We have found a LOT of things to do in Dubai after ten years of living in the UAE. How do you choose a top 10 for Dubai? We have done innumerable road journeys across the UAE, carried tourists up and down colossal buildings, bumped across dunes in the desert, had tasty dining nibbles and thrilling theme park rides while being charmed by traditional Emirati experiences.
Some of Dubai’s top attractions are definitely pricey, but they are worthwhile. Other attractions are corny, but they are appealing if only for the Instagram moment. And a lot of Dubai’s amazing attractions are totally free!
It is now time to prioritize your Dubai bucket list after arranging your flights and visa. While there are more than 150 things to see and do in Dubai, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 10 experiences.
Top 5 recommended experiences in Dubai
1. The Dubai Mall and Fountains
Start off with something free and simple. At the base of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, there is a choreographed evening performance called the Dubai Fountains. Even though each fountain display only lasts for about five minutes, there are lots of other things to see and do nearby, not the least of which is to shop at the biggest mall in the world or eat at one of the many restaurants that have a view of the fountains.
The Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo has the largest suspended aquarium tank in the world, which is open to the public and is free to watch. There is also a giant ice rink, a waterfall wall, Kidzania for young children, and PlayDXB (a virtual reality theme park) for older children and teenagers.
You may easily spend a day or two stopover in Dubai only in the Dubai Mall and the Downtown Dubai region, including Dubai Opera and the exciting new Sky Views Observatory. This is especially true during the summer season.
2. An excursion to Atlantis the Palm
Atlantis the Palm pretty much wraps it up if you’re seeking for an all-in-one package that highlights Dubai’s opulent and opulent side. Atlantis is a five-star luxury hotel located at the top of the Palm Jumeirah and is connected to Aquaventure, one of the biggest water parks in the world.
You can stay the night at the hotel for an excursion that includes water park activity and the stunning Lost Chambers aquarium, or you can just visit the water park for the outdoor thrills and spills.
If visiting the waterpark is out of your price range, you can always take a stroll along the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk or enjoy the scenery from The Pointe, which is located next to Atlantis.
3. Climbing the tallest skyscraper in the world
We must admit that adding this one made us shudder a little. Should we suggest this experience to others or not?
Even at its cheapest, getting to the lower observation deck levels will cost you roughly $30 USD (while remaining at an incredible 456 meters above the ground, mind you!).
If I were to provide a fair evaluation, I’d say that the lines can be lengthy, the observation deck can be congested, and the Dubai haze and fog can ruin the views (or make them beautiful, depending on what you came for!)
However, there is just one skyscraper in the world that breaks records for height. Additionally, those views are truly breathtaking on a good day. Our best advice is to avoid using your one day in Dubai to wait in lines to enter At The Top. However, if money and time allow, go for it!
As pre-booked tickets are far less expensive and ensure your spot rather than trying your luck on the day, this is one aspect of your vacation to Dubai that you will really want to have planned out in advance.
Here is a comprehensive guide that covers all of your alternatives for seeing the Burj Khalifa.
Here are our best recommendations for cheaper alternatives if you don’t like the price or the lines.
4. Visiting Abu Dhabi and the Grand Mosque in one day
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s most stunning structures and a symbol of the modern Islamic UAE, is located in Abu Dhabi, a neighboring city, roughly 150 kilometers to the west of Dubai.
But don’t confine your journey to Abu Dhabi to simply the Grand Mosque. It’s true that Abu Dhabi has a different vibe, and we’d strongly advise staying overnight to fit everything in, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Qasr al Watan, the UAE’s presidential palace.
If you don’t have much time, you could spend a half-day seeing only the Grand Mosque. The only thing you would need to pay for is transportation from Dubai; the mosque itself is free to enter. Find out more about how to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for the day here.
If you want to visit a mosque and learn more about Islamic culture but you don’t have time to travel to Abu Dhabi, check out this list of mosques in Dubai that are available to the public.
5. Wander about the Dubai Museum and the Al Faihidi Historic District
If you don’t at least make an effort to delve below the surface, you can’t claim that Dubai is nothing but concrete and shopping malls after you leave. Although the Dubai Museum and Fahidi Fort are excellent places to start, keep walking to discover more of the neighborhood.
This small part of the city has undergone a significant makeover over the last ten years (formerly known as Bastakiya). This is a very different side of Dubai, one that recognizes the need of preserving the city’s ancient foundations. The narrow, meandering passageways are lined with galleries, cafes, and museums.
If you would like to broaden your search of Dubai’s cultural side, we offer a comprehensive guide to the city’s numerous museums and historical places here.
Additionally, we urge you to go to the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU). They are located at House 26 Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, Al Musallah Street, and can assist you with cultural tours, mosque visits, traditional food experiences, and much more.