In this post, discover the best things to do in Dubai with friends and family. In case you’re wondering when will Dubai reopen for tourists, well Dubai is open to tourists once again. You can find the latest information about traveling to, from, or connecting through Dubai here.
Today we’re fortunate to have fellow travel blogger Neha share everything she knows about Dubai in this guest post. I was actually supposed to visit Dubai last August but decided to postpone my trip (because hello pandemic huhu sad life). So I’m glad she reached out to me to write this Dubai travel guide for all of us. I know we Filipinos can travel overseas again, but I’m keeping still at home for now.
⚠️ IMPORTANT REMINDER: Postpone, don’t cancel! Let’s save the tourism industry. Some information in this post may have changed due to the pandemic and it might affect your travel plans. Always be a responsible traveler and keep yourself updated by reading COVID-19 advice from your local authorities and in your point of destination/s before traveling. You can go ahead and take inspiration from this post, bookmark it, or save it on your Pinterest travel board for future reference.
So what’s in Dubai? Dubai is so diverse, distinct, and dazzling that everything appears to be overwhelming for first-time visitors. So are you in such a state and don’t know where to start or what to include in your Dubai program? This exclusive first-time guide with top things to do in Dubai will sort this out for you. This encompasses everything from must-experiences to iconic sights and top hotspots.
Don’t have time to read everything now? I gotchu boo! Save this “12 Best Things To Do in Dubai” article on Pinterest for later by clicking any of the images below! 😉
Okay, are you ready? Let’s dive in!
12 Best Things To Do in Dubai
Take in the novelty sights at Downtown Dubai
Each of the sights that comprise this 500-acre posh neighborhood deserves a separate mention in this list. But for your convenience, we’ve compiled some of the unmissable highlights here under a single topic.
This 828-meter-high structure is the world’s tallest building and is particularly astonishing for the 360-degree Dubai skyline views it offers from its ‘At the Top Observatory’ on 124th and 148th levels. This further lets you enjoy the fastest of its kind elevator ride which transports you to the viewing deck in less than a minute and even lets you watch a multimedia presentation on Dubai’s inspiring journey from a fishing village to a global city.
The Dubai Mall
Experience a world of opportunities as you enter this massive mall. More than 1200 outlets along with a vast repertoire of leisure and entertainment options make it a delight to visit. This ranges from Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink to KidZania Dubai, VR Park Dubai, etc. With so much to see here, make thorough research to know what to include on your Dubai Mall visit.
Dubai Fountain Show
It’s set on Burj Lake outside of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall and will blow you away with its spectacularly choreographed show that is in immaculate sync with Arabic or world music. So be sure to watch this extravaganza of light, music, and water once here and you’ll definitely return for this spectacle over and again. The bonus is that this is a free attraction.
Apart from these, you can take part in many activities and experiences such as visit Souk Al Bahar, watch stunning performances at Dubai Opera, and most of all, take a free ride aboard the classic red Dubai Trolley.
Stroll down Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
Want to get a bit of culture and history on your debut Dubai trip? Make a visit to Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, also known as Al Bastakiya Quarter. Walk down its quaint, narrow alleys and immerse yourself in its old-world charm, packed with ancient sand-colored structures topped by wooden wind towers and complemented by wooden courtyards.
Interestingly, most of them are now converted into art galleries and museums, thus serving as a fascinating window into the humble Emirati past. This is located in the heart of the old part of Dubai, in Bur Dubai, and close to the Al Seef area.
Don’t miss the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
This is for our readers who are hardcore culture buffs. This is the ultimate place to clear all your doubts about Emirati culture, traditions, and religious beliefs. It’s one of the Al Bastakiya region’s top attractions and is located within a refurbished wind tower house.
Sign up for an SMCCU cultural tour with a Q&A session plus meal options (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) complete with authentic Arabic delicacies. It’s open from 8:00 to 16:00 (Sunday to Thursday) and 9:00 to 13:00 (on Saturdays).
Dubai is so glittery that you won’t expect to see nature and untouched serenity here. But take a desert safari and this would prove you otherwise. Surprisingly, it takes just 30 to 40 minutes for this refreshing escape which is filled with the most exhilarating activities and enlightening cultural experiences.
Dune bash in a 4X4 vehicle, camel ride, henna painting, Shisha smoking, falconry, and souvenir photographic chance in Emirati costumes are a few to mention. Augment the fun and thrill aspects of your desert safari by going on an evening or overnight desert safari. This comes with BBQ dinner, traditional shows (like Tanura and Belly Dance shows), and camping in the middle of the Arabian Desert.
Drive out to Palm Jumeirah & Burj Al Arab
Palm Jumeirah needs no introduction! But for those rare who don’t know, it’s the world’s most exquisite and one-of-its-kind man-made island that resembles a giant palm tree graced by a crescent on its top. The most recommended way to see this island is on an aerial sightseeing tour by helicopter or a sky diving session.
Don’t worry if this isn’t your cup of tea, go ahead and take a guided excursion or at least a monorail ride across the island’s marvelous sights; this is worth every penny you spend. Besides Atlantis, The Palm Resort, Aquaventure Water Park, Lost Chambers Aquarium, Boardwalk, etc, one of the latest additions here is the Palm Fountain which is the region’s first multi-colored fountain and further the world’s largest fountain.
Also, pay a visit to Burj Al Arab, the celebrated sail-shaped structure which is also considered the world’s only seven-star hotel. It’s just a short drive from Palm Jumeirah.
Enjoy Dhow Cruise
Dhows or traditional Arabian vessels that ply across the waters of Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina make one of the iconic Dubai images. They now stand as the symbol of the once-flourished fishing and pearl farming occupations in the region. In fact, a dhow cruise is ranked top among the list of must-experiences in Dubai.
This cruise is more like sailing aboard a floating restaurant and comes with dining (buffet style), traditional entertainment, and most of all, the most striking views of the Dubai city skyline.
Take a beach retreat at La Mer
Dubai has some amazing beaches but this hip destination is the most fabulous of all. More than its beach, the region is ever vibrant with a flurry of shopping, dining, and leisure attractions. One of the most unmissable among them is Laguna Water Park with the ultimate as well as just three of its kind surfing attraction (WaveOz 180 FloRider).
Visit Bluewaters Island
This waterfront neighborhood is one of the newest attractions to visit in Dubai at this moment. It’s stocked with some mindblowing sights including the world’s highest observation wheel (Ain Dubai), the Middle East’s first Madame Tussauds Museum, and the only Caesar’s Palace property outside of Las Vegas, among many others. There is also a variety of dining and entertainment choices including the dome-like Rotunda Caesars Palace.
Enjoy shopping like never before
Whether you’re looking for an upscale or a super affordable shopping experience or something in between, Dubai has it all. Make sure to include shopping on your list of things to do in Dubai! More than 70 malls and thousands of retail outlets across the city ensure that you’ll return with merchandise of your favorite brands. Then there are souks or traditional Arabian bazaars with some rare, unique finds that are authentically Arabian.
Experience Dubai’s theme parks
This list for first-timers would remain unfinished without mentioning the city’s awesome theme parks. It’s definitely one of the fun things to do in Dubai with family and friends. Don’t miss the IMG Worlds of Adventure with four exciting zones inspired by Marvel superheroes, cartoon characters, and dinosaurs.
For staunch theme park lovers, an absolute must-visit is Dubai Parks and Resorts offering the most innovative rides, distinct attractions, and lively shows across its four theme parks (including Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, and LEGOLAND Water Park).
Traveling with kids? They will be excited to check out parks like Mattel Play! Town at Dubai’s City Walk. Now even if you’re not much of a theme park enthusiast, be sure to visit Ski Dubai (inside Mall of the Emirates), which will blow you away with its amazing snow-themed rides, games and mostly, the slopes ideal for all skiing abilities.
Watch a spellbinding show
No other cities in the Arabian Peninsula would probably entertain you like Dubai. Many majestic shows, alluring events, and brilliant celebrity concerts make it a year-round performance venue. If you don’t know what to include, try to watch some of its permanent shows including the adorable Dolphin and Seal show (held at Dubai Dolphinarium) and the astounding La Perle by Dragone show.
Visit Dubai Frame
One of the unique things to do in Dubai is seeing the Dubai Frame. This is another new attraction that first-timers should definitely include in their Dubai must-sees. It’s nothing but a colossal picture-frame like structure, placed inside Zabeel Park. Evidently, it’s both one-of-its-kind and the biggest-of-its-kind in the world. Besides past and future galleries, the star highlight is its sky deck with a glass bridge, and this feasts you with the views of both Old and New Dubai.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!
So that’s it for this post about the 12 best things to do in Dubai for first-timers! I hope you enjoyed reading and that it gave you some ideas of fun things to do in Dubai with friends or loved ones.
Dubai may be relatively small but it packs in plenty of astonishing yet diverse experiences. So if you’re a first-timer in Dubai, you’re in for a marvelous surprise! And a bit of planning will make your Dubai trip all unforgettable and worthwhile.
This is a guest post written by Neha Singh, a keen wanderer, and a foodie. She believes music, long nature walks, and making new friends is the best way to live life completely. Thank you, Neha, for sharing your travel tips on things to do in Dubai! *Minor edits were done.
If you want to contribute a guest post on this travel blog, please message me, and let’s see how we can collaborate.
💡 PRO TIP: Learn more travel tips in this Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Trip In 8 Easy Steps! I covered the basics of planning a trip and also included the tried and tested websites and apps I normally use to score cheap deals.