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 most modern city in the Arabian Gulf.

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

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 itinerary so that you don't miss out on anything there is to see and do in Dubai and discover hidden gems. With 5 days in Dubai you will be able to do many things, such as seeing the most emblematic places and enjoying magical adventures. Let's get started!

Day 1: See the best of Downtown Dubai

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 have several ticket options for the Burj Khalifa:

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

Shop at Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall.

After coming down 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 aquarium Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo with sharks and various marine species, theme parks and its own dinosaur fossil, the Dubai Dino of 155 million years old.

An ideal plan for both children and adults, do not hesitate to book your ticket for Dubai Aquarium.

Book your ticket for Dubai Aquarium

Taste the delicious Arabian gastronomy

Typical Arabian food| ©PHRS
Typical Arabian food| ©PHRS

To keep you in shape during 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 Arabic dishes such as, for example:

  • 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 ingredients such as meat, halloumi cheese and spices.
  • Khuzi: roasted lamb or goat with spiced rice accompanied by nuts and vegetables.

Other options to delve into the culinary tradition of the country is to book a gastronomic tour of Dubai or book a tour of Dubai with street food.

Book a street food tour of Dubai

Have a picnic or tour the Burj Park

Enjoy the rest of the afternoon waiting for dusk in 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 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 of the day

The best way to end your first day in Dubai is to book a boat ride with a fountain show. 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 is characterized by 6,600 colored lights, 50 video projectors and 13 shows a day, each different from the next, I recommend you see two shows in a row to get the full experience.

  • The first show of the day, the Sama Dubai starts at 1 p.m. in honor of 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.

Here's 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 suggest a second day at the Atlantis Aquaventure water park and finish with a boat dinner 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 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.
  • Enjoy the sun on private beaches.

Atlantis Aquaventure Park is located within the grounds of the famous Atlantis hotel on the iconic man-made island Palma Jumeirah. To enjoy your tickets to the Atlantis Aquaventure you must cross the island from the coast in a monorail that runs every 23 minutes. This transport, round trip, costs approximately € 2.40.

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 have several options:

Book a mega yacht cruise in Dubai

Day 3: Remember the past by discovering the old quarters of Dubai and its 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 back in time to 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. I recommend that you book a tour of old and modern Dubai in which you will have the opportunity to enter one of them.

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 1 hour, where children under 12 years enter for free. If you want to visit the interior 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 Dubai government 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 9am until 11pm, so you won't have any problem eating late after spending the whole day at the museum

And remember that you can also book a food tour of Dubai or a Dubai street food tour.

Book a food tour

Take a tour of the souks: Dubai's traditional markets

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 the 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 of 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: Enjoy a day of adventure in the desert: Safari, camel ride and extreme sports.

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

Discover the magic of the desert inside 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 book an excursion to the desert with safari and experience the adrenaline with Dune bashing. An activity that consists of touring 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.

Book a safari tour

Surf the desert dunes on a quad bike or go sandboarding.

If you are a lover of extreme sports, looking to unleash your adrenaline or live an extreme experience, you definitely have to book a desert excursion with quad safari or sandboarding sliding down the desert dunes, from 80 € approximately.

If you have snowboarded before, sandboarding in the desert of Dubai will not be difficult, if on the other hand 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.

If you book a camel ride at sunrise in Dubai's Al Marmoom oasis with breakfast, the price starts at approximately 82 € with pick up and drop off at your hotel in Dubai.

In short, it is 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 Dubai desert

Dine on 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 a desert excursion with dune safari, camel ride, sandboarding, fire show and dinner to satisfy your appetite.

At the buffet you will find all kinds of dishes both savory and sweet, among them:

  • 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 that is prepared with saffron or cardamom spices giving it a unique and intense flavor.

Day 5: Last day! Take an excursion to Abu Dhabi

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

After enjoying all there is to see and do in Dubai, what better way to make the most of your last day than to visit the most important city in the United Arab Emirates, the capital Abu Dhabi.

The best way to visit is to book an organized tour to Abu Dhabi from Dubai 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.

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.

One option is to book a tour to Abu Dhabi with tickets to Sheikh Zayed. It is important to follow the dress code of Dubai out of respect for its inhabitants and worshippers. Therefore:

  • Women should wear loose-fitting clothing with long pants and covered shoulders and arms, as well as wear a tunic over their hair.
  • Men should also cover their shoulders and wear long pants.
  • If 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 entrance to Sheikh Zayed

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

Located in the most emblematic area of Abu Dhabi, is Corniche, an avenue of 8 kilometers 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.

After seeing the skyline from the Etihad Towers, you can enjoy your reservation for an excursion to Abu Dhabi with entrance to the Qasr Al Watan Palace and visit its incredible collection of historical pieces such as the Birmingham Koran, an impressive library, tour its gardens, among others.

Book a tour with entrance ticket to Qasr Al Watan Palace

Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi and experience an 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, has an incredible 180-meter dome that naturally illuminates its interior rooms.

For this, you can book an excursion to Abu Dhabi with tickets to the Louvre Museum.

Book a tour to Abu Dhabi with tickets to the Louvre Museum

Test your adrenaline at Ferrari World

If you are more into adventure and adrenaline you can book a tour to Abu Dhabi with tickets to Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor amusement park featuring the world's fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa.

Located on Yas Island, 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 entrance to Ferrari World

Finish the excursion in Abu Dhabi by visiting 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 viewing some of the world's largest and most luxurious yachts.

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