Over the past decade Dubai has grown into a major tourist destination. The emirate is best known for its stunning beaches, desert reserves, modern architecture and luxury shopping. There are countless things to do in Dubai ranging from ultra-relaxing activities to invigorating adventures. Here is a list of 30 things to do and places to see while you are in Dubai.
Top things to do and places to visit in Dubai
1. Watch a show at the Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountains are one attraction not to be missed in Dubai. The choreographed fountains are the largest in the world. They display shows of dancing water jets set to music that are 30 minutes in length. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the wonder.
2. Marvel at the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world, is an iconic building in Dubai that is a modern day marvel. The skyscraper—at 829.8 meters/2,722 feet—towers over all the other skyscrapers in Dubai. There is an observation deck you can go up, which offers views across Dubai and beyond.
3. Shop at the malls
There are multiple malls to explore while in Dubai, including: Deira City Center, Mall of the Emirates, and the Dubai Mall. The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are the larger of the malls, with an upwards of 1,000 stores within them. The malls also include a large range of cafes and restaurants.
4. Spend a day in nature at a desert safari
Desert Safaris are another must do in Dubai. These safaris are great ways to see the desert landscape in a fun way. In the evening you even get to experience a live belly dance show while enjoying a traditional BBQ dinner.
5. Get soaked at Wild Wadi Waterpark
Located next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, this waterpark is a great place to cool off during the hot days in Dubai. Wild Wadi has 30 different water rides and attractions that suit everyone’s thrill level.
6. Have a fun filled water day at Aquaventure Waterpark
Aquaventure Waterpark is another place in Dubai that is sure not to disappoint. The waterpark is located at Atlantis The Palm and is filled with zip lines, slides and other rides. There is also a private beach area at this park.
7. Be stunned at the Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab is one of the most recognized iconic buildings in Dubai. This seven-star hotel features many different eateries which non-hotel guests can enjoy as well. Staying at this top rated luxury hotel will cost $1,000+ a night for a room.
8. Have an adventurous day at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve can be enjoyed by going through a selected tour operator. Tour guides can share their knowledge about many important aspects of the Dubai desert. The tours that can be arranged include: camel treks, falconry tours, horse riding tours, wildlife drives, dune driving, dune dinners, sand boarding and camping trips.
9. Explore the Palm Jumeirah
No trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to the Palm Jumeirah. The Palm is a man-made island shaped like a palm tree, and is one of the largest artificial islands in the world. Many high end hotels are located on The Palm, including the famous Atlantis Resort. There are also plenty of restaurants and clubs to check out along The Palm.
10. Visit the Dubai Marina
The Dubai Marina is a popular area to explore with magnificent skyscrapers that dazzle, especially during the night. The glamorous JBR Walk is one of the main attractions and features many al fresco style dining restaurants as well as unique boutiques. Another attraction of the Dubai Marina is The Beach at JBR, an outside shopping and dining complex, that is frequented by tourists and locals alike.
11. Take a boat tour around Dubai
There are many different boat tours around Dubai where you can see the main tourist attractions like the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah and the Atlantis Hotel from the water. These tours range from group tours to luxury yacht charters.
12. Ski or snowboard at Ski Dubai
Head over to the Mall of the Emirates to experience Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. With five different runs there is something for every skill level. At Ski Dubai you can also see a colony of Gentoo and King Penguins.
13. Explore the Dubai Creek
The Dubai Creek is an area worth exploring while in Dubai. At the creek, you will see many dhow boats passing by. If you are lucky you can even catch a glimpse of the ship workers unloading their cargo. While you are there be sure to go haggling at the souks and take an abra taxi from one side of the creek to the other.
14. See beautiful flowers at the Dubai Miracle Garden
The colorful and vibrant flower displays at the Dubai Miracle Garden are sure to please the eyes. The park is the region’s biggest flower garden and has more than 45 million blooming flowers in various designs and sculptures.
15. Be dazzled at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Dive into a day of exploration at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. This attraction features sharks, rays and schools of fish. The large aquarium tank can be viewed for free from the outside. The entrance fee includes a walk through the breathtaking underwater aquarium tank tunnel and a chance to see many creatures like crocodiles, owls, hedgehogs, owls, octopus, squid and more up close.
16. See a horse event at Meydan Racecourse
Meydan Racecourse, a horse racing venue that can accommodate over 60,000 people, opened its doors in 2010. At Meydan Racecourse there is also a horse racing museum, a gallery, a five-star hotel and a nine-hole golf course. Many different events are held at Meydan Racecourse throughout the year such as international horse races and equestrian events like the famous Dubai World Cup.
17. Relax at the beaches in Dubai
Dubai is home to many breathtaking beaches and resorts. There are quite a few public beaches to choose from such as Jumeirah Beach Park or Al Mamzar Beach. If you are looking for a more exclusive beach day, you can head over to the beach clubs like Cove Beach or Eden Beach Club.
18. Shop at the souks in Dubai
There are several souks in Dubai worth exploring such as the gold, spice and textile souk. At the souks, you will experience a traditional shopping experience, haggling for your goods to get the best deal possible. After shopping around at the souks, you can stop for a bite to eat at the local eateries sampling cuisine from the Middle East and beyond.
19. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque
Jumeirah Mosque is one of the few mosques in Dubai that allows non-Muslims to enter. Photography is also allowed both outside and inside the Mosque. Tours of the Jumeirah Mosque can be arranged through the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding.
20. Spend a day at the parks in Dubai
Despite being a desert, there are plenty of parks located across Dubai. In the parks, trees offer shade from the blazing Dubai sun and there are ample grassy areas that are great for relaxing or playing sports. Be sure to pack food for a picnic, or bring items for grilling on the barbecue stations located throughout the parks. Some of the best parks to visit in Dubai are Al Barsha Pond Park, Zabeel Park, Creek Park and Safa Park.
21. Sample different cuisines at the eclectic range of restaurants
Dubai offers some of the best range of restaurants in the world. From small mom and pop style restaurants to Michelin rated establishments there is everything you could want in Dubai. Any type of cuisine you can think of is available in Dubai so make sure to bring your appetite for a culinary adventure!
Some recommendations of places to eat in Dubai: Indego by Vineet (contemporary Indian), Al Safadi (Middle Eastern cuisine), Center Cut (steakhouse), Zaroob (Street food inspired Middle Eastern), Tomo (Japanese), Hanoi Restaurant (Vietnamese), Bu Qtair (Fish shack).
22. Have brunch in Dubai
If you are headed to Dubai over a weekend don’t miss having Friday Brunch. Most hotels in Dubai offer exquisite brunches with various cuisine themes. Three great hotels to check out for brunch are: Al Qasr, at The Madinat Jumeirah; Dubai’s Secret Garden Brunch, at The Waldorf Astoria; Dusit Thani on Sheikh Zayed Road.
23. Visit traditional Dubai
Dubai is steeped in history and there is nowhere that this is more apparent than in the Bastakia Quarter. In this area of Dubai, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time when you wander through the streets. While there be sure to visit the Dubai Museum and the Basta Art Café, which has a lovely courtyard perfect for enjoying a refreshing mint lemonade.
24. Visit The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding
This non-profit organization was designed to bring together all the different cultures that live in Dubai to raise awareness about the culture and customs of the UAE. A variety of activities can be arranged through The Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding, including heritage tours and mosque visits.
25. Go clubbing
Dubai is famous for its lively and vibrant night clubs. The club scene in Dubai is busiest on Thursday and Friday nights, which are the weekend nights in Dubai. There are also events on other days of the week such as ladies’ night, which is usually on Tuesdays. Some of the top clubs to visit while in Dubai are 360, Analog Room and Nasimi Beach.
26. Have a drink at a bar or lounge
Dubai is home to a wide range of bars and lounges. Two top rated bars and lounges worth visiting are Buddha Bar and At.mosphere. If you prefer a beach setting to grab a drink, be sure to go to Barasti Beach Bar. Or, for a more laid back setting head over to Rock Bottom or the Irish Village.
27. Spend a day at the movies
Headed to Dubai in the summer months? Then you should definitely cool off in a movie theater. There are a variety of films to be watched including Hollywood, Bollywood, Arabic and other world movies.
28. Skate at the Dubai Ice Rink
The Dubai Mall is home to an Olympic sized ice skating rink, perfect for families and more advanced skaters. The rink is located on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall and offers plenty of fun filled skating sessions like foam parties and DJ nights.
29. Visit the Dubai Museum
The Dubai Museum is situated in the oldest existing building in Dubai. The museum was opened in 1971 to educate people on the traditional life in Dubai. Here you can see drawings, diagrams, monuments and other artifacts from ancient Dubai.
30. Explore the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
The house of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum was built in 1896. It was the home of Sheikh Saeed until 1958. The house now is used as a museum where visitors can learn about Dubai’s rich history as well as the Al Maktoum family.