If you Google ‘Dubai, then and now’ you will see just why this city is known for its lightning fast development and futuristic infrastructure. A perfect blend of old and new, it’s not surprising that this place is one of the most visited destinations in the world. Did you know that Dubai is home to quite a few record breakers- the world’s tallest building, the world’s busiest international airport, the world’s only seven-star hotel, the world’s biggest mall, world’s largest dive pool…just to name a few. If there was a record for holding the most number of records, I’m sure Dubai would own that as well. Almost anything is possible in this city that never settles for average. Our list below is a quick guide to some of the best things to do in Dubai, both old and new.
Table of Contents
22 Best Things To Do In Dubai
Burj Khalifa, At The Top
You cannot possibly visit Dubai without marveling at the Burj Khalifa. At 828m high this majestic building with 163 floors is the tallest building in the world. While the building can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, a trip inside its observation deck will give you a 360 degree view of this magnificent city. Book your tickets for a view of the city from the observation deck at level 124. For cheaper prices and to skip the queue for cheaper prices and to skip the queue make sure to book the Burj Khalifa Tickets online at Flat 11% off. Avoid peak hours to ensure your visit to the tallest building in the world is memorable.
The Dubai Mall, Shopper’s Delight
With 1,200-plus shops and 150 restaurants, even an entire day isn’t enough to see it all. Located just next to the world’s tallest building, it covers more than 1 million sqm. This venue is so big that it can accommodate 200 football pitches. It is home to an indoor theme park, an ice rink, a huge waterfall, multiplex and also loaded with an array of other entertainment options. With shopping extravaganza festivals like, ‘Dubai shopping festival’ and ‘Dubai Summer Surprises’, this mall is indeed a shopper’s delight.
The Dubai Fountain, Dancing Water Show
Next on the list of things to do in Dubai is the Dubai Fountain. The world’s largest choreographed fountain display is located just near the base of the iconic Burj Khalifa. The colorful dancing water show to popular music numbers is truly mesmerizing. Every evening the display begins after sunset with a new song playing every 30 minutes, this continues until the final song at 11pm. You can also catch a show during the day between 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm. Enjoy the nightlife and the musical fountain show at an array of restaurants that are lined up at the Dubai Mall or Souk Al Bahar.
Dubai Aquarium, Suspended Tank
This World record winning 10-million liter aquarium tank is located in the ground floor of Dubai Mall. It showcases a wide variety of aquatic life, i.e. around 140 species of sea life in the huge suspended tank. Different activities like the underwater zoo, glass-bottom boat tours, cage snorkeling, and shark diving help one get closer to sea life. This place is something which people of all age groups will enjoy. A visit tothis Aquarium is one of the most important things to do in Dubai. Be sure to add this to your itinerary for this is one of the popular fun things to do in Dubai.
Ski Dubai, Snow In The Desert
Speaking of unique things to do in Dubai, what better way to get away from the sweltering heat than a ski trip? Snow in the desert, Yup, you read that right. Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort situated in the Mall of the Emirates complete with a 400-meter long run, a quad lift and an 85-meter high mountain. This ski resort is one of the most innovative tourist attractions in the Middle East. The entire place is covered in snow which gives you the feeling of being in the Alps rather than desert. Make sure to visit the Snow Park where you can get close to Penguins. Kids are sure to fall in love with this experience!
Bur Dubai, Visit To The Past
Travel back in time for a peek at the city’s past with a trip to Bur Dubai. Get lost in the maze of narrow lanes that cradle a number of museums, galleries and cafes. Often regarded as the Heritage Village, Bur Dubai is a hub of residential and economic activities and heaven for foodies. From here you can take an abra (traditional wooden boat) across the creek to the spice souk and gold souk where your bargaining skills will be put to the test. It’s also one of the best places to purchase handmade souvenirs to gift your loved ones.
Skydiving, One For The Brave Heart
This place produces the best experiences not just on land and sea but in the sky too. A jump form 13,000 feet above the Palm Jumeirah, assisted and supervised by trained professionals is mostly on everyone’s bucket list. Listed as one of the top 10 cities to skydive in, this is one experience every adventure-seeker must sign up for. To experience the breathtaking views of this man-made marvel of a city is the reason you’ll have to book your seat months in advance. Your trip to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without this incredible skydiving experience.
iFly Dubai, Skydiving Simplified
If you have always dreamt of jumping out of a plane but never had the guts to do it because of the fear of heights, then this is the place for you. At ifly one can experience the thrill of skydiving without really jumping out of a plane, like a controlled human flight. Here you will be jumping in an air-conditioned double vertical tunnel from a height of 4 meters. This controlled flight is the safest way to skydive as you’re overseen by expert and professional instructors. Everyone gets to experience this bold adventure as it’s even safe for someone as young as three years.
Dubai Frame, Window To Old And New
With a height of 150 meters and a width of 93 meters, Dubai Frame holds the record for the largest frame in the world. This remarkable engineering feat is an iconic structure that offers sweeping panoramic views of both old and new Dubai. Over one Million visitors visited the Frame within the first year (January 2018) of its opening. Highlight here is that one gets to walk over the famous transparent glass floor connecting parallel vertical towers to create the shape of a picture frame. Spectacular view of the city during daylight and mesmerizing views of the sunset from the 360-degree observation deck will make you speechless.
Burj Al Arab, Luxurious Hotel
One of the most expensive hotels in the world, Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island. The hotel is designed to resemble the sail of a ship. Its choreographed lighting makes this famous landmark very beautiful at night. This luxurious hotel in the United Arab Emirates boasts plenty of superlatives, including its seven-star status. Burj Al Arab has also entered the Guinness World Record for the most expensive cocktail, valued at 27,321 AED. The array of stunning high end restaurants and outdoor terrace pools which look out directly to the beautiful Arabian Gulf makes this place perfect for a luxurious stay.
Jumeirah Beach, White Sandy Beach
While a large portion of Dubai’s coastline is privately owned, there still are quite a few free public beaches you can visit like the Jumeirah Beach Park and the Kite Beach. Jumeirah is a white sand beach that is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf. It secures the top spot among the best beach destinations. The white sandy beaches, series of exotic hotels and resorts add grace to this lively waterfront. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy some adventure water sports activities like, jet skiing, jogging, kitesurfing or just swimming or relaxing under the sun. Jumeirah provides stunning views of this picture-perfect destination making it one of the must do things in Dubai.
Ain Dubai, 360 Degree Views
Another world record-breaking attraction, Ain Dubai is the highest and largest giant wheel in the world. Ain Dubai is the latest attraction that’s added to many of Dubai’s remarkable landmarks. This giant observation wheel (height of 250m) stands across the water from Jumeirah Beach Residence. It is 82.4 m taller than the previous world’s tallest observation wheel, the High Roller in Las Vegas. Ain Dubai offers 360-degree views of Marina and great landmarks such as Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Khalifa. Entire journey takes about 38-40 minutes and its 48 cabins have the capacity to carry 1,750 passengers.
Desert Safari, Roller-Coaster Ride
Experiencing the desert safari is one of the top things to do in Dubai. A safari through a massive stretch of golden land guarantees an unforgettable off-road drive. Be it the day safari or the night safari, each one is designed to drive you into the depths of the Arabian sandy desert. Exploring the deserts meshing into the abyss with friends or family is one of the best things you could ever experience. Book desert safari tours that include thrilling activities, cultural fun and a feast of local cuisine to end a memorable day.
The Palm Islands, Man-Made Islands
Did you know, the world’s largest man-made islands, the Palm Islands are visible from space. These artificially crafted palm tree shaped islands can easily be considered the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. The Palm Islands are the collective of three different artificial islands – Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. However, only Palm Jumeirah is open to the public. This property is home to 5,000 waterfront luxurious apartments, 4,000 residential villas, 1,000 water homes and 60 luxury hotels. Surprisingly this masterpiece was created from reclaimed land and has ever since become one of the most exciting things to do in Dubai.
Miracle Garden, Floral Magic Land
Another feather to the cap, the Miracle Garden is spread across an area of over 72,000 square meters, and is the biggest natural flower garden in the world. It is nothing short of a miracle to have flowers in a desert. This garden has over 45 million flowers and plants arranged in various shapes and sizes. The models made of colorful flowers change shapes every year. They even have suitable lighting to make them appear more attractive and beautiful. If you have love for nature in general, then this place is a heaven for you. Do check for the dates before booking your tickets as it is open only from mid-October to mid-May.
Gold Souks, Best Gold Deals
Popularly known as The Gold Souk, it is a traditional market that sells precious gold. Located in the commercial business district in Deira, it is a great place to get the best deals on gold purchases. The souk consists of over 380 retailers that are scattered across old souk and new souk. The quality and authenticity of gold here is great because of the regulation of prices by the government. You can even bargain for this precious piece of metal here. Compared to other countries buying gold is considerably cheaper here. Do not miss the largest gold necklace that’s displayed right here in the Gold Souk.
Museum of the Future, Futuristic Experience
The most beautiful building on earth is right here in the Financial District of Dubai. This seven floor building with no pillars is an engineering marvel. The entire building is covered with Arabic calligraphy representing three quotes on the future by the Ruler of Dubai. It is basically an exhibition space for futuristic ideologies and innovative ideas. If you want to get a glimpse of how the world will look 50 years from now, this is the place to be. Museum of the future is the most iconic cultural landmark globally that offers a range of futuristic experiences like, a trip to space, a visit to the Amazon rain-forests and the spa of the senses.
Global Village, International Shopping Experience
The global village is the most significant tourism, leisure and entertainment project of the UAE. This event is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival which is organized during the winter season between November and February. Global village provides a wonderful shopping experience and entertainment from all over the world. There are various pavilions that are spread over an area of 17,200,000 sq ft. Each pavilion represents a particular country or a region. Every year, over 5 million visitors come to Global Village to experience this cultural, entertainment and shopping extravaganza.
Palm Atlantis, Lavish Resorts
This place definitely deserves a place in the list of things to do in Dubai. Dubai’s ultimate luxury destination, the Palm Atlantis has multiple star hotels and luxurious resorts. The pink palatial structures, soaring turrets and an Arabian archway, adds Arabian elements to its decors. Mesmerizing views of the Arabian Gulf from the balcony of the rooms are awe-inspiring and add up to the beauty of these resorts. The underwater aquarium and swimming with dolphins here are some of the fun things to do in Dubai. The Atlantis Palm Hotel is believed to host some of the most popular A-list celebrities.
Dubai Opera, Catch A Concert
Dubai Opera, developed by Emaar Properties is one of the finest and radiant centers for cultural and art. A host of events like, music shows, conferences, exhibitions, theater, opera and ballet are hosted here. Located in Downtown Dubai, it has a capacity to seat 2000 people at the same time. As always the architectural design of the opera shaped like a dhow or a sailing vessel is what makes this structure stand out. To get a taste of Dubai’s art and culture do visit this amazing tourist place in Dubai.
Dubai Museum And Fort, Uncover UAE
Located inside Al Fahidi Fort, this Museum is the oldest existing building and one of the most important things to do in Dubai. A visit here introduces one to the colorful dioramas and enlightening historic exhibits of this place. Showcasing Dubai’s history and depicting its everyday life before the discovery of oil is right here for you to experience. There are galleries that have recreated scenes from the Creek, traditional Arab houses, mosques, the souk, date farms and desert.
Jumeirah Mosque, Cultural Understanding
A guided tour to the Jumeirah Mosque is one of the top things to do in Dubai. The entire guided tour costs about AED 25 per person and takes about an hour to complete. Apart from Fridays, these tours are available on all days from 10:00am. Be well ahead of the time as there is only one guided tour daily. The beautiful medieval Fatimid architecture in its stone construction is the highlight of this place. One needs to be dressed modestly or can also ask for national attire at the entrance. Non-Muslims get the chance to observe the prayer and learn more about the customs of worship under the banner program “Open doors, Open minds.”
Dubai On A Budget: Some Money-Saving Tips
There are plenty of ways to explore this beautiful city without burning your pocket. A little bit of planning and use of things that cut cost helps in seeing more even on a tight budget. Here are some simple hacks that will let you enjoy all the things to do in Dubai without any regrets.
- Book well in advance to get economical airfares. Consider flying to Sharjah and then by road to Dubai as flights to Sharjah are much cheaper than flights to Dubai.
- If you are ready to take on the harsh desert climate, visit during the off season. From flight tickets to accommodation, everything is cheaper during this time.
- Ditch the cabs and take the Metro service as it is the cheapest and quickest mode of transportation.
- If using the metro, pick accommodation near the metro. This will help avoid unnecessary walking and wastage of time.
- Use mobile applications like Groupon, Smiles, Cobone and Discounter that offer huge discounts. Above this these downloads are free.
- Get The Entertainer – Entertainer is a mobile app that offers discounts for most of the attractions. They even offer discounts or special rates on restaurants and hotels.
- Look for hotels in Sharjah, Al Nahda, Bur Dubai, Karama or Deira. Ovoid booking at prime locations. You can also check out for the studio rooms which will be very affordable.
- Drinking is expensive here, if you want to save for shopping, suggest you skip the booze altogether. If you cannot live without it, find happy hours where the price will be much cheaper.
- Avoid hotels and malls for your lunch and dinner. Head straight to old Dubai for cheap eats. We highly recommend you cook your own meals if on a budget.
- If you are going to cook, purchase your groceries from supermarkets like Lulu, Nesto or Carrefour where you can save a lot of your money.
- Carry reusable water bottles as the water here is clean and safe to drink directly from the tap. By doing so, one can also reduce single-use plastic usage.
- Don’t forget to show your Emirates boarding pass to get exclusive offers from ‘The Emirate Pass’ program.
Best Time To Visit Dubai
The best time to visit Dubai is between November and March where the temperatures are manageable and the city is in full swing. Dubai winters are very pleasant and suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities. January-February is that time of the year where you’ll see Dubai in its full glow. Range of events and activities to do in Dubai like the Dubai Shopping Festival and Food Festivals are held during this time.
Getting Around Dubai
Getting around in Dubai is relatively simple, the Metro system is cheap and reliable and can get you to most of the city’s key locations while taxis are abundant and easily available (and at a minimum fare of 12 AED i.e. $ 3.2, they’re not too expensive as well). Bicycles are also available for rent all over the city if you are willing to take on Dubai’s infamous heat and humidity. You can also rent a car through Dollar Rent A Car and roam around in the city freely as per your wish.
The UAE government has recently moved the weekend from Friday and Saturday to Saturday and Sunday. Under the new rule public sector employees need to work only four-and-a-half days per week. This move is to better align its economy with the global markets. Private companies are free to choose their own working week.
It’s a long weekend in Dubai, so plan well because if you’re looking to party, Friday and Saturday nights are your best bet. If you’re not so much of a party animal, a weekend trip to the desert is a great option. Choose between lots of different safaris each offering a completely unique experience be it dune bashing, enjoying a desert barbeque or being witness to a hypnotic belly dance performance (or in some cases, all three!)
Do’s And Don’ts Of Dubai You Need To Know Before You Go
Dubai being an Islamic country has certain cultural and religious values. While the rules are slightly relaxed in Dubai, as visitors it is our duty to adhere to their laws and regulations. Apart from experiencing the many things to do in Dubai it is also important to understand what is and is not appropriate in this country. Do make note of these dos and don’ts as a tourist in Dubai to make the most of your holiday.
Dress Appropriately – It is very important to understand the cultural sensitivity of this country and dress appropriately. There is no compulsion for one to cover the head or wear a burqa during your trip. You can wear whatever you want but keep in mind to dress modestly for one can get arrested for violating dress code ethics.
Don’t Swear In Public – Cussing, arguments, fighting and foul language are considered very offensive. This can land you in trouble or even in jail.
Don’t Indulge in Public Display Of Affection – Keep your hands to yourself as public displays of affection are not allowed in Dubai, and deemed offensive. This is the culture in Dubai and it is our duty to respect it. Public display of affection makes most people uncomfortable and hence a big NO in Dubai.
No Alcohol In Public Places – Getting deported or sent to jail for being intoxicated in public is the last thing you need while on your trip to Dubai. Alcohol is easily available in restaurants and pubs, so if you have had a few extra drinks than anticipated, get into a cab and go back to your room.
Be Extra Careful During The Month Of Ramadan – During the holy months of Ramadan one cannot eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset. Partying, clubbing or loud music is all a big no, irrespective of which religion you are, respect the holy month of Ramadan.
Do Take Permission Before Clicking – It is very offensive to photograph locals, especially women without their permission. Avoid taking photographs of police stations, royal palaces and military buildings.
Don’t Drink And Drive – Beware! Dubai’s traffic rules are considered equivalent to their drug policy. Even a slight trace of alcohol in your system while driving can land you in prison. Speeding and using your mobile while driving can also get you into trouble.
Make All Your Bookings In Advance – If you are planning to experience Dubai during on-season, we recommend that all bookings are made in advance to avoid disappointments. Generally everything is very expensive during this time. With just a few advance planning and bookings, things can work out in your favor.
Make Use Of Public Transports – Every corner of Dubai is well connected with the efficient Metro, Bus and Taxi services. The comfortable air conditioned metro takes you to most of the tourist sites. For the safe travel of women and children there is a special carriage at the end of every metro train. The buses and taxis are also air conditioned and easy modes to commute in Dubai.
Carry Medicines With Prescription – The government here has specific rules when it comes to prescription medication. Double-check all the medicines you are planning to carry on your visit to Dubai. Do not carry anything without prescription or any medicine that the authorities won’t approve of.
While I hope this article gives you an idea of what to expect from Dubai, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of projects in the pipeline that are about to reach fruition and even more that are underway. If there is one thing that will remain constant, however, it is the speed at which Dubai is innovating and expanding, so hold tight and enjoy the ride!
A visit to Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo, Dubai Dolphinarium, Wild Wadi Water Park and Ski Dubai are few of the many things to do in Dubai with kids.
Apart from the famous Skydiving, visitors can try their hand at Flyboarding, Hot Air Balloon, Ziplining, Helicopter tour, Parasailing, Swim beside the sharks, and shaky rides on sand dunes.
Dubai Fountain, La Mer South, Dubai Mall, Kite Beach are few of the things that one can experience for free in Dubai.
Scaling up the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa for a birds-eye view of Dubai and most importantly view of the panoramic skyline is something one should not miss while in Dubai.
No, women do not have to cover their head, face and hair in public. However Muslim women do cover their hair, face and head with a scarf for cultural and religious reasons.
Skydiving over The Palm Jumeirah Island, Zip-line through the Dubai Fountain, skiing in the indoor ski park and watching the sunset from Burj Khalifa are some of the best experiences in Dubai.
Bur Dubai and Bur Juman is a combination of old Arabia and new Dubai. It is one of the best areas to stay in Dubai.
The official language of Dubai is Arabic, however due to the high number of expats you’ll find that many speak in English.
Due to the strict laws and a very low crime rate, Dubai is considered one of the safest Middle Eastern countries.