Best Things to Do in Dubai

The 22 Best Things to Do in Dubai

Dubai is the most popular tourist destination in the United Arab Emirates. This city of majestic skyscrapers and luxurious shopping centers, which has grown on a small piece of desert in just a few decades, attracts people from all over the world.

Where else can you see the tallest building in the world, go downhill skiing in 40-degree heat, admire graceful sharks through the walls of a giant aquarium? Photos and descriptions of Dubai attractions, which you will find in large numbers on the Internet, are not able to convey the real splendor.

But tourists from all over the world come here not only for discounts, sunshine and the joys of family vacations. The city has many cultural attractions that reveal to us the secret of the East.

Walk around Bastakiya, visit a traditional oriental bazaar, cruise the Dubai Creek on an Arab Dhow, and you will soon realize that there is more to this city than just colorful cladding.

The 22 Best Things to Do in Dubai

1. Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa, rising to an incredible height of 829.8 meters, is the tallest building in the world and undoubtedly the main attraction of the city. Any self-respecting tourist will never leave Dubai without visiting the observation deck located on the 124th floor of this skyscraper.

At the beginning of the tour, you will be shown a multimedia presentation about Dubai and the construction of the Burj Khalifa, after which a high-speed elevator will take you to the observation deck with a 360-degree view. The bird’s eye view of the surroundings is simply stunning: high-rise buildings and a desert on the one hand, the ocean on the other …

Night visits to the observation deck are especially popular with photographers looking to capture the stunning panorama of the lights of Dubai. It is better to purchase an entrance ticket to the Burj Khalifa Observation Deck in advance: this will allow you to avoid long lines, which grow even more with the arrival of the weekend.

The Burj Khalifa is surrounded by beautifully designed gardens with winding paths. The Dubai Fountain is also located here – the tallest dancing fountain in the world, modeled on the famous Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas.

Address:  Burj Khalifa – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard – Dubai – UAE.

Opening hours:  Sun – Sat: 8:30 – 23:00, observation deck 11:00 – 23:00, last entrance 45 minutes before closing.

Recommended length of visit:  2 – 3 hours.

Entrance:  paid.

2. Dubai Museum

The Dubai Museum is housed in Al Fahidi Fort, built-in 1787 to protect the Dubai Creek. The walls of the fort are laid out of the traditional material in these places – coral blocks.

Throughout its history, Al-Fahidi has changed its function more than once: at different times, the residence of the ruling family, and the place of government meeting, and a military garrison, and even a prison were located here. Restored in 1971 (and again in 1995), the building now serves as the city’s main museum.

An interesting exhibition of old maps of the Emirates and Dubai is located at the entrance to the museum building, showing the rapid development of the region after the oil boom. Several old Arab boats can be seen in the courtyard, as well as a traditional palm-leaf house with a wind tower. The right room is dedicated to ancient weapons, the left – to local musical instruments.

The basement houses exhibition halls with displays highlighting various aspects of traditional life in the Emirates, including pearl fishing and Bedouin desert life. Here you can also get acquainted with the artifacts found during archaeological excavations in Al-Qusais from burials, whose age is estimated at 3000-4000 years.

Address:  Dubai Museum, Dubai, UAE.

Opening hours:  Sat – Thu: 8:30 – 20:30, Fri: 14:00 – 20:30.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

Entrance:  paid.

3. IMG Worlds of Adventure amusement park

The IMG Worlds of Adventure theme park is an exciting entertainment and thrill for both kids and … big kids. One zone is entirely dedicated to iconic Marvel characters, the other – to dinosaurs, in the third, the cartoon Network takes over control. There is something interesting here for visitors of all ages.

Would you like to help the Avengers fight Ultron, experience the horror in the haunted house, or join Spider-Man as he zips over the city? You will have such an opportunity. IMG Worlds of Adventure is a paradise for those looking for a fun day.

Address:  IMG Worlds of Adventure – Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE.

Working hours:  Sun – Wed: 11:00 – 20:00, Thu – Sat: 11:00 – 22:00.

Recommended length of visit:  3-4 hours.

Entrance:  paid.

4. Burj Al Arab

Burj Al-Arab is the tallest hotel in the world. Its height is 321 meters, and it is located on an artificial island off the coast of Dubai. The building is designed to resemble the billowing sail of a dhow boat. At night, a magnificent colorful light show is projected on its walls.

Burj Al Arab is not only the tallest but also one of the most expensive hotels in the world: the cost of the most luxurious suites here exceeds 15 thousand dollars per night.

Those who do not have unlimited credit but still want to experience a touch of excessive wealth can dine at the underwater restaurant Al-Mahara, whose glass walls allow observing marine life while eating.

A cheaper option is lunch at the Scape Restaurant, which serves up fusion dishes with a noticeable Californian touch. For panoramic city views, enjoy afternoon tea at the relatively inexpensive Skyview Bar, located on the 27th floor of the hotel.

Address:  3 Jumeirah Street | Burj Al-Arab Hotel, Dubai, UAE.

Recommended visit duration:  about 1 hour.

5. Bastakiya District (Old Dubai)

The eastern part of Bur Dubai is occupied by the Bastakiya quarter (sometimes also called the Al Fahidi district). It appeared at the end of the 19th century and was built up with the houses of wealthy Persian traders, who were mainly engaged in pearls and textiles. Their interest in Dubai in general and this part of it in particular was associated with the opportunity to conduct duty-free trade and the proximity to Dubai Creek.

In Bastakia, coral and limestone buildings crowned with wind towers are perfectly preserved. In the old days, wind towers served as air conditioners: the airflow “caught” by the tower was directed inside the house, thereby cooling the room.

A similar architectural element originally appeared in Persia, but thanks to the Persian merchants, it spread throughout the Middle East.

The narrow streets of Bastakiya are reminiscent of a bygone era in Dubai history. Inside the area, you will find the Mejlis Gallery with its collection of traditional Arabic ceramics and furniture and the XVA Gallery with a collection of modern art located in one of the historic buildings.

Address:  Al Fahidi Historical District (Bastakiya), Dubai, UAE.

Working hours:  Mon-Sun: 9:00 – 18:00.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

Admission:  free.

6. Madinat Jumeirah

Madinat Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s most attractive developments, presenting a modern take on a traditional Arab village.

It includes a market, hotels, villas and palm-lined waterways. The thoughtful lighting makes everything look especially charming at night.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, an Arab market with small shops, is located in the center of the entire complex. It sells souvenirs, handicrafts and some art objects.

Address:  Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, UAE.

Working hours: the market is open Sun-Sat: 10:00 – 23:00.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours

Admission:  free.

7. Jumeirah Mosque

The Jumeirah Mosque is considered the most beautiful mosque in the emirate of Dubai. This landmark, which is an exact copy of the Cairo Al-Azhar mosque, but eight times larger than the original, is a fine example of Islamic architecture.

This stone structure was built in the medieval tradition of the Fatimid dynasty – with two minarets flanking a central dome and graceful stonework. The mosque is especially attractive in the evening when it is illuminated by spotlights.

The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Cultural Understanding organizes guided tours of the mosque to help people of other faiths understand the Muslim faith better.

Address:  Jumeirah Mosque – Dubai – UAE.

Opening hours:  Sat – Thu 9:45 am – 11:15 am.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

Admission:  free.

8. Kite beach

This long white sand beach just south of Jumeirah Beach is not just the best spot for vacationers looking to enjoy swimming and lazily soak up the sun.

Kite Beach is known as a top destination for kitesurfers. Here you can try your hand at kitesurfing, stand-up paddling and other water sports, rent equipment and get lessons that are organized right on the beach.

Address:  Jumeirah 3, Dubai, UAE.

Working hours:  around the clock.

Recommended length of visit:  2 – 3 hours.

Admission: free.

9. Etihad Museum

Etihad Museum – opened in 2017. In the museum, you can get an interesting look at the chronicle of the emergence of the UAE on the world map, which happened in 1971. Here are documentaries, photographs, artifacts and interactive displays that reflect the historical milestones preceding the formation of the UAE, as well as the events taking place after the unification.

The museum building itself has an elegant design by the Canadian architectural firm Moriyama & Teshima. The roof of the museum is made in the form of a sheet of paper on which the declaration of unification was signed, and seven golden columns symbolize the pens with which it was signed.

Address:  Etihad Museum – Jumeirah Street – Dubai – UAE.

Working hours:  Sun – Sat: 10:00 – 20:00.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

Entrance:  paid.

10. Dubai Aquarium

One of the city’s top tourist attractions, the Dubai Aquarium allows you to admire a variety of marine life. It is located on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall, so you can see sharks, stingrays and other marine life for free from the shopping center hall.

Those for whom this is not enough can walk through the tunnels located below the aquarium and visit the underwater zoo.

If you wish, you can get acquainted with marine life and better. Glass bottom boat tours are especially popular. The most daring have the opportunity to go cage snorkeling and shark diving.

Address:  Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – Dubai – UAE.

Working hours:  Sun – Sat: 10:00 – 0:00.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

Entrance:  paid. 

11. Dancing Fountains of Dubai

Dancing fountains are located in the middle of a large lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. The jets of the fountain reach a height of 140 meters while bending in waves like a belly dancer. All this happens in sync with the soundtrack in the form of classical, Arabic and world music.

There are many excellent vantage points around the fountain, including a floating deck that allows you to approach the fountain by only 9 meters. Great spots to watch are the Dubai Mall’s waterfront terrace or wooden boats that can be used to stroll along the lake for an additional fee.

Address:  Dubai Fountain – Dubai – UAE.

Opening hours:  Sun – Sat: 13:00 – 13:30, starting from 18:00 to 23:00 every 30 minutes.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

Admission:  free.

12. Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is the main shopping center of the city and a real paradise for shopaholics. There are many shops and shops inside the mall, as well as places where you can eat. For guests who come here not for shopping but in search of entertainment, there is an ice rink, a play area, a complex of cinemas and the Dubai Aquarium.

Almost constantly, something interesting happens in Dubai Mall – live music concerts, fashion shows, etc. The most famous and popular events organized here are the annual Shopping Festival, which takes place in January-February, and the Dubai Summer Surprise Festival in July-August.

Address:  Dubai Mall – Dubai – UAE.

Working hours:  Thu – Sat: 10:00 – 0:00, Sat – Wed: 10:00 – 22:00.

Recommended length of visit:  2 – 3 hours.

Admission:  free.

13. Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek divides the city into two parts – Deira in the north and Bur Dubai in the south. The bay played a big role in the development of the city. Small villages arose on its shores 4000 years ago: fishermen and pearl divers settled here. The modern era of Dubai did not begin until the 1830s when the area attracted the attention of the large and influential Bani Yas tribe.

On the shores of Dubai Creek, north of the Al Maktoum Bridge, there is a dock for dhow boats, which are still used by small traders from around the bay. Some dhows have been anchored here for over 100 years. Boat owners often invite tourists aboard for an impromptu excursion to get a glimpse into the life of traditional Arab sailors. Many dhows travel to Kuwait, Iran, Oman and even India and the African peninsula of Somalia.

To cross the bay, you can take one of the many abra wooden boats. It is a kind of water shuttle taxi that runs between points on the shores of Bur Dubai and Deira.

Address:  GPS coordinates: 25 ° 15’36.6 ″ N 55 ° 18’51.2 ″ E.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

14. Deira District

Deira is located on the northern shore of Dubai Creek. Deira is multifaceted, with ancient dhows loading and unloading on the shore against the backdrop of modern hotels, banks and other offices. It is already difficult to make out which countries are from which people scurrying along the winding streets of the district, but they all call Dubai their home.

Deira is known to travelers for its traditional bazaars, which are full of shoppers at any time of the day. Deira Gold Souk is the largest gold market in the world.

Deira Spice Souk sells all imaginable and unimaginable spices: the counters are heaped with sacks of caraway seeds, paprika, saffron, sumac, thyme, as well as fragrant oud wood, rose water, incense and other incense. The fish market attracts much less tourists.

Culture lovers in the area shouldn’t miss out on two of Deira’s beautiful architectural gems. The Heritage House was built in 1890 for a wealthy Iranian merchant, later Sheikh Ahmed bin Dalmuk, a pearl merchant known throughout Dubai, settled here.

Today this building has been renovated and you have a great chance to see the interior of a traditional Arabian residential building. Al-Ahmadiyya School, built-in 1912, was the oldest school in Dubai and now houses the Museum of Public Education.

Address:  Deira – Dubai – UAE.

Recommended length of visit:  2 – 3 hours.

15. Sheikh Zayed Highway

Sheikh Zayed Road is Dubai’s main thoroughfare through its modern business center. The wide eight-lane track is surrounded by high-rise buildings made of glass and steel along its entire length.

This is one of the best viewpoints for the famous skyscrapers and other sights of the city. Most of the world’s famous shopping centers are also located along the motorway.

The top floor of the Dubai World Trade Center, located just off Sheikh Zayed Road, has an observation deck from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city at less cost than visiting Burj Khalifa.

Address:  Sheikh Zayed Rd – Dubai – UAE.

Recommended length of visit:  1 – 2 hours.

16. Aquaventure Water Park

Located at the Atlantis Hotel on Dubai’s famous man-made island, Palm Jumeirah, this water park is a great place to cool off and unwind after a busy day of shopping and sightseeing.

In addition to numerous world-class slides and a dedicated water play area for young children, you will find other activities such as the Shark Safari underwater show.

When you run out of energy, the 700-meter white sand beach is perfect for relaxing.

Address:  Aquaventure Waterpark – Crescent Road – Dubai – UAE.

Opening hours:  Sun – Sat: 10:00 – 17:30.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

Entrance:  paid.

17. Heritage Village

Dubai’s architectural, cultural and maritime heritage is on display at the Heritage and Diving Village. Here are exhibitions related to pearl fishing and the construction of dhows – two historical economic pillars of old Dubai.

Visitors have the opportunity to witness the life of a typical coastal Arab village with its Persian houses, a traditional coffee shop and a small bazaar where potters and weavers do their craft right in the shop.

From October to April, local music and Arabic dances are performed here, and everyone can get advice from traditional medicine practitioners. In addition, those who visit the Heritage and Diving Village will have the opportunity to learn more about how the Bedouin tribes live.

Address:  Heritage Village – Dubai – UAE

Working hours:  Sun – Sat: 09: 00-16: 00, Fri: 15: 30-21: 00

Recommended visit duration:  about 1 hour

18. Jumeirah Beach

This strip of white bliss is the number one beach for Dubai guests. Hotels are stretched along its entire length, so this is one of the most popular tourist destinations. The conditions on the beach are excellent: there are many sun loungers, cafes and restaurants, rental of water skis and other accessories for outdoor activities on the water.

While in the area, shake off the sand for an hour and visit Majlis Gorfat Um Al-Shif, located just a short walk from the beach. It was once the summer residence of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Said Al Maktoum.

Constructed in 1955 from plaster and coral blocks, it has been restored today while retaining much of the original beautiful decor. Majlis Gorfat Um Al Shif will give you the best insight into the luxurious lifestyle of the rulers of Dubai.

The gardens of the Majlis are full of shady date palms that are irrigated using an impressive Arabian irrigation system.

Address:  Jumeirah Beach – Dubai – UAE.

Recommended length of visit:  2 – 3 hours.

19. Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates is one of the city’s most famous shopping and entertainment centers with the stunning indoor ski complex Ski Dubai inside.

The ski slope, covered with artificial snow, is equipped with cable lifts. The penguin enclosure is also located here. Inside the ski complex, the temperature is constantly maintained at –4 degrees Celsius.

In addition, the Mall of the Emirates has a cinema and family entertainment center with many attractions designed for both large and small. Leaving the Mall of the Emirates without shopping is nearly impossible.

You will not leave here even hungry: there are many cafes inside, offering visitors a wide variety of world cuisine.

Address:  Mall of The Emirates – Sheikh Zayed Road – Dubai – UAE.

Working hours:  Sun – Wed: 10:00 – 22:00, Thu – Sat: 10:00 – 0:00.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

Admission:  free.

20. Dubai Opera House

Opened in mid-2016, the Dubai Opera House is set to become the city’s premier cultural hub. Eminent opera and ballet artists perform on the stage of the Dubai Opera all year round, performances by renowned theater companies and concerts of world-class musicians are held.

The ultra-modern 2,000-seat theater building resembles a traditional dhow with the curves of its glass and steel walls, an astonishing piece of architectural art and one of Dubai’s newest landmarks.

Address:  Dubai Opera – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard – Dubai – UAE.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

21. Alserkal Avenue Art Quarter

A part of the old industrial district of Al Quz, located on Alserkal Avenue, undergoing a process of renovation, is gradually turning into a major art center in Dubai and is already home to some modern art galleries.

Not only small gallery startups have settled here, but also such well-known players in the gallery business as Green Art Gallery, The Third Line and Ayyam Gallery.

Their program focuses on both showcasing the work of major artists and identifying new talent from across the Middle East.

Popular restaurants and cafés flock to this nascent art district, as well as fashion and accessory boutiques from local designers. Alserkal Avenue showcases the vibrant and youthful hustle and bustle of a city that is usually best known for its business face.

Address:  Alserkal Avenue – 17 Street – Dubai – United Arab Emirates.

Working hours:  Sat – Thu: 10:00 – 19:00, Fri – closed.

22. Dubai Parks and Resorts

With Dubai Parks and Resorts, you can meet all your entertainment needs in one place. The only problem here is to make a choice, to understand what exactly you want more.

This gigantic complex includes several world-class theme parks offering something fun for everyone, regardless of age.

Motiongate features blockbuster-inspired rides dedicated to Hollywood, Bollywood Park brings the world of Indian cinema to life, and Legoland Dubai invites young visitors to have a fun day in the Lego world.

Adjacent to Dubai Parks and Resorts is Riverland Dubai, which means you don’t have to leave after tired of walking around the theme parks with plenty of evening entertainment.

Address:  Dubai Parks and Resorts – Dubai – UAE.

Recommended visit duration:  more than 3 hours.

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