Escape the City 10 Places to Visit in UAE

Abu Dhabi, a city synonymous with opulent architecture and luxurious lifestyle, is often perceived as a grand urban hub. Yet, how many of us have paused to explore the diverse escapes just a short drive away? From vast deserts and serene mountains to cultural treasures and nature reserves, the region surrounding Abu Dhabi offers a plethora of weekend getaway options that promise to refresh and rejuvenate any traveller.

Embrace the Desert Landscape

1. Liwa Oasis

Step back in time and delve into the UAE’s rich heritage at Al Ain Oasis, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore lush palm groves, marvel at the ancient falaj irrigation systems, and discover historical forts. Al Ain Oasis offers a glimpse into the region’s fascinating past amidst a scenic desert landscape.

Liwa Oasis
Liwa Oasis
  • Experience: Dive deep into the heart of the Rub’ al Khali, the largest contiguous sand desert in the world. Enjoy thrilling dune bashing, serene camel treks, or a night under the stars at a luxurious desert camp.
  • Location: About 230 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi

2. Al Ain Oasis

  • Experience: Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a peek into the UAE’s agricultural past with its ancient falaj irrigation system amidst lush palm groves and historic structures.
  • Location: Approximately 160 kilometers east of Abu Dhabi

Step back in time and delve into the UAE’s rich heritage at Al Ain Oasis, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore lush palm groves, marvel at the ancient falaj irrigation systems, and discover historical forts. Al Ain Oasis offers a glimpse into the region’s fascinating past amidst a scenic desert landscape.

Al Ain Oasis
Al Ain Oasis

3. Al Ain

Distance from Abu Dhabi: Approximately 160 kilometers east Highlights:

  • Al Ain Oasis: Walk through ancient palm groves and explore traditional falaj irrigation systems.
  • Al Jahili Fort: Visit one of the UAE’s most historic buildings, showcasing the region’s rich culture and history.
  • Al Ain Zoo: A vast wildlife park offering a safari experience and a chance to see Arabian wildlife.

4. Liwa Oasis

Distance from Abu Dhabi: About 230 kilometers southwest Highlights:

  • Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter): Experience the vastness of one of the largest sand deserts in the world.
  • Moreeb Dune: Check out one of the tallest sand dunes in the world, a popular spot for dune bashing.
  • Liwa Date Festival: If timing aligns, enjoy this annual event celebrating the region’s rich date farming culture.

5. Jebel Hafeet

Distance from Abu Dhabi: Roughly 160 kilometres east, near Al Ain Highlights:

Take a scenic drive up Jebel Hafeet, the highest mountain in Abu Dhabi. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the mountaintop. Visit the historic Mercure Jebel Hafeet Hotel, a landmark in itself, or explore the nearby Green Mubazzarah Park, a haven of lush greenery amidst the desert landscape. Jebel Hafeet offers a tranquil escape with stunning vistas and historical significance.

  • Jebel Hafeet Mountain: Drive up the UAE’s second-highest peak for spectacular views of the desert.
  • Green Mubazzarah: Relax in this lush park at the foot of the mountain, with hot springs, a lake, and picnic areas.
  • Al Ain Camel Market: For a unique cultural experience, visit one of the last traditional camel markets.

6. Dubai

Distance from Abu Dhabi: About 140 kilometres north Highlights:

  • Burj Khalifa: Visit the world’s tallest building for breathtaking views.
  • Dubai Mall: Shop or just explore one of the largest malls in the world.
  • Dubai Fountain: Enjoy this stunning water, light, and music show.

A short drive away lies the dynamic metropolis of Dubai. Ascend to the top of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and marvel at breathtaking panoramic views. Witness the awe-inspiring Dubai Fountain show, or indulge in retail therapy at world-class shopping malls overflowing with luxury brands and international chains. Dubai offers a vibrant mix of modern marvels and cosmopolitan experiences.

7. Fujairah

Distance from Abu Dhabi: Approximately 280 kilometers east Highlights:

Escape the desert heat and embrace the natural beauty of Fujairah. Relax on pristine beaches along the scenic Gulf of Oman coastline. Hike through the dramatic Hajar Mountains, or delve into history by exploring ancient forts like Fujairah Fort. Fujairah offers a refreshing escape for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

  • Snorkeling and Diving: Discover the rich marine life of the Indian Ocean.
  • Fujairah Fort: Explore the oldest fort in the UAE.
  • Al Bidya Mosque: Visit one of the oldest mosques in the country, dating back to the 15th century.

8. Sir Bani Yas Island

Distance from Abu Dhabi: About 170 kilometers west, plus a short ferry ride Highlights:

Embark on a unique wildlife adventure on Sir Bani Yas Island. Spot majestic Arabian Oryx roaming freely, explore the intricate network of mangroves on a thrilling kayak tour, or simply relax on the island’s pristine beaches. Sir Bani Yas Island offers a chance to reconnect with nature and experience the diverse wildlife of the UAE.

  • Wildlife Conservation: Take a safari tour to see African and Arabian wildlife roaming freely.
  • Archaeological Sites: Explore historical sites showcasing ancient Christian monastic ruins.
  • Water Sports: Engage in kayaking, snorkeling, and other water activities.

9. Ras Al Khaimah

Distance from Abu Dhabi: Roughly 250 kilometers northeast Highlights:

  • Jebel Jais: Experience the UAE’s tallest mountain and the world’s longest zipline.
  • Beaches: Enjoy quiet, pristine beaches away from the city crowds.
  • Historical Sites: Visit ancient forts and archaeological sites.

10. Hatta

Distance from Abu Dhabi: About 300 kilometres northeast Highlights:

  • Hatta Dam: Kayak or paddleboard in the stunning turquoise waters of the dam.
  • Mountain Biking and Hiking: Explore the rugged Hajar mountains on bike or foot.
  • Heritage Village: Learn about the traditional mountain life of the UAE.

Each of these destinations offers a unique escape with activities and sights to suit any preference, from adventure and history to relaxation and nature. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an overnight stay, these spots ensure a refreshing break from city life.

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