Top 25 Things to Do in Dubai

The first question that every new visitor to Dubai asks is: what are the top things to do in Dubai?

There are tons of things to do in Dubai. Many books, guides, websites, FAQ’s, subreddits, etc have answered that question.

Dubai has secured a renowned reputation for being the tourist’s and shopper’s paradise. Dubai is among the list of most visited cities of the world.

Here, I’ll give you a quick and simple answer based on my 15+ years spent in Dubai.

So…

If you ever visit Dubai and needed to prepare a quick itinerary, you better make sure to secure enough time to visit the following icons of Dubai, you won’t regret it!

With all said and done, visiting Burj Al Arab tops the things to do in Dubai. You want your friends to know you've been to Dubai, right?

With all said and done, visiting Burj Al Arab tops the things to do in Dubai. You want your friends to know you’ve been to Dubai, right?

Topping our list of  Things to Do in Dubai: Burj Al Arab Hotel

Considered one of the most expensive hotels in the world (the Royal Suite costs over $18,000 per night!!), and is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. Many tourists have found the exterior of Burj Al Arab hotel to outdo the interior, which resemblances the interior of Trump Tower. The free public beach near the hotel is a good location for taking souvenir photos with the hotel in the background.

The way humble me sees it, this hotel is old, vintage, worthy of being the place where some royal queen spent her money moon in.

You can’t help but feel sorry for a place that was a world-wonder one day. Some say Burj Al Arab is crap, nothing to see or do there.

Still, nothing shouts “I’ve been to Dubai” like a selfie with Burj Al Arab! This tops our Things to do in Dubai list.

2 – Burj Khalifa

Informally known as the Burj Dubai, the Burj Khalifa is officially the tallest building in the world right now.

Over 800 meters tall (2625 feet, 160+ stories), Burj Khalifa holds lots of world records.

The observation deck on the 124th floor is a must see, just make sure to book it during sunset, so you can see Dubai in the day and in the night.

The view from the observation deck at Burj Khalifa

The view from the observation deck at Burj Khalifa – Photo credit Kullez / flickr

Mind you reaching the deck takes on average 15-30 minutes! The observation deck is your best option for seeing other parts of Dubai, through the binoculars / telescopes there. Accessing Burj Khalifa passes through, wait for it, our next recommednation –

3 – Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is huuuuge and 30-40 minutes away from the Dubai airport by metro. It’s the world’s largest shopping mall (based on total area). It is actually part of the Burj Khalifa complex. It hosts 1,200+ over shops.

Once you get on the Ground Level of The Dubai Mall, make sure to visit the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

This 10-million litre Aquarium tank – one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world, houses thousands of aquatic animals.

Should you feel adventurous, you can suit up and swim with the fish in the Aquarium tank, measuring 51 meters in length, 20 meters in width and 11 meters in height.

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in the Dubai Mall is a must see / visit

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in the Dubai Mall is a must see / visit -@flickr / n.fi

Also grab a quick bite at the huge food court or in one of the long list of restaurants available there.

Don’t rush to leave the Dubai Mall yet, as you still have to see the:

4 – The Dubai Fountain

Starting from 6pm, the world’s largest dancing fountains musical show starts, and is then repeated every 30 minutes up until 10pm.

The Dubai Dancing Fountain - Photo credit Kullez / flickr

The Dubai Dancing Fountain – Photo credit Kullez / flickr

This magnificent display has fastened in it 6,600 lights that enable the choreographed patterns of shooting water to illuminate with the help of 25 multi-color projectors that join in the display.

You can see it on a daily basis. Now you can leave the mall area.

5. Dubai Trolley

A hydrogen-powered trolley with only 3 stops, allowing for a quick and fancy access to luxurious and prestigious hotels in Downtown Dubai district (i.e. The Address Downtown Dubai, Vida Downtown, etc.).

The speed doesn’t cross 10 Km/h, making for a romantic tour when it travels at night around Burj Khalifa. The worthy-of-kings double-decker has an open-deck for best views and air-conditioned seating for those hot summer nights.

Visiting Burj Khalifa area won’t be complete without hopping on the Dubai Trolley.

Dubai Trolley is a must hop-on experience while in Dubai

Dubai Trolley is a must hop-on experience while in Dubai / Photo credit Raouf Shabayek

6 – Dubai Gold Souk / Bazar

Spanning over 300 small traditional shops, selling all kind of jewelry, the souk (aka bazar) is located in the heart of old Dubai; Deira neighborhood.

Next to it awaits the perfume and spice souk. Those souks are open air and they can become very hot during the days of summer, and many shops close in the middle of the day.

The old Dubai Gold Souk / Bazar

The old Dubai Gold Souk / Bazar @flickr / Marcia O’Connor

Read also: Some of Dubai’s best kept secrets and hacks

New Entry: The Dubai Water Canal

Creating a big island, the Dubai Water Canal linked the Deira Creek with the Arabian Gulf.

2.9 KMs of water created endless waterfronts, beaches, amazing bridges for taking photos, and becoming a must visit when you arrive in Dubai.

The Dubai Water Canal, @Saharsh Cherian / FLickr

The Dubai Water Canal, @Saharsh Cherian / Flickr

7 – Ras Al Kahor Wildlife Refugee

There is massive biodiversity that makes this amazing ecosystem so cherished by the country.

Its major attractions are the swarms of migratory birds that have an unlimited supply of fish, crustaceans and even small mammals to forage on.

8 – Hot Air Balloon Flight

Board a balloon basket operated by a qualified professional pilot, and see the tranquil views and terrain surrounding Dubai.

You can purchase or prepare you own lunch and watch gazelles and numerous other wildlife. Make sure your flight is early in the morning or during sunset.

Read also: Best bird’s eye view photography of Dubai

9 – Bastaskiya

Located in Bur Dubai, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood is a village that was partially reconstructed for new developments and standing, modern office complexes.

Roughly 100 years today, the neighborhood has gone through a rigorous preservation campaign by the Dubai Municipality.

Here you can get a feeling for the Emirati heritage and traditions.

Make sure to try out the Emirati traditional breakfast at the cultural centre.

Not too fast, before leaving you should visit:

10. Meena Bazaar

Next to Al Bastakiya area, stands Meena Bazaar.

A great marketplace, it caters mainly to Indian expats who can get just anything coming from their homeland in this Bazaar.

Tourists come here looking for Indian jewelry, textiles, accessories, and mainly Indian spices.

There, you’ll feel as if you traveled to India for a brief time.

11 – Dubai Camel Museum

Not very far from Meena Bazzar, and located at the Al-Shandagha Historical District, the exhibits displayed here entail a full description of the four legged beast we know that has two humps.

You’ll find: Camel History, Racing, Anatomy, the Animal’s Relation to Arabs and Administrative help for the compound in whole.

If the Americans had horses to conquer the west, Arabs had camel to conquer the desert.

12 – Wafi City Mall

A mall like no other, at least from the outside.

The Wafi City Mall’s design is greatly inspired from the Egyptian history book with statues and drawings of pharaohs and real structured pyramids throughout the compound and neighborhood.

It’s certainly a sight to see. What about the mall itself? It’s full of designer brands, the real expensive ones.

You need to be a king or a rich Pharaoh to walk down there. They run some Sales every now and then though!

13 – Khan Murjan Souk

Don’t rush to leave Wafi City Mall just yet.Seems they heard me complain here and so they built an affordable luxury Souk.

There, you’ll find the entire Middle Eastern to North African areas are expressed in the customary assortment of cuisines prepared at this local favorite.

Expect dishes from Morocco, Persia, the Middle East and Lebanon. A feast you will enjoy!

14 – The Palm Jumeirah Islands

From an aerial view, you’ll see what looks like a full grown palm tree with a rounded circumference extended out into the water. While being an architectural wonder, the Palm is full of hotels and restaurants.

Look for Nasimi Beach at Atlantis: The Palm and grab a shisha and some quick bites. Prices are moderate there as well.

15. Atlantis The Palm Hotel, The Underwater Suites

This hotel is rated at five stars and can be found on the cusp of the man-made Palm Islands of Dubai.

The “aquatic amenities” here make this a unique getaway and one of the best things to do in Dubai.

Book long ahead the Underwater Suites, and experience how it feels to sleep next to the fish, not with them.

One thing is for sure, kids LOVE Atlantis The Palm hotel.

One thing is for sure, kids LOVE Atlantis The Palm hotel. ©Werner Bayer

16 – Dubai Miracle Garden

This opened to the public in 2013 and on none other than Valentine’s Day.

Over 45 million flowers grow across the massive terrain of 72,000 square meters that make up the garden’s public access.

17 – Ski Dubai

Part of the huge Emirates Mall, the Ski Dubai is an indoor facility for those yearning for some winter sports in the heart of the desert.

It’s available to all skill levels and is the first of its kind in the Middle East. Expect a -4C temperature inside, but all gears are available there for rent.

This is by far one of the best things to do in Dubai in August, just to forget the scorching heat outside.

18 – Desert Safari

Take a safe ride and tour with one of Dubai’s evening, desert safaris.

Jeeping in the desert dunes is always a great source of fun.

Desert Safari should definitely by a part of your Dubai trip. Ask those who done it before.

The orange glow rippled dunes of Dubai are world-famous for all-day and into the night Arabian fun and remain one of the best travel deals under the sun.

Start your desert safari with an exhilarating morning dune bashing ride in a 4×4 vehicle complete with a crackerjack driver behind the wheel. Get ready for some intense action, adventure and a pure adrenaline rush.

You’ll go through a gamut of activities from camel / horse rides, henna painting, Arabic coffee drinking, dinner and sunset viewings.

Desert Safaris end with a nice night entertainment show

Desert Safaris usually end with a nice night entertainment show Photo credit Kullez / flickr

When you book your wadi-bashing adventure, make sure that it includes also:

19 – Falconry in Dubai

Falconry is an ancient sport where live birds of prey–hawks, falcons and eagles–are sent up into the air by human handlers.

You can get a first hand experience of the sport in the Dubai desert during your desert safari.

Learn everything you can to handle the birds yourself with a qualified trainer. Amazing how the mighty falcons easily take orders from humans.

20. Crescent Moon Tower

Oh well, what the heck, this is just an architectural design project; a crazy idea for the future, but it’s not built just yet.

Every other blog and website will tell you about the things that are already on the ground.

Here, I’m telling you to look for a crazy idea that will make Dubai even more unique.

When they announce the completion of this tower, remember who recommended that you should visit it the first!

Consider this a futuristic addition to your list of things to do in Dubai.

21 – Madinat Jumeirah Resort

The largest resort in Dubai is designed to resemble a traditional Arabian town.

Inside the souk awaits the Abra (=ferry) tour, one of the romantic activities in Dubai, spanning over waterways that link the different areas of the resort.

The views are amazing and the tour lasts usually around 25 minutes. Madinat is very close to Burk Al Arab hotel, a walking distance should the weather be nice.

22 – Dubai Creek

Make sure to go on a night cruise or climb on-board one of those floating restaurants docked at the Dubai Creek.

Some Dhows / cruise dinners will set sail into the Arabian gulf, to allow for a charming night view of shinning Dubai, over some delicious dishes.

If you arrive there in the day time, make sure to catch an abra (ferry) across the creek. Sit tight unless you know how to swim!

23 – Dubai Dolphinarium

Dubbed as the UAE’s only dolphin show, seal show, exotic bird show & mirror maze.

This air conditioned facility is like none of its kind in the Middle East. Inside are enclosed habitats for seals and dolphins that the public like you can explore.

24 – Al Maha Desert Resort

This resort is relaxing, upscale and like most things in Dubai.

No surprise there. It rests in a Desert Conservation Reserve and will give you an experience like no other.

25. Dubai Marina Walk

Famous for being one of the best places in Dubai to visit during the evening time.

A nice place full of very ‘European’ al fresco line of restaurants and cafes, good places to eat at, and is relatively peaceful in the evenings. Good vibes guaranteed.

Have anything else to add to our list of Things to do in Dubai? Drop us an email via our Contact Us form.

Things to do in Dubai FAQ:

Q: Is Dubai safe?

You won’t find a safer city than Dubai. There’s almost no crime at all.

What is Dubai current time?

Dubai is GMT + 4. No Daylight saving timings what so ever.

How is the weather in Dubai?

Very hot (avg. 40C+ at daytime) in summer, from April to September. From October to February, Dubai starts to shine up. You can walk after sunset without sweating much. The best 3 months of the year are December, January, and February (avg. 25C+ at daytime), when it tends to rain a little bit, and some shy breezes visit town.

What about Dubai Metro?

Dubai Metro is considerably fast, clean, safe, and reliable. It connects Dubai visitors to all big ticket places like Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates, Marina Walk, Dubai Airport, etc. Because of Expo2020, the Dubai Metro will be extended to other major places in Dubai.

Will I find a ride when I land at the airport easily?

The Dubai metro passes by Terminal 1 + 3 in Dubai International airport, and there are also plenty of public air-conditioned taxis available if you arrive late at night and the metro is ‘sleeping’ or land at Terminal 2. If you land at the new Al-Maktoum International Airport (a.k.a. Dubai World Central, DWC) then your only option is to jump into a taxi. The taxi fare is set and respected by taxi drivers (Some even accept credit cards). Dubai shines when it comes to rules and regulations followed all over the city.

Sunday is not a weekend, seriously?

Yes, weekends in Dubai are Friday-Saturday, so Sunday night is the equivalent of a Monday night anywhere else.

Cheapest things to bring from Dubai as gifts

Look for Day to Day and Gift Village shops, or head to Meena Bazaar if you have the time.

The throne of the top classical yet cheapest Dubai gift is the 5 Dhs Camel T-shirt found at Carrefour stores!

If you’ve read our list of things to do in Dubai that far, then by all means you’d enjoy reading the ultimate Dubai hacks to enjoy life in Dubai and learn about more things to do in Dubai.