Dubai, a city synonymous with luxury, innovation, and architectural marvels, is a global hub for tourism and business. For those pondering things to do in Dubai, exploring the towering Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and visiting the expansive Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centers globally, are top activities.
The city’s historic Al Fahidi Neighborhood offers a glimpse into Dubai’s past, with its traditional wind-tower architecture and cultural museums. Nearby, the Dubai Creek provides opportunities for traditional abra rides, offering a unique perspective of the city’s development from a trading port to a modern metropolis.
Beyond its skyscrapers and shopping centers, Dubai is also known for its desert adventures, with dune bashing, camel riding, and sandboarding being popular activities. For those seeking the best places to visit in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s blend of modern luxury, historical charm, and adventurous activities makes it a captivating destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
1. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is not just Dubai’s most iconic structure but also the tallest building in the world, standing at 828 meters. Visitors can ascend to the observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors for breathtaking panoramic views of the city, desert, and Persian Gulf.
Travel Tip: Purchase tickets in advance to secure a spot and try to go during a weekday or early morning to avoid crowds.
2. The Dubai Mall
Adjacent to the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in the world, featuring over 1,200 retail stores, an indoor theme park, an ice rink, a giant indoor waterfall, an aquarium, and an underwater zoo.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit during the Dubai Shopping Festival for great deals and promotions, usually held in January and February.
3. Palm Jumeirah
A feat of engineering, Palm Jumeirah is a manmade archipelago in the shape of a palm tree, featuring luxury hotels, exclusive beachfront villas, and world-class restaurants. The best way to appreciate its scale is from the air or atop one of the high-rise buildings on the mainland.
Travel Tip: You can take a monorail ride to get a good view of the Palm, or book a helicopter tour for an unforgettable aerial perspective.
4. Dubai Fountain
Set on the 30-acre manmade Burj Khalifa Lake, the Dubai Fountain features water jets that shoot up to 150 meters, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary music and illuminated by 6,600 lights.
Travel Tip: The best views are from the Dubai Fountain Boardwalk, or you can dine at one of the nearby restaurants with fountain views.
5. Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden, featuring over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants. The garden is known for its elaborate floral structures and displays, including a life-size Emirates A380 airplane structure.
Travel Tip: The garden is seasonal, typically open from November to March, so plan your visit within these months.
6. Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is a manmade canal city with a two-mile-long waterfront and stunning cityscape views. It’s a popular place for luxury dining, nightlife, and leisure, with a scenic promenade lined with cafés and boutiques.
Travel Tip: Take a traditional dhow boat cruise for a romantic evening outing or a relaxed perspective of the Marina.
7. Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of indoor ski area. It’s a surreal experience to go from the desert heat to a winter wonderland where you can ski, snowboard, and play in the snow.
Travel Tip: All equipment and clothing can be rented, but remember to bring gloves or buy them there as they are not provided.
8. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve offers a chance to experience the desert’s beauty through activities like dune bashing, sandboarding, camel treks, and hot air balloon flights.
Travel Tip: Opt for a morning safari to avoid the midday heat and enjoy the desert in cooler temperatures.
9. The Dubai Frame
Located in Zabeel Park, the Dubai Frame is designed to represent a symbolic bridge between the old and new city. It offers visitors an opportunity to see the vast contrast between the past and the present with panoramic views.
Travel Tip: Visit at sunset for a spectacular view of the city lights turning on.
10. Gold and Spice Souks
No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to the traditional Gold and Spice Souks, where you can haggle over jewelry, gold, spices, and textiles.
Travel Tip: Be prepared to bargain, as initial prices are often inflated, and it’s part of the shopping culture.
11. Al Fahidi Historic District
The Al Fahidi Historic District (also known as Al Bastakiya) offers a nostalgic view of Dubai, with its traditional wind-towered houses, cultural exhibits, and art galleries. This area provides a significant contrast to the modern skyscrapers just a stone’s throw away.
Travel Tip: Visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) here for a guided tour, cultural meals, and Q&A sessions about Emirati culture and customs.
12. Dubai Opera
Dubai Opera is a state-of-the-art multi-format performing arts theatre situated in Downtown Dubai. It hosts a variety of performances and events including theatre, opera, ballet, concerts, conferences and exhibitions.
Travel Tip: Check the schedule before your visit and book tickets in advance for a show; it’s a wonderful opportunity to dress up and enjoy an elegant evening.
13. IMG Worlds of Adventure
As one of Dubai’s newest and most exciting theme parks, IMG Worlds of Adventure is the world’s largest indoor theme park. It features rides and attractions that are themed around popular Cartoon Network characters, iconic Marvel superheroes, and dinosaurs.
Travel Tip: Since it’s indoors, this park is perfect for escaping the heat in the middle of the day, and lines might be shorter during weekday mornings.
14. The Green Planet
The Green Planet recreates a tropical forest with over 3,000 plants and animals. This biodome is an educational center as well as a conservation project in the heart of the city.
Travel Tip: Bring a camera with a good low-light setting, as the biodome’s canopy can be dim, and be sure not to miss the piranha feeding.
15. Dubai Creek and Abra Ride
Dubai Creek is a saltwater creek that has been the lifeblood of the city for centuries, supporting trade and transport. Taking an abra ride across the Creek not only provides fantastic views but also serves as a quick transport method between Deira and Bur Dubai.
Travel Tip: Take an abra ride at sunset for a picturesque view of the city’s skyline against the twilight sky.
16. Aquaventure Waterpark
Located on the Palm Jumeirah, Aquaventure Waterpark is one of the most exciting water parks in Dubai, with thrilling slides, a shark-filled lagoon, and a lengthy lazy river.
Travel Tip: Purchase tickets online in advance for potential discounts and to skip the ticketing queue.
17. Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Situated in The Dubai Mall, this aquarium is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world, with thousands of aquatic animals and a 270-degree walkthrough tunnel.
Travel Tip: The aquarium can get busy during the day, so consider a visit in the early morning or late evening to avoid crowds.
18. Wild Wadi Waterpark
Situated in front of the stunning Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi offers fun-filled rides for families and thrill-seekers alike. It is themed around the tale of Juha, a character from Arabian folklore.
Travel Tip: Look for online deals which often include both transportation and entrance fees, and visit during weekdays for fewer crowds.
19. Dubai Global Village
Global Village combines cultures of 90 countries across the world in one place. It claims to be the world’s largest tourism, leisure, shopping, and entertainment project.
Travel Tip: This is a seasonal attraction, usually open from November to April, so plan your visit accordingly.
20. Dubai Parks and Resorts
This massive theme park complex includes Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, LEGOLAND Dubai, and LEGOLAND Water Park, offering a variety of entertainment options for families and movie buffs.
Travel Tip: If you plan on visiting more than one park, consider multi-park passes for the best value.
FAQ About Things to Do in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
What are must-visit attractions in Dubai?
Dubai’s must-visit attractions include the towering Burj Khalifa, the vast Dubai Mall, the picturesque Dubai Marina, and the luxurious Burj Al Arab. Don’t miss the traditional Gold and Spice Souks for a taste of local culture.
Can visitors experience the desert in Dubai?
Absolutely, desert safaris are a popular activity. You can enjoy dune bashing, camel rides, sandboarding, and a traditional Bedouin-style dinner under the stars.
Is there a place to see marine life in Dubai?
Yes, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall offers a glimpse into the marine world with thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks and rays. Alternatively, visit Atlantis The Palm’s Aquaventure Waterpark for water slides and marine animal encounters.
What cultural experiences should I not miss in Dubai?
For cultural experiences, visit the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Dubai Museum, and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Enjoy a traditional Emirati meal and learn about the local customs and traditions.
Are there any parks or green spaces in Dubai?
Dubai is home to several parks and green spaces, including the Dubai Miracle Garden, the world’s largest natural flower garden, and Safa Park, which offers a peaceful escape with lush lawns, a lake, and sports facilities.
Can I go skiing in Dubai?
Yes, Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates is an indoor ski resort that allows you to ski, snowboard, and play in the snow year-round, despite the desert climate outside.
What are some unique shopping experiences in Dubai?
Beyond the modern malls, explore the Global Village for an eclectic shopping experience featuring pavilions from around the world, or visit the Dubai Frame for panoramic views and unique souvenirs.
Does Dubai have entertainment options for families?
Dubai offers plenty of family-friendly entertainment, such as IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park, and Dubai Parks and Resorts, featuring multiple theme parks like Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, and LEGOLAND.