Dubai is a city of contrasts. Walking through its streets you can go from sea level to the tallest skyscrapers in the world, from the charm of the old and traditional to the most luxurious and extravagant modernity.
In this post I propose a tour so you do not miss anything. Enjoy a day in the old and historic Dubai, a day strolling through the most modern city in the world and a third day of adventure in the desert. Dubai is an experience.
1. Traditional Dubai Day: Mosques, Souks and Wind Towers
The first day in the city I recommend you to visit the old and traditional places of the capital. This way you can better appreciate how impressive the transformation of Dubai has been in recent years.
For transportation I advise you to use the cab service or Uber. Public transportation is safe and efficient, but takes much longer.
Visit the Jumeirah Mosque
There are many mosques worth visiting in Dubai but the Jumeirah Mosque is the most important mosque in the city and the only one that allows non-Muslims to visit. You can only enter the interior area if a religious service is being held.
Of course, you must wear clothes that cover up to the knee and shoulders. Women must also cover their hair. Anyway, from the outside you can appreciate its impressive architecture, with its sand-colored domes.
- Price: Approximately 2,50€.
- Hours: From Saturday to Thursday at 10 am there is a guided tour that lasts about an hour and a half. Reservations are not necessary, but you should arrive at the mosque 15 minutes in advance.
Enjoy the souks
There are four main souks in Dubai. Three of them are located in the Deira district: the spice, gold and perfume souks. The fourth, the textile souk, is on the other side of the estuary, in the Al Fahidi district.
- The gold souk is located in Deira and in its aisles you can find jewelry of all kinds. Do not panic if you find everything expensive, prices are haggleable!
- Nearby is the spice souk, a must for gourmets. Or simply if you like to enjoy a good meal with interesting flavors. You can buy saffron, dates and, of course, any other spices.
- The perfume souk is located next to the spice souk, following Sikkat Al Khali Street. Here you will find essential oils, perfumes or incense sticks.
- The textile souk is on the other side of the estuary, on the bank of Bur Dubai (57 Ali Bin Talib St.). You can cross it with an abra, the traditional boats. There, you can choose the fabrics you prefer and visit one of the tailors in the area to make your own suit or sari and take home a very special souvenir of Dubai.
Stroll through the historic district of Al Bastakiya
While you're nearby, I recommend a walk through an old and restored neighborhood, it has been beautiful for a stroll. The traditional-looking sand-colored houses create a unique atmosphere. Here you can see the famous wind towers, built to keep the houses cool. Quite a contrast to the modern city!
As a curiosity, come and see what is left of the old city wall. Can you guess what it was built of? Of sand, coral and shells.
Don't leave yet, this neighborhood is full of treasures to discover. And it's about time to take a break and eat something in the best places in Dubai! I give you two options:
- Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Café: a classic, in and out of the neighborhood. I recommend the halloumi and samosas.
- XVA Art Café: It is a hotel (very nice, by the way) that has inside an art gallery and a cafeteria in the central courtyard.
Cruise Dubai Creek
On the banks of the Dubai Creek is the origin of the city. This is where the first inhabitants, pearl and fish traders in the Persian Gulf, settled.
You can enjoy this ancient flavor and water views on foot, or if you prefer to be shown around, there are tours that visit the area. They last about three hours and cost around 40€
To navigate the estuary you have three options:
- You can use in an Abra, the traditional Dubai boats. They cost about €28 per hour, regardless of how many people you share it with.
- You can also take a ferry and enjoy the views of the city from its windows: the old and the new.
- As the evening begins to fall, I recommend this third option: enjoy a dinner cruise and show on Dubai Creek. There are several options, but most cost around 40€. The best way to end a historic day.
2. Supermodern Dubai Day: Skyscrapers, shopping malls and fountains
On the second day, I recommend you discover the other side of Dubai, the one that comes to mind when you think of the city. The capital of the Emirates is the symbol of supermodernity, and no wonder. I propose an itinerary from the Dubai Frame to the world's largest shopping mall, the world's tallest building and the world's largest fountain.
Start the day with a good view: the Dubai Frame
The Dubai Frame is a building in downtown Dubai shaped, effectively, like a large frame from which to look out over the city.
It is built and oriented in such a way that you can see the evolution of Dubai, from the oldest and most traditional parts to the present, with its famous skyline.
It is a good idea to go in the morning because there are fewer people and you can enjoy the visit, which lasts about 2 hours.
- Interesting facts
- Hours: The Dubai Frame is open every day of the year between 9:00 and 21:00, although the hours may vary in Ramadan.
- Price: Admission is approximately 12 € and there are discounts for children.
- Where: The framework of the city is built in a park, Zabeel Park. If you have time before the tour you can take a stroll through its huge expanse (its size is equivalent to about 45 soccer fields).
Tour the Dubai Mall
Dubai's malls are not just a place to go shopping. They are also centers for leisure and cultural activities. The Dubai Mall is the most famous of them and no wonder, as it is the largest mall in the world. Inside you can choose how to spend the day:
- At the ice rink, the Dubai Ice Rink? You can learn to skate or just watch the activity at the rink. Reservations are required: The two-hour session costs about 22€ approximately. Equipment rental is included in the price.
- One of the most popular attractions of the Dubai Mall is its aquarium. The Dubai Underwater Zoo houses 300 species of animals, including rays and sharks. The aquarium is open from Sunday to Wednesday between 10:00 and 22:00 and the approximate price is 30€.
- Inside this mall you can visit a diplodocus fossil, 7 meters high, 24 meters long. Yes, like the ones in the movies. Or in the museums, of course.
- If flying is your thing, don't miss the flight simulator. In this attraction you can sit in the pilot's seat of an A380 aircraft. You have to book and get your ticket in advance. The session lasts half an hour and the approximate price is 85€.
- If you go with children, do not miss the haunted house or the children's theme park (KidZania). A real amusement park for the little ones. Of course, remember to make reservations. The entrance to KidZania costs around 50€ per person.
- There is also an impressive indoor waterfall. You would not expect it, inside a shopping mall. It is impressive to see the human figures in jumping position.
Of course, there are also stores: more than 1,200 and from all over the world. You can visit Bloomigsdale or Galeries Lafayette Haussmann within minutes of each other. And of course you will also find all kinds of restaurants.
Climb the Burj Khalifa
You've probably heard of the Burj Khalifa, because it's the tallest skyscraper in the world and one of the most famous landmarks in Dubai.
It is very easy to find: it is 828 meters high and is built in the heart of Downtown Dubai. Don't think that going up will take you all day, the skyscraper has high-speed elevators.
The observation decks on the 124th and 125th floors offer a 360º view at 450 meters high. You can see everything: the city, the sea and the desert.
It is very popular to go up at sunrise or sunset: at these hours, the impression is even more intense. Or I even recommend you to climb the Burj Khalifa at night Really a must if you are in Dubai. There is another even higher observation deck, on the 148th floor, with a café inside that is the highest in the world: The Lounge Burj Khalifa.
The tour also includes a screening about the history of the city and how the Burj Khalifa was built. You can buy your ticket for the Burj Khalifa online or at the ticket office. The price is about 36 € per person and must be booked.
Enjoy the largest fountain in the world
Very close to the Burj Khalifa, there is a free water show. From 18:00 and every 30 minutes, at the Burj Lake, the water jets reach 150 meters high.
- Where: In front of the Burj Dubai, on the terrace of Dubai Mall.
- Hours: Every day from 18:00 to 23:00, every 30 minutes.
- Price: Free of charge
End the day at the Dubai Marina
The Dubai Marina is a neighborhood you can not miss to get an idea of the new Dubai. At night, moreover, the scenery of the sea and the illuminated city is quite an experience.
The marina offers a breathtaking view of modern Dubai, with its tall skyscrapers and luxury hotels.
Day 3: Desert adventure
On the third day I advise you not to miss a visit to the Arabian Desert that surrounds the city. Remember that it is forbidden to go on your own, besides, you will get much more out of it with an organized excursion. I'll tell you everything you need to have the best adventure.
Live an adventure in the desert
If you spend three days in Dubai you can not miss an excursion to the Arabian desert that surrounds the city. To visit the Dubai desert you need to hire an organized Dubai desert excursion or tour.
Visiting the desert is a unique experience but it can be dangerous: it is not easy to drive in the sand or orient yourself if you are not used to it. Therefore, it is forbidden to go to the desert on your own. It is better to count on the help and guidance of professionals.
There are several ways to get to the desert. The organized excursions include pick up from hotels in the city and transportation. The means of transport is a 4x4 jeep, so you can get an idea of what awaits you.
Once in the desert, the adventure begins. Camel riding, driving a quad on the sand ... Adrenaline to the fullest!
What to expect from the desert tour
There are several organized tours and each one offers a slightly different experience. I suggest you look at the ones you like the most and choose a tour that includes them:
- Camel rides, but be careful, this is the most typical activity and sometimes you may find a queue. If you don't feel like spending your day in the desert waiting, you can go at the last minute.
- Falconry shows: Discover the art of trained birds in the desert.
- Drive a buggy in the desert of Dubai or a quad bike in the desert of Dubai through the sand.
- Tasting of typical snacks of the area, accompanied by tea or coffee. A treat for the senses
- Dinner: Barbecue in a camp in the middle of the desert.
- Fire and dance shows.
And if you still have time left, sleeping in the desert of Dubai, under the stars, is an experience you will not forget.
Activities in the Dubai desert
If sport and adventure are your thing, I recommend sandboarding or dune bashing. Sandboarding in the desert of Dubai is like snowboarding, but in the desert sand. It is a sport that is practiced with a board that helps us to slide down the dunes. Dune bashing is another option to experience the adventure in the sand aboard an off-road vehicle.
- Useful information
- Schedule: There are excursions for all tastes, so the schedule varies. You can choose a full day excursion or another that leaves the city around 3:00 pm, to do the activities in the afternoon and take advantage of dinner time in the desert.
- Duration: Approximately 6 hours, including round trip. Also in this there is variety: there are 4 or 7 hours, or the whole day.
- Travel time: About 45 minutes.
- Price: Around 40€. The price varies according to the activities you choose.
The itinerary at a glance
To make it easier for you to organize your trip, I have prepared this table so that you can see all the necessary information at a glance. Have a great trip!
- Day 1
- Jumeirah Mosque
- Al Bastakiya neighborhood
- Dubai Creek
- Day 2
- Dubai Frame
- Dubai Mall
- Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Marina
- Day 3
- Excursion to the desert
- Sleeping in the desert
- Sandboarding in the dunes
- Quad biking
At the end of this tour you will have the full Dubai experience: from the beginnings of the city around Dubai Creek, with its traditional buildings to the views from the tallest skyscraper in the world in Downtown Dubai. And, of course, an unforgettable day in the desert - enjoy!