Best things to do in United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Top 10 travel activities, visits and attractions
The best activities, attractions, visits and excursions in the UAE
You’re looking for the best things to do in the United Arab Emirates? The best travel activities, visits and attractions in UAE? You’re in the right place! To help you organize your trip and not miss anything, our TOP 10 gathers the best things to do and see : points of interest, tourist attractions, excursions, sightseeing tours, monuments, museums, etc.
To save time and money, we advise your to book in advance your hotel rooms, activities and touristic services (insurance, transport…). In order to help you, we’ve selected the best offers available on the internet. You will find all links in this article, together with a listing of our favorite travel websites. Have a nice trip . – By Flo, Caro & The Team
In this article, you will find :
- The TOP 10 things to do in UAE
- Other visits and activities that you may love (for those who want to try and see everything !)
- Travel tips and good deals to organize tour trip (hotel rooms, car rental, travel insurance…)
- Other articles that may interest you (Activities Dubai, Activities Abu Dhabi, Activities Normandy…)
What to do and see in UAE - TOP 10 activities and visits
1. Visit Dubai and its incredible attractions
- Free : walks in Dubai
- Admission fee : attractions, activities ($ or $$)
Dubai is both an emirate and a city. Along with Abu Dhabi, it is often the only place of interest for travellers visiting the UAE. It is an absolutely incredible and overwhelming city. Built from almost nothing, it has become in just a few years one of the world’s largest tourist destinations. Dubai is the home of the highest tower in the world, many luxury hotels and attractions, each one more extravagant than the other. We invite you to spend a few days there to see it with your own eyes!
There are dozens of things to do and see in Dubai. For example, you can visit the Burj Khalifa (the highest tower in the world), take a walk in the old town or take a helicopter flight. Instead of listing everything here, we recommend you to have a look at our TOP 10 activities in Dubai
2. Visit Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE
- Free : The Great Mosque + walks
- Admission fee : attractions and activities ($ or $$)
Just like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is both a city and an emirate. The emirate is huge and represents most of the country, but we’ll be focusing on the city and its monuments here. In recent years, the capital of the UAE has become increasingly popular for travelers. It is quite different from Dubai and is more cultural tourism oriented. Two of the country’s most beautiful attractions are found in Abu Dhabi: the magnificent Cheick Zayed Mosque and the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi. The city is an unmissable stopover during a stay in the UAE.
There are a variety of things to do in the city of Abu Dhabi. In addition to the Great Mosque and the Louvre Museum, you will be able to walk along the Corniche (a landscaped promenade by the sea), enjoy the attractions of Yas Island (Ferrari World and Warner Bros. parks, Formula 1 circuit…) or admire the magnificent palaces.
To find out more, check out our TOP 10 activities in Abu Dhabi!
3. Go on a safari in one of the Emirates’ deserts
- Admission fee: excursion / transport ($$)
There are beautiful deserts in the UAE. If you only plan to stay in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the easiest way is to book a 4×4 safari in the deserts that are close to these cities. Your driver will take you to the sand dunes and you can spend an evening in a Bedouin camp. If you have your own vehicle, you can drive to the Liwa desert in the south of the country. It is part of the Rub al-Khali, the largest sand desert in the world.
Desert safaris from Dubai and Abu Dhabi are well organized. They’re tourist activities with other travellers, but you have a good time. Different options and add-ons are available for these tours, such an evening or night in the desert, a quad ride or a camel ride.
If you want to discover the Liwa Desert, probably the most beautiful desert in the country, you will have to go to Moreeb Dune. This huge sand dune is located about 2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi and can be reached by asphalt roads.
4. Cross the Emirates border to discover the Musandam Fjords
- Free : walks
- Admission fee : excursions or cruises ($$)
We’re cheating a little on this activity since we’re suggesting that you get out of the country! However, this visit is a great classic and fits perfectly into a road-trip or a stay in the UAE. Indeed, part of the Sultanate of Oman is landlocked in the country: the magnificent fjords of Musandam which are mainly explored by dhow (traditional boat). We therefore advise you to spend a day there before going back to the Emirates.
If you are staying in Dubai, you can easily book day trips to explore the Musandam Fjords and back. At the fjords, you can enjoy a short dhow cruise and swim in the warm waters. This is one of our favorite excursions in the Emirates!
If you have your own vehicle, we advise you to go to the city of Khasab. It is ideally located and has tourist facilities. There, you can go on a boat tour in the fjords.
And if you have plenty of time, why not head to the mainland of Oman and spend a week in the sultanate? There’s a lot to see in this beautiful country!
5. Ride the world's largest zipline in the mountains of Ras al-Kaimah
- Admission fee ($)
Since 2018, the world’s largest zipline is located in the Emirates, but not in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. It is actually located in the small emirate of Ras al-Kaimah in the north-east of the country. It is 2.8 km long and offers a huge dose of adrenaline, and going down headfirst! It takes place on the Jebel Jais mountain, at an altitude of more than 1,600 metres. Other ziplines and treetop trails allow you to enjoy this unique adventure site.
The adventure site is called Toroverde Adventure Park. As mentioned above, it is home to the longest zipline in the world (Jebel Jais Flight) as well as other more classic ziplines and treetop adventure trails. At the same time, you’ll enjoy impressive views of the mountains and the valley. New activities are added regularly to the park to make it the N°1 adventure park in the UAE!
In addition to the zipline, you will find some attractions in the city of Ras al-Kaimah. You will be able to visit the fish market, the Mohammed bin Salim Mosque or the small Fort Dhayah which offers a beautiful view of the region. Nothing extraordinary, but it will keep you busy if you pass by!
Finally, consider visiting the small ghost town of Al Jazirah Alhamra Old Town if you have time (see “Other sites to visit / activities to do in the UAE”).
6. See the city of Al-Ain and its beautiful oasis
- Free : oasis, strolls, mountains
- Admission fee : Zoo, Adventure Park… ($$)
Al-Ain is a small town located in the southeast of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. If you are on a road-trip in the UAE, this is a must-see stop. Al-Ain is a very different from the cities on the coast, with no skyscrapers or large modern buildings. The buildings are of traditional architecture, and there are plenty of green spaces. The most famous is its large oasis of date palms, a great place to have a walk and chill out.
If you like traditional Arab cities, you should like Al-Ain! It is undoubtedly one of the most charming and authentic cities in the UAE. You will find more locals here than in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where the population is largely made up of foreigners.
Among the different activities to do in Al-Ain, we obviously recommend you to take a walk in the oasis. This site has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011! You will be able to stroll there in the shade, in the middle of thousands of palm trees and a hundred different species of plants.
You can also visit Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain Zoo (the largest in the country) or go kayaking and rafting at Wadi Adventure Park. Finally, don’t miss the discovery of the Jebel Hafeet mountain. From its summit at 13,444 feet, you will have a magnificent panorama. At its base, you will also find more than 500 tombs more than 5,000 years old!
7. Explore the Emirate of Fujairah: beaches and diving at Al-Aqah, ancient mosque, forts…
- Free : beaches and walks
- Admission fee : diving excursions ($$)
This traditional and little-known emirate has many riches! There are beautiful beaches as well as the best diving sites in the UAE (snorkeling and scuba diving). You can also visit the Al Bidiyah Mosque, the oldest in the country (15th century). Finally, there are some beautiful forts that will interest history fans.
The coast of Fujairah is bordered by the Gulf of Oman, itself attached to the Indian Ocean. The water is warm, clear and generally more beautiful than on the west coast (Dubai, Abu Dhabi…). To relax on the beach, we advise you to go to the public beaches of Dibba Beach or Al Aqah. On those beaches, you’ll find diving excursions (either with mask and snorkel or with a tank). Thanks to the region’s ideal climate, this activity is possible all year round.
On the historical side, in addition to the Al Bidiyah Mosque, we invite you to visit the Al Bithnah Fort and the Fujairah Fort.
Price & Online Booking : Excursion to Fujairah from Dubai (with snorkelling) All activities in Fujairah
Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking : Hotels in Fujairah
8. Visit the Emirate of Sharjah and its nice museums
- Free : walks in Sharjah
- Admission fee : museums ($)
The Emirate of Sharjah is located right next to Dubai, so some visitors come to stay there to enjoy a calmer atmosphere. Nevertheless, the city remains highly developed with large skyscrapers and modern buildings. People come here mainly to visit its museums, which are the most famous in the UAE.
While visiting Sharjah, don’t miss the MUCIVI, the Museum of Islamic Civilizations! Its collections present Islamic and Arab art and culture from the 7th to the 19th century. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful in the whole country! The Museum of Arts of Sharjah is also very famous.
You can also visit the Heritage Area (which includes several traditional museums), the Maritime Museum, the city fort, the central market (Blue Souk) or the Souk Al-Jubail. Finally we advise you to take a walk on the island of Al Noor, a beautiful park by the sea. You can also visit the Mosque of the same name (or Al Nor Mosque in Tromsø), one of the only ones in the country accessible to non-Muslims.
Overall, you’ll find less impressive attractions in Sharjah than in Dubai, but they will teach you more about the culture and history of the UAE.
9. Discover two very authentic emirates: Ajman and Umm al-Qaïwain
These two emirates are located right next to each other. They have maintained their traditional appearance and have not experienced any development comparable to Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Tourist infrastructures are poorly developed there, but it can be interesting to spend a day there to discover life in the Emirates before oil and tourism.
Among the sites to visit in Umm al-Qaiwain, we recommend the old fort of Al Ali dating from the 18th century. You can also go and have fun at the Dreamland Aqua Park, a small water park with fewer tourists than in Dubai.
In Ajman, you will especially enjoy strolling along the seafront to see the many dhows being built and renovated. This traditional boat is widely used in the Emirates, and most of them are maintained on the docks and shipyards of Ajman. You will also find a nice beach, ideal for relaxing during your trip to the UAE.
10. Admire the wildlife of the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island
- Admission fee ($$)
This is a rather special attraction, located on a small island in the west of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. In this immense space, thousands of animals live in the wild. You can see oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas and even cheetahs. This place is truly exotic and can be explored in a 4×4, just like on a real African safari!
To visit the island of Sir Bani Yas, you have to make a ferry crossing from the Jebel Dana pier. Once there, you will find tour offices for a safari in the park. You will then be able to observe the thousands of animals living in total freedom in an immense wild space!
We advise you to book at least one night in a hotel so that you have time to enjoy your stay on the island. The accommodations are mainly luxury hotels and are therefore quite expensive. The advantage is that you will be able to enjoy the swimming pools and a beautiful environment.
Note on the tickets: Safaris must be booked directly at the park. No advance booking online is available for now.
Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking : Hotels in Sir Bani Yas Island
Other things to do and see in UAE (activities, excursions, attractions, visits...)
In addition to the activities listed in our TOP 10 you’re looking for other ideas of what to do in United Arab Emirates (UAE) ? Here is a selection of other things to do and see during your stay :
- Discover all the emirates through day trips: if you don’t have the time, money or will to take a road trip to the emirates by renting your own car, there are day trips that allow you to discover all the emirates from Dubai. We have selected the most interesting ones and indicated them in our article. You can also find all the excursions from Dubai on another site.
- Al Jazirah Alhamra Old Town (in the emirate of Ras al Khaimah): a strange and very interesting site for history lovers. It is an ancient fishing village that has now become a ghost town. Its inhabitants began its construction in the 14th century before abandoning it in 1968. It offers an interesting testimony of life in the Emirates before the oil era. There are old coral stone houses, wind towers, mosques…
- Hatta Water Dam (at the eastern end of the emirate of Dubai): this dam built in the mountains in the east of the country has resulted in the formation of a beautiful lake. It’s a beautiful viewpoint especially since it is unfortunately not possible to walk around the lake. For leisure enthusiasts, you can still rent a kayak or pedal boat to explore the lake.
- Mleiha Archeological Center (in the emirate of Sharjah): this site allows you to learn more about the history and geology of the area around Mleiha. This small town in the southeast of the emirate of Sharjah is located at the gates of a beautiful desert of rocks and sand.
- Camel races: these races take place from October to April all over the Emirates. Although it’s a traditional activity, we are not particularly fond of these events. The camels are ridden by small motorised robots. These small remotely controlled machines give them orders by means of small strokes of whips or by pulling the reins.
Travel tips to visit UAE and organize your trip (hotels, sightseeing tours...)
Book accomodation in the Emirates : you’ll find the greatest choice on Booking (for hotel rooms) or Airbnb ( for appartments).
Book travel activities in the UAE : you can book all the best activities online on Viator (american website – many offers and sightseeing tours), Get Your guide (european website – our favorite choice with lots of good offers), Tiqets (european website – great one to book tickets for museums or attractions) or Ceetiz (european website with a large offer of activities worldwide and many promotions)
Book tickets for Hop on Hop off Buses : with Big Bus Tours, you can enjoy live and audio guides and stop right next to the greatest tourist attractions.
Book a flight to the Emirates : you will generally find best prices on Skyscanner.
Book and airport transfer in the UAE : save time by using the usefull Airport Shuttle
Rent a car in the UAE : it is important to make a booking before departure, as prices on site are much higher than those displayed online. We advise you to use Rentalcars.
Book a travel insurance (very important)
Check our other "TOP 10 activities" wordwide - Best Things to do
As an American, Florent is in charge of the English website. He’s been travelling for years and already lived in 5 different countries. Francois and Caro are the ones you will see the most on the pictures. Indeed, we are an international team composed of travellers from different cultures and countries. We think it’s the best way to find and highlight the best activities each destination can offer!