Glamorous, modern and a place to visit at least once in your life. Dubai is a miracle of architecture, a vertical city that has flourished in the desert and one of the best destinations to enjoy the sun all year round. Traditional souks and markets, the biggest shopping malls, theme parks… From the desert to the sea, and from shopping to skiing, Dubai offers you everything modern cities can only dream of.
Planning a vacation? Looking for an adventure? Here are 101 crazy things to do before you die.
From skyscrapers and seven-star hotels to souks… and skiing! Discover the best of Dubai according to a local.
The tallest building in the world by far. You won’t find anything more majestic. Burj Khalifa is 828 meters high and has 124 floors, so you will have to climb to the top to enjoy the impressive views… This alone makes the trip to Dubai worthwhile.
The sightseeing tour lasts one hour and allows you to go up and down… as well as taking as many pictures as you like of this postcard horizon. It will be hard to get your feet back on the ground! The best time to go is at sunset… because you can see the panorama day and night.
Open: 10 – 20h. Entrance fee: 25 ? (with reservation), up to 80 ? (without reservation).
After the tallest building in the world, there is nothing better than the contrast of climbing into an opening in Dubai Creek. This creek is one of the oldest and most beautiful areas in Dubai.
Nothing better than the feeling of sailing in one of these traditional boats while the sun sets for only 1 dirham, while in the background the call to evening prayer from the minarets of the mosques sounds. Close your eyes and you will travel back to the 1960s, when this dream began. You can even hire a private opening for about 12 euros an hour.
On the other side you will find the aromas of the spice souk of Dubai. It’s the perfect place to buy some incense, and then take a walk through the charming old town of Deira, with its alleys and stray cats – it couldn’t be nicer!
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
A perfect place for breakfast or lunch, with a difference. If you’ve always wanted to know more about Islam but didn’t dare ask, here’s your chance to know everything. Do you want to know why women carry an abaya? How long can camels survive in the desert? Why do Muslims head in a particular direction to pray? At the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding you will find all the answers. So don’t be surprised if you come home with a lot more information and a more adjusted view of the Muslim world.
The centre is run by a man from the Emirates who married a European and is a good place to promote intercultural understanding, as its name suggests. Have we already said that it is a good place to eat? Well, in addition to filling your stomach, dare to ask if you can go up on the roof to admire the view. It will give you goose bumps.
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab calls itself “The world’s only 7-star hotel” and, whether you agree or not, it is without a doubt one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. With a height that rises to 321 meters, the Burj was designed to resemble a wind-blown sail. There are several places from which you can take amazing pictures, but one of the best is the public beach right next door.
It is one of the most photographed buildings in the world and one of the most luxurious hotels as well. It’s too expensive to stay here, but here’s a little tip: go have a drink at the Dhow and Anchor in the hotel right across the street (the Jumeirah Beach) and sit on the terrace to enjoy the views.
Ski Dubai – Mall of the Emirates
Snow in the desert dunes? In Dubai it’s possible! And all this in one of the world’s largest shopping malls. Among the many crazy things you can do in this city is snowboarding at Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates shopping centre.
More than 20,000 square meters of indoor ski slopes, including ski lifts, and a winter climate unbecoming in this part of the world. Here you can glide down the slopes, play with the snow or just have a hot chocolate at the bar. You don’t even need to bring your skis with you, you can rent everything here.
Open every day. Sunday – Wednesday 10 – 23h. Thursday 10 – 24h. Friday from 9 to 24h. Saturdays from 9 to 23h.
Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk and Dubai Marina
Built in recent years, the Dubai Marina is filled with spectacular skyscrapers that light up at night, while next door is the Jumeirah Beach Residence (or JBR for locals). The Marina and JBR form a city within the city full of great examples of contemporary architecture, beautiful cafes and bars (ideal for people watching), luxury hotels and some of the best restaurants in the city, including Frankie’s Italian Bar & Grill by Frankie Dettori and Gary Rhodes’ Twenty10.
During the day the views are as impressive as at night and many people go to the Marina for a run. Behind the Address Hotel you can take the Dubai ferry, which is a popular attraction with visitors and locals alike, as it takes you out to sea past the famous Atlantis Hotel on the artificial island of Palm Jumeirah. This ferry drops you off at the Creek area, right in front of Bur Dubai, where you can experience old Dubai after tasting the new.
A desert safari is a chance to get a feel for what life was like for the Bedouins years ago. There are many companies that offer desert safaris, but before you book you better compare them. Make sure that when the excursion is over you are returned to the city, and also if there are plans to stop somewhere on the way… and especially ask if you will have to pay any extra and what kind of food they will give you.
Most often you will be driven in an off-road car to a traditional style camp where you will be able to eat something. But if you want adventure, bet on driving over the dunes, watching falcons fly and dreaming of desert adventures. Returning to the camp at sunset is a magical experience… Sitting in the dark with the stars shining above your head is a small pleasure.
The Gold Souk
If you like oriental colors and perfumes, don’t miss the historical souks of Dubai. Amongst rare fabrics and spices there is a lot to buy. But the most typical, without a doubt, is the Gold Souk, the largest market in the world dedicated to gold. A large wooden door will give you access to a series of sparkling, affordable jewellery displays. If something catches your eye, dare to bargain. I’m sure you’ll get a good deal from the dealer.
Public parks in Dubai
Okay, maybe parks aren’t the first thing that comes to mind if someone mentions Dubai. But do you remember that in Dubai there are the highest, deepest, most expensive things in the world? Well, this can apply to parks.
Dubai has some of the most beautiful, peaceful, clean and green parks in the world. Pay about 5 dirhams to enter different places than usual and you will see families of all kinds having a good time while the children are ringing the bells. Wallets and mobile phones are left on the ground while mums and dads play ball or have a barbecue. They are, in short, the perfect place to relax and hang out.
A must see, the Jumeirah Mosque is in the Fatimid style and is a good example of Islamic architecture. Together with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding it promotes intercultural dialogue and a greater understanding of Islam. Guided tours are available for non-Muslims 6 days a week at 10 am. You must dress decently.
Closed on Fridays. Guided tours from Saturday to Thursday: 10 am.
And one more, as a tip.
The fountains of Dubai
Spectacular, exciting and free! Maybe you’ve already been to Barcelona and seen the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. But listen to us. The fountains of Dubai are a wonder that will leave you with your mouth open. The best thing is to go at night to see the light show.
These fountains are located at the foot of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall (the largest shopping centre in the world). There are many restaurants next to the fountains and it’s a good idea to book a table in one of them for dinner on the terrace while the show is on. The Mango Tree is a good place to do this, but if you can’t find a table the Rivington Grill is an excellent alternative.
Saturday to Thursday: 1pm and 1.30pm and 6pm to 11pm every 30 minutes. Friday: at 1.30pm and 2pm, and from 6pm to 11pm every 30 minutes.