The first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks about things to do in Dubai, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, is the safari in the Arabian desert.
The desert safari involves dune bashing in a closed sturdy vehicle. Followed by a campsite, with performances by belly dancers, dinner and numerous stalls with arts local to the area.
It is undoubtedly one of the most popular Dubai tourist attractions. But did you know that this most populous city in the United Arab Emirates is so much more than its desert?
What To See In Dubai
Dubai is a highly developed city and it is a dream for many to live here. It is famous for its modern architecture, buildings, luxury shopping malls, beaches, culture, food, and vibrant nightlife.
The city invests heavily in real estate and houses the world’s tallest building and the tallest hotels. Greenery is abundant despite the hot climate and the Dubaians have deployed innovative methods of watering plants and trees.
Life in Dubai is extremely fast-paced and there are so many activities and attractions here that one never gets bored. From adventure to leisure to culture to architecture, there are so many things to do in this city. Here’s our list of the top attractions.
Things to do – Dubai Architecture
Every trip to Dubai should include stops to these destinations, to get an overall idea of the culture and leisure activities of the people here.
Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai is the tallest building in the world and has been since it was completed in 2009, with a height of 829.8m.
It was built to put Dubai on the world map, and bring in tourists to contribute to the economy by means other than oil. The design of the mighty structure has been inspired by Islamic architecture and consists of 8 escalators and 57 elevators.
The building is resistant to the extremely hot temperatures of Dubai owing to its cladding system. This architectural marvel that connects to the Dubai Mall is one of the best places to see in Dubai.
2.) Dubai Frame
Apart from the tallest building in the world, Dubai is also home to the largest frame in the world. The Dubai Frame was built as the result of a design competition, but controversy says that the original designer, Fernando Donis did not receive the credit he deserved.
This is the reason the frame is called the “biggest stolen building of all time”. It is made of glass, aluminum, reinforced concrete, and steel.
The bridge on the frame provides a view of modern Dubai landmarks on one side and the older parts of the city on another. One of the most unique structures on the planet, Dubai Frame is not to be missed.
Dubai things to do for a cultural experience
Dubai’s cultural attractions make for interesting places to see and give you a glimpse of the cultural preferences of the locals.
3.) Global Village
If you want to get a glimpse of the cultures of 90 different countries under one roof, the Global village is the place to be. It is the world’s largest project for shopping, entertainment, tourism, and leisure.
It’s visited by around 5 million people every year. It is Dubai’s first cultural destination. At the Global village, you can see a different tent for each country, each of which gives you a glimpse into the culture of that country.
Visitors can shop for different products which are the specialties of these countries, which make for excellent souvenirs to take back home.
4.) Dubai Opera
The Dubai Opera is a cultural performing arts center with a seating capacity of around 2000. A theatre, a concert hall, a banquet hall for events, the Dubai Opera is 3-in-1.
It hosts all kinds of events from opera, to ballet, to concerts, to plays, to exhibitions, and is also rented out for weddings and fashion shows. The Opera is Dubai’s effort in staying connected to culture and providing a venue for artists to perform.
The Opera is also architecturally beautiful, and its design resembles a sailing vessel, also called, dhow, where the bow is the main stage of the opera, seating, and orchestra, and the waiting area and parking constitute the elongated hull.
Whether you are one for structures or cultures, Dubai Opera is the place to see.
5.) Dubai Museum
The traditional way of life in Dubai is something that the ruler of the city wanted everyone to know. It is with this intention that he built the Dubai Museum in 1971.
The galleries in the museum depict the land’s culture back in the 1800s. Dubai’s trade history is also displayed in the museum by means of artifacts and antiques from Asian and African countries that the city traded with.
Dioramas in the museum give an idea of life in the region before the age of oil. The Dubai Museum is built in the Al Fahidi Fort and is the perfect answer to what to see in Dubai if you want to know about the life and culture of the people here.
6.) Jumeirah Mosque
A trip to any Islamic country would be incomplete without visiting the worship place of the locals. At the same time, it is essential to respect their culture and follow their rules.
While visiting the Jumeirah mosque, you must be modestly dressed, with your hands and legs covered. The women must also have their heads covered.
But what if you don’t own any traditional attire or something suitable for entering the mosque? In this case, if you still wish to visit, the mosque provides clothes that are appropriate for entry.
A visit to the mosque is usually extremely educational and informative and you must visit to know more about Islam and how the locals live and pray.
Top Things to do in Dubai for Leisure
Leisure activities are sought by everyone who goes on a trip. After exploring the architecture and culture of a place, it is important to engage in some leisure activities.
7.) Dubai Fountain
A choreographed fountain system, the Dubai fountain is located on the manmade Burj-Khalifa lake. The fountain is 275m long and its water reaches heights of about 152.4m.
The fountain is accompanied by contemporary music from the Arabic world. It consists of 6600 lights and there are 50 colored projectors for the fountain shows. At any given point in time, the fountain can shoot 22,000 gallons of water into the air.
There are frequent light and sound shows on the fountain every day and witnessing one makes for a delightful experience. The fountain is a must-do in Dubai when you are seeking some leisure time.
8.) Dubai mall
What can be more of a leisure activity than shopping? The Dubai Mall, by total land area, is the second-largest mall in the world.
Apart from the huge number of shops in the mall, it also consists of:
- 22 movie screens,
- over 120 eateries
- and a luxury hotel with around 250 rooms.
The mall also houses a huge aquarium, a Virtual reality park, a haunted house, and Kidzania which is a theme park based on edutainment for kids.
One day is not enough to see all of Dubai Mall and you must give it a total of at least three days if you want to be able to see everything. One of the grandest malls in the world, the Dubai mall is one of the best places to visit in Dubai for leisure, shopping, and entertainment.
9.) Miracle Garden
The Miracle garden is Dubai’s signature garden and is made entirely of flowers. With 250 million plants and 50 million flowers, it is the largest natural flower garden in the world.
The garden remains closed during the summer months of May to September due to the scorching heat and high temperatures of Dubai and is open from October through April.
It is home to the world’s largest butterfly garden with over 26 species and 15000 butterflies in the sanctuary. Miracle garden has an arrangement with Walt Disney and showcases structures made out of flowers for Disney characters.
You’ll find Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Pluto, Donald Duck and his nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. It is the perfect destination to unwind after a hectic few days of sightseeing and soak in the beauty of mother nature in the form of flowers.
10.) Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is a man-made canal city, stretching 3km long along the shoreline of the Persian Gulf. If you plan on visiting this incredibly amazing attraction, make sure to keep an entire day in hand.
The Marina consists of various hotels, the Dubai Marina Mall, the Dubai Marina Walk, and various residential complexes. You can also choose to stay in one of the hotels here.
During the non-summer months from October to April, you can give the Marina Mall a miss and go for a local shopping experience to Covent Garden Market. Dubai Marina is not very high on the priority list of things to see in Dubai, but it should be, as it makes for an eventful and fun-filled day.
11.) Jumeirah Beach
Going to the beach is the perfect way to spend some leisure time on your vacation. Jumeirah beach is located in the Jumeirah district of Dubai and is not very far from the Dubai Marina. It is a white sand beach.
From the Jumeirah beach, you can see the famous Burj-Al-Arab hotel, which is the seventh-largest hotel in the world and is made in the shape of the sail of a ship.
If you get tired from sightseeing throughout the day, you can head to the beach at night and sit by the waterfront, in one of the restaurants and just relax. This is the perfect destination to head to with family or friends.
Fun things to do in Dubai
How about doing something just for fun? If you are traveling with kids, chances are that they will prefer fun activities more than your local sightseeing.
12.) Dubai Parks And Resorts
If fun is what you seek and if you happen to be traveling with children, you absolutely cannot miss this attraction, which consists of 4 theme parks, and a luxury resort equipped with a world-class spa.
You can book tickets for the theme parks online or buy them at the entrance to the park. This is the largest theme park in the middle east and by now, we know that everything in Dubai is majestic.
One of the theme parks is a Legoland water park, one is a Legoland park, there is a Bollywood park and a Motiongate park. There is also a Riverland which is free and full of entertainment and music. Truly one of the best Dubai tourism attractions!
Dubai things to do for Adventure
Adventure activities give you an adrenaline rush. Though they are extremely scary, the thrill and the satisfaction of having done it is something nothing can beat. Gather a little courage and go for it.
Skydiving is one of the scariest adventure sports in the world and requires mustering a lot of courage. While the sport is conducted in many parts of the world, Dubai is one of the best places to do it.
You’ll be treated to a view of the skyline of the city along with the amazing Palm islands during the dive. While you are hanging for your life by a parachute, you will be able to recognize popular attractions.
These include Jumeirah beach, Burj-Al-Arab, the world’s largest Ferris wheel-Ain Dubai, and many others. Leave all your worries aside and just let go, skydive tension-free as safety protocol is followed very seriously by the skydiving crew and you are in safe hands.
While talking about adventure sports, one can’t miss mentioning Ziplining. Riding along a zipline at high speeds gives you an adrenaline rush and takes you into a different world.
You suddenly feel like Tarzan, jumping from one tree to another, except that Xline makes you zipline between skyscrapers, and over the Dubai Marina.
The tickets for the sport must be bought in advance as they tend to get sold out. If you are looking for a crazy experience while in Dubai, you must go for the Xline.
What to do in Dubai – Summary
Most of the attractions in Dubai hold records for being the tallest, or the largest, or the grandest, and they are all worth it. The city is heavily investing in becoming a top tourist destination and is always coming up with new and fun things to see.
The city is in constant competition with its nemesis Abu Dhabi, to decide which city is better and more grand for tourists. We don’t know which city is the winner, but Dubai is definitely not the loser.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, hop on the next flight and head to this magnificent city!