Dubai Top Attractions
Dubai Top Attractions
Once coined as the “City of Gold” due to its quick rise to wealth and dominance, Dubai truly shines as one of the biggest business and tourism hubs in the world. Dubai is the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates, and boasts world-class luxury shopping, dining, and attractions, with modern architecture and man-made landscapes unlike anywhere else on earth.
Planning a trip to Dubai? Here are our picks for the top sights to see during your visit!
1. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and a the number of attraction in Dubai since its construction in 2009. The building has a height of 2,722 feet (829 meters) and an astounding 163 floors. While visiting, you must check out the observation decks on the 124th floor and 148th floor (tallest observation deck in the world). There you can see unobstructed views that stretch from the gulf into the desert, and all of the famous towers in between. Make sure to book online, as tickets are more expensive on-site at the tower itself.
2. Dubai Fountain Show
The Dubai Fountain Show is located at the center of the Burj Khalifa Lake, directly in front of the tower and the Dubai Mall. The fountains are choreographed in spectacular rhythm, complete with colored lights and patterns that shoot up into the sky as high as 240 feet (73 meters). The fountains can spray up to 83,000 liters of water at a time and are synced with music.
You can watch the show from many of the surrounding restaurants and towers or the open plaza areas in front of the mall. It’s free, and there are two daytime shows at 1pm and 1:30pm (1:30pm and 2pm on Fridays) as well as evening shows every half hour from 6pm-11pm. Shows last for about five minutes.
3. Dubai Frame
Much like its name suggests, the Dubai Frame is a tourist attraction and architectural landmark shaped and decorated like an ornate traditional picture frame. Like many architectural feats in Dubai, it holds a reputation (and international record) for being the largest in the world. The Dubai Frame is located in Zabeel Park, and is meant to serve as a window between the future and the past of the city.
Upon entering the Dubai Frame, you can check out historical exhibits that showcase Dubai and the Emirates. There’s an observation deck at the top floor with fantastic views, admission is reasonable, and there’s special pricing for children.
4. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
The Burj Al Arab is Dubai’s 2nd-most iconic building, famous for its sail-like shape and location right on the water. It is the 7th-tallest hotel in the world. The hotel is on its own small piece of land, connected to a white sand beach, making it ideal for a visit during a beach day. Even if you’re not a guest, you can enjoy one of their world-class tea servings or an incredible full dining experience at one of the hotel’s world-class restaurants or cafes. This is considered by many to be the most luxurious hotel in the world.
5. Dubai Mall
This indoor shopping mall is the 2nd-largest by total land area in the world, located at the center of Dubai’s downtown and tourist district, next to the Burj Khalifa. Within the mall you’ll find the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, a massive haunted house, a “VR Themepark”, and even a real dinosaur fossil of a Diplodocus, casually known as the “Dubai Dino.” Of course, you’ll also find hundreds of retail stores and restaurants for all tastes and budgets, so there’s plenty of shopping to do between attractions.
6. Dubai Desert Safari
Take a walk (or better yet, a ride) on the wild side with a desert safari tour in Dubai! This is a unique experience that will let you ride into the red sands of the Arabian Desert, check out the dunes, and participate in some fun outdoor activities like sandboarding, quad riding, traditional food/bbq outdoors, and even camel rides. There are many tour operators who offer different types of packages and activities, so you have lots of options to choose from based on pricing and what you want to do.
7. Jumeirah Beach
Jumeirah Beach is a white sand beach located on the city’s most coveted waterfront area. It spans one of the most luxurious parts of Dubai’s downtown, and is a close walk/drive to the famous historic district. The Persian Gulf waters are warm and clear, making it a popular spot with both sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts. The beach is family friendly, easy to get to by car, with plenty of parking options and walkable options for food and other beach day goods should you need them.
8. Dubai Marina
At the heart of one of Dubai’s most luxurious residential and hotel areas, the Dubai Marina is a real centerpiece for everything that encapsulates the growth and success of the city. The marina is made up of a series of canals and main waterway that connects gleaming new skyscrapers, public outdoor spaces, shops, and restaurants. This is also where many of the city’s affluent residents keep their boats, making it easy to come in and out of the city, and appealing for residential towers and luxury hotels.
Up for an adventure? Take a ride on the world’s largest zipline, which takes you from 550 feet (170 meters) all the way to the ground, right across the water!
9. Dubai Helicopter Tour
In a city where new towering architectural beauty meets old-world charm, uniting the desert with the sea, you’ll love taking it all in from the sky on one of the city’s many helicopter tours. Dubai is a big, relatively new, sprawling city, and touring in a helicopter will allow you to see it all in a way that’s efficient, and visually breathtaking. There are many tour operators in the city, and each provides guided tours, with unique views and perspectives to share so you can learn about the history of Dubai and its future as you see it 1st-hand, flying through it.
10. Dubai Parks and Resorts
Looking for a theme park adventure during your trip to Dubai? Check out Dubai Parks and Resorts! This is the largest integrated leisure and theme park destination in the Middle East, where you’ll find LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Water Park, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Motiongate Dubai. There’s also a Polynesian-themed family resort called Lapita Hotel, and a large retail and dining district known as Riverland as part of the large-scale complex. There are so many attractions, you can plan an entire trip with the family just here alone. We recommend buying packages online in advance, as there are some great deals out there!
11. Dubai Museum
Take a walk through Dubai’s vast history and culture in this landmark museum. The museum has been around since 1971, but it resides in the oldest building in Dubai, which dates all the way back to 1787. The museum is famous for its Arabian paintings, sculptures, and antiquities, with certain prized artifacts dating as far back as 3000 BC. One of the most popular exhibits is a series of large dioramas of Dubai before the advent of oil, to show the history and progress of the city in just a matter of decades. The museum receives around 1 million visitors a year, so if you want to avoid crowds, make sure to go during low season (May-September).
12. Dubai Ski
In Dubai, there’s seemingly no limit to what you can do on vacation, and Ski Dubai is the perfect example. That’s right, you can ski or snowboard indoors, at a full resort, in the middle of the Arabian desert, any time of year! Ski Dubai has 22,000 sq. meters (or 237,000 sq. feet) of indoor space dedicated to skiing with realistic man-made snow, a lodge, challenging terrain, and a snow park for tobogganing and tubing. There are instructors available for beginners, and the resort is attached to one of the world’s biggest shopping centers, the Emirates Mall, just in case you need a break from the action.
13. Dubai Creek
The Dubai Creek is historic, and once famously separated the city into its two main sections of Bur Dubai and Deira. It was a critical route in Dubai’s pearling industry, which launched the city’s first economy nearly 100 years ago. Now, the creek is a perfect way to see the many layers of Dubai’s history and progress by water, at a slow pace, in an authentic and meaningful way. Take a boat tour from end to end, and you will see a side of Dubai that’s hard to match as far as historical diversity, natural beauty, and the blending of old and modern spaces. A truly unique experience that’s not to be missed.
14. IMG Worlds of Adventure
Strap in and get ready for some rides and fun at the world’s largest indoor theme and amusement park, IMG Worlds of Adventure! The park is divided into five zones, each with their own themes. Known as “Epic Zones”, these areas include Cartoon Network and Marvel-branded rides and attractions, as well as an IMG-branded “Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure” and movie complex known as “Novo Cinemas.” The park has the capacity to entertain 20,000 guests a day and is fully climate-controlled for comfort. Ticket packages are available online, and can be paired with hotel accommodations at a great price, too.
15. Abu Dhabi Day Trip
While in Dubai, a great option to extend and enhance your visit is a day trip to nearby Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It’s the country’s second biggest city, and while it is similar in the sense of modern architecture and luxury, it has a vibe different enough to make it a fun day trip on its own to get to know it better. You don’t want to miss the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, which is truly an architectural sight to behold, and contains some of the finest art in the Middle East, just like its counterpart in Paris.
Book a city highlight tour to see the various centers of government, commerce, and the modern engineering that has made the UAE so famous over the years. The marina, Founder’s Memorial, Presidential Palace, and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque are some of the more popular landmarks to see during your trip, and not to be missed!