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Al Jahili Fort

Discover Al Ain, Abu Dhabi: Top Attractions, Activities & Travel Guide (2024)

Want to know about the Best Places to visit in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi? Join us.

Al Ain, also known as Garden City, is an inland oasis nestled amidst the golden dunes of the Rub al Khali desert. This captivating destination boasts a rich historical heritage and an abundance of natural beauty. The history of Al Ain spans over 4,000 years, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site of UAE. Its history and origin date back to the Bronze Age and was the strategic point for ancient trade routes. Beyond its history, AL Ain also boasts lush greenery, verdant gardens, and picturesque palm groves. Its captivating natural beauty makes it one of the prettiest places in Abu Dhabi.

A visit to Al Ain in Abu Dhabi offers a wealth of attractions and activities. Whether you are a history buff, an architectural enthusiast or a nature lover, Al Ain has something for everyone. So, are you ready to embark on this journey?

Reaching Al Ain

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the nearest airport to Al Ain, sharing a distance of 1 hr 42 min and 162.8 km. A direct taxi from AUH to Al Ain takes nearly 1 hour and 50 minutes and costs 350 to 400 AED. Or, take a taxi to Abu Dhabi central bus station, hop on bus X90, and it will take 2 hours to reach the Al Ain bus station. Busses from Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station depart every 30 minutes on a fare of 25 to 40 AED.

Places to Visit in Al Ain

1. Al Jahili Fort

Al Jahili Fort is a 1981 castle built on Sultan Bin Zayed Al Awwal Street. This historic landmark was once home to Sheikh Zayed and was the most significant defensive feature for protecting the town. Al Jahili Fort is enclosed by shaded gardens and tranquillity. This landmark of history, culture, and heritage attracts tourists from different parts of the world. It also displays a story about Mubarak bin London (Wilfred Thesiger).

Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain

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2. Al Ain Oasis

Covering a massive 3000 acres, Al Ain Oasis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oasis consists of over 150,000 date palm trees irrigated using the 3000-year-old traditional Falaj method. It is also home to more than 100 types of plantations, walking trails, bike rentals and farming exhibitions. The plenty of date palms and palm groves allow visitors to walk in the shade while enjoying the beauty of nature.

3. Hili Archaeological Park

Hili Archaeological Park is a remarkable historical site located in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. This landmark boasts a rich cultural heritage and offers a glimpse into the ancient civilizations of this region. It is home to several well-preserved archaeological remains and is one of the oldest inhabited sites in the UAE.

The Hili Grand Tomb dates to the 3rd millennium BCE and is the highlight here. Additionally, remnants of a historic irrigation system known as aflaj and artefacts such as pottery, jewellery, and tools discovered during excavations are worth observing.

4. Al Ain Zoo

Spanning over 400 hectares, Al Ain Zoo is a renowned zoological park in Al Ain. Abu Dhabi. It is an important centre for wildlife conservation, education, and research and is home to a diverse array of animal species from around the world. A visit here allows individuals to observe a range of animals, including endangered species such as Arabian oryx sand gazelles. The critically endangered white lion is also housed here. 

5. Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet is the soul mountain in Abu Dhabi, the tallest in this Emirates and the second highest in the UAE. Soaring 1,240 meters above sea level, Jebel Hafeet is popular for its driving roads, one of the greatest in the world. A road trip to the top of the hill will reward you with the best views of Al Ain, Oman and neighbouring landscape. Jebel Hafeet is also home to several cave systems, archaeological sights and historical finds.

6. Al Qattara Arts Centre

Al Qattara Arts Centre is a cultural hub in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. This facility is nestled inside a beautifully restored fort. The art centre was built to celebrate and promote the arts in its various forms. It offers a platform for local and international artists to showcase their talents through exhibitions, workshops, and performances. Visitors can check out art galleries, studios, and spaces for creative endeavours, immersing themselves in a vibrant art scene along with contemporary and traditional artworks.

7. Al Ain National Museum

If you are interested in the history of Al Ain, do visit the Al Ain National Museum. This captivating cultural institution is housed in a historic fort and is quite interesting to visit. The museum focuses on exhibiting the rich history and heritage of the region. Its collection is home to a diverse range of artefacts, exhibits, and interactive displays. Every element here highlights the traditions, customs, and lifestyle of the people of Al Ain. Visitors can also observe archaeological finds and traditional handicrafts and learn about the falaj irrigation systems.

8. Hot Springs

A visit to Al Ain is incomplete without visiting a Hot Spring in this region. The Emirates of Abu Dhabi is popular for several hot springs nestled in Al Ain. These hot springs attract visitors for relaxation and therapeutic benefits. The most notable hot spring in Al Ain is the Green Mubazzarah Hot Springs, nestled at the base of Jebel Hafeet. Similarly, the Al Ain Hot Springs near the base of Jebel Hafeet is also quite well known and thus a must-visit. It is known for its mineral-rich waters and beautiful natural scenery. The Hot Spring facilities in Ain Al Fayda Resort and a hot water channel at Wadi Adventure also appeal to the visitors.

Outdoor Adventure in Al Ain

1. Hiking in Jebel Hafeet

Hiking the Jebel Hafeet mountain is undoubtedly the best thing to do in Al Ain. Take the trail from the foot of the mountain at Green Mubazzara Park, making up your way to the Phone tower. While this hike isn’t extremely difficult, it is surely time-consuming. However, it is only suitable for experienced hikers with pace and stamina since the trail has more inclines and scrambling. Even the distance of 5 km here feels like 10 km due to the inclines. The hike takes around 4 to 5 hours easily. However, despite the challenges, the different views and lots of picturesque landscapes throughout the way are rewarding.

NOTE: When hiking in Jebel Hafeet, use hiking poles, hiking gloves, and comfortable hiking shoes. Remember to protect yourself from falling since the rocky path can lead to injuries. The best time to hike here is right after sunrise since afternoon hours get extremely sunny. Do carry at least 3 litres of water along.

2. Desert Safaris

To experience the magnificent beauty and thrill in Al Ain, indulge in Desert Safari. The high red Arabian dunes here, when explored in a 4X4 vehicle, become truly captivating. These ATV rides allow individuals to capture the eye-catching 180-degree view of the region. Apart from riding 4X4, enthusiasts can also enjoy sandboarding, dune bashing, horse riding, camel riding and more. Stay back longer or overnight to enjoy cultural activities and food at traditional Bedouin-style camps. The desert sky in Al Ain becomes a canvas of stars, so consider watching the star-studded sky as well.

3. Picnicking in Al Ain Oasis

The naturally pretty landscape of Al Ain calls for an enjoyable picnic. Al Ain is home to a surreal Arabian landscape and recreational parks that allow families to enjoy picnics. The Green Mubazzarah Park boasts a barbecue area, whereas Jebel Hafeet Park has its own cafeteria. Individuals can also bring their own snacks and can enjoy a picnic here. Basra Ladies Park is where you can find a food truck to satisfy your hunger.

4. Jebel Hafit Desert Park’s Bubble Tents

For a unique and exciting experience in Al Ain, book yourself a Bubble tent in the Jebel Hafit Desert Park. For a luxurious and glamorous camping experience, this desert park boasts a five-star air-conditioned bubble tent that allows individuals to sleep under the stars, gazing at the night sky. Besides that, the park also boasts traditional-style tents, aka Bedouin tents, for a more authentic experience. Or, bring your own camping gear and build your camp around the campsites to enjoy a night in the desert.

5. Al Ain Camel Market

The famous and family-friendly Camel Market in Al Ain allows visitors to immerse themselves in traditional, authentic Arab culture. Whether you want to buy one or are just looking to explore, a visit to the Camel Market in Al Ain is a must. It is the only remaining traditional camel souk in the UAE, boasting a variety of camels in a range of different colours. Here, you will come across a range of large, small, young, and old camels in different colours, including black, brown, yellow and white. The camel custodians are very keen to answer all your questions and allow taking pictures with the camels.

NOTE: Guides take hefty charges; thus, try exploring the sight on your own.

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