The Best Day Trips You Can Do From Dubai

Discover the best day trips to make from Dubai with an extensive list of nearby places to go and things to do.
hatta dam
The best day trips from Dubai. Photo: Shalika Malintha | Flickr

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Search any “top places to visit in the world” list and I can guarantee that Dubai is a featured destination, and reasonably so. After all, just about everything in Dubai is worthy of flying thousand of miles across the world to see and experience, from the highest observatory housed in Burj Khalifa, and shopping for gold and fabrics at souk markets, to jumping out of a plane with Skydive Dubai over Palm Island and enjoying the sunset during a hot air balloon ride over the middle eastern desert.  

And that’s just it—Dubai is synonymous with fun, adventure, beauty, affluence, modernity, world records, astonishment, and great weather. Think about it, have you ever seen a picture of Dubai with a cloudy day?

But while most people visit Dubai to explore popular attractions that lie within an hour’s drive from its city center, there are the few that know all too well that are also plenty of grand mosques, beaches, beautiful hikes, amusement parks, and desert tours to experience just beyond its borders.

Here’s an ultimate list of the 10 best day trips you can make from Dubai.

Many exciting day trips are within 2 hours of Dubai. Photo: Wael Hneini | Unsplash

Ride the World’s Longest Zip-Line in Ras al Khaimah

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Ras al Khaimah is best known for its diverse topography and year-round outdoor activities, making it a perfect day trip for nature enthusiasts and adventurists. Here are 3 things to do in Ras al Khaimah that’ll make you not want to leave:

Reach the Top of Jebel Jais Mountain

You’ll want to explore the hiking trails, wild animals, steep cliffs, and sweeping views of Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE. Once at the top, Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline, lets the only the bravest visitors fly over the 1,680-metre tall mountains at a heart-pumping 120kmph+ for 3 minutes. My heart’s racing just thinking about it!

Enjoy a day trip to Jebel Jais Mountain. Photo: Mirza Babar Beig | Unsplash

Kayak Around Mangrove Coast

Your next choice is to take a guided kayaking tour or traditional Dhow cruise around Ras al Khaimah’s picturesque mangrove coastline. The rich eco system provides magnificent views of marine life, wild birds, and the region’s densely populated mangrove trees. Consider this one of the most relaxing things you can do if you want to get away from the city.    

Mangroves line Ras al Khaimah’s coast. Photo: Roman Biryukov | Flickr

Get Soaked at Flamingo Beach

And third? Bask under the sun with an exciting trip to Ras al Khaimah’s Flamingo Beach, a shallow water public beach renown for its golden sand, turquoise water, tourist resorts, and spectacular sunsets.     

Beachgoers enjoy playing along the UUAE shoreline. Photo: Artur Malinowski | Flickr

Experience a Desert Safari

Drive from Dubai: 40 Minutes – 1 Hour

One of the must-do day trips to make from Dubai is visiting a desert safari for adventurous outdoor activities.

Two popular desert areas surrounding Dubai—Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and Mleiha—provide various tours and experiences that include camel rides, sunset dinners, desert treks, falconry, sandboarding, agricultural expeditions, drone shows, and more. 

There are two activities you’ll really want to experience, though: Dubai Desert 4×4 Safari and a hot air balloon ride.

Go on a guided desert tour by 4WD, ATV, or dune buggy, and ravage the sand dunes or drive comfortably. Or, or rather, and, choose to hop aboard a tranquil hot air balloon ride at 4,000 feet above Dubai’s desert during sunrise/sunset. There are plenty of memorable things you can do in Dubai, but this activity certainly tops the list.  

A 4WD expedition across a desert safari in Dubai. Photo: Zefeerah Heesambee | Unsplash

Practice Water Sports at Kite Beach Centre

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour

Kite Beach Centre, a certified kite-surfing school, resides on one of the UAE’s most beautiful white sand beaches about an hour’s drive away from Dubai. The center offers kite surf and surfboard lessons, and provides a variety of water activities that include snorkeling and coastal mangrove kayak tours.

Now, Kite Beach Centre is a private beach, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in. You’ll just need to pay a fee for entry, and once inside you can rent volleyball courts, wooden rackets, beach huts, and get access to its Tarzan Gym, where fitness freaks can enjoy workouts on the sand using wooden and stone-made weights and exercise equipment.  

Kite surfer enjoying the waves. Photo: Tho-Ge | Pixabay

Discover Culture and Heritage in Sharjah

Drive from Dubai: 30 Minutes

Should you want to observe more of the cultural and historical side of the UAE, Sharjah is a fantastic place to explore mosque, museums, archeological sites, and forts. Only half an hour’s drive outside of Dubai, Sharjah is the UAE’s 3rd largest city by population and has been dubbed the cultural capital of the UAE.

You can learn about Islamic art and culture at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, or overview a vast collection of modern and contemporary art by artists from the UAE and nearby regions at Sharjah Art Museum.

Feel free to visit the Sharjah Heritage Museum and roam the alleyways of the historical Emirati homes in the neighborhood. Afterwards, stopover at the Souk Al Arsah traditional marketplace, one of the longest surviving in the country.    

There are plenty of fun, family friendly leisure activities to do in Sharjah, too, like visiting the Sharjah Aquarium, Sharjah and Al Mamzer beaches, Al Noor Island’s Butterfly Park, and Al Majaz Waterfront.    

Traditional ship on display at Sharjah Maritime Museum. Photo: Susanne Nilson | Flickr

Live the Coastal Life in Khorfakkan

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Khorfakkan is a charming coastal city located along the eastern shorelines of the UAE, which means on one end lies the rugged but awe-inspiring Hajar mountains, and on the other, endless pristine beaches and striking gulf water.

To make the best of your day trip, you’ll want to visit Khorfakkan Beach, a 3 kilometer stretch of gorgeous sand lined with palm trees, food trucks, and a breathtaking artificial 45-metre tall waterfall. Visitors can participate in water sports activities like kayaking, parasailing, and jet skiing, or rent equipment for snorkeling and scuba diving off Shark Island. Read up on traveler reviews via Trip Advisor and you’ll discover that it’s considered one of the best beaches in the entire UAE.

What’s more, lying near the beach is Khorfakkan Amphitheatre, a Roman styled, fairly new (built in 2020) amphitheater that puts on spectacular culture and heritage shows in front of a jaw-dropping backdrop of the Gulf of Oman.    

For hiking enthusiasts, enjoy nature trails that lead to prominent landmarks situated on small hills above the city, such as the Resistance Monument, Al Rabi Tower, and Al Suhub Rest House.  

KhorFakkan Beach is one of the most popular places to visit. Photo: Fahad Salman | Unsplash

Visit an Oasis in Al Ain

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Renown as “garden city”, Al Ain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s abundant with family-friendly activities and sprawling green spaces.

By the way, there’s nothing liking seeing a large, lush green space in the middle of the desert. In fact, pay a visit to Al Ain Oasis—over 147,000 date palm and fruit trees spread over 1,200 hectares—and you’ll quickly find out exactly what it is that makes a desert oasis special. You may also explore Green Mubazzarah for its beautiful green grass, hot springs, and picnic areas, and Al Ain Paradise Garden for it’s gorgeous floral displays and hanging flower baskets.    

If you’re the type to enjoy a rockier terrain, you’ll want to travel the winding roads of Jebel Hafit mountain, winner of Trip Advisor’s 2022 Traveler’s Choice Award. The 1,249-metre tall mountain is the UAE’s 2nd tallest peak, and you’ll have sweeping views of Al Ain once at the top.     

Traveling with kids? They’ll love a trip to Al Ain Zoo, Wadi Adventure water sports park, Hili Fun City amusement park, and Al Ain Camel Market, where visitors can take photos with a variety of Arabian camels.     

The lush Green Mubazzarah in Al Ain. Photo: Peter Dowley | Flickr

Swim With the Fishes at Snoopy Island

Drive from Dubai: 2 Hours

Swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and beachgoers, rejoice! Welcome to Snoopy Island, one of the best places in the UAE to experience underwater coral reefs and marine life.

Located in Fujairah, Snoopy Island’s unique rock formation gets its name from resembling the shape of the popular American cartoon, Snoopy, laid on its back on top of a dog house.      

The island is popular for its abundance of marine life—turtles, urchins, sea slugs, octopus, non-threatening sharks, eels, colorful reef fish—and safe and shallow waters. Visitors can either swim out to examine Snoopy Island’s coral reefs on their own or by guided snorkeling and scuba diving tours. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to actually stand on the island.  

Snoopy Island at sunset. Photo: zoran supic | Unsplash

Experience Heaven on Earth at Hatta Dam

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Hatta Dam is a popular scenic area located just 90 minutes outside of Dubai’s city center. An inland lake surrounded by the jagged Hajar Mountains, Hatta Dam is a perfect nature escape. Visitors can partake in mountain biking, hiking, zip lining, and animal rides.

The best thing to do in Hatta, however, is to go kayaking, paddle-boating, and/or paragliding over Hatta’s striking turquoise lake, especially around sunset. Mark my words, you’ll think you’ve found Heaven on Earth after one boating session along the dam.  

Furthermore, you won’t want to miss visiting Hatta Mural—a large mural in the mountains commemorating the founding fathers of the UAE—and Hatta’s own version of the Hollywood Sign, made up of 60-metre tall letters settled on the highest peaks of the Hajar Mountains.

The beautiful Hatta Dam in the afternoon. Photo: Veer Sree | Unsplash

Go on Outdoor Adventures in Oman

Drive from Dubai: 5-7 Hours

Oman is one of the best destinations for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the mountains, caves, beaches, and forts surrounding Dubai. A word of caution, though, Oman and its attractions require a 5-7 hour drive from Dubai, so you’ll need to head out in the early morning to take advantage of its attractions. Here are your best options:

Hike Wadi Ash Shab

Experience a beautiful nature hike through a rocky gorge and finish with a cliff dive (not required) into a crystal clear, turquoise water lake. There are secret waterfalls, hidden caves, and plenty of gorgeous places to snap your best Insta-worthy pictures for the gram’. Just make sure you bring water shoes and a waterproof bag for your electronics.

Tourists explore Wadi Ash Shab in Oman. Photo: Davide Mauro | WikiMedia Commons

Swim in Bimmah Sinkhole

Have you ever seen a sinkhole? Better yet, did you even know there are some you can swim in? I know! Welcome to Bimmah Sinkhole, a striking 50m x 70m, 20m deep sinkhole located at Hawaiyat Najm Park in Oman. Swimming is allowed in Bimmah—trust me, you’ll want to swim—and don’t worry, there are steps leading to ground level.

Enjoy a dip at Bimmah Sinkhole. Photo: Hans Birger Nilson | Flickr

Go on a Khasab Musandam Tour

Hop aboard an Omani Dhow ship and embark on a wonderful cruise around Musandam. You’ll have the chance to see dolphins, snorkel, explore historical buildings and ancient villages, sail over stunning turquoise water, and enjoy the region’s breathtaking mountainous scenery.  

Tourist enjoy scenic views from a Dhow cruise in Musandam. Photo: Julius Yls | Unsplash

Try Oman’s Leisure Attractions

When you’re not trekking the mountains or smooth sailing over the sea, I highly recommend visiting any one of Oman’s impressive attractions, which include Sultan Qaboose Grand Mosque, Mutrah Corniche promenade, and Nizwa, Bahla, Nakhal, and Mutrah forts.

Mutrah Corniche promenade on a beautiful sunny day. Photo: Richard Mortel | Flickr

Explore Abu Dhabi

Drive from Dubai: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

It’s not uncommon to see tourists making stops over in Abu Dhabi when visiting Dubai. A mere 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Burj Khalifa, the UAE’s capital city boasts a number of cultural and religious sites, malls, luxury hotels, beaches, amusement parks, museums, and stunning buildings, just waiting for you to explore.

But if you want to conquer the best of Abu Dhabi in a day, there are about several can’t-miss-attractions you should squeeze into your itinerary:

Go on a Yellow Boat Tour

Start your day blasting off on a thrilling speed boat tour of famous locations across Abu Dhabi. You’ll take a Ribcraft rigid inflatable boat and explore Yas Island, Maya Island, Corniche, Emirates Palace, and more from the Arabian Gulf. What’s a better way to start the day?

Boats sail across the waters in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Special Olympics Österreich | Flickr

Visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Next, enjoy Islamic art, culture, religion, and architecture with a tour of Abu Dhabi’s most prominent attraction, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. One of the largest of its kind, the mosque is renowned for its exquisite beauty and serves as a center for enrichment and welcoming people from various cultural backgrounds around the world.

The magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Photo: Deb Pentek | Pexels

Explore Yas Island Amusement Parks  

In the afternoon, check out any one of three amusement parks situated on Yas Island. Head to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi to experience gut-dropping thrill rides and G-force speeds on the world’s fastest rollercoaster.

Warner Brothers World, the world’s largest indoor theme park, offers six themed areas that feature the studio’s most iconic characters, from DC’s Superman and Batman to Tom and Jerry and the Looney Tunes. A trip to Warner Brothers World is best if you’re traveling with kids.

Yas Waterworld is a sprawling water park filled with hair raising slides, wave pools, tornado water coasters, diving tanks, lazy rivers, water playgrounds, and more. It’s the perfect family escape to cool off from Abu Dubai’s sweltering heat.

Passengers enjoy thrill rides at Ferrari World. Photo: Sean Wang | Unsplash

Roam Marina Mall + Emirates Palace Hotel

By late evening, spend a few hours touring the luxurious, 5-star, award winning Emirates Palace Hotel, and Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall, which stays open until 10pm-12am depending on the day of the week.

Marina Mall sits in the distance in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Ghassan Mroue | WikiMedia Commons

Where to Get Started?

So, after reading the best extensive list of day trips from Dubai, where do you think you’ll get started? Are you wanting to explore the gorgeous beaches of the UAE or zip line over mountains? Go on coastal kayak tours or learn about the history of the region in a fort or mosque? Whatever you decide, you’ve got plenty of days throughout the year to experience it all. Safe and happy travels!  


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