Dubai is always a good idea for the holidays. The city loves challenges and is ever-evolving. It means that every time you visit the city, you will find your jaws drop in awe as the city unveils some extravagant attraction to impress its tourists. However, with the ever-increasing extraordinary attractions in Dubai, one might find quite overwhelmed as to what to do in Dubai during a visit. If you are a first time visitor, you will definitely find that there are plenty of things to do in Dubai on a holiday. So where should you start? Here’s a compact list of must-visit attractions and activities in Dubai that you should certainly include in your first Dubai trip.
Author: Priya Ghatol
Best time to visit Dubai
Dubai apparently is just hot throughout the year as it is a desert city. All through the year, there is plenty of sunshine and just different versions of hot weather. August is the hottest month and January is the coldest month. However, the so-called winters of Dubai start from October till March. This is when the climate gets pleasant and the heat is milder than the rest of the year. This is also the best time to visit Dubai, but do bear in mind that it is also the peak season for tourism in Dubai.
Things to do in Dubai
1. Desert Safari Dubai
Without a desert safari tour, your Dubai vacation would feel incomplete. The Arabian Desert has a unique charisma and offers a mix of cultural and adventure experiences. You can choose a desert safari that suits you the best. For honeymooners, the morning hot air ballooning ride on the golden deserts is an idyllic way to enjoy the landscapes. Hardcore adventurers can opt for an afternoon till evening tours where they can enjoy desert sports such as dune bashing, quad biking, camel rides, and sand-boarding. Evenings are made memorable with serene desert sunsets followed by barbeque Arabian dinner and folklore. You can even extend your experience into an overnight stay amid the peaceful desert under the starry skies in Bedouin styled tents.
2. Dhow Cruise Dinner
Another very traditional experience to enjoy in Dubai is the Dhow Cruise on Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina. Enjoy the beauty of Dubai’s illuminated skyline with an evening dinner cruise on a wooden traditional Arabian boat known as a ‘Dhow’. Enjoy a scrumptious dinner onboard with traditional entertainment as you meander along the coastline of Dubai city.
3. Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain
The iconic landmark of modern Dubai - the Burj Khalifa would adorn your Instagram feed, no doubt about that. This magnificent tower offers you a chance to view the city from above the clouds. Head to Burj Khalifa during the evenings so that you can take in the full glory of the illuminated spectacle of the tallest building in the world. Also, you get to witness the world’s largest dancing fountains in synchronized performance right next to Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Fountains are a marvelous sight worth watching. It would be one of the most memorable evenings you will remember of Dubai for a long time.
Location: 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timings for the Dubai Fountain show: The first show starts at 6 pm and is held every half hour till 11 pm.
4. Dubai Mall
Within the vicinity of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain is another prominent Dubai attraction - Dubai Mall. The world’s largest mall which is home to over 1000 retail outlets is a paradise for shopaholics. A visit to Dubai Mall goes beyond just retail therapy. It is a family recreational centre with loads of fun activities and entertainment. Dubai Mall is also home to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, KidZania, VR Park along with international dining venues and impressive multi-screen Cineplex. You could easily spend a day indoors in Dubai Mall visiting an amazing array of attractions and keep yourself indulged in exciting activities.
Location: Financial Center Road, Along Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
5. Ski Dubai
Have some fun in snowy terrains on your Dubai holiday. Yes, Ski Dubai located in the Mall of The Emirates lets you experience a wintry ambiance and spend some quality time in fun and adventure with your near and dear ones. Dubai made sure that it leaves no stones unturned when it comes to extraordinary holiday experiences and made possible a snow-filled, climate-controlled attraction for its visitors to enjoy even in the scorching, arid climate. Ski Dubai is the first of its kind indoor ski resort where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding and much more. Don’t miss to watch the penguins waddling around at the snow park. Ski Dubai is one of the fun things to do in Dubai with family and friends that also lets you escape the stifling heat of Dubai city.
Location: Mall of the Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timings: Sunday to Wednesday 10 am till 11 pm, Thursday 10 am till midnight, Friday and Saturday 9 am till 11 pm.
Admission Tickets: Basic Snow Park Admission costs approx. AED 190 per person.
6. Dubai Miracle Garden
Vast expanse of floral oasis meets your eye at the Dubai Miracle Garden. This attraction is open only during the pleasant months of November till March which is the favorable season to maintain the blossoms of this colossal garden. Boasted as the largest natural flower garden in the world, Dubai Miracle Garden offers a variety of floral installations, topiaries and carefully manicured landscapes that consists of over 150 million flowers. This Dubai attraction is perfect to capture some amazing insta-worthy snaps while admiring a kaleidoscope of vibrant floral hues during a Dubai trip.
Location: Al Barsha South Third, Dubailand, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timings: Sunday to Thursday 9 am to 9 pm, Friday 9 am to 11 pm, Saturday 9 am to 10 pm.
Admission Ticket: AED 55 per person for 12 years and above, AED 40 for children below 12 years. Children below 3 years of age are free of charge.
7. Dubai Frame
Dubai is also home to Dubai Frame -the largest picture frame in the world. This architectural marvel offers its guests an insight into Dubai’s past, present, and future. The Dubai Frame is actually a museum where Dubai’s Bedouin days are displayed along with its futuristic visions. The unobstructed panoramic view of old and modern Dubai from the top observatory bridge is a vision that will stay memorable forever.
Location: Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timings: Daily from 9 am till 9 pm.
Admission Ticket: Approx AED 55 per person.
8. La Perle by Dragone
Enjoy an evening witnessing a stellar performance of acrobats, aqua shows and aerial stunts meticulously choreographed into perfection. La Perle by Dragone is the first permanent live show of Dubai and woos its audience with its grandiose backdrops and world-class performers. It is a live show and an activity in Dubai that all age groups will enjoy.
Location: 260 Sheikh Zayed Rd, Al Habtoor City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timings: Sunday and Monday 10 am till 8 pm, Tuesday to Saturday 10 am till midnight.
Admission Costs: Tickets start from AED 300 onwards per person.
9. Dubai Parks and Resorts
If you are visiting Dubai with kids, Dubai Parks and Resorts should be on your must-visit attraction list. Comprising of three theme parks with over 100 rides and thrills, Dubai Parks and Resorts is the largest integrated amusement park in the Middle East. It is a great place to enjoy some thrills in movie worlds of Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai and spend some quality time with family and kids in the Middle East’s first-ever LEGOLAND theme park and LEGOLAND Water Park.
Location: Sheikh Zayed Road, Opposite Palm Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Timing: Motiongate Dubai: Saturday to Wednesday 11 am till 8 pm. Thursday and Friday - 11 am till 9 pm.
Bollywood Parks Dubai: Saturday to Thursday - 1 pm till 10 pm, Friday 1 pm till 11 pm.
LEGOLAND Dubai: Sunday to Wednesday 10 am till 6 pm, Thursday to Saturday - 11 am till 8 pm.
LEGOLAND Water Park: Daily from 10 am till 6 pm
Admission Costs: The theme park ticket cost varies for different theme zones. The basic ticket costs start at approx. 175 AED per person per park onwards.
10. Dubai Souks
Steer away from the urbane flair of modern Dubai and explore the alleys of Dubai Souks. These traditional bazaars conduct their daily business pretty much like the old days of Dubai. Wander around and enjoy the bustling lanes lined with shops selling gold, textiles, handicrafts, carpets, perfumes, and spices. Located on either side of Dubai Creek, Dubai Souks is one of the best places to go for budget shopping. It is also the ideal place to mingle with locals and enjoy some delicious Arabian culinary delights.
Tips for First Time Visitors in Dubai
Dubai is amazingly diverse and outstandingly beautiful. It is one of the few cities in the world that offers much more than meets the eye. Moreover, the fusion of cultural essence and contemporary flair makes Dubai an intriguing destination to visit for wanderlusts. With its amazing assortment of old-world charms, modern architectural wonders, record-breaking attractions, award-winning hotels and luxury at its best, Dubai will charm you on your first visit and make you come back for more.
Priya Ghatol is an avid travel writer who specialises in adventurous travel writing. Her blogs and articles about several places like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Europe, Dubai, USA, Canada, etc give deep insight into various tourist places and act as a perfect travel guide for someone who is traveling to a place for the first time.