There is much more to the UAE than its capital city, Abu Dhabi, and the most popular emirate, Dubai. While you shouldn’t miss out the unequaled sights of these two places, the country’s other five emirates are equally enchanting. From Sharjah’s culture-enriched landscape and Ajman’s pristine beauty to the unpretentious charm of Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah to the hidden gems of Umm Al Quwain, the UAE is a land of diverse wonders. Use this list of things to do in UAE for your upcoming Arabian getaway.
1. Visit Dubai
Dubai is the country’s ultimate spot where you will easily get it all! Go atop the world’s tallest building at Burj Khalifa, explore one of the world’s largest malls (The Dubai Mall), wander around Al Bastakiya’s immaculately preserved old-world alleys and antiquated structures, and hit the region’s lush parks and spotless beaches that make for a wonderful picnic spot in the heart of the city.
Be sure to make a tour of the city’s latest superlative attractions, mainly Museum of the Future, the largest of its kind Ain Dubai, the View at the Palm, and the Middle East’s first Madame Tussauds Museum. Along with these, Dubai is home to some of the world’s best theme parks; get IMG tickets to explore the city’s largest indoor theme park or choose the right pass to make the most of the four parks (Motiongate Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park and Bollywood Parks Dubai) within Dubai Parks and Resorts.
2. Don’t Skip Abu Dhabi’s Treasured Sights
As opposed to most other capital cities in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is underrated in spite of being the UAE’s largest emirate. It is full of elegant sights that would delight every preference. The utterly majestic and sprawling Sheikh Zayed Mosque is one of the must-visits among them. It is a free attraction that can be visited by both Muslims and non-Muslims. You can further enjoy a multitude of other activities in Abu Dhabi, such as theme park rides going on a kayaking tour at its mangrove national park, hanging out at the charming Abu Dhabi Corniche, and taking a sightseeing tour of its top attractions like Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, Heritage Village, Emirates Palace, Qasr Al Watan, and Qasr Al Hosn.
3. Go Off-the-Beaten Track with Desert Safari
While in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah or Ras Al Khaimah, travel a little over 40 minutes’ drive out of the city center and you will be soon surrounded by the infinite golden desert sands. It may appear to be lifeless, but in real it is a true haven for the most heart-racing activities and experiences. 4X4 dune bash, camel ride, sandboarding, quad biking, and dune buggy ride are to name a few. Pick the right desert safari tour packaged with BBQ dining, cultural activities (like henna tattooing, Shisha smoking etc), and traditional entertainment including Belly Dance and Tanura dance.
4. Spend a Day at the Lesser-Known Umm Al Quwain
Umm Al Quwain is probably the most unfrequented emirate in the UAE. This often-overlooked or little-known gem, however, manages to squeeze in some extraordinary sights and cool adventures. Visit the art-and-history packed Umm Al Quwain Fort and Museum, get your dose of action and amusement at Dreamland Aqua Park, and mostly explore the region’s untouched natural beauty at Siniya Island. If you wish to get active amidst nature, you can go on a crab hunting tour, enjoy kayaking along its verdant mangroves or try kite surfing, thanks to the Kite Beach Center where its programs and instructors are certified by International Kiteboarding Organization.
5. Kayak Around Al Zorah Nature Reserve
Ajman is the UAE’s smallest emirate, but it holds some of the best-kept secrets of the region. Make your way to Al Zorah Nature Reserve to believe it for yourself. Such is the exquisiteness and quietude of the place that you can relax in its unspoiled beach, take a boat ride, or simply sit back and enjoy bird watching – its rich ecosystem being a safe abode for about 60 species of both indigenous and migratory birds like pink flamingos, egrets, and herons. If you wish to absorb the charm with a splash of pleasant adventure, nothing could probably beat a session of mangrove kayaking tour that is ideal for beginners and pros alike.
6. Explore the UAE’s Greenest Place
Al Ain is Abu Dhabi’s largest city and more than that, it is the country’s greenest place. Yes, it is generously endowed with natural splendors comprising soaring mountains, verdant foliage, therapeutic natural hot springs, and rare and unique wildlife. Of all the attractions, Al Ain Oasis is unmissable, featuring about 150,000 date palms from over 100 species. It is considered the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another top attraction here is Al Ain Zoo that is inhabited by over 4,000 animals. You can further take a drive up to Jebel Hafeet, the second largest mountain in the UAE. Al Ain has its share of cultural and historical landmarks such as Al Qattara Arts Centre, Al Jahili Fort and Hili Archaeological Park.
7. See a Different Side of the UAE
For this, you have to visit Fujairah which is the UAE’s only emirate along the Gulf of Oman. The place, overall, looks so pristine and primeval that time almost stands still here. Soak in its quaint surroundings and drop into some of its age-old attractions like the 15th century Al Bidyah Mosque, the 17th century Fujairah Fort, and the 18th century Bitnah Fort. You can further stop for some traditional shopping experience at the Masafi Market against the cool mountainous background. That’s not all, Fujairah’s Snoopy Island, packed with exuberant marine life and coral reefs, is a favorite of scuba diving enthusiasts.
8. Discover the Region’s Coastline on a Cruise
The UAE’s coastline stretches for more than 1315 kilometers along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. These bodies of water are framed by the most exquisite views. Take a cruise around these sights to absorb the beauty of the UAE’s coastline in its true splendor. You can choose to make your cruise session as laid-back or adventurous or luxurious as possible. Sign up for a traditional dhow cruise with dining or consider a luxury yacht rental or feel the water thrill of the lifetime with a RIB tour.
9. Camping at Hatta
A visit to Hatta makes a wonderful day trip from Dubai, about 150 kilometers away. With its combination of gorgeous landscapes, striking natural scenery and exciting adventure activities, this picturesque place offers a respite from soaring skyscrapers and of course, daily mundane life. With the mighty Hajjar Mountains in the background, it is a great spot for hiking. The major draw is Hatta Heritage Village which very well captures the ancient Emirati lifestyle. Apart from these, Hatta is where you can camp in the midst of unscathed nature.
10. Soak Up Sharjah’s Culture and Heritage
The emirate of Sharjah boasts of a unique reputation when it comes to its cultural and traditional highlights. It was chosen as the Arabian World’s cultural capital by UNESCO in 1998. Lying just 40 minutes’ drive from Dubai, a visit to Sharjah is hard to miss for culture buffs. From the extensive Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization to the 200-year-old Sharjah Fort and Sharjah Desert Park, a treasure trove of things to see and do await you in Sharjah.
11. Check Out Ras Al Khaimah’s Iconic and Mysterious Sights
Al though not as bustling and busy as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah is still popular for its exceptional spectrum of attractions. There are serene beaches, ancient forts, and enlightening museums like Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum. You also get to benefit from the medicinal properties of Khatt Springs that is tucked away amidst an oasis. Moreover, where else in the UAE you get to add a touch of spookiness to your holiday? Simply make a tour of Jazirat Al Hamra – an abandoned village known for its mysteriously eerie aura.
12. Get Adventurous at Jebel Jais
If you can’t imagine wrapping up your Dubai holiday without some ultimate and daring adventure, you must definitely travel to Jebel Jais, which is less than an hour away from Ras Al Khaimah. It is the country’s highest mountain and a true delight for adventurists and nature lovers. It gives you once-in-the-lifetime chance to zip through the world’s longest zipline course that is built over the mountains. You can follow it up with more activities such as hiking, toboggan ride, and camping. To catch the most panoramic views of the mountain and surroundings, make sure that you head to the dedicated Viewing Deck Park here.
Are you ready to explore the top UAE attractions? Simply refer to this comprehensive yet compact list that will take you beyond Abu Dhabi and Dubai while introducing you to some of the country’s best-kept secrets and underrated highlights. So, which of the above experiences would you like to add in your UAE travel program? Come share your thoughts in the comment box below.