Please note: This article is sponsored by our partners at Visit Ras Al Khaimah.
Considering a holiday to the Middle East but want to go beyond Dubai’s well-travelled shores? Enter Ras Al Khaimah.
Bursting with breathtaking landscapes, top-tier international resorts, dreamy beaches and year-round sunshine, this impressive emirate is making waves as a must-visit luxury holiday destination. What’s more, it’s outstanding value for money, too.
With so much to discover, we’ve rounded up why this exciting emirate deserves to be on your travel radar this year.
While only 45-minutes apart by car, Ras Al Khaimah feels like a world away from Dubai. Here, endless skyscrapers are swapped for jaw-dropping natural beauty.
The Hajar Mountain range is easily the most magnificent. Its undulating golden peaks fringe the emirate’s eastern border and form the highest mountain in the UAE – soaring at 1,934m (6,345ft) above sea level. Lace up your boots to hit the hiking trails or ramp up the adrenaline at Jais Flight, the world’s longest zipline experience.
Head south and you’ll find the formidable red sandscapes of Ras Al Khaimah’s Al Wadi desert. The unique landscape continuously changes with the ever-moving dunes and is home to wildlife such as oryx, camels and desert foxes. Experience it at its best with a 'Sunset Package' at Sonara Camp Al Wadi – a dazzling desert hideaway in the Arabian wilderness.
Prefer coastal scenery? Ras Al Khaimah has that, too. Much of the emirate’s 64km (40 miles) of coastline is fringed by luscious mangroves brimming with fish and flamingos, interspersed with long sweeps of pristine sandy beaches.
Holidays in Ras Al Khaimah are all about the royal treatment without the extravagant price tag – and its spectacular beach resorts are properly dreamy.
The five-star Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah and the Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, which look out to the sparkling Arabian Gulf, are all about the ultra-luxe life. Lap up powder-soft private beaches, luxury spa treatments and thrilling watersports from parasailing to jet-skiing.
There’s also an abundance of beachfront villas, boutiques hotels and glamping options, so whether you’re after a family-friendly stay or romantic couples escape, you’ll find something that ticks all your boxes – and then some.
Just want to fly and flop? Base yourself near Flamingo or Al Rams beaches for glorious afternoons sunbathing on honey-hued sands and tranquil swims in the warm, shallow waters. Or, consider staying close to Al Qawasim Corniche promenade to have the best waterfront beach bars, lounges and restaurants at your fingertips.
Whether you’re keen to complete the knee-trembling 'Stairway to Heaven' hike or are ready to strap in for an epic 4x4 desert tour, adrenaline-fuelled activities are waiting around every corner in Ras Al Khaimah.
If you’re a fan of heights but aren’t quite up for the hair-raising 150km/h ziplining speeds of Jais Flight, you can enjoy whizzing through mountain panoramas on the Jais Sledder. Take control of your own ride as you rocket around 1,840m (6,036ft) of hairpin twists and turns on a low-slung rollercoaster-style track. Alternatively, take to the skies and explore Ras Al Khaimah by air with an incredible Action Flight Sunrise Balloon Experience – you won’t find a better place to watch the sun rise.
For a unique experience in the great outdoors, look no further than the Bear Grylls Explorers Camp. High-rope courses and abseiling are just the tip of the iceberg at this exhilarating camp in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. Get a crash course in wilderness survival through a series of fun, challenging activities run by expert instructors handpicked by Bear Grylls himself.
To enjoy the outdoors in a more relaxed style, saddle up at Al Wadi Equestrian Adventure Center and roam the desert dunes on horseback.
Think Ras Al Khaimah is just for beach bums and thrill-seekers? Think again. Occupied since 5,000 BC, it is one of the oldest emirates in the UAE and holds a treasure trove of ancient sites and historic landmarks that are sure to please any history buff.
The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah is a good place to start, as it has an intriguing collection of archaeological artefacts for visitors to explore. Next, take a tour of the 18th-century Mohammed Bin Salem Mosque, before visiting Dhayah Fort. The sandcastle-like structure is the UAE’s only remaining hill fort and dates back to the Late Bronze Age (1600 – 1300 BC).
To dive into the history of one of the most treasured traditions in the UAE, visit the Suwaidi Pearls Farm. Tours here include a journey aboard a pearl fishing boat where you’ll learn the traditions of the trade, a visit to the farmhouse to open your own freshly caught oysters, plus a trip to the gift shop, which showcases some of the most exquisite pearl collections from Ras Al Khaimah.
Your trip to Ras Al Khaimah wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of its tantalising cuisine.
Drawing inspiration from Asian, European and Arabic influences, you’ll find everything from bustling souks selling traditional Emirati street food to Michelin-starred restaurants serving up dishes from around the world.
Don’t miss 1484 by Puro. Perched in the Hajar Mountains, the view from its expansive terrace is spectacular. If you can draw your eyes away from the scenery long enough to study the menu, you’ll be treated with a comprehensive array of delicious dishes inspired by Thailand, Italy, Korea and more.
For avid foodies after an authentic taste of the region, keep your eyes peeled for typical Emirati dishes such as samak mashwi (barbecued fish flavoured with date paste and spices) and manakish (soft flatbread topped with thyme, cheese and meat).
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