Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai

Ever heard that phrase “If I had the cash I would…” that’s exactly what summed up Dubai for me. As beautiful as Dubai is, at first glance I was in awe of the scale of modern development to the country and what money has certainly bought the country. My disappointment came in the realisation that in modernising they appeared to have got rid of almost all of what the country is about; the Arabic culture.
When I travel I like to fully immerse myself in the culture of the places I am exploring. In Dubai, everything seemed almost artificial. I love architecture and there is plenty to look at in Dubai but it almost seemed a copy of another building from somewhere around the world. Maybe that was just the jet-lag talking…

A goodnight’s rest and well rested head later, it was time to drop the whole ‘judging the book by its cover’ routine and head on out to explore UAE’s capital. With my friend as my guide, it was on! With an all year round sun (something we only dream about in London), what more could a girl ask for? Well this girl wanted to know where the Malls were…
Having enjoyed the sun and exploring the old and new Dubai, the beautiful malls and great activities I must  say may have jumped the gun a little bit in judging the city. Dubai certainly has wow factor and then some! Here are my top 10 things to do if you happen to be seeking sun, sea and sand in the Middle East – Dubai to be more precise. 

burj al arab views in dubai marina - Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai
View of Burj Al Arab from The Madinat Souk in Jumeriah

burj khalifa Burj Al Arab - Afternoon Tea Session
View of Shiny Burj Khalifa from Hotel looking into the city
10. Jumeriah Emirates Towers. It doesn’t get any more convenient than Sheik Zayed Road. Beautifully located and over looks Burj Khalifa in the distance. Great service with a contemporary feel to the décor.  There are other options around the area but I like the location and the fact that it was fairly central and close to Dubai Mall, World Trade Centre and Emirates Mall. For full list of options on where to stay in Dubai, check on this list of hotels and apartments in Dubai covering all budgets.
dubai mall Burj Al Arab - Afternoon Tea Session
Dubai Mall – Indoor Water feature
9. Spend the day…
Getting lost in Dubai Mall. If can’t find it here then it probably doesn’t exist. I am only  kidding, but that should give you an idea of how big this place is. This is something to experience!  They call it the “social and lifestyle experience”.  Whether you are a novice shopper or an old hand, you have to experience the spectacular array of outlets; all 1,200 of them! Entertainment options from ski slopes, Sega, an aquarium(pictures on my flickr page) and cinema reels. When you need a break from all that, you can feast your way around the world with restaurants and cafes serving food from world cuisines. If you are still belly-aching for more because you are some voracious tourist, then you can have more! Just step on outside for a spectacular show. Ever seen water dance?! Well Step outside and you should be able to answer yes to that question if anyone ever asks. The Dubai Fountain; water projected as high as 500 meters and choreographed to music. When I was there the spraying was swaying to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Yes, they also had that scary laugh at the end of the song while the water turned to mist. It was definitely time to head back for some shut eye and get ready for another day of exploring.
dubai marina
Madinat Souk Waterways
8. Stroll around…
Madinat Souk. Built in Arabic old style architecture and features a labyrinth of little alley ways that attempt to obscure the shops and array of restaurants around the Souk.  With Lantern-lit hallways, narrow water ways and the faint smell of oils and aromatic scents with prices being negotiable you can try and haggle yourself a bargain.

Not as authentic as I thought it would be though, but still another beautiful place to hang out. It also offers an amazing view of the Burj Al Arab(picture at the top of this post).
Burj Al Arab – 27th Floor Sky Bar

Burj Al Arab - Afternoon Tea Session - dubai
Burj Al Arab – Afternoon Tea Session

Burj Al Arab. I am sure you have heard of this self-proclaimed 7 star hotel( official ratings only go up to 5 stars). Dominating the skyline from many angles around the city. You couldn’t ignore it if you tried. The world’s tallest hotel with world class service. My friend and I were booked for an afternoon tea in the Sky View Bar on the 27th Floor. We also struck luck as we were moved to the corner window side table which had views of the Palm Island and Jumeriah Beach.
You cannot come to Dubai without sipping fine tea 200 meters above sea level, quenching your thirst while the jazz music soothes the mind allowing you to dream a little whilst the sun is setting right before your eyes.

The main lobby of the hotel also has a water fountain that has fantastic rhythmic synchronisation to the water. I will upload this to YouTube. 

gold souk Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai
Anyone for a gold belt?…
6. Buy…
Gold at Gold Souk. That’s if you didn’t manage to buy yourself a gold bar from the ATM in Dubai Mall. Yes, I did spot an ATM you could bar gold bars from.  Well considering the fact that Dubai is known for cheap gold(not bad quality but cheap as in great prices compared to other countries), no wonder they can afford to have ATMs with gold bars. You just can’t haggle at the ATM, so instead you head for the Gold Souk in Khalid Bin Waleed Road. Here you will find window displays with more gold than should be allowed. I now understand why people get gold teeth! Well I guess at that point you have so much gold that you don’t even know what to do with it.  So instead you just throw a few bars in your mouth and chew on that for a while.
dubai creek
Dubai Creek for Old Dubai

Dubai Creek
5. Have dinner on…
A Boat on Dubai Creek. Before heading out to dinner on the boat we spent some time around the creek and took the abra(wooden boats) to cross over to Deira. If you want to see the old Dubai then head to Dubai Creek as it connects Deira and Bur Dubai creating a mix of new and old. The souks are also within walking distance. After mingling it was time to clean up and head for dinner on the boat, which circled around the creek to give you a glimpse of the towering Skyscrappers that litter the skyline. The food was absolutely fantastic with light entertainment on board. 
Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai burj khalifa
Burj Khalifa – World’s Tallest Building
Dubai Fountain: Growing mist as the water fountain jets starts dancing to Thriller.
4. Get High…
At Burj Khalifa. Can you hear me?! That was my friend mattering those words as my ears hadn’t popped yet. That’s what happens when you ascend 124 floors in 60 seconds flat! Burj Khalifa has some 200+ floors and more than any other building in the world. It’s recommended you book in advance to avoid the queues. That is for the timed ticket, or you can pay a little more and go up whenever you decide to turn up. You cannot come to Dubai and not visit the world’s tallest structure. Yes, our very own Shard here in London tried to reach the heights but fall short a few floors. 
dubai mall Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai
View of Dubai Mall from Above
The observatory deck on the 124th floor, on a good day offers ant-like views of little cars moving about on the ground. With car lights turning into long lines forming the roadway gives you an idea of just how high up you are in the air. 

3. Let your Heart skip a beat on…
A Desert Safari. The journey is not for the faint-hearted or those spotting dentures as you are more likely to spit those bad boys out. We were picked up from the hotel and driven to the desert. Arriving at the Desert we changed to a 4×4 for an adventurous ride in the sand dunes. It seemed like the driver got a kick out of the ladies screaming for mercy that he decided on another extra ride in the dunes just for the fun of it. My head said “Lets do that again!” while my stomach whispered, “I swear to God if you get in that car I will show everyone what you had for breakfast!”
This was one of the highlights of my trip to Dubai. Also Playing dress up(see picture below) in the desert, getting an owl to sit on my hand, watching a belly dancer balance a sword on her head, music and great food among other things.

Playing dress up in the desert
Dubai Desert Safari activities
2. Watch the Sun Set at…
The One and Only: Mirage. The best place to watch the sun set while enjoying the early evening breeze at the One and Only Mirage. We enjoyed a cozy and quiet Moroccan tea session on the rooftop terrace beautifully decorated with embroidered cushions, candle lights. The place is laid back, allowing you to just chill out and unwind and stay in the moment.
Roof Top Terrace at One and Only: Mirage

1. Recover at…

A Ladies Only Spa. It was time to chill out after all of that. Dubai in all of its luxury you won’t fail to find a spot to pumper yourself. That goes for the guys too. My friend booked us into a ladies only spa were be had the Arabic hammam(Moroccan baths). A place where you get a good scrub down(AND I mean a REALLY good scrub down). Nails done, massages, it was now time to have some henna done. I had 2 people, one working and doodling away with henna on my hands and the other drawing some fancy designs on my feet. So relaxing I almost fell asleep.
We are at 1, the count down over. It was time to return home. Chilled and relaxed. The perfect ending to my week in Dubai.
To go home or not to go, that is the question…

If you also happen to have a transit stop over for a couple of  hours in Dubai then heard for Dubai Mall or even Burj Khalifa for quick exploring. The journey from the airport to Burj Khalifa station is about 30 minutes so a round trip of about an hour and factor in some time to look around too then back to the airport.

The rest of the pictures will be posted on my Flickr. There is more to see and do in Dubai. I would love to do a sky dive near the Palm or the World Islands, but want to see Oman first before heading back to Dubai.

So have you been to the land of reclaimed land(man-made islands made from reclaimed land)? What did you think of Dubai? If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for? 😀

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Weekend in Dubai. Visiting UAE, Things to do in Dubai; high tea at Burj Al Arab, Dubai Creek, Visiting Palm Island, Dubai Jumeriah Hotel, Dubai Marina, Ski at Dubai Mall, Dubai’s Tallest Building; Burj Khalifa


  1. June 23, 2013 / 6:16 pm

    I'm pinning your post on my board, places I would like to visit. Wow, I'm so jelly. How much did you spend on average? Does one need a lot of spending cash? How much are the rooms per night?

    • June 24, 2013 / 11:08 am

      Hi Sheila, no, one does not need that much cash at all! Your comment actually prompted me to look at my accommodation booking on I actually did a double take when I was looking at my room rate in Dubai. It turned out that the price I paid for all my 5 nights was still less than the daily rate for the room I had(my eyes jumped out). It pays to shop around as well as booking when its not the peak season…Also you can avoid going in the summer as one its expensive and two its hot as hell! The only splurge was my afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab and the desert safari. The rest of it was reasonable, ie metro, plenty to see in the malls all FREE unless you want to take part in the activities but again reasonably priced. Yep a definite must see. Let me know if you are up there and if you need any tips 😀

  2. July 3, 2013 / 5:41 pm

    I was originally planning a trip to Dubai for 2014 but opted for a trip to Spain in late December of this year. I'm still open to visiting Dubai but it maybe going into 2015 (when I turn 40) as I plan to celebrate by visiting several countries the entire year as a part of a yearlong celebration through travel. Love the sites and plan to visit if not all, most on your top 10 list.

    • July 3, 2013 / 7:43 pm

      Hey. It is a beauitiful country, I am sure you will love it there. Hopefully I can see more of the middle eastern region soon.

  3. July 9, 2013 / 6:11 am

    Hey Bianca, great list of things to do in Dubai! I love the views from the top of Burj Khalifa. ATMs with gold bars? That's insane! Great post!

  4. September 20, 2013 / 4:43 am

    I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing.A very good resource for everybody that wants to read a good blog.
    Arun Panchariya in Dubai

  5. December 19, 2014 / 5:45 am

    Hello I wanted to know if you can give the name of the ladies only spa you went to or give some other recommendations.

  6. June 9, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    It was such a great tips, but I have a question…
    I have this plan to traveling to Dubai on August and your tip number 7 was exactly what I want. I heard that everything in Dubai is so expensive, so would you mind if I ask how much did it cost for booking table and having afternoon tea there? And should I book the table by my hotel?
    Thank you in advance for your time.

    • June 11, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      Its not that expensive. I think afternoon tea was about £40-50 at the time when I booked. You can book directly with them. Just go to their site and book directly.

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