There are places to see, as well as things to do in Dubai, that you will never see anywhere else. Amazing and strange and unique things in all aspects. Marvelous and futuristic architecture seen no where else in the world, mixed with the Arabic culture and tastes that make it the city of extravagance. The city with tons of things to do, that you must experience at least once in a life time!
When you visit Dubai you’ll notice right away how different it feels from other Mid East cities. It reminds me of Singapore in a way, how its so clean and rich feeling, with Ferraris and Lamborghinis rolling around everywhere. My friend even commented that we hadn’t even seen a stray dog or cat anywhere, which was very different from Egypt or Jordan.
Its also really strange because you will be hard pressed to find a local Emirate working ANYWHERE. In fact, during my stay the only place I saw a local in a working roll, was at customs and immigration in the airport. Basically the countries entire work force is imported, and its as weird as it is unique.
Here is a list 10 of the most incredible things to do in Dubai, from professional travel writers and world explorers, that are sure to make you book that ticket to the Middle East! I had high expectations when I arrived, and the city over delivered. The following travel writers and experts also had amazing time visiting Dubai, and were eager to share their experiences!
Did you know that actual local Emirates only consist of about 15% of the population of Dubai? The rest are a workforce imported from Philippines, India, Pakistan and more.
10 Things to do in Dubai
1. Get one of the best birds-eye views in the world, from the worlds tallest building: Burj Kalifa.
Suggestion from Sandra & Dhanish of tripper.pt. It’s not a secret that Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world (so far), a landmark of modern engineering and architecture, and, of course, the most famous building in Dubai’s skyline. In a city that seems to be permanently under construction, seeing its growth from the 148th floor of this skyscraper is on every visitor’s top list of things to do in Dubai.
However, if 555 meters (about 1820 feet) above the ground is too high for you, purchase the ticket for level 124 instead — you still get a great view from the top, with the option to step out (safely) to the open-air terrace, it just doesn’t include the luxury lounge on the highest outdoor observatory in the world… Everything in Dubai, besides wealth and extravagance, is about order, method and planning, which is why when you see it from the top, it almost looks like you’re having an exclusive peek of a futuristic city.
Tip: For your convenience, book the tickets online before your visit, especially if you decide to do it during a layover and you don’t have much time to spare.
2. Lounge on the sands of Jumeriah Beach
Suggestion from Drew of The Hungry Partier. Dubai’s most popular leisure beach is a must-visit on any hot day – which is most days out of the year. Named after the Jumeriah district of Dubai, this beautiful beach stretches from the Palm Jumeriah Hotel to the Jumeriah Beach Residence (next to the Dubai Marina).
Along the beach, you’ll find several restaurants, hotels, water parks and shopping complexes. For me, it was the best place to hang out during the day, and I got some great photos with the famous Burj Al Arab hotel in the background!
The ocean water is very warm, yet refreshing, and it will cool yo down from the extreme heat. Head over to Jumeriah Beach for some of the more relaxing things to do in Dubai and soak in the atmosphere!
3. Go skiing in the Mall of the Emirates
Recommendation from Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust. When I first heard about the indoor skiing hall in Dubai I shook my head wondering who would ever go skiing in the desert? A couple of years later I found myself traveling to UAE and felt the urge to to exactly that! And guess what: it was a lot of fun and I loved it so much! I rented winter clothes, ski boots and skies and took off! Two hours of plain fun and excitement!
The slopes are in excellent shape and the lifts do a great job too! Another big plus is that there were not many people there and those that actually skied, did well! The only thing I missed was a hot beverage afterwards – as I travelled there during Ramadan neither food nor drinks were served at their little coffee shop in the middle of the slope. Great thing to do in Dubai!
The Dubai police fleet includes a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Bentley.With one of the worlds lowest crime rates, they are more interested in their glamorous image.
4. Take a camel for a desert safari
Suggestion from Mar of Once in a Lifetime journey. Dubai is surrounded by fantastic sand dunes where sand boarding and other sports are possible. One of the most incredible ways to explore the desert is on a sunset safari. Safaris start when the sun is coming down with a pick up by a custom-made 4x4. Once the convoy of cars arrives at the gates of the desert, the tires are deflated and the fun begins. Expect to be tossed around in the car as the driver slides on the large dunes. After a stomach churning ride, all visitors are taken to a Bedouin camp where shisha, belly dancers, camel rides and BBQ Arabic food is available. Sit on the floor mats, eat on the low tables and enjoy the starry night that the bright lights of flash Dubai won’t allow you to see.
5. High tea in the 7-star Burj Al Arab
If you fly all the way to Dubai, you should probably splurge and check out the only seven star hotel in the world. If you don’t feel like spending your fortune on a room, you can still have some amazing experiences. From the aquariums that flank the escalator to the underwater seafood restaurant or the exotic glass elevator, it’s all a shocking experience. You need to book at least a week in advance, but stop in for high tea or cocktails in the Skyview Bar. Don’t be one of the tourists that just show up at the front door wanting to come in, because it wont happen. You need to have a reservation for one of the bars or restaurants inside. But if you forget and can’t get in, then head right over to the awesome water park called Wild Wadi. Its an awesome place to visit in Dubai.
6. Cruise down Dubai Creek
Flickr source: Sampalila Suggested by Carole of Travels With Carole. More like a river, saltwater Dubai Creek is inexpensive and fun to cross in a traditional abra, or water taxi. These small motorized boats have been ferrying passengers back and forth between the Deira side and the Bur Dubai side for decades. Buildings lining the promenade along the Bur Dubai side of the creek have restored traditional facades with wooden windows, decorative gypsum panels, and screens, and the Gold Souk and Spice Souk are both in this area. This is one of the things to do in Dubai you wont want to miss. The Al Mahara restaurant, which includes a massive seawater aquarium, has a lobby with a ceiling even taller than the Statue of Liberty.
7. See things only seen in Dubai
Flickr source: Mahesh Venkat There are so many weird, unique and spectacular things to see in Dubai, and most if not all are architecture wonders. Pictured above (and from above) is the crazy islands made in the shape of the world map. My Kiwi friend likes to point out that they are missing New Zealand, but other than that this is a crazy feat of engineering (as well as money expenditure). You can also see from the air the crazy Palm Islands, made in shape of a weird palm tree. Things like these scream Dubai, as they put billions of dollars into projects that tons of people probably said were impossible. Such awesome innovation that only Emirates are trying.
8. Take a hot air balloon ride over the desert
Suggestion from Inma Gregorio of A World to Travel. If I had to choose the experience that left me with the best memories during my stay in Dubai earlier this year, this would be the hot air balloon flight over the desert of Dubai at dawn that I could test last April.
Whether you are or you are not a morning person, like me, believe me it’s well worth the early wake up and hour long ride to where the action begins. You will then witness how the sun rises majestically over the dunes on the horizon. And this is something you will treasure forever!
9. Go diving INSIDE the Dubai Mall Aquarium
This was obviously my favorite things to do in Dubai, and one probably not many know you can do. Yep, one of the world’s largest aquariums has a small dive center that offers divers the chance for a guided tour inside the aquarium, among lots of rare sharks and huge rays. There was no way I was passing this up.
I even arrived on the perfect day, as it was shark feeding day! I got to film while the feeders fed tons of scary looking sharks just inches away from me. I’ll not forget this dive for sure. This is probably the only chance most divers will have a close encounter with rare guitar sharks, silky and reef sharks, little leopard sharks, blotched sting rays and many many more awesome species.
The aquarium is actually a research facility, and you can do a little tour where you see where they are breeding species of seahorses and other tiny things, and studying all kinds of cool stuff. Such a great experience for marine lovers. Don’t miss this when you visit Dubai…..Oh and when you are done diving, go down stairs and walk through the tunnel and see where you just were.
10. Wander the giant Dubai Mall
Suggestion from Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi. Arriving via metro you are quickly drawn into the winding hallway leading into the Dubai Mall – the gateway to the Burj Khalifa. Once spat into mall you are greeted with aimless wandering tourists stopping suddenly to look at the surrounds, mall etiquette goes out the window here. The sterile smell and coolness from the a/c is much appreciated.
The mall is not a symmetrical shape, once you go up and down a few floors I had lost my sense of direction wandering among the 1200+ shops to satisfy all budgets. It’s fair to say I’m not a mall rat and two hours was enough for me. Though the variety of food in the food court saw me wishing I hadn’t eaten before entering the mall.
The highlight was the waterfall, which has a show every 30 minutes in the evening and watching people on the ice rink was hilarious too. If you need a break from shopping, when you exit the mall on the lower level sitting next to the water feature is pleasant.
If you like shopping you are in for a treat, set a time limit before you arrive…you might not see your friends for days otherwise.
Thats about it folks. If you haven’t gathered by now, Dubai is a significantly unique and interesting place to experience. I’ve traveled to lots of Middle East countries and cities, and I have definitely never discovered one quite like Dubai. The things to do in Dubai, and the things on offer here, are offered no where else in the world. Even just the number of Guinness World Records in the city support this.
If you do get to Dubai, let me know of all the unique thing you discovered for yourself! If you find something awesome that isn’t on this list, let us know in the comments so we can check them out!
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