Sightseeing excursions from Abu Dhabi city

Abu Dhabi is known not only for its luxurious hotels – see the newly opend Yas Hotel, retail therapy and city sights, but also for its desert and mountain landscapes, interesting oasis cities and its wide range of unusual adventure activities. You can pick up car rental in Abu Dhabi to go off sightseeing independently, or join a tour group for organised excursions from the city.

Go sand skiing in the Liwa Oasis

The lush Liwa Oasis is too far from Abu Dhabi city to visit on a day trip as the journey takes about five hours, so you’d need an overnight stay if you plan to go sand skiing whilst visiting Abu. It’s well worth the effort, though, with camel markets, date palm plantations, freshwater pools, rugged landscapes and mountain peaks.

Sand Skiing Video

It’s also a great base from which to take desert excursions. Boasting the biggest sand dunes in the world, the Liwa Oasis is a sand skier’s dream. You can join an organised tour and they’ll provide some tuition and your sand board, so you can enjoy an exhilarating ride down the red-tinted dunes.

Embark on a desert safari adventure

Abu Dhabi is a great base from which to enjoy desert adventure activities. Most desert tours pack in a variety of activities such as camel riding; sand surfing or skiing; a trip to a camel farm; 4×4 dune buggying; and ‘wadi bashing’ — a bone-shaking romp along dry, twisting riverbeds in a four wheel drive. If you’re lucky you may glimpse animals such as gazelle (a type of goat), or local tribes, during your excursion, and the day’s activities are usually followed by supper under the stars.

Your hotel can usually arrange such trips for you, or you can book through one of the city’s travel agencies. The best time to go is between April and October, avoiding the intense heat of the summer months.

Relax on a Corniche Cruise

For a very local excursion, you can sail along the Abu Dhabi Corniche in a locally-designed dhow (boat), which you will spot anchored along the breakwater.

This gives you a chance to see the skyline from the water, with cruises to suit everyone’s pocket, ranging from brief trips on fairly basic vessels to cruises lasting several hours on luxury liners with a seafood supper included.

Experience Al Ain, an authentic Arab oasis city

Rising out of Abu Dhabi’s desert sands is the oasis city of Al Ain, a settlement which dates back to the 4th millennium BC and is home to Jebel Hafeet, the UAE’s highest mountain. It takes about 90 minutes to get there from Abu Dhabi city, and it is the closest you’ll find to an authentic Arab city in this region. It’s a pleasant destination in the mild winter months, when it’s not too hot to explore ancient archaeological sites, but it’s also a great escape from coastal humidity during the summer.

Al Ain has plenty of attractions to keep you busy, including historic forts, Al Ain Museum, and the palace museum of Sheikh Zayed. One of its most fascinating sights, however, is the busy camel market on the outskirts of town, teeming with a variety of camels from Sudan, Pakistan and Abu Dhabi, all vying for buyers’ attention.