Dubai is very central in the UAE in terms of its geographic position. Immediately to the west of Dubai, you have the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the 7 Emirates of the UAE with so much going on, we even have another site just about Abu Dhabi!
Then to the north-east and beyond you have the other five Emirates, often referred to as the “northern Emirates“ to explore. It’s also possible to visit parts of Oman on a day trip – more on that below!
On this page, we share with you our favourite locations that can be easily reached within a day from Dubai, but trust us, when you see how much there is to do you will want to stay about a lot longer!
[Distances are calculated from Downtown Dubai and timing subject to traffic]
Day Trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
Dubai to Abu Dhabi distance: approximately 140km / 1 hour 15 mins
Dubai is often mistaken as the UAE’s capital but, in fact, it is neighbouring Abu Dhabi that holds this crown. Home to the country’s Federal Supreme Council and ruling leader Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nayhan, it’s also home to some of the country’s most magnificent architecture and cultural sites.
So many stops that it is truly difficult to see them all on a Dubai day trip, but here are a few that we recommend you should try fit into a single day trip from Dubai:
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: one of the most stunning buildings in the world, we have a detailed guide on exactly how to visit the Grand Mosque as a day trip from Dubai here. Entry is free for all, but do be respectful of prayer times, closed Friday’s until 4pm.
- Qasr al Watan: The Presidential Palace: Home of the Federal Supreme Council and UAE Cabinet meetings, where foreign dignitaries are greeted and offices of the President, Vice President & Prime Minister and the Crown Prince – a detailed guide here on what to expect inside.
- Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi: Take on the Journey Through Humanity permanent display and many seasonal exhibits in one of the city’s finest modern buildings (closed Mondays)
- Qasr al Hosn: An Emirati heritage journey based around the city’s oldest building the Hosn Fort.
Top Tip: the Grand Mosque can be pretty packed from mid-morning as this is when most coach tours arrive from Dubai on day trips. If you want the Mosque to yourself, aiming for first thing in the morning (9am opening but you can arrive earlier) or mid-afternoon may prove much less crowded, this is the huge benefit of taking a private tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
- Look into these shared coach full-day options from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
- Mosque only transfers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi
- Private small group tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai [RECOMMENDED]
If you are seeking to make your own way from Dubai to Abu Dhabi we suggest you read this detailed guide on all your transport options.
Day Trip from Dubai to the Musandam Peninsula, Oman
Dubai to Khasab distance: 196km / approx 2.5 hours
Transporting you to a whole different country but within reasonable driving distance from Dubai, the “Norway of Arabia” awaits in the Omani exclave of Musandam. Sitting to the northeast of the northern Emirate Ras Al Khaimah, the regional capital of Khasab, Musandam can be easily reached by road – an incredibly picturesque and often breathtaking coastal drive.
From Khasab, there is a small harbour with a plentiful choice of traditional dhow boats and more modern cruising vessels. Sail out to the stunning rocky fjords where the Hajar Mountains that run through the length of Oman and the UAE dramatically end at the Strait of Hormuz.
Dolphin spotting is a favourite activity and in the warmer shoulder season, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular, albeit the better diving is on the eastern coast of the peninsula.
You will want an early start to fit in a full day of fun, and taking an organised day tour they will help you with the Omani visas and border crossing process. It is possible to hire a car and do it all alone, but first-timers will no doubt appreciate a guide to take you through Al Darah border crossing point and the formalities involved.
- Try this full-day tour from Dubai to Musandam
- Make your own way to Khasab then join this Dolphin Watching Dhow Cruise
Your drive to Musandam will also take you on a scenic tour through five of the seven Emirates! You can see the changing landscapes as you exit the big cities and many interesting stops along the way such as Al Rams and Dhayah Fort on the way through Ras al Khaimah (more on RAK below!)
If you do not want the formality of crossing the border, it’s also possible to take a dhow cruise to a different part of the Musandam coast, coming via Fujairah and the east coast of the UAE to an area known as Dibba. Your boats here do not need to make a formal land crossing into Oman so no border crossing required, but you will still be richly rewarded with dramatic coastal views.
The raw beauty and isolation of Musandam is simply breathtaking and makes this one of our top picks for nature lovers to Dubai.
Top Tip: You get a lot more visitors to Musandam over the local weekend which starts Thursday afternoon through to Saturday night. if possible, time your trip for Sunday through Wednesday for much lower crowds.
Day Trip from Dubai to Al Ain
Dubai to Al Ain distance: approximately 130km / 1 hour 30 mins
Sitting to the south-west of Dubai, you will find the Oasis City of Al Ain. With deep historic roots believed to date back to the neolithic period, this is our top pick day trip for history lovers. You will find the UAE’s only UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered in several locations across the city – a full guide to these sites can be found here.
Much of the country’s more recent history also stems from the township of Al Ain, home town to the country’s founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al Nayhan, and the birthplace of the current ruler of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nayhan.
Well worth visiting spots include Al Jahili Fort, Qasr al Mawaji, Al Ain National Museum (as at 2019 closed indefinitely for renovations) and the Al Ain Palace Museum (the former Royal homestead). You may also be fascinated by the supposedly healing hot springs of Al Mubazzarah, at the foot of Abu Dhabi Emirate’s tallest peak Jebel Hafeet.
Those travelling with kids will definitely want to try and squeeze in a trip to the Al Ain Zoo. The best in the country, the zoo is set on large grounds with many news installations worth of a trip in themselves including the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, perfect for history lovers of all ages with lots of interactive displays.
Getting to Al Ain is straight forward by car, there are no border crossings from Dubai into Abu Dhabi Emirate. You can make the trip in approximately 1.5 hours from Dubai, but if you plan a trip up the winding road to the top of Jebel Hafeet, add another 40 minutes – you will be rewarded with spectacular views over Al Ain and neighbouring Oman.
If you are unfamiliar with the UAE roads, joining an organised group to get between the highlights is recommended as the city is well spread out.
Al Ain also makes a great stopover point if you are undertaking a Visa Border Run to Oman. Plenty to fill a day but you could fit a lot more into two days as many of the city’s highlights are well spread out.
Day trip from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah
Dubai to Ras al Khaimah distance: approximately 110kms / 1 hour 15 minutes
Ras al Khaimah – affectionately referred to as RAK locally is best known as the UAE’s outdoor adventure playground. The stunning Hajar Mountain range runs through the Emirate and is home to the country’s tallest peak Jebel Jais.
Jebel Jais is an adrenaline junkies dream, with plenty of new attractions being added every year. The world’s longest zipline allows you to speed up to 150km/hr 1680m above sea level for nearly 3kms. You can also experience Via Ferrata and the newest additions, the Jebel Jais Sky Tour – 7 different courses over 5kms through the mountains, and the Jais Sky Maze, extreme adrenaline junkies only! (Wednesday to Sundays)
- You can try this company which will pick you up from Dubai and arrange everything for your ziplining experience.
If you are seeking something a little more sedate, there are also tours that will take you simply to appreciate the views of Jebel Jais, along with those who focus only on the cultural highlights tour.
Another favourite for a truly unique cultural experience is heading to the tiny village of Al Rams and taking a tour of the active pearl farm Al Suwaidi Pearls – learn about this treasured part of local culture and see a live pearl diving demonstration.
We do recommend for those on a one week+ Dubai itinerary to spare a few nights of their trip for staying up in Ras Al Khaimah. There are plenty of luxury resorts that line the shores of RAK and man-made Marjan Island – see some top accommodation choice in RAK here.
Day trip from Dubai to Fujairah
Dubai to Fujairah Distance: approx 120kms / 1 hour 15 minutes to Fujairah city
Taking you all the way to the country’s east coast, facing to the Gulf of Oman you will find the Emirate of Fujairah. Steeped in history, it is where you will find some of the country’s most interesting landscapes from the azure waters and soft sands of Al Aqah, to the historic forts and the country’s oldest mosque.
Many like to visit the east coast of the country for its scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities or to simply experience a completely contrasting side of the country to Dubai.
- Check out this diving tour to see the Dibba side of Fujairah
- History and beaches in this Dubai to Fujairah day trip
Day Trip from Dubai to the Yas island Theme Parks
Dubai to Yas Island distance: approximately 115km / 1 hour
Arguably the UAE’s best theme parks can be found on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, only around 45 minutes from Duabi Marina or an hour from Downtown Dubai down the E11 Freeway, you can easily spend a whole day – or ideally 2 if you are going to enjoy everything on offer.
The three big theme parks on YAS Island:
- Yas Waterworld (outdoor water park)
- Ferrari World (indoors)
- Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi (indoors)
Each is a top-rated attraction with plenty of thrill rides and entertainment, and for large parts of the year limited lines.
- See shared transfer options from Dubai to Yas Island
- Buy Yas Waterworld Tickets online in advance here
- Buy Ferrari World Tickets with transfers from your Dubai hotel
- Buy Warner Bros World tickets online here
If you love your motorsports, then perhaps a tour around the Yas Marina Circuit will be your thing, or even better the opportunity to drag your own Chevrolet Camaro around the track is your preferred experience.
The newly opened CLYMB Abu Dhabi is also well worth checking out. It has the world’s largest indoor climbing wall, and the largest indoor skydiving centre. It can be found from inside Yas Mall, immediately adjacent to Ferrari World.
Top Tip: Yas Island has a small Plaza of hotels and restaurants, as well as the lively Yas Marina area at night, making it well worth an overnight trip at least to this entertainment island to experience everything on offer.
There’s a good guide here on how to make use of the Yas Island Theme Parks shuttle bus service from Dubai.
Day trip from Dubai to Hatta Dam
Dubai to Hatta distance: approximately 130km / 1 hour 30 minutes
One of the most exciting newly-developed destinations in Dubai emirate is the area of Hatta and Hatta Dam. Sitting to the south of Dubai near the Omani border, a large amount of tourism development has been poured into this rugged area of the Dubai Emirate to create a brand new nature playground.
There is so much on offer at this destination especially for your outdoor enthusiasts, after exploring the heritage village, take on kayaking to mountain biking, enjoy the adventure sports at Hatta Wadi Hub and the Hatta Jump water park.
For an unforgettable experience extend your stay to be overnight so you can experience one fo the Hatta Sedr Trailers Resort. They are limited though so book well in advance.
Top Tip: It gets much busier on the local weekend which is Thursday night through Saturday, visit mid-week and out of school holidays, it’s beautifully secluded. (Check attraction opening times mid week)
Day Trip to the Dubai desert
This is a classic suggestion for a Dubai day trip, but we couldn’t not mention it in a day trips round up!
There are all different sorts of desert day trips, at all different times of the day to suit individual traveller needs. A “classic desert safari” will include an element of dune bashing, camel rides, sandboarding and henna painting followed by a traditional Bedouin feast and musical entertainment.
If your focus is on camel riding, we suggest you check out this article on how to get your fill of camel experiences in Dubai – there are plenty of them!
With so many desert safari’s available these days, it can be hard to choose between them. Some of them such as Platinum Heritage are a premium tour provider. Their focus is on the desert itself. You will enjoy vintage Landrovers taking you sedately through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, falconry displays and traditional food, both day and evening tours are available.
Alternatively, some camps and day tours are set up very specifically with the needs of adrenaline junkies in mind. Your local driver will know his dunes back to front and find the most thrilling path into the camp, followed by options at your camp to hire dune buggies, fat bikes and sandboards to explore the dunes in a different way.
These are our top picks of Dubai desert day tours to try:
- Dubai Sunrise Safari and Wildlife Drive
- Morning desert safari with Sandboarding & Quad Biking
- Best value evening desert safari and BBQ
- Fossil Dunes & Camel Rock Safari
For un absolutely unique and unforgettable Dubai experience, we recommend you try hot air ballooning at dawn above the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
- Try this sunrise balloon ride with breakfast and falconry show
- Or combine hot air ballooning with a camel trek & quad biking adventure
Whenever you are headed into the desert, we always recommend trainers are a more practical option than sandals or flip flops – they will, of course, fill with sand too but you’ll find it easier to walk about. Don’t forget sunscreen and hat any time of year visiting Dubai – you can see our full Dubai packing essentials guide here.
We always recommend visitors to Dubai to leave plenty of time to take in the highlights in the other Emirates as well. Much of the natural beauty and culture of the country and region lie far beyond the city.Dubai Travel Planner
Before you go… important things to know when planning your first trip to Dubai
- Pop into our essential planning information page, it includes everything you need to know about getting around Dubai, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the do’s and don’ts, laws and customs to be aware of.
- Pick up a Dubai Pass to save up to 50% on top Dubai attractions
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!!!
- Discover the best areas to stay in Dubai, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here: