If you are planning a trip to UAE and would like to experience more than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you came to the right place. We had been traveling around UAE by a rented vehicle and explored all the major tourist attractions there. For everyone who wants to do the same, we have made 9 days self drive UAE travel itinerary to make the best out of their journey.
Self drive UAE travel itinerary
It is time to explore magnificent city of Dubai. Having your own vehicle, it makes everything easier, including visiting attractions, which are a little bit further out from the public transport routes. Visit the Miracle Garden – the world’s largest botanical garden in the world (coordinates 184.108.40.206 / 055.12.25.3). Catch some sun at the Jumeriah Beach and enjoy the views over Burj Al Arab (coordinates 25.09.45.5 / 055.12.25.3). There is payable parking lot at the beach from 8 am to 1 pm and from 4pm to 9pm (1 hour – 2 AED, 2 hours – 5 AED, 3 hours – 8 AED, 4 hours – 11 AED). You can pay with coins or by credit card. Parking is free of charge on Fridays and national holidays.
After lunch visit the largest shopping mall in the world – The Dubai Mall (coordinates 220.127.116.11 / 055.10.13.8) and make sure to see Dubai from the famous Burj Khalifa, including with the free fountain show bellow it. Don’t forget to walk around the shops and stop at Dubai aquarium. You can park your car for 4 hours free of charge in the Dubai Mall garage.
Stay the night in Al Barsha area, as hotels here are modern and give you lots for the money, including closeness to Dubai metro line. Not the cheapest, but a really great hotel is Holiday Inn Al Barsha. It has its own free parking garage, is close to a metro station and has amazing views from its rooftop swimming pool and bar. You can see Burj Al Arab and hotel Atlantis from up there. If the sky is clear, also Burj Khalifa can be seen.
Dubai is so spectacular that you need to spend another day here. Today is time for the oldest part of Dubai – Deira. It is hard to find a parking space there, so take the metro to reach it. Be early and visit Deira fish market and continue to gold souq and spice market.
Take the arba ride across the Creek and enjoy in a traditional lunch there. Deira is also much cheaper than the rest of Dubai.
You can spend the afternoon at the beach or for further exploration. If you want to see more of Dubai, take the metro to Marina area. If you are keener of shopping, you can check out the second best known shopping mall – Mall of Emirates, which is mostly famous for the Ski Dubai Park. If you are traveling to UAE on a budget, make sure to read our 5 tips on how to do Dubai on a budget here.
Stay the night in one of the Al Barsha hotels.
Before leaving Dubai, make a stop in the Mall of Emirates and go for grocery shopping in its Carrefour shop. You will find everything there, including camping gear if you need any. You can park your car free of charge for 4 hours in its garage (coordinates 25.06.58.3 / 055.12.00.9).
Your next stop is coastal town Dibba. You will reach it for late lunch and we would recommend you to stop at the local arab restaurant Dr. Cafe. It offers good food and fair prices (coordinates 18.104.22.168 / 056.16.16.5).
After lunch it is time to find your wilderness camping spot and enjoy some time on the beach. We found a nice coastal spot few kilometers out of Dibba (coordinates 25.31.03.1 / 056.21.56.0).
Wake up early, take a swim, eat breakfast and continue with your new day and new adventure. Follow the road towards Al Fujairah and visit national park Wadi Wurrayah (coordinates 25.23.550 / 056.16.16.1).
After a short hike in the wadi, turn back on the main road and visit the oldest mosque in UAE – Al Bidyah mosque (coordinates 22.214.171.124 / 056.21.14.3).
The city of Al Fujairah offers you the oldest fort in the UAE and it looks beautiful (coordinates 25.08.22.7 / 056.20.09.0). In the vicinity of the fort is also an interesting museum, where you can find more about UAE history, culture and tradition. You can also drive to a near by dam, but if you will be traveling around UAE from March to November, the dam will be completely dry and pretty boring to see (coordinates: 25.08.29.0 / 056.18.46.1).
Continue your day towards Al Ain, but find a place for wilderness camping before it. We spent the night in acacia forest Tawi Al Haiyir (coordinates 126.96.36.199 / 055.46.56.8). There is plenty of camel farms here, what gives you good opportunities to visit one and taste fresh camel milk.
You might want to reach Al Ain in the evening and stay in a hotel there. You can book your hotel here.
Prepare yourself breakfast and go straight to Al Ain as this city has lots of interesting sights to offer. Make sure to visit the camel market first as it is open only until 1 pm (coordinates 24.09.44.5 / 055.48.45.6). Visit Al Qattara oasis (coordinates 188.8.131.52 / 055.44.55.7) and the most beautiful fort in UAE – Al Jahili fort (coordinates 184.108.40.206/ 055.45.06.3). Last but not least, indulge yourself with a scenic ride to Jebel Hafeet (coordinates 24.03.31.8 / 055.46.40.6). You can read more about Al Ain and its tourist attractions here.
In the afternoon continue your way towards Liwa. You will need to camp somewhere on the road or you will even be able to reach Liwa already. All depends of the time you will leave Al Ain.
We wanted to reach Liwa along the Saudi Arabia boarder, but because we were without a 4WD, we needed to go back and that is why we staid the night somewhere in the middle of Al Ain and Abu Dhabi (coordinates 23.36.03.3 / 054.45.00.3).
A night in Liwa might be more appealing to you than wilderness camping. If so, check out hotels here.
You will reach Liwa passing Abu Dhabi. Liwa oasis is magnificent and if you are in UAE, you have to put it on your must to do list for sure. Liwa is where the Empty Quarter begins. When you will see this sandy landscape you will be blown away. AMAZING! Don’t forget to visit Tal Moreeb – the famous 50 degrees incline sand dune, where competitions are held each year among racing teams, which want to reach the dune higher and faster than the others (coordinates 220.127.116.11 / 053.47.09.4). A visit of Liwa fort is also a nice stop and completely free of charge (coordinates 23.02.58.5 / 053.46.12.5).
While driving around the Liwa area don’t forget to look out for a place to pitch your tent. Our wilderness camping place was near some camel farms and just beneath 70-80 meters high sand dune – magical (coordinates 23.04.10.4/ 053.47.24.6).
Liwa is so amazing that you really need to spend another night here. Find your hotel on booking.com or pitch your tent somewhere in the wild.
Get up early and climb on top of a high sand dune – sunrises are the most beautiful in a desert, so don’t miss one.
After breakfast go back to Abu Dhabi and if you are into cars, stop at the Emirates National Auto Museum (coordinates 24.05.55.0 / 054.25.08.3).
Before you reach your hotel in Abu Dhabi, stop at the beautiful white mosque of Sheikh Zayed (coordinates 18.104.22.168 / 054.28.29.9).
If you are not yet tired, visit the Abu Dhabi fish market and its harbor where traditional fishermen boats »dhows« are being made (coordinates of the parking lot 22.214.171.124 / 126.96.36.199).
If you don’t feel like exploring and are a big Ferrari fan, your best choice will be the Ferrari World theme park (coordinates of the parking lot 188.8.131.52/ 054.36.39.9). You can also spend your free time at the Chornichle beach (coordinates 184.108.40.206 / 054.20.13.0) or going shopping at the Marina Mall (coordinates 220.127.116.11 / 054.19.23.3).
Stay the night in a hotel at Chornicle area. A new and nice hotel with affordable price is TRYP hotel (coordinates 18.104.22.168 / 054.21.59.8). If you can afford to spend a little bit more, stay the night in Hilton Hotel, which is the only Chornicle hotel with its own private beach. Luxury is always nice, especially after wilderness camping.
Enjoy your free time before departure and your flight back home. Just a note – Abu Dhabi airport is close, but sometimes it can take hours to pass the security checks, so make sure to be there in time. We were at the airport 4 hours prior the flight and almost missed it due to strict controls and a large number of people.
UAE traveling is perfect for a self drive tour. The roads are great and also well marked. Having 9 to 10 days also gives you enough time to get to know a little bit of everything what UAE has to offer. And what is even better, you don’t need tons of money to enjoy your time here; you just need to be a little bit inventive. Read here, how to to your UAE travel on a budget.