Dubai in 4 days: everything you can't miss during your trip

If you are thinking of visiting Dubai, the city where Arab traditions and modernity blend, take note because, during 4 days, you will get to know this amazing place in depth.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

Dubai in 4 days: everything you can't miss during your trip

Dubai Marina Horizon | © Timo Volz

The United Arab Emirates has become one of the most sought-after and valued tourist destinations in recent years, and no wonder. Dubai, its capital, is a real amusement park for all fans of big cities, luxury and modernity.

If you have decided to come and see all there is to see and do in Dubai and you only have four days, don't worry! Below I propose an itinerary in which you can see intensively the essential parts that you can not miss.

1. Day Discover the contrasts of Dubai: the mixture of old and new

Visiting the Bur Dubai neighborhood| ©Francisco Anzola
Visiting the Bur Dubai neighborhood| ©Francisco Anzola

Dubai is one of the most important cities not only in Africa, but in the whole world. This enormous relevance it has gained in recent years is due to the enormous economic potential it manages, with buildings and constructions that have surpassed all world records, such as the Burj Khalifa skyscraper.

However, if there is one thing that makes visitors fall in love with this city, it is the striking contrast that still remains between the oldest and most traditional part of Dubai and the most modern area. On this first day you will discover this richness and its cultural clash.

Bur Dubai neighborhood

You will start the day moving to the north of the city, specifically to the neighborhood of Bur Dubai, a place that still retains the most traditional Arab heritage. To get there, you can use the metro or the bus, but I recommend that you value the option of booking a tour of the area. This way, you will be picked up directly from your hotel and taken to Bur Dubai, where you will be shown the most relevant areas and souks.

This district has landscapes and streets typical of the oldest areas of the Arab Emirates. Beyond buildings or museums, Bur Dubai is an ideal place to visit as it has one of the most important souks in the city, the Old Souk, a bazaar with Indian influence, Hindi Lane and Meena Bazaar, and the house of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, where all the history of the city is kept.

Book a tour of old and modern Dubai

Dubai Museum

Continuing with the history of the United Arab Emirates, and to say goodbye to all the more traditional Dubai, you can spend an hour visiting the Museum, a few minutes walk from Bur Dubai.

Here you can discover and understand the enormous growth of the city and see how progress and Western influence have marked a before and after in the country's economy.

You will have to organize your days in the city well, as on Fridays the museum is closed, but if you have the opportunity to do this itinerary any other day, you can enjoy for less than 5 euros a very enriching experience and understand the history of the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai Frame

After having had some lunch in the area and a little rest after a morning full of history, it is time to go into the most modern part of the city and visit the Dubai Frame, a huge frame-shaped building that can be seen from any point in the center of Dubai.

It can be reached by metro or bus from Bur Dubai in less than half an hour.

This amazing building has become one of the latest additions to the city and consists of a history museum on the first floor and an amazing observation deck at the top of the frame. For less than 15 euros you can go up in its two large elevators and have a panoramic view of the whole city.

Book tickets for Dubai Frame

Sunset at Dubai Garden Glow

After coming down from the heights, and taking advantage of the fact that it is already getting dark, I propose you to finish this first and intense day a few steps from here, in one of the most incredible places in the area, the Dubai Garden Glow.

It is a huge theme park with different works and sculptures by contemporary artists and a whole set of lights ideal to see when it is already dark.

The aesthetics of the park, mixing nature and technology, will make the almost 20 euros that the entrance fee is worth it. In addition, it has kiosks and street food stalls to dine something typical.

2. Day Visit the mosque and the tradition of Dubai and end the day in the heights

Exterior of the Jumeirah Mosque| ©Laurent Gass
Exterior of the Jumeirah Mosque| ©Laurent Gass

For this second day, you will approach the newest area of Dubai, focusing on the main avenues and shopping malls and ending at one of its main tourist attractions, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper, considered the tallest in the world today. But first, to make the most of the morning, you will visit the great Jumeirah Mosque.

Jumeirah Mosque

This place is one of the holiest in the whole city and every day thousands of citizens go to pray and pay tribute to Allah. That is why, despite being a tremendously touristy place, its entrance is highly regulated and can only be accessed with a guided tour between 10h and 14h so as not to disturb the devotees.

To enter, you must move and wash your feet and, in the case of women, cover your head and shoulders when entering as a sign of respect for the Muslim religion. Despite all these measures, visiting the Jumeirah Mosque inside and being able to witness live the Arab culture, will make it an unforgettable memory.

Meet the promenade of La Mer

Just a short walk from the mosque, you will come across the La Mer promenade, close to the city's beaches. From here, you can see in the distance all the skyscrapers that we will visit in the afternoon, but before, you can walk along the promenade, browse the luxury stores, relax on one of the loungers on the beach and eat something to replenish energy in one of the many restaurants in the area.

Dubai Mall

For the afternoon I have left you one of the most typical and visited sights of Dubai; the Dubai Mall, one of the largest in the world. Dubai has become synonymous with wealth and trend and in this place you can find it all.

Dubai Mall has up to 1200 different stores, spread over several floors and even subway floors. You can find the largest variety in the world, but not only that.

If you do not want to buy anything or if you are bored with window shopping, Dubai Mall has much more to offer you, since it not only has cinemas, but even a flight simulation room or a go-kart track, as well as a zoo and an underwater aquarium. Undoubtedly, it is a place that will not leave you indifferent.

Burj Khalifa: the tallest building in the world

It is precisely through the impressive Dubai Mall from where you have access to the views from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world and one of the focal points of all tourism in the city.

With more than 500 meters high and 148 floors, the skyscraper offers spectacular views from where you can see the whole city and part of the sea and the desert.

There are several types of tickets to the Burj Khalifa that include different stops at the most important floors, such as 124 and 125 or the top of 148, and also combined tickets with dinner included. Either way, I recommend you to book your ticket as it is a tourist attraction in high demand and this way you ensure your place without having to wait in line.

Book tickets to the top of the Burj Khalifa

3. Day Spend the day getting to know the desert of Dubai

Enjoying the Dubai Dunes in Buggy| ©Richard Zhou
Enjoying the Dubai Dunes in Buggy| ©Richard Zhou

After spending two intense days in the old and new part of Dubai, I propose you to spend the day in a unique and unparalleled place; the desert.

Dubai has just a few minutes from the city center with the incredible desert of Dubai and is usually one of the most popular excursions and enjoyed by tourists. There is so much demand that there are hundreds of tours to spend the day and do the activities you like the most. On this occasion, I am going to tell you about some of the most complete tours.

Book a dinner tour in the desert of Dubai

Dubai desert by quad or 4X4

Entering the desert is an adventure and you will realize that, leaving the busiest areas of the city, you can already see the vast landscape of white sand. This scenery is as beautiful as it is breathtaking and one of the best ways to explore it is to hire a quad or Jeep 4x4 tour to cross the dunes without any problem.

Here there are no roads or rules, the cars seem to be surfing the dunes in an exciting experience that will take you into the deepest part of the desert of Dubai. For about an hour, you can experience the adrenaline rush of being in such a breathtaking place.

Book a quad tour in the desert

Sandboarding in the dunes

Another of the most popular activities once you have arrived in the most important area of the Dubai desert is sandboarding in the Dubai desert.

As its name suggests, it is a sport very similar to snowboarding but on the warm desert sand. In most tourist visits you will have the option to spend some time in the morning to try and practice this sport and experience firsthand the thrill of falling down the dunes.

Book a sandboarding activity in the desert

Lunch at a Bedouin camp

The desert seems an inhospitable and desolate place, but the truth is that inside you can find Bedouin camps and villages that have a very interesting and peculiar lifestyle.

At lunchtime, depending on the type of visit you choose, you can stop for lunch and rest in one of these settlements or, if included in the price, go to the Al Khayma camp in the desert, where you can taste typical food and sweets, watch dance performances or get henna tattoos.

Book an excursion to Al Khayma Camp

Sunset or sunrise by camel

To end this magical and special day, I recommend a camel or dromedary ride at sunset or sunrise to discover the desert with a unique landscape, enveloped by the orange tones of the sun and sand.

These rides usually last about an hour and are usually included with the booking of the Dubai desert tours, so you just have to let yourself be guided and enjoy the experience.

Book a camel ride in Dubai

4. Marina day and evening show

Yacht ride in Dubai Marina| ©Dutchflavour
Yacht ride in Dubai Marina| ©Dutchflavour

We arrived at the fourth and final day and, in order to say goodbye to this incredible city, I propose you to finish with two plans that will make your vacation round.

On the one hand, take advantage of the morning to take a short yacht ride and discover the entire marina area. In the afternoon, you can take care of the last shopping at the Mall of the Emirates and, before dinner, enjoy one of the most famous shows of the city; La Perle.

Morning cruise

Dubai Marina, or Dubai Marina, is one of the most luxurious and exclusive areas of the city. This is where the richest people in the world have their yachts and in the immediate vicinity you will find all kinds of branded stores and exclusive restaurants.

To get to know all this environment, I recommend that you start the day strolling through the port and its surrounding beaches and then live the experience of taking a cruise through the Dubai Marina.

Book a yacht cruise in the Dubai Marina

Mall of the Emirates

For the last shopping and lunch after the yacht ride, I recommend you to go to the great Mall of the Emirates, a huge shopping mall that you can easily reach from the port area.

There, you will find all kinds of international brands and restaurants.

Also, for this itinerary, unfortunately you won't have time, but this mall has an indoor mountain station for skiing. As you will see, Dubai has attractions that will leave you speechless and is made so that you can never get bored.

La Perle de Dragone

After spending the afternoon buying the last souvenirs and gifts, and when it starts to get dark, I suggest you say goodbye to this wonderful and enigmatic city with one of its greatest shows, La Perle de Dragone. A show that consists of all kinds of acrobats and tightrope walkers who will make a display of their talent in a light show.

This show has two daily passes, both in the afternoon-evening and I recommend that you book it in advance as it is usually in high demand. To get from Mall of the Emirates you can take the metro to Bussines Bay, although being only 4 kilometers it may be advisable to use a cab.

Book tickets for La Perle de Dragone

Save time and money by booking in advance

Al Fahidi Ancient Buildings in Dubai| ©Rob Oo
Al Fahidi Ancient Buildings in Dubai| ©Rob Oo

Dubai is a city that has hundreds of places to visit and in most of them you need to have a ticket. Although in most of them you can buy it as soon as you arrive, the destination is so touristy that you may run out of tickets or it will be much more expensive than usual.

I recommend that, a few weeks before coming to Dubai, schedule your trip and book in advance for the main attractions such as the Burj Khalifa, La Perle, the yacht cruise, the desert tour or the entrance to the Dubai Garden Glow to make sure you can enjoy the must-see places of the place.

Itinerary by days

  • Day 1

  • Deira and Bur Dubai

  • Dubai Frame and Garden Glow

  • Day 2

  • Jumeirah Mosque and Beach

  • Burj Khalifa and shopping mall

  • Day 3

  • Sandboarding in the desert

  • Camel ride

  • Day 4

  • Marina cruise

  • Shopping and La Perle