What to do in Dubai: 10 things to do that are a must
In Dubai they love to break records. If they build a tower here, it will be the tallest tower in the world and its name is Burj Khalifa. The height of the tower is 828 meters, in comparison the height of the Eiffel Tower is only 300 meters. Burj Khalifa adorns the center of Dubai and from the upper floors you can see almost the entire city, man-made islands such as Palm Jumeirah, and the desert in the middle of which all this splendor is built. Often the tower is climbed to enjoy the show of musical fountains below and watch the sunset. If you climb the tower between 6 pm and 8 pm you can combine both those activities.
There are several observation decks on the 124th and 125th floors that can be reached by high-speed elevators in a minute.
The cost of access to the observation deck ranges from $37 to $150. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office or online if you do not want to wait in line.
Ticket to the 124th floor can be purchased here.
Tickets for floors 125 and 148 with priority access can be purchased here.
Ticket to 124th floor and Russian speaking guide is available here.
For more information on the tower, viewing platforms and prices read the article Burj Khalifa Observation Deck in Dubai: description, how to get up, how much it costs.
Take a walk along the Dubai Marina promenade
Many tourists in Dubai are limited to a city tour, a trip to the water park and the mall, forgetting that Dubai has a lot of interesting and beautiful places, which is headed by the waterfront Dubai Marina or, as it is also called, The Walk. The promenade is 7 km long, two of which run along the popular public beach JBR. Entrance to the beach is free, so you can combine a beach holiday with a stroll in the fresh air. The Dubai Marina promenade has everything you could want – beautiful architecture, sandy beaches, luxurious restaurants and inexpensive cafes, trendy stores and souvenir shops. For shopping, there’s the huge Dubai Marina Mall. Apart from strolling along the promenade, you can also go for a jog in the evening, or even go roller skating or biking.
Dubai has a good transport network, so you can easily get here by streetcar T1 (stop called Jumeirah Beach Residence) or by bus №55, 8, 84 (stop Jumeirah Beach Residence).
Read more about the promenade on the sightseeing page.
Take a ride on the Persian Gulf on a traditional Abra boat
Dubai’s coastline is indented with bays, one of which, Dubai Creek, separates the Bur Dubai and Deira areas. Ships and boats of all sizes constantly ply the bay – some carrying construction materials and goods, some carrying local fishermen, and some carrying locals and tourists. It is said that one of the best ways to see the real Dubai is to get on one of these boats and sail along Dubai, watching the architecture and look of the city change. Skyscrapers are replaced by traditional low buildings, luxury hotels are replaced by small shacks, and shopping malls are transformed into bustling Arab markets. Many locals use traditional boats, abras or dhows, as public transportation. A single trip costs less than a dollar and you can take advantage of this service. If you want more comfort, rent an abra for an hour or join one of the excursions, like the Dinner and Evening Show on an Arabian Boat, the Two Hour Dinner Cruise on an Arabian Ship, or the Modern Boat Cruise on the Dubai Canal.
Go on a desert safari trip
Dubai is built in the middle of the desert, but among the city’s skyscrapers and bays, it’s easy to forget that. One of the most popular excursions here has become a desert safari. Our experienced drivers will take you on an off-road vehicle through sand dunes, then camel rides, sandboarding if you wish, a beautiful sunset, dinner in a Bedouin village, and finally a stargazing experience.
Learn more about our Dubai safari tours in our article The most interesting tours in Dubai: desert safaris.
Relaxing on the beach
There are several options for beach lovers in Dubai – rent a hotel room with a private beach or settle close to a good public beach. Despite the fact that Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf, the local beaches are difficult to distinguish from our usual vacation spots by the ocean or sea. Beaches Dubai sandy, spacious, the descent into the water is gentle, so they are comfortable to rest with children. On some beaches, such as Kite Beach, you can even do windsurfing.
The best free beaches in Dubai are considered Jumeirah Beach Residence and La Mer, both located in the Jumeirah area. Al Mamzar Beach Park, in the Deira district, is also popular. On these beaches you will find everything you can dream of: fine sand, blue waves, showers, toilets and cabins for changing, rent of sun beds and umbrellas (though many do without them), cafes and restaurants, playgrounds and sports grounds for children and adults, stores and souvenir shops. There is only one possible disadvantage – there are a lot of people on them. If you like a more relaxed holiday, then look at Kite Beach and Sufouh – they are not as well equipped, but there are advantages – there are few people, and there is a magnificent view of the Sail Hotel and Palm Jumeirah.
Have fun at the water park
If you like outdoor activities, a water park is exactly what you need. And Dubai water parks can be considered almost exemplary. The most popular water parks are Aquaventure, located on the Jumeirah Palm in Atlantis the Palm, and Wild Wadi, which is located in Jumeirah area and belongs to Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Aquaventure has 25 slides for adults and children, 11 swimming pools including one with attractions for the little ones, a ½ kilometre artificial river, play areas, sunbathing terraces, snack bars and cafes.
The cost of visiting the water park about $90. You can purchase tickets at the ticket office or buy them online in advance.
Fun Fact: Guests at Atlantis the Palm can enjoy complimentary and unlimited access to the waterpark. If you are going to visit the water park as a family, it may be cheaper to rent a hotel room for at least one night, which will cost about $250-350 for a triple room, so you can save on a visit to the water park, combining it with a stay in one of the best hotels in Dubai.
Wild Wadi has about 30 slides for adults and children, about 20 swimming pools, an artificial river, large sun terraces, children’s play areas, as well as snack bars and cafes where you can drink a cocktail or eat a snack.
The cost of visiting the water park about $90. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online.
A nice bonus for the guests of Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab will be free unlimited visits to the water park.
Shop at Dubai Mall
Dubai Mall has long been a symbol of the perfect shopping experience, although it is worth going here even if you are not a fan of the business, but just to see how perfect the mall can be, both in terms of content and in terms of form. Dubai Mall has over 1200 popular brands, among them the department store Couture Fashion Avenue, a branch of the cult French department store Galeries Lafayette, Bloomingsdale’s department store, the jewelry department store Grand Atrium, Candylicious store with sweets from around the world, Kinokuniya bookstore, where you can buy books in different languages, a huge toy store Hamleys. The mall offers plenty of entertainment for adults and children: Kidzania City of Professions, an Olympic-sized ice rink, an aquarium and underwater zoo, an amusement park and much more.
Spend time at the Dubai Aquarium
As we’ve already found out, Dubai Mall is not just about shopping, but also about having fun. Animal lovers will love the Dubai Aquarium, which is home to about 35,000 fish and sea creatures, 250 species in all. Subtle jellyfish and graceful fish, slow seals and predatory crocodiles, dangerous sharks and funny penguins – not a complete list of local residents. Tickets cost about $30. You can buy tickets at the ticket office or online.
Buy souvenirs at the Arabian market
An Arab market is not just a market place, it is a way of life and the heart of the Arab world. In such markets they sell textiles including traditional clothes and shoes, jewelry made of gold, silver and precious stones, fakes, of course, you can also buy the original fragrances based on essential oils, as well as imitations of famous perfumes, spices and aromatic herbs. In addition, in the market area you can always have an inexpensive and tasty snack of Lebanese, Pakistani, Indian, and local cuisine.
Dubai has several large markets, the largest being Souk Madinat (address : King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Street, Jumeirah) located a half hour walk from the city center, in the coastal Jumeirah district. Al Bahar Market (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai), in the heart of Dubai, is for those who do not want to leave the comfort zone – classic Arabic goods are sold here from the marble counters next to the Chanel boutiques and luxury restaurants. The largest textile market is in Bur Dubai (address: 57 Ali Bin Abi Talib St, Bur Dubai), while three large markets can be found in Deira: perfume, gold and spices (address: Sikkat Al Khali Street, Deira).
Stay in the perfect hotel overlooking the bay
It’s hard to find a bad hotel or apartment in Dubai – the owners are trying to think of the furnishings and decor to detail, so that even the budget options are very comfortable, and the prices, contrary to stereotypes, are quite acceptable. A good double room in the high season, in winter, can be rented for $ 60-70.
If you are interested in options from 4 stars and up, then you can hardly find such a wide selection of luxury hotels anywhere else. From the elegant Armani and Bulgari hotels to the chic Burj Al Arab and the magnificent Atlantis the Palm, the list goes on and on.
The Persian Gulf is one of the main decorations of the city. If you want to feel on top of the world, get a hotel room on the artificial island of Jumeirah Palm; if you want to live “on the mainland”, pay attention to the hotels located in the Jumeirah area, close to the best city beaches, promenades, and entertainment .
Go to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is only 140km from Dubai and is easily accessible for a day or two. The highlights of the city include the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE, Ferrari Park which attracts extreme entertainment enthusiasts, Yas Waterworld which is open to young and old, and the Abu Dhabi Museum of Art and modern architecture. Buses into Abu Dhabi depart from Ibn Battuta Dubai Bus Station and depart on your own. Another option for traveling to Abu Dhabi is to book a tour . Popular options include Dubai to Abu Dhabi Excursion, Tales of Evening Abu Dhabi, Trip to Abu Dhabi and Ferrari Park from Dubai.
10 things to do in Dubai
The Burj Khalifa skyscraper is hard to miss, as it is the tallest building in the world at 163 stories and 828 meters. Its shadow stretches far above the city, getting lost somewhere near the horizon. You can enjoy the magnificent views having climbed up to the observation decks or having ordered a table in the highest restaurant in the world “Atmosphere” on the 122nd floor.
Dubai Tower is an incredibly popular tourist attraction, and the queues to the elevator there are appropriate. Experienced travelers recommend buying tickets even before the trip and going in low season. The sites are at their peak at night, when there is a romantic view of the city. The best time to visit the viewpoints – 16-17 pm: you can catch the daylight, watch the sunset, have time to see the night city and the dancing fountains.
2. Watch the fountain show
The fountain complex is a complex engineering structure in an artificial lake. Dancing jets, music and illumination obey an invisible conductor who creates a spectacular show. It is accompanied by special effects: lights and snakes “run” through the water, fog swirls, water shoots gold jets. Sometimes translucent projections are added to the show, moving over the water.
Bright show lasts a few minutes, you can watch from the waterfront, the observation deck of the shopping mall, Burj Khalifa or from a table outside the cafe. The first dance of the fountains begins at 6 pm, followed by a series of performances every 20-30 minutes. The musical accompaniment is the UAE anthem, Arabic music and masterpieces of world famous artists.
3. Take a picture against the backdrop of the Burj Al Arab.
You cannot visit the UAE and return without a picture of the famous sail-shaped hotel. Burj el Arab is built on an artificial island 270 meters off the coast, which is connected by a bridge. It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world, describes itself as a seven-star. Take a picture near it will not work, the road to the island is blocked by the checkpoint. You can have your photo taken at Burj Khalifa observation deck, from Palma Jumeirah or during a boat trip.
4. See the “World” from a bird’s eye view
Artificial Archipelago “World” – a grandiose undertaking for the rich people. Arabian sheikhs have created in the waters of the Persian Gulf three hundred small islands, laid out in the form of a map of the world – hence the name “World”. It’s impossible to get to the islands by water – the guards allow only the islanders and their guests – you can see the man-made wonder only from a distance from the deck of a boat or yacht. But the most interesting foreshortening opens with a bird’s-eye view. Tourists have two options here. The first is to rent a helicopter and arrange a stunning tour over the Persian Gulf, looking at the Palms of Jumeirah at the same time. The second is to see the “World” by climbing the Burj Khalifa or another skyscraper.
5. Take an abra ride on the Dubai Creek
This is another wonder of the Dubai Emirate, similar to the Venice of the East or the canal of the Nyhavn district in Copenhagen. Only instead of old European houses on the banks of the stream there are modern buildings and skyscrapers. Local abras boats scoot along the stream, and tourists are offered rides and more comfortable boats to see the city from the water. The boat has a good view of the famous skyscrapers, the old city, and the Deira neighborhood. Along the creek is a pleasant stroll along the pedestrian promenade.
6. Haggle at Deira Gold Market
What’s the East without a bazaar, gold and bargaining? You can see lots of gold and bargain with excitement to buy the jewelry you like in the old city at the Golden Bazaar. This is not just a beautiful name but a real Oriental bazaar with hundreds of shops selling gold jewelry.
Walking around the bazaar, you can imagine you are visiting King Midas – there are just tons of gold, and it is relatively inexpensive. The seller will never tell you the real price, first he will add up the numbers on a calculator, and then he will show the buyer a very inflated price. But bargaining and persistence will do the trick. Walking between the rows, you can see how Muslims choose gold gifts for their wives.
7. Getting into the halls of the Jumeirah Mosque
The White Mosque is one of the few Muslim places of worship where non-believers are allowed. It is true that tours are only for the early birds, until ten in the morning. Before visiting it is necessary to put on abaya or long shirt and to perform traditional ablutions, in one of the enfilades the excursionists leave their shoes. Tours are conducted in English.
Inside, one can take pictures and look at the snow-white walls covered in intricate ligature and calligraphy. Carved bas-reliefs, columns decorated with seashells and indoor fountains look impressive. And tourists note the pacifying effect of the special atmosphere of the mosque.
8. Walk through a tunnel through the Dubai Aquarium
Scats, sharks, exotic fish – it is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Located in the Dubai Mall at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. The scale is impressive: ten million liters of water poured into a transparent container the size of a three-story house and run there thirty thousand sea creatures. Be sure to walk through the transparent tunnel and see the life of the aquarium inhabitants from within. The top floor is a zoo with tropical fish, crabs, otters and penguins.
9. Put your palm up for butterflies at the Flower Park.
To do so thoroughly. In Dubai, a real garden of flowers, whimsical figures and long avenues have been created in place of the sands. Of course, Dubai Flower Park is one of the largest and brightest on the planet. It seems that the designers had a lot of fun. In the park there are cartoon characters created out of flowers, a car turned upside down and an airplane made of flowers. The park is home to colorful butterflies. Daytime beauties flit up to tourists when the sun warms up, sitting quietly in the palms of their hands. Night beauties appear only at dusk, flashing their wings in the bright lights.
10. Skiing in 40-degree heat
Tired of the heat? In Dubai, tourists can cool off and go skiing – and it’s in 40-degree heat outside. You can do so at the Ski Dubai ski area at the Mall of Emirates. Inside, low temperatures are kept artificially low and the mountain slopes are reproduced on a huge area for skiing. Here you can rent equipment for skiing, snowboarding, tubing. Children will be offered to go down the slope in a zorbing ball, master bobsledding or play snowballs. Also in Ski Dubai there is a funny show with penguins.