Top Places to Visit in Dubai
Hit Those Beaches!
A lot of beaches in Dubai are private or attached to a five-star property. But here’s the low down on the best of the best.
1. La Mer beach is the newest sensation in Dubai with instagramable spots, art & graffiti, some amazing restaurants and of course a cool blue beach. Try out Hola for some great desserts and a bunch of vegetarian & vegan options.
2. Jumeirah Public Beach is a popular spot, especially for those wanting to try out some amazing water sports in the back drop of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
3. Kite Beach has a line up of some of the best grubs with a view. SALT is a popular burger place on this beach.
4. Barasti Beach is your go to spot for a crazy party ambience on the shores. Since restaurants on the beaches don’t serve alcohol, Barasti, a popular hang out attached to the Meridien property is your best bet for sheeshas and beers on the beach.
Shop Till You Drop
1. Dubai Mall is the hottest shopping destination in Dubai, followed closely by City Centre Mall. Every brand under the sky has propped up in this humongous building. But if shopping isn’t your cup of tea, then there are always art installations, the Dubai Aquarium, Virtual Reality Park, Flight Simulators, one-of-a-kind eating joints and of course the Dancing Fountain show. You an also catch the mighty Burj Khalifa sparkling away with an evening show from Dubai Mall.
2. Global Village is probably best described as the world’s largest flee market. It deserves a couple of days for sure. There is nothing you won’t find in the world pavilions of the Global Village. From life sized replicas of iconic structures, to food from every corner of the world. Korean beauty products to Turkish Delights, traditional clothing from South Asia to traditional artefacts from Egypt and Africa. And if this doesn’t quench your thirst, there are a plethora of live performances and artists from around the world. A must-visit for everyone travelling to Dubai.
3. Ibn Batuta Mall is a travellers paradise. It wasn’t as much the shopping or eating, but the themed arenas of the Mall that are so unique. Based on the legendary travels of Ibn Batuta, this Mall has sections assigned to different countries, with the unique stories and artwork. I would say, go for the experience & see it yourself!
4. Mall of the Emirates houses the super fun Ski Dubai. Head there to watch everyone turn into kids!! It also houses Din Tai Fung ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times. It’s got an amazing menu for all food preferences.
5. Wafi Mall has a unique indoor golfing experience in their Tee & Putt 18-hole glow in the dark mini golf! If you’re one of those who tick of one-of-a-kind experiences, this is a sure fire!
6. Souks! Of course no visit to Dubai is complete without a Souk visit. There is of course the popular Gold Souk. Stops at Souk Madinat Jumeirah and the Spice Souk are also recommended.
History & Culture
1. Bastakiya, Al Fahidi District near Dubai Creek is an old world charm. It is reminiscent of the original Emirati style of buildings. It houses a part of the historical Wall of Dubai. It has an art hotel, a ton of eating options and a mosque. There are calligraphy classes, murals and wall art as well. It’s got something for everyone and is definitely worth an evening.
2. Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai gives a unique opportunity to experience Arabic culture. On specific days they have an hour’s program where guests are welcomed the Arab way, fed traditional snacks & Arabic coffee, can visit an exhibition in the premises and are then given a demonstration of religious customs. You can also taste the popular camel milk ice-cream in flavours like saffron & bakhlava!
3. Desert Safari is a must-do activity when in Dubai. There are a bunch of websites online that have various offers depending on what kind of activities one wants to do. There is of course Dune-Bashing, Sand-boarding, Quad-biking for those with an adventurous streak. And then there is also Belly Dancing, Tanoura & Henna application for those who want a peak of the culture. And for the foodies, there is of course traditionally barbecued kebabs! All this in the middle of the vast deserts of Dubai.
4. The Coffee Museum in the Al Fahidi district is a must-stop for coffee connoisseurs. An hour’s worth of visit will give you insights into the history of coffee from around the world and of course Arabic coffee. There is also a tiny cafe inside the museum which serves a variety of authentic coffees from Ethiopian to Turkish to Arabic & American. You can also buy coffees here at a pretty decent price.
5. Madinat Jumeirah is a replica of Old Dubai with small canals built inside the five-star property. It is open to all and there are a couple things one could combine with a walk around the property, like the Madinat Souk and a cooler at the basement bar.
Wonders of the Modern World
1. Burj Khalifa is a marvel for many! It is the quintessential touristy place to tick off your list when in Dubai. Day time is the best, I’d say and in the night you an enjoy the views of a sparkling structure from the Dubai Mall.
2. Dubai Frame is the newest addition to the Dubai Skyline. It captures the past & the present of this unique place. It also has a small Virtual Reality show in the end where you are treated to a futuristic view of Dubai in the coming years (A La Jetsons!) Evening is the best time to visit as the lights don’t reflect off the glass while taking picture but once the sun goes down you can still see a night view.
3. Burj Al Arab is another beautiful example of modern construction. The outside is unique with it’s eye-catching shape, while on the inside it exudes the worth of the rooms! The deck & private beach are something else too wonder at.
4. Miracle Garden & Butterfly Garden are the perfect family outing. The Miracle garden is a place that all age-groups will enjoy. Imagine a life-size plane made out of the greenest of greenery, dreamy heart shaped aisles, Castles made of all things colourful and so much more. Once you’re awed out of your minds, you can slip into the neighbouring butterfly garden, where these colourful, fluttery creatures are given a free pass to land on your shoulders or just go about their flowery business!
Off The Beaten Track
1. The Al Qudra Lake located inside the Al Qudra Deserts. It is as close as you can get to an oasis-like feeling. Imagine watching migratory birds swimming about lakes in the middle of unending deserts. Swans, ducks, flamingos all chilling out in the cool waters! Grab a picnic chair and plonk yourself under the trees, sip on some coolers and watch a beautiful couple of black swans feeding of the grains you offer! Holiday done right, what say?
2. The Last Exit on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi route is a super fun stop-over for foodies, groups & families. Choose from a field full of quirky looking food trucks serving everything under the sun, play fun carnival games and liven up your drive!
3. Sir Bani Yas Island offers day trips or stay options in their resort to experience the Arabian Wildlife Park. You can go on safaris where you can spot giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, Arabian oryx & gazelles. You could also experience a sea plane ride from Dubai to the Island and a host of other cultural activities.
4. Abra or traditional cruises in wooden boats can be experienced from the Al Seef area. Al Seef is also a quiet place to relax by the Dubai creek. It is what those who migrated to Dubai in the 70’s and 80’s would, at the time, identify as modern Dubai. Today is, of course, a different time in the modernity of Dubai.
Day Trips From Dubai to The Other Emirates
1. Abu Dhabi is ideal for a weekend trip from Dubai. It deserves a couple of days at least. You can, however, choose from a variety of activities in addition to your standard city tour packages. Spend a day at the Yas Island or Ferrari world, be awe-struck by the grandeur of the Emirates Palace Hotel and lounge away your evenings at the Corniche beach. Or you could spend a couple of hours capturing the beauty of the Grand Mosque in all it’s pristine white marble scattered with hues of golden and then wander the galleries of the Louvre museum. For a luxurious weekend out, Sir Bani Yas Wildlife park is also an option based on the season of your visit.
2. Fujairah is one of the Emirates of Dubai that borders Oman. The virgin beaches of Dibba (on the UAE side) and the Khor Fakkan beaches spotted with families make for a fun day trip. The drive through the barren mountains Al Hajar is a unique landscape for a desert nation. After the rains, you will find the Wadis being filled with water. Quite a sight! There is also the Fujairah fort, castle and Al Hayl fort.
3. Ras Al Khaimah is said to house the ghost town of UAE. It is actually Al Jazirat Al Hamra, an abandoned town which is a mysterious settlement in the vicinity of this Emirate. Said to be a bustling town of erstwhile tribes, it was abandoned for the allure of oil in Abu Dhabi and now is a rusty old replica of its heydays. For the nature enthusiasts Jebel Al Jais & Wadi Bih are a day’s worth in Ras Al Khaimah. And for the luxury vacationers, consider chilling away at the Marjan Island Resort & Spa.
4. Umm Al Quwain is famous and probably synonymous with it’s Booze Bazaar, i.e. Barracuda Beach Resort. The place is stocked up with the best liquor and is flanked by the Arabian Gulf. You can even spot pink & orange hued flamingoes ! There is also an abandoned air plane that one cannot miss, the story of which I leave to those interested to scout for! There are guided tours for kayaking around clear waters in the mangroves of Umm Al Quwain.
Dubai & it’s neighbouring Emirates have something for everyone, whether you are water baby or an adventure enthusiast, a shopaholic or a foodie, a history & culture vulture or the staycation kind, you will find it all!