Dubai Guide

Dubai Guide

Top things to do on your first visit to Dubai

Dubai is the city where Arabian heritage and modern luxury are mixed. It looks like a dreamland where everything is the best. The highest building, the biggest mall, the largest indoor ski park, the biggest aquarium, the tallest hotel, where they have ATM machines for gold, police drive luxury cars and you can buy anything you could think of. No matter if you like it or not, you will be impressed by it.

first visit to Dubai
first visit to Dubai by Eugene Kaspersky

One day I decided to check how expensive it is to visit Dubai and I was shocked to see that it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be. I had some money saved up and I couldn’t come up with a better idea on how to spend them. So, this is where my travel journey began. I spent a whole week there filled with so many different activities. I didn’t want it to end. It turned out to be the very first trip where my desire to travel was born.

After that trip, I realized that I wanted to keep traveling my whole life, to explore new cultures, to educate myself and to see how other people live. It’s so much better to go and experience it for yourself. I realized that I never want to stop traveling and I want to see as much as I can while I’m still here…

So without further ado, take a look at my not-to-miss experiences in Dubai.

1. Burj Khalifa

We’ll start here because it’s the tallest building in the world after all. 828 meters high with its 163 floors it’s definitely not to miss. We went there during the golden hour, and the view was unbelievable. Even the elevator which takes you to the 124th floor is an experience in itself.

Standing 829.8 meters tall, it’s the world’s tallest building and offers stunning city views from its observation deck on the 124th floor. The entire experience is truly majestic, from the gleaming spire up top to the shimmering fountain shown below. Whether you take in the sights during the day or night, you won’t soon forget your time spent at the Burj Khalifa. Be sure to book ahead if you want to avoid long lines.

2. Dubai Mall

Right below the Burj Khalifa, you will find the largest indoor shopping center. You can find some of the most luxurious stores, restaurants, and cafes there. A place where you can spend hours shopping or at least maybe window shopping.

Boasting over 1200 stores and eateries, the mall is the world’s largest shopping destination and provides a wide array of experiences unique to the city. From luxury boutiques to international retailers, there are plenty of shopping opportunities that will leave you feeling spoiled for choice. And for the avid foodie, the mall also hosts over 200 restaurants and cafes featuring everything from traditional Middle Eastern cuisine to international favorites.

Mercato Mall Dubai
Mercato Mall Dubai by Walid Mahfoudh

If you want to take a break from shopping, Dubai Mall also offers other exciting attractions. From ice skating at Dubai Ice Rink to catching a movie at Reel Cinemas or marveling at the incredible aquatic life at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, this mall has something for everyone. There’s even a gaming zone filled with state-of-the-art video games and simulators to delight gamers of all ages.

A trip to Dubai Mall promises limitless possibilities for a truly unforgettable experience. So if it’s your first visit to Dubai, don’t forget to add this vibrant and bustling landmark to your list!

3. Dubai Aquarium

If shopping is not your favorite activity, you can visit a beautiful aquarium with more than 300 species of marine animals including sharks and rays. You also have an opportunity to swim with the sharks there.

Dubai Mall aquarium
Dubai Mall aquarium by oiva_eskola

Located in the iconic Dubai Mall, the aquarium boasts an incredible 10-million-liter tank that houses some of the world’s most impressive aquatic creatures. At the aquarium, you can admire everything from majestic sharks and stingrays to playful penguins and sea turtles. There are plenty of interactive activities within the aquarium too – you can even dive with the sharks! With over 400 species of marine life swimming around, this is a great way to learn about the fascinating creatures that inhabit our oceans. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to take some unforgettable photos! So be sure to add a trip to Dubai Aquarium to your list of things to do.

4. Dubai Fountains

Located right outside the Dubai Mall. It’s music, water, and light perfection, something that you definitely have to see for yourself. Keep in mind that the music is always different, so it’s worth staying for more than just one song. The show runs every 30 minutes.

This iconic attraction consists of a choreographed display of water jets and lights synchronized to music. It’s a show like no other that illuminates the night sky with dazzling colors and will truly take your breath away.

The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain by Miroslav Petrasko

The best way to experience the live performance is to book a front-row seat right at the edge of the Dubai Fountain Boardwalk. But if you prefer not to get too close, there are also plenty of spots nearby from which you can admire the impressive display. Whichever spot you choose, you’ll be guaranteed an unforgettable experience that you won’t soon forget.

Keep in mind that the timing of the show varies every day, so it’s best to plan ahead and check before you go. Additionally, if you really want to make your visit extra special, you can even enjoy dinner while watching the show with the “Dinner by the Fountains” package. With all these options, there’s no doubt that a visit to the Dubai Fountains will be an unforgettable memory!

5. Palace Downtown

We stopped there to take beautiful pictures with Burj Khalifa in the background.  With its grandiose marble halls, shimmering pools, and intricate mosaics, it’s no wonder that this palace is widely considered one of the most stunning architectural sites in all of Dubai. Take a guided tour of the palace to learn more about its history and admire its grandeur first-hand.

Afterward, you can enjoy some tea or coffee at the nearby Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and explore the shops, restaurants, and other attractions in the downtown area. Visiting Dubai Palace Downtown is an absolute must on your list of things to do in Dubai.

6. Burj Al Arab

The most luxurious and expensive hotel in Dubai. It has been called the only “7-star hotel” in the world. While staying there is very expensive and not for everyone, there is still a way to see it from the inside. You can make a dining reservation or reservation for high tea at the Skyview Bar. It will also give you access to a private beach.

Burj Al Arab
Burj Al-Arab by kemalkestelli

Located on an artificial island and standing almost 1000 feet tall, this iconic hotel is one of the most luxurious in the world. Featuring seven-star amenities, exquisite dining options, and breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf, it’s easy to see why Burj Al Arab is considered one of Dubai’s must-see attractions. Visitors have access to a range of activities, such as helicopter rides to get unparalleled views of the city skyline and exclusive access to some of the area’s best beaches. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even sign up for a hot air balloon ride, offering another stunning perspective of the vast desert landscape. Whether you’re looking for a picturesque stay or just a day trip filled with unforgettable experiences, Burj Al Arab is sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience.

7. Dubai Desert

It’s an adrenaline-filled experience to drive through the dunes, take a break for tea in the desert, and finish it with a delicious sunset dinner, camel rides, belly dancing, and more. You can find a lot of different tours online that suit your needs and budget the most.

From camel rides, sand skiing, quad biking and more, you can find an adventure that’s just perfect for you. For a unique twist on traditional desert safaris, head to the Liwa Oasis for a luxurious dune bashing excursion in an air-conditioned 4×4 SUV. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to take in beautiful 360-degree views of the Arabian desert as you make your way across the sandy terrain. Take a break from your journey and sample delicious Arabic delicacies with a flavorful barbeque lunch under the Bedouin tents provided by your hosts. Complete your adventure with some stargazing; the remoteness of the area allows for uninterrupted views of the clearest night skies you’ve ever seen.

8. Dubai Miracle Garden

It’s another place that you have to visit. It features 50 million flowers and 250 million plants. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there so definitely check the work days in advance. This exotic landscape—with its undulating dunes and golden sands—is a sight like no other. Whether you choose to go on an ATV tour through the desert, hop aboard a 4X4 for a thrilling dune-bashing excursion, or ride a camel across the rolling hills of the Arabian Desert, there’s something for everyone in this unique environment.

Miracle Garden, Dubai
Miracle Garden, Dubai by Utsav V

For a special treat, head to thermal springs and oases where you can enjoy luxuriating in their naturally warm waters. To top off your day, catch an incredible sunset while sipping cocktails and nibbling on sweet dates. And for those looking for an extra thrill, book a hot air balloon ride over the desert and experience spectacular views of this majestic land from above!

9. Dubai Marina

Great, relaxing place to just hang out, go for a walk or have dinner.  When it comes to things to do in Dubai, the iconic Dubai Marina is a must-visit. The manmade marina stretches for nearly five kilometers along the Persian Gulf and is lined with lavish hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs. Along its waterfront, visitors can find breathtaking skyscrapers and sky-high yachts that make this area one of the most captivating sights in all of Dubai.

Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina by

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, be sure to take a walk on the Marina Promenade. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the city’s skyline as well as the mesmerizing Arabian Sea. While walking along the promenade, you can also explore the many attractions like the exclusive beachfront Jumeirah Beach Hotel and the iconic Burj Al Arab, or just relax at one of the many cafés and restaurants along the way.

Those looking for more adventurous activities can also take part in some of the Marina’s many water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing. With so much to see and do, no visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to Dubai Marina.

10. Old District

You can easily spend hours getting lost in the maze of different souks. Textile, gold, spices or just look for some souvenirs to take with you back home. Another thing is to catch a traditional “dhow” to cross the Dubai Creek.

From the iconic Bastakia buildings to the bustling souks that have been operating for centuries, there is plenty here to keep even the most discerning traveler interested. In addition to historic sites, the area also boasts a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, providing ample opportunities for sampling local cuisine or picking up souvenirs. A visit to Dubai Old District is as much about discovering its culture as it is about exploring its history, and is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

11. Day trip to Abu Dhabi

To get a bigger view of the country you can take a day trip to the capital of the UAE. We went to Abu Dhabi to see a very unique Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Heritage Village, and Ferrari World. Abu Dhabi is home to some of the world’s tallest buildings as well as its most luxurious hotels. You can also find pristine beaches, bustling markets, vibrant nightlife, and plenty more.

Abu Dhabi Marina
Abu Dhabi Marina by Ghassan Tabet

The city’s impressive skyline is made up of iconic skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, both of which are must-sees during a visit to Abu Dhabi. If you’re looking for something less touristy, head to the Mutrah Souk, a traditional Arabian marketplace with hundreds of stalls selling everything from spices to souvenirs.

For an experience that’s out of this world, take a drive on the Yas Marina Circuit where you’ll be able to see real Formula One racers in action. Or if you prefer something more relaxing, take a tour of the Mangrove National Park and explore the protected mangrove forests or rent a boat for a day and try your hand at fishing. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Abu Dhabi, you’re sure to have an amazing day out.

12. Go Skiing

Yes, you can go skiing in the middle of the desert, it’s Dubai after all. You can find the indoor ski center in the Mall of the Emirates. Oh, and you can also meet with penguins there. The Snow Park at the mall has been recognized as one of the world’s top indoor ski centers and it’s perfect for adventurers of all ages. You can ski down a 230-meter-long slope with five different levels of difficulty.

And if that isn’t enough, you can also take part in snowboarding, tobogganing, ice climbing, or even just relax in the snowball playground. With its state-of-the-art facilities, advanced safety measures, and friendly staff, The Snow Park is the ideal place to cool off during those hot Dubai days. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures to remember your first trip to Dubai!

13. Skydive

If you’re looking for something more thrilling, you should go skydiving over The Palm. I’m sure it’s once in a lifetime experience.

Palm Jumeirah - Dubai, UAE
Palm Jumeirah | Dubai, UAE by w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines)

Skydiving over Palm Jumeirah is an unforgettable experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located in the Arabian Gulf, this stunning man-made archipelago of islands offers a unique perspective of Dubai’s coastline and skyline. You’ll soar high above the city, taking in breathtaking sights such as the Burj Al Arab, Marina Promenade, and even the iconic Fountains of Dubai. After your safety briefing, you will jump from up to 12,500 feet in the air with a professional skydiving instructor and fly down towards The Palm with nothing but the wind at your back. With modern equipment and stringent safety protocols in place, you can rest assured that you are in for an entirely safe yet thrilling adventure. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time skydiving, the feeling of freefall amidst panoramic views of the city is an experience you will never forget.

14. Driving a Ferrari

If you’re into cars and don’t mind spending the extra money, I think it’s something you should consider doing. Dubai has long been known as a stronghold of car culture and it’s home to some of the world’s most exclusive cars, so what better way to explore the city than behind the wheel of one? With its wide roads and its notably liberal traffic laws, Dubai is the perfect place for drivers who want to take control of the open road.

For instance, you can book a Ferrari F430 or an 812 Superfast from one of many car rental services found throughout the city. Not only will you receive a thrill like never before, but you’ll also get to enjoy Dubai in all its glory while taking advantage of some of the best driving experiences available. When you drive a Ferrari in Dubai, be sure to remember that there are strict speed limits and other safety regulations that should always be adhered to. But with that said, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom behind the wheel of one of these fine machines. So whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or just a unique way to explore the city, driving a Ferrari in Dubai is an experience you won’t soon forget.

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