Dubai Travel Guide

Introduction to Dubai

The Burj Al Arab, Dubai Mall, Palm Islands: welcome to Dubai. Big attractions, big money, big everything. From the world’s tallest building to the world’s biggest shopping centre, Dubai is a city of outrageous superlatives that has become one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. It has the reputation of being a playground for the rich and the famous, but beyond the skyscrapers and seven-star hotels, from souks to parks to eating, there is much to see and do in Dubai on a tourist’s budget.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

Burj Khalifa

At 828 metres high, the Burj Khalifa skyscraper is the world’s tallest building, 196 metres above its nearest rival. It holds 16 other world records, one being the fastest lift – take this to the observation deck at its summit for stupendous views.

Burj Al Arab - Dubai

Burj Al Arab

 

Land your chopper on the helipad on the roof of Dubai’s iconic sail-shaped hotel, celebrities’ choice, the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The world’s only seven-star hotel, it was built on a man-made island beside Jumierah Beach and stands at 321 metres high.

Dubai Mall - Dubai

Dubai Mall

 

Splash and flash your cash at the world’s most-visited, and largest shopping centre (by area), which as well as 1200 shops, houses top Dubai attractions the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and the Dubai Ice Rink.

Other things to do in Dubai

There are a multitude of things to see and do in Dubai from shopping to sporting events and even skiing. If you’re visiting just for the weekend or on a layover between flights you can take in some of the top attractions. Must-sees of a modern kind include the Dubai Fountains, outside Dubai Mall, which light up for action every lunchtime and through the evening, the Dubai Dolphinarium, Dubai Zoo and a wander along Dubai Waterfront, especially Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk - one of the top things to do in Dubai at night. 

 

Top things to do for families in Dubai include the outdoor Wild Wadi Water Park, indoor Ski Dubai, found within the massive Mall of the Emirates (along with Dubai Mall one of the top places for shopping), and public parks such as Safa Park, Mushrif Park and Creekside Park.

 

Dubai Creek Resort is on many a golfer’s list of must-play courses, while other sporting attractions include grand prix venue Dubai Autodrome and the non-motorised thrill of camel racing at Al Marmoum Camel Racetrack, weekly from September and April, but get there early - races start at 6.30am.

 

To see ‘the real Dubai’, or at least the Dubai before the skyscrapers shot up, should head to Dubai Creek for a ride on an abra over to Dubai’s spice souk. For further cultural points of interests, learn about Dubai’s history at the Dubai Museum and Saeed Al Maktoum House, take a guided tour of Jumeirah Mosque, and get new appreciation of the Muslim world at The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

 

If you want to explore beyond the city limits, take an excursion into another Arabia on a desert safari.

 

Staying in a luxury hotel in Dubai is one of the city’s top attractions in itself – if you’re on your honeymoon (or on expenses!). The most famous hotels in Dubai are the Burj Al Arab, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel and  Atlantis, The Palm on Palm Jumeirah island on the extraordinary Palm Islands, with its underwater rooms.

 

Find out more with our local’s guide to the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Dubai

 

Discover how to visit Dubai on a budget with our guide 10 tips for doing Dubai on the cheap

Eating and drinking in Dubai

Snack on shawarma and falafel, available cheaply all over Dubai, while Western cuisine is widespread in Dubai’s international hotels, where breakfast buffets (and all-you-can-drink too!) are also a popular feature for tourists. There’s no shortage of high-end cuisine at high prices, such as Reflets par Pierre Gangaire in Dubai Festival City, while celebrity chefs and celebrity owners have places in glamorous Dubai Marina. Pakistani restaurant Ravi’s, in the Khamees Building on Al Satwa Road, is rated as the best place for curry in Dubai. Note that locals eat late (9-1opm) and that in view of Dubai’s religious customs, privately-owned restaurants can’t serve alcohol, so to drink with your dinner, eat at an international hotel.

 

Dubai climate

Dubai is dry, hot, humid and sunny pretty much all year round but the highest temperatures are in the summer months, reaching an average maximum of 41 degrees centigrade in July. Temperatures drop in winter, down to an average of 24 degrees in January, when it can get chilly at night. Rainfall is virtually non-existent in summer, but January can be cloudy and rainy with occasional thunderstorms.

When to go to Dubai

The best time to visit Dubai weather-wise if you like it hot but not too hot is spring and autumn, while winter can be ideal, bearing in mind the risk of rain. Summer can be uncomfortably hot, but is also the cheapest time to visit Dubai. And remember, most indoor areas are air-conditioned so you can escape the heat. One point to note for non-Muslims is that during Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking in public are banned during daylight hours.

 

Flying to Dubai

Flights to Dubai from the UK go direct from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Flight time is seven to eight hours. Airlines that fly to Dubai include Emirates and British Airways.

 

Note that there are two airports in Dubai - Dubai International Airport and Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport. However, the large majority of passenger flights presently serve Dubai International is the world’s busiest passenger airport, serving not only business and leisure visits to Dubai but increasingly acting as a layover stop on routes to Australia. 37 kilometresGet into central Dubai by metro from Terminals 1 and 3, while taxis are plentiful and metered (pay in local currency, UAE dirham).

 Dubai Deals

Hotels in Dubai

Car hire in Dubai