The Arabian paradise of Dubai is sensational. With its amazing man-made wonders and rich cultural heritage, it is no surprise that Dubai is one of the most visited cities in the world.
Fun family attractions, romantic destinations, well-preserved cultural and historical treasures, extreme adventure activities, incredible natural and man-made marvels — there is something for everybody in Dubai. Check out our list of the best things to do in Dubai, and experience this amazing City of Wonder for yourself today.
Explore the Dubai airport
Some people hate airports, but there is so much to love about the Dubai International Airport. It is now the world’s busiest with a total of 70.4 million travelers in 2014. Whether you are staying in Dubai or simply passing through, take time to enjoy the different offerings of this remarkable airport:
- Coffee shops and restaurants
- Duty-free outlets selling electronics, fragrances, books, souvenirs and more.
- Complete amenities for families and business
- Emergency and medical services, prayer rooms, a post office, and showers.
- Cool dip at the swimming pool or Jacuzzi
- Relaxation at Zen Gardens or at Snoozecube
Find a good hotel
Dubai has an excess of hotels, hotel apartments, and resorts where you and your group can relax as soon as you step out of the busy airport. Choose your best accommodations whether they are in the middle of the bustling city, in the desert, or in an indoor snow resort. Book a hotel in Dubai by visiting their website or find the best rates at Booking.com.
Rent a car
Getting around Dubai is easy and convenient with a wide selection of public transportation that is available to everyone. From metro trains to taxis to trams to ferries, you can easily explore Dubai in comfort. With a valid international driving license, you can also rent a car and drive around. Visit RentalCars.com, and they will hook you up with your best ride while vacationing in Dubai.
Know the dos and don’ts in Dubai
As with any country you are visiting, respect the culture and sensibilities of the people. Basic things to keep in mind when in Dubai and the UAE are:
- Everybody is expected to dress and act decently.
- Respect the customs of this predominantly Muslim country.
- Alcohol is available only in licensed hotels and bars.
- Fridays and Saturdays are the non-working days.
For more guidance on the dos and don’ts and for other helpful information about Dubai, visit their website visitdubai.com
Commute through the Metro
Famed as the longest driverless fully automated metro rail network in the world, the Dubai Metro is as much an awe-inspiring tourist attraction as it is a convenient public transport facility. Clean and efficient, the Dubai Metro serves prime destinations in Dubai making traveling and sightseeing easy and comfortable for everyone.
Ride the Tram
Launched in November 2014, the Dubai Tram provides much-needed transit services in the leisure and business districts of Dubai Marina, Media City and other areas of New Dubai. It operates for 19 hours daily and links with the Metro at the Damac and Jumeirah Lakes Towers stations. It also connects to the Monorail on Palm Jumeirah. The Dubai Tram is the first tram system outside of Europe that uses modern and safe ground power cable system eliminating the unsightly overhead cables.
Take the Palm Monorail
The Palm Monorail runs along the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah island connecting mainland Dubai to the island’s apex at the beautiful Atlantis, The Palm hotel. This elevated 3-mile ride gives passengers a breathtaking view of the incredible man-made island as it travels from the Gateway station in Al Sufouh Road up to Atlantis. A single trip costs 15DHs while a round trip ticket costs 25 dirhams. Opened in April 2009, it is the first monorail in the Middle East.
Hop on the Dubai Trolley
One of Dubai’s latest transportation system slash tourist magnet is the Dubai Trolley. Opening in April 2015, the double-decker hop-on hop-off service can carry up to 50 people around Downtown Dubai. This is the world’s first eco-friendly trolley with a zero-emission, hydrogen-powered service. It gives passengers access to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Souk Al Bahar, and three hotels in Downtown Dubai. The Dubai Trolley operates from 4pm to midnight on weekdays and from 3pm to 11pm on weekends.
Rent a limousine
Dubai is famed for its luxurious lifestyle. You, too, can experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous with a ride around the city on a deluxe limousine or any other luxury vehicle of your choice. Limousines, Rolls Royce, Hummer, Cadillac, and a lot other cars are available for rent in Dubai. If you want to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or any special occasion the extravagant way, rent a party limousine in Dubai for a few hours and enjoy food and drinks onboard while you roll around town.
Ride a cable car at Dubai Creek Park
Get a bird’s eye view of Old Dubai with a ride on a cable car at the Dubai Creek Park. For 30 minutes, you can enjoy the interesting mix of Old Dubai structures as you take this 30-meter-high and 2.3-kilometer-long journey. The ride costs Dhs25 per head and is open daily from 8 AM to 11 PM. Aside from the cable car, the Dubai Creek Park is also a good place to hang out on lazy weekend with its picturesque creek-side landscape and amenities for families.
Go snowboarding or meet penguins in Ski Dubai
Yes, there is snow in Dubai. It is in a full snow resort where you can ski and snowboard down slopes, enjoy some hot chocolate, and even stay at an adjacent hotel with views of the snow-white indoor mountain. At Ski Dubai, you can enjoy the following activities:
- Play in the snow at the Snowpark, the world’s largest indoor snow park with 3000 square meters of snow.
- Ski and snowboard down the snowy white slopes.
- Swim with the penguins.
- Take group or private ski or snowboard lessons at the Ski School.
- Zip down the world’s first indoor sub-zero zip line with the Snow Bullet.
This indoor ski resort is located at the Mall of the Emirates. It is perfect for a fun family outing or a getaway with friends.
Skydive over Palm Jumeirah
Do the real thing and dive from the skies with Skydive Dubai. Strap on that skydiving gear and brace yourself for the ultimate adrenaline rush. Jump off your plane and shoot down at 210 kilometers per hour towards the incredible man-made Palm Jumeirah islands. With its superb reputation from safety, efficiency, and expertise, you know you are in good hands with Skydive Dubai’s expert coaches, instructors, and pilots. The adventurous Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdam bin Mohammed Al Maktoum is quite a regular here.
Practice flying at iFLY Dubai
If you prefer to fly indoors, experience the joy at iFLY Dubai. This indoor skydiving center allows you to know exactly what it is like to fly even just within its safe walls. Its double and vertical wind tunnel, the first in the world, take kids, teenagers, and adults suspended at least four meters above the ground.
You don’t need to be a pro skydiver to try iFLY Dubai. Instructors are on hand to give pre-flight tips and assistance anytime during your flying. Birthday celebrations, team buildings, corporate outings and other activities become more fun and exciting at iFLY DUbai. It is located at City Centre Mirdif.
Take a seaplane or helicopter tour
Soar through the skies in a luxurious or trendy style with a seaplane or a helicopter tour. These low-lying aircrafts will take you on a breathtaking ride over Dubai’s world-famous landmarks and architectures. On a seaplane or helicopter tour, you can enjoy at least half an hour ride around Dubai. You can witness the following from the skies:
- Nostalgic beauty of Dubai Creek and its heritage structures
- Amazing heights of the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa
- Bustling city life along Sheikh Zayed Road
- Majesty of Burj Al Arab standing amidst the refreshing blue Persian Gulf
- Magnificence of the incredible man-made islands, The Palm and The World
Fly over the desert on a hot air balloon
See how far the desert spreads out into the horizon. At sunrise, take a hot air balloon flight and watch as the sun lights up the wide sprawling deserts of Dubai. For one hour, you fly over the golden sand dunes and catch beautiful sights of green oases, prancing oryxes and gazelles, and wandering camels.
Adults pay AED 995 per person, while kids from 5 to 12 years old pay only AED 850. The cost includes free pickup and drop-off from select hotels and meetings points, a flight certificate, and cold refreshments. The balloon take off site is near the Dubai-Al Ain Road in the area of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
For a minimum of 4 hours, you can head out to the deep seas of Dubai and catch as many fishes as you can in its abundant waters. Yachts and fishing boats are available for you to charter. Complimentary fishing gear and refreshments are also included in the rent.
The yacht captain and crew are experts in deep sea fishing. They are ready with tips and tricks as well as a helping hand to make your fishing trip fun and productive. Some yachts are also equipped with electric grill and kitchen onboard so you can directly cook your fish and enjoy them straightaway. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to go out fishing in Dubai.
Cruise on a yacht
Cruise in comfort and luxury on a sleek white yacht and see the beauty of Dubai from a unique vantage point. Deluxe yacht charters usually take you from the Dubai Marina and around the Palm Island. Along the way, you are treated to the following sights only Dubai can offer:
- Dubai Marina with its towering skyscrapers and vibrant marina scene
- White sandy beaches lining the shore as you sail of of the marina
- Seaside view of the world-renowned Burj Al Arab with its billowing sail design
- The Palm Jumeirah Island and the posh properties on it
- Elegant beauty of Atlantis, The Palm oozing with the Lost City feel and touches of Arabian style
The best cruises are at sunrise and sunset when the skies and the waters turn into breathtaking colors for you to see.
Have dinner on a dhow cruise
Immerse yourself in an authentic Arabian experience in Dubai with a dhow cruise dinner. Onboard a traditional wooden dhow, you and your loved one, family, or friends can enjoy sumptuous buffet spread as you cruise down the tranquil waters. There are dhow dinner cruises along historic Dubai Creek and modern Dubai Marina. Take your pick!
You are also treated on board with mesmerizing Tanoura dance, puppet or comedy show, or even a magic show. For an additional fee, you can get a henna tattoo or a souvenir picture. Dhow cruises are also best for celebrating special occasions and corporate gatherings.
Ride like the Old Dubai days on abras
For a truly authentic Old Dubai experience, take a ride on an abra. The abra was the main mode of transportation in the old days when the Dubai Creek, with its rich marine life, was the center of commerce. Today, it is more a tourist attraction and the most cost-effective way to cross the creek from the Bur Dubai to the Deira side and vice versa. These traditional motorized water taxis ferry up to 20 passengers for only 1 dirham on a 5-minute ride across the creek.
Abra stations in the Bur Dubai side are near Shindagha/Al Ghubaiba and the Old Textile Souk. In Deira, the stations are near the Deira Souk and Al Sabkha. You can also hire an abra for an exclusive sightseeing trip down the Dubai Creek. Here are some things to take note when taking an abra ride:
- No lifejackets are available, so be careful.
- For safety, take a seat and do not stand during the ride.
- Best ride the abra at dusk and onwards when the temperatures are cooler.
- Weekdays are good days to try it out as it can get crowded on weekends.
Enjoy the thrill of a desert safari
Rolling golden sand dunes, fierce falcons, gentle camels, mesmerizing Belly dancers, and so much more are waiting for you when you take a desert safari tour. You have never been to a Middle Eastern paradise if you do not enjoy the wonders of the desert. You can choose a morning dune bashing, an evening safari, or an overnight outing for your ultimate adventure in the desert.
Book a desert safari and enjoy the following activities:
- Dune bashing on 4×4 SUVs with expert desert drivers
- Desert sunset viewing
- Quad biking (for an extra cost)
- Meet and greet falcons (for an extra cost)
- Camel riding
- Sand boarding
- BBQ dinner buffet under the stars
- Camp highlights like henna tattoo painting, flavored shisha, local Arabic costumes, and souvenir shops
- Superb entertainment like Tanoura Dance and Belly Dance
** Some best desert safari in Dubai deals available on this guide
Travel back in time at Al Bastakiya
Travel back in time as your roam around the narrow, winding pathways and the beautiful nooks of the historical Al Bastakiya. The oldest residential area in Dubai is located along Dubai Creek and Al Fahidi Fort. Constructed back in the 1980s, the old houses with their traditional wind towers still stand tall and proud. The wind tower keep the house interiors cool as it catches wind and channels it into the house. For a true Old Dubai experience away from the towering and glittering buildings, Al Bastakiya is a must-visit place. It is free to roam around the neighborhood. Restaurants and art shops now reside in the old houses.
Know Dubai’s past at the Dubai Museum
Complete the experience with a visit to nearby Dubai Museum which is also located in Al Fahidi Fort. Originally the residence of the ruler of Dubai, it was constructed in 1787 and renovated in 1970 to house the museum. Here, you can know more about the rich and colorful history of Dubai. It shows glimpses of the traditional souks, the beautiful oases and local wildlife. It also showcases the old industries like pearl diving and fishing. It is an educational trip for the entire family. The Dubai Museum is open daily from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM (2:30 to 8:30 PM on Fridays). Entrance fee is Dhs 3 for adults and Dhs 1 for children.
Take heritage tours or cultural meals with locals
If you are up for a truly immersive insight into Dubai, sign up for heritage tours, cultural meals, mosque visits, and other cultural awareness activities at the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). This volunteer organization of Emiratis offer a wide array of activities that aim to help visitors and residents understand the customs and traditions of the UAE. They have walking tours in Al Bastakiya, guided tours of Jumeirah Mosque, Arabic classes, cultural meals, and many more. The centre is open Sunday to Thursday 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Learn more about Islam at Jumeirah Mosque
Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque in Dubai that is open to the public. They are dedicated to giving tours and lectures for non-Muslim visitors to know more about Islam and the culture of the country.
Tours are scheduled at 10 AM from Saturday to Thursday. Visitors are advised to wear modest clothing. Traditional attire can also be borrowed at the mosque. No reservation is needed to join this tour. Just be at the main entrance of the Mosque on or before 9:45 AM. Each tour lasts for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Entrance fee is Dhs 10 per person. Children under 12 are free of charge.
See the world in Dubai at Global Village
Global Village takes you around the world with its amazing displays and activities that showcase the beauty of the different countries. Located in Dubailand, Global Village is open only from November to April. The last season had 70 participating countries which include Africa, America, Canada, China, Brazil, Egypt, Singapore, Philippines, Morocco, Europe, and more. Apart from the country pavilions, Global Village also has rides for everyone at Fantasy Island fair grounds. Entrance fee is Dhs 15.
Embrace flower power at Dubai Miracle Garden
Embrace the amazing beauty of flowers in the desert at the Dubai Miracle Garden. It has 45 varieties of over 45 million blooming flowers fashioned in various shapes. You and your loved ones can feast your eyes on the breathtaking colors and magnificence of this unbelievable wonder. Take photos of flowers in the shape of the UAE flag, a large clock, various animals, boats, and others. Some are shaped like hearts, stars, and pyramids.
The Dubai Miracle Garden holds the Guinness world record for having the longest wall of flowers. Entrance fee is Dhs 30. It is free for disabled persons and kids 3 years old and below. It is open from 9 AM to 9 PM on weekdays and from 9 AM to 11 PM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Dance with the Dubai Fountain
Be amazed at the beauty of the world’s largest dancing fountain, The Dubai Fountain. This amazing attraction is located in the backyard of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall. The fountain is designed by California-based WET, the creators of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. Watch the fountain dance with its wide repertoire of world music every day at 30-minute intervals from 6 PM to 11 PM.
Meet flamingos at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
If you are big fan of birds or if you simply want to see flamingos in their natural habitat, visit the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. You can also spot other breeding and non-breeding birds like grey herons, egrets, gulls, herons, stork, and many more. The sanctuary attracts over 270 species of birds. It is open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM from Saturday to Thursday. Entrance is free for all.
Say hello to sharks and crocodiles at Dubai Aquarium
Underwater Zoo. Located inside the Dubai Mall, everybody can watch and learn about the different marine species as well as go on an underwater adventure in the different areas.
- Aquarium. One of the largest suspended aquarium in the world, the Aquarium tank houses thousands of animals of over 140 species like sharks and rays. You can go cage snorkeling, shark dive, and other adventures.
- Tunnel. Walk under the 48-foot Aquarium Tunnel and marvel at the underwater views 11 feet under the surface.
- Underwater Zoo. Meet and greet all kinds of aquatic creatures like otters, piranhas, penguins, crocodiles, spider crabs, and so much more!
Enjoy water fun at Wild Wadi or Aquaventure
Have all the water fun adventures you can ever get at Wild Wadi or Aquaventure waterparks. Located right in the heart of the city, you don’t have to go far to get wet and wild with your family and friends. Slide down extreme water slides like the Jumeirah Sceirah at Wild Wadi or The Tower of Neptune at Aquaventure. Kids can take it easy cruising down lazy river rides or play areas. Your day couldn’t get any more fun than this.
Swim with dolphins and seals at Dubai Dolphinarium or Dolphin Bay
Enjoy a day with the dolphins and fur seals in Dubai. It’s a must-visit for the entire family. Watch the graceful marine animals dance, sing, juggle, play ball, jump through hoops and so much more. Want to do more? You can also play and swim with the dolphins and seals with private adventure sessions. Dubai Dolphinarium is located at Dubai Creek. Dolphin Bay is at the Atlantis, The Palm. Check them out today!
Shop at the biggest and brightest malls
One of the top shopping destinations in the world, you can literally shop till you drop whenever you are in Dubai. From the international designer brands to local merchandise, you will surely find what you need in Dubai’s over 50 malls. Not only are they shopping havens, they are also amazing attractions. Among the famous ones are:
- Dubai Mall is the world’s largest mall. It has the only Bloomingdale’s branch outside of the US.
- Mall of the Emirates has classy shops and the only indoor snow resort in the region.
- Ibn Battuta Mall, named after the world explorer, has thematic country pavilions.
- Wafi Mall has Egyptian charm with its pyramid architecture and other Egyptian artworks.
- Souk Madinat reflects the vibe of the traditional souks with views of Burj Al Arab.
- Dragon Mart is a sprawling retail complex with thousands of stores offering Chinese products.
- Other malls include designer outlet Burjuman, seaside Dubai Marina Mall, Dubai Outlet Mall, and many more.
Shop for souvenirs at the souks
If you are looking for value for your money and to feel authentic Arabic shopping, head to the souks or the traditional markets. Get glittering gold at low prices at the Gold Souk, sacks full of spice and aromatic flavors at the Spice Souk, and a wide selection of perfumes and incense at the Perfume Souk. All these are located in Deira. Across the Dubai Creek in Bur Dubai is the Old Textile Souk where you can find a shop selling various clothing, shoes, accessories as well as souvenir items.
Take pictures at Burj Al Arab
You have never been to Dubai if you haven’t visited its most iconic landmark, the Burj Al Arab. Standing majestic by the beach, this world-renowned hotel is famed as a seven-star wonder. Its design of a billowing sail of a dhow makes it a beautiful background for selfies or group pictures from the beach. You can also enjoy afternoon tea, lunch, or dinner at their various dining outlets. Of course, staying for a night or two at Burj Al Arab, the world’s most luxurious hotel, is definitely a check on the bucket list.
Ride to the top of the world at Burj Khalifa
Experience the unmatched beauty of Dubai with a tour to the tallest man-made structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa. This world-class destination is a popular feature in various international films and one of Dubai’s iconic landmarks. Standing 829.8 meters (2,722 feet), you can see most of Dubai at At The Top, Burj Khalifa and At The Top, Burj Khalifa SKY, the world’s highest observation decks. At The Top is located on Level 124, while At The Top SKY combines trips to level 125 and 148. Up there, you can take pictures as well as buy souvenir items. Visit Burj Khalifa today for a complete Dubai travel experience!
There are simply so many things to see and do in this beautiful emirate. Visit Dubai today!