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5 Must-see neighborhoods in Dubai

Between the desert sands and the coast of the Persian Gulf lies the city of Dubai. A magical place where history and Islamic tradition coexist with modernity reflected in its skyscrapers.

Carlos Bleda

Carlos Bleda

9 min read

5 Must-see neighborhoods in Dubai

Sunrise of downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa. | ©David Rodrigo

The city of Dubai is one of the most booming tourist destinations in recent years, and no wonder. Far from what is usually believed, the city is not only big skyscrapers and shopping malls. The avant-garde coexists with the tradition of its souks and mosques and it is in this contrast between modernity and history where we find its main attraction.

In the same day you can visit one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, the Burj Khalifa, go shopping in one of its traditional souks, swim in the waters of the Persian Gulf and choose from a lot of options offered by the city. Visiting its neighborhoods is one of the essential things to see and do in Dubai. If you continue reading I offer you a tour of its different neighborhoods and what to see in each and every one of them.

1. Deira Quarter

Deira neighborhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut
Deira neighborhood in Dubai| ©Guilhem Vellut

Deira is located north of the estuary that separates Dubai in an area where we find the most historic and traditional neighborhoods. Crowded and somewhat chaotic, but with a great charisma. It is currently a working class neighborhood, however, has always been the center of commerce in the city so there is much to see and do in Deira.

The new neighborhoods and shopping malls have gradually stripped it of this "title" but in its streets you can still find the typical souks that bring together local traders and tourists. It is undoubtedly the most multicultural neighborhood of the city and an attraction worth visiting. I share with you a list of places worth visiting in the Deira neighborhood:

Deira Souks

In the Arab culture the open-air markets are called souk or souq, the traditional souks so that we understand each other. In the neighborhood of Deira, the best known is the gold souk. An agglomeration of stores where you can buy and sell jewelry of all kinds and at very low prices. A good place to find the perfect gift.

Another option is the spice market. A more traditional market flooded with smells of Morocco, North Africa and Arabia. I recommend that you visit these places full of tradition, but yes, you must be prepared to bargain with local merchants.

The creek

The estuary that divides Dubai is known as the creek The city originated around it and today is a major tourist attraction. You can tour it aboard small boats called Abras or walk along its banks. In its waters there are also larger boats that serve as restaurants where you can taste typical dishes with beautiful views of the creek. You can enjoy the Dubai Marina in a lot of ways.

Al Mamzar Park

If the crowds of the souks are too much for you you can always relax in Al Mamzar Park. An area of white beaches, very clean and with all the amenities to enjoy a good swim.

Book a traditional sailboat ride in Dubai

2. Bur Dubai neighborhood

Al Fahidi ancient buildings| ©Rob Oo
Al Fahidi ancient buildings| ©Rob Oo

Another historic district of Dubai that offers a journey into the past of the city. In the area surrounding the promenade we find examples of the oldest Dubai and as we move away from the coast we discover parks, shopping malls and more recent buildings. Here are my recommendations to see in the neighborhood of Bur Dubai:

Al Fahidi

This area preserves many of the oldest buildings in the city. It consists of about 50 buildings that house craft stores, showrooms, beautiful courtyards in which to have coffee etc.. Its labyrinthine streets are an oasis of tranquility away from the traffic and crowds of other areas of Dubai. This is a sample of what you can see and do in Al Fahidi.

Al Fahidi Museum

The Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest structure in Dubai dating back to 1800, houses the city's museum. A very interesting place to discover how Dubai went from being a fishing village to become the big city it is today.

Meena Bazaar

The streets that comprise Meena Bazaar are full of life. It houses a souk specializing in textiles and is one of the most recommended areas of Dubai for food lovers. You have an endless number of restaurants of all kinds and for all budgets.

Zabeel Park

If you move away from the area closer to the coast you will find the Zabeel Park. One of the largest green areas of the city and is home to the Dubai Frame Tower. A building 150 meters high whose shape is intended to simulate that of a photo frame and has a viewpoint with a spectacular panoramic view.

Book a night tour of Dubai

3. Jumeirah neighborhood

Jumeirah Palm| ©Zicarlo van Aalderen
Jumeirah Palm| ©Zicarlo van Aalderen

Along the beautiful Jumeirah Beach, between the Etihad Museum and the Burj Al Arab hotel, stretches the most fashionable neighborhood of Dubai, Jumeirah. It is essentially a large residential area filled with stores, restaurants and excellent white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Jumeirah is home to several of Dubai's most recognizable symbols around the world - want to know which ones? I'll tell you about them below:

Etihad Museum

This museum houses displays of the contemporary history of the United Arab Emirates and its formation. This may not catch your eye, but I assure you that the exterior of the Etihad Museum will at least get your camera out. The building is located on the site where the 1971 constitution founding the Emirates was signed and its design, as well as a symbol of the country's birth, will delight lovers of ultra-modern architecture.

Jumeirah Mosque

The Jumeirah Mosque is the most important mosque in the city of Dubai, as it is the only mosque in the city that accepts non-Muslim visitors. In fact, it lives up to Dubai's motto "open doors, open minds" and is part of a program that aims to bring Islam to people of all corners and creeds. It offers guided tours for a small fee that is definitely worth paying. Here is more information about the Jumeirah Mosque and its entrances.

Burj Al Arab

Along with the Burj Khalifa, this hotel is undoubtedly the quintessential symbol of Dubai. Built on an artificial island, this structure houses what is said to be the most luxurious hotel in the world. In fact there is a widespread belief that it is the only hotel in the world with 7 stars, although the reality is that it "only" has 5.

Even so, it stands out above the rest of the hotel complexes and holds the record for being the most expensive hotel on the planet to build. Although most mortals cannot afford a night in its luxurious suites, it is certainly worth a visit to photograph this emblematic 321-meter-high building in the shape of a ship's sail.

Jumeirah Palm

Another of Dubai's most famous attractions. This artificial island is named for its peculiar shape and, although it is the smallest of the three in the area, is the most visited. A residential area with a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and stores that can be visited in addition to being able to observe from the heights in one of the viewpoints located in a tower in the trunk of the palm tree.

At the top of the island is another of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the Atlantis, which will surely sound like something from a movie.

Book a tour of old and modern Dubai

4. Downtown Dubai neighborhood

Downtown Dubai| ©Francisco Anzola
Downtown Dubai| ©Francisco Anzola

The most emblematic area of Dubai and certainly of all the Arab Emirates. The center of the city is a place of records, where you can find the tallest building in the world to date, the largest fountain in the world and even the largest shopping mall on the planet. A prodigy of architecture and a symbol of the power and progress that characterizes the city of Dubai. Join me and I'll tell you more about one of the most impressive places on the planet.

Burj Khalifa

The symbol par excellence of Dubai. To date, it holds the record for being the tallest structure ever created by man, although there are already other projects, one of them in Dubai itself, that threaten its title. Nevertheless, the 828-meter building is already engineering history. It was inaugurated in 2010, six years after the start of construction work involving some 13,000 workers.

The Burj Khalifa offers the most spectacular views of the city from its two observation decks located on the 125th and 148th floor, the latter at 555 meters high, being the highest observation deck in the world in a building. If you have the opportunity to visit the Burj Khalifa at night, I also recommend it.

The interior of the Burj Khalifa offers other options to enjoy besides its views. You can enjoy a lunch or dinner "high" from one of its restaurants. "The Lounge, located between floors 152, 153 and 154, has the privilege of being the highest restaurant-cafeteria on the planet.

Although it is a tourist attraction, the Burj Khalifa is essentially a residential building, offices and also houses hotels, so if you do not stay there you can only visit the restaurants and viewpoints.

The views alone are worth paying the entrance fee. So I leave you all the information you need to get to the Burj Khalifa The Burj Khalifa is not only enjoyable from the heights. At its base you will also find other places to visit and that I tell you below.

Book a tour with tickets to the Burj Khalifa

Dubai Mall

At the base of the Burj Khalifa is the largest shopping mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. As you can see in Dubai they do everything in a big way. We can say that it is the father of all shopping malls in the world. Within its 111 hectares there are more than 1,200 stores, including its own souk where they sell mostly jewelry, more than 150 food outlets and numerous entertainment options for the whole family as an aquarium, a dinosaur skeleton, theme parks, cinemas and an Olympic ice rink.

Dubai Fountain

It is the most spectacular fountain in the world. Also located at the foot of the Burj Khalifa and next to the Dubai Mall, this fountain is located in a 12-hectare artificial lake. Its jets are capable of spraying 83,000 liters of water 140 meters high at once to delight visitors with one of the best shows of music, light and water that can be seen.

Every day from 6 p.m. and every half hour you can enjoy this spectacle. There is a walkway from which to view the jets and there are also boats available to see them even closer.

5. Dubai Marina Neighborhood

Dubai Marina neighborhood| ©Enrico Strocchi
Dubai Marina neighborhood| ©Enrico Strocchi

This relatively modern area of the city is essentially Dubai's marina. The Dubai Marina is one of the largest man-made harbors in the world with its 3 km of canal surrounded by towering skyscrapers.

It is an ideal neighborhood to enjoy the sunset strolling along its docks, watching the yachts and boats and entertain yourself with its dancing fountains. In addition, you can also hire cruises through the marina. At sunset it becomes a very lively and ideal place to have a few drinks.

Dubai Marina Beach

In this modern neighborhood the main tourist attraction is its beach. Known as "The Beach" the beach of Dubai Marina is one of the most beautiful in the city but also the most frequented. To visit it you have two options:

  • Free option: You can enjoy free bathing in the public area in a very neat beach, but with a big downside, they do not let you use umbrellas. A considerable inconvenience considering the high temperatures in Dubai.
  • Paid option: Things change if we go through the cashier. We will have access to an equally well maintained area, however, we will be provided with sun loungers, umbrellas and even towels. But don't expect it to be cheap.

These are the main neighborhoods and attractions of the beautiful Dubai. A city of contrasts where everything is done in a big way and where you can also enjoy in a big way. If you want to continue enjoying the city, I share this list with the must-see places in and around Dubai and I recommend you to visit them from the Dubai tourist bus so you do not miss any of them.

Book a yacht tour in Dubai Marina