Dubai is packed to brim with unequaled sights and breathtaking experiences. In fact, you could stay here for a whole month or more and indulge in something unique and exciting every day. But, if you are not sure where to head or what to do on your visit here, this list of top things to do in Dubai (inclusive of both touristy and hidden gems) will prove helpful for you.
1. Head up to Burj Khalifa
It is a must-do in Dubai, especially for first-timers. At a remarkable height of 828 meters, this imposing structure is the world’s tallest building. Most people limit their Burj Khalifa experience to a selfie or groupie against it. But, if you can afford, be sure to ascend its observation deck on 124th and 148th levels. They not only feast your eyes with the most exquisite views over Dubai’s cityscape, desert, ocean, and beyond, but also come with one of the world’s fastest elevator rides.
2. Visit Dubai Mall & Dubai Fountain
Situated next to Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, the Dubai Mall is so massive (with the most exciting offerings) that you can literally spend your entire holiday without ever leaving this mall. Rightly so, it boasts of over 1,200 retail outlets and more than 200 dining venues. Not to mention about its vast array of leisure and entertainment attractions, ranging from the all-age Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo to the kids’ favorites such as KidZania Dubai and Candylicious.
It is also a haven for fun and thrill seekers, thanks to the biggest of its kind VR Park, Dubai Ice Rink and Hysteria Dubai Mall, among others. Finally, make sure that you watch Dubai Fountain; set at Burj Lake, outside the mall, this choreographed aquatic performance is a true stunner with its immaculate harmony of water, music and light.
3. Walk Down Al Bastakiya Quarter
Want to escape from Dubai’s glitzy side at least for a few hours? Make your way to Al Bastakiya Quarter in Old Dubai. Officially called Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, this well-preserved 19th century enclave is where time stands still. Stroll through its narrow lanes and admire the ancient sand-colored structures topped by wooden wind towers. Most of them are now converted into museums, art houses and cultural institutions. Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, XVA Art Gallery and Dubai Museum (inside the city’s oldest of its kind Al Fahidi Fort) are just a few of them.
4. Get the Most Fantastic Views over Palm Jumeirah
No preface is probably required for Palm Jumeirah as this is one of the first things that come into the mind when one thinks about Dubai. But, for those unversed, it is one of the largest as well as the most astonishing man-made islands in the world, easily identifiable for its palm-tree design with a crescent on its top. That said, you could see this engineering marvel (in its exact splendor) only from a sky-high vantage point. Till recently, it was possible only with a pricey helicopter ride or a wild sky dive session. If you don’t want to shell out a fortune to catch this view, there is a cost-effective alternative by way of the View at the Palm Jumeirah; this observation deck at 52nd level of Palm Tower promises you the full display of this wondrous island.
5. Take in Palm Fountain Show
Nothing could stop Dubai from evolving and exciting the world, even the pandemic! Palm Fountain show is a proof of this. Launched in October 2020, it is the world’s largest fountain wherein the perfect sync of water, light and music create a choreographed water performance like no other. It is located at the Pointe, on Palm Jumeirah, against the regal backdrop of Atlantis, The Palm Resort.
6. Desert Safari
Desert Safari Dubai wraps up adventure, culture and nature in a single trip! This is an off-road trip which ventures you deep into Dubai’s unscathed desert landscape, surrounded all over by the golden sands. Dependent on your choice, your desert safari includes a session of 4X4 dune bash, camel ride, sand board and of course, a variety of activities (including henna tattooing, Shisha smoking, falconry etc) that enlightens you about the Bedouin culture and past. BBQ dining and traditional shows such as Belly Dance and Tanura performance are staples of most evening and overnight desert safaris.
7. Enjoy Skiing at Ski Dubai
This is one of the most amazing things to do in this Arabian Desert city. The best thing is that you don’t have to wait till the arrival of winter months to try this. You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and sledging, among other snow activities, even in the summer months when Dubai literally simmers at over 50 degree Celsius. Completely set indoors, this snow-themed attraction is inside Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates. It is the first of its kind in the Middle East and further the third largest Ski Resort in the world.
8. Get Active at Mushrif Park
Are you looking for a nature retreat with an adventurous twist but don’t want to travel out of Dubai? Head to Mushrif Park which has something for everyone! One of its main attractions is Aventura Park, featuring a spectrum of fun challenges and rope course activities ideal for every ability and skill level. For those who want stay away from action, there are attractions such as International Village, Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre, and Mushrif Equistrian and Polo Club.
9. Watch a Jaw-Dropping Show
Dubai is not just a land of architectural marvels; it is also a place to watch the most spectacular shows and performances. If you are a fan of Cirque du Soliel style, don’t miss La Perle by Dragone show where an accomplished cast of world-class acrobats take you to the realm of surrealism. Moreover, the aficionados of operas and theatrical shows can head to Dubai Opera. Joined by your younger ones? Take them to watch the spellbinding Dolphin and Seal show at Dubai Dolphinarium.
10. Sign Up for a Sky-High Activity
See Dubai the way it should be seen on an air-borne activity! Select from Dubai tour packages with helicopter ride or a more exciting seaplane tour. Want to add a bit of thrill and fun to it? Opt for XLine Dubai – the world’s longest and fastest urbane zipline. For ultimate thrill, nothing probably comes closer to the super adventurous Sky Dive experience over the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah.
11. Experience the South American Rainforest at the Green Planet
This unique attraction at Dubai’s City Walk is the Middle East’s first bio-dome. Recreating the ecosystem of the Amazon Rainforest in an outdoor setting, it shelters over 3000 distinct flora and fauna. The main highlight is the 25-meter-high Kapok style tree that acts as a life-sustaining tree! Placed right in the middle of the bio-dome, it is also the largest man-made tree in the world.
12. Go on a Dhow Cruise
There is no doubt that Dubai is exquisite during the day. But, in the night, its blissfully illumed cityscape is just incomparable. The most ideal way to take in the magical allure of this nighttime Dubai skyline is to take an atmospheric dhow cruise. It is nothing but a relaxed sail along Dubai’s tranquil waters aboard a traditional Arabian vessel which was once used for pearl farming and fishing in the pre-oil phase. They are now converted into floating restaurants, making it a great spot to take in both superb views and fantastic food.
13. Dine with a View
Dubai has some of the world’s most amazing restaurants means it is never a difficult task to find a dining venue with a view. From the high-end restaurants that directly overlook attractions like Burj Al Arab, Dubai Fountain, Palm Fountain etc to the sea-facing eateries, you will literally be spoilt for choices. And the best part is that you will find restaurants in every range and price point. No matter you want to dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a cozy café packed with irresistible flavors, you will find it all here.
14. Shop at Souks
If you think that Dubai’s shopping scene is all about its colossal mall, visit its traditional bazaars (locally called souks) that are tucked away in the city’s old part across Bur Dubai and Deira. It caters to well-heeled and budget shoppers alike, with its one-off merchandise made available at unbelievable rates. Must-experiences are Gold Souk, Perfume Souk, Spice Souk, and Textile Souk.
5. Check out the Fascinating Theme Parks
For those seeking theme park fun and thrill, Dubai has some of the most extraordinary options. Visit the largest of its kind IMG Worlds of Adventure or spend a full day at the region’s first of its kind Dubai Parks and Resorts with four parks (Motiongate Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and LEGOLAND Water Park.) There are more choices by way of Hub Zero and VR Park.
Whether you want to follow the region’s cultural trail, participate in an exhilarating activity or just wish to spend your evening in a laid-back setting, Dubai has the best of options (in every category) to enthrall you. So, what are your most preferred Dubai things to do? Come leave your favorite experiences as well as thoughts about Dubai in the comment section below.