13 Of The Best Things To Do In Dubai, UAE

From magnificent architecture, radical designs to sparkling glamour; everything is indeed larger than life in the ultra captivating Dubai. 

It’s not a shocker that Dubai caters to Vegas lovers. Everything is big and new, flashy and delicious. Within the UAE’s seven Emirates, Dubai symbolizes cutting-edge possibilities of the future. It’s where innovation and design merge to break world records.

Dubai might not be the best fit for history buffs and nature seekers, though it’s perfect for travelers looking to eat, drink and shop with enormous glitz and international flair. Here are some of the best things to do in Dubai, it might leave your spellbound and understandably mesmerized.

 

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Burj Khalifa

1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd - Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – has become the ultimate icon of Dubai, proudly sitting 2,722 feet above this desert city. If you don’t have any idea of how high that is, imagine flying up 160 stories. Of course, the spectacular view from atop is unforgettable from the 148th floor, but the experience is worthwhile as you’re also viewing the Persian Gulf from the world’s highest observation deck. Not a fan of tourists and crowds? Then consider skipping the lines and admire this legendary architecture from the ground floor.

Burj Khalifa
Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Jumeirah Mosque

Jumeirah Beach Road - Jumeirah 1 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Jumeirah Mosque encompasses incredible design over its sacred light beige façade. If you feel like you’ve seen this graceful architecture before, then look closely at UAE’s 500 dirham bill. Situated just north of Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Mosque is the only one which allows non-Muslims to enter. Inside the Fatimid architectural style from the Medieval period , there are beautiful panels juxtaposing a backdrop in gold and blue. Tickets are $5.45 USD, there are 75-minute guided tours on Saturday – Thursday at 10 a.m.

Abra Creek Crossing

Crossing from new to old Dubai is a fascinating experience. Travelers can go from Dubai Mall’s side of the city to Gold and Spice souks by riding the traditional ferry boats. For AED 1 (USD $0.27,) the boats – or abras – can reach where pearling industry also flourished in Dubai’s first port. Every few minutes, the abras run between four stations along the Dubai Creek, starting from Spice Souk to Textile Souk.

Abra Dubai Creek Crossing
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Dubai Gold Souk + Dubai Spice Souk

Deira - Al Ras - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

What makes traveling through the Middle East so utterly fun is always in the hustle bustle of souks. Located on Dubai Creek’s southern bank, both Gold and Spice bazaars have become lively must-do’s. The Gold Souk welcomes travelers with the world’s largest diamond ring, which opens to a strip of glamorous shops that beam in gold jewelries, watches, diamonds and even bikinis. 20% of the world’s gold traverses through this souk, where the government administers strong security over trade and traffic.

Just a few steps away is the Spice Souk, where whiffs of ginger, saffron, cardamom, chili, cloves, turmeric and cinnamon overwhelm the vibrant street vendors. Stock up on saffron here, it’s much less expensive than where you’re from, but make sure to barter for a good price.

Largest diamond ring in the world.
Largest diamond ring in the world. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Dubai spice souk
Dubai spice souk. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Dubai gold souk
Dubai gold souk. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Hit a public beach by Burj al Arab.

Jumeirah - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

When Burj Al Arab opened in 1999, it was all the rage. Hailed as the world’s only seven-star hotel, the sailboat hotel is an emblem of the sails that often appear upon Dubai’s waters. One does not need to embark on its manmade island to admire the hotel, for instance, Jumeirah Public Beach is a great spot! Not only is it free to enter and clean, it’s also family friendly with several playgrounds for kids. But try to reach the beach as early as you can, not only because crowds grow throughout the day, but also, desert heat becomes unbearable before lunch. Bring lots of water and sunscreen!

Burj al Arab
Photo by Darcey Beau on Unsplash

Dubai Frame + Zabeel Park + Zabeel Palace 

Zabeel Park Jogging Track - Za'abeel - Al Kifaf - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Inside Zabeel Park is the famous Dubai Frame which is the largest frame in the world at 150.24 meters and a width of 95.53 meters. Inside the frame, there’s a museum as well as an observatory featuring breathtaking views of the city. At the observatory’s Sky Deck, there’s a transparent 50m-long glass bridge. For those with fear of heights, you might want to stay away!

Not too far away is Zabeel Palace – the official royal residence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who is also the Prime Minister of the UAE. The palace is one of his many homes.

Museum of The Future

67CP+H4Q - Sheikh Zayed Rd - Trade Centre - Trade Centre 2 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

The impressive Museum of the Future is dedicated to futuristic concepts, robotics, AI and innovation. Situated in the Financial District, the modern museum is marked by its torus-shaped architecture embellished by windows in the form of a poem about the future, created by Dubai’s ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Opened in 2022, the museum boastS seven floors but the journey begins at the fifth floor about Orbital Space Station Hope, then visitors can work their way down, floor by floor that range from fourth floor’s HEAL Institute (ecology and biodiversity,) third floor’s Al Waha (therapies and senses,) second floor’s Tomorrow, Today (technology and innovation,) to the first floor’s Future Heroes (for children.) 

Dubai Mall + the Fountain Show

Downtown Dubai - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Dubai Mall is one unlike any other since it’s the largest mall in the world, encompassing 1,124,000 square meters. With more than 1,300 stores inside, Dubai Mall is also home to: Olympic-sized ice rink, movie theater, an “edutainment” concept for children – Kidzania, even an underwater zoo where shoppers can look at thousands of sea animals.

Love a water fountain show? At dusk, the Dubai Fountain outside of the mall puts on a stunning show moving along to famous tunes from around the world.

Dubai Mall and fountain show
Dubai Mall and fountain show. Photo by Kent Tupas on Unsplash

Al Seef Heritage Souq

26 D84 - Al Hamriya - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Al Seef is a fan-favorite for shopping and snacking during the day. The entire area is made to appear like the 1960’s with sandstone alleyways and traditional market halls. The throwback effort is Al Seef’s homage to history and nostalgia. There are fun boutiques to sift through souvenirs, carpets, textiles, jewelries, antiques and much more. If you have time, stop by the Starbucks that went viral here. Once you see it, you’ll understand why!

Al Seef
Al Seef souqs. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Palm Islands

The Palm Jumeirah is a series of artificial islands on the Persian Gulf, that completed Dubai’s shoreline by 520 kilometers. Today, it has a population of over 25,000 people. Since the Palm Islands is home to several luxurious hotels and resorts; to lodge, dine and drink there is a must. We loved Nobu which is a stylish Japanese restaurant with a sushi bar, sake lounge, and a sunbathing area by the pool. If not, there are also more than 80 choices of restaurants and lounges on the islands.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

VHGG+HW3 - Sharjah - United Arab Emirates

If you grow tired of Dubai’s glamorous side, then Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is a natural and worthwhile escape. UAE’s first national park covers 87 square miles of the Arabian Desert where travelers can experience various excursions, including: camel rides, dune driving, archery, falconry, or sand boarding. There are also Bedu tents for an unforgettable Dune Dinner,

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St - Al Sufouh 1 - Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Madinat Jumeirah is a combination of a market, a resort and plenty of restaurants along the water. But it’s the souks that captivate non-hotel guests, to browse through a plethora of traditional lanterns, spices, jewelries, textiles, and tons of souvenirs to bring home.

If you’re tired from shopping, there are 25 restaurants to choose from, each serving a different types of cuisine, some even provide views of the water. If you’re a fan of Las Vegas vibes, then this is your spot!

World Expo 2020 Dubai

Dubai Exhibition Centre

Expo 2020 was postponed due to COVID-19 but eventually held in Dubai, but it drew more than 24 million conference-goers in six months. Travelers can still visit the 438-hectare site that featured the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface, 90+ uniquely designed pavilions and 200,000 sqm of future LEED Gold & Platinum structures. The main dome reflects upon the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” which is laid out in the shape of a flower.