Dubai, the city which grew from a small fishing village on the edge of a desert to a super-city of glass towers and malls in under 50 years, has loads to offer for the tourist who cares to step on its shores. For a city which boasts of decadence in everything from the tallest building in the world to the most expensive hotel, to the world’s largest shopping mall and, of course, the fanciest of cars, Dubai knows how to keep creating headlines. Apart from the desert and the beaches, everything else in Dubai is manmade, and that is what makes it all the more appealing. For people who think Dubai is nothing more than a city of malls and hotels, spend 24 hours and you are sure to fall in love with this city.
Read on to know about 20 best sights, tours and activities in Dubai.
From the trading port on the Gulf, cutting through the heart of Dubai, the Dubai Creek winds its way up to the Ras al Khor bird sanctuary on the desert edge of Dubai.
“Dhows” as the old-fashioned fishing boats are called, criss-cross the water from Bur Dubai on the left bank to Deira on the right. Cruising down the Dubai Creek is an experience you cannot miss when in Dubai. You can also catch a water taxi dhow instead or opt for a romantic sunset dhow cruise traveling further upstream. A sunset dhow cruise includes BBQ buffet dinner with Music and Tanura Dance show.
As you cruise along sipping on your drink, enjoy the glittering lights of the lit up high-rise buildings lining the Creek. Another important highlight of the Dubai Creek is the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, which overlooks both the Creek and Marina. Situated on the Deira side of the creek, the majestic clubhouse has been designed mirroring the sails of the traditional Arab dhow. Apart from being one of the most photographed landmarks of Dubai, it is also home to the first golf academy in the Middle East with an 18-hole, par-71 championship course that rolls out into long stretches of undulating yards.
The yacht club is based in a separate building and is home to the famous outdoor restaurants and venues, Boardwalk and QD’s. The Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club has hosted numerous tournaments and events, including the Dubai Desert Classic on two occasions, in 1999 and 2000.
Dubai: Dhow Dinner Cruise along Dubai Creek
Duration: 3 hour
Dubai Fountains is the world’s biggest orchestrated fountains (902 ft long) is another addition to the “world’s first” list of man made structures located in UAE.
25 coloured projectors and 6600 lights is what it takes to create the illumination for these fountains. The beam of lights from the fountain can be seen from over 33 kms away. The fountains project water up to a height of upto 500 ft in the air, in different patterns and combinations and is accompanied by music ranging from contemporary to classical.
Located right at the center of the Downtown Dubai development area on the Burj Khalifa Lake, the dramatic effect created by the water, lights and music is visible from every direction on the lake promenade and from several surrounding structures as well.
Performances take place at 1:00 pm and at 1:30 pm and every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 10 pm on weekdays, and from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekends (weekends being Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).
Dubai Fountains Show Lake Ride
Duration: 30 minutes
Jumeirah Mosque is one of the oldest and the most beautiful mosques of Dubai and the only one open to nonmuslims. It has been in the medieval Fatimid tradition with simple yet beautiful designs using natural coloured stone walls and stone carvings. The iconic architecture is very similar to the Umayyad era of Egyptian mosques in Al-Azhar and around Cairo. The Jumeirah Mosque is often referred to as the bridal Mosque of Dubai because of its innate beauty.
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding organizes a 75 minute guided tour for non-Muslims, followed by a question-and-answer session on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday beginning at 10 AM. The tour is aimed at promoting cultural understanding and first-hand experience as an insight into the faith of Islam. Photography is allowed inside.
Few things to remember when you go for the tour: • Children under 5 are not allowed • Dress conservatively: no bare legs or upper arms. Wear modest clothing and women must cover their hair. • You must remove your shoes before entering.
Dubai Half-Day City Tour with Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Mosque
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
Desert Safari is a must do on every tourists lis of things to do in Dubai. Dubai, being a desert city, how can one miss out on the desert experience? Tour operators offer a variety of desert safaris depending upon your convenience and choice of activities – morning, evening, overnight, dinner only etc.
The morning safaris are the shortest because the temperature on the dunes becomes unbearable by noon. The evening safari is for about 4-5 hours, overnight is the same as evening in addition to a sleepover in a camp and for those for whom dune bashing is nightmarish, there is an option of dinner only desert safari.
The safari begins with a drive in the desert on a 4WD vehicle, 20-30 mins of dune bashing, stop for photographs, camel rides, falconry, sand skiing, quad biking, henna application on hands, sheesha, barbeque dinner with Arabic music and belly dancing show. Overnight safari includes all of these plus an overnight stay in a camp along with breakfast.
Depending on the package you choose few things may be additional or less and some may be on chargeable basis. It is advisable to check with your tour operator while booking the safari. Also, during Ramadan, the bar and belly dancing options are not part of the package
Dubai Desert: Dune Bashing, Camel Ride, Sandboarding, Dinner
Duration: 6 hours
5. Bastakiya Quarter
The tiny Bastakiya quarter is Dubai’s oldest and one of the picturesque neighborhoods and is located somewhere in between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district. Originally established by rich textile and pearl traders from Bastak, Iran, today it consists of a mini-labyrinth of wind-towered buildings, few of which have been transformed into art galleries and cafés and hotels.
The Bastakiya Quarter is one part of Dubai entirely untouched by the relentless construction and modernization drive. Hence, all the more reason to explore the Bastakiya Quarter at a leisurely pace. Stop to appreciate the Middle Eastern art at one of the galleries, relax and soothe yourself with a refreshing drink at one of the cafes.
Dubai’s museum is located in the sturdy Al Fahidi Fort, which is considered as the city’s oldest structure.
The exhibits show the emirate’s evolution from fishing and pearling village to a global city of commerce, finance and tourism. A walk-through mock souk, exhibits on Bedouin life in the desert and a room highlighting the importance of the sea illustrate the days before the discovery of oil. The last room showcases archaeological findings from nearby excavation sites.
The main exhibits include a 10-minute video featuring historical Dubai followed by a mock souk with dioramas depicting shopkeepers and craftsmen at work, enhanced by light and sound effects as well as film footage. Other scenes show life at home, at Quran school, in the desert and at sea. There is a small section on the life of pearl divers, who made up to 50 deep dives daily equipped with nothing but nose clips and leather finger gloves.
The exhibit ends in the archaeology section, where you get to see finds from ancient settlements and tombs at Jumeirah, Al Qusais and other local archaeological sites that are believed to attest to the area’s settlement for around 4000 years.
The central courtyard is dotted with bronze cannons, traditional boats and a palm-frond hut called areesh that was the kind of summer home most locals lived in.
Dubai: Old Town, Dubai Creek, and Souks Tour
Duration: 3 hour
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, DDCR, is the UAE’s first national park. Spread over an area of 225-square-kilometres, it is a result of carefully planned rehabilitation process over the years with the objective of preserving the last of the desert wildernesses and for the protection of the endangered species unique to the desert habitat. Within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) is located the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa where you can have the ultimate experience of staying in the middle of a desert.
Other than the resort, there are other options to experience the desert as well. You can go on a thrilling ride deep into the heart of the DDCR with a bunch of selected operators who have been given permission to conduct such tours.
The ride is through spectacular desert terrain and dunes. You can choose to explore the desert surroundings in a four-wheel-drive or on foot with the help of a safari guide. Popular options include falconry, camel treks, horse riding, archery and even sand-skiing. All these are under the supervision of trained experts.
You also have an option of experiencing a traditional dune dinner. Seated in a rich Bedouin tent feast on an assortment of grilled meats, fresh salads, Arabic sweets and the ever popular, the aromatic Sheesha with some Arabic music and a belly dance performance.
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve 5-Hour Tour with Breakfast
Duration: 5 hour
Deserts are supposed to be barren, arid lands with limited vegetation. The Dubai Miracle Garden is a classic example of Dubai ingenuity - how one can grow and maintain a complete 72,000 square meters flower garden. Located in Dubailand, Dubai, the garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden and features over 45 million flowers.
The flowers have been planted in stunning and creative manners and together with impressive landscaping makes the Miracle Garden a sight to behold. The variety of flowers ranges from the ordinary to exotic kinds more often found in the jungles of Asia and South America. The flowers have been fashioned to look like hearts, stars, igloos, pyramids and other shapes and figures. You have heart shaped walkways, water outdoor pools, flower-decked vintage cars, mini-umbrellas covered pathways and other designs.The Dubai Miracle Garden is open from October to April and remains closed from June to September due to high temperatures. The floral patterns are changed every season, so every time you return, it’s a brand new experience. An eco-friendly irrigation system delivers moisture to the plants in the most efficient manner.
Dubai’s Miracle Garden recently added another attraction to its kitty, the Dubai Butterfly Garden. It is the world’s largest and the region’s first indoor butterfly garden and sanctuary and is home to over 15,000 butterflies from 26 different species.
Miracle Garden Entry Ticket in Dubai
Duration: 1 Hrs 30 Min - 3 Hrs Duration
9. Mushrif Park
Mushrif Park is a 1300 acre park located in Mirdif, Dubai. It has been designed to perfection for people of all ages. There are some features of the park which makes it very attractive and is very unlike other parks.
Tasteful music is played from hundreds of discreetly placed speakers, especially adjacent to one of the many children’s playgrounds and jungle gyms. Besides, there are a few giant percussion instruments like drums and tubular bells which can be played both by children and adults alike.
Besides the usual swings, slides and monkey bars galore there are pulleys and levers to play with, carnival mirrors that distort your reflection and a massive metal structure which resembles the ribcage of a dinosaur which the kids can climb. The children’s play area is a replica of the arid landscape of the desert and comes with bridges, tents, valleys and rocks, thereby making it suitable for a game of hide-and-seek. Man-made streams running through the park have metal fish embedded in the rocky steps in the water to encourage pretend play.
Interaction with the animals is free, and kids are invited to feed the animals in the Animal Barn area and are allowed to observe as their stalls are cleaned.
A small and colourful train runs through the park from noon onwards. Apart from all this, there is a global village which houses child-sized traditional structures which have been built to represent the construction style of houses in different countries.
One more reason to visit the park is The Ripe Food and Craft Market that is held every Saturday at the park.
10. Ibn Batuta Mall
The Ibn Battuta Mall is a large shopping mall on the Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai and is named after the renowned Arabic traveler and explorer Ibn Battuta, who journeyed all over much of the known world way back in the 14th century.
Ibn Battuta is the world’s largest themed shopping mall and consists of consists more than more than 270 shops, 50 restaurants and a 21-screen IMAX cinema. It is divided into 6 courts, the architecture and the décor of which are inspired by some of the countries visited by the Ibn Battuta. These are Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India and China. Apart from the shopping, dining and the cinema experience, the décor of the Ibn Battuta Mall too is awe inspiring. Unlike regular malls, it is not all glass and steel with big advertisements all over. The décor for each court is different; You can find a magnificent hand painted dome at the Persia Court, pyramids in the Egypt Court and a striking lion fountain in the Andalusia Court.
Soaring high at a height of 555 meters, the Burj Khalifa sky observatory is Dubai’s most iconic destination and also the highest observation deck in the world. There is a plaque there from the Guinness World Records which confirms the same. Located on level 148 of the whole 163 floors in the tower, it is as good as being almost at the top.
The observatory spreads across levels 148 and 125 of the Burj Khalifa. Your journey begins when you step into a special elevator which brings you up for the breathtaking experience. Level 148 has luxury lounges and outdoor terrace from where you can enjoy a stunning 360-degree view of the city.
Level 125 has a new attraction - A Falcon’s Eye View experience which lets you see important landmarks in Dubai from a new perspective. You also get to learn about the historic build of Burj Khalifa from testimonials of the ‘People Behind Burj’. Do not forget to click your Burj Khalifa moments and do add some special effects with green screen photography.
Dubai Burj Khalifa Level 148 Observation Deck Entrance Ticket
Duration: 1 to 3 hours
The Dubai Dolphinarium is another “first” in Dubai, the first fully air-conditioned indoor marine mammal facility in the Middle East. It is located in the creek side park at Bur Dubai near the Children’s City and is spread over an area of about 5,000 square meters. It includes an 180-degree main arena built around a 5.5 deep sea water pool with more than three million liters of water, and can accommodate up to 1,200 people. In addition to the arena pool, there is a private habitat pool similar to a dolphins’ natural habitat. There is a separate medical pool and seal pool as well to cater to the marine mammals’ well being.
The Dolphinarium is home to six black sea bottlenose dolphins. The major attraction is undoubtedly the 45 minutes long fantastic performance by dolphins and seals wherein they dance, paint, juggle, and play basketball. The show is complemented further by spotlights, lasers and music. Besides the show, you can have your photos clicked with the dolphins as well as sea lions and for a still closer encounter, the dolphinarium also provides opportunity to swim with a dolphin.
The Happy Valley Restaurant at the Dolphinarium serves an array of delectable cuisines to choose from. There is a gift shop, for souvenir shopping. Besides, you also have Marine themed class rooms, multimedia library for people who are keen to learn more about the marine creatures.
[Sale] Dubai Dolphinarium
Duration: 45 Min Duration
A very popular outdoor water park in Dubai, the Wild Wadi water park is located right in front of the Burj Al Arab in the Jumeirah area. The park is themed around the tale of a character from the Arabian folklore. The Wild Wadi Water Park offers multiple water slides, two artificial surfing machines, a heated/cooled wave pool and a 59 feet tall waterfall which goes off after every 10 minutes. Besides 30 rides and other attractions it also has 3 restaurants, 2 snack bars and 4 retail outlets where you can buy a souvenir even a swimming costume incase you forgot to carry one.
For a more private way to relax, you can book one of the VIP cabanas located along the Lazy River. It get you a fast pass access to the park along with a tent with 4 sun loungers, complimentary towels, complimentary water bottle, soft drinks and fruits and few more perks.
The entrance fees are based upon height, with complimentary access for children two years of age and below, upon presentation of ID.
The park was featured in It was featured in The Amazing Race Asia 1 and The Amazing Race 5.
Wild Wadi Water Park Entrance Ticket
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Another addition to Dubai’s long list of “world’s first”, the Palm Jumeirah is the world’s largest man-made archipelagos and comprises of a 2000 metres long trunk, a crown made up of 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent. Originally billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World, The Palm Jumeirah is the smallest and the original of three Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira). Today the Palm Jumeirah houses many hotels, resorts, villas and private residences.
You can take a ride on a yacht or a speedboat, run by several touring companies or you can also hop onto the Palm Monorail that runs up to the Atlantis resort, which is located at the tip of the palm.
[Sale] Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina Boat Sightseeing Tour
15. Dubai Auto Drome
Dubai Autodrome is a 5390 metres long circuit located in the in the greater Dubailand area. Not only is it one of the most modern in the world, but also one of the most challenging, as it has a combination of technical corners and high-speed straights. Some of the world’s famous Grand Prix drivers Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, Kimi Raikkonen and a few others have driven competitively in this circuit or even visited the circuit.
The course was designed following the strictest safety requirements and is the first FIA-sanctioned circuit to incorporate wide asphalt run-off areas. It contains six different configurations and aims to allow three racing circuits to operate simultaneously, safely and independently from each other. You too can try your hand at driving one of the race cars or supercars at the Race & Drive Centre. The Hankook Dubai 24H endurance race is hosted at Dubai Autodrome every year and attracts over ninety teams and 400 drivers from all corners of the world.
Another favorite feature of the Autodrome is the Kartdrome. It has both indoor and outdoor tracks of international standards, with state-of-the-art leisure karts and offers “arrive & drive sessions”.
Souks are the traditional Arabian marketplace, and Dubai souks are famous all over the world. The souks are categorized as per the products they sell, so you have different souks for electronics, perfume, spice, gold, textiles and even fish, meat, and vegetable souks. Located in the vibrant Deira area of Dubai, these important markets are an integral part of life and trade for people in Dubai.
Bargaining is a common feature at the souks and except the fish market, the best time to visit is late afternoon through to early evening.
The two most famous souks among the several are the Gold and the Spice souk.
Gold Souk –The Gold Souk is a must visit for every tourist. Rarely would you come across a sea of gold and shimmer as in this souk. Whether you are a gold trader, a serious buyer looking for exclusive designs or just a casual tourist hunting for a unique souvenir, Gold Souk is the place to be. You can find hundreds of vendors, numerous models - Arabic and modern, statement pieces, unique gemstones to suit all tastes and budgets. You can be assured buying genuine products as Dubai authorities keep a check on goods for authenticity and quality.
Spice Souk – The Spice Souk is another big attraction for tourists. Here, you can find every conceivable spice under the sun, from local to imported varieties. Saffron, dates, nut and other dried fruits are quite sought after by tourists. Even the top chefs at the countless restaurants in the city buy ingredients for their dishes from here. You can even buy tobacco for the sheesha here at the Spice Souk.
For the uninitiated, this place can seem like an assault on the senses considering the different types of smells floating around in the air inside the souk. It is advisable to sample anything before you buy.
Half-Day Dubai City Tour with Dubai Frame Tickets
Duration: 5.5 hour
Retail therapy always works wonders and what better place than Dubai for that kind of indulgence? With an ending list of malls and souks, it is like a wonderland. However, a couple of must visit ones are the Souk Madinat and the Dubai Mall.
Souk Madinat is a replica of an ancient marketplace, recreated with traditional Middle Eastern style decor; wood carved archways showcasing intricate Arabic architectural design and ambience to give an authentic touch to it. Located in the heart of Madinat Jumeirah, it takes you back in time to ancient Arabia as you walk through a myriad of winding streets in exploring waterfront cafes, open-shuttered shops and galleries. Soak in the sights, smells and sound as you explore these meandering pathways.
Dubai Mall is the world’s largest and most-visited retail and entertainment destination with over 1,200 stores and over 200 food and beverage outlets. The tree-lined walkways, cafes and restaurants give an open air outdoor streetscape feel while an elegantly designed area, The Souk, features accessory outlets jewellery shops and handicraft stores.
The Dubai Mall also features the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which has thousands of aquatic animals and a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel, an indoor theme park, a 22-screen Reel Cinemas megaplex and the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink as well which is a major crowd puller.
Burj Khalifa At The Top Admission with Dubai Mall, Fountains
Duration: 4 hours
Skiing in Dubai?? Sounds unbelievable!
Ski Dubai, located in Mall of the Emirates is the Middle East’s first indoor ski center. Spread over an area of 22,500 square metres, it offers plenty of options for everyone, irrespective of your age or skill level.
This snow mountain themed attraction features a 85-metre-high indoor mountain with 5 different slopes of varying difficulty. The longest one being a 400-metre-long run with a 60 metres drop, the world’s first indoor black diamond run, tube slides, slopes and jumps, Zip Wirethat and a 3,000-metre interactive Snow with sled and toboggan runs, an icy body slide, climbing towers, giant snowballs and an ice cave. There is also the quad lift and a tow lift to carry skiers and snowboarders up the mountain.
Another major attraction at Ski Dubai is the resident King Penguins and colony of Gentoo. You can watch them play or have fun under the water, you can also interact directly with the penguins by booking a Penguin encounter.
Kids and adults can enroll for skiing lessons at the ski school with a qualified instructor. The ticket price includes ski and snowboard equipment and winter clothing as well, so avoid carrying your own equipment.
Drop into any of the two restaurants for a quick bite or a cup of steaming hot chocolate. Even the restaurants are mountain themed - St Moritz Café and Avalanche Café. Drop There is a Snow Pro shop for some indulgence in retail therapy.
Dubai: 2-Hour or Full-Day Slope Session at Ski Dubai
Duration: 2 hour
Situated on the coast of the Persian Gulf, the Jumeirah Beach is a white sand beach that named after the Jumeirah district of Dubai, The beach and its frontage feature many well known luxury hotels, resorts, and housing developments, including the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Wild Wadi Water Park, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and the old-style Madinat Jumeirah, a hotel and shopping complex.
With the majority of the high-end beach hotels have partitioned off the big portion of the beach, open beaches are quite sought after by tourists looking for a dip in Dubai. Free facilities at the Jumeirah Beach includes showers and toilets.
On the Jumeirah beach is also located the Jumeirah Beach Park. It is one of Dubai’s most popular public beach parks has just recently been awarded blue flag beach status, making it one of the most desirable beaches to visit. This park has a stretch of golden sand, grassy areas and palm trees. Besides, it also has a state of the art jogging track alongside a walking path, volleyball nets, shaded benches, children’s play areas, picnic tables, barbecue area and a few retail kiosks.
Entry to the park is chargeable. Sundays and Wednesdays are ladies-only days.
Relax On Beach (Jumeirah Beach)
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
One of the most memorable things about Dubai is the sail-shaped hotel facing the Arabian Gulf, Burj Al-Arab. Apart from being Dubai’s signature landmark, its claim to fame is the fact that it is the world’s only seven-star hotel though officially the ratings don’t go higher than 5.
Like most of Dubai exclusive hotels, the Burj Al Arab too is a world in itself and dripping in opulence. However, you cannot just walk into the Burj without a reservation. For those who do not wish to splurge on staying there, a much better way to gain entry is by making a reservation at one of the hotels many bars or restaurants. You can choose to dine ’under the sea’ or even “high up among the stars”, the Burj has several exclusive dining options in varied elegant settings and a multitude of cuisines to cater to your taste buds.
Although the Skyview Bar and the Al Muntaha restaurant are the most popular choice for the panoramic views they offer, there are other options as well.
Al Mahara Dinner in Burj Al-Arab with Private Dubai Transfers
Duration: 2 hours
A memorable holiday
The glitzy Dubai city is a must go on everyone’s bucket list. The best place to stay for easy access to Dubai’s top tourist attractions is Downtown Dubai. The major attractions like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountains, Dubai Mall, shops, restaurants are all close by. The Jumeirah Beach and its attractions are at a distance of about 15 minutes by car.
You can book any of the Half or Full day city tour packages to visit all of the sights. There is another option to combine the city tour with a desert safari in the afternoon which also includes a sunset barbecue and belly dancing show.
For those looking for an “out of the ordinary” experience, there is an option of taking a scenic air tour of Dubai on luxurious seaplanes. It surely can’t get any better than this.
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