Whilst there’s plenty to keep the family busy in Dubai for at least a week, there’s also much more to see and do in the rest of the United Arab Emirates.
Our city experts guide you through the top 5 Dubai Day Trips and experiences that we know visiting families to Dubai (and expat families that live in Dubai!) absolutely love and will really make your Dubai family trip complete.
Abu Dhabi cultural tour
What to expect: Neighbouring Abu Dhabi is only 160km away, and when you’re whisking along the freeway at 140kms an hour – doesn’t take long!
In Abu Dhabi you will find the UAE’s biggest architectural and cultural sites (we just think Abu Dhabi doesn’t brag as much as Dubai!!) Come to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Qasr al Watan Presidential Place and Qasr al Hosn for a touch more Bedouin history brought to life.
Will the kids get bored on a “culture tour”? Although these are more grown-up activities, we still think this is a highly engaging day for the kids. You won’t get a super in-depth look at Abu Dhabi if you try and fit all the highlights in on one day, but these architectual wonders will wow kids as much as adults, definitely don’t dismiss a cultural as uninteresting for the kids.
How to book it: You can choose to either self-drive to Abu Dhabi (see a detailed guide to how this is done here), or book with an organised tour group or private driver.
Top Tip: Look carefully at inclusions when comparing Abu Dhabi tour packages from Dubai. You ideally want a door-to-door service and not all will include a designated meal stop or all 4 of the “top Abu Dhabi cultural attractions” that we mention here. It’s a lot for one day so you may want to prioritise your favourites.
Looking to spend a little longer in Abu Dhabi? Look at these transit options for getting between the two cities and staying in Abu Dhabi.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Theme Park Day
What to expect: There are now 3 spectacular theme parks to choose from on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, just off the freeway between the two cities so expect it to take about a one hour drive from Dubai.
(Tackle this as a separate day trip to the Abu Dhabi cultural attractions above, you won’t get time for both)
Yas Waterworld is home to over 40 water-based rides and attractions. The water park is beautifully set out with an Emirati theme and includes all the classic experiences you’d want from a water park that suits all age groups from tots to adults. The Cinesplash 5D theatre is a great new touch.
Warner Bros World opened in 2018, here you can find all your favourites from Gotham City through to Cartoon Junction brought to life with 29 rides and attractions. It’s a highly interactive theme park, entirely indoors to beat the heat and unless you hit it on a peak holiday, very limited queuing for such a spectacular day out.
Ferrari World, of course, is full of the extremes you would expect from the UAE including the World’s fastest roller coaster! Based mostly indoors, except for the coasters that escape outside, this is the place for your teens and adrenaline junkies.
How to book it: You definitely get the best value by booking a multi-park pass, however, on a day trip from Dubai you should realistically look to pick a favourite or you’ll be too rushed.
- Ferrari World Tickets with Dubai Shuttle
- Yas Waterworld with Dubai shuttle
- Warner Bros. World with Dubai Shuttle
Top Tip: fitting all 3 theme parks in one day simply won’t do it justice. We recommend you stay in one of the nearby Yas Plaza hotels or the beautiful Yas Hotel that straddles the Yas Marina Grand Prix Circuit if you wish to visit all 3 and spread your time out.
Looking for transfers to get you to Yas but have your theme park tickets already?
- Try this Dubai to Yas Island Shared Transfer Service.
- Private Transfers to Yas Island From Dubai, best for groups
A road trip to the Musandam Peninsular
What to expect: pack your passport you heading over the border to Oman! Yes, still manageable as a day trip from Dubai, the tiny Omani enclave of Musandam sits on the very north-eastern-most tip of the Arabian Peninsula, jutting into the Strait of Hormuz.
Here you can take a traditional dhow boat cruise from regional capital Khasab out into the azure waters and experience “the Norway of Arabia” – stunning khors that mark the end of the Hajar Mountains plunge to the ocean beneath.
The waters are home to much sea life, including pods of dolphins who love to play with the boats. Enjoy a traditional Omani meal on board and soak in one of the most unique Arabian experiences.
How to book it: get ready for an early start! Although it can be a self-drive trip, if you are unfamiliar with the windy roads and border crossing process it’s best to go with a registered tour operator who can pick you up from your Dubai hotel and take care of all the details.
Top Tip: Trips described as being to Dibba will still take you on a spectacular journey over the mountains and through the khors but will not involve a border crossing which can save time. We do recommend getting all the way to Khasab though for that true Omani flavour!
A trip to the Hajar Mountains
What to expect: Head to the Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, and up into the mountains (yes, it’s not all desertscape, the UAE has mountains!) you will find the country’s tallest peak Jebal Jais where you can take on the world’s longest zipline Via Ferrata.
How to book it: If you’re not keen on the self drive through UAE traffic and the hilly roads (driving in the Dubai and beyond has its moments!), it’s definitely one to take a tour guide and driver with you. Why not try these options:
- RAK Zipline Adventure from Dubai
- RAK Mountain picnic (if you’d prefer to skip the zipline but love the views!)
A morning desert safari in Dubai
What to expect: If dune bashing and outdoor sports in the sand don’t sound like quite your thing but you are still keen to experience the Dubai desert, why not try a more sedate morning desert safari experience.
Escape the city pre-dawn so you can catch the desert at its quietest and avoid the heat of the day.
How to book it: You will most definitely need guides to take you out into the Dubai desert. The local Emirati’s are familiar with the dunes and will provide you with the best desert experiences. We love Platinum Heritage for their focus on sustainability and desert conservation in vintage open-top Land Rovers. For a unique experience, why not also try:
If you’d still like the motorsports experience in the desert but can’t fit it into an evening itinerary, these tours now all operate morning slots too, ideal in the cooler winter months.
- Morning Quad Biking Experience
- Morning Desert Safari with Camel rides, sandboarding & brunch
- Morning Desert Safari with Orient Tours
Top Tip: Not everything will operate in the desert during the hottest part of the year May to October, check what exactly is on the program when booking. Also, check out our guide for appropriate dress code taking on a desert safari in Dubai.
Still want to self-tour? Check out car hire pricing & options
We hope you’ve enjoyed this taster of Dubai Day Tour ideas. Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to family things to do in Dubai.
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