Ever restless, ever changing, Dubai’s metamorphosis from trading post to global megalopolis is one of the world’s great urban transformations.
Visit Dubai for futuristic desert modernism, vast shopping complexes and fine, white coral sand beaches. Between seeing boundary pushing attractions like the world's biggest shopping mall (Dubai MallOpens external site in a new window), tallest building (the Burj KhalifaOpens external site in a new window) and largest natural flower garden (Dubai Miracle GardenOpens external site in a new window), you can wander the narrow alleys of Al Bastakiya and make the most of a culture shaped by Muslim traditions and its ethnically-diverse population.
You won’t want to miss the vast marbled malls, gleaming glass towers and the adrenaline-pumping fun of Ski Dubai, but here are a few more things to do.
- The world's largest indoor theme parkOpens external site
- Take a hot air balloonOpens external site in a new window to watch the sun come up over the Arabian Desert
- Explore the souvenir-saturated Souk Madinat JumeriahOpens external site in a new window
- Take a traditional abras boat across Dubai Creek
- Visit one of the city's incredible waterparks Aquaventure Water ParkOpens external site in a new window or Wild Wadi Water ParkOpens external site in a new window
- Mingle with the locals over cheap eats on Al Dhiyafah Road
- Discover the spice souk in the old town of Deira.
If you are travelling for leisure, you’ll find yourself mostly on the beaches in Jumeirah, at the shopping malls and developments of Downtown Dubai, at the restaurants along the Dubai Marina or in the old streets of Bur Dubai.
The anchor of Downtown Dubai is the Burj KhalifaOpens external site in a new window. Not only is it the tallest building in the world, it’s accompanied by the stunning displays of The Dubai FountainOpens external site in a new window and The Dubai MallOpens external site in a new window — the largest in the world. Downtown Dubai also includes residences and a number of hotels and malls.
Jumeirah means 'beautiful' in Arabic. And it's easy to see why this 15 kilometre stretch of coast was so named, with its iconic resort hotels - like
the Burj Al ArabOpens external site in a new window and Madinat JumeirahOpens external site in a new window - along with the numerous beaches, shopping malls and restaurants on offer.
Adding to the outdoor appeal for locals, visitors and expats alike are the vast Safa Park sports and garden complex and family-friendly Wild Wadi WaterparkOpens external site in a new window.
North of Dubai Creek, this is one of the oldest parts of Dubai and home to its many colourful souks and markets, like the Gold Souk, Spice Souk, and the Deira Fish Market.
The Corniche winds its way along the waterfront and is a wonderful place for a walk, as are the labyrinth of narrow lanes leading to the souks. Deira is also the location of many modern businesses, malls, and entertainment centres.
Considered to contain the oldest parts of Dubai, Bur Dubai on the south side of Dubai Creek is home to many historic sites and old buildings.
Browse the living museums of the Heritage and Diving VillageOpens external site in a new window in Al Shindagha and explore the souks. Or wander through the lanes of the historic Al Fahidi District, home to some of the only original Arabic wind-tower houses left on the Arab side of the Gulf, built by wealthy traders and pearl merchants.
The Dubai MuseumOpens external site in a new window is located inside the majestic Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787 to guard the landward approach to the city. The quarter is also home to many restaurants, art galleries, cafes, boutique hotels, and interesting shops, and is generally a lovely area for a stroll.
Dubai MarinaOpens external site in a new window is one of the best established modern districts in town. It’s built around the largest man made marina in the world and contains a number of top restaurants as well as outdoor recreation and entertainment complexes.
You’ll find many delightful diversions in this waterfront area, from the restaurants, boutiques, and markets located along the seven kilometre long Dubai Marina Walk, to the boat and dhow trips that set sail from the Dubai Marina Yacht ClubOpens external site in a new window.
The Palm Jumeirah is an extraordinary engineering feat; a series of reclaimed interconnected islands jutting into the Arabian Gulf that looks like a gigantic palm tree – complete with fronds and stem - when seen from above.
And standing like a giant sentinel on a crescent shaped island at the ‘top of the tree' is the vast Atlantis The Palm resortOpens external site in a new window. Getting there is an adventure in itself. The resort's water parks, private beaches and Dolphin BayOpens external site in a new window attractions are accessible from the mainland via the scenic Palm monorail.
From the airport
In and around the city
To get around Dubai, hail one of the cream taxis – the different coloured roofs indicate different operators – or use the public bus or driverless metro system that runs between the major financial and residential hubs of the city. There’s also the option of the hop-on hop-off busOpens external site which offers multiple departure times to the major sights in the city and the beach.
You can cross Dubai Creek by water bus, water taxi or abras, the local passenger ferries. Or take to the skies in a seaplaneOpens external site or hot air balloonOpens external site and see the megalopolis of Dubai in all its splendour. Don’t miss your chance to get into Dubai’s desert with popular tours such as desert camel safariOpens external site, camp safariOpens external site.
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