Al Ain has a special place in all Emiratis’ hearts, as it is the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the creator of the United Arab Emirates. It is popularly known as the Garden City of the UAE, courtesy its natural springs, greenery, and oases. Tourists from across the world flock to the second largest city in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to see its forts, oases, UNESCO sites, museums, and zoo.

Here is a list of places and activities that deserve a place in your Al Ain travel itinerary.

The First Step

The best way to explore Al Ain is by driving around the city. The clean, wide, and well-connected roads of Al Ain make it easy for travellers to drive to all the tourist attractions without any hassle. With many affordable car hire options in the city, contact a reliable and reputed car rentals service like Hertz to get your hands on a comfortable four-wheeler. Please note that non-UAE residents need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Al Ain.

Must-See Attractions

Start your trip by visiting the Al Jahili Fort, one of the most beautiful historical structures in the UAE. On your visit to the fort, you would also get the chance to see the black and white photographs clicked by acclaimed English explorer and travel writer Wilfred Thesiger. Next on your list should be the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, which was home to the late UAE founder. The aim of this museum is to preserve Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and educate tourists about his family and life.

You should also visit the Al Ain Oasis, which is the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Drive to the peak of Jebel Hafeet (Hafeet Mountain) to enjoy panoramic views of the city. People looking for places to visit with children would definitely enjoy a tour around the Al Ain National Museum, Central Public Garden, Hili Archeological Park, Hili Fun City and Al Ain Zoo. Head to Mubazzarah Park, a natural oasis with mineral hot springs to enjoy a relaxing picnic with friends and family.

Emirati delicacies in Al Ain

Some of the many top-rated restaurants in Al Ain are Makani Café, Tanjore, Flavours, Paco’s Bar, and Zest. Budget travelers looking to savour authentic UAE cuisine must visit the Al Diwan Restaurant. You can also enjoy an outdoor poolside meal at the Hiltonia Club House.

Places to Shop

From modern malls to traditional souqs, Al Ain has something for everyone. Visit the Bawadi Mall, Al Ain Mall, Al Jimi Mall and Wahat Hili Mall to shop, eat, and have fun. You can buy traditional Emirati clothes, aromatic incense, authentic spices, henna, and Arabian coffee pots at the Souq Al Zafarana.

Spread out the activities based on the number of days you plan to stay in the UAE and the kind of traveler you are. Some can squeeze all the activities in just one day, while some like to unravel each layer of the city at an unhurried pace.