It’s still hard to believe that I had the opportunity to travel to Dubai. We spent about 5 days exploring the magnificent city and everything it had to offered – or at least I tried to cover everything. To help us to do that, we invested in the Dubai City Sightseeing Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour. We decided to go with the 7-day ticket, and it not only helped us see many different things, but also helped with transportation when we wanted to get from point A to point B. Most of my recommendations are covered by the bus tour, so I highly suggest looking into it, especially if you will not be renting a car.
Are you really on vacation if you haven’t stopped by a beach to enjoy some sand, surf, and sun? Dubai has a number of beaches for visitors to enjoy. Even if you don’t plan to spend an entire day lounging on the sand, you can always start or end your day there. Or even stop by for a midday break. Some of the more popular beaches include Jumeirah Beach Park, Umm Suqeim Beach, and Kite Beach.
2. Burj Al Arab
Named the best hotel in the world, the most luxurious hotel in the world, and the first 7-star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab attracts many important people from around the world. Jutting from the top is a helicopter pad where Tiger Woods famously played golf, and also where Andre Agassi and Roger Federer famously played a tennis match. Can you believe you’re not allowed to step foot on the premises without a hotel or bar/restaurant reservation? Talk about fancy! Seriously though, take the time to google the inside of this hotel – it’s truly breathtaking! One day I hope to spend even just one night in this magnificent hotel!
3. Burj Khalifa
Known as the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa attracts millions of visitors each year. This building alone holds 7 world records:
1. Tallest building in the world
2. Tallest free-standing structure in the world
3. Highest number of stories in the world
4. Highest occupied floor in the world
5. Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
6. Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
7. Tallest service elevator in the world
It’s easy to see why people from all over come to see this magnificent structure. Make sure to purchase tickets to go up to the top beforehand, as you need to select a date and time. To access the Burj Khalifa, you will need to go through the Dubai Mall and follow the signs. You might want to take time to find the entrance the day before, so you know exactly where to go. We were super glad we decided to do that!
4. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Located in the Dubai Mall, you honestly can’t miss the aquarium. With part of the tank exposed to the shoppers, it’s easy to be content with seeing the various sea life swim by from the mall. However, if you’re wanting a more in-depth look, you’re going to have to buy a ticket to walk through the tunnel and to visit the underwater zoo.
5. Dubai Fountains
Watching a fountain show may not seem like the most exciting thing in the world, unless you happen to be in Dubai. Located at the back of the Dubai Mall and partially on the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain show starts every evening at 6:00PM, and runs until 11:00PM, with a new show every half hour. When I say new show though, I actually mean it is different from the previous show. The lights, the music, and the water jets are all different – and it’s so cool! Be sure to arrive early as the area will be packed with people wanting to view the show.
6. Dubai Frame
Unfortunately I did not have a chance to view the frame up close and personal; however, I was able to view it from a distance. It’s a pretty neat feature and splits the Dubai in two. If you’re looking through one side, you’re looking at Old Dubai. In Old Dubai, you’ll find the more traditional features of Dubai, including historical neighborhoods and authentic souks. If you’re looking through the other side of the Dubai Frame, you’re looking at New Dubai. In New Dubai, you’ll find the more modern aspects of the city, including Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, various malls, and more.
7. Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is a hubbub of activity. From open to close, this mall is milling with people. Not only is this mall home to many name-brand stores, delicious restaurants, and souvenir shops, this mall is also home to several attractions of Dubai. The mall, seemingly small in the picture, is actually the largest retail and entertainment in the world, and welcomes more than 80 million visitors annually. How crazy is that?!
8. Dubai Museum
Located in Old Dubai, the Dubai Museum is the oldest existing building in the city. Focused on representing what traditional life consisted of, the museum takes you on a trip back through time. You are able to see what their houses looked like, what their weapons looked like, learn about their history, and so much more. I love how the building is the authentic building from back in the day and how part of the museum is outdoors! Trust me on this one, the museum is significantly larger than it looks!
9. Global Village
Although you might need to travel around the world to get to Dubai, this theme park brings the world to you. Take a trip through various countries in this park. Each country has its own impressive entrance where, once you enter through, you are surrounded by the goods and foods of that nation which are for sell. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s fun to walk around and see everything! All the countries from the world aren’t there, and there are some continents instead of individual countries. The architecture of each region is truly amazing, and the attention to detail is incredible!
10. Palm Jumeirah
If you have an opportunity to see Palm Jumeirah from above [aka skydiving, helicopter ride, etc.] I would highly recommend it! I didn’t have the opportunity, but the pictures I’ve seen tell me it’s all worth it [if you’re not afraid of heights like I am]. Palm Jumeirah is a resort island legitimately shaped like the top of a palm tree. Each branch of the island holds resort after resort, and if you take a boat ride through the island, you’ll be able to see the fabulous houses lining the coastline. Atlantis Dubai is also located on Palm Jumeirah. You have the option to stay in one of their rooms, but you can also just buy a day pass to enjoy the water park!
11. The Souks – Gold, Old, & Spice
The Souks are traditional market places from the olden days. This is the place if you want to buy souvenirs, be that trinkets or clothing; or if you want to sample some snacks or sweet treats. As the names imply, you also have the opportunity to buy gold and spices as well. Be forewarned, you will be haggled walking through the souks, as they desperately want to make a sell. I wasn’t a big fan of this, especially when they started us ‘Black Beauty’ or ‘Michelle Obama’ or ‘Angelina Jolie’. Other people may not be as bothered, but it was definitely not my cup of tea. Other than that, it was cool to see and experience!
12. Sunset Camel Ride
This was my first time ever experiencing the desert, and it was amazing! I wish I could have done more activities [such as dune buggy and/or sand surfing]; BUT, I am so happy I did the Sunset Camel Ride + BBQ through Airbnb Experiences. It was also my first time using Airbnb Experiences, and I’m sold. For this trip, we had a sunset camel ride through the desert. Then we went back to camp, where we were able to try on traditional clothes, get henna tattoos, and try hookah. We also had a buffet style dinner with all the traditional foods and we had the opportunity to watch traditional dances. It was an incredible experience, and I would highly recommend it!
Dubai is a city with so many things going on! It’s hard to try and do everything in one trip. From sunup to sundown, we were out and about exploring the city. One day I’ll definitely be back to take in more of the city, but until then, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Have you been to Dubai before? Is it on your bucket list? I’d love to hear from you!