The glamour city of Dubai city casts its spell which is difficult to break. But once you have had your fill of Dubai, I would urge you to consider these short trips from Dubai within UAE, including a fabulous Abu Dhabi day trip from Dubai and to neighbouring Oman. Adventure, culture, retail therapy, family fun – here are some of the best trips from Dubai you can take.
Adventures galore at Hatta Dam
If you’re craving adventure, you only need to drive 2 hours from Dubai to Hatta in the Hajer mountains to discover a range of fun activities to suit families, couples and singles looking for a city getaway.
Kayaking in the freshwaters of Hatta Dam is mind-blowing with the turquoise waterscontrasting against the dark volcanic landscape. You can try the pedal boats, donut boats, yellow boats and water bikes if you’d rather! Hatta is a popular spot for mountain-bikers with a selection of easy to hard trails to ride on, fabulous way to explore the mountainous terrain.
If you fancy taking it at a slower pace, throw on your hiking boots and experience the 3km or 9km routes passing by spots of green vegetation by the wadis – a welcome sight against the expanse of the rocky Hajer Mountains. The treks bring you out near the Hatta Heritage Village where you can discover what life was like in Dubai a few thousand years ago. It was restored in 2001 to include two watchtowers, mosque and a fort. Inside the ruler’s house, ‘Bait Al Wali’, you can see displays of weaponry, artefacts, palm-tree products, handicrafts, weaving and traditional dress.
The adventure doesn’t stop there. To get a full flavour of this fascinating trip from Dubai, stay at the JA Hatta Fort Hotel where you can choose to relax by the pool or get involved in the activities on the resort such as archery, mini-golf, garden chess, tennis and much more. The chalet-style rooms are modern inside with character too. The views overlooking the lush green gardens with the backdrop of the Hajar Mountains are priceless. What’s not to love?
Adrenaline rush at Ferrari World
Ferrari World is located on the action-packed Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is a must amongst Dubai day trips if cars and adventure is your thing. Put simply, is a motor-enthusiasts dream. The vast covered air-conditioned atrium of this uber modern shaped building houses as many adrenaline-soaked rides you could ever find under one roof. The 4 in-house rollercoasters though do whisk patrons out in the searing desert heat brief period, significantly adding to the thrill.
If you have ambitions of becoming a formula one race car driver, ensure you take a ride on the Formula Rossa. This engineering marvel will allow you to experience the acceleration effects of going from 0-240kph in under five seconds. Not much can prepare you for the shock of this. The added twists and turns bring some serious G-forces so it is not for the faint of heart!
The rest of Ferrari World contains a very well themed Flying Aces roller coaster, go-carts, driving simulators, stage shows and you can also race the clock changing a wheel on an actual F1 racing car. There is also a lot of history of the Ferrari Motor Company if you are specifically an Italian car enthusiast. Of course, if someone in your group is not up for an adrenaline rush, the connected Yas Mall will occupy with them a serious dose of retail therapy.
Cultural trip to Al Ain
Al Ain, at a distance of about 150 km, makes for a good short trip from Dubai, if you are looking for culture and sightseeing. The first interesting site you can visit is the Al Ain Palace Museum. The most amazing thing about this landmark is the way the architecture blends the old and the new. Specifically, you can see Emerati-influenced design everywhere. The courtyards are a way to merge together the private and the public facilities of the structure.
The buildings are maintained well with local, environmentally-friendly resources like clay and adobe. You can see the room that was used to teach palace residents the ways of the Qur’an, and Hadith that shows the teachings of Muhammad inscribed right on the ceiling. It is a moving visit for all and a very historical one at that. You can pay a visit here anywhere from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM, and see what life was like for Sheikh Zayed and his family.
If you or someone in your family is a car guru or auto lover, come check out the Al Ain Classic Car Museum. Here you will find a collection of old, treasured cars that go all the way back to the turn of the century-a Ford Model T, for example, is part of the collection. There is a huge garage in the back that you can check out where all the restorative work goes on-it shows that these cars take time to look their best. You can take photos of the cars, but no posing with them is allowed. The employees are helpful and kind and will answer any questions you might have.
Dramatic scenery at Musandam Peninsular, Oman
One of the most spectacular trips you can take from Dubai is to drive through the northern emirates and up to the very tip of the Arabian Peninsula to where the land meets the Strait of Hormuz in the most spectacular style. Often referred to as the “Norway of Arabia” due to the dramatic fjords, this little-known natural wonder is, in fact, an enclave of Oman known as the Musandam Peninsular. If you are planning a trip to Oman separately, do look into this 6-day Oman itinerary.
A dramatic coastal drive up the west coast takes you to the regional capital of Khasab, via al Darah border crossing. The drive from Dubai can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2.5 or longer depending on the road conditions and border crossing. Don’t forget to pack your passports and there is a small exit fee to pay from the UAE, as well as an Oman visit visa.
Once your paper work is in order, head to the harbor and get out on a boat! There are motorized speed boat options if you only have a short time to explore, but the best way to get around is to hire a traditional dhow for a day or two and sail between the giant khors. The waters are home to pods of dolphins, scores of fish and it’s a popular scuba diving spot, or simply a brilliant escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city with a book and a drink in hand.
Khasab itself isn’t much more than a small village but there is a castle with a small museum to explore. There are a few small resorts for overnight stays, or why not try camping? A good skipper can find you a lovely secluded beach, or you can save on the tents and even sleep overnight on the boat itself under the stars.
Hot air balloon ride over Dubai’s desert
If I were to recommend a Dubai day trip, that needs to be the hot air balloon ride over Dubai’s desert I got to try 3 years ago. Really worthy of the early wake-up call and the hour-long ride to get out of the city.
You will be able to witness how the sun rises over the vast dunes and Hajar mountains surrounding the city, some real eye candy. I got to experience this once in a lifetime adventure with Balloon Adventures Dubai, a company that has been offering balloon flights for the last thirteen years and only employs European qualified hot air balloon pilots with lots of flying hours, experience, and knowledge under their belt. In fact, our pilot was happy to share a few interesting facts on Dubai desert, flying with Peregrine falcons, camels, gazelles and even witnessing the Arabian Oryx in their natural habitat.
It all starts really early in the morning when you are picked up from your hotel and taken to the take-off site in the desert, where the balloons are being inflated in the darkness. Then, you go onboard, get the needed safety briefing and take off, ascending to over a km above the earth. The sun rises when you are up in the air, in what is one of the most remarkable experiences ever. And a very photogenic one for that matter too. They fly every day of the week from September until May.
Yas Island in Abu Dhabi
Located 115kms (1 hour) to the west of Dubai, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi Emirate has a little bit of everything for all ages! You can tackle it in a long Abu Dhabi day trip from Dubai, but it would be best to allow 2 days to experience everything Yas Island has to offer.
There are three giant theme parks on the island – Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World and the newly opened Warner Bros World. The latter 2 are both completely indoors to help you cope with the heat. Each offers plenty of action-packed adrenaline rides – including the fastest roller coaster in the world – but also kid-friendly rides and entertaining shows. Top tip, if you book a hotel on Yas Island your room can be booked with your choice of theme park tickets included!
If you’re the type that thinks of calm blue waters, palm trees and marinas when you mention the word “island” you won’t be disappointed either. Abu Dhabi’s island of fun includes a private resort beach (free access if you’re staying at one of the hotels) and the beautiful Yas Marina where you can catch a private charter or a cruise to enjoy the waters around Abu Dhabi’s outer islands. The marina has a restaurant and entertainment district as well as kids play area.
The main attraction of the island though is Yas Marina Circuit. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held here annually in November but there’s motor sports action happening pretty much year-round. If you are lucky to be visiting on a Sunday or Tuesday evening, come and join in the fun of Yas open nights where you can walk or cycle the Grand Prix track for free! It’s most beautiful at night when the Yas Hotel that straddles the Grand Prix track is fully lit up. You will find this information on how to get between Dubai and Abu Dhabi useful.
Ziplining in Ras Al Khaimah
Dubai has the dual advantage of being a big destination in itself and being able to work as a base for multiple short trips across UAE for a whole range of activities. One of our favourite such short trip from Dubai was to go ziplining in Ras-Al-Khaimah.
For most adventure enthusiasts, ziplining is something you do for a few minutes in an adventure park or as a specialized activity at a tourist attraction and hardly involves travelling to the place just for it. However what if we tell you that that it involves flying like superman on the world’s longest zipline over the Jebel Jais mountains, to a suspended base, at speeds equal to the fastest animal on the planet! Not hooked as yet? What if we tell you that the views are breathtaking and that after a few minutes of obligatory terror, it is actually possible to enjoy them as if you’re taking a walk in the park? It takes about 2-2.5 hours just to reach the Toro Verde (The company running the activity) parking lot and the entire experience takes about an hour after you’re fitted in, adding in a buffer to account for holiday season rushes, you can get done by lunch if you leave Dubai at Sunrise.
We would recommend leaving early to beat the heat especially if you’re planning to do it anytime between March and October. We can easily recommend this for families, couples and solo adventure junkies alike given its great safety record, provision for two people to zip line simultaneously side by side and the sheer rush you get after it’s done.
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Which of the trips from Dubai has been your favourite? Has anything new or spectacular been missed? Share in the comments below.
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