It is not hyperbolic to say that Dubai is the best place for tourists in the whole world. The ever growing number of attractions and friendly atmosphere lures in more and more people every year to this desert oasis.
First things that come to everyone’s mind when they think about Dubai is the luxury and the record-breaking spree it has been on for the better part of a century. But, when you actually come here, you’ll know that it’s so much more than that.
Dubai is an eclectic mix of vast and unexplored deserts, lush green farmlands, soaring skyscrapers, and white sand beaches. There are more things to do in Dubai than you can ever imagine.
Things to do in Dubai – A complete list of fun and adventure in Dubai
Here’s a complete list of things that you can do and places to visit in Dubai. Read on and discover fun ideas to enjoy your holiday in Dubai.
1. Burj Khalifa- Be on top of the world
Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest man-made structure and an iconic landmark of the UAE. From the observation decks on top of the tower, one can witness the full splendor of downtown Dubai. The observation decks ‘At the Top’ on the 124th floor and the newly opened ‘At the Top Sky’ on the 148th floor bring in a large crowd of visitors every day. A splurge of record breaking followed the completion of Burj Khalifa in 2009.
The entry fee to the observation decks depends on the time of day you choose. Surprising numbers of visitors flock around early morning and sunset hours though tickets cost more during these times. Whether you want to see the city in broad daylight or twilight glimmer of the night sky, you will be blown away by the panorama from 555m above the ground. It is said that for people at the top of Burj Khalifa, sunset happens four minutes later than for those at the ground level.
The whole building is 830m tall, almost three times higher than the Eiffel Tower. The tip of it can be seen from as far as 95km away if the weather allows.
Anyone who comes to Dubai should witness this world wonder at least from the outside.
2. Desert Safari – An adventurous trip back in time
Most of the other things to do in Dubai are in the cities. That’s what makes a desert safari different from everything else out there. It is the only way to explore the Arabian dunes up close. The safari let you discover the forgotten traditions of desert-dwelling Arabs.
Safari has something up its sleeve to satiate the intrepid souls too. The dune bashing ride in a 4×4 SUV can be best described as a roller coaster ride through the desert dunes. Tall red dunes of Lehbab desert are the perfect place for a dune bashing ride. But it’s also carried out in Margham desert as well.
The thrilling ride lasts for half an hour with a few sunset-photo stops in between and a stopover near the tallest dunes to try out sandboarding. Sandboarding is the desert version of ice skiing.
Before the sunset, the desert activities are wound up, and the convoy moves to the Bedouin camp. The rest of the fun is hosted in this traditionally styled desert camp. It includes opportunities to get a henna tattoo, dress up in Emirati attire, take a picture with the Falcon, and Quad biking.
Then as the night falls, the camp is livened up by traditional folk dances and scrumptious barbecue dinner buffet. The whole safari lasts for 6-7 hours immersing you in the desert aura the whole time.
This is a great getaway option in Dubai. Suitable for family trips as well as for bachelors.
3. Dhow Cruise Trip in Dubai Marina
A cruise dinner on a boat in the Marina is the romantic trip through the pristine waters of Marina Canals amidst the tall buildings and glam and glitter. The traditional Arabic wooden dhow has two decks, the lower one which is air-conditioned and the alfresco top deck.
The top deck will let you enjoy the air and look up at the people waving at you from the walkways across the canal and the gravity-defying skyscrapers that line Marina. The large windows in the lower deck ensure the sightseeing fun to those who prefer an air-conditioned experience.
The trip offers mouthwatering food starting from the welcome drinks and Gahwa that are served as soon as the guests are seated on board. Then the floor will be open for the five-star buffet of intercontinental cuisine.
Along with everything else, live performance of a Tanoura dancer will light up the evening. Tanoura dance, which originated from Egypt centuries ago, is always performed by a male dancer. His long and colorful skirt form amazing patterns as the dancer twirls from start to finish.
The Best way to experience Dubai at night with your loved ones, friends and family. Dhow Cruise is a great alternative to restaurant eat outs. A dhow cruise dinner can be way more romantic than a regular one.
4. Dubai Water Canal
Opened towards the end of 2016, this is the most important addition of recent years to Dubai’s list of waterfront attractions. 2.7 billion AED was spent to construct the 3.2 km canal which passes through the middle of the busiest part of the city. The canal even cuts Sheikh Zayed Road before it meets Arabian Gulf.
The waterfront has a jogging track and a 12 km cycling path. This place is perfect for a romantic outing in the evening. However, you might not want to visit here when the sun is high above. Also, after the sunset, the whole promenade and bridges across the canal are drowned in lights. Sides of Sheikh Zayed Road bridge has a mechanical waterfall, which again is drenched with purple lights. This waterfall makes use of sensors to make way for boats and ferries as they move beneath the bridge.
Dubai Water Canal has changed the face of Business Bay forever. Unlike all the other marinas, this one is at the center of a busy downtown. For Dubai, this presents an immense opportunity for huge developments.
In the coming years, the waterfront will witness astounding growth with 80,000 square meters of space planned for entertainment and housing.
The canal looks stunning at night. The streetlights along the canal are powered by solar panels which charge up the batteries during daylight hours. All of these lamp posts have charging stations and wifi. There are a few bridges to walk across; one of them looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco.
The water canal has excellent accessibility due to its proximity to the metro. This place is best visited in the evening.
5. Dubai Mall – More than enough reasons to shop
Like pretty much all the other superlatives, the largest mall in the UAE is in Dubai. Located at the foot of Burj Khalifa and spanning over an area equal to fifty soccer fields, Dubai Mall nearly qualifies as a city in and of itself. The mall gathers more visitors a year than Los Angeles, or Newyork does.
There are all the crazy things inside the mall. Even a genuine dinosaur skeleton. If you want to, you can spend a year and a half browsing around in those hundreds and hundreds of stores.
Dubai Mall is home to a little over 1200 shopping outlets. Many of which are dedicated to gold jewelry. And on the top floor is the Kidzania.
There weren’t as many reasons in one place to spend money than ever before. Even if you don’t have the hunger to eat out (pun intended) or hunt for couture, the gigantic aquarium or the ice skating rink will beckon any jovial soul.
It is also easy to get lost inside the mall. If you don’t really watch out, you will end up spending a long time searching for the entrance you came in through.
Best place for shopping visits. Even you can spend hours window shopping and strolling inside the mall.
6. JBR and Dubai Marina – The east meets the west
Marina is an artificial canal city situated along the Arabian Gulf, styled like Venice. But the buildings here soar to the sky. Most of the buildings here are at least 300 meters tall. There are a great many architectural feats all over the water city. Cyan tower stands outs with its twisted construction.
A 7-kilometer promenade lines the length of the canal. Though thousands of people come here every day, the wide walkways do not make it look crowded. Marina walk is made to be explored by foot.
Innumerable restaurants and branded outlets adorn the entire walk. Marina walk is an upscale market place with luxury clothing brands and international restaurants. If you are here on weekends, head towards the cobblestone avenue to catch a glimpse of street performances.
The Beach is another open-air mall in Marina. But this one is in the beachside near JBR. Though not as expansive as the marketplace in the promenade, The Beach has a cheerful vibe to it being next to the sea. The Bluewaters Island and the towering Ain Dubai, the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world, can be seen from Marina beach.
If you want to witness the poshest neighborhood in Dubai, then this is the place to go. And there are numerous opportunities for shopping and eating.
7. Dubai Frame – Picture perfect
A recent addition to Dubai’s list of architectural marvels is the Dubai Frame. The one that adds a golden tinge to the city’s skyline. The tower is located in Zabeel Park, dividing between the Old and New Dubai.
The photo frame shaped landmark is, in fact, two towers each measuring 150 meters tall connected by a 93 meters long bridge. The exterior of the frame is covered in gold-colored stainless steel cladding as a throwback to Dubai’s rise as a gold trading center.
The mezzanine floor of the frame showcases the past of Dubai as you enter it. With the use of mist, projectors, and screens, the gallery explains the humble beginnings of Dubai. You can see the expanding horizons as you move up through the glass windows of the elevator from the mezzanine floor to the Skydeck.
On the Skydeck, the two sides of the frame give us two completely distinctive perspectives of Dubai. On one side is the Old Dubai, which includes Karama, Bur Dubai, and Deira. Faraway, the quintessential creek can be seen winding in the middle of low-rise buildings.
On the other side is the new Dubai with the broad and busy Sheikh Zayed Road and iconic Burj Khalifa soaring into the sky in downtown Dubai. You should try walking over the acrophobia inducing glass bridge.
There is yet another museum on the mezzanine floor, but this time on your way back and also this one is about the future of Dubai equipped with state-of-the-art Augmented Reality presentations.
Definitely worth visiting along with your family. Children will enjoy all the galleries and visual elements.
8. Palm Jumeirah – An incredible island
Who would have thought about the idea to build an island in the shape of a palm tree? But Dubai did. They are just ingenious like that. Not only that but they also made it the largest man-made island ever built. So big that it can even be seen from space.
The Palm Island (or Palm Jumeirah) is a center of luxury private residences and hotels. There are over 30 hotels on this island alone. The most prominent among these hotels is the Atlantis.
You can board a monorail from the station near the internet city located at the base of the Palm’s trunk. The monorail will take you to the crescent at the end of Palm Island and offer a brief visual tour of the Island.
The lagoons on the island are a great place for yachting. The white sand beaches in the palm is a water sport destination for adventure seekers. An eleven-kilometer boardwalk stretches along the shore behind the Atlantis. This boardwalk is teeming with food trucks and souvenir stands. Sip a mug of coffee under the parasol feeling the sea breeze.
This is a man-made wonder you should see. You can get a good view of all of the Palm Jumeirah if you go on the Palm Monorail. But to really appreciate the design of the island you will need to get on a helicopter.
9. Dubai Fountain – The dancing water
Everyone knows that the tallest building in the world is in Dubai. But there is more to it. Right below Burj Khalifa, in the middle of the 30 acres Burj Lake has the world’s tallest fountain — Dubai fountain. It is also the world’s largest choreographed fountain.
The fountain can shoot 22,000 gallons or 83,000 liters of water over 140 meters high, almost as high as a 50 storey building. It has five circles of varying sizes and two arcs that stretches 275 meters across the lake. The same creators of Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas were behind the design of the Dubai Fountain.
At night, 6,600 WET lights and 25 colored projectors give the fountain a spectacular image. One thing that draws people to it is the choreography that is synchronized with music. The light, the sound, and the undulating water thrill the onlookers for hours on end.
Because it is located between Dubai Mall and Souk AI Bahar, there are a lot of great vantage points. But if you want to have a closer look, you can get a pass and go to the boardwalk which extends 272 meters into the lake. There you will be standing just 9m away from the soaring water, which means there is no escape from getting wet.
If you wish for an entirely new perspective, take an Abra ride through the lake. The ride goes through the fountain as it performs.
The fountain has three types of shooters with the ability to throw water at three levels of height. The most powerful of them can create 500 ft tall jets, which make the fountain visible even from far away.
One of the easiest to visit places in Dubai. Grab a coffee from a restaurant with a nice view of the fountain and enjoy the show.
10. Yacht Cruise – Best thing to do in Dubai
Set off on a magical journey across the rippling waters of the Arabian Gulf with the cool sea breeze blowing around you. Get up close to Burj Al Arab, Atlantis, and Palm and World Islands.
Go deep-sea fishing or relish a dinner on a yacht. You can also think of a catamaran party for a group of 30 or, even better, a corporate fishing trip.
The sudden flash of excitement when you feel a tug on your line and as you reel in your catch! Deep-sea fishing is a sought after thing to do in Dubai. The most common fish are the Sailfish, Barracuda, Grouper, Tuna, Queenfish and the Snapper.
A fishing cruise will take you to the best fishing locations, on a boat with fishing equipment and fish-finding Sonars. Catch the fish, cook them, and have them on board!
Romancing a sunset
As soft waves rock the yacht and the sun glides down the horizon, you will witness one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life. An ideal moment to share with someone special. The mesmerizing sight, as the setting sun paints the city orange and pink, will be one of the most cherished moments of your cruise experiences.
Leisure in luxury
Organize a yacht cruise that no one will forget. Whether a small gathering of friends or family or a grand bash for a larger group of people, there is a luxury boat to cater to your needs. From the smallest boat for eight people to a grand 85 ft luxury yacht that can host a party of 37, there is a yacht for any occasion. So don’t wait up and try out the best yacht charter Dubai has to offer.
Yachting is a sought after pastime in Dubai. It is best for medium to large groups of people, like five and above, and families and weddings. There are yacht cruise packages suitable for many activities. So plan yours and pick the one that suits you.
11. Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Discover a whole world of underwater species at the Dubai Aquarium — one of the major attractions inside Dubai Mall.
The largest water tank which is home to 33, 000 of animals, once held the Guinness World Record for ‘The Single Largest Acrylic Panel’. Go scuba diving in the water and take a swim with sharks. If shark dives are too terrifying for you, you can go cage snorkeling or ride a boat with a glass bottom.
You can just observe the fish from the outside too. Walk past the mesmerizing wall of water with hundreds of fish gliding by. Completely immerse yourself into the wonders of the marine life by walking through the underwater tunnel; take a stroll with the sharks and rays swimming centimeters from you just behind the glass.
There is also an underwater zoo. There are three sections to it; the Rainforest, the Rocky Shore, and the Living Ocean featuring three different environments each homing otters, giant catfish, penguins, and even a crocodile. You can even get up-close to some animals and maybe even pet some of them.
Dubai aquarium is a fantastic place to take your children. Even grown-ups can enjoy it a lot, especially if you are interested in diving into the water.
12. Al Fahidi Historical District – Alleys of Heritage
Walk the narrow alleys of history at Al Fahidi Quarter in Bur Dubai, formerly known as Bastakia. The place is soaked with Emirati heritage with its traditional houses having wind towers, galleries, and museums.
Bastakia was established back in the 1890s by merchants, later on becoming housing for immigrant workers. At one point in history, the city’s municipality wanted to demolish the heritage quarter. However, legend has it that Prince Charles, during his visit to the UAE in 1989, suggested preserving the area. The plans of demolishing the neighborhood were canceled.
In 2005 the Dubai Municipality started a major restoration campaign making Al Fahidi Historic District what it is now — an iconic heritage site of old Dubai.
It is particularly interesting to see numerous galleries and old houses with wind towers – which were the earliest forms of air conditioning. Only the richest traders would have wind towers. The architecture and intricate designs on different elements of the houses will fascinate you.
There are more than 50 buildings, including art galleries, a guest house, a museum, a café and Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
To explore the local culture, visit the cultural center, have some tea and snacks at the café, see the artworks of local and international artists, and just explore on your own.
Take a look inside the Dubai Museum, which is located in the Al Fahidi Fort and buy a few souvenirs at the souq nearby.
Al Fahidi historical district will let you understand the forgotten heritage of Dubai. It’s suitable for educational visits and even a family outing in the evening. Children will enjoy the quaint houses and maze-like alleyways.
13. Dubai Garden Glow – Light it up
A place where kids can have fun and learn at the same time. That is what Dubai Garden Glow is. Located next to Sheikh Zayed Road inside Zabeel Park, it is divided further into sections based on the theme. There are Glow Park, Dinosaur Park, Ice Park, and Art Park. Each of them has a different atmosphere from each other and a purpose to it.
Dubai Garden Glow is the biggest glow park in the world. During the day time, the garden looks like any other garden with sculptures of dinosaurs and other characters, but after sunset, the place totally transforms.
The Glow park has models of wildlife and trees, which sends a message about the importance of protecting the environment. These artistic shapes glow after the nightfall emanating an otherworldly aura.
With more than 120 dinosaur sculptures, the Garden Glow has a Dinosaur park that is bigger than any other of its kind. The entire park is aimed at children, but this one especially so. They will enjoy the interactive elements in the park, like Dinosaur Lab, which showcases the life of these prehistoric creatures.
You will need to buy an additional pass to enter Ice Park. But if you are into arts and modeling, the money is worth it.
This place is designed for children. The most interesting bit in the Garden Glow is the dinosaur park.
14. La Mer – The artful side of a beach
La Mer, which literally means ‘The sea’ in French, is the latest addition to Dubai’s list of beautiful beaches. This is not just like other beaches, though. Situated on Jumeirah beach and spanning a whopping 1.24 million square kilometers, La Mer is packed with shopping centers, eateries, cinemas, and amusement parks for a perfect day out. Laguna water park is also located in La Mer.
This place is divided into two zones; north and south. There isn’t much in these names. North and south just differentiates this extensive beachfront into smaller zones for convenience.
You are sure to get a lot of Instagram worthy pictures near the Banksy-style murals sprinkled across the beach.
Many major international brands — clothing, beauty care, restaurants — have their stores in La Mer. Parker’s restaurant here does not require you to find a key.
There is something for everyone here. If you are into sunbathing or spending some time in a beach house, book a cabana and enjoy for a whole day. Rates of these cabanas (or day rooms) depend on the size of the group. The beach has plenty of watersports option too, from paddleboarding to kayaking and boat cruises. You can get inside a buggy and see around the whole place because waking across La Mer will be too tiring due to its sheer vastness.
What makes La Mer attractive to tourists is that it’s not as expensive as other beachfront locations in Dubai.
A place to go if you like to shop, sunbathe, and swim. There are many restaurants and cafes for dining overlooking the sea. In the winter, it is nice to for lazy strolls and to snap pictures.
15. Quranic Park – Curating the history
The Quranic park was opened in March of 2019. This 64-hectare park, located in Al Khawaneej, near Mushrif Park, is free to enter for anyone. The park exhibits the events, histories, and plants mentioned in the Islamic holy scripture — the Quran. This is the first-ever Quran inspired park in the world. This one fares well as a place for edutainment visit both for the kids and grown-ups.
The Glass House and Cave of Miracles can only be visited with a ticket which is nominally priced. The Glass House has the trees and plants mentioned in the Quran with their scientific names along with their medicinal properties. The Cave of Miracles illustrates some of the miracles narrated in the Quran such as Prophet Moses splitting the sea, and Prophet Muhammad splitting the moon in half.
The Quranic park highlights the message of peace, love, and tolerance, which are very much emphasized in the Islamic faith.
The park also showcases Islamic calligraphy and art. The trunk of the solar panels trees with WIFI and phone charging station, which also doubles as shades for visitors, are engraved with breathtaking Arabic calligraphy. This serves as an example of how to integrate technology into our lives without looking too out of place at the same time. The AC vents inside the Glass House are also made like tree trunks so as to blend in with the design of the facility.
There are shops in the park that sells herbs and plants in the Quran. Water fountains in the nearby lake also add to the scenic attraction.
This park has only been opened recently. Though it is a large park, some things need more development, and we hope it will be in the coming months. But considering the cheap ticket price, the place is worth a visit.
16. Burj Al Arab – Seven-star luxury
The definition of luxury, Burj Al Arab, has been a landmark of Dubai for many years. No one leaves this city without at least capturing a picture of this hotel. It was voted the world’s most luxurious and the Middle East’s leading hotel several times in a row.
Andre Agassi and Roger Federer played a tennis game 212m above the sea on the helipad on top of the Burj Al Arab.
Each suite in the hotel has 24-hour private butler service, there is a reception on each floor, and even a Rolls-Royce fleet to take guests around the city.
The monumental wonder is built 300m away from shore, and the only means of getting there is via a private bridge. Built over five years, this is the tallest all-suite hotel in the world towering 321m high. It resembles a traditional Arabian dhow sail, portraying strong connection of the nation to its sailing heritage.
While Burj Al Arab can be seen from both land and sea, getting inside the hotel itself for sightseeing is impossible. Unless you are staying at the hotel or want to go for dinner, there is no way to get past the security. If you are going, be sure to reserve beforehand.
Burj Al Arab is a major landmark in Dubai. It is one of a kind hotel with facilities and luxury way above the five-star standard. To visit there, you will either need a restaurant or hotel reservation, which can be quite pricey.
17. The House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum
The house of Saeed bin Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai and the home of the former ruler of the emirate — the grandfather of the current ruler of Dubai. Built back in 1896, it was the seat of the government when Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum resided there. He passed away in 1958, leaving behind a great heritage, which was the evidence of the evolution of Dubai as an emirate, and UAE as a country. The house stands as a legacy of Dubai’s roots, making it a great place to visit.
Today the historic residence is transformed into a museum housing iconic old photographs, coins, stamps and documents that preserve the short but great history of the country. The photography exhibition narrates the art of pearl diving, historical moments, and the first school and hospital in the country.
Another interesting thing to explore about the household of his highness is the architecture of the house. The structure is made of coral stones and mud, like every building in the area in those days. The typical Arabian courtyard with small rooms and wind towers has a special charm. Located right next to Creek, the house offers a great view from its top floors.
Being an old palace, this place is drenched in history. Though there is nothing to spend a lot of hours, it is something to see in Old Dubai. The ticket price is really low.
18. Aquaventure Water Park – Water adventure
Located near the famous Atlantis-The Palm hotel is an astounding world of a waterpark called Aquaventure. The lavish 42-acre water park boasts a 700-meter private beach, mind-blowing slides, fun rides, and numerous other attractions. How about a quick rush through a shark lagoon or zip down the biggest slide of the planet? There are enough activities for both adrenaline seekers and lazy tanners.
Feel the rush as you slide down from the towers of Poseidon and Neptune or fly free as a bird on the longest zip line in the region at Atlantean Flyer Zi.
Record-breaking water slides, lazy rivers, special areas for kids, underwater tunnels of rays and sharks — all this will make up a unique and fun-filled experience under the sun.
The lush setting of the park is reminiscent of a tropical jungle with azure blue pools at every step. The private beach is a separate area for some relaxation.
A great place to spend a summer day in the water having fun. Everyone from children to teenagers and adults can have fun here.
19. Gold Souk – City of Gold
It is Dubai’s famous Gold Souk (Souk is the Arabic term for market) that earned Dubai the name ‘City of Gold’, and rightly so. Gold Souk is in Deira, near Baniyas Square. The gold market has been a major attraction for years, bringing people from all over the world to buy gold, diamonds, and jewelry for cheap.
Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, you should definitely pay a visit to the glittering souk. Walk down the alleys with the glimmer of gold, reflecting out of each shop window.
Prices on gold at Gold Souk are among the lowest in the world. One of the jewelers in the souk houses the largest ring in the world — Najmat Taiba (Star of Taiba) — which weighs a whopping 64kg. It’s on display behind a glass window for tourists to take pictures with.
Besides gold, you will find silver, precious and semi-precious gemstones, and breathtakingly beautiful jewelry.
This place may feel like a regular marketplace to you, but this was where Dubai begin its incredible growth a few decades ago. Best for shopping at cheap rates and to dive into 70s Dubai.
20. IMG World of Adventures
IMG World of Adventures is the first-ever fully air-conditioned indoor theme park in Dubai. It spans over an area of 140 thousand square meters. That’s the size of 28 soccer fields. Located near Global Village, it is a considerable distance away from the city. Therefore, you will have to either go there by car or take a taxi.
The park is divided into 4 zones: Cartoon Network, IMG Boulevard, Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure, and Marvel Comics. These names might make it look like this place is for young children, and rightly so. However, grownups too will find at least a few things to enjoy.
Rides like ‘The Velociraptor’ and ‘Predator’ will give you many stomach-churning, heart-stopping moments. And if you have kids with you, then definitely visit the cartoon network zone. They also have some really cool rides; Mojo Jojo’s Robot Rampage for example. But if you are prone to motion sickness or have a weak stomach, it will be better to stay away from them.
Kids will enjoy ‘The Adventure Fortress’ where they can climb rope ladders and hang around like monkeys in a safe environment. ‘The Haunted Hotel’ inside IMG Boulevard is favored by most of the visitors. For the same reason, you will have to go through a long queue to get inside it.
This is a must-visit spot if you are a fan of Marvel characters. It is also suited for a family outing on a summer day when you don’t want to be out under the blazing sun.