To those who've been there and those who have only dreamed of it, Dubai is the world's first thoroughly modern city. However, along with the towering architecture, including the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and the dazzling luxury hotels that make up its skyline, Dubai also has balance. While there may be modernism lurking around every corner, the city also has more than its share of old world Persian charm. As a matter of fact, there are many things to do in Dubai that are an exciting mixture of both.
Dubai attracts its share of the upper 1%, but the Dubai Mall is a paradise for shoppers from most pay brackets. It is one of the biggest shopping malls on the globe. You might even think about putting a day of exploring and window shopping on the cards. As well as more than 1,300 stores, the Dubai Mall has a movie theater and an aquarium. It's also the location of the Dubai Fountain, which was designed by the same guys who did the Bellagio's fountains in Las Vegas. You can find anything here, although quite a lot of the fare is more expensive than it is at home.
Every city has its greatest, most standalone restaurants. In Dubai, one of those is Emly Chilli. Serving up traditional and authentic Pakistani fare, plenty of locals will tell you that they do the best rolls and chutneys in town. They also deliver, so if you've booked out an Airbnb or holiday home, you can get them to deliver food right to your door. If you do want to eat out, you can find the store's actual location behind American Hospital in Oud Metha.
Eating traditionally is all well and good - and recommended - but if there isn't a great pizza joint in town, you have to wonder why. Luckily, Dubai is home to MATTO, a homegrown Italian restaurant you'd think could have been plucked right off the streets of Verona. MATTO does excellent pizza. What's more, it also offers a bottomless pizza deal every single Monday from 7 PM to 12 AM. For as little as Dhs100, you can try an unlimited supply of delicious slices of pie.
A city's skyline comes alive with the sparkling colors of an incredible fireworks show, and Dubai offers up some of the best. You can catch fireworks shows all over the city for two days, starting on the first day of Eid. Eid, being the celebrations that occur after Ramadan is over, every early summer; depending on when Eid falls, you can watch some of the most glorious displays on earth.
Ripe markets are a mixture of farmers' markets, craft markets, and foodie markets. Here, you'll find all kinds of wares, from fresh coffee to organic fruits, and, if it's your thing, ample opportunities for some exceptional Instagram snaps. Although these markets can be expensive, Dubai isn't particularly a place where those mindful of money would choose to go. However, it's also worth every cent. If you don't want to buy, you can take your own picnic instead.
Formerly known as the Burj Dubai, construction on the Burj Khalifa skyscraper began at the beginning of 2004. Since its completion in 2010, it's held the record for being the tallest building on the planet. With an observation deck that is more than 2716 feet tall and is aptly named "At the Top Sky," scaling the Burj Khalifa is an experience so life-changing that many people go to Dubai just to do it. The view from the top will figuratively take your breath away.
As if any of us would go to the Persian Gulf without scheduling in a little beach time. What a waste that would be! The UAE has some of the most stunning beaches you'll ever see in your life. One of the most popular has to be Jumeirah Beach Park. It has white sands and bright blue waters and is a great spot to take the family. Another is Kite Beach, one of Dubai's favorite community beaches. It's a beach that was made for watersports of all kinds, from kitesurfing to tennis.
The desert surrounding the city of Dubai is unique in that it is surrounding such a modern place. Even if you're not tempted to stray too far from the city, you should schedule in a camel riding desert tour or two. Several different companies provide tours and safaris of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, including ones specific to what might pull you in. For example, can you think of anything better than seeing the sun come up over the orange sands while on camelback?
If you're all for adventures outside of the city, you could also look into the Hatta Heritage Village. This is a reconstruction of a traditional mountain town, allowing visitors to hurtle back through time into an age where skyscrapers were merely part of someone's dreams. You'll see forts, military towers, citadels, and more. There are even hotels close by where you can live up in the mountains as those you're learning of would have done years ago.
Aptly named, Dubai Miracle Garden is exactly that: A miracle of modern floral displays. Launched in 2013 on Valentine's Day, there's no other garden like it in the world. True to the Dubai brand, you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere on earth that's quite as extravagant. The garden is a one-of-a-kind, not just in the UAE, either. Home to more than 50 million flowers, garden sculptures, and displays, the only thing you'll need to remember is if you have allergies.
The Dubai Mall is the epitome of luxury and splendor that defines Dubai. It offers a shopping experience that is among the most luxurious in the world. We reviewed a ton of products to give you the best choice. The mall is a microcosm of what the city stands for: It is where the world comes to shop, dine, and be entertained. The aquarium is a serene escape from the hustle, allowing shoppers to come face-to-face with marine life. On the other hand, the skating rink offers a slice of winter fun, which is a stark but pleasant contrast to the desert heat outside. Speaking of beating the heat, don't forget the indoor waterfalls, a tranquil sight amidst the bustling mall.
Dubai's coastline is as inviting as its shopping malls, and Jumeirah Beach is a testament to that. The soft sandy beach is perfect for a day of relaxation, and the nearby eateries ensure you're fueled for the day. However, if you're in the mood for a rush of adrenaline, the watersports facilities have you covered. As the sun sets, the beach transforms into a serene escape, with its waves gently lapping against the shore, allowing visitors like you to gaze at the rest of the city and the towering Burj Al Arab.
Nestled beside the iconic Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi Waterpark is a realm of fun and excitement. The park is themed around the tale of Juha, a popular character from Arabian folklore. This motif adds a local touch to the international standards of entertainment found throughout the park. With rides that cater to all age groups, Wild Wadi is a place where fun meets thrill.
The Dubai Creek is where the old meets the new and provides an incredible perspective on how far Dubai has come. A dhow ride along the creek offers a glimpse into Dubai's humble beginnings, juxtaposed against the modern marvels that now define the city. The creek is not just a waterway but a mirror reflecting the city's soul.
The Gold and Spice Souks are where the city's heart beats. The bustling markets are a sensory overload, with the aroma of spices filling the air and the glitter of gold illuminating the narrow lanes. It is a place where tradition meets commerce, where tales of the city's rich past are told to everyone willing to hear them.
Mall of the Emirates is not just a shopping destination but a landmark. It is a blend of luxury and leisure, where you can shop till you drop, dine at the finest eateries, and then hit the slopes for skiing fun. Yes, skiing. Home to Ski Dubai, the mall offers a snowy escape in the heart of the desert.
The Dubai Fountain Show is where water dances to the rhythm of music. Set against the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall backdrop, the fountain show is a spectacle of choreographed water jets, lights, and music. It is a show that encapsulates the spirit of Dubai - vibrant, modern, and always entertaining.
A scenic flight over Dubai is like viewing a canvas painted with hues of modernity and tradition—the breathtaking aerial view of the city's architectural marvels, coastline, and vast desert. Any flight over the city is an adventure that showcases Dubai from a rare and unique perspective, offering a view not to be missed.
Aquaventure Waterpark is where the fun never stops. The waterpark is located within the Atlantis The Palm and offers a blend of thrilling rides and relaxing pools. It is a place where you can slide through a shark lagoon or simply lounge by the pool, soaking up the sun.
Al Fahidi Historic District is a window into Dubai's past. The well-preserved buildings tell tales of a time gone by, starkly contrasting the modern skyscrapers that now dot the city's skyline. It is a place where history comes alive, even amidst the exceptional modernity surrounding it.
The desert is integral to Dubai's identity, and a dune buggy tour is a thrilling way to explore it. These tours offer you the chance to race over the sand dunes with the wind in your hair, giving you an adventure guaranteed to get your heart pumping and a unique desert experience.
The Desert Conservation Reserve is where the wild heart of Dubai beats. It is a sanctuary that protects the region's unique flora and fauna, offering a tranquil escape from the city's hustle and bustle. It is a place where you can witness the Arabian oryx and gazelles in their natural habitat, showcasing the region's conservation commitment.
The Bedouin Dinner Show at Al Jabal Village is a cultural extravaganza. It is an evening of traditional music, dance, and cuisine under the starlit desert sky. It is an experience that transports you to a time of Bedouin nomads, a journey through the region's rich cultural heritage.
A camel ride across the desert dunes is a journey through the timeless landscapes of Dubai. It is an experience that connects you to the region's nomadic traditions, giving you a peaceful adventure that allows you to appreciate the desert's beauty in its purest form.