Dubai is a fantastic place to visit. The sight of such a modern city rising from the desert is incredibly impressive, and there are so many wonderful and exciting things to do!
Here are my top tips for what to do in Dubai, based on what I got up to over my three day stay. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it does demonstrate the array of activities and sights which can tempt the tourist!
Check out the views from the Burj Khalifa
This is a must-do! The highest building in the world (until Dubai completes their latest building project, which will beat their own record), the Burj Khalifa offers stunning views of the city.
It is incredibly awe-inspiring to see a modern city of grand buildings and high-rises sprawl from beneath you to be suddenly met with the desert.
A word of advice – don’t expect to see everything clearly, as views are often slightly blurred by the presence of desert sand in the air.
Another great thing about the Burj Khalifa are these cool Instagram-able locations!
There is also a great permanent exhibition about how the amazing structure was built and who was involved in the project, which provides a fantastic and more detailed perspective about just how great an achievement the building of the Burj Khalifa was.
I spent a morning here before moving on to some shopping in Dubai Mall, and it was a fantastic way to start the day!
Go shopping (or window shopping) at Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall is stunning and incredibly overwhelming. Part theme-park, part-shopping centre, it is a magical place in which one could easily pass a day.
Highlights include the funky Ice Rink with pumping tunes to skate along to, the Dubai Creek Tower in the Grand Atrium, and the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. There is even a VR Park and an Emirates A380 flight simulator called the A380 Experience.
The Ground floor also includes a Souk in which a variety of traditional stores sell beautiful scarfs, sweets and other goods. In the middle of the Souk sits the Dubai Dino, another attraction for visitors to the Dubai Mall!
The Human Waterfall is another draw-card. It is a beautiful indoor waterfall which incorporates statues of diving humans. Close to the Waterfall, there is the lovely TWG Tea Salon & Boutique, a small cafe which serves traditional sweets and teas.
Combine with these amazing attractions the soaring ceilings, beautiful decor and sparkling storefronts, and the whole Mall exudes glamour and money – I counted three Versace stores!
There is so much happening and so many things to see in Dubai Mall that I even got lost at one point! You can read all about the traumatic experience here.
Watch the Dubai Fountain light and sound show
The Dubai Fountain is the perfect attraction to make the most of the (somewhat) cooler evenings.
Located just outside the Dubai Mall, it is the perfect attraction to visit before or after dinner. The music and light show runs ever half an hour and it is incredibly fun and impressive!
Haggle in the Gold Souk and Spice Souk
The Gold Souk and Spice Souk give you a sense of old Dubai, before the glitz and glamour of Atlantis, the Burj Khlifah and the numerous malls. Here, you will find another kind of shopping. Prepare to haggle your way through the array of scents and tastes of the Spice Souk, and the uncountable jewellery stores of the Gold Souk. Both are incredible and a little overwhelming in their own right, and they allow you to experience another aspect of beautiful Dubai.
My top tip? Pick up some chocolate-covered dates from the Spice Souk – some of the stores sell the camel milk chocolate variety, and they are delicious!
Take a tour of the city
This is a fantastic way to see a lot of Dubai in a shorter space of time. It also makes travel around the city much easier, particularly considering the high temperatures!
There are many sights to see in Dubai and an organise tour is a great way to see Old Dubai in particular. Highlights include the Jumeirah Mosque, which is open to the public, and the Dubai Museum and historic Al Fahidi Fort. These historic buildings provide fascinating insight into the history of Dubai and how the city has changed in recent years.
Tours may also stop off at Kite Beach so that tourists can dip their toes in the ocean and gaze upon the majesty of the legendary luxurious hotel Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Keep in mind, though, it will be very hot, so don’t expect to be able to stay out in the sun for too long!
A trip across Dubai Creek in an abra and a wander through the Spice and Gold Souks are other highlights of the tours. The abra, or water taxi, is a common mode of transport along the creek and a ride offers a unique perspective of the bustling city which is Dubai.
This is an absolute must! Picture yourself atop a camel, ambling over the dunes as the sun sets and throws an orange glow across the desert. Imagine sitting in a camp and feasting on dish after dish, all of them incredibly delicious and cooked right in front of you. Envisage yourself speeding over sand dunes in an old-style Land Rover, the breeze in your hair and the star-studded desert sky sparkling above you.
This is what the desert safari entails, and it is an incredibly awesome experience which I cannot recommend enough!
For more details about the Platinum Heritage Desert Safari (which I chose) and to make a booking, check out the website.
Book a day trip to Abu Dhabi
There is an array of companies offering day trips from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. While a day doesn’t give you that much time to explore a city, the trips do generally try to cover as much as possible. They c,an feel a little rushed, but they are a fantastic way to get a taste of the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.
Points of interest on the day trips generally include the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, Ferrari World, the Yas Marina Circuit, and the Old and New Palaces.
However, the highlight would most definitely be the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The Mosque is incredibly beautiful. The architecture and design is beyond impressive, and it is no wonder that the place of worship was constructed over eleven years. You can read more about my trip to the Mosque here.
As you can see, the list of things to do in and around Dubai is incredibly long, and I feel that I only scraped the surface during my short stay!
Other amazing things to see include the Lost Chambers Aquarium, Ski Dubai (yes, you can ski in Dubai), Dubai Aquaventure Waterpark and the Dubai Miracle Garden – just to name a few!
Dubai is a city which is currently changing, due to the influx of tourism and constant building of new and exciting attractions and services. In addition, Dubai will also host the World Expo in 2020, and as a result, there are numerous projects currently under construction.
Needless to say, if I were to return in a year, the city will have changed immensely. In saying that, Dubai is definitely a city which I would love to return to, and I am looking forward to one day exploring the renewed city landscape!