The Best Places to Visit in the UAE That Aren’t Dubai

Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah
Photo of Jessica Harn
17 January 2018

The UAE is a wonderfully dynamic and colorful country that unfortunately seems to be dominated by all the hype around the city of Dubai. Dubai is an amazing city, but it’s well worth exploring the UAE outside of the city. From wild deserts to cultural wonders, here are the best places to visit in the UAE outside of Dubai to really get a taste of this beautiful country.


Known as the cultural and educational heartland of the country, the smaller city of Sharjah will not disappoint! From its beautiful University City to its countless extraordinary museums, Sharjah is the place to go to experience the culture and art of the UAE.

A popular family-friendly walking road next to the river | ©Susanne Nilsson/flickr

Abu Dhabi

The official capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has more residential and local feeling than Dubai, and is the perfect place for an urban weekend getaway. The beautiful corniche, the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and its delicious local foods are but a few of the reasons why Abu Dhabi is slowly becoming a favorite among travelers to this region of the world.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | ©Artur Malinowski/flickr

Al Ain

A small town in the south of the country, Al Ain is the place to go for a relaxed view of the vast deserts and oasis of the UAE. Home to natural spring waters and lush green gardens, people have been making their way to Al Ain for centuries to bask in its natural mineral waters.

A lush oasis in Al Ain | ©Sam Nabi/flickr

Jebel Ali

An enormous mountain near the town of Al Ain, Jebel Ali, at its heights has the perfect view of the surrounding countryside of the UAE. Most travelers like to make it to the top to catch either the sunrise or the sunset, either of which will provide you with brilliant skies and colors against the stark desert landscape.

The view going up the mountain | ©Hungarian Show/flickr

The Empty Quarter

The largest stretch of sand dunes in the world, the Empty Quarter actually covers most of the UAE and spills into surrounding Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen. Looming out as far as the eye can see, this breathtaking view of rolling mountains of sand meeting the horizon will captivate anyone’s imagination.

The Empty Quarter | ©Robert Haandrikman/flickr


Located in the north of the country, Fujairah is the place to go for those who want a windy and natural break from the city life of Dubai. With hiking trails, breezy views of the surrounding mountains, and the coast facing Iran just within eyesight, this wild part of northern UAE won’t disappoint!

One of the hiking trails in Fujairah | ©Artur Malinowski/flickr

Ras Al Khaimah

Another historical and ancient city located in the north of the country, Ras Al Khaimah has perfect camping and hiking trails for the more adventurous of travelers. With a history of pearl diving and ancient trade with India, Ras Al Khaimah is also the perfect place for those who want to explore the history of the UAE too.

Ras Al Khaimah | ©Artur Malinowski/flickr

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