Dubai, the city of skyscrapers is one of the top tourist places in the world. The thriving city draws tourists and travelers from all over the world to explore its world-class attractions, adventure sports activities, amazing shopping opportunities, cuisine and more. If you are visiting Dubai for the first time and wondering what to do in Dubai, then we have you covered with the top best things to do in Dubai. Dubai has something for everyone, you are traveling with a family or as a couple or solo you have plenty to do in this beautiful. Come explore the best Dubai attractions with us.
Climb to the Top of Burj Khalifa
After visiting some of the world’s highest buildings in Asia – the Shanghai Tower and the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, we had to visit the mother of them all: the Burj Khalifa.
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest artificial structure in the world, rising up to 829.8 meters (2,722 feet). This is one of the main attractions in Dubai – a must see, for the view, but if anything, to say that you’ve been on one of the most famous skyscrapers in the world!
By Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys
The Burj Khalifa was opened in 2010 after 6 years of building work. It was originally named the “Burj Dubai”, but was renamed in honor of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates: Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Our big tip for first timers to Dubai is to book your tickets for the Burj Khalifa online before going. It’s really easy to do, and it means you can secure your own time slot and skip the queues, which get pretty big. The best time slot is around sunset for the most romantic views across the big city.
But you better get up there quick before the Azerbaijan Tower (in Kazakhstan) opens in 2019, which will steal the crown from the Burj Khalifa as the tallest building in the world: it will be 1,050 meters (3,445 feet) high when completed.
Ride the Yellow Boats at Dubai Marina
On a recent trip to Dubai, we joined a Yellow boat tour for their 99 minutes Original Tour. They are based in the very swanky area of Dubai Marina, and I strongly encourage you to book onto this tour if you are in Dubai. The Original Sightseeing Tour Hop-On/Hop-Off bus stops just by the Yellow Boats office/dock.
By Tracey Kifford from PackThePJs
At the start of the tour you are kitted out with a life jacket, and your bags are stowed away in under seat storage. A quick safety demonstration follows, and then you’re off. You are in comfortable seating with handrails to hold on to. For the first 10 minutes, you slowly make your way through the Dubai Marina to the open sea. The last leg of the journey is accompanied by some great commentary from the tour guide.
When you reach the open water, your Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) speeds up … it’s hair-raising stuff! A lot of fun. The tour takes you all the way around the Palm, stopping for photo opportunities at Atlantis and Burj Al Arab. Between these two landmarks, you are treated to an adrenaline-fuelled fast ride! It’s a lot of fun and you will get splashed. The water is incredibly salty, so does sting a little – our advice is to make sure you have hats, sunglasses and waterproof sunscreen. It’s a lovely cooling experience, but the sun is relentless. My children (9 and 11) said it was their highlight of our time in Dubai.
Hot-Air Ballooning at Sunrise
When we think of Hot-air ballooning the first thing in our minds is the tens if not hundreds of balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey. However, our experience in Dubai, ballooning over the vast desert seeing the sunrise over the never-ending horizon trying to spot camels or the elusive Arabian oryx was very different but possibly just as good. The number of balloons up in the air can be counted on your hands but the experience overall can be adventurous, romantic and breathtaking at the same time.
By Rishabh Shah from Gypsycouple
The landing can be a little rough as there are no fixed runways in the desert, but our experience was pretty smooth both the times we tried it. We would recommend carrying a jacket or a shawl as it can get a bit chilly early in the morning and definitely a camera as the views are fantastic.
There are only two operators in Dubai, both with a very professional and experienced team of captains at the helm. Sindbad Balloons offers a more affordable package with a hotel pickup and drop, basic buffet breakfast and a ballooning experience while balloon adventures Dubai offers a more luxurious experience with a gourmet breakfast spread at their exclusive camp in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, a falconry experience and a wildlife safari in a vintage Land Rover.
That said the hot air ballooning experience is pretty similar and you cannot go wrong with choosing either of them.
Dinner Cruise at Dubai Marina
The Dubai Marina in Dubai is the best place to witness the glittering skyscrapers of Dubai. Built around an artificial lake with many cafes and restaurants, and the Marina mall, the Dubai Marina is most popular for its dinner cruises. There are many kinds of dinner cruises that operate at the marina hosted by the tour companies which can be either booked online or through the hotel travel desk. All of the marina cruise dinner packages include a hotel transfer with the buffet dinner.
By Rahma Khan from The Sane Adventurer
The complete package for the Dubai Marina dinner cruise cost AED 250 per person. The boat is a double-decker modern boat with a closed AC compartment at the bottom side and an open area to sit on the top. The best views obviously come from the top open area of the boat. The boat starts sailing at 8 PM, which is a two-hour cruise with Continental and Arabian dinner buffet, a Tanora dance performance (Egyptian dance) and a belly dance show.
The boat starts cruising from the marina passing through the skyscrapers that shines in the night eventually entering the sea after an hour of cruising. From there, it then starts its journey back to the Dubai Marina. On the way back, magnificent views of Atlantis The Palm hotel can also be seen from a distance.
Seeing Wild Flamingos
One of the things which absolutely has to be on your Dubai bucket list is going to see the wild flamingos at the Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary. In a city that’s so shiny and man-made, it’s a welcome change to experience some nature, and you won’t need to go too far from the bright lights of Downtown Dubai to find it.
The Ras Al Khor wildlife sanctuary is only a few minutes drive from the Burj Khalifa and is home to hundreds of wild birds, but the main attraction is the amazing flamingos. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of them from the highway but for the best view, head to one of the hides – visiting is absolutely free.
By Helen from Helen on her Holidays
Some of these beautiful birds live here year-round, while others are just stopping off on their way to their summer or winter homes. It’s easy to tell the visitors from the natives – the visiting flamingos are brightly colored, while the flamingos that live in Dubai permanently are much paler, due to differences in their food.
Try to get to the reserve for feeding time in the morning or evening to see the most birds and watch them strutting around feeding with their strange-looking beaks. When the birds get spooked (which happens quite a lot) they all take off in a great flock of long legs and pink feathers – a real bucket list moment in Dubai.
Visiting Al Fahidi Fort
Many people are driven to Dubai for its super modern, state-of-the-art and luxurious architecture. However, one of the places we loved the most was the city’s oldest existing building, the Al Fahidi Fort. Located at Dubai’s Old Town, this once a fortress from 1787 is now a museum and is a must for everyone visiting the Emirate.
By Fernanda Kiehl and Tiago Ferraro from Monday Feelings
Over there, you can see how the locals used to live before the advent of oil as well as learn more about marine and desert life in the region. The dioramas depicting the daily life of Emirates are super cool, giving you a great insight into the local culture since the time the population was made mostly of Bedouins.
Through pictures, videos, antiques, and artifacts, visitors learn how this used-to-be tiny fishing village became a cosmopolitan city with over half its population coming from all over the world. The museum is housed inside the Al Fahidi Fort, which is a highlight on its own.
Tip: try to visit it early in the morning to avoid the tourist crowds which come with the Hop-on Hop-off bus.
Price: 3 Dirhams (around 0,60 Pounds)
Opening Time: From 8h30 until 20h30.
How to get there by public transport: take the metro to Al Fahidi Station. From there you only have to walk for about 7 minutes until reaching the Dubai Museum.
Shop at the Gold Souk in Dubai
The Gold Souk in Dubai is one of the most astounding places you are ever likely to see. You have one idea of what you will see – a couple of jewelry stores displaying beautifully crafted gold. Reality is far different. What you encounter a massive, in-your-face onslaught of gold in all its iterations; jewelry, statues, and even bullion.
Dubai’s Gold Souk or market in Arabic is located in Deira, in the Al Dhagara neighborhood by the Dubai Marina. Easy to get to by taxi, it is reputed to be the oldest gold markets in the area and within walking distance from many major hotels.
By Talek Nantes from Travels With Talek
The souk is a collection of almost 400 stores in winding lanes displaying mountains of artfully arranged gold in their display windows. What amazing is the sheer quantity of gold! There is just so much of the bright yellow gold gleaming in the windows of all the stores that you wonder how they can keep track of it, or just how many people are in the market to buy so much gold. They also sell some platinum and diamonds but it’s the gold that will mesmerize you.
Although I never purchased any gold myself, the rumor is that you can actually find some pretty good deals here. The merchandise is said to be carefully regulated by the government and the 24, 22, 21 and 18 karat pieces are all displayed outside and sold by weight.
As in most souks bargaining is an established and expected practice and discounts over 20% can be had with persistence and a little savvy.
Visit Dubai Parks and Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts is a complex of several theme parks: Legoland, Motion Gate, Bollywood, Riverland. Being about 30 minutes away from Dubai Marina, on the highway to Abu Dhabi, it is best to come here either by rented car or by taxi or Uber. The park is huge, so it’s good to reserve at least a whole day and not plan other activities or tourist attractions during that day.
By Raluca Belu from Whisper Wanderlust
Fun is guaranteed. The only park I did not visit because of the lack of time is Legoland. Instead, I really liked Bollywood. I went to a 7D cinema and enjoyed a very nice play. Of course, Indian music and dances were part of the atmosphere. I think Dubai Parks and Resorts is perfect both for families with children, but also for couples or friends.
Tickets can be purchased separately for each park or a ticket for all of them. If you choose a two-day ticket to visit all the parks, the price is 525 AED, but it’s definitely worth it because it’s one of a kind experience. If you are hungry, you must know that there are many restaurants in every single theme park.
Visit the Old Souks Dubai
Dubai has grown famous as a modern oasis in the Middle East, complete with glistening, massive skyscrapers, trendy modern bars, and lively nightlife. And while there’s a laundry list of potential best things to do in Dubai, no trip to the city is complete without a visit to the more historic part of town.
Dubai was once a trading hub between Europe and the Middle East and Asia, with countless exotic goods of immense value through the city’s streets and ports. You can still catch a glimpse of this old Dubai by visiting the Old Souks. These markets have been around for centuries, and vendors still gather in them to peddle their wares each day.
By Tim Kroeger from Universal Traveller
If you can, I recommend starting out with a visit to the Gold Souk. This market holds an estimated 10 tonnes of gold at any one time. If you have the money, you can buy gold in almost any form imaginable here: from world-class rings and jewelry to entire shirts wrapped and entwined in the stuff.
Next, I’d recommend visiting the Spice Souk. Even if you don’t plan to purchase anything, the smells and sights of this souk make it worth the stroll. This market is the most like what I imagine Dubai’s markets were two hundred years ago—narrow, bustling alleys and plenty of colorful goods and people.
Go Dune Bashing in the Desert
If you’re looking for some of the best things to do in Dubai, we have one that you’ll want to put right on your bucket list…Dune Bashing in the Desert. Book a morning or evening excursion to head out to the desert and see what dune bashing is all about. You’ll be picked up in a Jeep or truck, depending on which tour you book, and you’ll head out to the dunes in the desert. The sand is smooth and the dunes are just what you’re picturing. Before you get to the desert, your vehicle will pull over and let out some air from all the tires. As soon as you get to the dunes, it’s gone time!
By Sara from Our Kind Of Crazy
We don’t recommend eating a large meal before going dune bashing, and also don’t recommend it for anyone with back, neck or any other pains…because you will be thrown around. The driver will then take you on a drive of a lifetime. These drivers drive up and down the dunes, and even go sideways on the hills!
We can’t tell you how many times we thought our Jeep was going to flip. It was an exhilarating experience, and definitely something we recommend to people who are looking for an awesome bucket list experience in Dubai!
Dubai Miracle Garden and Butterfly Park
Everything in Dubai is the biggest, the tallest and the best. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Dubai opened the world largest flower garden. It covers over seven hectares (72,000 sqm.) 150 million flowers form patterns, arches, and sculptures. The centerpiece is a lifesize floral model of an A380 Superjumbo. It holds the Guinness record for the world’s largest flower display. Other compositions change annually as the Garden is open from mid-November to mid-May.
By Ania from The Travelling Twins
We came early morning to avoid the crowds. By sunset, it can get pretty full. We spend half a day there, having great fun admiring the flowers, running around the garden, and enjoying several dining and sitting areas.
Location: Dubailand, Al Barsha South, Dubai UAE
Opening hours: 9am-9pm Sunday to Thursday, 9am-11pm Friday and Saturday.
Admission: Adult (over 12): 50 AED ($13.50), Children under 12: 40 AED ($11), Disabled Visitors and Infants under 2yrs: Free of Charge.
Next to Dubai Miracle Garden is the newly-opened Dubai Butterfly Park. It is home for over 15,000 butterflies and is again the world’s largest. Dubai Butterfly Garden is enclosed in ten domes. It offers educational insights as well as the joy of seeing these beautiful creatures.
Entrance is separate from the Miracle Garden.
Opening hours: daily 9 am–6 pm daily.
Admission: Adults and Children 55AED ($15), Disabled Visitors and Infants under 2yrs: Free of Charge.
Have Fun at Aquaventure Waterpark
When the desert heat of Dubai starts getting to you, then head for the waterparks. Aquaventure opened in 2008 and is part of the sprawling complex which makes up Atlantis The Palm, one of the most recognizable symbols of Dubai. The waterpark occupies 17 hectares and has won the award for the Middle East’s Leading Waterpark in the World Travel Awards, several times.
By Sara Essop from In Africa and Beyond
There are two towers of water coasters, Poseidon and Neptune, as well as a long lazy river which has rapids and wave sections. The Tower of Neptune contains several rides, with different levels of the fear factor, that go through the aquarium. As the name suggests, the most daring one is the Leap of Faith, where one is hurtled almost vertically down a 90-meter water slide which then shoots through the shark tank.
The Tower of Poseidon contains family rides like Zoomerango and Aquaconda. Inflatable crafts holding 6 people each, float down winding water chutes with sudden twists and drops. You will most likely be drenched before you reach the end. The tower also contains Poseidon’s Revenge, which will enclose you in a Perspex capsule, then drop you through an unexpected trap door in the floor at high speed.
Other attractions at Aquaventure include a water play area for smaller children, as well as the longest zip line in the Middle East, and a beautiful, tranquil beach where you can relax after all the activity.
Plan an Excursion to Musandam
The Musandam Peninsula is a worthy excursion if you have several days to spend in Dubai. It is part of Oman – which means you’ll be taking a day trip to another country – and its fjord-like landscape is one of the region’s best-kept secrets.
If you don’t want to be behind the wheel for the three-hour drive, plenty of travel agencies will pick you up from your hotel doorstep in a bus. Once past the border, the road trip in Oman is a spectacular one. The route hugs the rugged coastline, passing rocky coves and mudbrick settlements until you reach the city of Khasab.
By Nicholas Lim from Rambling Feet
From Khasab, one can go on a dhow cruise to admire the peaks and cliffs that plunge dramatically into the sea, watch pods of dolphins swim by, visit remote fishing villages and snorkel the coral reefs. Alternatively, those who prefer to remain landbound can drive up to Jebel Harim, the peninsula’s tallest peak, to see ancient petroglyphs, or appreciate the beauty of the hidden cove of Khor Najd from a distance.
One can get a taste of Musandam and be back in Dubai for dinner, yet still enjoy more in Arabia than just deserts, dunes, and air-conditioned skyscrapers. If you love it enough, though, nothing is stopping you from spending the night in a resort or camping on a beach!
Enjoy Activities at Ski Dubai
For most people, who’ve grown up in the desert, the idea of seeing snow is something only in the movies. But Ski Dubai has allowed both locals and foreigners the opportunity to play and ski in a snow-filled wonderland.
By Anwar from Beyond My Front Door
Certainly one of the best things to do to escape the searing heat of the Gulf region. Ski Dubai features a few short trails, one, and one toe lift. There is even a mid-station stop for those who don’t want to go all the way to the top and even a mid-point café for a quick hot chocolate.
For those who’ve never skied (or possibly never seen snow), the ski area offers an excellent opportunity to get on skis or snowboards. Even if skiing is not your desire, Ski Dubai offers places for people to play in the snow, go snow tubing, snow bumper cars, sledding, and more. You don’t need to worry about ancillary items as the ski and boarding packages include everything you need from the life tickets to the equipment and even winter clothing.
The park offers 2 hour and full day packages (for most people 2hrs is probably enough) as well as lessons for an additional cost. For those who just want to people watch, Ski Dubai has an onsite restaurant (North28) as well as great views from the nearby TGI Fridays. Ski Dubai is located in the Mall of the Emirates and open daily from 10 AM – 11 PM (last entrance 90 minutes before closing)