The UAE’s best road trips you need to experience

Nick Watkins
Apr 8, 2020

With international travel currently off the agenda, we’re looking local. Thankfully, the UAE is home to some of the world’s most stunning road trips, so we won’t need to go abroad to feel like we’re getting away from it all.

Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah

Sunset at Jabel Jais mountain in the United Arab Emirates

Travel time: 2 hours

Not only is there plenty to gawp on the journey, there’s so much to do when you arrive too. This trip is great for the adventure seekers, with plenty of things to do to set your heart racing. The world’s longest zip line in Jebel Jais isn’t for the faint-hearted but gives you the best possible views of the mountain range – which was formed over 70 million years ago. Even if you don’t fancy the zip line itself the drive up is worth it for the spectacular mountain views. The only drawback of hurtling along the zip line is you can’t take video/photos on the way down as your hands are tied behind your back (although you do wear a GoPro on your head but the camera faces you rather than the view) – but the experience will live long in the memory anyway. RAK has all the luxury hotels and resorts you can ask for so there’s plenty of ways to relax after an adventure-filled day.

Hatta

Scenic view of Hatta Lake and Hajar Mountains in the Emirate of Dubai, UAE at sunset

Travel time: 1.5 hours

This has long been a favourite road trip for Dubai residents as it’s just 90 minutes away from the city. Hatta, a heritage village situated in the Hajaar Mountains, has recently opened the Sedr Trailers Resort by Meraas, a glamping-style trailer part with your very own deck to sit out on. Hatta’s famous dam is flanked by mountains making it the ideal place to get photos for the ‘gram. You can also kayak and paddle board too. Also on offer at the Hatta Wadi Hub is zorbing, archery, mountain biking and axe throwing – plenty to keep you occupied for a weekend. The Hatta Fort Hotel is the best place to stay if you’re looking for a more luxurious room for the night. The four-star hotel is the oldest in Hatta and has two outdoor pools and a spa.

Snoopy Island, Fujairah

Fujairah beach in the United Arab Emirates

Travel time: 2 hours

The journey to the east coast emirate is one of the best you can do in the UAE. Driving from Dubai, you’ll see the changing landscape from the sandy desert to the incredible Hajar mountains on the horizon. The journey will take you about an hour and a half when travelling from Dubai. You’ll certainly want to stretch your legs when you arrive and Fujairah is a hotbed for water sport fans. Snoopy Island is one of the best places in the UAE for snorkelling, and paddle boarding in Dibba is also very popular. Time it right and you’ll be able to attend one of the annual beach parties on Snoopy Island, which open involves camping under the stars. If that’s not your thing there’s plenty of top-notch hotels on the beach too.

Wadi Shawka, Ras Al Khaimah

Wadi Shawka, RAK, vehicles parked in one of UAE’s famous camping spots.

Travel time: 1 hour

For a real off-road adventure Wadi Shawka is a perfect way to spend the day. It’s best if you take a 4×4 to tackle the various mountainous roads you’ll encounter en route. It’s a hikers paradise with multiple rocky trails to follow too. The most popular of which is around the dam, where you’ll find 174 steps leading up to a magnificent viewpoint. Get to the top in time for sunset if you can. Afterwards you can do as the locals do and play music and cook food on a grill (take one of those disposable BBQs with you) and enjoy being at one with nature. There is little in the way of shops here so bring everything you’re going to need with you beforehand. It’s around 143 kms away from Dubai and should take you around an hour or so.

Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain

Road on top of Jabel Hafeet mountain in UAE

Travel time: 2 hours

Jebel Hafeet, the highest point in Abu Dhabi (and second highest in the UAE) is only two hours away from Dubai and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the UAE. This road trip takes you on an unforgettable wildlife adventure, which will seem a million miles away from life in the city. Nature lovers can sleep under the stars in one of Jebel Hafit Desert Park’s bubble tents. After a good night’s sleep head to the Garden City to enjoy the sea of greenery, before heading up to Jebel Hafeet. You can drive up, or if you really fancy a challenge cycle the 1,240 metres to the top.

Liwa Oasis, Abu Dhabi

Road through the desert to the Moreeb dune in Liwa Oasis, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Travel time: 4 hours

We recommend this road trip if you’ve got friends and family visiting the UAE, as there really is nothing else like it. Here you’ll see the best of the desert, stretching for miles upon miles of unspoilt views. You’ll be able to show your guests an authentic UAE experience, with camel riding and dune bashing, followed by traditional Arabic food under the night sky. Make sure to visit Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara, as it was voted the world’s most Instagrammable hotel in 2019, don’t you know. The Liwa Desert is also home to the world’s largest uninterrupted stretch of sand desert in the world – known as the in the Empty Quarter.

Musandam

The most beautiful landscape of the Arabian Peninsula

Travel time: 3 hours

Who’d have thought you could swim with dolphins just a few hours drive away from Downtown Dubai? Musandam is the perfect city escape where you’ll be able to take in magnificent views en route to one of the most fun day trips you can do in the region. A group of you hiring a boat is a perfect, inexpensive, escape that’ll give you memories to last a lifetime. It’s been said that this road trip offers the best views in the UAE, and with 172 kms of road ahead of you there’s plenty to see. You’ll need to take a valid passport as technically entering Oman, so you need a visa, which will be issued on arrival at a cost of around 200 dhs.  The stunning fjords have given the small city of Khasab, it the nickname the ‘Norway of the Middle East’ and it’s no wonder, given the similar landscape, minus the arctic temperatures of course.

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