city trains

Should you fancy a change of scenery or have friends and family to visit elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, there are a huge number of bus routes starting from Riyadh and covering large parts of the kingdom. However, the quickest (and most comfortable) way to travel cross-country is by boarding one of the inter-city trains. There are two main routes out of Riyadh, with the oldest being the East Train that has been running from the capital to the coastal city of Dammam since 1951. The much newer North-South line connects Riyadh with Qurayyat on the Jordanian border some 1,250km away. It has stops at Al Majmaah, Qassim, Hail and Al Jawf. Both lines are run by Saudi Arabia Railways and to grab the best fares book them online or via the app at least three weeks ahead. Advance tickets start at just SAR60 and will save you up to 55 per cent in comparison to buying them on the day. Bargain.


  1. Apps/Convenient Cards
    1. Mytripnavi Offline map & travel guide

    2. Find maps of other cities https://mytripnavi.com/maps/all/

Travel guide maps

King Khalid International Airport

  1. Departure and Arrival Flights https://www.kkia.sa/en/GeneralServices/Pages/FlightStatus.aspx
    1. Departure flight information https://www.kkia.sa/en/GeneralServices/Pages/FlightStatus.aspx
    2. Arriving flights https://www.kkia.sa/en/GeneralServices/Pages/FlightStatus.aspx
    3. Airlines and terminals https://www.kkia.sa/en/before-you-fly/Which_terminal/Airlines_Directory/Pages/default.aspx
  2. Transit guide-Connecting flights https://www.kkia.sa/en/GeneralServices/User_Journey/Pages/transit.aspx https://www.kkia.sa/en/before-you-fly/Pages/Flight_connections.aspx
  3. Getting to the Airport https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/To_from_the_airport/Taxis/Pages/default.aspx
  4. Airport map & apps https://www.kkia.sa/en/GeneralServices/Pages/AirportMaps.aspx
  5. Transfer between terminals
  6. Shop, Dine, Relax and do more
    1. Dining https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/Dining/Pages/default.aspx
    2. Shop https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/Shops/Pages/default.aspx
    3. Duty Free/Tax Free
    4. Promotions
  7. Facilities and Services
    1. VIP services
    2. Lounges, hotels and spas https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/lounges/Pages/default.aspx https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/Sleep_Options/Pages/default.aspx
    3. Taxi
    4. Rideshare and Rental Car https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/To_from_the_airport/Car_Rental/Pages/default.aspx
    5. Parking https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/To_from_the_airport/Parking/Pages/default.aspx
    6. Baggage Claim/Damage/Lost
    7. Priority Lane/ Fast Track
    8. Pick up and Drop Off
    9. Lost and Found https://www.kkia.sa/en/before-you-fly/Baggage/Pages/Lost_and_Found.aspx
    10. Banking, Currency Exchange, ATM https://www.kkia.sa/en/Services/AirportServices/Banks/Pages/default.aspx
    11. Health Services
    12. Traveling with Kids
    13. Traveling with Pets/Animals
    14. Prayer room
    15. Other Services/Accessibility
    16. Useful links/contacts

Other Experiences

Foods you must try

Famous foods top 5

  1. Kabsa
  2. Thareed/Tharid
  3. Shawarma
  4. Falafel (Tamiya)
  5. Harees

Famous Sweets

  1. Ferek
  2. Kunafah
  3. Maamoul

Famous Drinks

  1. Gahwa

Famous Snacks

Famous Fruits

Food trivia

  • Ta-'amaha Gameel means “It’s delicious”

Other famous foods

  1. Ruz Al Bukhari
  2. Muttabaq
  3. Ful wa Tameez
  4. Kibbeh
  5. Mandi
  6. Hummus
  7. Saleeg
  8. Dajaj Mashwi
  9. Fatayer
  10. Sambusak
  11. Arayes