The Emirate of Ras al Khaimah is one of the most authentic places to visit in the UAE, rich in history, traditions and breathtaking landscapes.
Although it is rather isolated and unknown compared to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and cannot count on the same energy resources, today Ras al Khaimah is appreciated for its tranquility, the most beautiful beaches, the mountains to be explored and many fun opportunities that make it an excellent destination for young travelers.
Located at the gates of the scenic Musandam Peninsula, which is an Omani exclave, travelers will appreciate the ancient charm of Ras al Khaimah, a destination full of places to see and an essential stop on any UAE road trip.
The best things to do in Ras al Khaima
1. Jebel Jais
Travelers from all over the world come here to see the wonderful mountainous landscape of the Jebel Jais, on the Hajar Mountains.
The Jebel Jais is located about 55 km northeast of Ras Al-Khaimah, and with its height of 1934 m it is the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates.
The peak is located in the Omani territory, but it is still possible to get close enough with a comfortable road, which offers several scenic spots along the way.
At the top (at the end of the road) there are squares where you can stop to admire the incredible mountainous landscape: you can see the entire emirate, up to the Gulf!
Couples might take the opportunity to have a romantic picnic on the top of the Jebel Jais.
Jebel Jais Zipline: The Longest Zipline In The World
This is one of the craziest experiences you can live in the UAE: the Jebel Jais Zipline, a zipline almost 3 km long, which allows you to fly at the crazy speed of 150 km/h (93 mph) on one of the most incredible mountain panoramas of the Arabian Peninsula, that of the Jebel Jais, in the Hajar Mountains.
The Jebel Jais Zipline is located just 2 hours from Dubai, so many adventure seekers come here to enjoy this exciting experience, there are also those who decide to do it in pairs: there are two parallel ziplines!
The departure takes place from a transparent platform at 1680 meters high. From here after a first crazy flight of almost 3 km you reach a platform suspended in mid-air, which in my opinion is the most beautiful part of the whole experience: here you can take some incredible photos!
From the intermediate platform we start for a second zipline of about 1 km, until the end of the adventure. The adrenaline rush is crazy! To be done at least once in a lifetime!
Tickets can be booked online at a discounted price, so you are sure to secure the time you intend to make your Jebel Jais Zipline Flight.
If you’re staying in Dubai, you can book this tour that includes the Jebel Jais Zipline Flight experience and transportation (including pick-up and drop-off) from your Dubai hotel.
2. Jazirat al-Hamra
Ghost town lovers should not miss a visit to Jazirat al-Hamra. This abandoned city is one of the most authentic and best preserved traces of the UAE’s appearance before the discovery of oil.
Jazirat al-Hamra is a fishing and pearl seeker village, located about 20 km south of Ras Al-Khaimah city, once inhabited by the Zaab tribe.
After a dispute with the Ras Al-Khaimah ruler, the tribe (about 2500 people) decided to abandon the village of Jazirat al-Hamra in 1968, to move to Abu Dhabi.
Since then Jazirat al-Hamra has been abandoned and in ruins, but most of the houses are still there, including the ancient mosque, which according to local beliefs is haunted.
Today Jazirat al-Hamra is a destination for photographers, ghost hunters, and travelers attracted by its ancient charm.
3. Ras Al Khaimah National Museum
One of the most popular places to see in Ras Al Khaimah is the Fort which is located in the city center and which until the early 60s was the residence of the ruling family.
This ancient fortress now houses the Ras Al Khaimah National Museum, which houses a collection of weapons, artifacts, manuscripts and papers that tell the story of the emirate and its civilization.
The most famous room of the RAK National Museum is the “Qawasim Room” dedicated to relations with Great Britain.
Besides the ethnographic section, which offers an overview of how the population lived until a few years ago, there is an interesting archaeological section, where you can see the finds from the first human settlements of the area, about 7,000 years ago.
4. Dhayah Fort
Dhayah Fort is located on a hill about 20 km north of Ras Al-Khaimah city and has long been an important defensive element for the emirate.
Built in the 16th century, this mud-brick fort was used to defend the Ras Al-Khaimah region from enemy attacks, particularly from British attacks.
Here people could find refuge and organize a defense from a privileged position: from this hill you can see the whole valley, and the whole coast of Ras Al-Khaimah.
Around Dhayah Fort you can see the ruins of fortifications and watchtowers, most of which were destroyed during the 1891 battle against the British. Today the small Dhayah Fort is mainly visited for the beautiful panoramic view.
5. Khatt Springs
Khatt is one of the most beautiful mountain villages in the UAE, about 26 km from Ras Al-Khaimah. Inhabited since ancient times, the village of Khatt is famous for its natural thermal springs, as well as for the charm of an ancient and peaceful village, which makes it the ideal place to relax.
Khatt Springs is an area where there are thermal pools of sulphurous and mineral-rich waters. The water is very hot (40 °C) and is renowned for its beneficial effects.
Near Khatt Springs there is an ancient fort worth a visit, Khatt Fort.
6. Hajar Mountains
Ras Al-Khaimah is nestled between the Gulf, the desert and rugged and spectacular mountains: the Hajar Mountains.
The Hajar Mountains are one of the top destinations for a day trip from Ras Al Khaimah, this because they offer incredible landscapes, beautiful panoramic views and an immersion in nature.
The Hajar Mountains attract geologists from all over the world for its ophiolites, particular igneous rocks, while tourists can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and exciting attractions of the Jebel Jais, in particular the zipline and the via ferrata.
4×4 Mountain Safari Experience: discover the most remote and authentic landscapes of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
The best way to enjoy the incredible mountain landscapes, visiting ancient villages and the most remote and authentic areas of the country is with a 4×4 Mountain Safari Experience.
The experience lasts about 4 hours and includes transportation and a professional English speaking guide. The experience can be booked online at a discounted price.
7. Cruise to Musandam Dibba, Oman
Those who visit the United Arab Emirates should not miss a visit to the Musandam Peninsula, an Oman exclave, which is one of the most breathtaking places in the Persian Gulf.
Famous for its fjords of crystal clear waters, the Musandam area can be explored with traditional wooden boats, the Dhows, which allow you to visit white sandy bays, remote islets, and ancient fishing villages.
During the cruise you can snorkel and relax by swimming, as well as spotting the many dolphins that swim in this area.
The cruise can be booked online at a discounted price, it includes a hearty lunch on board, a professional English-speaking guide and pick-up and drop-off transportation to your hotel in Ras al Khaimah or Dubai, Sharjah or Ajman.
8. Shimal Archeological Park
At the foot of the Hajar Mountains there are several important archaeological sites dating back to about 4000 years ago, in particular in the small village of Shimal you can see hundreds of tombs dating back to the pre-Islamic era.
9. Desert Safari with Dinner or Overnight Stay
Ras Al Khaimah is surrounded by desert and mountains, so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular activities is desert safari.
The safaris depart daily from Ras Al Khaimah hotels and lead to a Bedouin camp in the desert, where visitors can visit a camel farm, take a camel ride and enjoy local music and dance performances.
The safaris include a typical BBQ dinner with meat and vegetables, with dates and buffets, local products, Arabic coffee and tea, the possibility of smoking shisha or having a henna tattoo.
You can choose the safari with dinner or you can choose to spend the night in the desert, sleeping in a comfortable Bedouin-style tent. In the morning you can watch the sun rise over the desert and have a hearty breakfast before returning to Ras Al Khaimah.
Desert safaris can be booked online in advance, at a discounted price.
Guided tour of the city of Ras al Khaimah, Jazirat al-Hamra and Al Dhayah Fort
The best way to visit the city of Ras al Khaimah is with a local guide who takes you to the old city, discovering fortresses and ancient mosques, through the old souks and the traditional fish market. The visit also includes the abandoned village of Jazirat al-Hamra and the ancient hilltop fortress, Al Dhayah Fort.
Guided tours can be booked online in advance, you can choose to do it in the morning or in the afternoon. The visit lasts 5 hours and includes transportation and pickup and drop-off at your hotel in RAK.
How to get to Ras Al Khaimah
The inter-regional buses depart and arrive from the taxi rank opposite the Cove Rotana Resort, along the E11 Highway. There are connections to and from Dubai and Sharjah (20 AED), Umm Al Quwain (10 AED) and Ajman (15 AED).
The best way to visit Ras Al Khaimah is to rent a car. This way you will be free to explore the wonders of this area, saving a lot compared to the cost of taxis or tours. Renting a car in the UAE is really cheap, here you will find some useful tips.
If you have a car, getting to Ras Al Khaimah and going around its main attractions is quite easy. From Dubai the E11 Highway and the faster E311 Highway lead directly to RAK.
The main taxi stand is located on the E11 Highway, opposite the Cove Rotana Resort. From here taxis leave for all destinations.
The small Ras Al Khaimah International Airport is located 18km south of RAK, and has few regional connections operated by Air Arabia and charter flights mainly from Russia and Germany.
Those arriving or departing from Dubai International Airport can book online a discounted private transfer.