Dubai has become a tourist hub, bringing people from all corners of the world over to visit the city. During peak season, flights are full, hotels and fully booked, traffic is slow and almost every attraction in Dubai has long waiting lines. So it’s good to know a few tricks to help escape the massive crowds and see Dubai in the most efficient and hassle-free way possible.
Avoid Dubai Mall
Although Dubai Mall is one of the most popular shopping malls in the world – and, at 350 m² (3.77 million sq ft), the biggest – this might be a place visitors want to avoid if they don’t want to be lost in the crowd. Visitors will be better off shopping at any of the city’s other of malls.
Book private tours
Several tours take visitors around Dubai, but these tours are often packed and hectic. Yes, tours like The Big Bus Tour can be fun, but it might be hard to even score a seat in the bus during peak season. By booking a private tour, visitors can relax, enjoy the space in the car and not be rushed by others. All travel agencies in the city offer private tours to see the city, as well as private cars for desert safaris.
Visit uncommon attractions
While Dubai has its staple attractions, going to At The Top and the Burj Khalifa or dinner at Atlantis The Palm may involve long waiting lines and crowded spaces. Opt for uncommon attractions and non-touristy experiences to make the most of a time out, and get the chance to see Dubai from an entirely different angle without having to book months in advance.
Attend unusual events
Dubai has no shortage of events for all ages, budgets and lifestyles, but events such as concerts, sporting championships and store openings can be packed with people, making it impossible to even walk along the crowd. A great way check out the city’s events while still avoiding the more crowded ones is to use the Dubai Calendar app. Visitors can also buy tickets through the app, helping avoid malls and ticket lines.
Enjoy outdoors activities
Opting for outdoors activities is a great way for visitors to not find themselves packed in a crowd of people with nowhere to go. Dubai has a series of public beaches that offer activities, great food and plenty of space to lounge. Another great way to enjoy the outdoors in Dubai is by checking out one of its many parks to have a picnic, play sports or just relax.
Avoid peak season
Dubai’s peak season starts around October and goes on until sometime around March. At this time of the year the weather is fantastic, as it’s not extremely hot like summer and the city is popping with people and activities. This also means, however, that Dubai is more crowded than any other time of the year. Avoiding peak season may be a difficult decision, as it involves visiting Dubai when temperatures are high, but this also means better hotel rates as well as a less crowded city experience. Plus, there are so many ways to avoid the summer heat that it won’t even be a major issue.
Go shopping on weekdays
Malls are a weekend favorite for Dubai’s residents. On Fridays and Saturdays, all malls around the city are full of people shopping, eating or just walking around, looking for something to kill time. One of the best ways to avoid this crowd is by shopping during the weekdays, when most people are at work and there’s lots of space and time to chill around the mall without feeling claustrophobic. It’s even better to go in the mornings; most malls open at 10am, allowing people to have the space almost for themselves.
Travel by metro
Dubai traffic can be brutal A 20-minute commute can take up to an hour or even more during rush hour, making even the most relaxed of people lose their mind. Stay away from the heavy traffic on almost every highway in Dubai, and use the metro. The metro stays above ground for most of its trajectory, giving visitors a beautiful view of the city (as well as all the cars stuck in traffic).
Stay in lesser known areas of town
Dubai’s trendy, popular neighbourhoods are, unfortunately, very packed. Visitors may be tempted to stay at The Palm Jumeirah or Downtown Dubai, where most of the big attractions and trendy restaurants are located. Although it may seem great to only be a five-minute taxi ride away from Dubai Mall, the city’s traffic will probably turn that trip into a 25-minute commute. So heck out the lesser known neighborhoods to avoid traffic and crowds: places like Al Barsha, Barsha Heights and Sheikh Zayed Road are full of hotels, close to the city’s main highways and will definitely be much less packed.
Make friends with locals
Many tourists tend to visit countries and stay within their group, not actually meet any of the place’s residents. They are definitely missing out! Making friends with Dubai’s locals is a great way to get the best recommendations for making the most of every day in Dubai. The Emirates are extremely seasonal, so the most popular bar in town six months ago won’t be the same now. Residents can give advice on what are the best places in town to go at the time, which ones are crazy packed and what are the better nights of the week to avoid the massive crowds.
Emirates is the biggest airline in Dubai and one of the biggest in the world, but oddly enough, booking a flight through Emirates can help escape the crowds. The Dubai International Airport has three terminals, and Emirates has Terminal 3 all to itself. This massive terminal has plenty of space to accommodate ridiculous amounts of people, making the airport experience much more comfortable.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.