The 5 Best Weekend Road Trips from Dubai
One of the main advantages of living in Dubai is the proximity to so many amazing countries.
India, Africa, Europe and Asia are all just a short flight away. But what about all the amazing places just a couple hours drive away?
So many opportunities for road trips from Dubai and definitely worth giving it a go. You don’t have to board an airplane to find an amazing weekend escape from Dubai.
We’ve personally tried these weekend getaways ourselves, and want to share with you guys for your next staycation within the region. All you need is a car, a map, your friends, and a weekend. Here are our favourite road trips from Dubai. Let’s go!
The 5 Best Weekend Road Trips from Dubai
Abu Dhabi, UAE – Mangroves Kayaking, Ferrari World and Grand Mosque
I’m embarrassed it took us so long to explore Abu Dhabi. I think we just felt like it was always right there so knew it wasn’t going anywhere, but we’re so glad we finally picked a weekend and headed down.
We don’t drive, so we opted for a taxi each way, which cost around AED400 today, which isn’t too horrific, although driving yourself would obviously be much easier. There are a lot of new quick rental car companies in Dubai like Udrive, allowing you to rent by the kilometer, hour or day.
We stayed at the Yas Island Radisson Blu, which we highly recommend. Beautiful location, gorgeous pool, amazing breakfast and its right on the golf course and directly next to Ferrari World.
No trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without visiting the incredible Grand Mosque. Jeff even thinks it might be more impressive than the Taj Mahal in India. Women and men must dress respectfully, with men required to wear long pants and sleeves and women required to wear an Abaya, which are provided free upon arrival.
Try and take a tour, which will make the entire visit more rewarding and make sure to visit around sunset, as the mosque is truly incredible when the lights come on.
For the most adventurous, the mangroves in Abu Dhabi are a true gem and kayaking through them is a much underrated activity far too few try.
Important Abu Dhabi Information:
Grand Mosque: Unlike other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is open daily to visitors, except on Friday morning, which is for worshippers only. The opening hours are 9am to 10pm (last entry at 9.30 pm) – Saturday to Thursday and 4.30pm to 10pm on Fridays. Complimentary one hour guided tours run (Sun-Thurs) at 10am, 11am and 5pm. Friday times are 5pm and 7pm and Saturday 10am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 7pm.
Ferrari World tickets range from AED250 all the way to AED510 and is open year round from 11am to 8pm.
For the mangrove kayaking, we recommend Dive Mahara, who organize two different tours, both around 90 minutes long with trips ranging from AED150-AED200 per person.
Fujairah, UAE – Relaxing, Snorkeling and Abandoned Forts
Haven’t heard much about Fujairah have you? Don’t let that stop you from visiting. Just a short 2 hour drive from Dubai, this emirate might lack the glitz and glamour of Dubai, but it makes up for it in allowing you to fully escape and relax, just a short drive from the city.
The beaches are beautiful and empty, the locals friendly and hard working and the hotels are generally less crowded and much, much cheaper than Dubai down to the food and drinks.
There are a handful of amazing hotel resorts right on the beach with beautiful swimming pools, beach side restaurants and open air bars. If you feel like staying in, this is the place to do it – with all you need right at your fingertips.
Important Fujairah information:
- Check to see where exactly your hotel is located before you leave. Many Fujairah hotels on the beach are up to 30 minutes north or south of the city of Fujairah
- Some great snorkeling can be found at nearby Snoopy Island just a short drive up the coast – but bring your own masks as sometimes no one is there to help 🙂
- The Fujairah Fort is a great place to explore, but bring sun block as there is not really any shade at all. Entrance is free, as there wasn’t even anywhere on the site when we visited, but remember, be respectful.
Jebel Shams, Oman – Hikes, Scenery and Wild Goats
Only a few hours away by car from Dubai resides “The Grand Canyon of the Middle East”, Jebel Shams! This hidden gem in Oman is the best place to go for a hike in summer when it is too hot to be alive in Dubai.
Jebel Shams – “Mountain of the Sun” in Arabic – is about 400 km away from Dubai and 240km from Oman’s capital Muscat, and is part of the Al Hajar Mountains range.
The highest mountain in the country reaches up to 3,000 meters (9872 feet) and can feel as cold as 20 degrees Celsius (68F) in summer, making it the best spot to climb during the hot months between June and September! Make sure to bring a jacket and firewood because it does get cold at night.
We climbed Jebel Shams in about 3 hours each way last July, had no idea what to expect, and were blown away by the gorgeous views, the swimming holes (even though Jeff thought they were filled with monsters) and the random goats climbing in trees!
While it could have been Anne’s worst nightmare (she’s terrified of heights), we are proud to have done this challenge, and even more proud to have survived a night camping 10 meters away from the edge and fighting against mice to keep our food untouched!
If you feel like Jebel Shams is a bit extreme, try your luck in Wadi Dam: way more accessible and only an hour hike will bring your to a beautiful wadi, where you can swim in the water and enjoy the natural waterfalls all around. Make sure to bring a GoPro!
Jebel Sham/Wadi Dam Information:
- HERE is the route we took driving from Dubai to Jebel Shams in July 2015. However, with many borders being closed to non-GCC passport holders, the trip will be more challenging. The most recent trip to did to Oman from Dubai we had to enter and exit the country through the Khatam Al Mahalah border crossing just south of Fujairah.
- If you’re going to do this one on a weekend, leave Dubai as early Friday morning as you can. It is possible to do it all in one night but you’ve got to plan it right.
- Bring TONS of water. While we did this hike in July and it is much cooler in the mountains, it was still hot during the day.
- Bring a bathing suit to take advantage of the watering holes on the hike and the amazing Wadi Dam.
- If you’re camping, bring fire wood and warm clothes. And of course you’ll need to bring all food as there is literally nothing anywhere close by.
Sohar, Oman – Peace, Tennis and Gorgeous Pools
Oman is such an underrated destination and not enough expats in the UAE take full advantage of all the amazing adventures and activities the country offers. For the outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers there are endless activities including all water sports, hiking, rock climbing and the rest – but Oman is also home to some amazingly beautiful and quiet beaches, in yet to be developed towns which offer the ideal place for a weekend escape from Dubai.
We’ve just gotten back from a perfectly quiet and relaxing weekend in the tiny port city of Sohar, a completely undeveloped area, with only a Radisson Blu to be found. Literally located in the middle of nowhere, this new hotel boasts a 5 star rating and holds everything you could imagine.
Anne enjoyed a wonderful spa and massage treatment, the gym is brand new, there are more swimming pools than we could ever swim in, there is a complete basketball and tennis court, an amazing Thai restaurant, rooftop lounge and even a shisha bar.
There isn’t a single reason to leave the hotel grounds, but for a relaxing weekend in we sure didn’t want to leave.
Just a 3 hour drive from Dubai, we entered through the Khatam Al Mahalah in a rental car and had no problem with the border crossing. Just have your insurance info and passports ready and you’ll breeze through. (NOTE: We traveled in April 2016, check before you go as the borders which accept non GCC passports change frequently.)
Important Sohar Information:
- We left Dubai in a rental car at 7pm on a Thursday evening. After being turned away from multiple border crossings, we finally got through at the Khatam Al Mahalah just south of Fujairah. Make sure to check which borders are open before you leave.
- Make sure to have a copy of your car insurance (they might give you a problem if it is just a copy from a rental company, lucky we talked our way out of that)
- The exit fee is AED30 per person, payable only by credit card
- The cost of the Oman visa is AED50 per person, payable only by credit card.
- While there is literally nothing in Sohar, we spent the weekend at the Radisson Blu Sohar which was more than comfortable and had every 5 star amenity we could image from a gym, Thai restaurant, spa, coffee shop, tennis and basketball court, endless pool, roof top bar and sisha lounge.
Dubai, UAE – a Staycation Within the City
We say it all the time: one of the best things about Dubai is that it’s pretty much impossible to get bored or to see it all. With a new hotel or development being announced every other day, Dubai keeps being exciting for its visitors as much as its residents! So much so that expats can literally plan the perfect Dubai staycation in their own home… Just maybe at the other end of it!
If you live in Dubai Marina, why not check out a hotel on the Creek and discover a part of the city that you might not know of? If your home is Downtown Dubai, take an escape to the Palm Jumeirah and enjoy being a tourist so near to home!
If your apartment is in JLT, why not book a weekend in Downtown Dubai and be amazed once more by the beautiful fountain show while overlooking the majestic Burj Khalifa. The possibilities are truly endless!
You don’t even have to go that far to enjoy a weekend away from home. Jeff and I are not ashamed to admit we’ve stayed at a hotel literally 1 minute away from home, just for the sake of a massive pool, a bed that wasn’t ours and the comfort of a huge bathtub!
The Entertainer has new deals for hotels, spa and pool days, so make sure you get the app to enjoy all the benefits and two-for-one deals you can!
*BONUS* Feel like jumping on a plane and traveling with friends outside of the region? Check out our “Top Weekend Trips From Dubai with Friends” video guides!
Many other places within a few hours drive are available for even more road trips from Dubai. Our next adventures will include discovering Ras Al Khaimah and definitely exploring more of Abu Dhabi and Oman. How about you?
Stay tuned for our next videos on Facebook and Youtube every Sunday and Wednesday, and let us know which are your favourite road trips from Dubai!