Al Ain Things To Do in 2 days
The United Arab Emirates first designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site is in Al Ain because of the city’s important location on the Oman-UAE trading root, the falaj irrigation system, archaeological remains and the importance of its oasis both historically and culturally.
Al Ain although not as concrete-packed as Abu Dhabi or Dubai, is gifted with natural, historical and man-made attractions. What was once a crucial caravan stop in a trade-route is now a favorite among locals and tourists to escape the bustling pace and reconnect with nature in the Emirati way.
Museums teeming with archaeological finds, the zoo with a unique vision and thousands of animals, gardens that prove worthy of its nickname ‘the garden city’ and souks bustling with activity and four-legged locals. Al Ain is a melting pot of experiences waiting for you to taste.
The moderate climate makes Al Ain Things to do during the day less daunting. Although it is a desert city, the heat is bearable with temperatures sticking between 15 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius.
Copy the locals and wake up your senses with a steaming cup of Arabic Coffee known as Ghawa. Head to the Al Ain Camel Souk, a bustling traditional market – the only of its kind to date- that trades camels. Make sure to carry change with you to pay the camel owners in case you take photos of their camels. Pet these majestic creatures and admire their beauty as you take in the local action with customers bargaining and traders stating their price in Arabic.
It can be a bit smelly and noisy even, but one of the best ways to truly understand a place is to see its locals doing what they love, and camels are the first in their favorites list. You will be surprised with the variety of camels holed up in pens, from black-skinned adults suitable for racing to golden studs to be released into farms. The market is open until sundown, but trading is liveliest in the morning hours. Please keep in mind that women should dress up modestly.
Now that you have got a taste of Al Ain’s Local action, go see its historical riches in the Hili Archaeological Park. The site is rich with excavations that date back to the Neolithic times because of its strategic location between the Oman-UAE caravan routes. This world Heritage UNESCO site is packed with tombs, stone monuments that pay tribute to their beliefs of a second life, and buildings made of sun-dried bricks. Relax under the cooling palms and sip on a cooling drink to prepare yourself for a bigger intake of historical information.
Continue the saga in the Al Ain National Museum. Opened in November 1971, the three sections will give you enough paraphernalia to observe for a few hours. The archaeology section of the museum houses important coin collections, pendants and so many other finds that date back to the Iron and Bronze ages. Most of the excavations were taken from Hili Archaeological Park, the most famous being the Grand Hili Tomb.
As you move on to the ethnography area you can observe exhibits that recreate the daily activities of the Bedouins during ancient times. Recreations of the majlis and so many other objects are displayed. Last but not the least, admire the extravagant gifts that were received by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Now, the hungry archaeological buff in you is fed.
Continue the stream of history with a twist of royalty as you step into Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum. Restored to the likes of when the Sheikh lived in it, the museum does a good job in maintaining the look as well. The cinnamon-coloured building has different sections, official, guest and personal areas that are interconnected with beautiful courtyards. Sit down in the majlis, admire the personal quarters of the Sheikh from his bedroom to the jeep he used for desert escapades. Learn more about the royal family by studying the history and their family tree as well.
Al Ain Zoo is a must stop attraction in the green city. Noted as one of the largest animal enclosures in the UAE, the Al Ain Zoo has above 4000 animals divided according to their type. There is a yellow train that takes you around certain areas of the zoo. But, the best way is to explore by foot to take your own pace and really admire the animals.
Make your way to the big cat house to observe the felines- lions, black leopards, jaguars, and pumas- ready to prance. You will be stunned by the varying sizes of monkeys in the monkey enclosure before heading over to the aquarium for a relaxing experience observing colorful fish lazily swimming about. Scrutinize the reptile kingdom in action as you safely look into the glass enclosures of the reptile house and quickly head over to the aviary to let your heart soar as the birds fly about showing off their pretty features. The dinosaur trail is also quite interesting. However, the Giraffe feeding session and the bird show (depending on the timings) should not be missed.
If you make it out of the Al Ain Zoo before sundown then head over to the Jebel Hafeet. Although the views during the day are wonderful, they look magical during night time. There is a curvy road through the mountain which takes you to the summit. This road is regarded as one of the best roads. You can even cycle to the top, but that’s a task better left during the day. Just take a drive and admire miles and miles of black velvet dotted with golden-orange and multicolored lights. The city of Al Ain looks picturesque at night. Enjoy the cooling breeze at the top, take a few pictures and head back down to enjoy your dinner and slip into bed for another round of exploration tomorrow.
Make your way to Al Jahili Fort which is the biggest castle that was built in 1891 to protect the city’s lush palm groves. The Fort which only consisted of the square fort and tiered tower served as a summer residence for Sheikh Zayed in 1836 to 1909. The British expanded it in the 1950s and the sand-coloured compound is currently modified and houses a magnificent exhibit of photographs taken by the British explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger throughout his journey across the Rub Al Khali or the empty quarter desert. The exhibit is locally known as Mubarak Bin London.
The Al Ain Oasis is the largest of the seven oases in the city. The oasis is backed up with the Falaj Irrigation System that provides water to its orchards and palm trees. The Falaj Irrigation System is an ancient form of underground irrigation that brings water from boreholes. It is mainly used in UAE, Oman, and Iran. Stroll through the disciplined lines of date palm grooves that provide shade from the sun and cool the surrounding area. This haven of tranquility is a perfect destination to get away from the burning sun and its heat forming the highlight of the trip.
Since yesterday was fruitful in the garden city, let us continue checking out the balance Al Ain things to do. The Al Ain Paradise Gardens is literally a paradise of flowers. Garnering a Guinness world record for the biggest show of hanging baskets is proudly displayed at the entrance. Make sure not to stray from the stoned walkways that start from the hanging baskets filled with natural flowers that are decorated artistically.
The first stop in the path will be a 12 meter tall Eiffel Tower of Al Ain that is beautifully decorated with flowers that bloom throughout the year. Take pictures to your heart’s content before continuing down the path to the pyramid of flowers which is 7 meters tall and the only one of its kind in the planet. The last stop in the path will be the three hearts shaped out of flowers. The hearts depict the three cities of the Abu Dhabi Emirate, Abu Dhabi Al Ain and Liwa.
Spend the night inside Al Ain’s leading shopping hotspot, the Al Ain Mall. You can either grab a bite in any of its 60 restaurants offering anything from Indian to local cuisine or shop for the perfect souvenir in any of its boutiques. Better yet spend some time enjoying with olaf and miniature models of snow white and the seven dwarves in the ski rink.