Planning Your Trip
Where to Stay
Things to Do
Home to one of the busiest airports in the world, Dubai has long been a transit hub for international travellers, but this futuristic metropolis in the United Arab Emirates is now a must-visit destination in its own right.
Sandwiched between the desert and the Arabian Gulf, Dubai promises year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, mesmerizing buildings, and off-the-beaten-track adventures. This lively city is always striving to be the biggest and the best, with seven-star stays, record-breaking shopping malls, and some of the tallest buildings on the planet.
Beyond the glitz and glamour of Downtown Dubai, discover the charms of Old Dubai, where you can lose yourself in a maze of alleyways, bargain for gold and textiles in the souks (markets), and catch an abra (small wooden boat) across the creek for just 1 dirham (27 cents).
So, instead of just passing through on your way to somewhere else, find out why you should make Dubai your next vacation destination.
Things to Do in Dubai
You're never short of things to do in Dubai, as this space-age city lives by the maxim that bigger is better. Take in the sights from the 148th floor of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, before heading downstairs to put your credit card through its paces in the largest shopping centre on Earth, the Dubai Mall.
For thrill-seekers, jump out of a plane over the Palm Jumeirah, ride the longest urban zipline from Jumeirah Beach Residence to Dubai Marina, take your family to Wild Wadi Waterpark, or hit the slopes at Ski Dubai, a giant indoor ski resort in the Mall of the Emirates.
If you're after something a little more sedate, learn about the local Islamic faith at Jumeirah Mosque, witness the rapid transformation of the region at Dubai Museum, or spend the afternoon wandering the sikkas (alleyways) of Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.
Dubai's Food Scene
The Dubai food scene is as diverse as its residents, with more than 200 nationalities calling this cosmopolitan hub home. As a result, you can get any cuisine you crave at any time of day, from no-frills Kerala-style seafood at Bu Qtair restaurant on the Jumeirah waterfront, to high-end dining from the likes of Masaharu Morimoto, Gordon Ramsay and Heinz Beck.
Make the most of the balmy weather from October to April with an alfresco lunch by the water. Book a table at Fish Beach Taverna at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi; nab a spot on the waterfront terrace at Bussola in The Westin; or wander along the jetty to Pierchic, which will make you feel as if you've been transported to the Maldives.
Dubai's hotels are known for their lively Friday brunches, where the food and drinks flow freely. Bring your appetite to the Fork & Cork brunch at Crescendo in Anantara The Palm, and the Nobu High Brunch at Atlantis the Palm.
The Great Outdoors
When it comes to exploring the great outdoors in Dubai, take your pick of aquatic thrills and desert adventures. Want to get wet? Try flyboarding, hoverboarding or jetskiing with SeaRide Dubai; go kitesurfing on the iconic Kite Beach; or charter a yacht for a day on the water.
For a true taste of Arabia, sign up for a desert safari with Arabian Adventures, offering camel rides, sand-boarding, and white-knuckle drives through the dunes.
Where to Stay
The sky is the limit when it comes to booking a hotel in Dubai. If money is no object, splurge on seven-star luxury at Burj Al Arab or a suite fit for royalty at Atlantis The Palm. After something a little less steep? Book one of the contemporary, affordable stays at Rove Hotels, or Al Seef Hotel by Jumeirah in the heart of Old Dubai.
At the southern end of the city, Dubai Marina and Jumeriah Beach Residence make a great base for soaking up Dubai's restaurant, bar and beach scene. The Palm Jumeirah delivers pampering, beach clubs and dazzling views of the Dubai skyline. And Downtown Dubai and Business Bay are the best destinations for easy access to the city centre.
When to Go
Dubai is at its sun-kissed best from October to April, when the days are warm and clear, and the humidity is kept to a minimum. Even during Dubai's winter (December to January), temperatures rarely dip below 65°F. From May to September the temperatures soar, reaching peaks of around 115°F in July and August.
You may also wish to keep an eye on the dates for Ramadan. During the Holy Month each year, Muslims fast during daylight hours, so it's illegal for anyone to eat or drink in public from sunrise to sunset.