As much as we love the buzz of big city life, everyone needs weekend escapes now and then. But when you are too busy making a living, it is easy to forget there’s a big wide world out there waiting to be explored.
Confucius is credited for saying “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” If you’re going to travel, make it count. Luckily, there are some incredible adventures to be had just a short journey from Dubai. A weekend of feeding your wanderlust and creating incredible memories can always be just a few days away.
Check out these weekend escapes, short-haul getaways and wild adventures ready for the next weekend. All can be reached in three hours or less from Dubai, with nothing more than carry-on luggage. Go ahead and have a blast!
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Journey time: Around 90 minutes by road
If you are an adventurous soul and you’ve been in Dubai a little while, then chances are you’ve made the trip out to Hatta already. However, the joy of this place is that there’s always a new, different adventure to be had. No two trips need ever be the same.
For those not yet in the know, Hatta is a prominent visitor centre in the Hajjar mountainous region. The Hatta village itself is a peaceful, restored, centuries-old settlement. The nearby Hatta reservoir and dam provide the focal point for adventures.
It might be easier to name the adventure sports you can’t take part in around Hatta. It really is the adrenaline lover’s paradise. To name a few ideas for filling your weekend in Hatta, there’s zorbing, downhill-karting, high-ropes courses, and free-fall jumping.
Or if you prefer more traditional outdoor pursuits, there are countless routes for hiking, horseback riding, climbing, mountain biking and more. Plus, Hatta reservoir offers an array of watersports.
Finding accommodation is easy. Pack just your kit for adventure sports then kick back and relax in one of the luxury hotels here. Alternatively, you can also have your 24-hour camping adventure.
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Journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes by air
Muscat itself is a stunning destination and well worthy of its popularity with Dubai weekenders. You could easily lose yourself in 48 hours of exploring its mosques, souqs, palaces and museums, so it definitely qualifies as a cultural adventure. Highlights include the Royal Opera House and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
If you prefer your travels to be out of town, then the area surrounding Muscat could still be the ideal place for your next adventure.
For a start, the beaches near Muscat are a nature lover’s ideal. Unlike Dubai’s manicured shores, these are soft, sandy beaches oozing natural beauty.
Two favorites are Qurum Beach, perfect for long, lazy days wandering the long shorelines and spectacular sunset viewing, and Qantab Beach. The latter is right by a charming fishing village, where you may be able to charter a boat to take you out around the nearby islands or to another private, more secluded beach.
Journey time: 3 hours by air
Admittedly, Baku is a large capital city so it would be hard to explore fully in just a weekend. However, it’s still well worth considering for a short break if you are happy to focus your sightseeing efforts.
What makes Baku so enticing? It’s likened to Paris or Moscow as often as it is to its Middle Eastern neighbors.
It’s a real East-meets-West place on the old Silk Road, with wide boulevards, some modern Dubai-esque architecture, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site old town. You could spend a whole morning wandering in the cobblestone streets of this old town, exploring mosques, Hammans and museums.
In the afternoon, take a stroll along the wide European-style boulevards and the Bulvar promenade. This much-loved street makes the most of the city’s position on the edge of the Caspian sea. It’s a bustling place and favorite meeting place for locals, especially in the evenings.
Don’t miss the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre. This incredible building is revered for its beautiful curved lines. Inside, it’s a vast treasure trove of cultural artefacts, from ancient archaeological finds to contemporary art.
Journey time: 3 hours by air
Being one of the world’s most vibrant places and the home of Bollywood, the appeal of Mumbai is obvious. How could you spend a weekend in India’s ‘city of dreams’?
Of course, being an enormous city, the options are numerous. Mumbai is India’s fashion capital so enjoy shopping, if that’s your favorite thing. There is also some incredible Art Deco and colonial architecture to enjoy in the Colaba district. The Gateway to India is the city’s most iconic structure. To see more on your short trip, central Mumbai is easily explored by rickshaw.
A unique, unmissable feature of this city is the national park that sits within its limits. The Sanjay Gandhi park is a vast, lush jungle with incredible biodiversity. Its official website currently lists 1300 species of trees, 274 species of birds, 170 species of butterflies, and 35 species of mammals. Fauna includes monkeys, deer and the Atlas moth, the world’s largest moth.
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Journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes by air
If time isn’t on your side, then a short hop to Bahrain is ideal. A couple of days is all you need to see this tiny kingdom. In fact, its ideal territory for a micro-sized road trip.
Although Bahrain is made up of 33 islands, many of them are linked by bridges and causeways. Bahrain’s two largest cities, Manama and Diffa, are just a 20-minute drive apart, too.
Motorsports fans should clearly time their visit with the Grand Prix weekend. However, Bahrain is also a great place to explore the heritage of the Arabian Gulf. Enjoy Riffa Fort, ancient Khamis Mosque and a plethora of exhibitions explaining dhow-building, traditional arts and crafts, and pearl diving.
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These 5 places are just the tip of the iceberg.
A distinct advantage of living in Dubai is that so much of the MENA region (and beyond) can be explored from Dubai’s easily-reached airport, with hundreds of flights leaving daily.
The hardest task is choosing where to go. Hope this guide will help you to make the decision of your next adventurous weekend escapes destination.