Would you like to explore the UAE beyond Dubai? Rent a car and go for it! This article is designed to give you an idea of where to go, where to stay and what to do around the country.
My article about how to prepare for your UAE road trip will definitely save you some trouble, so have a look at it as well before you go!
Day 1: Dubai – Sharjah – Umm-al-Quwain
Starting from Dubai, it takes less than 1 hour to cross Sharjah to reach Umm-al-Quwain. It is worth it to stop in Sharjah for lunch in al Qasba or to visit the al Noor Mosque. Sharjah is famous for its number of museums– just pick your favourite!
This authentic emirate reminds of how life in UAE used to be. The fishers’ village has an old harbour worth a visit as well as a fort.
Since 1999 a mysterious Soviet aircraft is chilling in the middle of nowhere in Umm-al-Quwain. Nobody seems to know where it came from and why it is there, although there are some theories. For example some people claim the aircraft made an emergency landing because it ran out of fuel – but that sounds a lot like chitchat!
My friend Payam and I arrived in Umm-al-Quwain and had a dinner buffet for 75AED (17€) each at the Umm-al-Quwain Beach hotel. It was yummy and included free unlimited alcoholic drinks! We stayed in the Pearl Beach Hotel (cheapest option) for 385AED (88€) a night including a scarce breakfast.
After our arrival we bought a couple of beers from the German bar at the hotel to have a drink by the beach and enjoyed a night swim.
Day 2: Umm-al-Quwain – Ras-al-Kaimah – Dibba
What to do in Umm-al-Quwain
The best thing to do in Umm-al-Quwain is a boat tour around the mangroves. You can jump into the water, take pictures on the small islands and observe different kinds of birds, for example flamingos. You can book a boat spontaneously at the Flamingo Beach Resort. They offer a 1-hour boat trip for a total of 250AED, but we bargained and paid 200AED (45€). You can alternatively do a crab hunting tour.
What to do in Ras-al-Khaimah
We drove towards the ocean first and found a spot to take pictures and climb over rocks by the beach. We decided to have lunch in a small seafood restaurant on al Khor Road before we enjoyed some time by the beach.
Sunset in the mountains
I love the golden mountains that surround Ras-al-Khaimah the most. After we found Shamal, a village where people live in small clay houses raising goats and chicken, we climbed up a mountain to experience a beautiful sunset. Somewhere around this area are hidden ruins. It is really hard to find them and it was simply too hot to search for them, but I will definitely go back to find them and share the exact location with you!
After sunset we drove for about 1 hour to reach our final destination for the day: Dibba in Fujairah!
Day 3: Dibba – Hatta
Hotel – Radisson Blu to see the Sunrise
In Fujairah, you can choose to camp on the beach by snoopy island or stay in one of the hotel resorts. We were not prepared for camping, so we checked in at Radisson Blu.
This luxury 5-star hotel has access to the beach and offers picture-perfect views of the sunrise, which we woke up for at 5.30am. It was so worth it! After taking a few photos we went for an early morning swim in the warm water and paused for a while to enjoy the moment.
Extra: We were upgraded (“because it was our first time in the hotel”) and stayed in the hotel apartment instead of the standard room!
Snorkelling / Diving in Fujairah
At the end of the beach attached to the hotel resort is a dive centre where you can book a snorkelling or diving tour around a small island in the ocean. All equipment was provided and went out on a boat at 11am. If you don’t want to pay 170AED (40€) for the tour you can drive to snoopy island and snorkel there, like I did in 2016:
Day 4: Hatta – Dubai
After our snorkel tour we continued to drive through a landscape of mountains to reach our last destination: Hatta. This small city is surrounded by mountains and is located south-east of Dubai.
There is only one hotel located directly in Hatta: The Fort Hotel. It is quite expensive to stay there; we paid 490AED (110€) for the night including a delicious breakfast. The rooms are like little bungalows and offer amazing views on the surrounding mountains. You can smoke a shisha by the pool and sip cocktails at the bar with live music. The service is seriously amazing and we loved our stay.
There are a few points of interest in Hatta, the most important one being Hatta Dam. You have beautiful views on the clear water surrounded by the golden mountains. Unfortunately, you can’t swim in the dam, but you can rent a kayak and paddle around from 10.30am. The kayak place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays though, and since we arrived on a Monday we couldn’t paddle. I want to go back to do it!
Hatta Heritage Village
You can visit the Hatta Heritage Village in the centre of the city to learn more about the historic Emirati lifestyle. You will find around 30 buildings that were restored to show what life was like hundreds of years ago. Explore how people used to sit together drinking traditional tea, how they hunted, fished, cooked, played music and celebrated cultural events. It was extremely hot the day we went and we were the only visitors. Even the screens and info boards were switched off, so we did not have a full experience. I am sure the place is more worth a visit during the cooler months of the year. Entrance is free.
Hatta Hill Park
I really enjoyed the view from the top of the hill in the park. You can see 360 degrees all around the city and its beautiful surrounding mountains. Although we almost died climbing up in the heat, the wind on top made it bearable to remain there for some time to enjoy the view. Don’t miss out on the hill park when in Hatta!
By the way: On the map, you can see “Hatta Green Lakes”. We thought: Sounds cool! Let’s check that out! It was nothing. Don’t waste your time driving there.
Before returning the car, we stopped at al Mamzar beach. Al Mamzar is a peninsula with many beaches and an amazing park to stroll around or inline skate. Especially on weekends many people, mostly locals, decide to BBQ between the palm trees or celebrate birthdays. Keep in mind that Monday is ladies day! (We had to swim outside the main area because I was with Payam.) Entrance fee is 5 AED.
I hope you enjoyed reading the article! Have you been on a road trip before? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!