When people think of Dubai massive skyscrapers, shopping malls, and beaches may come to mind. Nevertheless, there is more to Dubai than what meets the eye in pictures. Dubai is chock-full of grand architecture, interesting theme parks, and fanciful experiences to uncover. It has a striking nightlife and restaurant scene that attracts the masses. Use this guide to learn about some of the most interesting things to do in the sparkling City of Gold.
Go Atop the Burj Khalifa
One of the main attractions for any tourist visiting Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building globally. It amasses 160 floors and is 828 meters tall. While many visitors like to marvel at the dazzling skyscraper from below, you will be blown away to take the elevator to the 148th floor to view the stunning sights of the city. Also located on the 148th floor is the world’s highest restaurant, At.mosphere. Book ahead to The Lounge Burj Khalifa on the 152nd floor to reserve a spot at afternoon tea between 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Visit Burj Al Arab
The sail-shaped Burj Al Arab is one of the most famous buildings in the world also. The hotel, located in Jumeirah, is one of a kind in its design, playing host to one of the most luxurious hotels in the region. If offers delicious dining at Scape Restaurant and Lounge, as well as masterful cocktails at both the Skyview Bar and Gold on 27. Gold on 27 is the center of opulence, with the interior design being flanked in gold and serving high-end innovative cocktails in the evenings.
Play at Theme Parks
Located right off of popular Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road is the 1.5 million square foot IMG Worlds of Adventure, the biggest indoor theme park globally. It features high-speed rollercoasters like Velociraptor in the Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure Zone, and 69 animatronic dinosaurs. The city is also home to the Dubai Parks and Resorts, which spans a huge 25 million square feet in mass. It is home to Motiongate Dubai, which includes 27 rides and attractions themed on famed Bollywood. Additionally, it includes the Riverland waterside district and Legoland.
Hang Out at Kite Beach
Visitors can enjoy either laying on the beach lounging or fun-filled activities like beach volleyball, watersports, or even the action-packed inflatable assault course at sea on Kite Beach. It is home to a host of restaurants such as Chez Sushi, JJ Chicken, and even Lebanese cuisine at Kaakunada. Shopping fans can also enjoy taking a peek at local shops such as Anitas Swimwear, which has one of the biggest swimwear selections in Dubai, and Boutique Nomads.
Make a Splash at Wild Wadi
Who wouldn’t enjoy cooling off at a water park in the desert? Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and attractions, such as the Jumeirah Sceirah tower, which has two 104-foot-tall slides that you can slide down at a speed of 50 miles per hour. It’s a great family-friendly adventure to enjoy for those who like action-packed rides or the slower-paced activities like the 360-meter long lazy river that flows through the park.
Shop 'til You Drop at The Dubai Mall
A trip to Dubai is incomplete without visiting the biggest mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. It is home to the Dubai Ice Rink and The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which includes more than 300 sharks and other fish species, which can be seen for free from outside of the tank while passing by doing a shopping spree. There are also countless dining options like the Cheesecake Factory and a massive food court on the mall's bottom level.
Zip Through the Sky on XLine
Explore Dubai from above on the XLine zip line. Those who seek adventure will have a blast zipping at speeds up to 50 miles per hour at an incline of 16 degrees! This ride is not for the faint at heart but an amazing experience for the adrenaline junkies who wish to see amazing views of the Dubai Marina and more.
Experience Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Feel like you’re stepping back in time while walking through Souk Madinat Jumeirah. It’s similar to a shopping experience in ancient Arabian days in extravagant Dubai. It is full of world-class restaurants, and traditional market-designed corridors full of tourist shops, antiques, and fabulous jewels to find like you’re on an expedition. It is also home to three luxurious hotels and bars to enjoy happy hour, including the Madinat Jumeirah collection of hotels.
Marvel at the Dubai Fountain
People travel from around the globe to gaze at the 900-foot-long Dubai Fountain, which shoots water into the air in harmony to various classical and pop songs. The fountain shows occur every 30 minutes in the afternoons and evenings. It’s a fantastic demonstration that locals and tourists alike come to enjoy year-round. It is located across from Souk Al Bahar and behind the Dubai Mall.
Explore Global Village
Dubai's Global Village is the perfect spot to visit for the explorers at heart, as it features themed shows, stalls for selling goods, and delicious food from more than 70 countries. It’s a spectacular global themed park that includes fun-filled attractions, presentations, and performances such as kids theater shows every weekend.
Get Lost in Atlantis The Palm
Located on the Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis The Palm is home to a host of fine dining restaurants such as Nobu, Hakkasan, and world-famous brunches such as Saturday brunch at White Beach. It also features Dubai’s Aquaventure Waterpark, where families and friends can slide down the Leap of Faith glass tunnel slide passing sharks or even swim with dolphins and feed stingrays. The decked-out Lost Chambers are also on-site, which is a massive aquarium that even has an area for those interested in doing yoga.
See the Dubai Frame
Another way to experience Dubai from above is by visiting the Dubai Frame. It encompasses two 492-foot-tall towers connected by a 305-foot-long glass bridge at the top. While atop of the Dubai Frame, visitors can get a glimpse of both old and new Dubai from an amazing vantage point.
Discover Dubai Souks
Outside of enjoying massive malls, Dubai souks are a perfect way to enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the city. Head down to the Dubai Creek in Deira to have a traditional shopping experience at one of the many souks lining both sides of the creek. Considering that you will be in the City of Gold, it’s only right to visit the Gold Souk, which offers hundreds of stalls featuring precious jewels, gold, diamonds, and more, or get lost in the textile souk which features a massive selection of colorful fabrics.
Take a Walk Through La Mer
The newly-opened La Mer is the perfect spot to enjoy a lazy beach day getaway or seaside surfing for the more adventurous wanderer. Located in Jumeirah, it offers more than 130 restaurants, shops, decadent cafes, a cinema, and even the Laguna Waterpark, which features a bar for those looking to enjoy a cool cocktail while enjoying the park.
Take a Leap at Skydive Dubai
A one of a kind experience to have in the city, Skydive Dubai is a great option for the thrill-seeking visitor. View the entire Palm Island from above while leaping out of a plane at speeds of 120 miles per hour. Now that will get your blood flowing! The experience is led by Tandem skydives, having an experienced instructor jump with you but of course, safety first.
Taste Decadent Foods at a Dubai Brunch
There is an array of fine-dining restaurants across the city of Dubai to experience a luxurious brunch experience. Dubai is home of the Friday brunch with spreads of international dishes to delight upon. From beef wellington at the world-famous Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen, to a spread of dim sum and pho at Sui Mui located in The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, the choices are endless of cuisines to devour. The desert oasis Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is also a fabulous choice for a family-friendly weekend brunch.
Smell the Flowers at Dubai Miracle Garden
The floral scent of millions of flowers is an experience to behold at the Dubai Miracle Garden. It is home to over 120 assortments of sunflowers, marigolds, and petunias. There are literally over 50 million blossom arrangements on display in this immaculate garden. It holds the Guinness World Record for the largest structure made out of flowers. A real life-sized Boeing A380 is decked out in 500,000 flowers. Other floral arrangements include a mini Burj Khalifa made of flowers, a floral operating clock, and the stunning Heart Passage. Miracle Garden is also home to the Dubai Butterfly Garden, housing 15,000 butterflies from over 26 species.
Walk Through the Alleys of Al Fahidi Historical District
Formerly known as Bastakia, Al Fahidi Historical District is an ancient quarter in Bur Dubai that makes you feel like you stepped back in time. It features a host of traditional houses, wind towers, museums, and galleries. There were plans of demolishing the historic neighborhood in the past, but in 2005, Dubai Municipality restored the area and declared it an iconic heritage site. In addition to guest houses and cafes, the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding is also located in the historic district.
Have an Adventurous Ride on a Desert Safari
Venture to the outskirts of the city for an adventure like no other on a desert safari. Marvel at tall red dunes in the Lahbab desert and enjoy dune bashing in a 4X4 SUV, the only way to explore the desert. This amazing experience can also be had in the Magrham desert as well. Desert safari rides usually last around an hour, and the best time to go is shortly before sunset so you can witness breathtaking sunset views, which are fantastic for photoshoots. Make sure to stop at a Bedouin camp along the way or camp overnight under the stars. Tour agencies such as Rayna Tours offer exciting desert safari excursions.
Learn about Emirati Culture in Al Seef
Al Seef convenes on the Bur Dubai side of the Dubai Creek neighborhood. The area is immersed in Emirati history, displaying the culture alongside the streets, but it also has a fusion of the contemporary side of Dubai. Tourists can enjoy shopping in the traditional souk located in the area and dining at one of an array of restaurants offering Arabic, Indian, and even American food. Take a trip aboard a yacht which sites in old Dubai, again a mix of old and new. The area also has several hotel options like Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton, and Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef.