One of the best things about Dubai is that within just a few hours by road, train, or water, you can get to some exotic places. Barely hours from Dubai is the fabulous city of Abu Dhabi, with a host of incredible fun and adventure destinations.
The desert surrounding Dubai makes for one of the best day trips from the city too. Just a short drive away unlocks the incredible Hatta Mountain range, the home of adventure. As you can see, a visit to Dubai can be much more than gazing at skyscrapers and enjoying Friday brunch. Check out some of the best places to visit near Dubai .
Places to visit in Abu Dhabi
Louvre Abu Dhabi
At the Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi, you can enjoy a collection that goes back centuries, including Islamic arts and photography. Many of the pieces are on loan from international museums. Abu Dhabi is so close by that you can enjoy a Dubai city tour in the morning and explore The Louvre in the afternoon.
The Arabian Peninsula’s largest desert, it has massive vertical dunes, best for dune bashing. There are many wild camels around, as well as gazelles. Lunch in a local guesthouse rounds out one of your top day trips from Dubai.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
On one of your Dubai day tours, visit the largest mosque in the country, which can seat over 40,000 visitors. It houses over 80 domes and minarets, made out of the whitest Macedonian marble, and studded with gemstones and gold. Both men and women have to wear appropriate clothing in the mosque.
Here, you’ll find the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa and Flying Aces, the tallest non-inverting loop in the world. You can even cruise Abu Dhabi in a real Ferrari. There’s tons of adventure at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park for the young and the young-at-heart.
Cyclists of all levels enjoy the incredibly scenic series of mountain-bike trails at Hatta. You can enjoy mountain climbing, rock climbing, trekking, hiking, and view spotting here on your weekend getaway Dubai.
Places to visit in Al Ain
Al-Ain Camel Market
This is the place to get up and close to this cantankerous creature and learn what makes them valuable. The camel market is an excellent place to understand one of the essential tenets of Arabic culture.
Hili Archaeological Park
This is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which includes a 3rd-century BCE settlement and tombs. The Hili Archaeological Park contains many educational ruins; plus, you can picnic here while getting an education.
Explore the serene 3,000 acres large oases that sit beside the Al Ain Palace Museum. The oasis is a UNESCO World Heritage, where you can walk through a series of shaded walkways, learning about the oasis ecosystem.
Places to visit in Fujairah
The only reef break in the UAE, Tim’s Reef, is the perfect spot for surfing in Fujairah. Visit during the summer months and beat the heat by surfing here, after a good thunderstorm when the swells are huge.
This stretches along the Gulf of Oman. As such, it enjoys a diverse marine life and visibility that’s better than what Dubai’s waters offer. Get to Snoopy Island, about 100m offshore at Al Aqah, if you want to snorkel amid schools of clownfish. You can also sight turtles here. The local Dive Centre offers boat trips and shore dives to sites such as Coral Gardens, wrecks, and Dibba Rock.
Al Bidya Mosque
Al Bidya was constructed sometime in the 15th century, and is, therefore, the oldest surviving mosque in the UAE. The view from the top of the mosque is worth it, as is the study of contrasts between this simple mosque and other grand ones in the UAE.
Places to visit in Musandam Peninsula
If you’re in for max drama and adventure, visit the Zighy Summit. Here you can paraglide, floating down over the bay from a ledge that’s 293 meters up at the top. It’s also fun to climb the summit in record time.
Musandam Coast is known for its rich diversity and beauty. The best way to enjoy this coast is by sailing along with it. The coast has been dubbed the ‘the Norway of Arabia,’ owing to its many fjord-like inlets and aquamarine waters. You can enjoy sailing, or a cruise on a traditional wooden dhow.
To make it a lovely day trip, sign up for a round trip with buffet lunch included and time factored in for snorkelling, dolphin watching and swimming. Most of these round-trip boats depart from the east coast, on Dibba, or from Khasab at the peninsula’s northern tip. If you want to delight in Musandam’s scenery, sign up for the boats leaving Khasab, as the landscape is more spectacular here.
Places to visit in Sharjah
Archaeology interests you, head straight to Sharjah’s central region, Mleiha. This town is one of the most important archaeological sites in the UAE. Here you can learn the region’s history right from the Palaeolithic era. Be sure to explore the Bronze Age tombs and pre-Islamic forts. Sign up for a guided trek of the desert if you have the time, and enjoy a quad biking tour, some 4WD dune bashing, or paraglide from Mleiha’s tallest peaks.
Kalba on Sharjah’s east coast has some of the most elusive wildlife in Arabia, including rare birds. Feast your eyes on Khor Kalba’s white-collared kingfishers in the rich mangroves. Visit the Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre to see some Arabian wolf, tahr, desert lynx, and the endangered Arabian leopard. Be sure to watch the free-flying demonstrations of rare birds at the nearby Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, in the outdoor amphitheater.
Sharjah is considered the UAE’s cultural capital and with good reason. There are about 20 museums and galleries in this city, including the must-see Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. Here you’ll find more than 5000 Islamic artifacts. Be sure to visit the Sharjah Heritage Museum next to understand Emirati culture. Lovers of contemporary Arab art shouldn’t miss the Sharjah Art Museum.
Places to visit in Ras Al Khaimah
The most significant attraction at Jebel Jais is the new zipline – the world’s longest. Jebel Jais is the UAE’s tallest peak and is perfect for scenic drives. Feel free to stop at one of the lay-bys by the route for a picnic. There are plenty of viewpoints along the course as well.
Don’t miss the chance to stand on the observation deck at 1227m to enjoy phenomenal views of the entire city. If you are longing for adventure, tackle the via Ferrata, a four-hour, kilometer-long experience with three thrilling zip lines.
As you can see, there are any number of day trips to take from Dubai to enjoy the history, culture, adventure, and romance of the UAE. All these trips don’t take up more than a day, so you can easily visit them over weekends when you’re busy during the week.