Bastakiya is the perfect bite sized chunk of rambling. For those of you who prefer to be guided, the Sheikh Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding offer walking tours through the area. If solo is your thing you’ll probably have to get a taxi to Al Fahidi roundabout and start at Al Fahidi street. You can walk from Khalid bin al Waleed Station (Burjuman Metro Station) within the Burjuman Shopping Centre, (or the Al Fahidi Metro Station) but it will take roughly ten minutes. Even if you are not doing the tour with SMCCU, it’s worth checking out their building that you will see from the roundabout.
Bastakiya Walking Tour, Copyright OpenStreetMap contributors, CC BY-SA, Grapeshisha
On your right you will see Basta Art café which is a restored house where you can treat yourself to a juice or have lunch. If you angle to your left you will see the wind towers, where you can enter Bastakiya proper. On your left you will see the Majlis Gallery which is worth having at a gander at for the various exhibitions that run. There are a few more galleries and if you continue through to the right you will see the museum called Dar Ibn Al Haytham for visual arts which has some historical artefacts and also houses some Emirati art. Going further you will see the lovely flowery carving above the door of the Architectural Heritage Society which has all sorts of stuff to do with archaeology if that’s your thing. The coin house is worth popping into as is Dar Al Nadwa, which is a beautifully restored structure. Use this spot as an opportunity to go upstairs and view Bastakiya from above. Further on you’ll also see the eye gallery and the home of Eastern Art gallery as well.
Your next point of reference is the XVA gallery. If you veer towards you will see the XVA which is a both a hotel and a café. You’ll notice it by the courtyard café. XVA is also famous for its gallery which is top class. Continue to wander around for an hour or so and check out the traditional Bedouin tent. If you move further towards the creek you will see the old city wall, dating back to the 1800s.
Continue past the doors, and sometimes you will have stalls selling arts and crafts, but you will eventually get to Bastakiya Nights, which is a great place for dinner if you are there at the right time. Double back on yourself and walk back towards the wall. Going past the Mosque on your left with the creek on your right, you will see signs for the Diwan which is the Ruler’s office. Once you have passed this and made it onto the main road, you will see signs to Dubai Museum about 5 minutes walk away.
Dubai Museum is worth spending an hour to download on the history of Dubai. You’ll see the large traditional dhow on exit, but once you have finished double back down the main road you originally walked down to the white domed mosque which is the Grand Mosque of Dubai. There is a very small alley next to the mosque where you will find Hindu and other objects on sale that you could take to the temple. You will very quickly come to the textile souk which is also known as the old souk. Here, under the wooden beamed coverings, it is highly likely you will get jumped on by tradesman trying to sell you pashminas, saris, Panjabi dresses and the like. At the end of the souk you will see the Iranian Mosque in the distance to your left, but go right towards the creek where you can get an Abra to the Deira. You’ll also see the International Aladdin Shoes stall, where you’ll be tempted to buy slippers that you will never wear.