If you want to get away from the trappings of the city, Liwa is the perfect choice for a quick weekend getaway. This desert oasis town has none of the usual glamour of the UAE’s big cities, but that’s what makes it perfect for a refreshing road trip in pristine desert surroundings. All you need to do is get a car rental in Dubai and you’re ready to set off on your personal desert adventure.

Liwa is located in Abu Dhabi’s western region, a desert town with vast sand dunes rising on all sides. The drive from Dubai to Liwa is just 3.5 hours long, but it packs in a lot of natural beauty. The landscape is absolutely unreal with the vast red desert sands creating a stark contrast to the green of the few palm trees of the oases. The desert landscape makes it the perfect spot for camping under the desert sky. If you’re in the mood for luxury, Liwa also has some resorts and five start hotels, like the Qasr Al Sarab, where you can relax and rejuvenate.

Here are 5 things you should check out in Liwa to make the most of your trip:

Moreb Dunes: The famous Moreb Dunes in Liwa are some of the tallest, with a height of nearly 22 meters above sea level. You can easily drive down to them from Mezairaa town in a comfortable sedan. The perfect time to visit is at sunset, when the dunes are tinged red with the setting sun and you can stop to take in the beauty of the stunning desert landscape.

Sheikh Hamad Auto Museum: Located around 20 km away from the coastal road, this famous museum houses the personal collection of Sheikh Hamad, an avid collector of cars. While the museum is not officially open to the public, it is possible to get permission in advance. The museum is well worth a visit for motor enthusiasts as it houses over 200 cars, with everything from vintage Fords to New York’s famous yellow taxicab.

Desert Forts: It is fascinating to see how people survived in the Emirati deserts in the past. You can see the remnants of the UAE’s history and the old way of life at the many desert forts scattered around Liwa, such as the Jabbana Fort, Mezzaira Fort, Al Hamily House, and the Qutuf Fort and Mosque. These mud brick forts once protected the people and their precious water sources from warring tribes and are an interesting sight for history buffs.

Mezairaa Town: Mezairaa is the main town in Liwa, located midway from Arada in the west and Hameem in the south. The town is in the midst of a massive development push, though it is still a quiet town without glitzy malls and tall buildings. Its location makes it the perfect place for exploring the rest of Liwa, as most places of interest in Liwa are within driving distance. Visit this town to see another side of the Emirati life.

Liwa Date Festival: The date palm is vital to the inhabitants of the Liwa Oasis – providing shade, nutrition and building material for traditional houses and boats. The date festival is a great opportunity to see how the humble date palm and its fruit have contributed to the culture and traditions of Liwa.