Top Tourist Attractions and Things to do in Dubai (UAE)
What to do in Dubai? Well, first let’s get to know the city before we get on it!
Known for its glamor, luxury, and its sparkly buildings – Dubai is a modern city with towering skyscrapers and hip vibe that goes with the trend you see in the west. Despite its grand suit, it still has its humble past and interesting history that we must not look past at. There are countless Dubai attractions and activities that you’ll ask for more hours in the day before you get to do all of it!
That said, don’t fret! If you’re only visiting for a short time, we have written down some of the important must see in Dubai you should not miss.
Surely there are tons of things to do in Dubai for all sorts of traveler and can offer a lot of activities that cater to all sorts of interests. To start, we recommend that you check its infamous buildings like the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world and be in awe with the view you’re about to see if you climb to the top. Afterward, discover the historic alleys in the Al Fahidi District while taking a look into the city’s past at the Dubai Museum.
If you enjoy shopping on the other hand then fret not because Dubai has some of the best shopping centers in the world and you can shop till you drop.
That said, there are more to do and what to see in Dubai, therefore, continue reading this post to learn more about this beautiful middle eastern city!
Table of Contents
- 1 Experiences and top things to do in Dubai, UAE
- 2 Top Landmarks and attractions in Dubai
- 3 Practical information and Dubai travel tips
- 4 Where to stay in Dubai?
- 5 Short in time? Go sightseeing in Dubai on tour!
- 6 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Experiences and top things to do in Dubai, UAE
Dubai Desert Experience
Thinking of what to do in Dubai for a desert experience? Book a tour on a four-wheeler that will take you to the dunes of Dubai. While there are morning tours available, the evening tours in the magical desert setting are more fun.
Experience dune bashing as your vehicle twists turns, and go up and down the dunes in the desert. It’s a crazy ride! You will then enter a desert camp where the evening entertainment includes tanoura dancing, belly dancing, henna designs, camel rides, and dinner.
Hit the Beach
Dubai is home to some wonderful beaches. One of the popular Dubai attractions is the Kite Beach where you can jog, play volleyball, go kitesurfing or just relax on the shore. If you are hungry, grab a bite at one of the food trucks/shops in the vicinity.
Another beautiful spot that combines a park area, as well as the beach, is the Al Mamzar Beach Park. You can relax on the lawns or at the beach. There are designated barbecue areas, water sports, a swimming pool and other facilities at this beach park. Put these beaches on your list of what to see in Dubai.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
When you visit a new destination, understanding and experiencing the local culture is integral to your visit.
If you want to know where to go in Dubai for a cultural experience, visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the Al Fahidi District.
Here, you can enroll for different sessions with an Emirati host that includes a traditional Emirati meal, understanding the traditions and customs of the Emiratis as well as tours in the Al Fahidi District.
You can also go on a guided visit to the Jumeirah mosque to gain an understanding of Emirati customs and religion.
Dubai Creek/Abra Ride
Explore Dubai Creek to discover the Bur Dubai and Deira sections of the emirate. The creek played an important role in Dubai’s history as the fishing industry and the pearling industry flourished here. As you stroll along the area, you can see the abra boats and dhows plying back and forth carrying people and goods.
You can go for a joyride on an abra for just few dirhams and explore the Bur Dubai and Deira areas including the souks by crossing over on either side. Taking a ride on an abra with its old-world charm is one of the top things to do in Dubai.
Visit some of the Souks of Dubai
Shopping is an important part of the Dubai attractions especially in the traditional markets known as souks. At Deira, you can visit the Gold, Spice, and Perfume Souks.
See a glittering array of gold jewelry and products in a wide range of designs at the Gold Souk. It’s quite dazzling! You know that you are at the Spice Souk when you inhale the wonderful aromas.
Spices include saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, and several others. Plus, there are items such as herbs, teas, dates, and nuts.
Another souk where you smell fragrances in the air is the perfume souk with its collection of perfumes and essential oils. Don’t miss the textile souk in Bur Dubai.
Savor Emirati Food
Here’s what to do in Dubai while planning a food exploration. You can have all kinds of international cuisines here, but a true Dubai experience involves eating the local Emirati food.
This includes machboos made with chicken, lamb or seafood and rice, mandi–adapted from a Yemeni dish with rice, meat and spices, fareeth consisting of bread, vegetables and meat, and the porridge-like harees.
Although not local, shawarma is popular street food. Eating dates too is a part of the food experience. Try some of these dishes at various places in Dubai such as the Sheikh Muhammad Centre for Cultural Understanding as well as restaurants including Al Fanar.
Read more about food in UAE:
Day trip to Abu Dhabi
Dubai sightseeing experiences also extend to visiting the emirate of Abu Dhabi. You can reach here in approximately a couple of hours or less by road.
There’s plenty to see here starting with the exquisite Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque that is an architectural delight. Stop by the Corniche Promenade and experience the beauty of the area. Another interesting attraction is the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Other top places include Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit. You can also visit Saadiyat Island.
With all these things to do in Dubai, you can truly experience the uniqueness of this emirate. Plan a trip here to see these marvelous Dubai tourist attractions and experience local life in the city.
Read more about Abu Dhabi:
Top Landmarks and attractions in Dubai
Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain
If you are in Dubai, a ride to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa is a must. Try to book tickets in advance online. Opt for the ‘At the Top’ visit on the 124th floor or go further up to the SKY level on the 148th floor.
Access the elevator for the ‘At the Top’ experience from the Dubai Mall. Travel at lightning fast speed on the elevator that takes you to the observation deck. See the panoramic views on a clear day or the glittering area at night. Telescopes too are available.
Right outside is the beautiful Dubai Fountain situated on a man-made lake. It is a choreographed fountain where the water sprays are synchronized to local and international music. Watch the extensive fountain’s superb display of light and colors especially at night. You can sit anywhere in the vicinity and enjoy these free shows. It is one of the top things to see in Dubai.
Al Fahidi Historic District (Al Bastakiya) and Dubai Museum
While the common perception is that Dubai is all about modern buildings and trendy areas, the core of Dubai lies in the Al Fahidi Historic District, also known as the Bastakiya Quarter. Take a walk through its narrow alleys and buildings with wind towers to understand its history.
Visit the Al Fahidi Fort that now houses the Dubai museum, one of the best places to visit in Dubai. See the various sections in a traditional setting. There’s pottery, a courtyard with a boat, recreations of traditional homes, weapons, information about Dubai’s pearl diving history, and other aspects of its heritage.
Malls in Dubai
Shopping at the mall is one of the Dubai activities that several tourists enjoy. You can visit the humongous Dubai Mall that has the best brands across categories, food courts, cinemas and more.
The highlight here is the Dubai Aquarium, one of the most captivating places to see in Dubai, with hundreds of marine species including sharks. As you enter a tunnel with an aquarium overhead and at the sides, you can see marine life, big and small all around. The effect is quite stunning.
Another popular shopping destination is the massive Mall of the Emirates that has the finest range of brands, hypermarkets, restaurants, movie halls and more. A major attraction here is Ski Dubai, a huge indoor skiing area with snow and ice where you can have fun with skiing, snowboarding, and other activities.
Burj Al Arab
A striking building, the luxury hotel Burj Al Arab should also make it to your list of what to see in Dubai. Standing tall on an artificial island above the sea, the hotel’s sail-shaped design makes it unique.
You can see this stunning sight from certain vantage points especially the Jumeirah beach or from the Souq Madinat Jumeirah.
Getting access to the hotel is only possible if you stay there or if you choose to have afternoon tea in the hotel. It is expensive, and if you are willing to splurge, you can enjoy a wide range of scrumptious pastries and snacks along with tea.
A seasonal event, the Global Village is one of the places to go in Dubai from November to April. It is a mega event that combines food, shopping, and entertainment. A popular place for tourists, the extensive site has pavilions from several countries that sell authentic merchandise.
You can get many types of products, all in one site. The Global Village is also a place for cultural activities and entertainment.
True to its name, the food here too has a representation of cuisines from all over the world. In a way, you can feel that you are a part of the global community when you visit this fascinating destination.
Practical information and Dubai travel tips
Why should you visit Dubai?
If you want to be blown away with architectural marvels, sports car filled highways, and luxurious extravagance even just for a short while – you must visit Dubai! Not only it is a shopping mecca for the shopaholics, but it is also a cultural melting pot with influences from all over the world. You’ll be amazed how diverse and open Dubai is and that is something you must not miss!
When is the best time to visit Dubai?
The best time to visit Dubai is during its winter months, from December to February, when the weather is calm during the day and a tad chilly at night. That said, the worse time to come to Dubai is during its Summer months from June to September and it is when the weather gets extremely hot and humid and might make your visit unpleasant.
Do you need a visa for Dubai?
Most European countries, North Americans, Australian, New Zealand, and few Asian countries passport holders do not need to apply for a visa prior to their visit to UAE. To make sure, please refer to this post.
Where to book your flights to Dubai?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need travel insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Where to stay in Dubai?
There are tons of beautiful hotels to stay at in Dubai and you’ll certainly enjoy their amazing hospitality. We have compiled the best boutique hotels in Dubai in this post but in a nutshell, here are our top hotel recommendations: Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Al Qasr – Madinat Jumeirah, and Palazzo Versace Dubai. These five-star hotel’s starts from €200 per night.
For the more budgeted travelers, we recommend staying at three-star hotels and lower. Usually, these are cheaper but lacks the luxurious amenities five-star hotels have. Nonetheless, they are perfectly fine for those who only look for a place to spend the nights as you explore the city during the day. We recommend these three-star hotels: Oceana Residences, The Palm Jumeirah, California Hostel Dubai, and One&Only The Palm Dubai. These hotels range between €15 to €50 per night.
Short in time? Go sightseeing in Dubai on tour!
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