Al Ain Oasis

Top choice oasis in Al Ain
Image by swisshippo / Getty Images

This tranquil world of wide paths meandering past walled date-palm gardens, right in the centre of Al Ain, is a welcome respite from the city hubbub. The UAE's first Unesco World Heritage site, the date plantations here contain around 150,000 trees of around 100 varieties. The oasis is still watered using the 3000-year-old falaj (irrigation channel) system; you can easily spot the channels as you're wandering around.

There are eight gates, but enter through the West Gate (just north of Al Ain Palace Museum, off Sultan Bin Zayed the First St), which acts as the main information centre for the oasis and gives out a decent free map of the plantation area. Beside the entrance is a small eco-centre containing multimedia exhibits (including a very flashy, multiscreen documentary that will keep the kids interested), which provide a historical grounding on Al Ain oasis as well as botanical information on date palms in general. The West Gate is also where you can hire a bike or organise a short buggy tour. In winter, there's also the option of horse and pony rides.