The United Arab Emirates is a small country, but it’s packed with exciting places for visitors to check out and fall in love with. From modern buildings to cultural hot-spots, there’s a little bit of everything. This what makes the UAE one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world.
Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s grandest hotels | Courtesy of Burj Al Arab / Hotels.com
The tallest building in the world at over 800 meters, the Burj Khalifa and is one of the most impressive sights in Dubai. Even better than seeing the skyscraper from the outside is to go to At the Top and see what Dubai looks like from 148 floors high. The view stretches from sea to desert, and is a truly singular experience.
For those who enjoy shopping, what experience could be more exciting than visiting at the biggest shopping mall in the world? The Dubai Mall has 1,200 retail outlets, from some of the biggest luxury stores in the world like, Chanel and Cartier, to Forever 21, Zara and other trendier shops. The mall also has a whole area dedicated to jewelry stores and dozens of food and beverage outlets.
The Palm Jumeirah is the biggest artificial island in the world. Every tourist to Dubai definitely needs to see The Palm and visit one of its high-end restaurants and bars. Even better than just visiting the island it to stay there in one of its 5-star hotels, like Fairmont The Palm, Atlantis or Anantara.
The Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are five minutes apart, and both give an insight into what Dubai was like before the city boomed with skyscrapers and tourism. These souks(meaning market in Arabic) are located next to the Dubai Creek, and visitors can cross the water in an Abra, a traditional water taxi. At the Spice Souk, visitors can find the best spices in the region and at the Gold Souk, jaw dropping jewels.
This thrilling amusement park is one of the newer attractions in Dubai, and is the perfect place for families. Dubai Parks and Resorts brings together three different parks — Motiongate, Bollywood Parks and Legoland. Adults and children alike can enjoy the rides, restaurants, concerts and events.
Who knew you could go skiing in the desert? Ski Dubai is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Not only does it offer the full skiing and snowboarding experience, but there are also penguins here! The skiing slope also has an ice park, in which to play and enjoy icy slides and snow fights. All clothing and equipment is provided at the venue, so there’s no need to worry about bringing winter coats to Dubai.
This is one of the most popular tourism hot-spots in Dubai, as Souk Madinat Jumeirah offers traditional stores, souvenir shops, craft stands and more. It mimics an old traditional market, with wooden details and outdoor spaces. Perhaps one of the best aspects of Madinat is the unobstructed view of the Burj Al Arab. It’s also full of delicious restaurants and popular bars for a night out.
This mosque is definitely one of the most beautiful attractions in the UAE. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was a project of the visionary Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and is truly an architectural masterpiece. The mosque is mostly made of marble, and the walls and floors are embedded with colorful stones depicting flowers. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is also home to the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world, and massive crystal chandeliers.
The Yas Viceroy Hotel is located in the Yas Marina Circuit, and visitors can see the Abu Dhabi’s incredible Formula 1 racetrack from the hotel. More often than not there are cars racing and practicing in the circuit, making the experience even more thrilling. Anyone visiting Abu Dhabi should grab lunch at the hotel and sit on its large balcony overlooking the circuit.
The Emirates Palace is probably the most luxurious attraction in the whole of the UAE. This hotel was the world’s most expensive to build, costing 3 billion dollars. Make a reservation at Le Café (it’s only possible to enter Emirates Palace with reservations) to try their famous gold cappuccino. Yes, the cappuccino at this unique cafe actually has real gold in it!
For those seeking an adrenaline rush, Ferrari World is a must-visit attraction. The Ferrari-themed park is home to the fastest roller coaster in the world, Formula Rossa, which accelerates to 240km/hr in as short as five seconds. Other than this epic ride, the park is also full of exciting things to do, like a racing simulator, Ferrari car expositions, and even a ride that fully explains how to assemble a Ferrari.
Made famous by the Fast & Furious 7 movie, the Abu Dhabi skyline is a sight to behold. Although its not filled with world famous buildings like its neighbor Dubai, Abu Dhabi has skyscrapers that are true architectural wonders. A drive down to the UAE’s capital will allow visitors to feast their eyes on buildings of all shapes and sizes, including the first circular building in the Middle East, the Aldar Headquarters, and the leaning skyscraper, Capital Gate.
The Blue Souk in Sharjah dates to 1978, and is one of the Emirate’s most well-known landmarks. Much like Dubai’s Souk Madinat Jumeirah, the Blue Souk offers a market-like environment with over 600 shops, selling everything from jewelry to souvenirs. When visiting Sharjah, this souk is an essential stop, as its beautiful bazaar-inspired architecture is quite a sight.
When visiting the UAE, it’s very easy to fall in love with its artificial attractions and forget about the complex desert ecosystem that existed before all the tall buildings and expensive hotels started being built. The Sharjah Natural History Museum allows visitors to learn about the fauna and flora of the Arabian Desert. Visiting is a fun way to better understand the plants and animals that populated the UAE before the metropolises were built.
For anyone looking for a true adventure when visiting the UAE, the Golf and Shooting Club in Sharjah is a must-visit. Whether relaxing and playing golf or getting a little more risky and trying shooting and archery, this place caters to a range of tastes. The club also offers paintball for an exciting group experience, and has its own pool and several restaurants. Visitors can spend a whole day in Sharjah just indulging at this club.
Al Jazirat Al Hamra is a small abandoned village that is rumored to be haunted by jinns the shape of animals (jinns are ghost-like creatures in Islamic folklore). Better known as Ghost Town, the village dates to the 14th century, making this an intriguing destination for history buffs too.
The Via Ferrata concept started in the Alps and it has been taken to Ras Al Khaimah. It involves a steel cable that takes people through a route alongside a mountain. For outdoor lovers and adventure seekers, Via Ferrata is a dream attraction in the UAE. Professional instructors guide visitors through a trail along the UAE’s tallest mountain. An adrenaline rush is guaranteed, with a 1km long route and three different zip lines for a real thrill.
When most people think of the UAE, they might think about the new and modern. However, the country is full of history, and visiting the Al Badiyah Mosque is the perfect way to see that. The small, simple mosque in Fujairah is the oldest in the UAE, built in 1446.
As Fujairah is the only Emirate on the East Coast of the UAE, its beautiful beaches are a must-visit destination in themselves. But even better than chilling by the beach all day is snorkeling. The water in Fujairah is crystal clear and full of marine life. There, visitors can see anything from fish to turtles. Visitors should also take this opportunity to snorkel around Snoopy Island, which got its name because people believe it looks like Snoopy, the cartoon dog, lying down.
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These recommendations were updated on June 19, 2017 to keep your travel plans fresh.