Things to do in Dubai
Burj Al Arab
One of Dubai's most recognisable landmarks, this uber-luxurious hotel stands like a billowing sail on its own man-made private island. Here opulence knows no bounds with helicopter transfers, private butler service and even 24-carat gold ipads available to guests. Those not staying at the hotel can still dine at any of the award-winning restaurants, savour a decadent high tea in the atrium lounge or enjoy a cocktail in the stunning Skyview Bar, perched 200 metres above sea level.
High tea at the Burj Al Arab is one of the most decadent things to do in Dubai.
Famous for being the tallest building in the world, this architectural masterpiece soars 828 metres into the sky and has an incredible 163 floors. Don't miss the ‘At the Top' SKY Experience, where those with a head for heights are transported 555 metres upwards to the world's highest outdoor observation deck. There are also viewing decks on levels 124 and 125, which provide amazing 360-degree vistas of the city and surrounding desert and ocean.
There are so many reasons to visit the Burj Khalifa, which dominates the Dubai skyline.
Inhabiting Dubai's oldest surviving building, the Al Fahidi Fort, a striking citadel built in 1799, the museum houses a series of galleries and collections which showcase the city's remarkable history and transition from humble trading port to ultra-modern metropolis.
Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787, is Dubai's oldest building and home to the Dubai Museum.
All that glitters is definitely gold at the famous Dubai Gold Souk in Deira, the city's commercial centre. Imagine a market dripping in gold, with this precious metal rendered in every adornment you can possibly think of and that's what you'll find at the Gold Souk. What you won't be prepared for is how bright and shiny everything is, such is the sheer spectacle of the Gold Souk. A Bedouin nomadic existence was common in the Emirates until just a generation ago. As part of that traditional lifestyle, gold and jewellery were a portable way to store one's wealth. Gold jewellery is still a large part of a woman's wedding dowry in certain areas of India, the Arabian Gulf and Africa. Visitors from these countries and many other regions head to the Dubai Gold Souk – one of the most important jewellery trading centres in the world through which an estimated 20 per cent of the world's gold stock passes. Gold prices in Dubai are among the lowest and most competitive in the world, which draws a sizeable international contingent of buyers. Gold is sold by weight here and prices vary depending on whether a piece is handmade or manufactured by machine. Exploring the gold souk is one of the most exciting things to do in Dubai and if you're serious about purchasing, expect to barter. The variety of gold jewellery available at the Gold Souk is dazzling. Even if you don't plan on purchasing any bling, you can't help but feel thrilled by the array of earrings, necklaces, pendants, bangles, bracelets and rings on offer in 18ct, 21ct, 22ct and 24ct gold in over 300 stores. The colours of gold vary too: from rose to white gold, yellow gold and even purple! The designs range from Western styles to traditional Indian jewellery. While the Gold Souk is a sight to behold at any time of the day, it is particularly beautiful at night due to its gilded glow. To visit the Gold Souk, go down to Creek in Bur Dubai and take an abra (water taxi) to the markets. The trip takes around 10 minutes. There are also many buses that visit this area.
Gold is one of the most popular things to buy in the souks of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Out of all the things to do in Dubai, one of the most moving experiences is to gain an insight into Islamic religion and culture. Where better than at Jumeirah Mosque, considered to be the most beautiful masjid (mosque) in the city and the only Dubai mosque open to non-Muslims. The Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding operates guided tours of Jumeirah Mosque on set days and at set times for a glimpse of this monument. One of the most frequently photographed sites in Dubai, Jumeirah Mosque is a stunning religious landmark and wonderful example of modern Islamic architecture. The intricately detailed building is built in the classical architectural style of Medieval Fatimid and features a sandstone dome and minarets with detailed carvings, flanked by palm trees and manicured grounds. It is beautifully lit at night. The interior of the mosque is covered with ornate painted panels and carved archways on a blue background, and can accommodate around 1,200 people. The guided tour of Jumeirah Mosque, arranged by the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, provides an opportunity for visitors to learn about Emirati culture and religion. Remember that Jumeirah Mosque is a holy site, so be sure to dress modestly and cover shoulders, legs, backs and arms to be allowed entry. Robes and scarves are also available for hire. Shoes must also be removed before entering the mosque.
The beautiful Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
A popular Dubai destination, Madinat Jumeirah Resort is a luxury location styled to pay homage to an ancient citadel of Arabia. The resort consists of three boutique-style hotels with meandering waterways, seaside views and a traditional souk, conjuring up an old-world experience with all the luxurious conveniences of a modern resort. Meaning ‘City of Jumeirah', Madinat Jumeirah is designed to reflect Dubai's heritage via a fantasy vision of ‘old Arabia'. Pastel stucco, Persian-style barjeels (windcatchers) and cobbled courtyards vie for attention against lush palms and greenery, as well as manmade Venetian-style canals complete with abras – traditional wooded boats. The details of this city within a city are simply extraordinary and there are plenty of things to do in this charming hotel, shopping and entertainment complex. The stylish boutique hotels of Mina A'Salam, Dar Al Masyaf and Al Qasr are definitely worth a look. Mina A'Salam is a grand boutique hotel with an expansive façade set on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, while Al Qasr, meaning ‘the palace', is designed to reflect a sheik's summer escape with ancient architectural styles. The resort also contains the Arabian summer courtyard house-style rooms and suites of Dar Al Masyaf, and the secluded Malakiya Villas offering luxury hideaways each with an individual courtyard, terrace and pool. Fine dining and nightlife can be found at onsite resort restaurants and bars. For visitors not staying at the resort, the main attractions are the Souk Madinat Jumeirah and the Abra Tour. The labyrinthine traditional Arabian souk is accessed through lantern-lit doorways to reveal small stalls of souvenirs such as carpets, jewellery, clothing, art, crafts and furniture as well as many restaurants, bars and cafes.
Madinat Jumeirah: a resort that mimics nostalgic notions of 'Old Arabia' with exceptional attention to detail.
For several things to do in one location, head to Downtown Dubai. This popular district surrounds the iconic Burj Khalifa and includes Dubai Mall (which includes an Olympic-sized ice rink) and the mesmerizing Dubai Fountain, which can spectacularly shoot water 150 metres into the air.
Downtown Dubai includes Dubai Mall, the incredible Dubai Fountain and loads more things to see and do.
Another one of Dubai's man-made wonders, this artificial archipelago, built to resemble a palm, is best appreciated from above where it appears to ‘grow' out of the coastline. Extending into the Arabian Gulf, the island is home to thousands of private villas and apartments, a monorail and a plethora of luxury hotels, including the fabulously lavish Atlantis, The Palm.
The Palm Jumeirah is an astonishing feat of modern engineering and one of the most luxurious addresses in Dubai.
Al Fahidi historic district
Escape the thrum of the city in this beautifully restored historic neighbourhood, where the traditional style of life that was prevalent in Dubai from the mid 19th century has been preserved. Wander the alleyways, pathways and public squares to get a feeling for what Dubai was like in days gone by.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
IMG Worlds of Adventure
Calling itself the ‘world's biggest theme park', IMG Worlds of Adventure is not one but four epic adventure zones in one. From thrilling roller coasters and encounters with MARVEL Super Heroes to a 12-screen state-of-the-art cinema and huge choice of dining venues, this is set to become a family favourite.
IMG Worlds of Adventure: An indoor amusement theme park in Dubai city, United Arab Emirates.
Dubai Desert Safari
An experience not to be missed, take a thrilling 4x4 journey across sand dunes and into the stunning Dubai Desert. See incredible sunsets, ride a camel and be entertained by belly dancers and traditional musicians while savouring a delicious Middle Eastern feast under the stars at a Bedouin-style camp.
Experience the desolate beauty of the desert on a Dubai desert safari.