things to do in the desert of Dubai

Embark on an unparalleled adventure as you explore the best things to do in the Desert of Dubai!

Immerse yourself in a world where tradition meets thrill: hop onto a Jeep safari and explore the golden dunes, feel the rush of adrenaline as you try sandboarding, take a moment to experience the gentle pace of camel riding, and delve deep into the ancient art of falconry.

But that’s just scratching the surface. Dubai’s desert landscape hides a myriad of cool, unusual, and culturally enriching activities that promise to make your trip memorable.

Have fun and don’t forget your sunglasses 🙂

Want to dive straight in? Browse our catalog now!

Things to do during the day

1 – Go on a jeep safari

Jeep safari in Dubai desert

Travel into the desert on a 4×4 so you can explore the desert comfortably and accompanied by the driver. A desert safari is one of the best tourist attractions in Dubai.

Exploring the desert by jeep costs around 40€ or more and, usually, these tours are combined with many other activities such as dune bashing or sandboarding so consider looking at these tours that include everything.

2 – Be brave to try out dune bashing

Dune bashing

Board a 4×4 so you can experience dune bashing with a professional driver. This activity is perfect for adrenaline lovers; you will definitely feel the thrill when you’re in the jeep going up and down those dunes. These types of tours are included with jeep safari tours so check on TourScanner for the best deals.

3 – Ride a dirt bike in the desert…

Dirt bike safari in Dubai desert

Go bashing across the sand dunes on a dirt bike tour along the desert. An initial lesson for beginners is included, as well as all the equipment in order to be safe. These tours are quite expensive but if you’re a bike lover and you want to experience some adrenaline, this is perfect for you.

4 -… or try out a fat tire bike

Fat tire bike safari in Dubai desert

Explore the desert of Dubai on two wheels or even better – a fat bike! With an expert guide, you can explore the desert on these bikes that have over-sized tires designed to go on desert sand. There are fat bike tours which take you for 5 hours around the desert so if you’re daring enough, test your fitness on this type of tour!

5 – Hop on a hot air balloon and see the desert from the sky

Hot air balloon in Dubai desert

Experience the desert safari from a different perspective by boarding a hot air balloon, one of the most romantic things to do in Dubai for couples. These tours usually start in the early morning in order to get an even more beautiful view as the sun starts to rise. If you’re daring enough, hop on a hot air balloon and don’t forget your camera to capture the views!

6 – Learn about falconry in the desert

Falconry in Dubai desert

Watch falcons fly up to 4,000 feet which are trained to give a demonstration. To make the experience even better, combine the falcon display with a hot air balloon ride and a gourmet breakfast.

7 – Have fun on a sandboard

Sandboarding in Dubai desert

Try sandboarding, a popular desert activity and one of the best family-friendly things to do in Dubai with kids.

It’s fun to slide down the dunes on a board, so if you’re planning a desert safari experience with the family, this is a must-include activity for some shared laughter and memories!

8 – Spot local wildlife at the Al Qudra Lakes

Al Qudra Lakes, desert of Dubai

Gaining traction among Dubai locals, the Al Qudra Lakes in the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is a desert oasis 45 minutes from the city.

This man-made lake hosts over 170 species, from flamingos to foxes, perfect for birdwatching, picnics, or BBQs. In addition to walking trails, there’s an 86 km bike path at the Al Qudra Cycle Track.

While you’re there: Right around the corner you’ll find Love Lake Dubai. Just 10 minutes away, tucked away amidst the Al Salam desert dunes, the aptly-named artificial lake is shaped like a pair of interlocked hearts – making it one of the more romantic things to do in the desert of Dubai.

9 – Go on a camel safari and explore the desert

Sunset camel safari in Dubai desert

You’re bound to see camels in the desert in Dubai so why not experience riding one?

They are known to be calm animals and the owners of the camels will give you instructions on how to board a camel. You should definitely include camel riding to your desert safari Dubai experience.

There are also camel farms which you can visit if you’re interested in knowing more about these particular animals.

10 – Go horse riding

Horse riding safari in Dubai desert

Similar to camel riding, you also have the option of horse riding across the desert. These type of experiences are very unique and perfect for relaxing.

The duration of the horse riding is around 90 minutes and you’ll be accompanied by a guide at all times.

11 – Ride a quad bike or drive a buggy

ATV safari in Dubai desert

Ride the desert on a quad bike which will definitely be an exciting experience. They give you instructions on how to use the quad and provide you with protective gear.

Or if you prefer, you can also ride a buggy which can be more comfortable.

Buggy safari in Dubai desert

Both are a bit expensive but you can check on TourScanner for the best deals which usually include other activities to do in the desert.

12 – Get in a vintage Land Rover

Vintage Landrover safari in Dubai desert

If you’re looking for something even more luxurious, explore the desert safari with style on a vintage land rover. These types of tours tend to be expensive but worth your money as they include many other activities to maximize your desert safari experience.

13 – Go off-road in a Hummer Safari

hummer safari in the desert of Dubai

Dubai’s vast desert landscape is ideal for off-roading, especially in a Hummer. Most tour companies offer a similar experience: a pickup from Dubai, followed by thrilling dune bashing where you might spot local wildlife.

The adventure continues at a Bedouin camp with camel rides, sandboarding, and a BBQ dinner under the stars, rounded off with belly dancing, shisha, henna, and fire shows.

For a twist, morning safaris are available, emphasizing adventure activities like quad biking before the midday heat.

14 – Discover Hatta Heritage Village

Hatta heritage village

Explore the Hatta Heritage Village, one of the best places to visit in Dubai. This restored mountain village features mud and stone houses that showcase life from centuries ago.

Combine your visit to this village with a 4×4 ride to maximise your experience, although most of the tours already have transport included.

15 – Encounter wildlife at Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Board a range rover with a professional safari guide who will take you around the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. This way you will fully discover the pristine desert eco-system and wildlife which is the most carefully preserved area in the UAE.

Things to do at night and overnight

16 – Spend a night at the camp in the desert

Overnight safari in Dubai desert

Dubai juxtaposes modern skyscrapers with expansive deserts. For a cultural retreat, Bedouin camps immerse you in Arabian traditions: savor local food, enjoy belly dancing, embark on camel rides or sandboarding, and sleep under the stars in Bedouin tents.

The Al Khayma Camp, only a 40-minute drive from the city, offers thrilling dune-bashing adventures and is one of the most popular desert overnight options.

The picturesque Sonara Camp, in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, features live music and a fire show. Don’t miss the stargazing at Rayna Desert Camp or the serene Lama Desert Camp.

Hot tip: Check the prices on TourScanner for the best deals to stay overnight, as many of the companies offer discounts if you book online and in advance.

17 – Tuck into a hearty BBQ dinner in the desert

BBQ dinner in the desert of Dubai

Taking place in isolated camps in the middle of the desert, a traditional BBQ dinner in Dubai usually includes an array of grilled meat and vegetable dishes, salads, Arabic breads, fruits, desserts and drinks like tea or coffee.

Depending on what’s on the menu that evening, you might get to try local specialties like shawarma (spit-roasted chicken or lamb) or kofta (grilled meatballs), zarb (meat and vegetables slow-cooked in coal under the sand), or melt-in-your-mouth hummus.

Keeping travelers front of mind, most desert BBQ dinner experiences are combined with a handful of activities like camel rides, dune bashing, henna painting, shisha, belly dancing and fire shows as part of a more comprehensive day trip — these typically better value than booking a dinner-only tour.

18 – Taste local cuisine and enjoy a show

Camp in Dubai desert

While spending the morning and evening at the desert safari can be tiring from all the adrenaline activities, you can wind down and enjoy some delicious traditional food and an entertainment show.

There is nothing better than trying the typical food from a different culture and getting to know more about the culture and traditions.

19 – Watch a traditional belly dance show

Belly dancing show

A tradition dating back centuries, the belly dance is one of the most beloved forms of entertainment in the Middle East.

Known for its sensuous, fluid movements, it’s a highlight of Dubai desert tours, particularly during BBQ dinners or overnight stays in Bedouin camps.

Performed by skilled dancers in colorful costumes, this 20-30 minute show adds allure to starlit evenings. Often, it caps off multi-activity desert experiences, following activities like dune bashing and camel riding.

20 – Get mesmerized by stargazing

Stargazing experience in Dubai desert

The Dubai city skyline is impressive; its twinkling skyscrapers and man-made islands are truly a sight to behold. But if you want to escape the bright lights and experience something truly magical, head out of the city into the desert for some stargazing — easily one of the best things to do in Dubai at night.

If you’d like to maximize your stargazing experience, consider joining an expert-led guided tour. Not only do the locals know the best spots for stargazing, but they can also share all kinds of fascinating insights into life in the desert

21 – Try a desert safari by night

Night safari in Dubai desert

Experience the desert by night on a 5-hour tour, as the sun sets you can board a private vintage Land Rover to spot the wildlife and beauty of the desert. A professional driver and guide will accompany you at all times to ensure you have a wonderful experience.

After the tour around the desert, it’s highly recommended to stay overnight at the retreat and stargaze at night with an astronomer guide.

Read more about the best Dubai Desert Safari

22 – Go camping with all the comforts… go glamping!

glamping in the desert of Dubai

Ever thought about enjoying the Dubai desert without the hassle of camping? Try glamping – it’s camping but with a luxury twist. In Dubai, glamping means staying in spacious tents that feel more like hotel rooms with all their furnishings and amenities.

You can choose from traditional vibes like the Al Khayma Camp or go upscale with resorts like Al Maha. And it’s not just about sleeping in style; these sites offer exciting activities such as camel rides and dune adventures. It’s the perfect mix of adventure and comfort.

BONUS – Check combos and don’t miss any good deals

Combo tickets - Dubai

Take advantage of your time in Dubai and combine your desert safari Dubai tour with other attractions. For instance, there are combined tickets to do a tour of the city of Dubai, go to the top of the Burj Khalifa, enjoy a dhow dinner cruise or go to the Dubai Aquarium. If you’re short of time, a combo could be a great idea to take into consideration. Head over to TourScanner to compare the different combos.

Travel tips

  • The best time to visit desert safari in Dubai is between November and March. The temperatures can moderately rise up but during this period of time, it should be okay.
  • Dune bashing can be a rough ride. Pregnant women are not advised to do dune bashing. Also not suited for people with neck or back problems or those who suffer from nausea or vertigo.
  • Don’t forget to wear a hat, sunglasses and sun cream to protect yourself from the sun – it’s quite strong.
  • The temperature drops in the evenings at the desert so make sure to take warm clothes to put on later in the evening. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes – preferably sandals to take the sand off easily.
  • Listen to your guide before boarding a camel as it’s not the same as doing so on a horse.
  • Don’t forget to take your camera – there are a lot of wild deer and reptiles which you will surely want to capture with your camera.

Final thoughts

We hope this comprehensive guide of the best things to do in the desert of Dubai helps you plan your itinerary for your trip!

For more inspiration about activities to do and places to see in Dubai, take a look at our most complete list of the top things to do in Dubai!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment below.

Wishing you all a lot of fun in the desert! 🙂

Born in Paris, Guillaume Picard has spent years immersing himself in diverse cultures, living everywhere from Asia's hubs like Singapore and Bali, to European destinations such as Portugal and Italy. Now, as the CMO of TourScanner, he's at the helm of a platform that echoes his passion for travel. Guillaume oversees the content, particularly the blog, offering readers firsthand insights and tales from his global escapades.