Dubai has a surprising amount of things to do for those looking to spend more time there. It’s a city trapped between the old and the new. A place in a conservative culture with old world customs while at the same time a Middle-Eastern Vegas where anything goes. Dubai is a fascinating, multi-cultural city that deserves a lot more than stopover.
Day 1 in Dubai:
As you step out on your first day, plan a visit to the Dubai Mall (world’s largest mall!): go to the Dubai Aquarium, explore its restaurants for lunch, do some good shopping and then walk to the Burj Khalifa entrance to see the sunset from the tallest building in the world.
Start your adventure with the Dubai Aquarium at Dubai Mall – The 10-million liter Dubai Aquarium tank, located on the Ground Level of The Dubai Mall, is the largest suspended aquariums in the world. Come face-to-face with some of the ocean’s most fascinating predators, at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. For the first time, you don’t need diving experience to get up-close at feeding time, in a brand new shark feeding encounter – which brings you closer than ever to the creatures behind the exhilarating Shark Week exhibition (ticket price on average $50 USD depending on the experience).
Have an early lunch at one of the many restaurants in the mall which will give you the required energy to shop. The best mall for completing your 10,000 step goal and enjoying the Dubai splendor in malls is Dubai Mall. For all shopping we recommend you wear your most comfortable sneakers ever- you could be there for hours!
You can buy Burj Khalifa tickets either on the site or pre book them online. If you are not booking tickets in advance, it’s advisable that before you settle down for lunch/shopping at the Dubai Mall, you first head to the Burj Khalifa (enter through the Dubai Mall) and check for availability of tickets. On weekends (which are Friday and Saturday in the ME), and around sun set time, you will see larger crowds of tourists and three things may happen: all tickets are sold out/you have tickets available but nor for the time slot you would like/ticket prices are too steep, especially for the 148th floor at sunset time. So ensure you reach the venue a few hours in advance and buy tickets. The 128th floor ticket should be cheaper while that of the 148th floor will be more expensive. In any case, if you find the ticket to the 148th floor to be priced AED 500, do not buy it, it’s too expensive and not worth it! From either floors, you will get panoramic views of the city and desert. At night, the building is illuminated by a spectacular light show of fish, palm trees, and other scenes while the fountain below at Dubai Mall dances to music. You can always catch the fountain show at the Dubai Mall (frequency is every 30 minutes starting 6:30PM, the last one being 11:00PM) if you don’t feel like going that high.
The Armani Lounge on the 1st floor lets you have your favourite drinks and nibbles (dinner too) and watch the fountains. There is also a fantastic restaurant called Atmosphere on the 122nd floor but you need to book it prior- you can book for drinks or for dinner. Remember that it doesn’t come cheap. You can watch the fountains from there as well, we promise they will be a delight.
Day 2 in Dubai:
Take a desert safari – If you want to get a taste of the desert, head out on a day-long safari with Arabian Adventure. They will pick you up from your hotel as well as drop you back. You’ll be able to ride a camel, hold a falcon, explore the desert, and eat some traditional food while watching traditional Arabic dance. A day-long excursion will cost around 315 AED ($85 USD). (Note: there are other desert safaris that may be cheaper, but this is the full experience). Given the temperatures, the outdoors part is scheduled towards the evenings. During the heat of the afternoons, you spend time in the comfort of the car riding sand dunes – just remember to have had a light lunch as your stomach can churn during this exercise. It’s fun though!
Day 3 in Dubai:
Visit Kite Beach – If you’re into kite surfing or water sports, this is a great place to catch some waves. The winds pick up in the afternoon, making it a good time to hit the water or just sit back and watch others do it. If watersports isn’t your thing, just come here to catch some rays and relax. While the UAE is a Muslim country, it’s not as conservative as you might expect. Dress as you would do in Europe: shorts and bikinis are fine. There’s no need to cover your head either. Once you are done, you can go back to your hotel to change and relax. Your next destination will be the Dubai Museum.
Dubai Museum – A small museum in old Dubai with not a lot of information but some really cool displays. It teaches you the history and culture of Dubai and life in the desert. At $1 USD admission, you can’t go wrong. While you can take a metro or a cab to get there, nothing beats the charm of getting there on a ferry, although it is not the most straight forward way to get there since you will still need a metro/cab till Deira. You will cross the Dubai creek from the neighbourhood of Deira using a traditional boat called ‘Abra’. This takes you to the Bur Dubai Old Souq and Water Bus Station. Here you can explore the Souq first or explore it on your way back. To go to the museum, walk towards Al Fahidi Street where the museum is located. There are several attractions around the museum that you can also see so ensure you keep your energy going.
Watch La Perle in the evening – Dubai’s one of a kind live masterpiece. A new era of entertainment has swept over Dubai with the debut of La Perle. Created and produced by one of the world’s most renowned artistic directors, Franco Dragone, La Perle transports audiences into another world. This interactive theatre experience should not be missed. Immerse yourself in the live show that takes inspiration from Dubai’s past, present and future. (https://laperle.com/en/)
Day 4 in Dubai:
Hire a taxi and head out to Abu Dhabi. The journey takes an hour each way so is very convenient. The star attraction is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a pristine white marble mosque that will mesmerize your senses. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and a capacity for 41,000 worshipers. In case you are looking for a lunch stop-over in Abu Dhabi, pre book one of the restaurants in the Emirates Palace (entry is not allowed to guests unless they have a reservation), which is a palatial hotel with a private marina. On your way back to Dubai, spend some time at the Ferrari World (remember it closes at 8PM), a mostly indoors amusement park on Yas island – it is connected to Yas Mall so can explore the Mall as well. A Bronze Pass entitles you to unlimited all-day access to the Ferrari World. There are restaurants inside where you can have your meals.
Day 5 in Dubai:
Depending on when your return flight is in the evening, you can check out the other Malls that will help you to shop till you drop. We will recommend the Mall of the Emirates and the Ibn Battuta Mall. The latter is inspired by the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta and is the largest themed mall in the world. The countries that Ibn Battuta explored in his lifetime have their own distinct retail court and you will not regret the experience. The Mall of the Emirates also has an indoor ski resort called the Ski Dubai where you can also play with Penguins.
Catch your flight in the evening with beautiful memories to share with your loved ones!