Dubai is a city built for tourists. And that means there are so many things to do in Dubai that it can be hard to figure out your itinerary!
Never fear – I’ve made a list of the best options to consider when planning your Dubai holiday. I’ve tried all sorts of activities – some great, and some not – and here are the ones I really think you should put on your list.
Of course, it will be difficult to do all of them. So really think about what you’re after in terms of a holiday experience. Is it adrenaline? Then skydiving, a dune safari, On Air dinner, and Aquaventure should be on your list. Travelling with kids? Aquaventure or The Lost Chambers Aquarium plus the dune safari are a must. Looking for culture? Then a tour of Dubai Creek and a day trip to Abu Dhabi are highly recommended.
So here it is – the 17 best Dubai experiences I think you need to book.
And still haven’t figured out where to stay in Dubai? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered there, too! Check out my guide to the best Dubai hotels and resorts.
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1. Head on safari through the desert
Go on an ultimate desert adventure! The city of Dubai is surrounded by desert. As such, no trip here would be complete without heading out on an adventure in this barren wilderness. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic tour options, and these range in price and duration.
We particularly love this Red Dunes desert safari tour, which includes an ATV ride through the desert, camel riding, and sandboarding, so there are plenty of awesome activities to get stuck into. You’ll also get to relax at the 5* Al Khayma camp, enjoy a delicious BBQ buffet, admire a dance show, and have a makeover. While in the desert, make sure you take some time to stargaze as the skies are really clear in this area.
2. Explore Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek is often referred to as the ‘heart and soul’ of the city. Once you visit, it’s not hard to see why, as it’s one of Dubai’s most scenic areas.
This natural creek originates from the Arabian Gulf and essentially splits the city in two, with Deira Dubai on one side, and Bur Dubai on the other. Although it’s a great place to take a stroll, there are lots of attractions here too. One of the highlights for us is taking a traditional “abra” water taxi across the creek!
First of all, you’ll want to explore the neighbourhood of Al Fahidi as you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. I’d also suggest going on an Abra ride of the creek, as you’ll get a unique perspective of the city. Other popular places in this area include the Museum Of Illusions, Textile Souk, and Dubai Festival City Mall.
We recommend taking a tour to ensure you get the best insights into Old Dubai. This Dubai Aladdin tour is a really great option!
3. Take an Abu Dhabi day tour
Why not tick TWO amazing Middle Eastern cities off your bucket list?
Abu Dhabi is 60-90 minutes’ drive from Dubai, depending on traffic, and has so many things to do!
As the capital of United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is home to several palaces as well as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, some incredible souks, and a beautiful corniche. And, of course, you can’ miss Ferrari World.
This day tour to Abu Dhabi will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and give you an awesome taste of Abu Dhabi.
(Side note: if you do have time, exploring Abu Dhabi for a couple of days is a great idea. This 48-hour Abu Dhabi itinerary is a great start!)
4. Take a Helicopter Tour
Dubai is a mesmerizing city no matter how you visit, but seeing it from the air is another experience entirely. If you’re not up for skydiving, then why not head out on a helicopter tour?
This helicopter tour lasts for between 12-22 minutes and you’ll have onboard commentary, as you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Creek, Palm Jumeirah, and Burj Al Arab. There are three different flight routes to choose from; the Iconic Tour (12 minutes), the Palm Tour (17 minutes), and lastly, the standard Helicopter Tour (22 minutes).
5. Marvel at The Dubai Fountain
If you’re looking for things to do in Dubai, then check out the city’s famous fountain. Located at the foot of Dubai Mall within the Burj Lake, this fountain is the world’s tallest performing fountain, so is a must-visit during your stay. In fact, this (along with the Desert Safari) was probably THE highlight of our most recent stay with the kids. Yeah, sure, it’s just a fountain in a lake, but when it gets going it’s very moving.
For the best experience, head to The Dubai Fountain after 6 pm, as this is when the water displays start. The displays take place every 30 minutes from this point and consist of colourful water jets and music. Along the Dubai Fountain Boardwalk, you’ll find a floating platform which offers fantastic views. There’s also the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride, where you’ll head out on a boat to get a closer look. While in the city, don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
6. Have Dinner High In The Sky
Feel like you need something different for dinner? How about a three-course-meal 50 metres (165ft) in the air?
The On Air Dinner Adventure serves you up an excellent three-course dinner while you enjoy 360-degree views of the Dubai Skyline.
You’ll have attentive service and your own DJ as you enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
7. Head to the top of the Burj Khalifa
Visiting the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) is one of the best things to do in Dubai as it’s the city’s most iconic landmark. At a height of over 828 metres (2,716 feet) and boasting 160 storeys, this place will take your breath away. To visit the world’s tallest building, you’ll need to head up in an elevator. This will take you to the highest outdoor observatory on Earth (At The Top Burj Khalifa Sky), which is spread across three levels! If you’re looking to go even higher, then check out The Lounge Burj Khalifa which is found on Level 154. It’s the world’s highest lounge and features an outdoor terrace, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Dubai.
8. Splash Down at Aquaventure Waterpark
Aquaventure, located at Atlantis The Palm, is the world’s largest waterpark and is the perfect place to visit if you’re after a bit of fun. It also offers a great way to cool down in the intense Dubai heat. Aquaventure Waterpark is home to over 100 water slides and attractions, so you won’t be short of things to do.
While here, don’t miss out on Medusa’s Lair, Shockwave, Zoomerango, and Hydra Racer if you’re into water slides. Shark Attack is another popular water slide as it will take you through an aquarium tank! There’s also the River Rapids, which is one of the parks’ more leisurely attractions. Not only that but there are plenty of wildlife encounters available at this waterpark, as well as lots of dining options.
9. Visit the Lost Chambers Aquarium
Atlantis Resort also features a beautiful aquarium, which can be a particularly good option when the heat gets too much (we did this on a scorching day, when we could stay indoors in the air-conditioning!)
While the Aquarium itself is beautiful, what’s even better is taking a behind-the-scenes fish hospital tour. This is such an educational and inspiring experience.
For something thrilling, you can do a Lost Chambers Dive Discovery, where you dive with the sharks and rays inside the aquarium!
10. Skydive over The Palm
If you’re an adrenaline seeker, then I highly recommend going skydiving while in Dubai. It’s one of the world’s top locations for this awesome activity, as you’ll get spectacular views of the gulf, city, desert, and Palm Jumeirah.
Skydive Dubai is the city’s top skydiving company and they offer two locations for this activity; the Desert dropzone and the Palm dropzone. You’ll also be in the hands of highly qualified instructors, so you don’t need to worry. The most popular option at Skydive Dubai is tandem skydiving as you’ll be making the jump with an instructor, which means it’s perfect for first-timers. You’ll freefall at over 120 miles per hour so you’re in for the experience of a lifetime.
11. Visit Dubai Frame
Dubai Frame is one of the city’s newest attractions, yet it’s also one of the most famous. You’ll find it within Zabeel Park, which is just a 10-minute drive from Jumeirah Mosque.
Standing at an impressive 150 metres tall (492 feet), the views from the top will take your breath away, as you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the city. Not only are the views insane, but Dubai Frame offers you the chance to learn about the city’s past through a variety of mediums including animations, holograms, and other technology.
There’s also the ‘Future Zone’ which is like a time tunnel. Here, you’ll see what Dubai is expected to look like in 50 years – flying taxis, underwater living and all! So if you’re looking for things to do in Dubai – don’t miss out on this place!
12. Take a Yacht Tour in Dubai Marina
You won’t run out of things to do in Dubai, but while in the city, make sure you head out on a yacht tour if you get the chance. This way, you’ll get to see Dubai from a unique perspective. Although you may not think it, the majority of yacht tours in Dubai are extremely affordable. Some of them include food and beverages too, making them excellent value for money!
This Dubai yacht tour lasts for 2-3 hours and will take you along the Persian Gulf. There are both sunbathing and seating decks, so you can admire the city views while taking in the rays. Not to mention, you’ll have an onboard BBQ or breakfast included, depending on what time you choose. Your drinks are also covered.
13. Ride a Jet Ski
If you’re an adventure seeker you’ll be right at home in Dubai. There are tons of awesome activities that you can take part in from parasailing to quad biking, so there’s something for everyone! One of the most popular activities has to be jet skiing. Now, you can either rent a jet ski or hop on a tour if you’re not very experienced.
This jet ski tour lasts for around an hour and will take you along the city’s waterfront. That means you’ll get fantastic views of the striking Atlantis Hotel, Burj Al Arab, the Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Marina. You’ll have a certified Jet ski instructor with you at all times, and you’ll be given free photographs and videos of the tour which is always a bonus!
14. Hit The Malls And Shop ‘Til You Drop
If you’re a keen shopper, then I highly recommend that you head to Dubai Mall. Home to over 1,200 stores from high-end luxury to high street fashion and hundreds of dining options, it’s one of the largest malls in the world. We also LOVE the mini Chinatown inside!
You’ll also find plenty of awesome attractions at Dubai Mall including the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, and a huge cinema complex. Situated right next to the famous Burj Khalifa, this mall is in a fantastic location. For those looking to ‘shop til they drop’, it’s one of the best things to do in Dubai.
While in the city, head to the Mall of the Emirates too! This is another huge shopping complex that features a ski slope, a cinema complex, over 500 shops, and plenty of dining options. In fact, that leads me to…
15. Hit The Slopes At Ski Dubai
You think you’ve seen everything, then you go skiing in the middle of a freaking mall. Yes, that’s right, Ski Dubai is an indoor ski slope and toboggan run!
Pop on your snow gear (hired upon entry) and hit the slopes, or say hello to Ski Dubai’s colony of emperor penguins. Puffed out? Enjoy an apres ski hot chocolate too.
You’ll find Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates.
16. Explore Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai is home to a lot of the ‘world’s largest’, and the Miracle Garden is no different. It’s the largest natural flower garden in the world, covering an impressive 72,000 square metres (775,001 sq feet).
Dubai Miracle Garden is only open for a limited amount of time during the winter months, typically between October and early May. During this time, the garden is home to over 150 million flowers in full bloom. Better yet, there are tons of awesome attractions to see here, which are shaped from the flowers. This includes ‘Emirates A380’, the Heart Tunnel, the Floral Clock, and the Teddy Bear.
For the best experience, allow at least 3-4 hours here so you don’t rush your visit. There are dining options on-site too.
17. Relax at The Beach
You’ll find plenty of things to do in Dubai, but I highly recommend heading to The Beach.
Located opposite JBR, this fantastic district is home to endless restaurants, attractions, and hotels. Of course, one of the most popular things to do in this area is to relax on the actual beach. Here, you can catch some rays, try out some watersports, or simply take in the spectacular views. Better yet, you’ll find a variety of cosy cafes along the district’s promenade, where you can dine and take in the vistas.
If you still aren’t convinced, then there are lots of unique boutique stores in this area too. If you have the time, I’d certainly recommend spending a couple of hours at The Beach!
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