VISIT DUBAI – A TOURIST’S GUIDE
Dubai is undoubtedly the best tourist destination which is on every traveler’s list today. There is so much to do and see in the fascinating city, that can make planning a trip an overwhelming experience. Especially if you are traveling to Dubai for first time.
Whether you visit Dubai as a first timer or you are an expat who has visitors, this travel guide and itinerary is surely going to help you plan the attractions to be explored in the fast paced modern city. Same as the city vibe the food is multicultural too, there is no fun in exploring Dubai on an empty stomach so here’s a list of local food to try during your visit to Dubai.
While most people think Dubai is a luxurious city, offering excellent infrastructure. It is not wrong that the city is indeed very fascinating and has everything grand. Yet there are many things to do for all budgets than any other tourist destination.
I have prepared this list keeping in mind that it includes something for everyone. Some of them are free, some cost a bit, some are for the adventurous kind and some family activities for those who like to chill, relax and catch up the with vibrant city life. Before we get to all the attractions let’s have a look at some important information that will help you to plan your visit.
BEST TIME TO VISIT DUBAI
Please take a note that some activities in Dubai cannot be enjoyed throughout the year. It gets too hot for open air excursions like Miracle garden, so some of attractions are closed during summer season. It is advised to check the available attractions online while doing bookings in a particular season.
Dubai still does not get boring as there are many things to do in different seasons. The city being surrounded by desert and beaches it’s very hot and humid in summer. Winter is always a good time if you wish to visit Dubai.
If you are planning to visit as a tourist, I recommend planning from October till March. There will be additional things to do during these months. For example – Global Village, Dubai Garden glow & Miracle garden is open only in winters.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO DUBAI
Whether you are a solo traveler, couple, family with kids or a group of friends Dubai will make sure to amaze you with its friendly multicultural approach. It has everything to make you feel at home or even better!
Dubai has all kinds of accommodation available in below categories. One can refer to booking.com for checking different options.
- Luxury 5* Hotels
- Hotel apartments
- Long stay Hotel apartments that are available with equipped Kitchen
- Monthly rental apartments for long stays
- Sharing accomodation
There is a good transportation system by Roads & transport authority (RTA) in Dubai. One can visit RTA online to understand routes and fares through Taxi, Buses, Metro and Trams. Taxi is not the cheapest option to go around the city especially for solo travelers. For families it works very well as all attractions have a taxi stands where taxis are easily available.
All good malls including Dubai Mall and Mall of the emirates are connected to Metro station by a metro bridge which makes it easy to reach for tourists.
There are good and easy food options available 24/7 all around the city. You must try some all-time favorite Middle Eastern dishes while you visit. Dubai has all major international food chains offering vegan, vegetarian and non- vegetarian cuisine in all the Malls and around the city. There are so many options to try food from different countries all in one place. food is something that you should look forward to trying when you visit Dubai.
For booking tours you can approach one of the local travel agencies or buy tickets for most of the attractions online or on the spot. For example all gardens have a ticket window located right outside. Make sure to look into the transfers if required for any far off attractions.
Tip: Some attractions like Desert Safari or a visit to Burj Kalifa (The tallest tower in the world) has to be booked in advance based on availability.
Discounted tickets / Vouchers
I normally use Groupon.ae for discounts on tickets or other activities. It could save you on some great deals if you are a first time visitor. Make sure to take a printed voucher of anything that is bought online, to visit any Dubai attraction. It is a great website and absolutely trustworthy.
Dubai is more liberal than it looks from the outside, of course one can’t visit all the public places in beachwear. Smart casuals are the dress code for anywhere. Do carry an umbrella, scarf & sunscreen if you are visiting Dubai in summer.
A WEEK ITINERARY FOR DUBAI
A week seems less for Dubai but I am giving you open options to plan your trip each day that will make your Dubai visit totally worth it. There are some extra things that you can do and things that can be swapped with any other day depending on ones convenience and mood. If you are in Dubai for a longer time or have already been to these places . Here’s my list of top 20 things to do in Dubai
Go for Gold Souk in the first half of the day and do a desert safari followed by dinner. Desert safari pick up is generally in the afternoon and you are back by 9:00pm
Today you can visit Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. If you want to skip the visit to Burj Khalifa spend your day at La Mer Beach after shopping at Dubai Mall.
Go for Miracle Garden/ Butterfly garden (which is opposite to Miracle garden) in the Morning and visit Marina walk for a dinner cruise or chill at one of the local restaurants in Marina.
Today is a theme park day so spend a day at IMG worlds of Adventure or Dubai Parks and Resorts (it has 4 different themed parks inside) based on your preference. A day is required for these theme parks.
Do an early morning hot air balloon ride and a visit to Global village in the second half. Global village is open only in winter season so check in advance.
Get ready to visit the iconic Dubai Frame, spend some ideal time at Zabeel park. you can also plan a visit to one of the water parks in the city.
Visit one of the city center shopping malls and have a brunch. Alternatively you can visit Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah beach to make some memories before saying bye- bye to dreamy Dubai.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN DUBAI
Now lets check out the details of each attraction, so you can plan your itinerary perfectly. All activities listed below are close to each other so that you can cover them on same day. For example: *Dubai Mall & Burj khalifa can be done together.
THE GOLD SOUK IN DEIRA
A must-see place in the United Arab Emirates are the souks in the old part of the city. Visiting the Gold Souk in Dubai should be on your list. With so much gold all around it is definitely a jaw dropping experience. when I went there for the first time I was so fascinated by Deira Gold Souk as there is jewellery for all tastes and all pockets. This part is different to the rest of Dubai and though it is very busy it has some traditional charm. One can buy spices, dry fruits and dates as well. If you like to buy gold check the gold rate online and do not forget to bargain on the making charges.
For women I suggest not to wear the most revealing clothes and dress modestly.
One of the best activities to do in Dubai is to go on a desert safari.
There are many different types of desert safari tours offered in Dubai. However in a general desert safari includes 4×4 wheel drive to the desert do dune bashing followed by a BBQ dinner, some traditional shows and a belly dance.
Dubai being a family friendly destination also provides an option where one can directly go for the desert camp for dinner and belly dancing show. This option is suitable for middle aged people or young children. Do check with the tour operator for booking a desert safari without dune bashing.
Desert safari is a great thing to experience when you visit Dubai. It is definitely in my top recommendations. Don’t miss to try some hand on Photography as the desert is so picturesque
AT THE TOP OF BURJ KHALIFA
Another top thing to do in Dubai is to visit Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. It is one of the most famous attractions in Dubai. One can refer to the official website for booking tickets in advance. It costs around AED 120 (around 32 $)
I recommend you try to book a slot around Dusk. Where you can have day time view and partial night view of Dubai (though such slots gets booked very quickly). Plan in some time to see the water show from above, it looks mesmerizing.
The entrance of this attraction is from Dubai Mall so you can club it with the visit to Dubai Mall.
Tip: The queue takes really long. So probably a VIP ticket is the better choice for the people who don’t mind spending.
SHOPPING AT DUBAI MALL
Dubai Mall and a visit to Burj Khalifa can be done in same day as it is the biggest mall in the world. It feels more like a colony with everything one fancies to buy.
From luxury fashion brands, kids outlets, beauty stores, supermarket to electronic showrooms there is everything you can ask from a shopping mall. Also it has such a big food court with a variety of cuisine to choose from. . Everything in Dubai mall is not for all pockets. With so many things it is great mall to do some window shopping too. On the ground floor there is an aquarium and a candy store which is so lovely to visit with kids. Dubai mall also has a musical fountain show for the visitors without an entrance fee. It takes place every evening a few times. A must watch!
It is one of the newest hotspots in Dubai located in Jumeirah. A classy development by Meraas offering beach facing multi cuisine restaurants to have a great evening in good weather.
One can spend a full day at the beach. Have an evening stroll at the beachfront or check out the street art. Chill at one of the very cool restaurants or cafes– La Mer is a beautiful place and should be on every Dubai.
There is no metro in this area but one can reach La Mer by buses, hotel shuttle or taxi.
VISIT DUBAI MIRACLE GARDEN
Miracle garden is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever visited. It is so picturesque that one can have more than 10000 of pictures at Miracle Garden. This is a piece of art that comes from more than 40,000 varieties of flowers. Though it is crowded in winter season as it opens for a limited time, it is worth a visit.
Though there are food stalls inside but do carry some snacks if you are visiting with kids. Entry ticket can be bought on the spot for about 15$.
There is no metro connectivity so take a bus/cab and plan at least few hours for this attraction. If you are visiting during Dubai shopping festival it is close to Global Village. It is an efficient way to see both places in one day ( only if you don’t mind walking that much).
DUBAI MARINA WALK OR MARINA DINNER CRUISE
Dubai Marina is the most vibrant part of Dubai with all the cafes, beautiful skyscrapers and waterfront restaurants. In a good weather it is one of the best places for evening strolls. Some kid’s activities occasionally happen here to keep them busy. Overall it’s a good place to explore based on one’s liking. Boat cruises are one of the must do things as a couple. One can spot amazing skyline of Dubai while walking in Dubai Marina. To have a beautiful city views in the night go on a Marina Cruise tour. If you love food with a view on boat cruises you must try it. There is some live entertainment and buffet dinner on a boat. It is definitely an ideal to spend a relaxing evening.
DO A HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE
Another top tourist attraction in Dubai is hot air balloon ride. One need to get up by 4:00am in the morning to do this. You are normally being picked up from the hotel – and it is worth to wake up early to have such a unique experience. Do a hot-air balloon ride in Dubai´s desert and enjoy watching the sunrise from above. Definitely a fun activity to add to your Dubai itinerary.
CHECK OUT THE INTERNATIONAL VIBE AT GLOBAL VILLAGE
Global village is an international fair where different countries book their pavilions to sell their goods. Another popular sightseeing place in Dubai that happens for a limited time. so check out the Global Village operation months and timings before planning a visit. Entrée fee is AED 15 which is about 4$. Which gives you access to all pavilions and food court.
The best way to reach here is by taking a bus or a Taxi. Timings are from 4:00 pm to midnight. Extended timings on weekends.
SPEND A DAY AT IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE
Dubai has many theme parks and it likes to go grand when doing things like this. The IMG Worlds of Adventure is a fun place for kids and adults. It has most rides rides based on your favorite characters from cartoon network. I am sure your kids will really enjoy visiting here. Plan a full day for this giant theme park that offers a lot about thrilling rollercoaster rides. The best thing is it’s indoors so it is a good option besides malls if you are visiting in summer.
VISIT DUBAI FRAME AT ZABEEL PARK
Dubai Frame is located inside the Zabeel park but can be visited through different entrance. Zabeel park does have around 6 entrance gates leading to different areas and attractions in the parks.
For those who think of Dubai is all sand and nothing green Zabeel Park proves them wrong. If you don’t want to plan seeing the frame from inside one can enjoy in Zabeel park. It offers great outdoors for a small entrance fee which is AED 5 (about 1.5 $). One can visit Zabeel Park and relax in the lush and green park with lovely views of Sheikh Zayed road’s skyline.
It’s a great attraction for kids as there are many play areas and slides all included in entrance fee. It also offers mobile charging stations to keep you connected while you chill in the beautiful park. (one needs to bring the cable to recharge the phone)
A DAY AT A WATERPARK
I love waterparks and Dubai has some amazing ones. My favorites is Wild wadi ( next to Burj Al Arab) and the Aqua venture Waterpark (in Atlantis). Tip: If you book your stay in one of the above-mentioned hotels, you will have free access to the waterparks.
But for sure waterparks in Dubai are generally very crowded in summer even being so overpriced.
It is so much fun to spend a full day at one of the waterparks, with all the different slides, kid friendly pools, and cafes at the waterpark. They are safe & really big with much to do.
If you visit as a family, I think about $ 50-70 for a day at the waterpark is a kind of bit too much. Lockers are extra.
If you are looking for a more affordable waterpark, then check out Laguna Waterpark at La Mer. It is located in my new favorite area and it is about half the prices of the other two water parks. Not a bad option at all for families with young kids.
ENJOY BRUNCH AT ONE OF THE HOTELS
Dubai is known for it’s awesome brunches, so experience a wekend Brunch in one of hotels or restaurants in Dubai. There are options available from AED 100 per person. They are international buffets with a view depending on how premium they are the prices & experience goes high. It is probably not advisable to look forward to it if you travel to Dubai during Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting). As most of the restaurants are closed for dine in during Ramadan.
VISIT BURJ AL-ARAB
Being only 7* hotel in the world, entry to Burj al-Arab isn’t easily accessible by tourists. There are certain ways if you wish to visit the attraction from inside. You need a written booking reservation for one of their restaurants. It could be a reservation for breakfast, lunch, dinner or Hi Tea.
Having an afternoon tea at Burj Al-Arab is a good option and probably the cheapest way to get inside (reservation is required to be made in advance).
MAKE YOUR INSTAGRAM HAPPY AT JUMEIRAH BEACH
Not all beaches are free open to public as most actually belong to luxury hotels. If you are a beach baby than you can chill for free at the Jumeirah Beach also known as kite beach and enjoy great views of Burj Al-Arab.
It has a nice cycling and walking track with some food joints around the beach serving local and international snacks.
Government buses have a stops in this area. One can also use the taxi to get to the Jumeirah beach. If you like quieter areas with views of Burj al-Arab then this is your beach. The water is clean, it’s not very crowded, the view is amazing and the good news is it’s a free activity that all tourists should not miss while visiting Dubai.
If you are not done yet but going on a bit tight on budget , click here to find out more about free things to do in the city
Let me know what you enjoyed the most during your visit to Dubai. If you want me to share more of similar articles on Dubai feel free to let me know in the comments section.