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Dubai in 5 days: a guide to the city so you don't miss a thing

If you visit Dubai, let yourself be captivated by the magic of the desert and live 5 days of luxury experiences in the city of the future. Enjoy the great Arabian tradition in the most modern city of the Arabian Gulf with the following itinerary.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

13 min read

Dubai in 5 days: a guide to the city so you don't miss a thing

Strolling around Dubai | © Wael Hneini

In recent years Dubai has become an oasis of modernity and security in the middle of the desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE); where luxury and technology offer us architectural jewels never thought of before, while celebrating the Arab tradition in the most cosmopolitan city in the Middle East.

Are you planning a 5 day trip to Dubai and don't know where to start? Don't worry, because in the following guide I will help you organize your 5 day itinerary in Dubai so that you don't miss out on anything to see and do in Dubai and discover hidden gems! With 5 days in Dubai you will be able to do many things, like seeing the most iconic sights and enjoying magical adventures. Let's get started!

Day 1: Dubai Downtown Highlights

Walking around Dubai seeing the Burj Khalifa| ©Guilhem Vellut
Walking around Dubai seeing the Burj Khalifa| ©Guilhem Vellut

Welcome to your first day in the city of the future, Dubai. I will guide you through the city center to be dazzled by the luxury and modernity of the world's largest building, the Burj Khalifa, spend an afternoon shopping at the Dubai Mall and end the day with a light show at the Dubai Fountain. All in grand style in the best Dubai style.

Climb the tallest building in the world: the Burj Khalifa

Known as the tallest building in the world, the imposing Burj Khalifa rises to 828 meters and will allow you to touch the sky with your hands from the different viewpoints located inside. You can choose between 360º views of the city in At the Top located on the 125th floor, whose approximate price is 50€. And for lovers of heights, a few floors above, on the 148th floor, is the highest viewpoint in the world which you can access by purchasing tickets for the Burj Khalifa with access to the 148th floor for approximately 110 €.

Why climb the Burj Khalifa? Mainly for its incomparable views of the city of Dubai, you can see the artificial Palm Island from a privileged view and observe the incredible transformation of Dubai, while living the experience of being literally above the clouds.

Buy tickets for the Burj Khalifa

See the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall in the world.

After descending from the sky you will spend the afternoon at the world's largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. An air-conditioned paradise that will provide you with endless activities, stores and restaurants so you won't get bored.

Of all the malls in the city, the Dubai Mall is the most incredible thanks to its 1,200 luxury and not-so-luxury stores, an ice rink, the giant Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo with sharks and various marine species, theme parks and its own dinosaur fossil, the 155-million-year-old Dubai Dino.

Taste delicious Arabian cuisine

Typical Arabian Food| ©PHRS
Typical Arabian Food| ©PHRS

To keep up with this marathon activity, you can go to the various restaurants inside the Dubai Mall, where you can try some of the best places to eat in Dubai. Among them I recommend the Al hallab restaurant where you can try typical Arabian dishes such as:

  • Hummus
  • Samboosa or samosas as we know these famous dumplings.
  • Margoogat: a dish of lamb or chicken with vegetables and stew.
  • Manousheh or Arabic pizza that you can try with a variety of toppings such as meat, halloumi cheese and spices.
  • Khuzi: roasted lamb or goat with spiced rice accompanied by dried fruits and vegetables.

Book a Dubai Street Food Tour

Have a picnic or tour the Burj Park

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon waiting for dusk at Burj Park, a park located on the small island of Burj Lake with green areas ideal for picnicking, renting a bike (from 4€ for 30 minutes 24 hours a day) or simply lying down after a morning of shopping. It is preferable to enjoy the park during the months of November to March, when the temperature is moderate and ideal.

To get to the Burj Park you will not have to move much from the downtown area, as it is located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa, you can access from the Dubai Mall by the bridges that connect it as it is located just inside the Dubai Fountain, so you can reserve a place for the evening show.

End the day with the best light show at the Dubai Fountain

The best way to end your first day in Dubai is to watch the musical light and water show at the Dubai Fountain. The largest dancing water fountain in the world thanks to its 275 meters long and a height of 150 meters that reach its water jets. Inspired by the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the Dubai Fountain features 6,600 colored lights and 50 video projectors.

With 13 shows a day, each different from the next, I recommend seeing two shows back-to-back for the full experience. The first show of the day, the Sama Dubai starts at 1pm in tribute to Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, the rest of the shows run every 30 minutes from 6pm to 11pm with a wide variety of music; from Michael Jackson's Thriller to Andrea Bocelli or traditional Arabic music.

A tip! If you are going to see the fountain show, go up to the Burj Khalifa at night: if the views of the city of Dubai from the top of the Burj Khalifa are impressive, when everything is illuminated it is even more special.

Book a boat trip with fountains show

Day 2: Have an adventurous day at Atlantis Aquaventure and a night boat tour

Lost Chambers at Atlantis Aquaventure| ©Tourist Wings
Lost Chambers at Atlantis Aquaventure| ©Tourist Wings

Now that you have toured and visited one of the most iconic parts of Dubai, I propose a second day that is not boring at all. Enjoy a full day at the Atlantis Aquaventure water park and finish with a dinner boat ride on the Dubai Creek.

Enjoy a full day at Atlantis Aquaventure

Pack your swimsuit and enjoy a full day full of fun and adventure at the world's largest water park with family or friends by booking your Atlantis Aquaventure tickets for an unforgettable day.

Slide down more than 79 slides at the Aquaventure Waterpark.

  • Surf waves in the Surf's Up simulator.
  • Snorkel with more than 65,000 colorful fish in the Lost Chambers aquarium.
  • Dive into the depths of the Ambassador Lagoon.
  • Explore the marine fauna swimming among sharks and rays in the Shark Lagoon.
  • Swim with dolphins at Dolphin Bay and with sea lions at Sea Lion Point.
  • Soak up the sun on private beaches

Atlantis Aquaventure Park is located within the grounds of the famous Atlantis hotel on the iconic man-made island of Palma Jumeirah. To access the water park you must cross the island from the coast in a monorail that runs every 23 minutes. This transport, round trip, costs 2,40€ approximately.

Buy tickets for Atlantis Aquadventure

End the day with a boat trip on Dubai Creek

Your trip to Dubai will not be the same without seeing the spectacular views of the city from the sea. So, to end your day in the best way you can make from approximately 40 € a boat tour of the Dubai Marina:

  • Dubai Creek Dinner Cruise: With optional round trip transfer from your hotel to the Dubai Creek inside a Dhow Arabian sailing boat.
  • Sightseeing ferry ride: Tour the most emblematic points of the city with a ferry tour in the Dubai Marina departing and returning from its stations located a few meters from the Dubai Marina Mall.
  • Ride on Dubai's traditional boats, called Abras: Sail the calm waters of the Dubai Canal and enjoy the modern and luxurious atmosphere of the city aboard an Abra, a traditional wooden boat with a round trip tour departing from a few meters from the Dubai Marine Transport Station.

Book a mega yacht cruise in Dubai

Day 3: Reminiscing the past: discover Dubai's old quarters and its amazing markets.

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

On your third day in Dubai I recommend a visit to the most important cultural and religious center of Dubai**, the Jumeirah Mosque**, a trip to the past through the old neighborhoods to see what Dubai was like before its great modernization and visit the famous traditional souks (markets) of Dubai.

Start the day with a visit to the Jumeirah Mosque

Mosques are the cultural and religious centers of Islamic culture that serve as a place of worship but are also architectural gems. Of all the mosques in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque located near the sea, is the only one that allows entry to non-Muslims with guided tours of 1h, where children under 12 years enter for free.

If you want to visit the interior of the Jumeirah Mosque and you are not Muslim, you must follow the following dress codes:

Clothing that covers the shoulders and legs, I recommend wearing long pants. Women in addition to covering their arms and legs completely, should cover their hair with a scarf.

Book a tour of old and modern Dubai

Visit Heritage House

After your visit to the mosque, head to the old quarter of Deria and visit Heritage House, the perfect example of historic preservation that will give you an insight into the architectural tradition of Dubai before its major modernization.

Heritage House is a house restored in 1994 by the government of Dubai to give tourists a glimpse into family life, how rooms were laid out in traditional houses of the late 19th century.

Enjoy a meal next to the Khawr Dubayy

After you have spent the whole morning sightseeing at the museum, there is a restaurant nearby where you can eat in a very comfortable space, Al Khayma Heritage Restaurant.

This restaurant is open all day from 9 am to 11 pm, so you will have no problem eating late after spending the whole day at the museum.

Book the Dubai sightseeing bus

Tour of the souks: traditional markets of Dubai

Visiting the Dubai Souk| ©Jaime Ortola Crespo
Visiting the Dubai Souk| ©Jaime Ortola Crespo

Located north of Dubai Creek in the old neighborhood of Deira, the souks or traditional Arab markets, are commercial spaces that are composed of different lanes full of stalls where you can discover a wide variety of items to buy and take home as souvenirs.

The most famous souks are known for selling a variety of incense, fragrances, shishas, typical objects such as carpets, vases, textiles, ceramics and gold.

Dine at Dubai's most Instagrammable restaurant

The Nusr-Et Steakhouse is a very famous restaurant whose specialty is meats such as wagyus and for its renowned chef Salt Bae, who rose to fame on instagram for salting meat in a very peculiar way. If you love meat and exclusivity, this is the perfect place to go for dinner.

In this restaurant you will eat exquisite dishes and very good quality but you should know that it is quite expensive as a dish can cost you on average about 70 €.

Book a gastronomic tour of Dubai

Day 4: Safari, camel ride and extreme sports in the desert

Buggy excursion| ©Timo Tervo
Buggy excursion| ©Timo Tervo

Discover the magic of the desert in a 4x4 Jeep or surf the dunes with a sandboard on a life-changing excursion. Live a nomadic experience with a camel ride and enjoy a dinner with typical delicacies to end the day.

Tour the dunes in a 4x4

One of the best activities if you visit Dubai is to go on a safari through the most famous desert area in the world and experience the adrenaline with Dune bashing. An activity that consists of crossing the desert in a 4x4 Jeep, as it is the only car that allows you to go up and down the dunes at full speed.

My advice for visiting the desert of Dubai is that if you tend to get dizzy, suffer from vertigo or have back problems, the Dune bashing is not the most suitable activity for you.

Surf the desert dunes on a quad or practice sandboarding.

If you are a lover of extreme sports, you are looking to unleash your adrenaline or live an extreme experience, you definitely have to do an off-road quad race through the desert of Dubai or sandboarding sliding down the desert dunes, from 40 € approximately.

If you have practiced snowboarding before, sandboarding in the desert of Dubai will not be difficult, if on the contrary you do not know how to snowboard or do not feel confident you can slide down the dunes using the board as a sled, the fun is guaranteed in both cases.

Book an excursion to the desert with quad safari

Lower your adrenaline and ride a camel at sunset

Camel ride in the desert| ©Yasin Gündogdu
Camel ride in the desert| ©Yasin Gündogdu

If extreme sports are not your thing and you prefer a calmer activity, I recommend you to take a camel ride and enjoy the nomadic life while watching the sunset disappear behind the dunes of the Lahbab desert. The price starts at approximately 50€ with pick up and drop off at your hotel in Dubai.

It is definitely the most popular activity of the whole safari and certainly impressive, because while you are on the humps of the camel you can take wonderful pictures of the desert, get to an oasis and take a selfie with your travel companion. Camels love to be the center of your camera's attention.

Book a camel ride in the desert of Dubai

Dinner with the best buffet of typical Arabian food and sweets.

After spending a full day full of adrenaline, you will want to rest and above all have dinner. Nothing better than booking an excursion with dinner and live show in the desert of Dubai to satisfy your appetite with a buffet of typical Arabian food, enjoy typical dishes and sweets, drinks and shisha while enjoying a show inside a typical Arabian camp.

In the buffet you will find all kinds of dishes both savory and sweet, including:

  • The famous hummus and baba ghanoush with khubos (Arabic bread).
  • Barbecue with different meats such as chicken, lamb or fish.
  • Tabbbouleh or potatosalad
  • Fruit salad
  • Baklava the famous pistachio and honey dessert
  • Luqaimat or Arabic snack of fried dough with cardamom and saffron.

To finish the dinner, you will be given to taste mint tea for digestion or the traditional Arabic coffee which is prepared with saffron or cardamom spices giving it a unique and intense flavor.

Book a desert excursion with dinner

Day 5: Last day! Take an excursion near Dubai, in Abu Dhabi.

Sunset in Abu Dhabi| ©Shenli Leong
Sunset in Abu Dhabi| ©Shenli Leong

What better way to spend your last day in Dubai than visiting the most important city of the United Arab Emirates, the capital Abu Dhabi.

The best way to visit it is to book an organized tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai from 50 € with a journey of about an hour; you can see the most beautiful mosque in the world, see the skyline from the Etihad Towers, visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi or visit the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi with tickets to Ferrari World

Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Oasis of Dignity and be left speechless

An essential stop if you visit Abu Dhabi is undoubtedly the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the third largest mosque in the world as well as being the most beautiful thanks to its incredible white color that contrasts with the blue sky, a spectacle.

It is important to follow Dubai' s dress code out of respect for its inhabitants and worshippers. For which:

  • Women should wear loose clothing with long pants and covered shoulders and arms as well as wear a tunic in the hair.
  • Men should also cover their shoulders and wear long pants.
  • In case you do not have such clothing, the mosque will lend it to you free of charge.

At the end of your tour of the mosque you can visit the Oasis of Dignity viewpoint whose pools reflect the mosque in the water and is located just 15 minutes walk away. It is undoubtedly a hidden gem that offers a unique perspective of the mosque. The views at night ensure an unparalleled spectacle.

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi with mosque entrance tickets

Climb the observation deck of the Etihad Towers and enter the Qasr Al Watan.

Located in the most emblematic area of Abu Dhabi, is the Corniche, an 8km avenue where you will find the Emirates Palace Hotel, the Qasr Al Watan and the Etihad Towers where you can climb to the 74th floor and enjoy unique views of the city from its Observation Deck at 300. The entrance fee is approximately 20 euros.

After seeing the skyline from the Etihad Towers, you can walk to the palace of Qasr Al Watan (entrance costs approximately 15€) and visit its incredible collection of historical pieces such as the Quran of Birmingham, an impressive library, walk through its gardens, among others.

A bit of art visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi or adventure at Ferrari World

If you are an art lover you can not miss The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum with 600 priceless pieces that tell the history of mankind.

It was built thanks to the collaboration of the Louvre in Paris and 16 French museums. It has an incredible 180-meter dome that naturally illuminates its interior rooms.

If you are more of adventure and adrenaline visit the Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor amusement park where you will find the world's fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa.

Located on the island of Yas, Ferrari World is undoubtedly an ode to lovers of Ferrari cars and their history. It has 19 attractions including 2 roller coasters and themed restaurants.

Book an excursion to Abu Dhabi with tickets to Ferrari World

Finish the excursion in Abu Dhabi: visit Yas Marina and the Formula 1 circuit.

Abu Dhabi at sunset| ©Kevin Villaruz
Abu Dhabi at sunset| ©Kevin Villaruz

After a day of sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, take a leisurely stroll around the Yas Marina promenade while you admire some of the largest and most luxurious yachts in the world.

You can also visit, from approximately 30€ per person, the inside of the Formula 1 - Yas Marina circuit located a few meters from the Yas Marina promenade and discover behind the scenes the pits of each team and the race track, if there is no competition, to say goodbye to Abu Dhabi in style. Remember, to better plan your visit, that the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix is held in November.

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai