40 of the very best things to do and see, places to eat and more in Dubai
Dubai has a host of new attractions for you and your guests to discover. Here’s our checklist of the city’s 61 best that should not be missed.
Alserkal Avenue Check out this expanding art space. Amid the warehouses in the industrial estate of Al Quoz, Alserkal Avenue has become a centre for modern art in the city. The new expansion will see the art space double in size, adding a 3,353 square metre events centre and outdoor courtyard to the street, providing a dedicated platform to host a variety of performances. The expansion site will be open to the public on Monday March 16, 6pm-9pm for Galleries Night, and until the end of March. Free. Daily 11am-6.30pm, times vary for special events. Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz. Nearest metro: First Gulf Bank or Noor Islamic Bank, www.alserkalavenue.ae (05 556 9797).
Burj Khalifa SKY Just when you thought you couldn’t get any higher, a new observation deck on the 148th floor of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, opened in October last year. Adding to the structure’s litany of world records, Burj Khalifa SKY is now officially the world’s highest observation deck. Giving visitors a view from 555 metres above the city, it’s 24 levels above the original public viewing deck. Book online in advance for tickets. Dhs300 per person. Daily 7pm-9pm; Dhs500 per person. Daily noon-6pm. Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. www.burjkhalifa.ae (800 2884 3867).
DubaiDino Only in Dubai will you find a 155-million-year-old dinosaur fossil inside the world’s largest mall. The skeleton of the 80 foot Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus was discovered in 2008 at the Dana Quarry in Wyoming in the US, and was air-freighted to Dubai, where it attracts hordes of curious visitors every day. Free. Daily 10am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall (800 38224 6255).
Jumeirah Fishing Harbour This charming and quaint waterfront development offers visitors a pleasant walk and a chance to see a slice of the city’s maritime life in action. The fully functioning fishing harbour is where visitors can see Old and New Dubai sit side by side. Al Souq is part of the harbour and houses a small selection of eateries with views, offering a range of cuisines from Thai to Brazilian. Daily 9am-midnight. Al Souq and Jumeirah Fishing Harbour are located off Jumeirah Beach Road in Jumeirah 2. From the Burj Al Arab, make a U-turn at Al Urouba Street, then take the first right at the sign for Jumeirah 2.
King Croc at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Meet the biggest resident at the Dubai Aquarium, weighing in at a whopping 750kgs. At more than five metres long, the Australian saltwater crocodile is an impressive natural phenomenon. King Croc and his female companion live in an enclosure that replicates their natural habitat, and the heavyweight pair are thriving as Queen Croc has recently laid a batch of 59 eggs. Visitors can see the pair up close and watch the expert zoologists tend to the eggs. Dhs70 for a combo ticket including access to the Aquarium Tunnel and the Underwater Zoo. Daily 10am-midnight, The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall www.thedubaiaquarium.com (800 38224 6255).
Sea lions at Atlantis The Palm Meet the playful sea lions from South Africa at Sea Lion Point at Atlantis The Palm. The sea lions are the latest animal attraction and live in a specially designed habitat where visitors can learn about the sleek mammals, feed them and even steal a rather fishy kiss from them for a fun photo opportunity. From Dhs645 per person including complimentary same-day entry to Aquaventure. Daily 10am-sunset. Sea Lion Point, Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2000).
Gliding around Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Al Sufouh and Knowledge Village, the new tram connects many New Dubai tourist hotspots. To get on board, get a Nol card from any metro station ticket office, top it up with credit and you can ride the metro, tram and bus. Just remember to tap in and out at the Automatic Fare Collection Machines. Dhs25 for a Nol Silver card. Sun-Thu 6.30am-1.30am. Fri 9am-1.30am. www.dubaitram.rta.ae (04 284 4444).
Eco-golf at Sofitel The Palm Feed the fish while working on your golf swing. A coach will teach you how to set up and swing, but the golf balls are made of a soluble fish food that is environmentally safe. Whack the balls out into the ocean and as soon as they are submerged in water, the internal core that is comprised of fish food is released. Dhs60 for three balls, Dhs650 for every 100 balls. Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, Palm Jumeirah (04 456 677).
EDEN Beach Club A new addition to the Palm Jumeirah’s collection of luxurious and laid-back beach clubs, guests can soak up the sun and relax in private beachfront bungalows here. Eat an array of global cuisines or get active and try a kayaking tour or paddle boarding. International DJs play in the evening when a night of dancing ensues. From Dhs100 per person Sun-Thu; From Dhs200 Fri-Sat. Dhs50 per 30 minutes for paddle boarding and kayaking. Lounger and cabana rental fees apply. 10am-midnight. Next to Rixos The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, www.edenbeachclub.com (04 277 1477).
Forgo four wheels and get closer to the city’s sights on a motorcycle day tour. These rides are on the super-cool and comfy Honda Gold Wings and with an experienced professional driver. Don comfortable clothes, bring your camera or Go Pro and enjoy the city and the envious looks as you zip down Sheikh Zayed Road. Tours cover Old and New Dubai with stops for photo opportunities. From Dhs330. Daily 9am-6pm, pick-up from your chosen location. www.flybike.info (04 360 6867).
Food Tour with Frying Pan Adventures Discover the culinary delights of Dubai on a unique and insightful food walking tour. Foodies can discover the diverse flavours of Dubai as well as the Emirate’s heritage on these tasty trails. Led by sisters Arva and Farida Ahmed, tours take visitors away from the usual five-star haunts to discover culinary gems. Wear comfy shoes and come hungry. From Dhs300 for the ‘Short n Sweet’ Arabian tour. Daily 10am and 6pm. Bur Dubai, www.fryingpanadventures.com (no number).
Jumeirah Corniche The 14km Corniche was completed in October last year and the walkway stretches from Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa up to the Burj Al Arab. The scenic boardwalk is five metres wide and includes a four-metre wide jogging track, plenty of retail kiosks and shaded benches all overlooking the sea.
Jumeirah Golf Estates’ new clubhouse If you’re visiting Dubai for a spot of golf, check out the new clubhouse at Jumeirah Golf Estates. The elegant new venue straddles the 18th holes of both Fire and Earth courses and with three food and beverage outlets – Flame Tree Restaurant & Grill, Swirl Bar & Lounge and Fresca Delicatessen and Café – it’s a great stop for relaxing after time on the greens. From Dhs450 (members), from Dhs595 (non-members). Jumeirah Golf Estates, near Dubai Sports City, www.jumeirahgolfestates.com (04 818 2000).
La Playa Lounge As part of the The Beach mall development, La Playa is a chilled-out beach lounge where you can relax on the white loungers or bean bags with shisha and the sand under your feet. Enjoy the beach by day and when the sun sets, the huge 20mx10m high-definition outdoor screen shows international football and movies. Dhs50 for headsets to watch films. Daily 1pm-2am. The Beach, JBR, Nearest Metro: Damac Propeties, www.laplayalounge.com (055 260 9650).
The Beach Waterpark
Splash about, slide and climb on the inflatable waterpark floating off the beach in JBR. It’s 50 metres of obstacles, slides, trampolines, climbing ropes and is the biggest inflatable waterpark of its kind in the world. Dhs60 (adults), Dhs50 (kids). Cash only. Daily 8am-6m. The Beach, JBR. Nearest metro: Damac Properties, www.arabianwaterparks.com (04 551 6180).
Two new trampoline parks have entered the active arena in Dubai: Bounce in Al Quoz and Jump Boxx in Mirdif. Both offer hours of fun for kids and adults. Play bouncy dodgeball, work on your somersaults or try a rebound workout class. Bounce is a brightly coloured import from Australia with 100 interconnected trampolines, a dedicated dodgeball enclosure and a Big Bag area where jumpers can leap from trampolines onto a giant padded bag for a soft landing. In addition to its ordinary sessions, Jump Boxx also offers sessions just for three- to five-years-olds as well as ladies’ nights and corporate team building days. Jump Boxx: Dhs69 per hour plus Dhs11 for grip socks. Sun-Wed noon-10pm; Thu noon-11pm; Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 10am-10pm. Uptown Mirdif. Nearest metro: Rashidiya, www.jump-boxx.com (04 288 5744). Bounce: From Dhs80 per hour including grip socks. Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu 10am-midnight; Fri 9am-midnight; Sat 9am-10pm. 4B Street, Al Quoz. Nearest metro: First Gulf Bank, www.bounce.ae (04 321 1400).
Vox 4DX cinemas Make your trip to the movies a fully immersive and sensory experience. Smell the scenery, and experience the action as you watch your favourite film in state-of-the-art chairs that react to the action on screen. Film fans can experience rain, fog, wind and scents. Dhs125 per person. Daily 10am-midnight.Vox Cinemas Mirdif City Centre. Nearest metro: Rashidiya; Vox Cinemas Deira City Centre. Nearest metro: Deira City Centre, www.voxcinemeas.com/4dx (600 599 905).
Feast on smoky steaks and local seafood at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s first restaurant in Dubai. The modern American steakhouse serves fine prime dry and wet-aged beef including selections from the US and Australia, plus 100 percent Japanese Wagyu beef in a luxurious New York-style setting. Dhs250 (food only), Dhs550 (including selected beverages). Fri noon-3pm. CUT by Wolfgang Puck, The Address Downtown Dubai, Downtown Dubai (04 423 8882).
Brunch at Pierchic Since its recent renovation, the restaurant that inhabits its own pier at Al Qasr hotel has gone from being a sultry, intimate and romantic venue to a fresh, elegant dining destination. Visitors who have enjoyed it in the past should check out its new look, while first-time diners will enjoy its unrivalled views of the Burj Al Arab and great seafood and service. Dhs450 (soft drinks), Dhs750 (selected beverages), Dhs2,500 (bubbly). Fri 12.30pm-3pm. Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 5866).
Clé Dubai With Michelin-starred chef Greg Malouf in the kitchen, this Downtown Dubai restaurant serves beautifully presented contemporary Arabic food in a luxurious setting. The restaurant’s décor is stylish and it has a great outdoor terrace with views of the Burj Khalifa. From Dhs500+ (meal for two). Open daily, noon-2am. À la carte lunch noon-3pm; mezze noon-7pm; dinner 7pm-11.30pm. Al Fattan Currency House, DIFC. Nearest metro: Financial Centre, www.cle-dubai.com (04 352 5150).
Omnia by Silvena
This design-driven restaurant serves exquisite plates of Arabic and Emirati cuisine. This is the latest Dubai venture by chef Silvena Rowe, which features nods to her Turkish and Bulgarian roots as well as her clear passion for Arabic art and food. Expect national dishes such as harees given a glamorous revamp, with plenty of foie gras and artistic presentation. From Dhs350+ (meal for two). Open Sun-Thu 6.30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat 12.30pm-4pm, 6.30pm-11pm. Clarens Tower 1, Burj Boulevard, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: Business Bay. (04 552 0129).
The Scene by Simon Rimmer One of the seven restaurants in Pier 7, The Scene is located on the fourth floor of the Dubai Marina venue. Quirky and charming décor – with hanging fringed lampshades and exposed brick – meet the sophistication of marina views and comforting yet well-presented traditional British fare. Dhs350-500. Open daily 10am-11.30pm. Pier 7, Dubai Marina. Nearest metro: Damac Properties, www.thescenedubai.com (04 422 2328).
House of Curry Dubai visitors and residents alike love a good curry, and this beachfront restaurant could be the new go-to place for a beautiful butter chicken and pretty pakoras, all with an ethnic chic décor and beachside views. Dhs350-500 (meal for two). Open daily noon-midnight. The Beach, JBR. Nearest metro: Damac Properties, www.houseofcurry.me (800 692 8779).
Pier 7 This circular dining destination is home to seven restaurants. Try classic Arabic cuisine at Abd El Wahab, a lively bar, mixed drinks and tasty snacks at Cargo, a French-Asian-Mediterranean menu at Atelier M, South American flavours at O Cacti or the Asian fusion treats of Asia Asia. There’s a different restaurant on each floor each with panoramic views of the marina. Pier 7, Dubai Marina. Nearest metro: Damac Properties, www.pier7.ae (04 436 1020).
Qbara Located next to the iconic Wafi Pyramids, Qbara offers modern Arabic cuisine with a touch of fine dining finesse in a dazzling setting. Book a seat in the upper area to look over the whole restaurant, huge bar area and busy kitchens. Food here is delicious and presented with flair, even the bread basket is stunning. Try the lobster kibbe, and relax with refreshing mixed drinks. Dhs500+ (meal for two). Open daily 6pm-1am. Wafi City, Oud Metha. Nearest metro: Dubai Healthcare City, www.qbara.ae (04 709 2500).
The food truck trend has driven into Dubai this year, bringing a troop of tasty street food and snacks to various parts of town. SALT is one of the most popular, attracting hoards of fans to its regular spot at Kite Beach. Serving up a simple menu of either chicken or wagyu beef mini burgers, fries and shakes, it’s worth seeking out this trendy little food station. From Dhs25 for a single cheeseburger. Open daily noon-10pm. Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim.
Social by Heinz Beck Located in the five-star Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, this restaurant features an innovative menu from world-renowned chef Heinz Beck. It brings relaxed fine dining to Dubai and a menu that fuses Mediterranean freshness with some Asian influences. Outside seating gives diners a view across the Arabian Gulf, while inside provides views of the busy open kitchen. Dhs500+ (meal for two). Open daily 7pm-midnight. Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, www.waldorfastoria3.hilton.com (04 818 2222).
The Surf Shack Look for the The Surf Shack at Kite Beach, whipping up tasty fresh smoothies, juices and frozen yogurts on the beach, with flavours to suit the health conscious (check out the acai berry froz yog), and those with an insatiable sweet tooth (frozen Nutella with marshmallows and grated coconut). The café is a great pit stop for beach visits. From Open daily 7am-7pm. Kite Beach, Umm Suqeim, www.thesurfcafedubai.com (no number).
See the bright lights of the city from this Downtown Dubai rooftop lounge. Sitting pretty at the 40th floor of The H Hotel, enjoy sundowners and canapés, in the early evening or dinner and drinks until the small hours. Open daily, 6pm-3am. The H Hotel, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: World Trade Centre, www.40kong.com (04 355 8896).
Above For impressive unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa in the heart of the city’s vibrant Downtown area, plus great food and drinks, make a date here. The vast bar has a retractable roof and air-conditioning, making it a great all-year rooftop destination. Open daily 6pm-3am. Sofitel Dubai Downtown, Downtown Dubai. Nearest metro: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall, www.facebook.com/AboveDXB (052 925 9111).
A cool new rooftop lounge with great views of the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab and the Arabian Gulf. Order from the spherical bar and enjoy classy drinks in laid-back al fresco luxury. Open daily 5pm-2am. Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, Jumeirah Beach Road, www.fourseasons.com (04 270 7777).
The international super-club synonymous with banging house music, top DJs, performers and unforgettable parties opened its Dubai branch in November last year. Revellers can enjoy an acrobatic dinner show or throw shapes to Balearic beats at the weekend. Open daily 8pm-3am. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, www.pacha.ae (04 567 0000).
Channelling the New York district it was named after, this new bar oozes cool, with statement modern furnishings, exposed brickwork and a great band playing every Friday night. Open daily 6pm-3am. JA Ocean View Hotel, JBR, www.tribeca.ae (050 345 6067).
White Dubai Party under the stars at this stylish open-air, rooftop nightclub. Seated above the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse, this nightclub is a sister project to the original in Beirut. Popular with the fashionable partygoers, there are top DJs aplenty here and a grown-up party vibe. Check this club out on a Saturday night for urban nights and live PAs from international artists. Thu-Sat 10pm-3am. Meydan Grandstand and Rooftop, Nad Al Sheba, www.whitedubai.com (050 443 0933).
Zero Gravity An impressive bar at SkyDive Dubai’s Drop Zone, Zero Gravity is an architectural feat that will guarantee a good time. The main room inside is dominated by a giant spherical bar. Sit outside to enjoy views of the Dubai Marina skyline and The Palm. This bar will keep you entertained from day to night. Lounge on the beach, chill with live music or put your dancing shoes on for some serious partying with international DJs from 9pm on weekends. Sun-Thu 10am-12am, Thu-Sat 10am-3am. SkyDive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai Marina, www.0-gravity.ae (04 399 0009).
Box Park An urban retail shopping destination offers a collection of 44 shops, cafés and restaurants housed in an industrial style corrugated warehouse. The idea comes from the pop-up mall of the same name in London’s Shoreditch, and the Dubai incarnation includes lifestyle brands such as adidas, The Big Smoke Burger, and The Zoo Concept, with more due to open later this year. Open daily Sun-Thu 10am-10pm. Fri-Sat 10am-midnight. Al Wasl Road, near City Walk (no number).
Galleria Mall A stylish two-storey mall, this shopping and dining destination has some great little restaurants such as Home Bakery, with a range of mouthwatering cakes (the Kit Kat chocolate gateaux is delightful), as well as fashionable boutique lifestyle stores including Cities for original gifts and accessories. Open daily 10am-midnight. Al Wasl Road (04 344 4434).
The Beach Visit this impressively landscaped beachfront mall and sensitively built dining and shopping district. The low-rise and unobtrusive mall makes a stark difference to the traditional mega-malls of Dubai. Take a wander and enjoy 70 food and beverage outlets. The Beach, JBR, www.thebeach.ae.
Ripe Night Market Following the success of the Ripe’s organic market in Safa Park, the night market has been introduced at Al Barsha Park. Have a meander around the artisan stalls, sample the fresh produce and leave with a clutch of organic fruit and veg from local farmers. Sat 4pm-9pm. Al Barsha Park, Al Barsha 3, www.ripeme.com (04 380 7602).
The Market at The Beach Stroll down to The Beach on Saturday for a colourful market, meet traders selling organic food and juices, hand crafted arts, trendy kaftans and bespoke fashion. It’s currently a small eclectic selection but there are plans to see it expand. Sat 10am-8pm. The Beach, JBR.