Middle EastTravelUnited Arab Emirates

Exploring Dubai And Beyond : All Opened Up When You Rent A Car

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There is so much to do in Dubai that you could easily spend months here without getting bored. For an interesting city break, you can make Dubai a base for exploring other parts of the UAE. To help you plan for fun excursions, here is a list of nearby attractions that you can easily visit while you are in Dubai by renting a car.

Dubai is a city of international cosmopolitan splendour, and millions of people flock there every year to see the sights and sounds of this desert metropolis. The way many people manage their trip is to simply fly in, and then get around the city either by taxi, in tour group buses, or using the city’s somewhat limited (but improving) public transportation network. We say, however, that the best approach is still to rent yourself a car while you are there.

The UAE government has made huge strides in improving the city’s transport infrastructure, which is helping tourists get around more easily. However, if you want to get the most of your stay in the city, nothing quite beats a smart luxury car rental. A Porsche in Dubai goes a long way not just to helping you fit in with the smart crowd there, but to see much more of what Dubai has to offer. 

Exploring Beyond Dubai

Below are some of the best attractions that are easier to access than ever when you have your own rental car:

1. Lahbab Desert

Lahbab Desert
Lahbab Desert

Why not rent yourself an SUV and take it for a desert adventure in the Lahbab Desert. It’s about 35 minutes driving southeast of downtown Dubai, and once there you can enjoy special desert tours, sandboarding, camel safari, quad biking, desert barbecue and much more. Costs for organized desert tours are not that high, but if you don’t fancy the guided experience, then just take your rental car and enjoy the amazing scenery.

With lots of open space and sand dunes of different sizes, it’s the perfect place for those who have always wanted to try a bit of off-road adventure without enduring the risks of doing it in riskier rocky and mountainous zones.

2. Hatta


Hatta is about 82 miles from the city in the Hajar mountains, so that’s only about 1.5 hours of driving at the most. The drive itself takes you through varied landscapes and gives you a chance to see the natural side of Dubai that those who stay in the city often miss. Once you get there, you can explore the more than 30 miles of mountain bike trails before getting yourself a kayak to paddle the cool blue waters of the Hatta Water Dam reservoir.

If you really want the full experience, and you can if you have rented a car and are in charge of your own time management. You should stay in Hatta and enjoy the starry desert night sky! There is a hotel at the location for those who don’t necessarily want to sleep outdoors.

One very important thing, however, is that you take a route in your rental car that keeps you entirely within the UAE borders. Private car owners may tell you a more direct route of about 60 miles, but that takes you over the Oman border, and rental car companies don’t permit you to cross borders in their car, even if it’s just temporary.

3. Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

People often mistakenly think that Abu Dhabi and Dubai are separate countries. While they are separate emirates, they are emirates within the same nation, and that’s the United Arab Emirates or UAE. Therefore, you are still within national boundaries if you take your car from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Do make sure that your car rental company permits you to take the car out of Dubai as there are a minority that don’t allow it.

The drive to Dubai is a fairly straightforward drive southwest along the coast. It should take you about 80-90 minutes in total to get there. If you’re only there for a single day, then highlights on your list to see should be the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Emirates Palace, and the Heritage Village. If you don’t feel like hitting the tourist spots, then hit one of the many beaches: Abu Dhabi Beach, Corniche Beach, Al Bateen Beach, and many others.

Remember that Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE. Everything there is done on a grand scale. Take the Grand Mosque we mentioned in the day trip highlights, for instance. Under the magnificent white marble domes of the mosque you will find space for up to 41,000 worshippers, as well as the most immense Persian carpet and crystal chandeliers that you have ever seen.

4. Al Ain

Al Jahili Fort
Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain

A southerly drive of about 1 hour and 40 minutes will take you to Al-Ain on the border with Oman. It’s technically within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, but as we say, that’s still within the UAE border so you are good as far as your car rental goes. Al-Ain is also known as the Garden City and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You won’t find the glass and steel skyscrapers of the major UAE cities here in Al-Ain. The city imposes strict limits on new buildings because of its UNESCO status. If you want to experience a true oasis in the desert, then Al-Ain is the place to find it. Highlights include the Jebel Hafeet mountain (see below), the Al-Ain Zoo, the 19th-century Al Jahili Fort, taking in the date palms in the Al-Ain Oasis, or some time with the kids at the Wadi Adventure Park to enjoy surfing, kayaking and white-water rafting.

When you are in the driving seat, Al-Ain is a terrific way to get a change of scenery from the ultra-modern Dubai streets and get a big serving of true UAE heritage.

5. Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet
Jebel Hafeet

The Jebel Hafeet, also sometimes written as Jabal Hafeet, mountain area is actually around Al-Ain, but we have separated it for its own entry in our list because not everyone who visits Al-Ain will tackle the impressive scenery and twisty roads in this area. Jebel Hafeet is the 2nd tallest mountain in the UAE, and contains some of the most exciting hairpin tins and twisty roads that any driver could hope for. Those who want to enjoy a scenic drive while also putting their driving skills to the test will find a lot to love here.

If you want to stay overnight, there’s a rather nice Mercure hotel sitting at 3,000 feet offering commanding views and a breath-taking sunrise breakfast experience.

There You Have It

And so there it is – 5 amazing things that are easy to do while you are in Dubai and the UAE when you rent a car. Get a holiday experience that sets you apart from your friends by putting yourself in the driving seat!

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Anjali Wadhwa (cheerfultrails) is a travel consultant and enthusiast who has traveled to 15+ countries. She shares about her explorations through her writings. You will find detailed itineraries, best travel tips and well experienced recommendations for food, transportation and hotels on her blog.

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