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8 Things To Do In Al Ain | Day Trip From Abu Dhabi or Dubai!

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Going on a day trip to Al Ain and finding all of the things to do in Al Ain was a highlight of my recent trip to Abu Dhabi!

Al Ain is a city within the Abu Dhabi Emirate and although it is 2 hours away from Abu Dhabi city and 1.5 hours from Dubai, and much closer to Oman (literally right by the border if Oman and the UAE) it is well worth the day trip from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Al Ain is where you get to feel what Abu Dhabi, and the whole of the UAE actually, was like before its growth boom. I found it very interesting to see where the Founding Father of the UAE lived with his family only in the 60’s and how different it is to the city and country we see today.

Not only that but you can explore palm grove Oasis’ where dates upon dates grow and you can really feel rural Middle Eastern life, this city isn’t called the Garden City for nothing!

In this Abu Dhabi travel blog I’m going to tell you how to visit Al Ain from Abu Dhabi, how to visit Al Ain from Dubai, and things to do in Al Ain perfect for a day trip.

Afterwards, be sure to read my epic post on 40 Things To Do in Abu Dhabi to help you plan you’re whole trip whether you’re in Abu Dhabi right now or still planning your trip!

Things To Do in Al Ain

things to do in Al Ain
Keep reading for all the best things to do in Al Ain in one day and how to visit!

Al Ain Day Trip from Abu Dhabi

Getting to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi

First up, let’s cover how to get to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi because with a 2 hour journey, Al Ain from Abu Dhabi does need some advance planning.

I got a private driver who picked me up at my hotel in the morning, stayed in Al Ain with me and took me to each of the Al Ain attractions, and then dropped me back at my hotel in the evening.

You can do this too with the help of your hotel in Abu Dhabi, reception should be able to book you a private driver to take you there, wait for the day with you and then bring your back.

However, although my day trip from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain was great, my driver was very much just a driver so he couldn’t and didn’t tell me anything about the city and the attractions and we did miss some of the things to do in Al Ain that I’ve added onto this list and found out about later.

Therefore for the best experience, I recommend you book a full day trip where everything is included and you have more of a guide than a driver.

Al Ain Day Tour from Abu Dhabi

There are limited day tours online to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi but Viator sell this 10 hour Al Ain Day Trip from Abu Dhabi with Lunch which visits all of the best places to visit in Al Ain.

This day tour has high ratings and positive reviews on Viator and can even be done in German with a German speaking guide!

Also be sure to read What to wear in Abu Dhabi as a woman so you know what to pack for your UAE holiday!

Al Ain Day Trip from Dubai

Getting to Al Ain from Dubai

Al Ain is in the Abu Dhabi Emirate but it’s actually quicker to get to Al Ain from Dubai city than Abu Dhabi city which is why it makes one of the great Dubai day trips!

Like from Abu Dhabi you could get a private driver to take you there and take you from attraction to attraction but if you want to learn more and not have to guide a driver around. I do recommend a day tour and actually, there are far more day tours to Al Ain from Dubai available to book online than Abu Dhabi so it’s worth taking advantage of this!

Al Ain Day Day Tour from Dubai

Al Ain Garden City Tour From Dubai – Most competitive price with most availability

Al Ain City Tour Full-Day with Guide

Private Tour: Full day Al-Ain City Sightseeing with Lunch from Dubai

Full Day Al Ain tour with Lunch from Dubai – Competitive price with availability from October during Winter months

things to do in Al Ain, Ellie Quinn day trip to Al Ain
You really can’t miss out on a day trip to Al Ain!

Al Ain Day Trip Costs

Most of the things to do in Al Ain in this post are free so although you are spending money on a driver or tour to get here from Abu Dhabi city, once here, there are not many extra costs so that’s something to keep in mind when deciding and planning your trip!

Best time to visit Al Ain

Please do check the opening times for Al Ain attractions before you plan your visit.

For example, many of the attractions below are open on Fridays from 3pm -7pm only and not during the day since Friday is the first day of the weekend in the UAE and Muslims go to Friday prayer midday.

Some of the attractions are also closed on Monday.

Therefore, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are the best times to visit.

Because Al Ain is in the desert and there is no sea breeze, it is much hotter than Abu Dhabi city and Dubai so it’s best to visit in the winter months if possible, I visited in February which was hot during the middle of the day but manageable, however in the summer months I can imagine visiting these Al Ain attractions in the middle of the day is far too hot so doing the day trip later in the day is better since most attractions are open until 7:00pm.

Things to do in Al Ain on a day trip

1. Telal Resort Heritage and Culture Day Tour

An alternative day trip to Al Ain where you won’t see all of the Al Ain tourist spots below but will get a unique opportunity to experience the desert oasis of Al Ain is to book a Heritage and Cultural Package with Telal Resort.

Telal Resort is a luxury boutique desert resort outside the city of Al Ain. Their packages include meeting them at their own Heritage Village in the morning where you’ll be served Arabic Coffee, Dates and local Sweets followed by a tour of the Heritage Village and Traditional Souk with your guide. Then, you can choose from activities such as a camel ride or horse ride, the chance to try local clothing followed by an Arabic 3 course dinner and the chance to do an evening wildlife Safari.

This is a high quality luxury experience and definitely a unique experience too so if you want some time in the desert and a day trip that is full of ease and well organised, take a look into this.

Side note – if you are still planning your Abu Dhabi holiday, if you have time, do look into staying at Telal Resort in one of their pool side villas overlooking the Arabian Desert, what an experience, click here to view the whole hotel!

things to do in Al Ain, Desert dune bashing

Afterwards, be sure to read my epic post on 40 Things To Do in Abu Dhabi to help you plan you’re whole trip whether you’re in Abu Dhabi right now or still planning your trip!

2. Al Ain Oasis

Now onto the attractions in Al Ain city you can visit on a day trip.

I started my Al Ain day trip at Al Ain Oasis and I really recommend you doing this because walking around the Oasis as it opened when it was still quiet and the sun was only just starting to get hot but the Palm Groves were keeping the paths cool (I visited in February so it wasn’t crazy hot in Abu Dhabi then) was such a beautiful experience.

things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Oasis Entrance
Al Ain Oasis Entrance

The Oasis really helps understand what the landscape was like here thousands of years ago and is a good chance to learn about how the ground was farmed using traditional irrigation systems to grow thousands of date palms and other fruit trees.

Entry into Al Ain Oasis to free. There is a visitor centre as you approach and here you can see the a miniature version of the oasis. After entering you can explore the Oasis as much as you want on foot or on bike.

Here are some photos I took for Al Ain Oasis bike hire:

things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Oasis Bike Hire Sign
Al Ain Oasis Bike Hire Sign
things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Oasis Bike Hire
Bikes to hire in Al Ain Oasis

I did find it a bit hard to follow the signs along the paths and kept circling back on my self. I did see a few groups with guides but I was fine wandering, reading the information signs and breathing in the fresh morning air.

Find out more about the Oasis here!

things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Oasis irrigation
It’s great to learn about the irrigation like this in Al Ain Oasis
things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Old Mosque
There are a few different buildings to see as you walk or cycle around Al Ain Oasis
things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Oasis Date Palms
Can you see why this Oasis is one of the best things to do in Al Ain??

3. Al Ain Palace Museum

Al Ain Palace Museum (which is also named Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum so don’t go thinking they are different places to visit in Al Ain), was my favourite place in Al Ain, where I visited second and where I spent the most time.

This is the palace where the the Founding Father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan lived with his family. The Palace was built in 1937 and he lived there with his family until the late 1960’s before moving to Abu Dhabi city.

things to do in al ain, Al Ain Palace Museum entrance
Entrance to the Al Ain Palace Museum entrance, one of the top places to visit in Al Ain!
things to do in al ain, Al Ain Palace Museum Sheikh Zayed family tree
The family tree and portraits are interesting to see to understand the history of the UAE!

Al Ain Palace Museum is also free to enter and once inside you can walk around the palace at your own pace visiting almost every room in the palace.

It’s fascinating to see Sheikh Zayed’s bedroom, the different meeting rooms he had and how traditional the whole palace is.

Find about more about the Palace Museum here!

things to do in al ain, Al Ain Palace Museum garden grounds
I love this type of traditional architecture!
things to do in al ain, Al Ain Palace Museum inside seating room
It’s great to be able to see into all the rooms as the family used to live in them!
things to do in al ain, Al Ain Palace Museum inside mens seating room
This is the grandest seating room in the Palace for important people and meetings

4. Al Jahili Fort

Another one of the top places to visit in Al Ain is Al Jahili Fort because walking into here with the blazing sun above you and the bright brick walls of the fort in front of you will give you a real sense of what Arabia was like in the past!

Al Jahili Fort is the largest fort in the UAE and a hugely important fort in battles that occurred here in the past.

things to do in al ain, Al Jahili Fort from the outside
Al Jahili Fort from the outside, its a huge!

Another free attraction in Al Ain, I loved this fort for its architecture, below is a great Instagram photo opportunity, and because of it’s air con museum inside!

things to do in al ain, Al Jahili Fort round building architecture
Sitting on here makes for a great Abu Dhabi Instagram photo location!

I visited Al Ain in February and although February is still winter in the UAE, as I reached Al Jahili Fort third on my Al Ain itinerary and at around 12:00 noon, it was very very hot and I was thankful for the inside air conditioned museum and exhibition space.

I believe the exhibition changes, I’m not sure how regularly, but when I visited I saw the exhibition about British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, his story exploring the vast empty desert of Arabia before any other traveller and his fascinating photos.

When I got home I actually purchased his book Arabian Sands which is the perfect read when in Abu Dhabi if you need a new book!

Read more about the Fort here!

things to do in al ain, Al Jahili Fort exhibition on British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger
I really enjoyed the exhibition on British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger
things to do in al ain, Al Jahili Fort inside fort grounds
Al Jahili Fort is one of the top Al Ain attractions to visit!

5. Qasr AlMuwaiji

Next on our list of things to do in Al Ain and the last historical attraction is Qasr AlMuwaiji.

You may have seen the word ‘Qasr’ a few times if you are researching things to do in Abu Dhabi or you are there already because 2 of the Abu Dhabi attractions you have to visit are Qasr AlWatan and Qasr AlHosn.

This is a fort that is about 100 years old and has played an important role in watching over the Oasis since then.

things to do in al ain, Qasr AlMuwaiji entrance
Qasr AlMuwaiji Entrance

I spent the least time at this attraction in Al Ain, I think because it is smaller than the Palace and also inside you get to see inside some of the old furnished rooms but I had seen many of these already in Al Ain Palace so didn’t feel the need to spend long seeing them all again.

I do really love how the museum within the fort has been laid out though. The inside museum follows the sides of the rectangular fort so you feel like you’re outside and can see the walls of the fort but you’re inside in air conditioning, perfect!

The exhibition as you enter the visitor centre of the fort details the life of the fort and the life of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan who was born here and started his life here.

things to do in al ain, Qasr AlMuwaiji fort from inside museum
I love the layout of this museum, it’s great to be in air con but still see the fort,
things to do in al ain, Qasr AlMuwaiji inside museum
Qasr AlMuwaiji museum

At the end of the exhibition you walk through the residential part of the fort which like the palace gives an extraordinary look at traditional life in the UAE and the basic homes people lived in before the growth boom of the country.

Read more about the fort here!

things to do in al ain, Qasr AlMuwaiji fort inside residential rooms
Inside the residential part of the fort, it’s amazing how basic it is!

6. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the biggest and main mosque in Abu Dhabi that everyone visits on their Abu Dhabi itinerary and Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed is Al Ain’s Grand Mosque.

It is the largest and most impressive looking mosque in Al Ain and one of the largest in the UAE.

I tried to enter as I actually wanted to pray in here on my Al Ain day trip but security said because prayer time had finished it had closed for visiting and praying.

I believe the pandemic has reduced the mosques opening tours to tourists and my driver didn’t have any other information either so I had to leave this off of my Al Ain itinerary.

If you book onto a guided day tour to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi your guide should know more about when you can visit this mosque.

7. Al Ain Camel Trading Market 

For a true unique experience in the UAE you should try to visit the Camel trading market in Al Ain. This is the only remaining traditional Camel Souk in the UAE!

It’s out of the city of Al Ain but only by 15 minutes and you can find it by searching Al Ain Camel Market on google maps.

Open every day of the week this is one of the brilliant places to visit in Al Ain to understand traditional life.

Camel racing is a big thing in the UAE as well as many other countries in the Middle East and this is where people will buy and sell camels for racing as well as riding and for meat. Sheep and goats are on sale here too.

Although traditional, posts I’ve read like this show that this market is used to tourists visiting which means it is approachable and the people working there will not be looking at you strangely. You can take photos with the camels and ask lots of questions although you will probably get charged for taking photos so be cautious if this isn’t something you want to get involved in.

Click here to read more about the Al Ain Camel Market

things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Camel Market

8. Jebel Hafeet Hot Springs

This is something I missed out on on my day trip to Al Ain with a driver however, many of the day tours to Al Ain I have seen included this which is the plus to going on a guided tour with a guide rather than just a taxi driver or private driver who doesn’t know the area well.

Just 20 minutes from the centre of Al Ain city at the foot of Jebel Hafeet which is a small mountain is  Green Mubazzarah park, also detailed on Google maps as just Jebel Hafeet Hot Springs Garden and here you can enjoy the park as well as the smoothing and therapeutic effects of the hot spring water.

This is a pretty unique activity, who knew the UAE had hot springs hey!? But one of the good things to do in Al Ain, especially at the end of your Al Ain day trip to dip your feet in the water after all the walking you’ve done.

As this is a park, the hot springs are free to enter and therefore another one of the free things to do in Al Ain!

Click here for more info on the Jebel Hafeet Hot Springs

things to do in Al Ain, Al Ain Palace museum inside gardens
Day trip to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi or Dubai!

I hope this has helped you plan the things to do in Al Ain in one day you want to do and how to get to Al Ain from Abu Dhabi and Dubai!