Dubai’s location has helped it a become traveler’s paradise. Easy access to the Persian Gulf coast and the Arabian desert make this spectacular city an ultimate destination for adventure, history, experiences, culture, and shopping. Every tourist can find enough activities to make their visit special enough to want to stay longer and come back again as soon as possible.
Desert adventures hold a large appeal to visitors. There are tours to match every type of tourist from adventure-loving to peaceful scenic tours. You can hire a guide that will take you outside Dubai to the desert, go dune bashing (driving up and over sand dunes in 4-wheel drive vehicles), visit a camel farm and ride a camel, go sandboarding (like surfing, except down sand dunes), and enjoy a traditional dinner fireside before traveling back to Dubai. For a faster-paced option, visitors can experience a quad bike tour in the desert led by seasoned guides. This tour is generally a few hours in length, and includes navigating dunes and exploring the desert followed by Arabic coffee and traditional snacks before heading back to Dubai.
You can also enjoy a slower-paced trip to the desert with a drive through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to see desert wildlife such as Arabian gazelles and oryx. These tours include a visit to a Bedouin-style camp with traditional music, dancing, and food. If you’d prefer an early start to your day, you can take a morning tour of the reserve, to watch and learn about the wildlife in the desert under the rising sun. Fees to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve help to further conservation efforts, and visitors can feel a meaningful connection to desert wildlife.
Those looking for a more immersive experience can opt to camp overnight in the desert. These tours offer wildlife viewing, camel rides, traditional cooking demonstrations, falconry displays, and sleeping in a Bedouin-style tent. The evening always includes traditional entertainment and views of the stars under a desert sky. Breakfast includes Arabic coffee, traditional food prepared while you watch, and entertaining tales from the locals.
For a different view of the desert, consider watching the sun rise from a hot air balloon. These tours offer an early morning hot air balloon ride over the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve where you can watch wildlife roam underneath the rising sun. The balloon ride is accompanied by a falcon display while in the air, and then gourmet breakfast on the ground before you travel back to Dubai.
If traveling by air is your thing, you may want to consider a seaplane or helicopter tour of Dubai and its surroundings. Or hire a car and drive to the nearby town of Al Ain for at least one night. Al Ain has forts, oases, a zoo, and souqs for some traditional shopping. Visitors here feel they’re experiencing the real UAE, and thoroughly enjoy this relaxed, authentic Arabian town.
Gulf Coast and Indian Ocean
Visitors to Dubai can also choose a variety of tours to explore the spectacular waters in the area. Experience traditional life with a day trip to Oman where you can journey over the water on a wooden ‘dhow’ sailboat. Begin with a drive through the Hajar Mountains to the Gulf of Oman where you board this traditional boat and sail along the Musandam coast, passing villages, watching dolphins, and swimming and snorkeling.
Other tours offer the chance to swim in the Indian Ocean on the East Coast of the UAE. Visit a fishing village nearby, shop at the Friday Market, and the enjoy some time on the beach and in the ocean. The scenery to and from the ocean is always part of the appeal of this day trip.
Some of the beaches closest to Dubai are only open to visitors of the resorts they are linked to. If a day at the beach is on your wish list, ask your host for suggestions before heading out. The water is warm, the beaches have white sand, and the views are outstanding.
Perhaps you’d like to take a day trip to the ‘Pearl of the Gulf’ – Sharjah, where you can experience the history and culture of the area in the country’s cultural capital. Explore traditional markets, and visit the Islamic museum, King Faizal mosque, and Sharjah Fort and heritage center.
Airbnb offers a variety of experiences in and around Dubai. These are often operated by individuals who are passionate about sharing unique experiences from a local perspective with Airbnb guests. Options include a day hike at Jabal Jais (the highest mountain in the UAE), scuba diving in the Indian Ocean off the shores of Fujairah, traveling through the Souq Al Jubail market in Sharjah with a local expert, taking a kayak tour and snorkeling in a Marine Protected Area led by a marine conservationist, sandboarding until dusk and then sharing a picnic while watching the sun go down, and taking a guided jet ski tour.
Once you’ve booked your Airbnb it’s a great idea to take a look at the options for these experiences. If something looks interesting, but you need different dates, just click on the ‘see dates’ option, and a pop up window will open with an option to contact the host/guide directly. Since these are often operated by individuals or small businesses you are likely to find greater flexibility and personalized options to fill your visit with memories to last a lifetime.
There are a variety of opportunities to take a day tour to Abu Dhabi. Must-sees include a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Saadiyat Island (including the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi), Yas Island (home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Ferrari World theme park), and the Al Hosn Palace. Many visitors also enjoy the Heritage Village, which is a full replica of an oasis settlement.
Whether you want to relax on a pristine beach, spend the night camping in the desert, take a boat ride in the gulf, sandboard desert dunes, immerse yourself in Arabian history, or do all of the above, a visit to Dubai is a tourist’s paradise.