Burj Khalifa, Dubai. (Nemo Galletti)
Top Things to do in Dubai
Dubai presents itself as a tourist haven with many different options to spend your time. We recommend a few things to do and places to see to give your holiday the diversity that Dubai offers. There are many things to see in Dubai and you could spend a good few weeks trying to do them all. Below are our recommended top things to do in Dubai. We have linked to more detailed articles about each of the places, and you will find a list of all the thing to do in Dubai (or at least the things that we think are worth doing) in the left menu:
Spend some time in Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world. This is shopping heaven and hell all in one go. While at the Dubai mall enjoy dinner while watching the Dubai Fountain with Burj Khalifa beaming down at you. Also, within the mall don’t forget to visit the Dubai Aquarium as well as Candilicious, the largest sweet shop in the world. Be under no illusion - the Dubai Mall is not just a mall - it is another world and you can spend days in this place getting. Some females become DubaiMallaholics. It's not healthy. Seriously though - with all the things to do in Dubai Mall, this is one of the top 5 things to do in Dubai - a must do for Dubai
Burj Khalifa Dubai
Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai and next to Dubai Mall, warrants some time if you have time to go to the top. The attraction is actually called “At the Top”, although you aren’t really there. If you haven’t got the time, get your picture taken with the Burj in the background. That’s probably good enough. And if your camera doesn't quite capture the Burj and your heads all in one pictire - there are official photographers who can do the professional pictures from some fo the best spots. Burj Khalifa by dusk is a great spot.
Visiting the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm to see Disneyland without the Disney. Seriously, Atlantis Dubai is your opportunity to see bling on the palm all in its own little bubble. Many choose to stay at the Atlantis due the many deals on offer. It is rarely empty, but the public areas are little too tourist attraction making it a wow to go and see, but probably a little too unreal for some. But this is Dubai. The hotel itself is pretty amazin,g if you are lucky enough to stay there.
The Gold Souk in Dubai
There is a reason that Dubai is called the city of gold. With huge amounts of gold traded here, there are hundreds of shops selling jewellery. Even if you don't wish to buy, just walking through the gold souk in Dubai itself is awesome experience. Make sure bargain until you get a good price, but bear in mind that the prices vary depending on the gold rate for that day. Even if you aren’t a jewellery fanatic, the Gold Souk is simply marvellous, and while you may not want to indulge in some 24 karat, soaking up the atmosphere is indeed an experience.
Bus Tour of Dubai
The Big Bus Tour is pretty good in Dubai, taking you around all the tourist sites and starts at Wafi City Mall. The "Big Bus Tour" gives a great overview of everything in Dubai over a couple of hours. You can book your tickets even before you get to Dubai, and hop on and off the bus at the various points. The ticket now includes a separate tour which drives you to see the various hotels and the construction that is going on. The guides are very knowledgeable, and with your ticket valid for 24 hours, this could cover all tourist stuff in one go. For those into something a little different, the Wonderbus Tour drives across land, before going into the water, giving a whole different view of Dubai. Even more rock star, if you have the cash, would be to take a helicoptor tour.
Desert Safari in Dubai
Taking the desert safari in Dubai and go dune bashing through the wadis of the desert, which can be alikened to the thrill of a rollercoaster. At some points you really feel as if the 4X4 that you are in going to crash over the dunes. Tours usually include the opportunity to sand surf down a large hill, watch the sunset from the camp, and have a traditional Bedouin style dinner by moonlight, often accompanied by a nubile belly danced. It's probably enough to go for the evening, but many do the full day trip, as well as camp overnight in the tents. We recommend using Arabian Adventures.
Shopping in Dubai
Dubai is a shopaholics paradise, with local and international brands on offer, and sometimes at heavily discounted prices - it is why shopping in Dubai is almost a a favourite pastime. If Dubai Mall is not enough for you, then you are in luck as Mall of the Emirates and Wafi mall are both great and pretty big also. There are heaps more malls, including Dubai Festival City depending on what you are looking for - and if your holiday is retail therapy, then Dubai is probably is paradise to you.
The Real Old Town Dubai
Bastakia represents what parts of Dubai used to be like with numerous Wind towers, a primitive air conditioning system. The area is small but is as close as you will get to a heritage area, which is a world apart from the "New Dubai" springing up not so far away. Walking in Bastakiya is one of the highlights of Dubai, and makes you feel as if you actually are in Arabia – yes you are! Old Town Dubai is actually the name given to the area around Burj Khalifa, so if you want to go to the traditional part, ask the taxi to take you to Bastakiya
Take an abra across Dubai Creek
Avoid the traffic and cross the creek using an abra, one of the small wooden boats. It costs next to nothing (1 Dirham) and can be included as part of your adventures through the city. You get a real feel for Dubai by crossing the creek. It lasts only a few minutes and you can incorporate it as part of your day.
Burj-al-Arab in Dubai
Have tea at the Burj al Arab hotel, probably the gaudiest building in the world. They say that whatever looks golden is gold. Whatever your take on Burj-al-Arab, it is the current symbol of Dubai's extravagance. You'll have to pay a fee to get in but is redeemable against food or any purchase you make. We would recommend going for afternoon tea at sahn eddar, early evening, but if you have the money and you like seafood, try out Al Manara. Make sure you dress up - the hotel has a strict dress code - this is 7 star after all.
Madinat Souk and Souks in Dubai
The Souk at Madinat Jumeirah gives you a real feel of Arabia, and although pricey, is worth meandering through over an afternoon. After shopping, it is possible to have dinner, perhaps at PaiThai, which you must take a boat through the waterways to reach, followed by dancing off your calories at the Trilogy nightclub. If you are serious about seeing all the souks in Dubai and the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah is not enough for you, then we would recommend the Souk al Bahar (Dubai Mall) or Khan Murjan (Wafi). The real Bastakiya areas and these mock oldern style souks are complementary.
Wild Wild Wadi or Atlantis Waterpark
Always a hit with the kids, wild wadi is a great water park next to Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The park has the tallest and fastest free fall outside North America, the Jumeirah Sceirah, where you supposedly reach 80kph! For those less speed inclined, there is Juha's Journey where you can idle your way around a river. And of course, there are many in between rides and amusements. The water park in the Atlantis called Aquaventure is more expensive, and probably a bit more exclusive, but also offers things like swimming with dolphins.
Skiing in Dubai
The very fact that you are in the desert and are skiing could seem a contradiction, but that is the lure to the whole experience that is Ski Dubai. With prices covering the rental of all equipment and clothing, you just need to bring yourself along.
There are hundreds of hotels in Dubai. This place is catered to the traveller. Our favourites included the Royal Mirage - The Residence, The Grosvenor House, Dar Al Maysaf in Madinat Jumeirah, and the Park Hyatt. For uber bling, go for the Burj Al Arab, the Atlantis or the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa. For something a little bit different, try XVA, the Fusion Hotel or La Maison D’Hotes. The food scene is to die for – and you can spend a lot of money on some amazing food, as well as not very much money on some great street grub. If you want to go all out, try Zuma, Verre or Terra Firma. But you’ll be spoilt for choice in Dubai.
Check out all the things to do in Dubai starting with the Burj Khalifa