Located in the east of Dubai, Hatta is the emirate’s adventure and natural capital. Marked by a wonderfully incongruous Hollywood-esque sign (now a Guinness World Record holder), the almost bucolic landscape is known for its craggy mountains, lush valleys and off bubbling spring, and visitors can explore myriad hiking trails, the scenic Hatta Dam and plenty of natural activities.
While seemingly remote, the nature-focused retreat is just a 90-minute from Dubai and 10 minutes from the UAE-Oman border, making it great for a weekend escape or stop on a road trip. Plus, the area is home to a handful of great hotels and accommodation options – from a leisure resort with tennis, golf and swimming to glamping under the stars.
What to do
Hatta Heritage Village
For a look into the Hatta, and UAE, of yesterday, the Hatta Heritage Village is unmissable. A reconstruction of a traditional village, there’s a defensive tower, stone houses made with palm-frond roofs, and falaj – the traditional water system. Exhibits in the museum include traditional weapons, crockery and furniture – an insight into traditional Emirati villages.
While the craggy mountain ranges often take centre stage in the theatrical scenic display that is Hatta, the dam makes for one of the most scenic backdrops in the entire Middle East. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the turquoise dam is a popular picnic and activity destination, with Dubaions coming in – for day trips or weekend stays – to kayak on its calm waters and enjoy picnics in nature on its shores. The dam is located conveniently near the JA Hatta Fort Hotel and has rental services starting at AED60 for kayaks, paddleboards, canoes and much more, plus there are barbecue facilities. Note you aren’t able to bring your own equipment and must use the gear provided by the rental companies.
Visit Hatta Wadi Hub
As the area’s main activity hub, Hatta Wadi Hub offers everything for adventure seekers in the mountain town. Visitors can rent a mountain bike to embark on 52km of routes – easily colour coded based on difficulty – rent hiking equipment and explore routes, try archery, axe throwing and zorbing (rolling downhill in a giant transparent ball) and even splashing down in the 12-metre high water slide. The centre is conveniently located near the dam – perfect for a day trip or weekend adventure.
Enjoy one of its many hikes and their unexpected sights
Hiking to the famous Hollywood-esque sign may be the most popular walking route, but Hatta has many other hikes for taking in its breathtaking scenic beauty. Another lesser-known hiking destination is to the vast, and unexpected graffiti artwork of the UAE’s founding fathers – the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Painted onto the rock, the soaring mural was created to mark UAE National Day, and is located at the main dam parking area.
Where to stay
Hatta Dome Park
Hatta Dome Park is one of the latest additions to the UAE glamping scene, offering a more elevated option in Hatta’s impressive portfolio of camping and leisure attractions. The dome park comprises 15 dome-shaped tents perfect for experiencing the rugged Dubai nature reserve in a more premium way, each tent fully equipped with air-conditioning, free wi-fi and hotel amenities like a mini bar, safe and tea and coffee-making facilities. Domes come in an attractive white with soft brown curtains and sharp wooden flooring, complementing the natural mountainous surroundings. Tents accommodate two adults and two children with a double bed and comfortable seating area, plus the option for additional twin beds, and there’s a private outdoor terrace with BBQ and firepit for convivial evenings. But self-catering is merely an option, as there are a variety of dining options on-site like mixed-cuisine food trucks and a coffee shop.
Domes from AED1,375; visithatta.com
JA Hatta Fort Hotel Dubai
For those looking to enjoy Hatta with the creature comfort of a four-star hotel, look no further than JA Hatta Fort Hotel. The lovely retreat hotel has vast expanse of gardens, three-hole driving range, two swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa and is well-located for outdoor adventures like hiking and cycling. Rooms have private terraces with garden and mountain views, and there are two-bedroom deluxe villas for family stays – rooms are contemporary, bright and in neutral colours with views over the landscape and mountain range. A children’s play area keeps little ones entertained, with activities like archery and mini golf, and a games room, and babysitting services are available. Guests are welcome to bring their four-legged friends for a small supplement, with a limit of two pets per room.
Hatta, AED150 per stay plus AED50 per day per pet; maximum two pets per room; book now
Damani Lodges at Hatta
One of three glamping options in Hatta, Dubai’s rugged, nature-focused region popular for glamping in the UAE, the Damani Lodges are the more rustic option – built into the rugged Hajar mountains in Hatta and overlooking the Hatta Wadi Hub. Each lodge has a private bathroom, wi-fi, TV and tea and coffee-making facilities, plus a wooden terrace with views over the breathtaking Hajar mountain range. Guests can choose from standard lodges, perfect for couples, standard plus lodges (for one child) and spacious suites for two adults and two children.
Lodges from AED 945; visithatta.com
Sedr Trailers at Hatta Resorts
Explore Dubai’s mountain destination of Hatta in style from a shiny chrome Airstream trailer on the banks of the serene Hatta Dam. The elegant Airstreams are located in the mountains, and guests leave their cars at reception before being whisked away to their premium accommodation by off-road vehicle. Trailers are designed for two adults and up to two children and have their own bathroom, wi-fi, tea and coffee-making facilities and a private terrace with a protective awning which has daybeds and cosy camp chairs. There are many activities in the Hatta area and on the dam like kayaking and hiking, and food is provided by the on-site Sedr Bites food truck – plus there’s the option to self-cater with a barbecue.
Trailers from AED 940; visithatta.com
How to get to Hatta
Hatta is just a 90-minute drive from Dubai, making it one of the most popular and accessible adventure destinations for a quick break from the city. The easiest way is by car, but there are plenty of other options, including public transport.
By bus: Visitors can take a bus to Hatta, a ride which will take around 2.45 hours and cost just AED10 each way. Travellers will need to check the RTA website, but likely take the E16 bue from Sabkha Bus Station in Deira, Dubai to Hatta Bus Station. Travellers will need a NOL card to use public transport. Taxis do operate in Hatta and will be on hand to take you to the attractions, hotel and campsites.
By taxi: Taxis are affordable and freely available in Dubai, and getting a taxi to Hatta is one of the easiest ways for travellers who don’t want to rent a car (perhaps even cheaper, if compared to a short-term rental). The journey will cost roughly AED230-290 one way – and can be booked via the Careem app, by hailing a RTA taxi, or, more costly, ordering via Uber or another private limousine service.