Sure, there are loads of things to do in Dubai. But tourists who really want to get off the beaten path can also plan their travels to the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah. Situated to the north in the UAE, Ras al Khaimah — or RAK as it is popularly known — is one of the country’s prime tourist destinations. With a name that literally means “top of the tent” UAE’s northernmost region features attractions that range from adventures in the Hajar mountain range to an active nightlife and activities that the whole family can enjoy. What are the attractions can you look forward to? Our comprehensive guide of things to do in Ras al Khaimah can help you plan your travels there.
What is Ras al Khaimah Known for?
The Emirate of Ras al Khaimah is the fourth largest in the UAE and was renowned for producing pearls that were considered unparalleled in the world. The country’s northernmost destination shares its boundaries with Sharjah, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and an international border with the Sultanate of Oman. Other notable facts about RAK is a rich history that dates back to the Bronze Age.
How old is Ras al Khaimah?
Judging from archaeological excavations, RAK has been home to several trading civilizations since 5000 BC and has a rich history and continuous settlements for 7,000 years.
Is Ras al Khaimah a good place to live?
There are several good places to live in Ras al Khaimah. In fact the communities of Al Marjan Island, Al Hamra Village and Dafan Al Nakheel are great choices for those looking at rental apartments in RAK.
Whether you are planning to visit RAK for the first time or buy property, a list of RAK attractions can help you navigate the activities that make life so exciting.
Go back in time
Visit the National Museum of Ras al Khaimah
Visit one of the oldest forts in the country and explore the rich Emirati traditions of the past at the National Museum of Ras al Khaimah.
From traditional weapons to fishing instruments, and ancient pottery, the museum is a great spot for anyone looking to glimpse into the emirate’s past.
The former fort also served as the residence of a ruling family before it was converted into the National Museum in the 1980s. In fact, amongst the countless artefacts and historical exhibits are original treatises signed by former ruling families. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the emirate, this RAK museum can be your first stop when you visit this historically rich city.
Visit the Dhayah Fort
A visit to the Dhayah Fort is a staple option in any “things to do in Ras al Khaimah” bucket list. Nestled in the Hajar Mountains, this hilltop fortress is one of the more prominent heritage sites. It dates back to the 16th century and was originally constructed as a defense against foreign invaders. A significant landmark in the country’s history, the clay-brick structure is easily recognisable via two distinct towers that provided the high ground for those keeping watch.
Visit the ghost town of Jazirat Al Hamra
One of the more unique places to visit in Ras al Khaimah, Jazirat Al Hamra, is an abandoned pearl fishing village that still retains a bit of the country’s history. A tour of the historical neighborhood gives visitors a glimpse of community life in the UAE before the discovery of oil. Once a thriving community, the place is like an open-air museum, but without a ticket office. Look out for buildings made from coral stones. Lying 12 or so miles from RAK’s main town, Jazirat Al Hamra is also famed as a site for the horror production, Djinn.
Visit the historical village of Shimal
History buffs can also make their way to Shimal. Located almost 12 kilometers north of RAK, the quaint village is the largest pre-Islamic site in the emirate, featuring more than 200 ancient tombs with most of them belonging to the Wadi Suq period. Archaeological finds that have been uncovered in the area include ancient stone vessels, weapons, pottery, pottery and beads. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the Husn al-Shimal Fort offers a better view of the entire area.
Go on an Adventure
Go on a safari and explore the Hajar mountains
Offering organized tours, there are several operators across the UAE that offer safari trips through the Hajar Mountains in Ras al Khaimah. One of the more convenient ways for exploring RAK, safari tours are a great option for families to get acquainted with the region’s natural wonders. Take an off-road adventure with a scenic drive along the foothills of the mountain while stopping to take pictures at archaeological stops along the way. For the best experience, contact the local tour operators for the latest offers and travel packages.
Hike over the UAE’s largest mountain
One of the best things to do in Ras al Khaimah is to explore the many mountains and rocky terrains that are signature attractions in the region. One of these is Jebel Jais — the highest peak and also one of the most popular camping spots in the UAE. Standing tall at 1,934 meters this majestic mountain offers stunning views of surrounding canyons and eroded cliffs.
The Jebel Jais Via Ferrata is a protected mountain route that is located at the Jebel Jais — the highest mountain in the UAE. The Via Ferrata is a mountainous climbing route. It involves is a steel cable which is affixed to the rockface and runs along the whole route while climbers who are harnessed to it attempt to scale it. This 1-km long climbing course involves walking, climbing and zip-lining.
Zipline across the Jebel Jais Valley
Speaking of ziplining; did you know that the zip line in Jebel Jais has been certified as the largest in the world by Guinness World Records? One of the many reasons why tourists flock to the Jebel Jais Valley —especially during Eid holidays and summers when prices for the service are discounted — the activity involves soaring across the mountain at speeds of 150kmph over a distance of 2.8km via a zipline. Depending on when you go, the Jebel Jais zipline pricing may cost you anywhere from AED 425 to AED 525.
The company that manages the zipline and Via Ferrata is Toroverde. Those who have booked any of the service’s attractions can head to their dedicated parking lot 30 minutes before their sessions at which they will be transported to their destinations via shuttle bus. An essential spot for thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, the best time to visit Jebel Jais is during the cooler months.
Live like the natives
Go on a desert safari
A desert safari in the Bassata Desert Village is a great way to experience traditional Arab life in the desert. From riding camels between the dunes to sand skiing, there are several tour operators that offer desert safaris in RAK. After a day of fun, sit down for a delicious BBQ dinner under the night sky. One of many popular Ras al Khaimah tourist attractions, the ultimate desert experience at the Bassata Village also features dune bashing and belly dancing.
Live like the Bedouins
The best way to connect with the UAE’s nomadic past is to experience it firsthand. Fortunately, a booking at the Bedouin Oasis Camp Ras al Khaimah covers this and more. The desert camp offers visitors everything from a Bedouin-style tent — with rustic traditional exteriors but modern interior to ensure a comfortable stay — to camel rides and the chance to view spectacular sunsets over the dunes.
Other activities offered include quad biking, camel riding and dune bashing on land cruisers. Located at the heart of the RAK desert, the camp is located 20 minutes from the main city. A popular option in the things to do in Ras al Khaimah list, visitors at the camp are expected to take their meals on carpeted floors and partake in traditional Bedouin cuisine, with a few choices reserved for international dishes.
- Location: 321/BC, RAK Free Zone, PB 17104
- Contact: +971-55-228-4984
Relax in a hot spring in the mountains
Located southeast of RAK, the village of Khatt is located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains and is home to 3 hot springs. The water in the springs is renowned for its therapeutic properties — a relaxing retreat for visitors looking to soak and unwind in its mineral-rich waters after a day of sightseeing.
Spot native animal species
Desert safaris in the UAE are a staple activity and while you are out in the desert, chances of spotting animal species that are native to the region are high. However, while it’s easy to spot a domesticated camel or falcon on your travels, coming across the free-roaming variety is pretty rare. That’s not the case in Ras al Khaimah. Don’t be surprised if you see a wild goat, camel or the rare Arabian Oryx in the RAK desert.
Kayak in the mangroves
Salt flats and mangroves form a large part of the inland and coastal landscape in RAK. Extending right to the centre of the city, the mangroves are home to a variety of animal species like flamingoes. Visitors can witness them with kayaking trips. Accessible via guided tours, these kayaking excursions are a great way for participants to take in the region’s unique ecosystem and have fun while doing it. With pricing packages depending on a participant’s age and the number of people in your party, it’s the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy.
What is there to do in Ras al Khaimah at night?
For tourists, mornings in Ras al Khaimah are often reserved for sightseeing. However, attractions in Ras al Khaimah don’t end after the sun goes down. On that note, here is what visitors can do to make the most of their nights in the city.
Go wild with the Ladies Nights offers in RAK
The UAE is famed for clubs that offer ladies nights in which female patrons are charged less for drinks or even given beverages on the house! You will easily find night clubs offering ladies nights in Dubai at any day of the week. The emirate of Ras al Khaimah is no different. Consider one of the hottest nightclubs, Club Acacia at the Bin Majid Hotel which offers the promotion on Tuesdays from 10:00 pm to 04:00 am. For a Ladies Night with a nostalgic touch, visit Xclusiv Night Club at the Double Tree by Hilton Resort and Spa in Marjan Island — offering free selected drinks for female patrons on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 pm to 03:00 am.
A tourist hub by day and a party destination by night, there is always something to do in the emirate of Ras al Khaimah — especially for those living alone in the city. For example, consider a bachelor or bachelorette who is living in the rental apartments in Al Hamra Village. A suitable nightclub for residents like these can be the Belgian Beer Café at the Al Hamra Golf Club. With Seafood Nights on Mondays and Ladies Nights on Tuesdays, the club is the swankiest joint this side of the city.
Dance the night away
Because sometimes, the best way to unwind is to show off your dance moves. Fortunately, the dance clubs in RAK are all too happy to oblige anyone who wants to let loose and party. Club Inferno at the Rixos Bab al Bahr, for example, currently offers free entry for couples and ladies on Friday nights from 10:00 pm to 04:00 am. Considered one of the best nightclubs in RAK, perks here include a dance floor and an impressive bar.
Happy Hour Deals
A lot of restaurants in Ras al Khaimah have open bars that offer happy hour deals during certain times of the day. For example, there is the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Lounge at the Hilton in Al Hamra Beach with a daily “Hau’oli Hour.” Running from 05:00 pm till 08:00 pm, the restaurant has a separate Happy Hour Bar Bites menu for themed nights with food that is a perfect accompaniment to your choice of drinks.
Ras al Khaimah isn’t all about travel and nightclubs. There are several establishments that offer activities which kids enjoy too. From a zoo to go-karts and more, here is an overview of kid-friendly places in RAK.
Picnic at Saqr Park
For residents and visitors in RAK, a day out with the kids is incomplete without a visit to Saqr Park. One of the most popular things to do in Ras al Khaimah for kids, Saqr Park is the largest public park in the city. With plenty of green spaces to run around and plenty of park benches scattered throughout, the place is perfect for picnics.
Take a refreshing walk by the waterfall or the artificial lake, hop on the train that circles the entire park or walk down the pathways and gaze at the palm trees. And if the kids get bored, just take them to the three video game arcades or for a boat ride on the lake. One of many notable parks in Ras al Khaimah, a trip to Saqr Park is a great addition to your travel itinerary.
Race in a go-kart
What kid doesn’t like go-karting? And the best place to enjoy it in Ras al Khaimah is at the RAK TRACK. A recent addition in the emirate, the RAK TRACK gives visitors the chance to race each other along a winding track in rental go-karts.
Offered on an Arrive and Drive basis, services here are priced according to the number of people per go-kart and the type of vehicle chosen. For example, a 15-minute session on an 11 HP go kart will set you back by AED 115 while one for the same duration on a 9 HP kart will cost you AED 95. Additionally, there is also an option for double seater go-karts with the rental price set at AED 95 for a 15-minute ride around the track.
- Location: E11 Sheikh Mohammad Bin Salem Road
- Opening hours: 04:00 pm to 12:00 am
- Contact: +971-7-222-2128
Indulge in watersports
From launching off the water on a fly board and zooming on the waves on a powerful jet-ski to calmer activities like kayaking and fishing — there is something for everyone at RAK. Currently, one of the best places which offer all of these is Fly Fish Watersports at the Marjan Island Resort and Spa. The facility is closed at the moment but plans to open on 1st November 2019. Those planning a visit are better off planning their trips when the service opens its doors to the public.
Visit RAK Zoo
From housing white lions to exotic birds, panthers, wolves and deer, no kid can refuse a trip to the RAK Zoo. The third largest zoo in the UAE is home to a number of rare and endangered animal species too. Additionally, the zoo also offers activities that the whole family can enjoy like camel rides and horseback riding lessons for kids. Other attractions at the RAK Zoo include a cycling track and an array of restaurants.
- Location: Al Fahlain, Ras al Khaimah
- Opening hours: 09:00 am to 10:00 pm
By the Sea
Beaches in Ras al Khaimah are downright gorgeous. Public beaches in Ras al Khaimah are fewer compared to other cities like Dubai but even the few seafront destinations are worth the visit.
Visit stunning Jazirat Al Hamra Beach
Bordering the western side of the Jazirat Al Hamra ghost town, this is a public beach with miles of golden sands and pristine waters. Take a swim in the ocean or lay out a beach towel and work on your tan. That or just walk along the beach and collect seashells.
Sunsets are a sight to behold at the Jazirat Al Hamra beach in RAK. So make sure that you stick around long enough to see the sun go down. Of course, you can always make the best of cooler months by setting up camp on the sands and sitting around a bonfire too.
Visit Al Marjan Island
Al Marjan Island in RAK is home to three beach resorts and is also the site of a bi-annual music festival, which earned it the title of “party island.” While the island is famed for an active nightlife, it offers several family-friendly activities as well. A day pass will also give you access to the private beach. Featuring 3 parks, bike rentals and a play area for kids, the island is a perfect leisurely escape for visitors looking for fun things to do in Ras al Khaimah.
Visit the malls
Compared to shopping hubs like Dubai, there aren’t a lot of malls in Ras al Khaimah. However, the ones that are open offer a number of luxury and street brands and are enough to satisfy any shopaholic. Consider Manar Mall, one of the best malls in RAK.
In addition to popular fashion brands and other stores, the mall also features several eateries and even a cinema that features movies for kids as well as adults. Other malls in RAK worth mentioning include the RAK, Al Naeem, City Center, Al Hamra and Hyper Ramez malls.
That’s a wrap of the Ras al Khaimah attractions so far. If there are any other activities we have missed out on, let us know in the comment section below. Are you planning to visit Dubai too? Our ultimate guide for things to do in Dubai will help you make the most of your trip. Visiting Abu Dhabi instead? From visiting international monuments to rafting in Al Ain, our list of things to do in Abu Dhabi will be helpful on your travels.
To find out more about fun attractions in the UAE, stay tuned to our Pulse section.