Dubai is the glamorous metropolis on the Persian Gulf. The city is bursting with splendor, excitement, variety and at the same time offers original and traditional as from 1001 nights.
There are many sights and highlights to discover in Dubai and the list of attractions keeps growing. Here are my favorites so far.
#1 Burj al Arab
The Burj al Arab is one of the absolute landmarks of Dubai. Its unique architecture as well as its location on an offshore small island stand out from the crowd. The hotel likes to be called the only 7-star hotel in the world – and rightly so. Adjectives like extravagant and pompous fit here like a glove.
Whether it’s the gigantic aquarium in the hotel’s lounge or the high vaulted ceilings, the chandeliers or the gold leaf used in many places, the hotel proves in many ways that it is in a class of its own.
For those who find the overnight stay (understandably) too expensive, the hotel can only be visited from the inside if a reservation is made for one of the restaurants. Here I can recommend afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar on the 27th floor. It’s not exactly cheap, but the experience is definitely worth the money. You can find my detailed article on visiting the Burj al Arab here.
#2 Burj Khalifa
With its height of 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa towers majestically over the city. The tallest building in the world is a real tourist magnet, because the sight of it makes jaws drop in rows.
Especially in the evening, tourists are offered real highlights. First, there’s the spectacular Dubai Fountain, a music-controlled fountain show that takes place right in front of the Burj. Playing hours are from 6pm-11pm, every half hour. On the other hand, the Burj Khalifa itself shines in the most dazzling colors in the course of a half-hourly LED and laser show. A real eye-catcher that should not be missed.
Of course, a visit to the Burj Khalifa is also a great way to see Dubai from a breathtaking height. Why I advise against a classic visit to the At the Top observation deck and rather recommend a reservation in the At.mosphere Lounge on the 122nd floor. You can find out in my article At.mosphere in the Burj Khalifa.
#3 Desert Safari
Dubai consists not only of many modern skyscrapers, but above all of sand. A trip to the desert is therefore a must – whether with your own rental car or in the course of a booked day or half-day tour.
Providers for such tours are numerous in Dubai. However, the offers differ only slightly. Usually you are picked up from the hotel by a jeep and then you drive with a jeep convoy towards the desert. Once arrived, air is let out of the tires and the bumpy Dune bashing begins. The drive over the dunes gives you a good shake before you make a photo stop just in time for sunset.
After that, the tour continues to a Bedouin camp, where the tourists are provided with a barbecue and free drinks. As entertainment, there are traditional dance and fire shows during the meal. If you like, you can also get henna tattoos painted on your hands, smoke hookah or take a short camel ride.
The whole desert safari is quite touristy, but still highly recommended. Even though there are about 100 tourists in the Bedouin camp, there is no feeling of crowding or lack of space. The adventurous Dune bashing alone was worth the trip.
We did our trip then with Arabian Nights Tours and can recommend it. Our driver was nice and funny and took good care of us. Such a six-hour desert safari starts from about $74 per person. If you have bought the voucher app The Entertainer Dubai, the tour costs only half thanks to the 2 for 1 offer. A super saving tip from my side! However, there are other desert safari deals in the coupons app. Just click your way through it.
Those who prefer something more private and original will also find what they are looking for here. So there are excursions with an overnight stay in an original Bedouin camp in the desert as well as wildlife safaris, where the focus is more on nature and wildlife. There you can get in touch with falcons and admire eagles up close. At Get your Guide you are sure to find the right tour for you.
#4 Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark
At the top of the man-made island of The Palm Jumeirah, you’ll find the spectacular Atlantis Hotel. This is where Dubai’s most popular water park is located: Aquaventure Waterpark. The water park, which is also open to non-hotel guests, houses 30 slides and attractions that guarantee fun for everyone.
The Leap of Faith slide, for example, first descends several stories vertically to slide through a pipe in a shark tank at the end. An adrenaline rush at its best! The Lazy River, on the other hand, is quite leisurely. For 45 minutes you can drift through the park on a hoop.
In addition to the exciting attractions, the park also offers a long sandy beach to relax on, with views of the Burj al Arab and Dubai Marina.
The entrance fee for adults on site is close to $84, for children $67, depending on the season. For the greater budget, Aquaventure has even more to offer. There is Dolphin Bay, where you can swim with dolphins; at Sea Lion Point you can get up close to sea lions and at Ambassador Lagoon you can go diving with countless sharks, stingrays and fish. On the Atlantis Aquaventure website you can take a closer look at all the offers.
Small tip: If you are interested in an experience in Dolphin Bay, it is worth taking a look at the Dubai Entertainer. Because there is a selection of vouchers for the dolphin encounters.
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#5 Dubai Mall
The legendary Dubai Mall is located right next to the Burj Khalifa and is a true shopper’s paradise. The shopping center is considered one of the largest in the world and houses not only countless stores but also an impressive aquarium, an artificial ice rink and a 24m high water cascade.
The previously mentioned Dubai Fountain, a music-controlled fountain in a class of its own, is also part of the Dubai Mall. A fountain show in the evening is a must for every Dubai vacationer.
#6 Dubai Deira
If you want to see and experience the original Dubai, you should visit the old district of Deira, which is located north of Dubai Creek. The contrast to the modern urban areas of Dubai is enormous, because here you can still find traditional buildings and markets. The most popular markets are the famous Gold Souk and the Spice Souk.
At the Gold Souk – also called City of Gold – you can buy a wide variety of jewelry consisting of diamonds, sapphires or emeralds. Since the government constantly checks the quality and authenticity of the goods, everything should actually be of high quality, so that one can quietly strike at a good price.
The Spice Souk, on the other hand, offers a huge selection of spices from around the world for purchase. Just walking through the narrow streets is an experience thanks to the seductive smells.
#7 Ride with the Abra
The Dubai Creek separates the two districts of Deira and Bur Dubai, where the historic Dubai Museum is located.
If you want to go back across Dubai Creek after visiting the Deira district, you can take a ride on a traditional abra. The wooden boats act as cabs for crossing Dubai Creek. For the 10-minute crossing you pay 1 Dirham, which is about 25 cents. For so little money, this is a really fun and authentic experience.
#8 Dubai Marina
The modern residential district Dubai Marina impresses with its man-made canal and the numerous skyscrapers that are arranged around it. In addition to a marina and the Dubai Marina Mall, it is also home to the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), a leisure complex with stores, restaurants and a beach promenade.
The neighborhood is perfect for a short stroll or walk in a relaxed atmosphere due to its direct location on the beach. But the Dubai Marina is particularly impressive in the evening, when the lights of the skyscrapers shine in full splendor and are reflected in the water. Simply a cool sight.
In 2020, the Ain Dubai, the world’s largest Ferris wheel, will open in the immediate vicinity of Dubai Marina. At a height of around 250 meters, it is designed to provide a unique panoramic view of Dubai’s skyline. So Dubai Marina will soon have another attraction.
#9 Boat tour from Dubai Marina
Since Dubai Marina has a jacht harbor, numerous boat tours are offered from here. These usually last between 60 and 90 minutes. The shorter tours usually take you only across the channel, while the longer ones also take you out to sea.
Since Dubai Marina is located right next to The Palm Jumeirah, you can see the island from a new perspective during the boat tour. A real highlight is also the sight of the Burj al Arab from the water.
We did our boat tour with Xclusive Tours and I can also recommend this provider without reservation. Especially since our guide was super friendly and could tell us a lot of interesting facts about the sights of Dubai. So not only was the speedy ride across the water a lot of fun, but you also took away plenty of new information. At Get your Guide you can book the tour for $26 per person.
If you are in possession of the Dubai Entertainer app, consider yourself lucky. Because the digital voucher book contains some offers for such boat tours; including a tour with the Yellow Boats – another popular provider of boat tours in Dubai.
#10 Souk Madinat
The Souk Madinat is located not far from the Burj al Arab and is part of the Madinat Jumeirah complex, which consists mainly of magnificent hotels and numerous restaurants. The large complex is crisscrossed by waterways, which are navigated by the wooden Abras.
The souk itself is a bazaar modeled after a traditional Arab market. More authentic and cheaper shopping can be done at the markets in Deira, but especially in the evening the atmosphere at the Souk Madinat is simply magical.
Do you have any questions about Dubai and its attractions? Then feel free to ask me in the comments.
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