As the weather starts to cool, all attention in the United Arab Emirates turns to the great outdoors and making the most of those precious mild days in the winter months. But with so many ideas, so many unexplored places, how do you fit it all in?
Family Travel in the Middle East is here to the rescue!
We’ve summarised for you below the Top 10 UAE outdoor activities we think every family should try at least once this winter, and you can also download this checklist and stick it to your fridge for inspiration!2020-21 UAE Outdoors Winter Checklist
You can also check out these detailed “things to do” guides
Outdoor Family Activities in the UAE – Our Top 10 Picks for 2020-21
Whilst Covid-19 has unfortunately caused a number of attractions to change how they operate and has even forced some places to close, there are still plenty of wonderful heritage sites, festivals and events, waterparks, zoos, parks and natural environments to enjoy.
Here is our round-up of 10 amazing and enriching activities to try out with the kids this winter!
1. Visit Al Ain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi
Take time to explore this beautiful oasis city and really get in touch with the history and culture of the UAE by visiting its numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include the tombs in the Bida Bint Saud, Hafit and Hili areas as well as the oasis and its adjacent forts.
Explore the oasis either on foot or by hiring one of the various forms of manpowered vehicles on offer at the gates. Don’t forget to visit the exhibition spaces which explain the falaj system, the many varieties of date grown in the oasis and how they are cultivated as well as sampling a date milkshake and some authentic chebab and legaymat at the little café by the West Gate.
Further details about Al Ain’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be found here.
2. Visit Fujairah & the UAE’s East Coast
A weekend in Fujairah will give you ample opportunity to do most of the things (listed under Fujairah) on our winter checklist. Delve into the Emirate’s past by visiting the beautifully restored Fujairah Fort and Museum and take time to visit the oldest mosque in the UAE at Al Bidhya.
Next up, chill out and build sandcastles on the beach at Al Aqah. No trip to Fujairah is complete without taking the chance to explore the underwater world surrounding Snoopy Island, so don’t forget your snorkel!
3. Reach new heights at Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah
If you want to really escape from the city and take in some mountain air, plan a trip to Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak.
Real thrill-seekers can sign up to experience the world’s longest zip line. If you don’t fancy that, shorter ziplines are on offer as part of the amazing 5km Sky Tour.
Children over 6 years old (and 125cm tall) can also experience the excitement of the Jais Sky Maze. Suspended 10 meters above the ground, this obstacle course takes you on an adventure through swinging hoops, wobbly bridges and rope swings for a very reasonable AED 75.
Those who want to keep the adrenaline in check or have small children might prefer visiting 1484, the highest restaurant in the UAE at 1,484 meters above sea level. The views are stunning and whilst we haven’t tried the food yet, the menu looks delicious!
- For more details about the variety of attractions on offer at Jebel Jais and for booking information, prices and restrictions, click here.
4. Marvel at Dubai Garden Glow & Dinosaur Park
Located in Zabeel Park, the Glow Garden is the largest illuminated themed garden in the world. The sculptures are incredible and range from garden critters to mythical beasts.
Adjacent to the glow garden and included in the entry fee is Dubai’s Dinosaur Park where you can stroll through a scene from Jurassic Park with life sized dinosaur installations that move and roar! Great for all of those little dinosaur enthusiasts amongst us!
As if the Glow Garden and Dinosaur Park weren’t enough to keep you and your little ones entertained, inside the park grounds there is also an Ice Park and Art Park and a new Magic Park exhibition – in which the whole family can jump into a variety of 3D artworks!
- Open from 5pm until 11pm daily.
- Tickets are AED 65. Advanced booking is highly recommended – to avoid queining and capacity limits this winter. For more details click here.
5. Spend time in the Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi
No stay in the UAE is complete without a trip to the Empty Quarter and the Oasis of Liwa. Whether you’re staying in the luxury of hotels like The Qasr Al Sarab or pitching your own tent in one of the largest deserts in the world, there is arguably nothing more beautiful than the rolling dunes and tranquillity that the Liwa desert has to offer.
6. Animal encounters at Dubai Safari Park, Dubai
The newly reopened Dubai Safari Park is home to more than 2500 animals and is working hard to develop an international reputation for a high standard of animal welfare and ethical conduct.
The site is vast and has been very carefully designed in ‘villages’ linked to different habitats around the globe. There are a variety of transport options within the park included in the entry fee as well as a safari add-on which gets you up close and personal with the beasts of the Savannah!
- Open 9am -5pm daily.
- Basic tickets are AED 50 for adults and AED 20 for children over 3. Advanced booking is highly recommended. For more details click here.
7. Visit at least one waterpark, across the UAE
The UAE is blessed with year-round sunshine and a multitude of water parks! Aquaventure at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai and Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi are amongst our favourites.
Most of the UAE’s water parks have designated areas for babies and toddlers as well as bigger kids and adults. All offer a variety of attractions including 4D Water Cinemas and roller coasters (Yas Waterworld) and even slides that descend through tanks of sharks (Aquaventure)!
Tickets must be booked in advance and vary in price. A day pass for Yas Waterworld is currently AED 187.50 but there are a variety of resident deals on offer.
8. Wear out the kids at Aventura Parks, Dubai
Situated in the Ghaf tree forest adjacent to Mushrif Park in Dubai, Aventura is the largest outdoor adventure park in the Middle East.
The park includes 5 circuits with more than 80 obstacles and zip wires as well as a nature trail. It’s the perfect place for active little monkeys to wear themselves out as well as learn more about the flora and fauna of the UAE.
- Suitable for children aged 6 and above and over 1.15m tall.
- Open from 2pm -10pm, Sundays – Thursdays and from 9am -11pm on Fridays and Saturdays
- Tickets cost AED 185 for adults and AED 149 for children for a 3-hour stay. There is a AED 50 charge for each additional hour spent in the park. For more details, click here.
Kids love their ziplining and ropes? Check out the newly opened Circuit X on Al Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi – brand new this winter it will be bound to get your kids active outdoors.
9. Make friends with a Camel at The Camel Farm, Dubai
Opened in 2019, The Camel Farm provides guided tours, camel rides and a fantastic day out for all the family. As well as camels, there are goats, rabbits and other animals for children to pet, in addition to feeding sessions and camel hugging therapy.
- The Camel Farm is open during the winter months from 2pm – 5pm, Mondays to Thursdays and 10am-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, Closed on Sundays.
- Tickets are AED 40 per person. Advanced booking is required. For more details, click here.
10. Explore the Mangroves in many different locations across the UAE
The UAE is home to around 150 square kilometres of beautiful mangrove forest which serves as a habitat for a whole host of wildlife. Whether you choose to explore the mangroves by kayak at Khor Al Beidah in Umm Al Quwain or walk through the mangroves on the elevated walkway on Jubail Island in Abu Dhabi, you’re certain to enjoy your journey through this stunning ecosystem and may even spot the odd flamingo!
- Jubail Mangrove Park, Abu Dhabi is open daily from 8am until 6.30pm.
- Entry is AED 15 for adults, AED 10 for children over 7 and free for children under 7. Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more details click here.
We hope that our guide will help you to make the most of the winter months here in the UAE in spite of COVID-19. Remember to book in advance to avoid disappointment as many attractions have strict capacity limits due to current precautionary measures. Rules and regulations are constantly changing, and we recommend checking any bookings prior to leaving home.
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**Opening times and costs correct at time of republishing October 2020 but please check facts with the place before you visit**