Luxury, modernity, superficiality and grandeur are the words that define Dubai. It is true that this city knows the two extremes: sometimes loved, sometimes hated. However, going to Dubai is synonymous with great discoveries and activities to do. Some visits are even a must, as they build the reputation of the United Arab Emirates!
Throughout this guide, we share with you the things you should do in Dubai. Even if your stay is only for a few days, you'll leave without any regrets. So before you pack your bags to fly to the Emirates, stop by and check out the things to do!
You can't miss the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, located in the heart of downtown Dubai. This must-see monument is an attraction in itself as it arouses the curiosity of the whole world. The Burj Khalifa embodies the power and splendour of the United Arab Emirates, sweeping aside the latest record of the Empire State Building, which is now in second place.
If you're on a budget, just admire the tower from the ground, it will make you quite dizzy. For those who plan to climb the floors of the Burj Khalifa, you should know that the prices vary depending on the floor you are interested in. To enjoy your visit, you can also drink tea with some sweets behind a bay window.
The Jumeirah Palm
The Jumeirah Island is rather atypical with its palm tree shape, seen from the sky. But beyond that, The Jumeirah Palm is home to a few luxury hotels, restaurants, bars and other very posh and chic homes. Moreover, this place is also equipped with infinity pools, spa centers and clubs to keep the nightlife going.
However, if you want to enjoy the Jumeirah Palm, you need to hire a helicopter tour. This is the only way to experience this breathtaking and luxurious island. For the more courageous, it is possible to book a parachute jump or paragliding to discover Dubai from above.
The Dubai Mall
Taking a trip to the Dubai Mall is one of the activities that won't cost you anything, unless you succumb to the shops, restaurants and cafes inside. The Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world (much like everything else in Dubai), home to all the top luxury brands. If you're lacking in inspiration, step inside the mall, wander the miles of aisles.
The Dubai Mall also houses part of the city's Aquarium. This is a great opportunity to see some marine life before discovering more. But to sum up, Dubai Mall is an attraction in itself, and you should take a tour just to see the place.
In front of the largest mall in the world, you will see some lavish cars. It's a chance to admire some unique models and evenimport a car from Dubai if you fall in love with one.
At the foot of the Burj Khalifa skyscraper stands a large artificial lake. This other huge feature of Dubai offers a real spectacle every night if you admire its fountains. The Dubai Fountain is a group of fountains that are grouped together and turned on every day at the end of the day.
In addition to thousands of colourful spotlights and millions of litres of water flowing, the Dubai Fountains sparkle and move to the beat of the music. The show is completely free and open to everyone. For a better view, we recommend booking a table at a restaurant or bar near the fountains.
Unlike the Burj Khalifa tour, this is one activity in Dubai that is totally free! So take advantage of it.
The old city
To get away from the eccentricity of Dubai, we encourage you to visit the old city to discover the local population and the simple life. The Old City of Dubai, from both ends of the Creek, includes the Bur Dubai and Deira districts. This is the historical part of the city, very interesting if you want to know more about the oriental traditions and customs.
Here you can admire the oldest buildings and architecture of the city, an excellent contrast to the modernity of central Dubai. Going to the old restored districts of Bastakiya and Shindagha, the atmosphere is much more authentic.
Dubai Desert Safari
Going on a desert safari in Dubai is a must. In fact, it's one of the things tourists do on their first few days in the UAE. A typical day trip starts with a 4WD ride through the city's dunes, a real adrenaline-filled ride with some pretty good drivers.
Afterwards, the driver will probably drop you off at the edge of the huge dunes to take some photos or watch the sunset. Depending on the option you choose, a Dubai safari usually ends with a meal in a tent, accompanied by a belly dance show and henna tattoos.
Crossing Dubai Creek
Instead of taking a taxi in Dubai, cross the Dubai Creek instead. This is an inlet that separates the city centre from the old town, the historic centre. To make the crossing possible, you'll board a traditional wooden boat for just a few cents.
Even if the crossing only lasts a few minutes, it is a really good experience! The temperatures are very high in Dubai, so a little coolness is not a bad thing.
The Dubai Museum
If you're interested in the history and origins of Dubai, take a trip to the Dubai Museum. Even though the city is very superficial and modern, don't doubt its cultural past. That's why a visit to the museum is a good idea to discover the city in a different way.
For only a few tens of cents, dive into the heart of the daily life of the inhabitants, the fishing villages, the development of Dubai and the first discoveries of oil deposits. But that's not all, the museum also exhibits many archaeological objects.
The Jumeirah Mosque
Dubai is home to some truly beautiful architectural wonders such as the Jumeirah Mosque, a signature imprint of Arab and Oriental culture. Its construction was carried out in 1976, in a Fatimid style cradled between Syrian and Egyptian culture. Moreover, the monument represents the most important mosque in Dubai, which is the only one to welcome non-Muslims.
However, entering the Jumeirah Mosque requires a few conditions. The first one is the dress code, as men must not wear trousers above the knees, and women must not have their arms, legs and hair uncovered. In addition, shoes must be removed. It should not be forgotten that the Jumeirah Mosque is a place of religious worship and must be respected.
On the other hand, the visits are carried out by a guide during 1h30 approximately. Once inside, you can admire the architecture and the exceptional decorative elements. Everything has been worked on so that the Jumeirah Mosque embodies the splendor of Dubai combined with a healthy place of worship.
If you want to experience the UAE a little more, we highly recommend you visit the Abu Dhabi Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in the world open to visitors.
Deira and Bur Dubai Souks
Among the must-do activities in Dubai, visiting the souks is a good idea. Take advantage of this exploration when you are in the old city, there are really everywhere! Whether it is in the Deira district or the Bur Dubai district, you will find quite a few wonders.
This starts of course with the spice and food vendors. All the flavors and colors are gathered in the souk and you will certainly be tempted to take some with you on your return. In addition to this, there are many other stalls selling perfume, fabrics and a wide range of local and handmade products, including traditional dresses and outfits.
Visiting the Dubai Souks is completely free and open to all. You are free to haggle and buy the things you like. For those on a budget, you can also eat on the go, as there are quite a few small restaurants and snacks available. So why not enjoy a good kebab on the go?
Taking the metro in Dubai
Well, among the things to do in Dubai is to take public transport. It may sound surprising, but riding the Dubai Metro is nothing like riding the Paris Metro. The government has been very resourceful in attracting tourists and the more curious.
First of all, you should know that the Dubai Metro is ultra modern, well decorated and very clean. It even includes an air-conditioning system to fight against the strong heat of the city. On the other hand, the Dubai metro crosses a huge and long viaduct. This one offers one of the most breathtaking views of the city, truly exceptional, and not to be missed.
Unlike many large cities in the world, there are not many stations. The lines do not serve all areas of the city so be sure to get organized! It is worth mentioning that the line is out of service on Friday mornings as the big prayer takes place until Friday noon. Nevertheless, this little exploration should satisfy your desire to discover.