Essential sights and experiences across the emirate of Dubai
Jumeirah Mosque Built in the traditional Fatimid style, this monument can hold up to 1,200 worshippers. Guided tours are available. Guided tours Dhs20 daily at 10am (ends with Arabic pastries, coffee and water). Open Sat-Thu 9.45am-11.15am. Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 353 6666). Dubai Frame A brand-new attraction, the landmark stands 150 metres tall and “frames” views of both Old and New Dubai. Dhs50 (adults), Dhs20 (child), free for elderly and kids aged under three. Open daily 10am-7pm. Zabeel Park, www.thedubaiframe.com. Dubai Museum Opened in 1971, this museum is housed in the oldest building in the city, Al Fahidi Fort. Colourful dioramas and enthralling exhibits depict scenes of everyday life throughout Dubai’s history. Dhs3. Sun-Thu and Sat 8.30am-8.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-8.30pm. Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai (04 353 1862). Dubai Opera A 2,000-seater theatre that hosts a wide range of world-class performances throughout the year. All-access, behind-the-scenes tours are available. Ticket prices and timings vary. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, Downtown Dubai (04 440 8888).
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) Gain a deeper appreciation of the local culture by visiting this centre in the historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood in Bur Dubai. A wide range of activities are offered for visitors, from traditional cuisine to conversations with local Emiratis. From Dhs25. Open Sun-Thu 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-1pm. Al Fahidi Street, Al Souk Al Kabeer, Bur Dubai (04 353 6666).
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House This house, built in 1896, was the residence of the ruling Al Maktoum family until 1958. See a varied collection of historical photographs, documents, jewellery, coins and stamps. Dhs3 (adults), Dhs1 (children aged six and under). Open Sat-Thu 8am-8.30pm, Fri 3pm-9.30pm. Al Shindagha, Bur Dubai (04 393 7139).
Al Seef A new shopping and dining destination on the banks of Dubai Creek, featuring a section designed to replicate Dubai’s historic architecture. Free. Open daily 10am-midnight. Bur Dubai (04 317 3999). Desert Safari A ritual for most visitors to the city, head out into the desert in a 4x4 to enjoy a barbecue meal, camel rides and belly dancing, among other (and varying) experiences. Prices and pick-up points vary. Various operators including Arabian Adventures, www.arabian-adventures.com.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo A ten-million-litre aquarium home to thousands of sea creatures (including sand tiger sharks), in addition to an educational zoo on marine, reptile and amphibious creatures. Experiences include scuba diving and more. From Dhs55 per person. Sat-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 448 5200).
Dubai Ice Rink An Olympic-sized rink in the centre of The Dubai Mall, with coaching programmes, figure skating and more. From Dhs63. Sun-Wed 10am-11pm, Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai (04 448 5111).
Dubai Safari Housing 2,500 animals belonging to an astounding 250 species, Dubai Safari is also home to the world’s first drive-thru crocodile exhibit, the UAE’s largest aviary exhibit, and the UAE’s only drive-thru hippo and tiger exhibit. Visitors can check out African, Arabian, Asian and an Open Safari village. From Dhs50 (adults), Dhs20 (children), free for adults over 60 and children under three. Open daily 9am-9pm. Al Warqa 5, near Dragon Mart, www.dubaisafari.ae.
Green Planet A bio-dome hosting a collection of flaura and fauna, designed to educate visitors on environmental issues. Expect more than 3,000 plants and animals, including a sloth. From Dhs99 (adults), Dhs74 (children), free for kids aged under three. Sat-Wed 10am-6pm, Thu-Fri 10am-8pm. City Walk, Al Safa Street (04 317 3999).
Hub Zero An immersive gaming park. There are 18 unique games on the ground floor, including Resident Evil, which allow players to compete and make their way through targets in a realistic setting. Dhs165 (Master Pass), Dhs99 (Child Pass). Sat-Wed 2pm-10pm, Thu-Fri 2pm-12am. City Walk, Al Safa Street (800 637 227). Kite Beach A family-friendly public beach with watersports, food trucks, sunloungers for hire and much more. Free. Open daily. Umm Suqeim, just off Jumeirah Beach Road (04 317 3999).
La Mer A beachside dining, leisure and entertainment hub, home to restaurants, an inflatable trampoline park and much more. Free. Open daily 10am-midnight. Jumeirah 1 (800 637 227). La Perle A live aqua theatre show, created especially for Dubai, by Franco Dragone. The show takes place in a specially built theatre housing a 12-metre deep pool filled with 2.7 million litres of water. From Dhs420 per person. Tue-Fri 7pm and 9.30pm, Sat 4pm and 7pm. Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 437 0123).
Ski Dubai The Middle East’s only indoor ski slope, complete with real snow. Expect runs of varying difficulty, plus lessons. Visitors can also opt to meet the resident (and very real) penguins, or just play in the Snow Park. From Dhs160. Wed-Sat 10am-11pm, Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha (800 386).
Skydive Dubai Do the ultimate bucket list activity over the Palm Jumeirah (or out in the desert) with Dubai’s only skydiving operation. Price includes a video of your experience. From Dhs2,199. Mon-Sat 10am-5pm. Dubai Marina (04 377 8888).
The Beach A beachside shopping and dining destination near Dubai Marina, opposite Jumeirah Beach Residence. There’s also a splash park for smaller kids, outdoor gym and more. Free. Sun-Wed 7am-10pm, Thu-Sat 7am-midnight. Opposite JBR, Dubai Marina (04 317 3999). XLine Dubai Marina The XLine is one of the steepest and fastest urban zip lines on the planet, running 1km with an incline of 16 degrees and an average speed of 80kph. Hold tight as you speed across the Marina. From Dhs650 per person. Sun-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri-Sat 10am-7pm. Dubai Marina Mall (04 457 3212).
At The Top, Burj Khalifa Visit the world’s tallest building and see the city laid out at your feet, with observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors. Not for those easily afflicted with vertigo. From Dhs130 (advance online booking). Daily 8.30am-11.30pm. Burj Khalifa, entrance through The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, tickets.atthetop.ae (800 2884 3867). Dubai Miracle Garden A striking flower garden home to unusual constructions and creations, all covered in brightly coloured flora. Open during winter months only. Dhs45. Open Sun-Thu 9am-9pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm. Off Intersection of Umm Suqeim Street and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 422 8902). Dubai Water Canal A man-made extension of the historic Dubai Creek, running through Business Bay and out into the Arabian Gulf. Explore it on board a Water Taxi. Free to see/walk along. Short ferry trips from Dhs25 return. On-demand Water Taxi service from Dhs400 per hour, 10am-10pm. Business Bay.
The Dubai Fountain From the engineers behind the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, this stunning display in the heart of Downtown Dubai draws crowds throughout the day and night, who turn out to watch displays choreographed to the likes of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. A new Boardwalk now allows visitors to get closer than ever before. Free to watch, Boardwalk access Dhs20 per person. Shows Sun-Thu 1pm and 1.30pm, Fri 1.30pm and 2pm, daily every evening from 6pm-11pm, every 30 minutes. Downtown Dubai, tickets.atthetop.ae.
Global Village What started as an unique experiment to bring the world to Dubai’s doorstep has taken on a life of its own. This is now a huge, market-style shopping experience with country-specific exhibitions and shops throughout, plus some top-notch street food. Entry Dhs15. Open from November to early April. Daily 4pm-midnight. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 362 4114).
Gold Souk As enthralling as ever for visitors, the old Gold Souk in Deira is made up of shops with windows filled with glittering jewellery. Prices fluctuate with the commodities market, and though Dubai may have many newer and shinier shopping spots, there’s nowhere else like this. Free. Timings vary, typically 10am-10pm with some stores closing for lunch/prayer time. Next to Al Ras Metro Station, Deira.
Mall of the Emirates With more than 600 shops, two hotels, an IMAX cinema screen (and a Gary Rhodes one), a community theatre, Ski Dubai and a vast amount of dining options. Open daily 10am-midnight. Al Barsha (04 409 9000). Souk Madinat Jumeirah A popular shopping and dining spot, filled with high-end restaurants, laid-back bars and typical tourist shops selling pashminas and trinket-y souvenirs. There’s also the Madinat Theatre, which hosts regular performances. Free. Open daily 10am-11pm. Umm Suqeim (04 366 8888).
Spice Souk Pick up herbs and, well, spices from this small souk near the Gold Souk. (Think rose petals, dried limes, star anise and incense.) Prepare to haggle to avoid paying a premium. Free. Sat-Thu 10am-10pm, Fri 4pm-10pm. Al Ras, Deira.
The Dubai Mall The largest mall in the city, home to more than 1,000 shops (with more coming soon), from high-street to super-high-end, and big-brand names you’ll know well. There’s also the Dubai Ice Rink, Aquarium, Reel Cinemas and more to entertain, plus a mass of different dining options. Free. Thu-Sat 10am- midnight, Sun-Wed 10am-11pm. Downtown Dubai (800 38224 6255).
Theme parks & waterparks
Aquaventure Waterpark Experience adrenaline-pumping rides and slides, or book a dolphin interaction experience, among other exciting in-water activities. From Dhs195 (adults), from Dhs170 (children). Open daily 10am-5.30pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000). Dubai Parks And Resorts Home to theme parks motiongate Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park and Bollywood Parks Dubai, in addition to dining and retail district Riverland Dubai, which houses Dubai’s second branch of The Irish Village. From Dhs175. Open daily, timings vary. Sheikh Zayed Road, Jebel Ali (04 820 0820).
IMG Worlds of Adventure The world’s largest indoor theme park, with attractions including the Velociraptor, a roller coaster that goes from 0 to 100kph in just 2.5 seconds. From Dhs257, free for children below 1.05m in height. Open daily 11am-9pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (04 403 8888). Wild Wadi Water Park Located in the shadow of the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Wild Wadi Waterpark offers 30 gravity-defying thrills and awesome spills. From Dhs320 (above 1.1m tall), Dhs270 (below 1.1m tall). Open daily 10am-5.30pm. Umm Suqeim (04 348 4444).