Dubai is a popular destination for many: it’s affordable to travel to and is great for a weekend getaway (depending on where you’re located). I actually visited on a whim a couple of years ago when I invited myself on a friend’s trip and had a blast. It’s an interesting place for various reasons, especially from a sociological perspective, but I actually prefer it to the people’s fave – Paris. Here’s a quick roundup of things to do in the city.
Dubai is a great place for travellers who love familiarity. You’ll find plenty of well-known restaurants and chains, but I’d recommend looking up the newest and hottest places in town. There’s always something new opening!
Three things that you have to try are a mixed grill, baklava and mint tea/mint and lemon juice.
I didn’t drink in Dubai as I was teetotal, but The Address Dubai Marina has the most stunning rooftop pool/bar. Dubai isn’t short on views, but the pool/daybed/skyline combo at The Address is undefeated. This was my favourite spot for drinks in the city and I’d definitely try to stay at the hotel next time.
A day trip to Abu Dhabi, specifically Sheikh Zayed Mosque needs to be the first thing on your list. I’m aware that it’s not actually in Dubai, but to this day it’s the most breathtaking place I have ever been! It goes without saying, but dress appropriately and wear sunglasses during the day because it’s bright!
In my opinion, Abu Dhabi is far more interesting and extravagant than Dubai, so it’s definitely worth the visit. Emirates Palace and Etihad Towers are just two examples of the elaborate architecture that can be found in the city. Yas Island and Ferrari world may also be places of interest if you’re there for more than a day.
Dubai Mall has everything you could possibly imagine, aside from shopping there’s indoor skiing, an ice rink and of course the aquarium which has a tank situated on the ground floor of the mall. It’s more than a mall and it’s the perfect place to kill time in the late evening.
I’ve visited a few ‘tall’ buildings across the world, but the Burj Khalifa is by far my favourite. Unlike other popular buildings, the Burj Khalifa is actually impressively tall and is definitely a sight to see. I would recommend buying a ticket for At The Top (Level 125) and upgrading to At The Top Sky (Level 148) on the day because if visibility is low, it’s not worth going any higher. It’s probably worth mentioning that because the city is full of skyscrapers it won’t seem as high, but it’s worth the experience.
No trip to Dubai is complete without a desert excursion. It sounds ridiculously cliche because everyone is doing it on Instagram, but it’s still one of my best travel memories.
I’m going to mention Dubai Mall once again because it’s essentially the hub of the city. The mall has both high and low-end fashion, candy stores, random tourist gift shops…everything! Unless you’re buying designer exclusives, there isn’t anything you can’t get at home, but what else are you going to do in the middle of the desert?
The Gold Souk is worth a visit for both the experience and purchasing a keepsake. There’s a ton of shops, some with more obviously inflated prices than others, but as always haggle and know what you’re buying.
Top tips for your visit to Dubai:
- 4-5 days is enough. I don’t think this needs to be said, but I honestly think you’ll get more out of a shorter, more intense trip. A weekend (if you’re travelling from the UK) is even enough if you don’t plan to do too much.
- Save the shopping and all mall activities until nighttime. Dubai Mall is open until midnight, which means you can explore during the day and shop/catch a movie at night.
- They deliver everything in Dubai, in fact, we ordered room service for breakfast every day just because. Order KFC (not as good the Caribbean, but superior to US/UK) to your room when you’re feeling lazy.
- Dress Code (Women): I would say Dubai is a lot more relaxed than Abu Dhabi but covering your shoulders and knees is advisable, especially in the mall. It’s not that difficult and most Western girls are wearing some variation of skinny jeans and a loose-fitting blouse.
- Dubai is cold during British winter time (19-26 Celsius on average) but too hot in the summer. I’d recommend going in either Autumn or Spring.