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. 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 neighborhood

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:

Souks of Deira

In Arab culture, open-air markets are called souks or souqs, the traditional souks so that we understand each other. In the neighborhood of Deira the best known is the souk of gold. 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 it is a major tourist attraction. You can enjoy the Dubai Marina in a number of ways. You can tour it aboard small boats called Abras or walk along its shores. In its waters there are also larger boats that serve as restaurants where you can taste typical dishes with beautiful views of the creek.

A fantastic option is to book a yacht tour of the Dubai Marina with breakfast or lunch if you do it in the morning or with a barbecue at sunset if you prefer this plan to end the day. Sounds good, doesn't it?

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

Ancient buildings of Al Fahidi| ©Rob Oo
Ancient buildings of Al Fahidi| ©Rob Oo

Another historic neighborhood of Dubai that offers a journey into the past of the city. In the area surrounding the waterfront 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 for what to see in the Bur Dubai neighborhood:

Al Fahidi

This area retains many of the oldest buildings in the city. It consists of about 50 buildings that house craft stores, showrooms, beautiful courtyards where you can have coffee and so on. 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 and 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.

A really interesting option, for how complete it is, is to book a guided tour of Dubai that runs through the bowels of Al Fahidi and includes a visit to the museum and a boat ride on Dubai Creek. Don't tell me that doesn't sound good.

Meena Bazaar

The streets that comprise Meena Bazaar are full of life. It is home to a souk specializing in textiles and is one of the most recommended areas of Dubai for foodies. You have endless 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 of 150 meters high whose shape is intended to simulate that of a photo frame and has a viewpoint with a spectacular panoramic view.

Guided tour of Dubai

3. Jumeirah Quarter

Jumeirah Palm Tree| ©Zicarlo van Aalderen
Jumeirah Palm Tree| ©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 make you take out your camera. 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 faiths.

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 7-star hotel in the world, although the reality is that it "only" has 5 stars.

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 can not afford a night in their luxurious suites, it is certainly worth coming to photograph this iconic building 321 meters high in the shape of a ship's sail.

Jumeirah Palm Tree

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, it 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, and that will surely sound from a movie.

One of the attractions that Dubai offers to enjoy the Jumeirah Palm is to hire a tandem skydiving activity, an option only suitable for the most daring, but it will certainly be an unforgettable experience.

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 power and progress that characterizes the city of Dubai, so I leave all the information you need to get to the Burj Khalifa.

Burj Khalifa

The views alone are worth buying a ticket for the 124th and 125th floors, which means nothing less than a panoramic view of the city at 452 meters high, but the Burj Khlaifa is not only enjoyable from the heights. Dubai's symbol par excellence:

  • It holds the record for being the tallest structure ever created by humans, although there are already other projects, one of them in Dubai itself, that threaten its title.
  • With its 828 meters, it is engineering history.
  • It was inaugurated in 2010, 6 years after the beginning of the works in which some 13,000 workers participated.
  • Itoffers the most spectacular views of the city from its two observation decks located on the 125th and 148th floors, the latter at 555 meters high, being the highest observation deck in the world in a building.
  • Visiting the Burj Khalifa at night is a highly recommended option.
  • It is a residential building, offices and also houses hotels, so if you do not stay there you can only visit the restaurants and viewpoints.

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.

Dubai Mall

At the base of the Burj Khalifa is the largest shopping center in the world, the Dubai Mall. As you can see, Dubai does 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 such as an aquarium, a dinosaur skeleton, theme parks, cinemas and an Olympic ice rink.

Dubai Fountain

This 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.

Book tickets for the Burj Khalifa

5. Dubai Marina neighborhood

Dubai Marina District| ©Enrico Strocchi
Dubai Marina District| ©Enrico Strocchi

This relatively modern area of the city is essentially Dubai's marina. The Dubai Marina is one of the largest artificial harbors in the world with its 3 km of channel 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" Dubai Marina beach is one of the most beautiful in the city, but also the most frequented. To visit it you have several 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.
  • Paidoption: Things change if we go through the cashier. We will have access to an equally well-kept area, however, we will be provided with sun loungers, umbrellas and even towels. Just don't expect it to be cheap.
  • Option from the water: booking a yacht ride in the Dubai Marina is definitely an excellent option to get to know the Dubai Marina from another point of view while you relax, sunbathe, take amazing pictures or enjoy a good meal. Everything is possible in Dubai!

These are the main neighborhoods and attractions of 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 with you 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 don't miss any of them.

Book a yacht tour in the Dubai Marina