Heading to Dubai? We share 15 exciting things to do in Dubai, where to stay in Dubai, typical cost of travel and nearby destinations.
We are fortunate to have a guest post from Tim from Outdoor With J, sharing with her 15 exciting things to do in Dubai.
An introduction to Dubai
The metropolis of Dubai has become one of the most enticing and unique tourist destinations in the world, with hundreds of tourists visiting it throughout the year. Dubai does not disappoint; between its amazing landscapes and its rich cultural history, it more than lives up to the hype. I know I was in awe right from the first day of my arrival.
In addition to the incredible expanses of beautiful sand and the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf, the high temperatures and the warmth of the sun make spending a day at the beach one of the best ways to relax and tan.
Another way in which Dubai piqued my interest is the luxury it offers, which, like its unique style of architecture, seems in constant competition with itself to be increasingly innovative and impressive. Truth be told, there is genuinely so much to experience you may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start.
That is precisely what this article is for: to guide you and help you experience the best that Dubai has to offer, just like I did. Let’s begin.
A lot of people who live in Europe or America do not even know where Dubai is located. Despite being one of the largest sites for tourism in the world, very few people can place it on the world map.
Where is Dubai?
First things first: Dubai is not a country. This is the most common error. Dubai is one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), located in the Arabian Gulf. It borders Abu Dhabi to the south, Sharjah to the northeast, and Oman to the southeast.
There are many interesting facts about Dubai that should be noted before your visit.
With more than 7,000 weekly flights operated by 125 airlines from 260 destinations on all continents except Antarctica, you have a wide range of options to choose from when flying to Dubai. No matter which route or airline you choose, you will be welcomed upon your arrival to the ultramodern Dubai International Airport.
Best Places to Stay in Dubai
Now that you have arrived safely in Dubai, the next task is to find a suitable place to stay. You will want a place that offers the necessary comfort when you return tired from a full day spent enjoying the city. You have three amazing options: book a hotel, be an Airbnb guest or experience Dubai in the form of a camping trip.
Dubai is famous for its impressive luxury business hotels and resorts, but it also boasts more than its fair share of standard hotels at reasonable prices. You are guaranteed to find a hotel that fits your budget and still offers an extensive selection of food, services, and high-standard facilities. If you’re looking for something special, look at hotels such as the Shangri-La Dubai which offers gorgeous views of the Burj Khalifa. It is also worth noting that if you are looking for the best nightclubs in Dubai, note that most of them can be found in high-end hotels.
If you are looking for an exceptional cultural experience, you can try being an Airbnb guest. This allows you to spend some time in someone’s home, more like a local, rather than an impersonal lodging in a hotel. I think it is a lovely idea and the option that makes you feel most like you’re at home in Dubai.
The third option is to go on a desert safari adventure, and camp in one of the many desert lands in Dubai. To enjoy this camping experience to the fullest extent you’ll need the best equipment, especially tents and sleeping bags that can withstand the weather and provide maximum comfort. There are countless tents on the market but here is a selection of the best and cheapest tents.
- Shangri-la Hotel
- Resort One&Only The Palm Dubai
Exciting Things to do in Dubai
Finally, we’ve arrived at the best bit of the article. Here is where I tell you all the fantastic things to do in Dubai and the places you simply have to visit before you can confidently say, “I experienced Dubai”.
The Burj Khalifa, which rises above the city at an impressive 2,716 feet (828 meters) and has 200 floors (160 habitable), is the tallest building in the world. With breathtaking views of the city skyline, you can climb to the top to get exclusive access to the world’s highest outdoor observatory.
Opening hours: 8.30am – 10pm
- Non-prime hours (9 am to 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm onwards) – 129 AED for adults and 87 AED for children.
- Prime hours (4pm – 6pm) – 209 AED for adults and 132 for children.
This is the largest shopping center in the world and sits right next to the Burj Khalifa. In the mall, there are several beautiful attractions including an ice skating rink, a huge aquarium, all the fantastic brand stores you can imagine, restaurants, boutiques, and much more. As you can see below, there are plenty of exciting things to do in Dubai, just in this mall alone and the best part is that they are all indoor activities in Dubai so you can keep cool.
Don’t miss in the Dubai Mall:
- Kidzania – an entertainment play zone for children aged 4 to 16 years old.
- Dubai Mall Aquarium & Underwater Zoo – Home to around 140 species of marine life, the Aquarium and Zoo goes across 4 floors and is spectacular.
- Dubai Dino – Check out the huge 24 meters long and 4 meters high dinosaur fossils in the center of the mall.
- Dubai Fountain – Watch the choreographed fountain show outside the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.
- Goal – A FIFA-certified field that runs 12 to 15-minute football matches for 5 to 15-year-olds for free. Ideal for parents looking to drop off their kids before they go shopping.
- The Ice Rink – The Olympic size arena offers public skating sessions all day and a disco session at night.
- Emirates A380 Simulator – Experience what it is like to be a pilot in this replica of a real plane cockpit.
The Dubai fountain show is choreographed water and light show outside the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. There are 2 performances during the day typically 1 and 1.30 then they run throughout the evening from 6 pm to 11 pm.
After it became popular, the roads around the waterfalls were fixed, making it easier to come and marvel at them. Thankfully, the lush vegetation surrounding the waterfalls is intact, still hiding where the water is actually coming from, making the experience all the more mysterious.
There are multiple ways to enjoy and experience Palm Jumeirah, the man-made town in the shape of a palm tree. You can navigate it in a speedboat. You can walk on its sandy beaches. Or, for the maximum adrenaline rush, you can jump from an airplane while crossing the Palm Jumeirah. The skydiving at the exclusive Palm Dropzone reaches speeds of up to 120 mph and offers breathtaking views of the Palm, the Dubai Marina, and the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.
The Jumeirah Beach Residence, popularly known as the JBR, is a waterfront community that is home to forty towers. You can take a lovely walk down this area, hang out at the beach, or shop in one of its many stores.
A non-negotiable part of your to-do list for the ultimate Arabian adventure is a journey to the Arabian Desert. You will love experiencing the thrill of a beautiful desert safari in Dubai. Dune bashing is one of the things you have to do in Dubai.
Group tours are available with companies such as Viator showing a variety of options. However, we preferred a private tour with Dubai Private Adventure and friends have used the guides on With Locals.
Unleash your inner child at Aquaventure Atlantis Waterpark, where you can ride record-breaking slides, splash around in the pools, or relax with a cocktail on the private beach. This fun water park is definitely one of the best unique things to do in Dubai, with creative and innovative rides.
If you’re short on time in Dubai, you could always catch a yellow boat tour around the harbor, taking in the big-name buildings and areas of Dubai.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
Put on your super comfy shoes and enjoy amazing rides at the world’s largest indoor theme park. The adventure zone is spectacular. If you’re traveling with children, there are lots of cool indoor activities in Dubai to keep you out of the summer sun.
If you are traveling to Dubai with children, the IMG theme park is one of the best activities in Dubai for families.
Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts are a great place to create lifelong memories of relaxation, fun, and peace of mind. There are several parks that you can explore and games for all ages, making these resorts one of many exciting things to do in Dubai.
Parks included in this resort are:
If you are looking for something to do in Dubai that is a little more adventurous, a great way to feel the adrenaline rush is to jump from an airplane and feel the wind in your face. What better way to enjoy Dubai’s amazing views than from the sky?
Companies such as Skydive Dubai offer various options with tandem skydives starting at 1699 AED outside of Dubai or 2199 AED within the city.
Things to do in Dubai at night
- Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo – Staying open until 11 pm, these water experiences are great to visit in the evening- much fewer children are around so you can enjoy your time even more.
- Dubai Garden Glow – A glow-in-the-dark garden with landmarks of the UAE created from recycled materials.
- Ski Dubai – An amazing indoor ski resort that is open until 11 pm!
- Dubai Creek – Enjoy a cruise down the creek or relax at the waterfront and enjoy the view of the Dubai skyline.
- Dubai Fountains – As mentioned above, the Dubai Fountains run throughout the evening but look most spectacular when the sun sets.
- Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk and Dubai Marina – The Marina and JB area are full of amazing restaurants and some of the best nightclubs in Dubai.
- Shopping Malls – Shopping malls in Dubai stay open until late and even if you don’t intend to shop, a visit to see the incredible architecture is still worth your time, making this one of the great things to do in Dubai at night for free.
- Al Barsha Night Market – Head to Al Barsha Pond Park to enjoy local vendors, live music, and free fitness sessions.
- Snooker Halls – There are snooker halls all over Dubai that stay open beyond midnight.
- Outdoor cinemas – Head to Galleria Hall in the evenings to watch a late-night film at the outdoor cinema on the rooftop.
- Night safari at Al Ain Zoo – Board a 4×4 to see the nocturnal creatures at Al Ain Zoo.
- Night Dive – When you are looking at what is there to do in Dubai, you will notice diving is a great option. Diving is popular in Dubai but you can even opt for a night dive experience to see those fish that only come out when the sun goes down.
- Glow in the dark Tee and Putt – Open until midnight, this indoor mini golf course is a great activity for families in the evening.
- Bounce Trampoline Park – For those still full of energy, head to the Bounce Trampoline Park for late-night fun up to midnight. When looking at what things to do in Dubai with children, Bounce is a great option.
Top Destinations around Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
Known as one of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center is the only one that captures such unique interactions between Islam and other world cultures.
Tourists and celebrants from all over the world are invited to witness the spectacular domes, the reflecting pools that surround the courtyard, and the iconic prayer room, which not only overflows with beautiful sunlight, it also houses the world’s most massive chandelier and rug, both meticulously crafted.
- Emirates Palace
The Emirates Palace has several restaurants, bars, lounges and cafés offering a wide variety of culinary delights. Together with the ethereal lighting, the swimming pools, and the marina, it delights everyone as an Arab fantasy.
- Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Museum has thousands of beautiful works of art for your viewing pleasure. Just make sure to have a game plan and a map to enjoy this vast building without getting lost.
- Ferrari World
Ferrari World is a fun place with enticing attractions and wild-but-amazing rides for everyone in the family.
- Warner Bros World
This is indoor theme park is particularly perfect for all Warner Bros fans. From the moment you set foot into this park to the moment you leave it, there is no doubt that its entertaining features will ensure you have a lovely time. This is just one of the fun things to do in Abu Dhabi with kids.
Dubai is undoubtedly one of the most unique cities in the world. For those with an incurable case of the travel bug, this city is a traveler’s dream. Experiencing its historical sights, futuristic architecture, active nightlife, and out-of-this-world attractions will leave you with incredible memories that you won’t soon forget.
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- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
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What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.