Home to the majority of the city’s historical sites, including the well-known Dubai Museum, as well as The Ruler’s Court, Bur Dubai sits on the Jumeirah side of the Creek, across the water from Deira. In contrast to the more industrial harbourings in Deira, Bur Dubai’s waterside path features an uninterrupted line-up of dhows offering dinner cruises. Instead of gold and spice shops, the souks focus on textiles, but one thing that remains the same is that the best eateries are still cheap, cheerful and chockablock full of customers.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood Head to this area between the British Embassy and Dubai Museum, which dates back to 1859, to discover a number of art galleries and quaint Arabic eateries. Designed to look like the old village that once stood in its place, the entire sandy-hued complex is open-air, with wind towers dotted around the buildings. Al Fahidi Street, near Al Seef Road (no number).
Al Shindagha Historical Area Further along the Creek from Al Fahidi, beyond Bur Dubai’s main souk area, this district houses a collection of museums and complexes devoted to various elements of Dubai’s (and the UAE’s) heritage. Visit Dubai Heritage Village (complete with individual stalls during cooler months), Diving Village (with its displays and artefacts from the city’s pearl diving past), as well as the Camel Museum, Horse Museum and the home of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum – the grandfather of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai – built in 1894 and now a museum. Al Khaleej Road, www.dubaiculture.ae.
Bayt Al Wakeel Perched seemingly perilously over the Creek, jutting out on a wooden boardwalk from Bur Dubai’s souks this tourist-friendly Arabic and seafood eatery is still worth a visit for long-time residents. As one of the area’s most distinctive eateries, you’d be right to expect to pay a little more than average for a meal here, but as one of the must-visit places in this neck of the woods (and indeed the city) it’s worth it. Textile Souk, off Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street behind Dubai Museum (04 353 0530).
Hindi Lane Along this tiny alleyway near the Dubai Museum, you’ll find the city’s only Hindu temple, plus dozens of little shops selling offerings and religious paraphernalia, from posters of Hindu deities to small figurines, keyrings to stickers. At the very end, you’ll also find a small stall selling potted plants. Off Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street, between The Ruler’s Court and Grand Mosque (no number).
Khatmandu Highland Palace Head to this little-known Nepalese eatery for some of the best momos in town. Opt for chicken and try them steamed or deep-fried for a filling mid-trawl snack. Near Astoria Hotel (04 353 6308).
Meena Bazaar Referring to the area between Khalid Bin Waleed Street and Al Fahidi Street rather than a specific destination (though head for 50B Street and you’re on track) Meena Bazaar is best visited at night, when the shops are lit up in twinkling lights and the district is at its busiest. Peruse ream after ream of fabric in one of the hundreds of textile shops, haggle over watches or admire extravagant traditional Indian outfits through the windows. Between Khalid Bin Waleed Street and Al Fahidi Street (no number).
Rajdhani Restaurant Head to this enormously popular, no-frills Rajasthani and Gurjarati restaurant on Al Rolla Road and expect to find yourself either queuing with the masses before lunchtime opening or waiting for a table if you arrive any later. There’s a reason it’s always so busy – the thali is among the best the city. All Rolla Road (04 393 4433).
Special Ostadi A quirky Iranian restaurant on Bur Dubai’s jam-packed Al Mussallah Road, Special Ostadi has been standing for more than three decades. Currency from around the world – most of which has been collected from willing customers – decorate tables in the small room, while the walls bear framed photographs of UAE rulers and more unusual imagery of bodybuilding competitions. Family-run, the staff are incredibly welcoming and the traditional Iranian food is both hearty and full of flavour. Near Musalla Tower, Al Musalla Road (04 397 1469).
• Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum, was originally built in 1787, and is the oldest building in Dubai.
• Dubai Creek crossing Floating Bridge (open to cars only during the day, raising at night to allow boats to pass) will be officially replaced by the 420-metre-long Al Ittihad Bridge in 2018. It will have a 100-metre-high steel arch, six lanes in each direction and stretch from Al Riyadh Road in Bur Dubai to the Dubai-Sharjah Road on Deira side.
Oud Metha Also known as Al Nasr (which means ‘victory’), this small neighbourhood next to Dubai Healthcare City and the Wafi complex is home to a collection of restaurants and cafés, sports facilities, schools and landmarks including the American Hospital and Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai. Al Nasr Leisureland Spread over 48 acres, this sports and leisure centre first opened back in 1979 – and surprisingly little has changed since then. Here you can play retro arcade games or tennis, ice skate, go bowling and much more. Just behind the complex, you’ll find old school clubbing destination Chi @ The Lodge. Behind American Hospital, 12A Street (04 337 1234).
Lamcy Plaza This quirky mall, with its famously creepy robotic climbing clown, houses a range of affordable brands, such as Matalan, Bhs and Red Tag, a cinema, kids’ play area and a ‘7XD’ motion simulator to shake things up with mid-shop. 4th Street (04 335 9999).
Sai Dham A surprisingly attractive dining spot in this older neighbourhood, Indian vegetarian restaurant Sai Dham is a relaxing place to grab a bite to eat and escape the tooting of horns for an hour. The prices aren’t unreasonable either. Saleh Bin Lahej Building, 4th Street (04 335 8788).
Lan Kwai-Fong Named after Hong Kong’s famous dining district, this restaurant captures the essence of classic Chinese dining hall. Pull up a perch next to a life-sized Terracotta Warrior and enjoy some authentic, affordable dishes – there’s even a tank with live crab and fish to pick your meal from. Opposite Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai (04 335 3680).