Dubai has already been called “the 21st century big apple”. Beneath its dusty blue sky lies an enormous and vast multicultural, renewed and jaw-dropping metropolis.
We went in August – which may not be the proper season, although we do not regret – and we stayed for three days filled up with activities within the city (we decided not to go to the desert whilst staying in Dubai).
This travel guide is based on our experience and will certainly help you planning and scheduling your stay in the Arabic wonderland.
As it is said before, distances are huge and the city’s landmarks are not nearby at all. So, if you want to hit all the best places Dubai has to offer, and unless you’re plenty of time, effective transportation is going to play a key role in this three-day adventure. Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off buses, taxis, Dubai metro and other public transportation are some of your options to move within the city.
Why three days? As we looked at a map we soon figured out how to split the activities during our stay. The map below shows Dubai and its main touristic areas:
We decided to visit each area – red, green and blue – in separate days, which is the reason why we consider three days is enough to explore Dubai’s must-see’s.
Where shall you begin?
Our suggestion is to travel through Dubai’s historical timeline, since everytime we visit a new city, we love to explore it from the oldest districts to the brand new ones.
Therefore, the blue area pictured above is where our itinerary begins. Although Dubai is a modern high-tech metropolis, its ancient inhabitants developed Dubai Creek neighbouring districts, known as Deira and Bur Dubai in the nineteenth (19th) century.
A full day in this area allows visitors to combine cultural sightseeing and shopping. Here you will find the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, the Al Fahidi Fort and Dubai Museum, the House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum and the traditional souks, namely the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk and the Textile Souk.
Furthermore, a visit to Dubai Creek would not be completed if you do not take a ride on the traditional boat Abra. Each ride takes approximately 5 to 7 minutes and the fare is just 1 AED (≈0.25 EUR; ≈0.27 USD).
After visiting the Creek’s most traditional districts, you will arrive at the land of majestic skyscrapers and modern architecture: the heart of Dubai. If you look back at the map, this is the green area.
The downtown offers multiple attractions. From the dozens of high-rise buildings throughout Sheikh Zayed Road to the wonderful Jumeirah Mosque, make sure you do not miss a thing from the wide range of possibilities we advise you to visit.
In the morning, you can explore the coastal area, where you will find the so famous Jumeirah Mosque, one of the few open to non-Muslim visitors in the UAE. Tours cost 20 AED (≈5 EUR; ≈5.4 USD) and are available from Saturday to Thursday and begin at 10h00.
As your tour ends, at 11h15, proceed to Mercato Shopping Mall. Inside you feel like you are somewhere in Italy, since the mall seems like a “Renaissance period Italian city replica”.
In the afternoon, head to Dubai Downtown. Walk around Sheikh Zayed Road’s magnificent streets, where looking up is mandatory to admire the beautiful architecture of its buildings. Go to Dubai Mall, the world’s largest, and do not forget to buy your tickets for Burj Khalifa’s observation deck (tickets are more expensive from 15h30 to 18h00). Enjoy the views from the 124th floor.
As you get back to Dubai Mall, relax and take your time for shopping, dining or ice skating! Before returning to your hotel, watch the Dubai Fountain Show that takes place every 30 minutes.
Finally, there is only the red area left from our initial map. Here there are three main attractions: the marina, the Palm Jumeirah and the world-wide known Burj Al-Arab.
While exploring the marina, there is one particular famous building worth looking at: the Cayan Tower.
Move forward to the Palm Jumeirah. Visit the Atlantis The Palm, Dubai, where you have many activities either for solo travellers or families, including swimming with dolphins, waterpark adventures or a big aquarium with hundreds of species.
Later on, go straight to the “world’s most luxurious hotel”, Burj Al Arab. Take your pictures, since getting in is not possible for visitors, and dine at one of Madinat Jumeirah’s restaurants.
Notice that, as we said, this travel guide applies to all travellers interested in the city. For longer vacations, with beach days and desert tours, we advise you to stay in Dubai for more days.
Are you ready to discover Dubai from east to west?
Follow our tips and let us know how useful they were!
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