16 Best Things To Do in Dubai

Built in the middle of the desert, Dubai has a lot to offer its visitors: culture, beach, desert, shopping, luxury, gastronomy and adventure. Want a taste of what awaits you on your trip? Read on!

Ana C.R.

Ana C.R.

9 min read

16 Best Things To Do in Dubai

Dubai Skyline | ©Nathan John

Dubai offers a glimpse of the future from the top of its skyscrapers, but you can also travel back in time by traversing its markets and squares and exploring the desert. To make sure you don't miss a thing, here's a list of the must-see sights on your trip to Dubai:

1. Climb to the top of Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa rising out of the blue sky| ©Travel Sourced
The Burj Khalifa rising out of the blue sky| ©Travel Sourced

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world and climbing up to its observation deck is an experience that will allow you to see the luxury of Dubai from above, as well as a water and light show at the foot of the building and wonderful aerial views of the desert stretching beyond the city.

To climb the Burj Khalifa, my recommendation is to buy your Burj Khalifa tickets online in advance and choose the option you like best to see the inside of the Burj Khalifa, as it has two viewing platforms and several options depending on whether you want to do a general tour, a luxury experience or want to climb the Burj Khalifa at night.

Here is some information on Burj Khalifa observatory ticket prices and how to get to the Burj Khalifa from different parts of the city, although the latter is easy as this imposing building does not go unnoticed.

Buy tickets for the Burj Khalifa

2. Discover Dubai and its contrasts on a guided tour

Tradition and modernity in Dubai| ©Fredrik Öhlander
Tradition and modernity in Dubai| ©Fredrik Öhlander

Dubai is one of those cities that is best discovered in the company of a local guide who will reveal all the secrets of its streets, mosques and souks. As a city with so many contrasts, it is easy to get lost among so many sights to see, so I recommend you read about the best tours and excursions from Dubai and choose a tour that will definitely change the way you experience Dubai.

Book a guided tour of Dubai

3. Take a trip to the majestic Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque| ©Mohammed Bukar
Sheikh Zayed Mosque| ©Mohammed Bukar

It's hard to explain just how impressive the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is and you can visit it on a day trip from Dubai. It is one of the finest mosques in Abu Dhabi, one of the largest in the world and is imposing both inside and out, incorporating designs and decorations from different Islamic cultures.

To visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, it's best to book an organised tour from Dubai as, in addition to not having to worry about how to get there and how to get in, you'll enjoy a narration from an expert guide who will give you the historical context of the site and help you understand the rules you'll need to follow throughout your visit. If you would like to see other mosques in Dubai visit our post on 10 Best mosques in Dubai.

Book a tour to Sheikh Zayed Mosque

4. Have a great time at Ferrari World

Aerial view of Ferrari World| ©Aziz J.Hayat
Aerial view of Ferrari World| ©Aziz J.Hayat

If you've been wondering before your trip which city is better, Dubai or Abu Dhabi, my clear advice is to visit the latter from the former on an organised tour or on your own. And while you're in Abu Dhabi, you can visit the only amusement park dedicated to the Ferrari team. Ferrari World is easy to get to from Dubai and you'll find rollercoasters, race cars, shuttles and virtual reality experiences to have a great time, inspired by iconic Ferrari cars. You can visit the park from Dubai with this tour to Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World.

Book a tour to Ferrari World from Dubai

5. Lose yourself in the ancient streets of the Deira neighbourhood

Golden Souk of Deria| ©neekoh.fi
Golden Souk of Deria| ©neekoh.fi

In Deira, one of Dubai's most famous neighbourhoods, you'll find the old part of the city, and you can wander through the Gold Souk and Spice Souk, immersing yourself in the very essence of Dubai. Other things to do in Deira include going to Al Mamzar Beach and relaxing in the greenery.

Book a street food tour of Dubai

6. Get a taste of old Dubai by taking a tour of Al Fahidi

Al Fahidi| ©Francisco Anzola
Al Fahidi| ©Francisco Anzola

Today's Al Fahidi neighbourhood is a reconstruction of a traditional area of Dubai where you can see what life was like in 19th century Dubai. Walking through the streets, you will see wind towers and public buildings, many of which retain their traditional infrastructure.

In addition to the Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Centre, where you can learn about the historical context that will enrich your visit, you can visit the Mint Museum, the House of Calligraphy and the City Hall, where you can learn more about Arab history, culture and Dubai's past.

Book a tour of Old and Modern Dubai

7. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque

Jumeirah Mosque| ©PhareannaH[berhabuk]
Jumeirah Mosque| ©PhareannaH[berhabuk]

Visiting the Jumeirah Mos que is possible as it is one of the few mosques in Dubai that accepts non-Muslim visitors, making it one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Its beautiful white façade (which you'll recognise if you've seen a 500 dirham note) is just as impressive as its interior, and its architecture is a tribute to the medieval Fatimid period.

Once inside you can marvel at the elegant blue and yellow décor and be inspired by its places of prayer and recollection.

8. Experience a sunset in the desert

Sunset in the Dubai desert| ©Kent Tupas
Sunset in the Dubai desert| ©Kent Tupas

One of the must-do experiences on your trip to Dubai is undoubtedly a trip to the Dubai desert. Desert tours come in all price ranges and you can do all kinds of activities, such as camel trekking, sandboarding (like snowboarding, but on sand), dune bashing, which is basically getting on an off-road vehicle and sliding down the dunes, quad biking, buggy tours, falconry shows and traditional food at an open-air dinner under the desert stars and then sleeping in the Dubai desert. Here are some tips for visiting the Dubai desert so that whatever you choose, your experience will be perfect.

Book a Dubai Desert Tour

9. Sail the Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina| ©Enrico Strocchi
Dubai Marina| ©Enrico Strocchi

Seeing the Dubai skyline at night as you cruise the city's main canal is quite a sight to behold, so this is one of the activities I highly recommend if you're travelling to Dubai as a couple. Boat tours of the Dubai Marina usually last around two hours and are a great way to get to know this area of the city in an alternative way. There's plenty more to do in the Dubai Marina too, so I highly recommend checking out the area.

Book a Dubai Marina Cruise

10. Take in the sights from the comfortable tour bus

Dubai Sightseeing Bus| ©Alan & Flora Botting
Dubai Sightseeing Bus| ©Alan & Flora Botting

Dubai is one of the cities that is definitely worth buying a ticket for a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus, as it can be exhausting to walk around most of the year due to the heat. That's why I recommend hopping on a sightseeing bus and seeing the whole city of Dubai from the comfort of your seat (and the coolness of the air conditioning).

Book a seat on the Dubai Sightseeing Bus

11. Go shopping at the Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall| ©mostafa meraji
Dubai Mall| ©mostafa meraji

It wouldn't be a trip to Dubai without a morning or afternoon spent shopping. In Dubai, luxury and opulence are two constants, and this is reflected in its shopping centres where you will find almost any brand you can imagine.

You will almost certainly pass through Dubai Mall, one of the most famous shopping centres in the city, and you can go in and buy souvenirs or indulge yourself in one of its many shops. You'll also find a number of restaurants offering all kinds of gastronomic delights.

12. Discover the underwater world of Atlantis Aquaventure

Atlantis Aquaventure Dubai| ©Jeremy Thompson
Atlantis Aquaventure Dubai| ©Jeremy Thompson

The Atlantis hotel in Dubai is one of the most famous hotels in the city for its leisure offer, which includes a water park, a dolphin zoo and other marine animals, and a reconstruction of the seabed where you can enjoy a diving experience.

Atlantis Aquaventure is one of the places to go to spend the day with children and not run out of fun, so I especially recommend a visit if you are travelling to Dubai with your family.

Book your ticket to Atlantis Aquaventure

13. Build your own adventure at Legoland Dubai

Legoland Dubai| ©Jeremy Thompson
Legoland Dubai| ©Jeremy Thompson

Whether it's for the family or to relive childhood memories, at Legoland Dubai the iconic block-shaped toys come to life as the entire park is built with Lego pieces (nearly 60 million Legos) to create six worlds to lose yourself in and let your imagination run wild.

14. Get cultured at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi| ©Matthias Ripp
Louvre Abu Dhabi| ©Matthias Ripp

A trip to Abu Dhabi is the most convenient way to get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, but if you decide to visit the Louvre Museum, an extension of the Louvre Museum in Paris dedicated to Middle Eastern art but whose collection also houses some key works of painting from the rest of the world, with paintings by Vermeer, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Van Gogh. In my opinion, part of what makes this visit so interesting is the architecture of the museum itself, housed in a Jean Nouvel building in a symbiosis between the Western and Eastern worlds.

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi

15. Test yourself at Skydive Dubai

Skydive Dubai| ©Alan Wilson
Skydive Dubai| ©Alan Wilson

If you've always wanted to freefall at 200 kilometres per hour, Dubai is the best place to do it: the views you'll get during your fall will be spectacular (if your adrenaline allows you to enjoy them, of course). For this unique experience, Skydive Dubai is the most popular company among tourists and locals alike. Of course, it's not for everyone's budget, but it's certainly something you'll remember forever.

Book a skydiving session in Dubai

16. Enjoy brunch at Jumeirah Al Qasr

Detail of the Spanish cheese tasting at brunch at the Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel.| ©Krista
Detail of the Spanish cheese tasting at brunch at the Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel.| ©Krista

Dubai is a very modern city adapted to Western tastes, and its bars and cafés have made brunch an institution. The best, according to all the critics, is served at the Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel, both for the quality of the tasting and the opulent and luxurious surroundings in which you'll enjoy a huge brunch - over 300 dishes to choose from up to thirty-five different cuisines. Of course, during your visit, you must try some of Dubai' s best restaurants to get the full flavour of its cuisine.

When to go to Dubai?

Before your trip, you're probably wondering what to pack, what to wear in Dubai, how to get around the city, how much budget you need for your trip and, above all, what is the ideal time to visit Dubai. Any time is a good time to get to know the city; being such a big capital, there are things to do all year round. Here's a list of what not to miss depending on the month you're visiting:

Another thing you may find useful during your trip is an itinerary adapted to the number of days you are going to spend in the city:

After these tips for visiting Dubai, all you have to do is book your transfer from Dubai airport to the city centre and, once you arrive, enjoy everything the city has to offer. I assure you, there's plenty to see and do.