5 easy must-do weekend trips from Dubai

Published by: BouncePosted
Best weekend trips from Dubai

This ultra-modern city in the United Arab Emirates is not like anywhere else on earth. The staggering wealth of this oil-rich nation has made it into a destination for the international jet set. Just about anything is available here if your pockets are deep enough, and Dubai is fascinating in its own right as a place where cutting-edge modernity meets ancient Arab culture, with all the contradictions that entails.

But the United Arab Emirates is a small place, and it's possible to reach just about anywhere in this country with a drive of just over three hours from Dubai. For that reason alone, it would be a shame not to take advantage of some of the excellent weekend getaways that are possible from here. And while this country may be small, it has an astonishing variety of things to do, from outdoor adventures to historic monuments to beautiful natural scenery ideal for nature lovers. Some of the best experiences in the Middle East await you here, and the best weekend getaways from Dubai are the ideal way to experience them.

Step away from the luxury hotels and world-beating restaurants, and you'll find there's much more to the UAE than you might've thought. After all, there's only so long you can spend in Dubai Mall. Instead, consider a weekend getaway that will let you take part in adventure sports or explore an ancient city within an easy drive of Dubai itself.

Drop off your bags at a luggage storage in Dubai and set out on some of these incredible trips. Whether you're looking for a great day trip or the best weekend getaways, these destinations are perfect for exploring more of the Middle East.

Weekend trips from Dubai to Ras al-Khaimah

Ras al-Khaimah

Located to the north of Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah is another of the Emirates that make up the UAE. With great beaches, a fascinating Old Town, and the highest peak in the country, Ras al-Khaimah is one of the most popular destinations for a weekend getaway from Dubai.

Distance from Dubai:

You can reach Ras al-Khaimah from Dubai in around an hour and 20 minutes by car.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Hit the beach: The beaches of this emirate are almost endless, and the almost always hot and sunny weather of the country makes them an ideal place to cool off. Flamingo Beach is the main beach in the city itself, but you can also head further afield to beaches near Al-Marjan Island. You'll find public beaches sitting shoulder to shoulder with resort beaches where you can book a lounger and have access to all the amenities you could possibly want for a memorable beach day. No wonder this is one of the popular weekend getaways from Dubai.
  • Dhayah Fort: It's often thought that the UAE is lacking culture, but actually, this part of the Middle East has a rich history that you can explore at historical monuments like Dhayah Fort. Located just outside the town of Ras al-Khaimah, the 16th-century fort protected the area until it was partially ruined in the 1891 battle between the Emirates and British forces. Now, the fortress makes an atmospheric place to explore, and the views from the damaged battlements are worth the journey alone.
  • Khatt Springs: This area to the south of the city is rich in mineral hot springs that are pumped into swimming pools separated by gender. Take a soak in the mineral-rich waters and take advantage of their supposedly healing properties. If nothing else, it's a very relaxing way to experience this emirate.

Best season to visit:

There's no bad time to visit this year-round emirate. As with all of the UAE, though, you should be aware that summers can be oppressively hot, so plan lots of indoor activities with air conditioning if you're visiting at this time of year.

Weekend trips to Abu Dhabi from Dubai

Abu Dhabi

The capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, is easily reached from Dubai and offers just about everything you need for a memorable weekend trip. Home to the best restaurants, hotels, resorts, and activities in the region, this is a city you won't soon forget, no matter how you like to spend your time.

Distance from Dubai:

It's 140 km from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, so expect the drive to take around an hour and a half.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: This beautiful structure made of stunning white marble is the most popular attraction in Abu Dhabi. First opened in 2007, the mosque combines Ottoman, Fatimid, and Mameluke architectural influences to create something truly unique. Non-Muslims are allowed inside at any time outside of daily prayer times, and there are even free guided tours that can explain more about the gorgeous architecture and the importance of this stunning building.
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi: The top museum in the Middle East, the Louvre Abu Dhabi displays art and historic artifacts from around the world and across the centuries to tell the whole story of human civilization in one single cultural institution. Home to works by some of the biggest names in art history, this museum is the sister organization of the Paris Louvre and is a wonderful place to visit for art lovers.
  • Qasr Al Watan: The striking presidential palace of the UAE is open to the public and is a fascinating place to learn more about the history and culture of the region. The palace contains a House of Knowledge that explains Islamic contributions to science, art, and history, and the public library is a great spot to delve into the history of the UAE. At night, the palace is lit up by a stunning light show, so it's a great place to visit at any time of day or night.

Best season to visit:

This is a year-round destination with no particular best time to visit, though, as always, be warned that summers can be extremely hot.

Al Qudra Lake weekend trip from Dubai

Al Qudra Lake

Located within the Saih al Salam Desert on the southern end of Dubai, Al Qudra Lake is the perfect place to escape the heat and noise of the city. Although this lake is man-made, it's still a great place for nature lovers since it is part of a wider nature reserve that is home to dozens of species of birds and desert plants, making it an interesting place to explore.

Distance from Dubai:

It's only around 60 km from Dubai to Al Qudra Lake, so you can make the drive in only one hour.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Camping: Had enough of the luxury hotels of Dubai? This is a popular destination for camping under the glorious stars of the desert. Although it often gets crowded, the many man-made lakes and dunes of the area mean it's not hard to find a place to set up in seclusion and enjoy this unique desert environment.
  • Birdwatching: The environment may be artificial, but that doesn't mean it isn't an ideal home for many species of birds, both native and migratory. In this often arid landscape, the lake makes a perfect oasis for many species of birds, including ducks, swans, flamingos, and more exotic species like the endangered Steppe Eagle. This area is also home to other wildlife, like desert foxes, so keep an eye out for the many species of animals that call this place home.
  • Cycling: Al Qudra Cycling Track is one of the best cycling routes in the whole country, covering an astonishing 86 km. You can easily rent a bike at several locations along the track and head out to explore this region on two wheels, getting some exercise while you appreciate the scenery just outside Dubai.

Best season to visit:

Summer may be a little too hot to enjoy the outdoor activities here. Better to visit in the winter when the temperatures are much more manageable.

Weekend trips from Dubai to Al Ain

Al Ain

This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the standout attractions of the entire UAE. Known as the Garden City because of the presence of the Al Ain oasis, the surprisingly green city is one of the best weekend getaways from Dubai.

Distance from Dubai:

Al Ain lies around 150 km from Dubai, so it takes about an hour and a half to drive from one city to the other.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Wadi Adventure: This man-made water sports adventure is the place to go rafting and kayaking in the UAE. The rivers may be artificial, but the thrills are very real as you explore this thrilling waterpark. With instruction and equipment rental readily available, this is a great place to learn a new sport.
  • Al Ain Zoo: A great family activity in Al Ain, the zoo is home to more than 4000 individual animals covering hundreds of different species. Get up close and personal with native wildlife or see charismatic animals from around the world, such as lions, giraffes, and meerkats.
  • The Camel Market: For centuries, camels have been absolutely essential to life in the UAE. And although their importance has declined with the building of roads suitable for motorcars, camels remain an important part of the culture of this area. The Camel Market is a place where locals go to buy and sell camels, and it's a unique attraction that's ideal for getting a glimpse into this side of Arab culture. You can also book a camel safari from here if you want to spend more time with these towering animals.

Best season to visit:

Any time of year is a good time to visit Al Ain.

Dubai weekend trip to Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais

The highest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais is in the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah and is a fantastic place to explore for fans of the outdoors.

Distance from Dubai:

At 160 km from Dubai, Jebel Jais can be reached with a drive of around two hours.

Our activity recommendations:

  • Drive to the summit: The highest peak in the UAE, Jebel Jais attracts adventure enthusiasts from around the world. A 35 km long road climbs to the peak of the mountain, but the switchback turns and elevation are not for the faint of heart. However, thanks to the prominence of this major mountain, the views from the top are magnificent. Try to time your visit at sunset to really make the most out of this stunning place.
  • Zip Line: If you really want to get your adrenaline flowing, take advantage of the world's longest zip line that rushes down from the summit of the mountain. Racing along the zip line is the closest you'll ever likely get to flying, so it's definitely not an experience to miss if you're an adrenaline junkie.

Best season to visit:

The elevation of the mountain means it's cooler at the top, so this can be a good place to avoid the heat of summer. However, if you want to catch a sunset, winter might be a better option since the sun sets earlier.

Best weekend trips from Dubai


The city of Dubai itself has more than enough to keep you busy for a long time. If you only have, say, three days to spend in Dubai, you'll barely have enough time to squeeze in everything you want to do in town.

However, the UAE is a small country - so small that you can almost drive from one end of the country to the other in less than five hours. That makes it ideal for the best day trips from Dubai and some spectacular weekend getaways. Leave your bags behind at a Dubai luggage storage facility and take advantage of the country's small size and many things to do by heading out on one of these memorable weekend trips. You'll learn more about the culture and history of this unique country and get to enjoy some of the very best activities it has to offer.

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