Dubai has been on my bucket list for years and I really wanted to utilize all of our time in the city, so this time around we opted out of the popular desert tours, and we unfortunately didn’t make it to Abu Dhabi. Instead, we discovered one of our favorite beach bars, traveled to the top of the tallest building in the world, and realized we need need to work on our haggling skills. Keep reading to discover our top 10 things to do and places to visit in Dubai (and as a bonus.. 1/2 of them are free!).
THE TOP 10 THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI
VIEW DUBAI FROM THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD
There are a few things you have to do while visiting certain cities, and a ride to the top of the tallest building in the world is one of them. The Burj Khalifa At The Top experience takes you up 2,716 feet (828 metres) in less than 1 minute. The outdoor observation deck is located on the 125th floor and offers the best in views in all of Dubai.
If you’re visiting on a weekend, I highly recommend booking the Sunrise ticket! While waking up before the sun was not easy, the experience was incredible and hands down one of my favorite things to do in Dubai.
HOW TO GET TO THE BURJ KHALIFA AT THE TOP
Take the Dubai Metro red line to the Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall station, or ask your taxi to drop you off at the entrance to the Dubai Mall. The entrance to the Burj Khalifa At the Top is inside of the Dubai Mall on the ground floor.
RELATED POST: BURJ KHALIFA AT THE TOP // WATCHING THE SUNRISE IN DUBAI
GET LOST IN THE DUBAI MALL
Attracting over 80 million people each year, The Dubai Mall is one of the most popular places to visit in Dubai. Home to over 1,300 shops and 120 restaurants, it’s the second largest mall in the world and the perfect way to escape the heat for a few hours.
If shopping isn’t your thing, don’t worry. You can visit the largest indoor aquarium, go ice skating or even fly a plane! The Dubai Mall is located in Downtown Dubai next to the Burj Khalifa.
THE TOP 3 THINGS TO DO IN THE DUBAI MALL
THE DUBAI MALL AQUARIUM
The Dubai Aquarium is captivating. Located on the ground level of the Dubai Mall, the 2.6 million gallon (10 million liters) tank houses 140 species and 33,000 aquatic animals.
The tank is free for viewing.
GO ICE SKATING
Just because you’re in the middle of the desert, doesn’t mean you can’t partake in winter sports.. right? Located on the ground floor of the mall next to The Souk, you will find an Olympic sized ice rink. There are several activity times each day ranging from ice bicycling to disco ice skating.
THE EMIRATES A380 FLIGHT SIMULATOR
Experience what it’s like to fly the largest commercial airplane in the world, the Emirates A380. This flight simulator takes you on a 30 minute journey to one of 12 destinations.
HOW TO GET TO THE DUBAI MALL
The Dubai Mall is easily accessible by Metro. Take the red line to the Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall stop.
SIP COCKTAILS FROM THE BEST ROOFTOP BAR IN DUBAI
Located on the 43rd floor of the Sheraton Four Points Sheik Zayed Road hotel, sits one of my favorite places to visit in Dubai for cocktails. Level 43 Sky Lounge gives you an incredible 360 degree view of the city and they have a daily happy hour. Granted, you’ll still be paying $14 USD for a drink, but it’s better than your other options.
With resident DJ’s, a full menu and a cool loungey atmosphere, this is a great place to start or end a night out in the city.
TIP Make reservations in advance for a table overlooking Sheik Zayed Road. The views are insane.
RELATED POST: THE BEST ROOFTOP BAR IN DUBAI // LEVEL 43 SKY LOUNGE
HOW TO GET TO LEVEL 43 SKY LOUNGE
Take the metro red line to the Financial Center station. The hotel/bar is a 6 minute walk from there.
GO YACHT WATCHING AT THE DUBAI MARINA WALK
Grab a seat at one of the 69 restaurants and bars along the Dubai Marina Walk, and watch the multi-million dollar yachts drift by.
The Dubai Marina Walk is comprised of over 4 miles (7km) of walking paths. Aside from the restaurants, there are not a ton of things to do but it’s a beautiful place for a stroll. You can also rent bikes, or even charter one of the boats for sunset dinner cruise, yacht ride or Dhow tour.
HOW TO GET TO THE DUBAI MARINA
Take the Dubai Metro red line to the Jumeirah Lake Towers Metro Station and walk across the overpass toward the Dubai Marina Mall.
WATCH THE DUBAI FOUNTAIN SHOW
The Dubai Fountains are the world’s largest performing fountains and they consistently rank #1 out of all the places to visit in Dubai on TripAdvisor.
Located outside of the Dubai Mall in the manmade Burj Lake, you can watch the Dubai Fountain show every night starting at 6pm. With over 6,000 lights and 1,000 different water expressions, the 5 minute show is mesmerizing. It reminds me of the Bellagio Fountain Show in Las Vegas, with a different song and dance each 30 minutes.
THE 3 BEST PLACES TO WATCH THE DUBAI FOUNTAIN SHOW
- From the Apple store balcony in the Dubai Mall
- From one of the lake front restaurants around the Dubai Fountain Boardwalk
- From the water on a traditional Abra. Keep reading to discover how to save AED 44 ($12 USD) by taking a real abra ride on the Dubai Creek
HOW TO GET TO THE DUBAI FOUNTAINS
Take the Dubai Metro red line to the Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall station. The fountains are located just outside of the Dubai Mall.
HOURS The Dubai Fountains perform every 30 minutes from 6pm-11pm. There are two daytime performances at 1pm and 1:30pm (1:30pm & 2pm on Friday).
GO TO THE BEACH
Take a walk along the boardwalk, or go for a dip in the lukewarm sea… a trip to the the coast is one of the top places to visit in Dubai.
Most of Dubai’s beachfront has been taken over by resorts, so a public stretch of sand can be few and far between. Still, there are dozens of public beaches available and something for everyone, whether you’re into water sports, relaxing in the sand or exploring the shops and restaurants on the busy promenades.
5 PUBLIC BEACHES TO CHECK OUT IN DUBAI
LA MER One of the newest beaches in Dubai with an fun, eclectic beachfront.
JUMEIRAH PUBLIC BEACH The most popular public beach in Dubai.
KITE BEACH A favorite amongst kite surfers, paddle boarders and volleyball players.
UMM SUQEIM BEACH (SUNSET BEACH) This beach offers some of the best public views of the Burj al Arab
BLACK PALACE BEACH (SECRET BEACH) A hidden beach that can be tricky to find but perfect if you’re looking for a quieter, less touristy experience.
EXPLORE MADINAT JUMEIRAH
The Madinat Jumeirah Resort is practically it’s own city. This 5-star luxury resort complex contains 3 hotels, 29 summer houses and 7 villas, but you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to explore the grounds (40 hectares worth, btw).
Madinat Jumeirah’s design was inspired by and modeled after Ancient Arabia. You’ll find 3 miles (5 km) of manmade waterways and canals, a private beach and 50 restaurants and bars.
THE MADINAT JUMEIRAH SOUK
One of the most popular draws to Madinat Jumeirah is their souk. A much different experience than a visit the traditional Dubai Souks, this modern day bazaar contains over 75 shops and boutiques. You can browse Persian carpets, handcraft souvenirs, jewelry and traditional clothing. Feel free to haggle but know that the prices are catered to tourists (ie expensive).
The Madinat Jumeriah Souk is worth a pretty stroll, but if you want real deals and a more authentic experience, check out the Souks in Old Dubai.
HOW TO GET TO MADINAT JUMEIRAH
There is no metro stop near the hotel, so taking a taxi is your best option. If you want to save a little money, take the metro (red line) to The Mall of the Emirates stop, and then grab a taxi from there. The ride to Madinat Jumeirah is is only 5 minutes.
HAVE DINNER ON A PRIVATE BEACH OVERLOOKING THE BURJ AL ARAB
Smoke shisha and take in the views of the Burj al Arab while relaxing on a private beach.
Shimmers Dubai is a Greek restaurant and bar located on Madinat Jumeriah’s property. While the beach is normally reserved for guests of the resort, you can take advantage of the incredible atmosphere by making a reservation at the restaurant.
We opted for drinks over food, and spent hours on the beanbag beach loungers after the sun went down. This was one of my favorite nights in Dubai.
HOW TO GET TO SHIMMERS DUBAI
Follow the instructions above as Shimmers is located within the Madinat Jumeirah Resort. If you are taking a taxi, ask them to drop you off at the Madinat Jumeirah Souks as most do not know what Shimmers is.
SHOP FOR GOLD AND SPICES IN THE DUBAI SOUKS
Souk is Arabic for market, and the Dubai Souks are a glimpse into the traditional trading markets of the city’s past. All prices are negotiable, so bring your bargaining skills to score some unique souvenirs.
The Gold Souk is by far the most popular – world famous for the potential deals you can get. If you know how to haggle, you can find some of the best prices on gold here out of anywhere in the world.
Also check out the Spice Souks, where you can purchase dried herbs, spices and teas, or the Textile and Perfume Souks where you’ll find fabrics, custom scents and even rare Oud fragrances.
For more information about the Dubai Souks, plus tips for visiting, and to discover how we got ripped off in the Spice Market, click the related post below.
HOW TO GET TO THE DUBAI SOUKS
Take the Dubai Metro green line to the Al Ras Metro Stop. The Souks are a short 5 minute walk from the metro.
TAKE A TRADITIONAL ABRA RIDE ACROSS THE DUBAI CREEK
Most visitors of Dubai will take abra rides on man made lakes, either in front of the Burj Khalifa or at the Madinat Jumeirah Hotel.
For a more authentic (and inexpensive) experience, head to Dubai Creek in Old Dubai. Located near the the Old Souks, 150 abras are in use each day to transport people back and forth from Bur Dubai to Deira. The abras are working water taxis so expect a short ride, but for 1 AED (27 cents USD) you can party all day if you want to.
An abra ride on the Dubai Creek felt like the most authentic thing we did in Dubai, and while it lasts less than 5 minutes I definitely recommend doing it during your visit to the Dubai Souks.
Also, while you’re in the area also check out the other things Old Dubai has to offer such as the Al Fahidi HIstorical Neighborhood and the Dubai Museum or have lunch at the beautiful Arabian Tea House.
HOW TO GET TO THE DUBAI CREEK
Take the Dubai Metro green line to the Al Ghubaiba station. The abra dock is about a 5-10 minute walk from there.
DID I MISS ANYTHING? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI?