The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide: How To See The Best Of It
Dubai is one of those places that you catch yourself thinking about constantly after you’ve returned home. It’s an opulent city that leaves you in awe because of how unique and different it is from any place you’ve ever seen before. The tallest building in the world, man-made islands, cops driving limited edition Porsches and Lamborghinis, a ski resort in a mall, glamorous mega yachts – it’s a lot to take in. I did quite a bit of research before going and took a lot of notes while there so I could write the ultimate Dubai travel guide for you. Keep scrolling for photos, videos, & a detailed write up on how to see the best of Dubai…
The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide
WHAT TO DO
There is so much to do in Dubai I wish we would have stayed longer, but it’s also a great excuse to go back. (Maybe for the World Expo in 2020?;) Dubai has so many unique things to see and experience. If you have a week to spend here then you should see it all, but if you’re only stopping in Dubai for a few days then I’d narrow your list down before going.
Although it’s not a walkable city, it’s very easy to get around Dubai. We took Careem everywhere which is like the Dubai Uber. Our hotel was on the Palm so everything was only 10-30 minutes away, but I’m glad I did some research ahead of time so I could cluster certain spots together. Keep on scrolling for my ultimate Dubai travel guide…
Palm Jumeirah / Palm Islands
These manmade islands are a must-see. I recommend that you stay at a hotel located on the Palm for the best experience. We stayed at the W Dubai The Palm and will definitely stay again.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah is also known as the“Little Venice” of Dubai. Take a boat tour through here, shop at the souks, and eat at one of the restaurants.
Tip: Make sure to buy some dates here:)
The Dubai Mall
I was in awe the entire time at the Dubai Mall – the second largest mall in the world. It was one of the most interesting and high tech places I’ve ever seen. A full aquarium with great whites and crocodiles, at least two of every designer store, an ice skating rink, a Virtual Reality theme park, and a full dinosaur skeleton fossil on display that’s 155 million years old. SO COOL.
We didn’t walk the whole thing, but it’s so big that they have an app you can download to tell you how to navigate.
Some things that you cannot miss here – the Dubai Aquarium, the Design District, LEVEL Shoes, City Walk, & the fountain show which starts each evening at 7 PM. The Dubai Fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain on Burj Lake. You can watch from shore or pay for front row seats from a boat on the lake.
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world so it’s a must-see, but also impossible to not see. It’s twice as tall as any other building in Dubai – making it the most iconic structure in the city. Make reservations ahead of time to have cocktails at Atmosphere which is a bar located on the 122nd floor. (You can also get a good view of the Burj Khalifa from Souk Al Bahar.)
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab aka the only “seven star hotel” in the world is one of the most iconic buildings of Dubai. You can only go here if you are a guest or if you make reservations at one of their restaurants ahead of time. Check out the cocktail bar Gold on 27, or if you don’t have time to go, at least check it out from the beach.
Desert Safari – Platinum Heritage
Our Platinum Heritage experience was one of the highlights of our trip. I wrote a lengthy post about it which you can read here.
La Mer Beach
This is a great area to walk around, shop, eat, and go to the beach. It’s also a great place to get a good view of the Burj Khalifa. (There’s also a good view of the Burj Khalifa from Souk al Bahar). Another beach option close to here is Jumeirah Beach but La Mer is cool because it recently opened in 2017.
Take an Abra boat across the water to get there and then check out the gold, spice, and textile souks. (Souks are markets).
There’s a lot you can do in the Dubai Marina. You can shop at The Beach shopping area or the Covent Garden Market, or you can also go watch a movie in an open-air cinema here.
Day Trip To Abu Dhabi
Take a half day trip to Abu Dhabi to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. If you book this day trip you get to go with a professional photographer.
The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide
MORE THINGS TO DO…
- Hero Odysea Boat Tour or book your own private boat here for only $79
- Mall of Emirates
- Dubai Miracle Garden -has over 150 million blooming flowers! It is only opened November – May.
- Ski Dubai
- Order a helicopter from Uber for a helicopter tour of Dubai for only $200.
- Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park
- Global Village
- Museum of Illusions
- The World Islands when they finish building them.
- Dubai Autodrome
- Shimmers Beach Club
- Kite Beach
- Go flyboarding or jet skiing
- Al Noor Mosque
- Grand Bur Dubai Masjid
- King Faisal Mosque
- Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood / Bastakia Quarter for a better insight into the history and culture of Dubai. Make sure to check out the XVA Gallery.
- Take a boat ride on Dubai Creek
- Sheikh Mohamed Centre for Cultural Understanding
The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at the W Dubai The Palm which I wrote about here. We loved it and would definitely stay again because the location, design, and service were phenomenal. Some other chic hotels are the Bvlgari, Burj Al Arab, and One & Only The Palm. I definitely recommend staying on the Palm Islands though because they’re so unique, peaceful, and luxe.
WHERE TO EAT
There are so many great places to eat in Dubai, all my friends sent extremely long lists of places to check out. Like the longest lists I’ve ever received for travel related things. Since there were so many great recs, I’m just sharing what my friends who live there told me.
- Arabian Tea House
- Flaming Room
- Parkers at La Mer
- The Sum Of Us
- Tom & Serg
- Masti – Indian
- Bus Sola – Italian
- Special Ostad – popular Persian restaurant
- Comptoir 102
- Little Miss India
- Ba Asian Cuisine
- Mythos – Greek
- Le Petite Maison – French
- TOMO – Japanese
- Aprons & Hammers
- La Serre Bistro
- Em Sherif – Lebanese
- Toko – Japanese
- Pier Chic
- Clubs / Nightlife – Zero Gravity, White, & Cavalli Club
HOW LONG TO GO FOR
In short, 1 week. Long explanation – I know a lot of people go to Dubai as a stopover, but I’d recommend more than 2 days here to really experience it. We went for 5 days this trip, but next time I’d stay at least a full week because it took a couple days to get over the jet lag. If you have time, I suggest you take a day trip to Abu Dhabi, and set aside one day for a desert safari with Platinum Heritage which should be on every ultimate Dubai travel guide.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST VIEWS IN DUBAI
- DUBAI SKYLINE: W Dubai The Palm Hotel
- DUBAI DOWNTOWN: The Top Of the Burj Khalifa
- BURJ AL ARAB: Shimmer Restaurant at Madinat Jumeirah Resort
- MARINA: Shades Lounge / Rooftop Pool at the Address Marina Hotel
- DUBAI FOUNTAIN SHOW: From the Apple Store Balcony in the Dubai Mall
THE BEST VIEW OF SHEIK ZAYED ROAD: Level 43 Sky Lounge at the Sheraton Four Points Sheik Zayed Road.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING
- The dress code is not as strict as your parents think it is, and no, you are not required to wear a hijab. The only places you must dress modestly are the mosques. Besides that, you don’t really have to worry about your wardrobe. Just try to be respectful and mindful of the culture, as always.
- It is against the law to share a room with the opposite sex if you aren’t married, in some hotels. It shouldn’t be a problem but make sure ahead of time.
- Homosexuality is illegal in Dubai as well as cross-dressing.
- No electronic cigarettes or vapes. There’s a strict no drug policy. If they catch you with drugs you get 4 years in jail.
- The best time to go is between mid October and April because it’s less hot. It can get up to 110 degrees Farenheit in their summer.
- Their weekend is Friday and Saturday. Sunday is a normal weekday for them.
- You must ask permission before taking someone’s photo.
- It’s illegal to take photos of the royal family. They will deport you and never let you back in the country again.
- You can drink in Dubai, but do not get drunk in public. You can drink at certain establishments that have their liquor license, but you cannot be drunk in the streets.
- PDA is frowned upon outside your hotel. We held hands at the mall and nothing happened. Just be mindful and aware.
- Dubai is one of the safest cities for civilians! Guns are illegal here so you don’t have to worry about anything crazy like in the US.
- The National language of the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken as 85% of Dubai’s residents are expats from all over the world.
- The currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham.
The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide
Dubai is not a place I recommend if you are looking for a budget friendly destination. Dubai is luxurious and a place where you need to spend money to really experience everything. But honestly, it’s totally worth it.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions in the comments below:) I always appreciate it. xx
For more on Dubai check out these blog posts
- 7 Reasons You Need To Stay At The W Dubai The Palm
- I Found The Most Ethical, Luxurious, & Best Desert Safari In Dubai
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