Dubai is a city with numerous attractions for the almost 15 million tourists that visit annually, with numbers expected to rise in coming years. Contrary to popular belief, Dubai is not just a desert wasteland with the Burj Khalifa as its only selling point. From romantic hotspots on the beach to family fun weekends, there are plenty of attractions to visit.
Yes, it’s a bit touristy, but it’s also an absolute must to see the world’s tallest building. You can enjoy the towering view from below at one of the many outdoor restaurants or cafes next to the building, or for those who want to brave the heights you can even go up to the top of the building for a magnificent view of the entire city.
1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 366 1655
The world’s biggest mall, it’s tempting to just spend your entire vacation here in Dubai Mall. It has absolutely everything, from an ice skating rink to an enormous movie theater, from a huge selection of restaurants to Kidzania, topped with as much shopping as you can ever dream of doing.
Financial Center Road, Downtown Dubai, Dubai, UAE, +971 800 382246255
The Dubai Fountains
Laying just outside Dubai Mall and in front of Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountains, known as the Dancing Fountains to locals, is a major highlight of any evening out in the city. Every hour the fountains light up and shoot high into the air, “dancing” along to the music that plays from the surrounding speakers to create a truly magical show.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Located inside the Dubai Mall, this aquarium and underwater zoo is for anyone who wants to explore the marine life of the Arabian Peninsula; or to just gawk at the idea of an actual aquarium inside of a mall. With an underwater tunnel, diving experiences, and a marine museum, this place is great for everyone.
Ground & Level 2, The Dubai Mall, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 448 5200
With 22,500 square meters of indoor ski area inside of Emirates Mall, this is the place to be for anyone missing a little snow while in the heat of Dubai. With different slopes for all levels of skiing expertise, you’ll forget you’re even in Dubai while sipping hot chocolate and playing in the snow in this truly remarkable feat.
Sheikh Zayed Rd, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, UAE, +971 800 386
IMG Worlds of Adventure
Popular not only because it has the title of being the world’s largest indoor theme park, but for its absolutely enormous variety of rides, haunted houses, and other thrilling “5D” activities; IMG is one of Dubai’s favorite attractions. Be sure to go during the week or at least arrive early on the weekends however, as it can get extremely crowded.
One of the most beautiful stretches of beach in Dubai, this is one of the most photographed attractions in Dubai. With its white sand, turquoise clear waters, and delicious food and drink stalls alongside the promenade facing the open ocean, it’s not hard to see why people can’t stop coming back to Jumeirah Beach.
The most popular mosque in Dubai, Jumeirah Mosque is a must-visit for those who want to experience a lesson on the local religion of the region. With guided tours in English, just remember to bring something to be able to dress modesty to show respect towards the worshippers using the mosque for prayer.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeria 1, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 353 6666
Definitely the hotspot for young couples and groups of friends, the main boulevard of Dubai, known as JBR, is the key attraction during the weekend. Check out this sparkling shopping and restaurant area for a lively night out in one of Dubai’s glitziest areas.
Bahar 7, Dubai, UAE, +971 56 604 5684
One of the most affluent residential areas in the city, Dubai Marina has become a main attraction because of the wide sidewalks and view of the stunning skyline of Dubai at night. With some of the most fashionable restaurants and chic cafes lining the streets, its no wonder that the rich are lining up to live in this area.
Dubai Gold Souk
It’s no wonder that tourists (and residents alike) congregate to the one and only Gold Souk of Dubai, with its lines of glittering gold shops and piles of gold jewelry in the store windows. Be sure to act like a local however and always bargain for the price of gold they offer you at first!
Wild Wadi Water Park
Because it can get a little hot in Dubai, many tourists and residents enjoy letting off some steam at the Wild Wadi Water Park, the city’s largest outdoor waterpark offering more than 30 different water slides, pools, and wave recreations. You’ll be able to easily spend an entire day here splashing around with one of the most amazing skyline views of Dubai.
Jumeira Road, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, +971 4 348 4444
Burj Al Arab
With its iconic sail-shaped exterior and nickname of being a seven-star hotel, this prestigious landmark is one of Dubai’s most luxurious attractions. While you’ll need to book a room to actually enjoy all the services inside the hotel, you can still visit the sparkling beach right next to the Burj Al Arab and bask in Dubai’s extravagance.
Jumeira Road, Umm Suqeim 3, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 301 7777
Bur Dubai Souk
To get away from all the commercialism and riches of the many parts of Dubai, it’s always a good idea to get lost in the ancient souk of old Dubai, known as Bur Dubai. With its colorful stalls selling scarves, Arabian tea sets, and all kinds of trinkets for souvenirs; you can also take a small traditional dow boat along the water next to the bazaar for a refreshing take on the more traditional aspects of the city.
Bur Dubai, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 353 1492
The Palm Islands
A series of three different man-made islands off the coast of Dubai, this area is one of Dubai’s most internationally recognized landmarks. The most famous island taking the shape of a palm tree surrounded by a thin crescent shape, these white sand beaches are the perfect place for a tropical stroll in the sun.
Located in the Al Fahidi Fort of Dubai, built in 1787, the Dubai Museum is one of the city’s main attractions for those who want to explore the ancient history and traditions of the UAE. From the history of Dubai’s ruling family to artifacts from Dubai’s old pearl divers, there’s something here that will interest everyone in your group.
Al Fahidi St., Bur Dubai, Opposite Grand Mosque, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 353 1862
What’s a trip to the Arabian Peninsula without getting lost in the aromas and excitement of spices? With a long history of trade between India and East Africa, Dubai is famous for both its local spices as well as spices brought over from abroad centuries ago—and Dubai’s Spice Souk is one of the most vibrant and thrilling places to do a little scented shopping!
Saeed Al Maktoum House
The historical resident house of former ruler of Dubai, Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, this place is perfect for those who want to explore both ancient UAE architecture as well as the history of Dubai’s humble beginnings. Located along the Dubai Creek, this is one of the best ways to enjoy the city’s true Emirati spirit, as many like to say.
Al Maktoum Heritage House, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 393 7139
Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai is full of the world’s “best”, and therefore it only makes sense that Dubai Miracle Gardens is the world’s largest natural flower garden, with more than 109 million flowers spread out over the enormous grounds. With a different theme every year, the flowers in the garden are spread out into romantic fields, or worked into quirky shapes or buildings for a truly interactive walk in the gardens.
Al Barsha South 3, Barsha, Dubailand Area, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 422 8902
An enormous waterpark located in Atlantis, the Palm, Aquaventure Waterpark is filled with zip lines, swimming pools, slides through shark-filled lagoons, and a shallow splashing area for kids. Coming here in the sun with the view of the famous Palm Islands will make you wonder why you ever have to leave Dubai!
Atlantis The Palm, Crescent Road, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 426 0000