Dubai is one of the most popular holiday destinations, not just in the UAE but also in the Middle East. With numerous tourist spots and amazing attractions, Dubai is perfect for a fun holiday with friends, an annual family vacation as well as a romantic honeymoon.
While you can explore Dubai for a long holiday without ever getting bored, it is also a great location for a short, sweet holiday. With public transportation (read cabs, bus, and metro) connecting the city well, you can access different places of interest without any hassle.
Reasons to Visit Dubai
Before we move to the best places to visit and things to do in Dubai, let us look at a few of the reasons that make Dubai an interesting place to visit.
- The city has one of the most amazing skylines in the world. Embellished by some unique skyscrapers and elegant buildings, it is a delight to see the skyline of Dubai.
- Dubai is bold when it comes to the development of projects. Home to everything from the tallest building in the world to the largest manmade island on earth, Dubai never ceases to surprise and awe the world.
- While Dubai is an Islamic city, the Emiratis form only 15% of the population. The rest are expats from all over the world.
- The food scene in Dubai reflects the melting pot of cultures that the city is. You would get to try all kinds of cuisines in Dubai, including Emirati, Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai, American, etc.
- Dubai has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. While some are private ones associated with hotels, there are several public beaches where you can relax and indulge in water sports.
Top 5 Places to Visit in Dubai
If you are on a short holiday and not sure about the places you should absolutely visit in Dubai, here are some of the top 5 that you should not miss.
The first thing that you see when your flight lands in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa. The tallest structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa, towers over the rest of the buildings in the city. The building houses a luxury hotel, residential homes, offices, and restaurants.
But the best way to check out the building is opting for the Burj Khalifa Observation Deck tour. The building has two decks: one on the 124th floor and the other on the 148th. Both offer incredible views of the city. The best time to visit the observation deck is around sunset.
Timings: 8:30 AM to 11 PM
Location: Blvd Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Downtown Dubai, UAE
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
One of the biggest aquariums in the world, the Dubai Aquarium, and Underwater Zoo is located on the ground and second levels of the Dubai Mall.
The Dubai Aquarium is a huge tunnel that holds 10 million liters of water and more than 33,000 aquatic animals. While strolling through the tunnel is exciting, you can have a closer look at the inhabitants of the aquarium with some special experiences like cage diving, shark diving, glass-bottom tour, etc.
Similarly, the Underwater Zoo is home to an interesting array of animals including crocodiles, penguins, otters, snakes, etc. It would be a great educational tour for both kids and adults.
Timings: 10 AM to 12 AM
Location: Ground Level, Dubai Mall, Financial Center Road, Downtown Dubai, UAE
If you want to know the real side of any city, it is important to reach its roots. Dubai was a modest fishing village before becoming a powerful modern city it is today. To know how the people here lived before the oil and tourism industry came up, you need to visit the Dubai Museum.
The museum is housed inside the Al Fahidi Fort, which is the oldest building of the city. A one-hour tour of the museum would give you a glimpse of the Bedouin style homes, the ancient attire, and accessories of the men and women, their occupation, etc.
The museum also has an audiovisual presentation at the end of the tour that shows the growth of the city and what the future holds.
Timings: 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM (Saturday to Thursday) and 2:30 PM to 8:30 PM (Friday)
Location: Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, UAE
Although Dubai is quite a modern city, Islam is deeply rooted in its way of life. If you want to know more about the Islamic religion, a tour of the Jumeirah Mosque organized by the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding would be quite informational.
Apart from knowing about the religion, the mosque itself is beautifully done. Jumeirah Mosque is one of the only mosques in Dubai that opens its doors to non-Muslims. During your tour, you would be able to marvel at the stone structure and intricately designed minarets that reflect the Fatimid tradition of Islamic architecture.
The best time to visit the place is after sunset, as the floodlights enhance the beauty of the mosque like no other.
Timings: 10 AM to 2 PM (except Friday)
Location: Jumeirah Beach Road, Dubai, UAE
Dubai Miracle Garden
Just a few years ago, the thought of a flower garden in the desert city would seem to be an impossible idea. However, Dubai made it possible, and the result is the glorious Dubai Miracle Garden. Spanning around an area of 72,000 square meters, the Dubai Miracle Garden is home to more than 100 million flowers.
The highlight of the place is the beautiful flower arrangements. You can see some unique flower models including the Burj Khalifa, an Emirates airbus, castles, etc. while exploring the garden. An important thing to note is that Dubai Miracle Garden closes every year in May, and the new season opens in November.
Timings: 9 AM to 9 PM (Sunday to Thursday) and 9 AM to 11 PM (Friday and Saturday)
Location: Al Barsha South 3, Dubai, UAE
Top 5 Things to do in Dubai
Apart from the places to visit in the city, here are some interesting things to do in Dubai to make your holiday even more exciting.
Go on a Desert Safari
Most people would swear by the Dubai desert safari to be one of the best things to do in the city. The experience starts late in the afternoon with the infamous dune bashing, where your SUV goes on a spin, riding over the high and low sand dunes.
At the desert camp, some more fun activities await you including sandboarding, quad biking, and camel riding. People can also get their hands painted with henna, take pictures wearing the Arabic attire and smoke a shisha. Entertaining performances by belly and Tanoura dancers are also one of the highlights of the evening.
Before you head back to your hotel or home, you would be treated with a delicious BBQ dinner with the choicest of dishes from the Arabic and Emirati cuisine.
Enjoy a Dhow Cruise Dinner
Another unique thing to do in Dubai is to go on a dhow cruise dinner. This happens at Dubai Marina and the Dubai Creek, and both places offer more or less the same experience.
The dhow is a traditional boat that was used for transportation in the olden times. Today, they have been converted into restaurants that sail along the Dubai Creek or Marina.
During the two-hour cruise, you get to see the beautiful sights of the city, have a hearty buffet meal and enjoy the performance of the Tanoura dancer. The dhow cruise dinner is a great way to have a quiet dinner with your friends and family or to have a romantic date with your partner.
Visit Theme Parks and Water Parks
Fabulous theme and water parks dot the city of Dubai, so much so that you are spoilt with choice. Dubai offers some of the best theme and water parks in the world that are complete with thrilling rides and state-of-the-art facilities.
When it comes to theme parks, Dubai Parks & Resorts, IMG Worlds of Adventure, VR Park Dubai and Ski Dubai are some of the favorites. On the other hand, Wild Wadi Water Park, Atlantis Aquaventure, Legoland Water Park, etc. are some of the most popular waters parks in the city.
These theme parks and water parks are ideal places for family outings and have something for everyone in the family, right from the fun-loving toddler to the adventure-loving adult.
Dubai is a city synonymous with shopping. The Emirate is filled with enormous malls that have stores of almost all popular international brands. The Dubai Mall, the Mall of Emirates, WAFI Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, etc. are some of the best malls for some retail therapy.
But when shopping in Dubai, one should not stick to the shopping malls alone. In fact, it is important to see the traditional markets or souks, even if just to enjoy the unique vibe of the place. The most popular souks are the Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Perfume Souk, and Textile Souk, which are located along the Dubai Creek. The city also has a modern take on the traditional souks in the form of Souk Al Bahar and Souk Madinat.
If you visit Dubai during the month of January, you would also get a chance to be a part of the massive Dubai Shopping Festival, which happens every year.
Indulge in Water Sports
As Dubai is home to so many lovely beaches, it is quite natural that the city is a haven for water sports lovers. There are several tour companies and agencies that offer water sports tours in different parts of the city.
When in Dubai you would be able to indulge in parasailing, kite surfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, fly fishing, speed boating, and wakeboarding. It is also a great place to go scuba diving, and you would find several companies that provide training and certification to become scuba divers.
If you want to enjoy a water sport that is relaxing, Dubai also offers the opportunity to go deep-sea fishing.
Read more: 13 Best Scuba Diving Places In Asia
Tips for Travelers Before Visiting Dubai
Following are some tips that would make visiting Dubai easy and hassle-free:
- Getting a Dubai or UAE visa is quite simple as most countries are offered an e-visa. To apply for a Dubai visit visa online, you need to submit the application form and supporting documents.
- Women do not have to wear an abaya in Dubai or anywhere else in the UAE, like some other Muslim nations. But it is always best to dress modestly as a respect to the traditions and culture of the locals.
- The weekend in Dubai falls on Friday and Saturday and not on Saturday and Sunday.
- Dubai is known to be an expensive city. However, with careful planning, you can easily explore the city without breaking your budget. Several tour companies offer budget Dubai packages too.
- If you are visiting Dubai during Ramadan, make sure that you do not eat or drink anything during the day in public places.
- Drinking and driving, as well as PDA or public display of affection, are illegal in Dubai.
- Dubai is a safe country with almost zero crime rates. It is safe to travel alone in Dubai, even at night.
Dubai is a dream city for many and rightly so. Some of the Dubai attractions are one-of-a-kind, something that you would never find anywhere else in the world.
With this short trip, you may not be able to see the entire Dubai. But you would get a taste of the city which draws you to come here again and again!
Want more posts on Dubai?
Dubai Travel Guide for First Time Visitors
10 Romantic Things To Do In Dubai
Dubai: 1 Day Itinerary
Reasons to Visit Dubai in Winter
Interview with Suzanne: Expat life in South Africa and Dubai
Other posts related to the Middle East:
Best Things to do in Qatar
Top 8 Water Parks in UAE to visit on your UAE Family Holiday
Interview with Dee: Expat Life in Egypt
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