Sightseeing Excursions from Dubai

Contribution from the Travel Blog Europe and Beyond

Dubai is known not only for its luxurious hotels, retail therapy and city sights, but also for its desert and mountain landscapes, interesting oasis cities and its wide range of unusual adventure activities. You can arrange a hire car in Dubai to go off sightseeing independently, or join a tour group for organised excursions from the city.

al ain dunes

Everything about the city is immense – arriving at the airport sets the scale of things to come with transfers from aircraft to arrivals halll taking as long as half an hour by coach.  Frequent flights to Dubai are available from all major European cities and increasingly more regional airports.

Embark on a desert safari adventure

Dubai is a great base from which to enjoy desert adventure activities. Most desert tours pack in a variety of activities such as camel riding; sand surfing or skiing; a trip to a camel farm; 4×4 dune buggying; and ‘wadi bashing’ — a bone-shaking romp along dry, twisting riverbeds in a four wheel drive. If you’re lucky you may glimpse animals such as gazelle, or local tribes, during your excursion, and the day’s activities are usually followed by supper under the stars.

Your hotel can usually arrange such trips for you, or you can book through one of the city’s travel agencies. The best time to go is between April and October, avoiding the intense heat of the summer months.

Visit Abu Dhabi

If you haven’t had your fill of shopping in Dubai, there’s more shopping choice in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, which is only an hour and a halfs drive away. This hot, slower-paced, developing metropolis has a more sophisticated feel to it than Dubai.  Flamboyant new hotels such as the Yas Hotel have been constructed to provide ample rooms to satisfy the demand for major internationalevent such as the F1 Etihad Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in October November 2009.

Experience Al Ain, an authentic Arab oasis city

Rising out of Dubai’s desert sands is the oasis city of Al Ain, a settlement which dates back to the 4th millennium BC and is home to Jebel Hafeet, the UAE’s highest mountain. It takes about 90 minutes to get there from Dubai, and it is the closest you’ll find to an authentic Arab city in this region. It’s a pleasant destination in the mild winter months, when it’s not too hot to explore ancient archaeological sites, but it’s also a great escape from coastal humidity during the summer.

Al Ain has plenty of attractions to keep you busy, including historic forts, Al Ain Museum, and the palace museum of Sheikh Zayed. One of its most fascinating sights, however, is the busy camel market on the outskirts of town, teeming with a variety of camels from Sudan, Pakistan and Abu Dhabi, all vying for buyers’ attention.

Go sand skiing in the Liwa Oasis

The lush Liwa Oasis is too far from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to visit on a day trip as the journey takes about five hours, so you’d need an overnight stay. It’s well worth the effort, though, with camel markets, date palm plantations, freshwater pools, rugged landscapes and mountain peaks.

It’s also a great base from which to take desert excursions. Boasting the biggest sand dunes in the world, the Liwa Oasis is a sand skier’s dream. You can join an organised tour and they’ll provide some tuition and your sand board, so you can enjoy an exhilarating ride down the red-tinted dunes.