Brimming with ancient historic attractions, blissful beach resorts, and unmatched opportunities for outdoor adventure, Ras Al Khaimah is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination with something for everyone. The vast and varied nature of the UAE makes it difficult to properly explore in just one trip, and most travelers will stop by this lesser-known emirate for a few days or a weekend after vacationing in Dubai. Even if your schedule is tight, this unique emirate is still definitely worth a visit, so be sure to make the most of your two days in Ras Al Khaimah with our extensive itinerary.
Best Time to Visit Ras Al Khaimah
With temperatures ranging from 55° to 108°F, Ras Al Khaimah’s climate can be both paradisal and inhibiting. Although the emirate is about 10 degrees cooler than the neighboring city of Dubai, the weather can still become uncomfortably hot. If you’re not acclimated to soaring desert temperatures and you’re primarily interested in outdoor activities, the best time to visit is generally between November and April. Of course, the pleasant weather also means that winter is peak tourist season, but Ras Al Khaimah is generally less crowded and more laid back than the UAE’s bigger cities, even during the most popular months of the year.
How to Get Around Ras Al Khaimah
The emirate’s close proximity to the popular city of Dubai makes it a super-convenient stopping point if you’re already planning a trip within the UAE. It takes about two hours to drive from downtown Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah’s city center, and it is advisable that you rent a car for the drive, especially if you’re interested in driving up the mountains on your own schedule once you arrive. You can also take a bus from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah for about $6 USD, or just fly directly into Ras Al Khaimah International Airport.
Once you arrive, if you haven’t rented a car, you’ll find a robust and reliable public transportation system that you can rely on to reach the best places to visit in Ras Al Khaimah. As the emirate has grown into a popular vacation destination within the UAE, the government has made significant investments in infrastructure, so it now offers very affordable and reliable bus services, tourist shuttle services, and government taxis. If you do plan to rent a car, you can rest assured that the impressive infrastructure makes for a very smooth and safe drive. To head up to the emirate’s most popular attraction, the soaring Jebel Jais, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority offers a $5 shuttle to and from Ras Al Khaimah City, or you can hire a private taxi for around $40–50 each way.
Where to Stay in Ras Al Khaimah
Rivaling Abu Dhabi for the title of the resort capital of the UAE, Ras Al Khaimah is known for its luxurious beachfront resorts. Many of these resorts are also modeled on traditional Arabic architecture, creating a unique atmosphere reminiscent of the area’s ancient history.
For a taste of the unmatched luxury that resides within the UAE, check out the Waldorf Astoria, an opulent resort regularly regarded as one of the best places to stay in Ras Al Khaimah. With unmatched amenities like a private beach, a golf course, and breathtaking water and mountain views, this world-renowned beach resort will have you living like royalty.
If you’re looking for an optimal combination of comfort and affordability, consider a stay in Citymax Hotel, a reputable chain known for its top-notch service, modern amenities, and ideal location in the city center. Conveniently, the beach is just about 1.5 miles away, and the hotel offers an incredible restaurant and bar on its ground floor.
For even more accommodation options in Ras al Khaimah check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect Two-Day Ras Al Khaimah Itinerary
Too often overlooked in favor of the glamorous neighboring emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah has a ton of unique attractions to offer and is definitely deserving of a spot on your UAE itinerary. With its rich history, luxurious white-sand beaches, and towering mountains, this underrated vacation destination is sure to satisfy any hankering for adventure. If you’re planning to check it out on your trip to the region, this two-day itinerary will help you find the best things to do in Ras Al Khaimah, even if you’re just stopping by.
However, before we get to our Ras Al Khaimah itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
SafetyWing offers travel insurance for only about $10 a week, making it a no-brainer to get. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
SafetyWing is, of course, not the only option available. Two other popular alternatives are World Nomads and Heymondo.
Day 1: Jebel Jais and the Beach
If you have any doubt regarding what to do in Ras Al Khaimah in two days, you certainly will not regret a trip up the tallest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais. However you choose to get there, traveling from the base of the mountain to its highest peak will take you about 45 minutes, and the best time to go is in the morning to catch the sunrise from one of the several lookout points along the way.
In addition to the incredible natural scenery, the mountain offers pretty fantastic opportunities for nature lovers and thrill seekers to experience some of the best natural attractions in the world. From survival courses and six different hiking trails to adventure centers and the world’s longest zip line, the opportunities for adventure are truly endless.
Depending on your penchant for adventure, it’s easy to spend the entire day trying out the many activities available on the mountain. If you’re just looking to take a quick ride to the top, enjoy a viewpoint picnic, and head back, you’ll want to schedule about two or three hours for the trip. After your adventure up the mountain, you’re likely to be tuckered out, so you may want to head back to the city and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening relaxing on the beach.
Regardless of when you’re visiting Ras Al Khaimah, you should definitely check out the serene setting of their fabulous beaches, which tend to be far more peaceful than the beaches of Dubai and offer the added benefit of a scenic mountain backdrop. If you’re staying in one of the emirate’s high-end resorts, you’ll likely have access to a private beach, but there are also plenty of free public beaches dotted along the coast, each one as beautiful as the next.
If you happen to be visiting Ras Al Khaimah in the heat of the summer, you may want to check out the beaches at sunset for the most comfortable experience. Alternatively, you could hit the beach in the morning and head up to Jebel Jais in the late afternoon, if you feel like spending the night at one of the camping sites on the mountain.
Day 2: Dhaya Fort, Al Jazirat Ghost Town, and Ras Al Khaimah National Museum
After a day of trekking up mountains and admiring the stunning natural scenery, you’ll want to dedicate some time to exploring the emirate’s unique ancient history in order to truly see the best of Ras Al Khaimah.
A member of the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, Dhaya Fort is a historic 18th-century hill fort set within a lush date palm oasis. The fort dates all the way back to the Bronze Age and was formerly used as an outpost of resistance during the Persian Gulf campaign of 1819. Walk around the base of the fort and check out the large Wadi Suq tombs, or climb to the top for spectacular views spanning all the way out to the sea and the border of Oman.
Cloaked in ancient history and intriguing mystery, Al Jazirat Ghost Town is easily one of the emirate’s biggest draws and should most definitely be your next stopping point. Part of the area has been restored to present an interesting art exhibition, and beyond the demarcated section is where it really gets interesting. Set on the outskirts of Ras Al Khaimah, the deserted village was formerly a pearl trade hub but was abandoned in 1968 and is rumored to be haunted. Suspicions of a lone resident in the town make the area extra-eerie, and wandering through the forgotten streets and remnants of old houses is an exciting, albeit lesser-known, tourist attraction.
When you’re exploring Ras Al Khaimah in two days, a visit to Ras Al Khaimah National Museum is the perfect way to round off your trip on your way back into the city. Closing at 6 p.m. and costing just over $1 USD to enter, the museum boasts a seriously impressive collection of ancient artifacts and offers a ton of historic information that will give you invaluable insight into the history and economy of Ras Al Khaimah and of the entire region. The museum itself is a historic fort and a former ruling residence with historic exhibitions centered around a gorgeous courtyard garden. The staff will offer you free tea and Arabic coffee upon arrival, and there are several tour guides available, although it is even more exciting to explore the fort on your own. There are plenty of old rooms, spooky corridors, and scenic vantage points to explore both inside and out.
With the plethora of impressive resorts and hotels in Ras Al Khaimah comes an even greater abundance of high-end restaurants and exquisite fine dining opportunities. However, if you’re interested in trying some traditional Emirati cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Skeek Restaurant & Café, which serves authentic mouthwatering dishes in a contemporary environment.
Day 3 and Beyond
If you’re lucky enough to spend more than a couple of days in this glorious emirate, here are a few more ideas for your Ras Al Khaimah itinerary:
Explore Sheba’s Palace: If you have the time, you’ll definitely want to squeeze in a quick trip to Sheba’s palace, the ancient ruins of the oldest palace in the UAE, rumored to be one of the residences of the Queen of Sheba. Strategically perched on a rocky hill, the mysterious ruins make the perfect viewpoint for admiring the luscious date palms in the nearby archeological site of Shimal.
Tackle More of the Endless Array of Hiking Trails: The stunning scenery and rugged terrain of the Hajar Mountains makes it one of the most sought-after hiking destinations in the country. In addition to the trails offered on Jebel Jais, the Wadi Lasal Trail is a super-popular trek, perfect for beginners and experienced hikers alike. The six-mile loop begins at the Wadi Modaynah Dam in Ras Al Khaimah and takes you past plenty of lovely viewpoints where you can admire the breathtaking surrounding scenery.
If you’re interested in the plethora of hiking trails in Ras Al Khaimah and its surrounding emirates, check out our article on the best hiking trails in the UAE.
Whether you prefer lounging on a beach admiring the backdrop of the mountains, trekking up the rugged terrain yourself, or delving into ancient history in the city center, this Ras Al Khaimah travel itinerary will make sure you get a taste of it all.
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