Fool-proof guides on how to explore Dubai’s coolest areas
Downtown Burj Khalifa – The Record-Breaking Suburb This fresh, artistic and shopper-friendly suburb spans around the ultimate landmark: the Burj Khalifa. Head to The Dubai Mall in the early afternoon and zip down to the Lower Ground floor to access the 828m tower’s 124th floor viewing deck. Entrance to the At the Top viewing deck is Dhs100 if you’ve pre-booked or Dhs400 if you’ve not, so book online first (www.burjkhalifa.ae; 800 2875). Cue a photo-taking bonanza (be brave and stick your camera through the viewing pane’s cracks). Next, take a tour around The Dubai Mall. After which you’ll be famished, and so amble back to the Lower Ground floor and follow the signs to the Dubai Fountain – yes, the largest in the world – and walk over the bridge to Souk Al Bahar and park up in Mango Tree (04 426 7313) for hip Thai cuisine: it boasts magnificent views of the fountain show (runs every 30 minutes from 6pm-11pm daily). An alternative idea is to head for lunch at chic art space/café The Pavilion (04 447 7025) and dine on the fresh, regionally-inspired cuisine before hiring a Segway (Dhs150 for 45 minutes) to tour the Downtown Area – from the cute Burj Park to the winding alleys of the Old Town.
The coastline strip Start at the beginning of Dubai’s long coast in the shopping, dining and expat-friendly suburb of Jumeirah 1. Stop into Jumeirah Mosque for the 10am tour to learn more about Muslim culture (Sun, Tues, Thurs and Sat, ladies need to be covered; 04 353 6666) before heading next door for a slice of the famous carrot cake at Lime Tree Café (Jumeirah Beach Road, 04 349 8498). Once in Umm Suqeim 1, stop into the Madinat and tour the waterways and souk, before feasting on falafel and kebabs at al fresco Arabic restaurant Al Makan (Souk Madinat, 04 368 6593). Hop back in the car and take a right onto Al Sufouh Road, pointing out the many palaces on the right to your guests. Once on the Palm, drive out to the crescent to get a view looking back onto the Marina. Head to Atlantis to view the aquarium and Chihuly glass centrepiece before grabbing a table at beach side Nasimi. Perfect.
Bur Dubai and Deira Fallen victim to the oft-touted fib that Dubai doesn’t have any history? Think again. Kick off your tour of Old Dubai with a visit to Dubai Museum. After a morning in the museum, take a stroll through the textile souk – though be wary of the over-zealous salesmen trying to get you to buy pashminas at eye-wateringly inflated prices – and make your way towards the edge of the creek. Stop for a coffee and a rest at Bait Al Wakeel (Open daily noon-11.30pm, 04 353 0530), a café positioned on a small wooden deck over the edge of the water, before catching an abra (Dhs1) over to the old gold souk in Deira. Whether you’re in the market to buy or are happy just to window shop, there’s plenty to see here – evenings are busiest and as a result, the most interesting – and by night, when the displays are lit up, the area is quite simply dazzling.