So you think Dubai is all about brunching and swanning around massive shopping malls? Well we’re here to tell you you’re wrong and educate you on all that this wonderful city has to offer. To list all of Dubai’s attractions in one shot would be an endless task, so instead we’ve picked the best of the bunch that should be on your Dubai bucket list. It’s time to get out there and start ticking them off.
Found upon the shores of the Bur Dubai side of Dubai Creek, the brand-new destination from property developers Meraas is packed with shops and restaurants. Al Seef is an area of Dubai steeped in history, with a huge amount of Emirati culture. This latest attraction leans heavily on the contemporary elements of life in Dubai in 2018, but in equal measure reflects and pays homage to the city that once was.
Free. Open daily 10am-midnight. Al Seef, Dubai Creek, www.alseef.ae.
Aquaventure and Atlantis The Palm
Atlantis The Palm has loads of award-winning restaurants from Nobu to Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen and a huge aquarium called The Lost Chambers. Pay a visit to the Aquaventure Waterpark, swim with dolphins or feed some stingrays. If you're feeling brave, you can even try the record-breaking Leap of Faith slide which hurtles you through a glass tunnel surrounded by sharks.
Aquaventure: From Dhs195 (adults, residents), Dhs170 (kids less than 1.2m tall, residents). Under two, free. Open daily 10am-6pm. Atlantis The Palm (04 426 0000).
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is one of the most iconic buildings in the Middle East, if not the world. The sail-shaped structure is one of a kind and the hotel is synonymous with luxury. Head to Skyview Bar for inventive mixed drinks with a view, or visit Scape Restaurant and Lounge for a gorgeous outdoor terrace.
Burj Al Arab, Umm Suqeim (04 301 7777).
It’s the tallest building in the world with a staggering 160 floors and looms at 828 metres high. It opened in January 2010 after six years of construction and is probably Dubai’s most iconic landmark. While there you can go up to the 148th floor and marvel at views of the city or stop off on the 148th floor at the world’s highest restaurant, At.mosphere.
Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai, www.burjkhalifa.ae.
Head to the old town and embrace Dubai’s past with a sail across Dubai Creek. Abras cross the water every minute or so and will cost you just Dhs1. It's a short trip to the other side, but it'll take you back to everything Dubai is really about.
Dhs1. Dubai Creek.
Dubai’s newest landmark allows visitors to see the city’s past, present and future in a one-hour tour with unique views of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Dubai from a 150-metre-high sky glass bridge. Also known as Berwaz Dubai, the Frame comprises two towers measuring 150 metres in height and connected by the 93-metre long bridge at the top.
From Dhs20 (kids), Dhs50 (adults) free (kids under three, adults over 60 and people of determination). Open daily 10am-7pm. Zabeel Park, www.thedubaiframe.com.
Inside the walls of Al Fahidi Fort is a brilliant tribute to the city’s past. The historic building is home to a wide variety of life-size dioramas that depict Emirati life from a bygone era. Soak in the heritage as you take a tour through traditional scenes of Arab households, souks and mosques offering unique insights into life in the desert by the sea.
Dhs3 (adults). Dhs1 (kids under six). Open Sat-Thu 8.30am-8.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-8.30pm, Fri 2.30pm-8.30pm. Al Fahidi Historical District, Bur Dubai (04 353 1862).
Dubai Parks And Resorts
Dubai Parks and Resorts a massive 25 million square feet and is the UAE’s largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment destination. You can head to Motiongate Dubai, which features 27 rides and attractions themed on movies, or Bollywood Parks for an Indian themed adventure. There’s also Riverland waterside district and Legoland – the world’s seventh – with more than 60 rides, water slides and attractions.
Bollywood Parks: Dhs195 (adults and kids) Dhs170 (residents) free for children under three. Open daily 3pm-11pm. Dubai Parks and Resorts, Jebel Ali (800 2629464). LEGOLAND: From Dhs235 (adults), free for children under three. Open daily noon-8pm. Dubai Parks and Resorts, Jebel Ali (04 820 0000). Motiongate: Dhs235 (day ticket) Dhs165 (residents). Open daily 11am-8pm. Dubai Parks and Resorts, Jebel Ali (800 2629464).
Retail therapy in Dubai doesn’t necessarily mean heading to one of the (many) sprawling malls. For a more traditional experience, head down to one of the many souks lining either side of Dubai Creek. The Gold Souk has hundreds of retails offering a selection of jewellery, diamonds and other precious stones, while the Textile Souk has a wonderful selection of colourful fabrics.
Dubai Creek, Deira.
More than 70 countries are represented with themed stalls, shows, presentations and attractions at what has grown to become a global-themed part-funfair, part-cultural festival and part-market. There are more than 100 themed kiosks offering street food from around the world, while the huge main stage hosts performances every weekend.
Nov-Apr, 4pm-midnight (Sun-Thu), 4pm—1am (Fri-Sat). Global Village, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, www.globallvillage.ae.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
The 1.5-million-square-foot IMG Worlds of Adventure is the biggest indoor theme park on the planet, and it’s home to some pretty epic rides. Highlights of the park include the high-speed Velociraptor roller coaster in the Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure Zone, which reaches 100kph in 2.5 seconds. Also in this zone – which is home to 69 animatronic dinosaurs – is the gravity-defying Predator, featuring a 35-metre “beyond vertical” drop.
Dhs257 (adults), Dhs236 (kids under 1.2m), free (kids under 1.05m). Open daily 10am-10pm. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, Dubai Land, www.imgworlds.com (04 403 8888).
It's got jogging and walking tracks, showers, toilets and kiosks, not to mention the beach, volleyball and watersports – including an inflatable assault course on the sea. There are also cafes and a scattering of food trucks that make for a full – and fun-filled day out.
Umm Suqeim, www.kitebeach.ae (04 317 3999).
If you have a penchant for top grub by the beach, surfside shopping or lazing the day away on the sands then you can’t really go wrong at La Mer. The sprawling new development features more than 130 restaurants, cafes and shops, plus a cinema and a waterpark.
Free. Open Sun-Wed, 10am-10pm (retail), 10am-midnight (restaurants); Thu-Fri, 10am-midnight (retail), 10am-midnight (restaurants). La Mer, Jumeriah 1 (800 637 227).
This brand-new waterpark is found at the happening beachside destination of La Mer. It’s also is the only place in the Middle East where you’ll find a full, 180-degree wave machine. Master the waves either surfing or bodyboarding, on what is only the third wave machine of its kind in the world.
Dhs99. Open daily 10am-8pm. La Mer Central, Jumeirah 1, www.lagunawaterpark.com.
Ever fancied jumping out of a plane at speeds of 120mph over a man-made island? Well you can in Dubai. SkyDive Dubai offers all the thrills of freefall with views of the city like you’ve never imagined. Tandem skydives, with an experienced instructor, are held at the firm's campus that overlooks the desert dunes. Not for the feint-hearted.
Dhs1,699 (tandem skydive). Skydive Dubai, Dubai Marina, www.skydiveduabi.ae.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah allows you to experience ancient Arabia in modern Dubai. It has three kilometres of waterways and it's surrounded by lush gardens, with plenty of top-class restaurants, bars and shops on site. With traditional market-style corridors, three opulent hotels and a quaint abra service connecting it all, you can easily while away the hours here.
Open daily 10am-11pm, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 8888).
The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain is more than 900ft in length and shoots water into the air to a range of different songs, from classical music to contemporary Arabia tracks and classic pop songs. It’s a spectacular show and one that’s always popular with city dwellers and visitors alike.
The Dubai Mall: Open daily 10am-midnight. Downtown Dubai (800 382246255). Dubai Fountain shows: Free. Sat-Thu 1pm & 1.30pm, Fri 1.30pm and 2pm, daily 6pm-11pm (every 30 mins).
The Dubai Mall
Even if you aren’t able to indulge in a spot of retail therapy, the world’s biggest mall still has plenty you can do and see. It’s home to The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, where you can marvel at 300 sharks and countless species of fish completely free from the outside of the tank, as well as Dubai Ice Rink where you can learn to skate.
The Dubai Mall: Open daily 10am-midnight. Downtown Dubai (800 382246255).
The virtual reality theme park at The Dubai Mall has 18 attractions, some of which have multiple games inside, taking you to distant planets, the distant future and the not-too distant world of a fully-virtualised Dubai. It's a place to go with friends, especially if you decide to take on The Walking Dead game that sees you having to shoot your way out of the show's famous hospital to safety.
Free entry, games from Dhs15. Open Sun-Wed 10am-11pm; Thu-Sat 10am-1am. The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, www.vrpark.com.
The water park’s main attraction, Jumeirah Sceirah tower has two 32 metre-high tandem slides which will see you plummet at a speed of 80km/h. In total there are 30 rides and attractions for the whole family to enjoy, whether you’re a fan of the hair-raising, or prefer something a little more relaxed, like the 360-metre long lazy river.
Dhs270 (adults), Dhs220 (children under 1.1m). Open Sun-Thurs 10am-7pm, Fri 10M-10pm. Jumeirah Beach Road (04 348 4444).
Fancy seeing Dubai from above? XLine zip line offers thrill seekers the chance to zoom over Dubai Marina at speeds of up to 80kilometres per hour at an incline of 16 degrees, headfirst in true Superman style. It’s one of the best ways to see the city, while getting your adrenaline fix, too.
From Dhs650. Open daily 9am-5pm. Dubai Marina, www.xdubai.com/xline.