Dubai is seen as the crowning jewel of the UAE, with luxury hotels nestled on man-made islands, futuristic skyscrapers, shopping malls and beautiful souks. However, there is so much to see and do outside of Dubai too. Lush garden landscapes surrounded by date palms hide ancient forts and palaces, the world’s longest zipline awaits atop one of the Emirates’ highest peaks and desert dunes can be seen from a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Here are 10 of the best day trips from Dubai – Explore the United Arab Emirates and beyond, creating memorable holiday experiences for everyone in the family!
Table of Contents
1. Al Khayma: Desert Safari with Camel Ride, Quad Biking & Sandboarding
Escape the bright lights of Dubai for a day and venture 40 minutes inland to the desert on a fun safari! As we found out ourselves, this day trip is ideal for families with children, incorporating dune-bashing and sandboard surfing on the dunes, a camel ride and even a thrilling quad bike experience.
Have you seen red sand before? The views across the desert are spectacular, and the sunsets are also mesmerising, so don’t forget your camera! After you’ve engaged in all the activities during the day, there’s even time for traditional Middle Eastern entertainment and BBQ dining at a Bedouin-style camp before returning to your hotel in Dubai.
2. Dubai to Yas Island, Abu Dhabi: Ferrari World & Yas Waterworld
Only a 1-hour drive from Dubai, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is known for being an elegant destination with waterfront restaurants and day clubs. However, as we found out recently, this island in Abu Dhabi is also home to some of the UAE’s most exciting theme parks!
Yas Waterworld caters to all ages with more than 40 slides and rides, a wave pool, splash parks and even a tot’s playground. Nearby, at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, the whole family can embrace their childhoods at Gotham City, Cartoon Junction and Bedrock-themed lands. There are state-of-the-art rides, retail outlets, diners, and live entertainment, plus the kids (and you) get to meet some of your favourite movie characters!
In addition, car enthusiasts will love seeing and experiencing supercars at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Ferrari World is home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, the planet’s tallest space-frame structure and a whole host of exhilarating, high-octane driving experiences for both adults and kids.
Need more than 1 day here? See how we spent 48 hours on Yas Island 😀
View this post on Instagram
3. Dubai to Abu Dhabi: Full-Day Sightseeing (Louvre Museum & Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque)
This 1-hour journey to Abu Dhabi results in one of the best day trips from Dubai if you love art and architecture. It’s also a great way to educate the kids on local culture! Take a guided tour and you’ll be transported from your Dubai hotel to Abu Dhabi and the impressive Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a sprawling building decorated with ornate tiles and Swarovski crystals. You’ll learn about the evolution of the arts in the UAE throughout the centuries before continuing to the Louvre Museum on Saadiyat Island.
This is the Gulf’s largest museum showcasing classical masterpieces from Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre in Paris, France. There’s a children’s museum to occupy little ones and a café for light bites, plus, you can browse the myriad of shops and boutiques for souvenirs. Depending on which trip you choose, before you leave, you may have the opportunity to see magical rays appear from the Louvre’s dome – an extraordinary light show for all the family to enjoy.
4. Dubai to Musandam, Oman: Cruise the Arabian Fjords
If you fancy exploring another country outside Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, this laid-back, day trip is a perfect choice for all the family! On a leisurely cruise, you can explore the scenic Musandam Peninsula of Oman – an area also known as the Norwegian Fjords of Arabia.
Your journey begins in the pretty fishing port of Khasab, where there is ample time to explore the village, its castle, and stone houses, before boarding a traditional dhow boat to continue your day’s adventure.
The boat transports you across clear turquoise waters into the Arabian Fjords, past rugged mountain scenery to a secluded bay for swimming and snorkelling. Here you can discover tropical wonders of the deep, teeming with coral reefs, jackfish, tiger fish and reef sharks.
Back on the boat, there are further opportunities to birdwatch, observe playful dolphins frolicking in the water and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on-board before sailing back towards Dubai, homeward (or hotel) bound.
Related articles and travel guides for Dubai
- Dubai’s rules & laws: 11 things to know before you visit
- The 10 best family hotels & resorts in Dubai for kids
- The 5 best nightclubs in Dubai right now
- Palazzo Versace Dubai: an honest hotel review
- Our free “Go To Dubai” travel guide app for iPhone and iPad
- Our free “Go To Dubai” travel guide app for Android
5. Hot Air Balloon Flight Over Margham Desert
This is one of the most adventurous and daring excursions from Dubai in our opinion. This hot air balloon tour transports you high above the Margham Desert early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise from 4,000 feet above ground.
You travel across the desert in a 4×4 with stops to take photographs and see the giant, colourful balloon as it inflates. As you soar high above land, across undulating red sand dunes which stretch far into the distance, you can see native wildlife and the natural beauty of this conservation reserve.
Upon landing, some trips transport you directly back to your hotel, while others take you to experience a falconry show, go quad biking, or enjoy a camel ride and breakfast in a Bedouin Camp!
It’s worth noting that due to the nature of this trip, pregnant women, those with medical conditions and under 4’s are not allowed to travel in the hot air balloon. The trip and balloon flights operate 7 days a week, weather permitting, between the months of October and late May.
6. Dubai to Sharjah: Tour the City
On a 4-hour guided tour from Dubai, the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah offers interesting landmarks and attractions for all the family to enjoy. You can visit King Faisal Mosque (one of the largest in the region), the historic Fort of Sharjah, and local heritage museums. You can also enjoy browsing (and haggling) for jewellery, rugs, and crafts at one of the many souks.
If you’re travelling with older children and have extra time during your tour, hop aboard the “Eye of the Emirates” Ferris wheel and admire the golden domes, Arabian architecture and pretty waterfront from an elevated perspective.
7. Dubai to Al Ain: Sightseeing (Al Jahili Fort, Jebel Hafeet & More)
If you want to see a different side of the Emirates and step back in time to the days before skyscrapers and state-of-the-art shopping malls, then one of the best day trips from Dubai is to Al Ain in Abu Dhabi.
This region is a lush emerald oasis – a garden city with ancient irrigation systems, Jebel Hafeet Mountain, and over 100,000 date palms and fruit trees shading winding paths. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is bursting with historic sites, home to forts, ancient tombs, palaces and even markets with camels!
One of these sites is Al Jahili Fort, the largest fortress in the UAE, linked to the ruling family and the history of Abu Dhabi. It was built in the late 19th century and is distinctive due to its conical four-storey towers.
During the trip, you can also browse colourful souks selling perfumes, spices and carpets. You can also visit The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre where kids (and adults) can discover interesting facts about the environment and wildlife of the UAE.
8. Dubai to Al Ain: Fun Activities at Wadi Adventure Park
The “Garden City” of Al Ain is also home to Wadi Adventure Park, one of the best outdoor water sports locations in the Middle East. Families can enjoy a range of activities throughout the day from kayaking and surfing to white water rafting, ziplining and climbing.
It’s a trip suitable for all age groups (adults and kids), with a family pool, open beach, and splash area. There are retail and dining facilities in the park, and it’s all set beneath the spectacular scenic backdrop of Jebel Hafeet Mountain!
9. Dubai to Fujairah: East Coast Tour & Khor Fakkan Waterfall
We’ve all heard of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but if you want to experience less-visited Emirates outside of Dubai, such as the eastern state of Fujairah, you can now take a day trip there.
Fujairah is flanked by the rugged Hajjar Mountains, and the main city is a modern economic centre with one of the best beaches in the area. One highlight of this tour is a visit to The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, modelled on Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with over 60 domes and several minarets. Then there’s the ancient fort which was built to protect the town from invaders arriving from the sea.
Finally, Khor Fakkan city beckons with a picturesque promenade overlooking the bay, a bustling port, and archaeological sites. Just outside the city, you can visit the verdant mountain range with cascading waterfalls and natural pools for swimming. This is a wonderful trip for all ages, and you get to visit places often overlooked by tourists, so don’t forget your camera!
10. Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah: Hiking, Climbing & Conquering the World’s Longest Zipline
If you’re travelling with teenagers and have a bit of an adventurous streak yourself, this could be one of the best day trips from Dubai for you!
On this exciting tour to Jebel Jais and Ras Al Khaimah, you can climb the UAE’s highest mountain peak, almost 2,000 metres above sea level. If you plan to hike, don’t forget to bring a bottle of water, comfortable walking shoes (flip flops won’t cut it) and a sun hat. You can also travel to the summit by car, and if you’re travelling during the summer months, you’ll gain a welcome respite from the heat as it’s much cooler here than by the coast.
The peak’s summit is home to the world’s longest zipline. If you decide to conquer it, you’ll find yourself soaring across majestic landscapes blooming with wild daisies and irises. There’s also the option to camp overnight or mountain bike if you wish to extend your day trip into something even more memorable.
In our opinion, these are some of the most attractive tours from Dubai. Some of the day trips are great for younger children and some cater more to teenagers. Whichever tour you choose, it allows you to see other parts of the UAE, some of which are relatively untouched by tourism.