What to see in Dubai? This is one of the most frequent questions I get from you guys, so here is my list of the things I think you should see if you visit Dubai. I have only included the very biggest sights, and you will probably be able to find almost identical lists on many other sites, but you have to start somewhere. You will be able to see most of the things on the list in a day or two, so I have also started writing a guide to slightly different things to see if you have more time available in Dubai.
Dubai Creek, Souks and Bastakiya
The area around Dubai Creek is very different from the rest of Dubai. Here you can still find a hint of what the city looked like before all the skyscrapers and highways, and although the 3 souks (Spice Souk, Gold Souk and Textile Souk) are not even 100 years old, they have been restored to look like they have been there for 1000 years.
Here you can buy everything between heaven and earth, but focus on gold and spices on the Deira side and textiles on the Bur Dubai side. The easiest way to cross Dubai Creek is by taking an abra , and the trip on the traditional small boats costs only 1 AED. On the Bur Dubai side, you will also find the historic district of Bastakiya, which is probably one of the most beautiful places in the city.
Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall
The world’s largest building, Dubai Burj Khalifa Tour, is right in front of the world’s largest shopping mall, so there is no excuse not to visit them both. If you want to go up to the Dubai Burj Khalifa Tour, you can order tickets online before you leave, so you are sure that there is space at the time you intend to visit Dubai Burj Khalifa Tour. You can choose between tickets for the 124th and 125th floors or tickets that also include the 148th floor. The tickets with access to the 148th floor are over twice as expensive, so I haven’t been up there, but I have to say hello and say that the view from the 124th floor is definitely not to be trifled with either. If you are not too keen on heights, you can also just look at the impressive building from below.
In front of the Dubai Burj Khalifa Tour, there is an artificial lake with fountains that dance to the music every night. Fountain Show Schedule: Afternoon Show: Every day except Friday 1:00 PM and 1:30 PM, Friday: 1:30 PM and 2:00 PM, Evening Show: Every half hour 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM. You have the very best view of the fountains if you are quick and get one of the seats up on the small bridge that leads over to Souk Al Bahar.
A day in the desert
The desert is only a short drive outside the city, but it feels like you’re on another planet. There is sand as far as the eye can see, and no artificial islands or tall buildings can compete with the natural beauty found out there. Most tours include activities such as camel riding, dune-bashing (wild sand driving in a jeep) and lunch and refreshments. But the quality varies and not all operators are allowed to drive into the Dubai Desert Safari where you want to go .
Some might think it’s a bit fake, with such a new area built to look old, but I think the result is quite successful. Yes, there are a lot of tourists, and yes, shopping in the souk is super expensive, but it’s still one of the places I always recommend. The canals and the beautiful “old” buildings look really good in pictures and the area has a fine selection of both restaurants and bars. Madinat Jumeirah is most beautiful in the evening, when you can, for example, book a table at one of the restaurants with a view of the Burj Al Arab.
The beach at JBR is probably the most popular beach in Dubai. Right down to the beach, by the Hilton, is The Beach, which is an outdoor shopping centre, and that’s where it all happens. The shopping is better in many other places in the city, but the range of restaurants, on the other hand, is very good. However, most of them are franchises of international chains, so if you have always dreamed of trying ShakeShack or the Cheesecake Factory, then you have the chance here. However, be aware that none of the restaurants at The Beach serve alcohol. On Thursday and Friday evenings, JBR is a popular place to cruise around by car, and here you can see more sports cars in a few hours than most do in a lifetime.
I just forgot about Dubai Marina. This is where I live, so I’ve probably become a bit blind to how nice an area it actually is. Get off the metro at Damac Properties (or ask the taxi to drop you off at the “Marina Walk roundabout”), and you’re right in the middle of nowhere. It is this part of the Marina that is most interesting, and I am not just saying that because I live there. You can also take the tram to Marina Mall and start there.