With just about a zillion things to do, how does one spend a single day or prolonged layover in Dubai? Well, I’m here to recap the things that I enjoyed in Dubai and offer suggestions on things that I wish I would have included. Before diving into the best spots of Dubai, I’d like to mention the geographic challenges of only ~one~ day in Dubai. Downtown Dubai, where the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa are located, is quite far from the Jumeirah Palm area of Dubai.
The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa
I spent a majority of my time in Dubai wandering around the Dubai Mall complex, which includes the second largest shopping mall in the world, the worlds tallest building, the infamous Dubai fountain, an ice rink, an aquarium and much more. The Mall itself has just about every store you could imagine, as well as a plethora of big name restaurants. Aside from retail therapy, my favorite part of my time in Dubai was dining outside with my friends enjoying the water display from the fountain. At night, the display is equipped with music, a lit Burj Khalifa and lasers – truly incredible. I chose to skip the trip up to the top of the Burj Khalifa due to time constraints, but there are a few different ticket packages available. Online there are three ticket packages available from 149 AED to 608 AED. Be cautious when booking to see which observation decks your ticket takes you to as some packages take you to level 125, while others take you to all the way up to level 154. At the mall itself, there are Burj Khalifa and Aquarium dual ticket packages, however, booking online will likely save you a few dollars.
Dubai Miracle Gardens
This may be a more “off the wall” stop on a Tour de Dubai, but it was inspired by a instagram shot of Leonie Hanne in the very spot shown at the top of the post. I saw the picture and immediately decided that I had to stop and snag my own picture. Upon entering, the garden is loud, colorful, and full of massive flower displays. It’s something between Alice and Wonderland and (what I imagine would be) an acid trip. There was a ton of people there, kids and adults alike. Though most of the displays were either confusing or beautiful, my friends and I had a wonderful time wandering through the park. Entrance will cost you 55 AED, but to check out more details, visit their website here.
The Palm Jumeirah
The beautiful Palm Jumeirah, arguably the second most iconic landmark of Dubai, is lined with magnificent resorts, beautiful beaches, and great views of Dubai and the Persian Gulf. (Side note: Did you know that there’s another palm in Dubai? The Palm Jebel Ali began construction in 2002 with the intention of being a bigger and better Palm Jumeirah, but construction is on hold at the moment.) Aside from beautiful resorts at the Palm, two things caught my eye. First, the Atlantis Dubai has to be one of the coolest hotels on the planet equipped with everyone’s dream waterpark. An Adult One Day “Super Pass” will run you 275 AED. The hotel is also home to Nobu Dubai, Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen and Bar, and a wonderful spa. If you looking for more of an adventure than Holiday in the Sun (I had to), Skydive Dubai is located just off the palm and offers the most legendary skydive experience on the planet. A tandem skydive over the Palm 1,499 AED without photos or insurance. For all the information and different experiences, head over to their website.
Jumeirah Beach / Umm Suqeim Beach
If you’re looking to spend some time at the beach, head over to Jumeriah Public Beach or Umm Suqeim Beach (also referred to as Sunset Beach). These public beaches will offer the best views of the Burj Al Arab and make for a perfect instagram shot. Jumeriah Beach is also ranked as one of the best things to do in Dubai and as one of Dubai’s best beaches.
Indoor Skiing at the Mall of the Emirates
Indoor Skiing at Ski Dubai, located inside the Mall of the Emirates, has to be one of the coolest things to do in Dubai. The indoor “snow resort” features skiing, snowboarding, penguin encounters, and a full snow park. The snow park is full of activities like bobsledding, tubing, snow bumpers, a climbing wall, playground and ice cave. A two-hour slope pass, including gear rentals, will run you 210 dirhams, while the full-day slope pass totals 310 dirhams. A Basic Snow Park ticket, again with winter gear included, costs 190 dirhams. A 40-minute penguin encounter (!!!) comes to 230 dirham. The best route, if time permits, is to purchase the Snow Premium Package at 490 dirhams, which includes all of the above. To book in advance, which is recommended, visit their website linked here.
One of my ‘bucket list’ items while in Dubai, that I unfortunately couldn’t squeeze in, is a boat tour. With a bunch of different companies operating tours, there is sure to be one for everyone! Most tours will take you around the Dubai Marina to see the city skyline and to the Palm lagoon to take in the beautiful resorts. The Yellow Boats tour company is the self-proclaimed best tour boat company in the UAE, but has the TripAdvisor reviews to prove it. Personally, I recommend a sunset cruise, as it is the BEST way to enjoy a sunset in Dubai.
Visit the Souks
It wouldn’t be a trip to Dubai without taking in some Middle Eastern culture. One of the best ways to do so is to visit the Souks. Four classics are the Textile Souk, the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk and the Perfume Souk. The gold, spice and perfume souks are all within walking distance and are located on the Deira side of Dubai Creek. The textile souk is just a short taxi ride away in Bur Dubai. Fun fact: The gold souk (the most famous) is the largest gold bazaar in Arabia, making it one of the best places in the ~world~ to shop for gold. Who wouldn’t want to spend hours wandering the souks having personalized perfumes made and perfectly tailored dresses constructed?
For reference, 1 UAE dirham ≈ 0.27 US dollar. I always just divided by 3 for simpler math.
How would you spend a visit to Dubai?