Dubai is a bit like Marmite, you’re either going to love it or hate it. Or, like me, you love the weather, the hotel and the luxury! A lot of people go for a fairly short trip, often less than a week, so it’s important to pack a lot of things in. Either way, if you’re going you should plan your itinerary like any other holiday. Here’s my top recommendations:
1.Do a desert safari tour
I must admit, we didn’t do one of the full safari tours that you see advertised a lot, as we just wanted to focus on quad biking. After a lot of searching I found a quad only tour by Arooha Tours which was fine (it was more of a drive and then wait while another quad company did the actual tour). I don’t think there is a better way to see the desert than riding through it on quads, just the three of us and our guide. We even saw a group of camels which I’m pretty sure was not planned.
I do think it’s one of the best things to do in the Emirates, and great if you haven’t been to the desert before, so I really recommend you take the time for it. But it’s worth doing a bit of research to find something that suits you, as there’s a lot of touristy options (which aren’t really my thing).
2. Watch the Dubai fountains at the Dubai Mall
We went at night after dinner and thought they were pretty cool to watch in the dark, but I’m sure they are worth a visit in the day too. Plus they are one of the few things that are free! Take a look at the timings of the show in advance though so you’re not waiting too long (and risk being tempted by the shops!).
3. Go up the Burj Khalifa
It’s just one of those must-do’s, partly because you can see it everywhere but also because it’s not often you get to say you’ve been up the tallest building in the world. Having done quite a few ‘tall buildings’ I didn’t find it particularly unique, but I still enjoyed it. I’d recommend buying your tickets in advance from Get Your Guide, which I found to be the cheapest option.
4. Let loose at a water park
Dubai is well known for its water parks, and I can see why! We went to Aquaventure at the Atlantis because it was included in our hotel stay, and it was brilliant! It was massive, and we didn’t get to see it all but could have easily spent a whole day there rather than the odd couple of hours we squeezed in here and there. I’ve also heard the Wild Wadi is very good. The Atlantis park probably wins if you’re planning on heading over there anyway to see the famous building.
5. See a less famous view
Dubai Marina is a nice place to go for food or an evening drink (milkshake in our case!), and we enjoyed doing something a bit different in the form of the Dubai Cup, which is a giant table crossed with a fairground ride. You even get a (soft) drink and popcorn!
6. Explore the souks
Now this was a bit difficult to find despite numerous websites talking about them, like this one. In the end we got a taxi to the Dubai Museum, walked to the textile souk, got a cheap boat/ferry ride over the Creek and walked up to the gold souk. This gave a good sense of the souks and a chance to meet some of the characters running the stalls, and we even bought a few fun souvenirs. I’ve included a fun map below to show you where to go.
I really enjoyed visiting Dubai, but admittedly the Atlantis played a huge part in that. With afternoon tea, happy hour cocktails and canapes, plus heavenly breakfast to order and numerous dinner options, it was perfect for a foodie like me. The beach-side location and fantastic service topped it all off.
Also worth noting that we went during Ramadan, and if you’re not sure whether to go during this holy time then have a read of this.