United Arab Emirates

Visiting Dubai For the First Time: 21 Incredible Must-Do Things + My Top Travel Tips

When visiting Dubai for the first time, it is really easy to get lost. This large city has so much, starting from futuristic landscapes of the future and finishing with unique details of the past, that you may be confused about where to start planning your trip. 

I remember it took me a while to understand what to do in Dubai on vacation on the first visit. But then I went for a long stay that lasted almost 4 months and learned that on my first trip I missed a lot of cool tourist spots.

So today I would love to share my Dubai travel guide for first time visitors that will give a good idea of where to go and things to do in Dubai in order to see the city in its best light and cover top sights. I also include off the beaten path cool places in Dubai and a few travel tips that answer the most important questions. 

The list is long and consists of many activities. But don’t look only at captions because each activity I mention has a full description with details on what sights to see nearby.

If you are coming for a short visit, you won’t be able to visit all these Dubai entertainment places but make sure to save them for later as they are all worth a trip! 


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

8 Things to Know Before Visiting Dubai For the First Time

The Best Time to Visit Dubai

first time in Dubai
visiting Dubai for the first time

I’ve seen many guides saying that the best time to visit Dubai is from mid-fall to mid-spring, from around October to April. But I don’t agree with that. The best time depends on what your goal of the trip is and what weather you prefer.

Winter can be quite a tricky time to visit if you are looking to come mainly for sea vacation and waterparks. October and April can be already too hot for guided excursions and city exploration on foot. 

So, what is the purpose of your trip?

Are you coming for the beach and sun alone? Well, then late December, January, and the first part of February are not the best months for that.

There will definitely be enough of the sun to sunbathe but swimming in the sea will be cold. The gulf water usually cools down by the end of the first winter month and stays cold throughout the winter. Additionally to that, frequent strong cold winds start to blow more and more often which also spoils the experience near the sea. 

Another thing to consider is that it can be pretty cold in the hotel room (depending on its location of course) because there are no heating systems in this country. So instead of walking in a new swimsuit on the beach, you can be walking in a tiring winter sweater.

However, that all depend of course. Some people can’t stand heat, so winter in Dubai will be an ideal season even for swimming.

If a goal of your trip is to explore the city, drive around Dubai, see the desert, all the parks, and gardens, and join walkable tours, then winter is the best time to travel! 

In my experience, I can say that March, April, October, November, and December are the best months to visit Dubai. At this time of the year, it is not very hot, the water temperature is comfortable, and the sky remains clear. During these months, the air temperature ranges from 23 to 30°C and water from 23 to 27°C.

It’s the best time to go for most people because you can combine beach vacation with tours and day trips.

How Many Days to Spend in Dubai?

For an eventful vacation and to be able to see as many Dubai entertainment places as possible, you want to book 7 days in Dubai. 5 days would be very minimum but it is enough only for some touristy sights and never enough for off the beaten track places (which Dubai has a lot of) or for travel around the country.

Spending one or two days in Dubai gives a good presentation of the city but doesn’t give an opportunity to combine beach time with must-do activities. 

Can You See Dubai in a Day?

No, you can’t. You’ll be possibly able to see one district and even hit the beach, but there is no way to see all of Dubai in one day. 

This city is huge and has many interesting, action-packed neighborhoods scattered out from each other at a great distance. Traveling between them takes time.

Dubai is not about the economy and rush. It requires you to spend money and have time.

There are just so many incredible restaurants and lounges here, hotels with stunning pools, museums, beaches clubs, shows and events. My head is spinning when I think about all that Dubai has on offer! I’ve spent 4 long months here from November to March, sightseeing every second day and I haven’t even seen half of the attractions.  

So to answer your question – no, you cannot see Dubai in a day.

Simply because this is not old Europe where an architectural monument or a museum is at every step. It takes time to travel between places and you’ll surely want to pause in each of them. One day in Dubai is just enough for breathing in the desert air and getting the first impression of the city.

JBR in Dubai
Dubai emirate and city

Is Dubai Expensive?

It depends on who you ask, which city you compare it to, and what your budget is.

Is Dubai expensive compared to Los Angeles? No, not really. I’ve lived in LA for 3.5 years and paid much more there than on a few months’ stay in Dubai. Is Dubai expensive compared to Istanbul? Now that’s a totally different story.

Among the most expensive cities in the Middle East, Dubai ranks only sixth, while Tel Aviv still holds the lead.

The most expensive are accommodation, coffee, and alcohol. Everything else costs either the same or cheaper than in many countries around Europe and many states in the US. 

Getting a quick meal in a cafe costs between $8-$10 per person, dinner for two at a restaurant $28-$30, bottle of water 0.33l – $0.3, cappuccino or latte – $5-$7. Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Afgan restaurants are the cheapest and you can easily eat for $12-$15 for two.

Metro ride costs between $1.2-$1.7 depending on the distance, taxi ride (no more than 5 km) $3.5. Prices for attractions range between $15 and $250 per person. But there are also tons of free things to do in Dubai.

Gas prices are the cheapest we have ever paid – $0.7 per liter and prices for car rentals are the same as in many European destinations. 

Best Area to Stay in Dubai First Time

If you come to Dubai on a first visit only for a couple of days, choose Downtown. Some of the important Dubai top ten sights are located here. A more cheaper area of downtown is where Revier Hotel and Canal Central are located.

If the goal of a trip is a beach holiday, then it is best to book accommodation in the Dubai Marina area. It is expensive but you’ll be close to the beach and fashionable neighborhoods.

If you are coming for a longer period of time and want to save on housing, choose Deira or Bur Dubai. Deira has fewer nice hotels, but there is a good beach in close proximity.

XVA Art Hotel in the Old part of Dubai is a good combination of price and quality. Apart from being a peaceful retreat, it is also one of the most Instagram-worthy properties built with a traditional Arabian touch. 

where to stay in Dubai first time

What to Pack For Dubai 

Let me say at first this – in Dubai shopping centers and malls you can find absolutely anything and many hotels have shops on their territories that sell some essentials. So if you forget to pack something, there is always a chance to buy it in Dubai. It can be more expensive compared to your home country, but finding what you need is not a problem. 

What I’ll advise taking in the first place is a first aid kit, particularly if you have any chronic diseases. Also, if you prefer to use natural medicine, pack it as well.

There are none in Dubai (and UAE). Local pharmacies offer only heavy artillery in the form of antibiotics, steroids, and various drugs that require prescriptions. Over the counter medicine is very limited and basic. When we had a cold and wanted to buy something as simple as cold and flue mix, there was no chance of finding anything besides just one type of powder with paracetamol.

In Europe, there is a big choice of drugs, including those homeopathic and herbal ones. In Dubai, you won’t find any of that (there is only one pharmacy on the territory of a nontraditional medical center but prices are incredibly high there).

Among other things are the adapter (Emirates uses a G type of plug, which is the plug with three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern), sandals or flip flops for the beach, light sweater or hoodie for evenings if traveling from December to March, scarf for women to cover the head when visiting mosques, beach towel, modest clothes that will cover shoulders and knees. 

And of course don’t forget headwear, sunscreen, and glasses. The sun is always strong in Dubai. 

Best Way to Get Around Dubai 

getting around Dubai

The transport system in the Emirates is somewhat different from the system that operates in European cities and it’s not well developed. Residents and citizens of the UAE mainly use automobiles to get around Dubai since the city was built for cars alone.

There are two main ways how tourists can travel around Dubai and they are taxis and metro. Bus service only continues to develop and takes up very little space in local transportation system.

Mark and I tried to use buses in the beginning but then gave up since they were stealing too much time. The main drawback is the long wait at stops as they travel at fairly large intervals. The route of the trip is also inconvenient because it goes into all the nooks and crannies of the city and drives along very narrow streets, so it takes forever to reach your destination soon enough.

Taxis are the most popular means of transportation but they are also the most expensive ones. 

If you are traveling to Dubai on a low or mid budget, I recommend you look into car rentals and hire a car instead. First of all, you’ll save money and time, second – you’ll travel in comfort and third – there are a lot of things not to miss in Dubai accessible only by car. Roads are excellent and free parking is available anywhere in the city.

The best companies to hire a car in Dubai are DiscoverCars and LocalRent. The first one is great for Dubai airport car hire and a second one for any other district or when you need a car to be delivered to your hotel. 

For more details and tips on driving in Dubai, see my guide to Dubai car hire

20 Must-Do Things in Dubai For First Timers

In this section of my post for first time visitors to Dubai, I’d love to tell you about the must-do things on the first visit. Actually, they are really amazing for any visit as not everyone will be able to see them all on one trip. So take a look at my list of Dubai must see attractions and add them to your Dubai itinerary!

These places are not only skyscrapers made of glass and concrete, competing in luxury and height. They are cozy stops that show a different world of Dubai Old City with its small cute buildings, abra boats, narrow streets with shade, modern Arabic art, flower rows, and a lot of entertainment.

All these unique sights are worth seeing at least once in a lifetime! So make sure not to miss them!

Admire the Tallest Building in the World Burj Khalifa

Dubai must see sights
must do in Dubai for first timers

This is the number one attraction that everyone must see in Dubai on the first time visit. It is the tallest building in the world which is located in the largest mall and has a lot of other sights around. And it will surely impress even an inveterate skeptic!

When we saw this building with 163 floors, we couldn’t take our eyes off it for a very long time. It seemed that its spire was rising away into the stratosphere! 

To go up to the 124th floor to see the views of Dubai, you need to pay around $40/€35 – this is the cheapest ticket. But, if you visit on a clear day, it is worth going up to the observation deck.

To save money and cover more, you can buy a combo ticket with a visit to the tower and the aquarium. If visiting in spring or fall, go early, maybe for 9 am, until the haze appears and while there are not too many people. When visiting in winter, it is better to go in the afternoon after the fog clears up the sky.

Get a Unique View of the City From Sky Views Dubai

Sky Views is a new thing not to miss in Dubai that offers sensational views of the city. Being very near Burj Khalifa, it is a cheaper alternative with no less spectacular panorama.

By checking out this new to be tourist spot in Dubai you get to ride in a glass elevator to the 52nd floor, walk the 46m walkway with a glass floor and then take a transparent slide-ride over the city! And then if you feel it’s not enough, Sky Walk has an Edge Walk experience for a hand-free walk outside the Address Sky View Hotel.

Although not as high as the Burj Khalifa observation deck, Sky Views shows a city from a different angle. Plus being able to ride in a complete glass elevator is an attraction on its own.

It is undeniably one of the top Dubai must do attractions! 

Watch Dancing Fountains Show in Dubai Mall

must do things in Dubai on a first visit
must do things in Dubai on a first visit

This is another must-do thing in Dubai for first timers (well, I personally loved to return to take a look at them on the second, third, and another visit) and here is why: 

First, it’s completely free. Although, even if the UAE government wanted to charge a fee for this show, it would be technically impossible. The fountains jet up so high that they can be seen from all around.

Second, to watch the show, you do not need to go far. Dancing fountains are located next to the Burj Khalifa building in the center of Dubai Mall. And they are the main local tourist attractions.

There is no need to come to see the fountain dance by a certain time. You can walk around the Dubai Mall and at some point go outside and watch a show which takes place every day 11 or 13 times. There are day and evening shows and you may want to watch both. 

These fountains are a symbol of the prosperity of the United Arab Emirates. To understand the idea of ​​the creators, you need to remember the history of the UAE – this Arab nation was born in the desert, and water occupies a very important place in their culture.

Water is the same symbol of wealth as gold or silver. And water shows are always beautiful.

To watch this show with all possible comfort, I recommend booking a table in one of the restaurants in Dubai Mall. My favorite are GIA and L’ETO. They are located on different floors, but the views of the fountains are mesmerizing from any angle.

Visit Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

best things to do in Dubai for first timers
swimming in Dubai aquarium

Have you heard about the aquarium with the largest viewing panel in the world?

Yes and yes, it is also located in Dubai, in the same Dubai Mall. And you must see this spectacle with your own eyes.

Dubai Aquarium holds 10 million liters of water, is equipped with 75 cm thick glass, and occupies 3 floors at once. Here you can see rays, sharks, giant groupers, corals, and hundreds of species of fish that many have not even heard of.

Dubai aquarium is not only a place where to admire the marine life and take pictures against their background. The most daring ones can swim among the sharks – certified divers can dive on their own and beginners after a short training course.

Those who wish can take a trip on a boat with a transparent glass bottom or visit a zoo with penguins, snakes, reptiles, and the Marine Research Center. 

If you are visiting Dubai on a tight budget, there is a chance to see a bit of the aquarium for free. Part of it is facing the Cheesecake Factory with a designated area for visitors.

Tickets for sale are available at the counter at the aquarium or online on their website. But you may want to purchase a combo ticket with a visit to Burj Khalifa (mentioned above) as it turns out to be much cheaper.

Ride on the Tallest Ferris Wheel in the World Ain Dubai

Ain Dubai - tallest Ferris Wheel

Another (new) Dubai attraction will surely bring lots of emotions and provide the opportunity to see Dubai from a height of 250 meters. It is located on Bluewaters Island with a unique collection of elegant apartments and luxury townhouses.

Record-breaking Ain Dubai outshines the 165m Singapore Flyer and is nearly double the size of the London Eye Ferris wheel. It has 48 enclosed cabins with some of them being able to accommodate up to 40 passengers. Each cabin is larger than two double-decker buses connected side by side.

Visitors can choose one of three types of cabins: a “viewing” cabin for general travel, cabin with sofas and a minibar with drinks, and the so-called “VIP cabin” that can be used for dinner parties, business meetings, and other events.

Each trip lasts 38 minutes and offers a bird’s eye view of Dubai’s coastline and city skyline. There is a possibility to go on two consecutive trips that will take approximately 76 minutes.

Ticket prices start at AED 130 and are available for sale online.

Explore Al Fahidi Historical District

Exploring Al Fahidi Old Dubai on a first visit
Dubai for first timers

If you are travelling to Dubai for the first time, you should definitely not miss the oldest historic district with a large number of narrow streets and several dozen old houses built at the beginning of the 20th century by Iranian merchants. It will give you the best presentation of what Dubai looked like in the past.

Al Fahidi or as it’s also called Bastakiya is the place recognized as the ancient cultural and historical center of Dubai. The exact location is between the Dubai Creek waterfront, Musalla Street, and the Al Fahidi Fort Museum. Here is the route with a few suggested stops.

In the houses of Bastakia, you can find a huge number of different shops, art galleries, museums and restaurants. Visitors appreciate the traditional Arabic style of ancient architecture decorated with wood and gypsum and a walk through noisy courtyards and labyrinths of winding alleys.

The highlight of the old quarter is the bright contrast between the spirit of the past and present. Right behind the ancient houses and narrow streets you can see the ultra-modern skyscrapers rising in the background.

Among the muse-see places in this part of Dubai are Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai Museum, Grand Bur mosque, Coffee Museum, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cultural  Center, and Coins Museum. There is also a big souk (market) and lots of waterfront cafes (including this Starbucks with incredible views).

For cultural experience and food, I recommend you check the Arabian Tea House (an iconic cafe in Dubai that serves authentic Emirati and Dubai food), Mazmi Coffee and More, and Sul Fiume Al Seef.

And Check the Best Tours of Old Dubai

 

Walk Through Deira

streets of Deira district
best Dubai sights to see for first timers

Deira is another historic district to visit in Dubai, especially for people on a first visit who want to see a different side of the city. Deira is so unique! It is a chaotic mixture of Egypt, Morocco, and modern Dubai at the same time.

There are oriental markets, narrow nooks between traditional houses, and skyscrapers. The aromas at the spice market are overwhelming. It smells of cumin, vanilla, saffron, and thousands of other colorful spices. I think this area in Dubai is a must-see for everyone, although for many travelers it will be enough to spend only a couple of hours there to get an idea. 

When I visited Deira, I had really conflicting feelings.

On the one hand, there were nagging sellers, a somewhat unpleasant smell, numerous showcases with gold, diamonds, and silk, and too many people everywhere. On the other hand, where else in Dubai will you see such a strange mixture of old and new? Only here, in the area of Dubai Gold Souk. And by the way, this market has an incredible amount of gold in one place like nowhere else!

To get to Deira, it is better to combine it with a visit to Al Fahidi and take a traditional abra boat from there and back for 1 dirham one way. Another option is to join this tour which allows you to see a lot of sights in a couple of hours.

Go on a Tour to Jumeirah Mosque 

Jumeirah Mosque
must visit place in Dubai

The Jumeirah Mosque is one of the few mosques in the country open to all visitors, regardless of their religion. It is open not only for independent trips but for group tours and is one of the best places to visit in Dubai for tourists who are eager to learn about the culture and religion of the UAE. The mosque became so special that it even got its image on the 500 dirham banknote.

Thanks to the Sheikh Mohammed Center for Cultural Cooperation (SMCCU), which operates at the mosque, non-Muslims can come here in the mornings or early afternoons six days a week, from Saturday to Thursday. 

Public tours start at 10:00 am and 2 pm. Reservations are not required. But it is advisable to arrive at the main entrance 30 minutes before the tour since it takes some time to register.

During religious holidays, as well as the month of Ramadan, excursions are limited.

Tours of the mosque are provided by staff from the SMCCU center. Each tour is in English and lasts about 75 minutes. The ticket price is 35 dirhams and it includes a tour, water, Arabic coffee, tea, and traditional sweets. Children under 12 years old are admitted free of charge. You can find more details as well as see some photos on the mosque’s website.

I visited this tour once and was really impressed by how well it was delivered to the public. Even my husband who doesn’t like anything on a religious thematic was captivated and enjoyed the excursion with Emirati snacks.

In addition to tours, there are also classrooms on the territory of the mosque where visitors can take Arabic lessons, listen to a lecture on the history and religion of the UAE, or visit various cultural events. Here you can also order an individual tour of the mosque and its surroundings.

Learn About Arabic Culture Through Food

exploring Dubai through food

Another wonderful and must do thing in Dubai for all visitors is acquaintance with traditional cuisine. Discovering a new culture through food is always a fascinating experience and that is not an exception in this country.

The best way to learn about Arabic food and try the most popular dishes would be also through a tour. Although there are a few nice Emirati restaurants that you may be interested in for the independent visit. 

If you are short on time and visiting Dubai for the first time, it will be more efficient to go to cultural lunch at the Sheikh Mohammed Center or taste street food with a local.

The second most popular cuisine in Dubai after Emirati is Indian since there are a lot of expats and workers from India. You can explore India’s food culture in the Middle East through this 3-hour walking tour

Those who prefer to taste foods without a tour should look into traditional Emirati restaurants such as Al Fanar, Aseelah, Zaroob, and of course Arabian Tea House. Some of them have a few restaurants under the same name, so check the map for a better location.

More Food Tours in Dubai With Locals

 

See What Dubai Manhatten is Like

Dubai Marina - must visit place in Dubai on a first visit

Manhatten of Dubai (with its real name Dubai Marina) is a beautiful, sophisticated area near The Palm Jumeirah. It is famous for the luxurious marina, tall glass buildings, modern hotels, snow-white beautiful yachts, stunning views, and relaxed but businesslike rhythm of life.

You’ll want to come here to enjoy the cityscape, ultra-modern infrastructure, impressive sea views, and a beautiful 7-kilometer manmade waterway where luxurious exclusive boat and yacht tours take place.

In addition to all of this, Dubai Marina also has fine restaurants and casual bars. It is a great destination for the breakfast in Dubai with views or late night dinner and drinks.

Among the most popular places to visit are Dubai Marina Mall, AquaFun waterpark (the world’s largest inflatable water park), Splash Park (for families with kids), XLine (zip line over the marina), and Pier 7 a place with fancy restaurants overlooking the waterway.

But to be honest, it is also a wonderful place where to walk and take photos on each corner.

On one side of Dubai Marina is no less popular JLT area (similar in some ways) and JBR area that offers many more activities and access to JBR beach. 

Best Boat & Yacht Cruises in Dubai Marina

 

Ride on Sheikh Zayed Road

driving in Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road

Among all the tourist attractions in Dubai, this one is the best for both budget and luxury travelers. Because you can either spend a few Durhams and see the skyscrapers of Dubai from the panoramic window of the first or last subway coach. Or you can rent a luxury car in Dubai and drive through it on your own.

Sheikh Zayed Road is the main road in Dubai and one of the main highways connecting all 7 emirates of UAE. It runs along residential communities, hotels, and tall glass buildings that form business hubs. 

The drive on its own is really fascinating since it opens up a skyscraper panorama. But besides that, it offers easy detours to many activities that are located nearby.

Many hotels by this road have rooftop pools with fantastic views that are available to outside guests on a day pass, or high floor restaurants and lounges open to the public too. There are also various malls, adjacent avenues with modern art galleries (like Alserkal Avenue and nearby Cassette food courtyard), parks and gardens.

The metro lane goes by the highway, so it makes it easy to hop on and off at any stop.

Another way to see Sheikh Zayed Road is to ride around Dubai in a luxury convertible with a driver. All tourists are always delighted with such an experience! Plus, you get a good guide in the person of the driver who will be happy to talk about the iconic sights, tell about the experience of living in Dubai and where to shop, have fun and eat.

See Iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel

Burj Al Arab Hotel - must see in Dubai

You’ve probably seen many photos of Dubai which captured a sail-shaped structure against the backdrop of the waves. That’s a famous iconic Burj Al Arab hotel that attracts many people on their first visit to Dubai. 

There are a few ways how to see it. 

First one – on your own when walking in the area (keep in mind no one is allowed to go inside besides the guests), when reserving a table in one of their restaurants, or joining a tour that Burj Al Arab started to offer just recently.

For the tour, you can check all details here, for the walk, come to Open Beach or Jumeirah Public Beach to get the best photo with the hotel in the background. Another photogenic place where to contemplate Burj Al Arab is Souk Madinat.

Enjoy the Walk and Scenic Views at Dubai Frame

Dubai frame

The strange giant structure in the form of frame, which we regularly see from the window of a car, is another Dubai famous place worth seeing. But it’s not just an object for photos or admiration.

Dubai Frame is simultaneously an observation deck and museum. At the top, there is a deck with a glass floor from where you can look at downtown Dubai. This place is not for fainthearted! 

Entrance costs 55 dirhams. You can buy tickets and see their schedule on the official website.

If you don’t have a car, the best way to get to the Dubai Frame is to take the metro to Al Jafiliya Station and then go to Gate 4. Another option is to visit the observation deck during this sightseeing tour. The guide has a lot of excellent reviews.

See the Magic in Dubai Garden Glow

Dubai garden glow park

Next to the Dubai Frame, there is a park. During the day it is quiet and almost empty. But in the evening it turns into a riot of colors!

This park, called Dubai Garden Glow, is among the most unique places to visit in Dubai at night. It strikes the imagination with the scale of the exposition and the extravaganza of multi-colored lights.

There you’ll find more than 30 luminous installations which amazingly were made from recycled materials such as old medical bottles and LED lighting. All of them consume very little electricity.

Pleasant music creates a festive atmosphere while fantastic landscapes get reflected in the mirror surface of artificial reservoirs. There are fountains with illumination, benches to sit down and relax, dinosaurs that move and make sounds, and a children’s electric train for little travelers to enjoy the ride.

Everything glows and sparkles and the most fabulous atmosphere reigns in the park in the evening when all the installations are lit up with colorful lights.

To save on a ticket, buy it online, it’s cheaper.

When you’ll be on your way to Dubai Garden Glow from the Al Jafiliya metro station, come to entrance number 6.

See the World’s Largest Flower Garden 

Miracle Garden

Flower Garden (officially Miracle Garden) in Dubai is really one of the largest flower parks in the world. In just a few years of its work it has managed to earn the attention of the world community and has become one of the key objects of attracting tourists to Dubai.

It is the best place for families with children visiting Dubai and for everyone else who loves flowers and wants to see a garden like nowhere else.

Not to mention the fact that the scale of Miracle Garden is amazing, it is also striking that it is located away from the coastal part of the emirate almost in the middle of the desert.

The main highlight of the garden is not the uniqueness of the flowers, most likely you’ve seen many of them many times in your life. In fact, there are only about 70 species of flowers in the park. Most of them are petunias, calendula, tulips, and roses.

The uniqueness of the garden is in the fact that all this flower riot grows in a desert. In order to maintain such conditions, the park needs 757,000 liters of water daily! High technologies make it possible to use purified water from urban wastewater for this purpose. 

In addition to floral compositions and bright flower fields, the park has a Garden of Aromas and an aviary with peacocks.

An important feature of this park is the presence of seasonality. It is open only half a year (usually from December 1 to May 31) and closes for all calendar summer.

Nest to Miracle Garden is another unique place Dubai Butterfly Garden.

Get a Drink in a Rooftop Lounge 

Sheikh Zayed Road view
best view of Burj Khalifa

One of the best things to do in Dubai on any visit is to see Dubai from above. And for that, you need to go either to one of the numerous observation platforms (some of them I mentioned above) or to a lounge on the top floor of a hotel or business center.  

Dubai is full of sky lounges and rooftop restaurants. Among my favorite that you’ll love too are Observatory Bar & Grill, Pure Sky Lounge & Dining (they are in JBR/Dubai Marina area), and Sky Bar CE LA VI Dubai in Address Sky View where Sky Walk is located too. 

Splash in One of World Famous Aquaparks

must visit water parks in Dubai

Almost every tourist has heard about Dubai’s unique water parks but where to go with the whole family and get maximum fun? Which waterpark is better, particularly for the first time in Dubai?

 Two biggest and most famous waterparks are Aquaventure in Atlantis and Wild Wadi near Burj Al Arab.

Aquaventure is the largest water park in the UAE and one of the largest in the world. Its attractions and beaches cover an area of 170,000 sq. m. It is the number one aquapark for extreme and adventure lovers. The park has its own access to the sea and children’s splash-play complex. Additionally to all the slides and pools, you can also feed the stingrays or take part in the Shark Safari underwater show.

Wild Wadi is one of the favorite waterparks for Dubai residents. Located next to Burj Al Arab hotel, it offers water attractions for those who like to tickle their nerves and for those who prefer to relax and take it easy. And of course, there you can find the whole range of entertainment for your children and their friends. 

Go Sand Bashing in Rub Al Khali Desert

Rub Al Khali desert

The largest desert in the Arabian Peninsula is Rub Al Khali. It takes a bigger part of Dubai and spreads outside the United Arab Emirates, over the territory of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen. Being the hottest and impassable in the world, Rub al-Khali, however, does not cease to attract many tourists.

If you are coming to Dubai, be sure to set aside time to visit this desert. There are tours where you can leave early in the morning and spend the whole day crossing the sand dunes on a quad bike or camel. Or take part in a safari which local travel agencies arrange for tourists.

Be sure to visit the impromptu Bedouin village where in the flame of a night fire you can admire the traditional belly dance and share an evening meal with after dinner local treats and hookah.

It will surely be one of the most unforgettable excursions of your life! Watching the sunset in the desert cannot be compared with anything in its beauty. And the night under the open sky will certainly be something to remember.

See the best desert safaris from Dubai:

 

Spend a Day in a Theme Park ‘Dubai Parks and Resorts’

best entertainment places in Dubai
Dubai off the beaten track

‘Dubai Parks and Resorts’ is not necessarily a must see attraction for first time Dubai visit. But if you have more days in the city, cover everything you wanted and still feel like getting an adrenaline rush, then head here and spend a day in one of its three theme parks – Motiongate, colorful Legoland or Indian Bollywood. There is also a Riverland and restaurant boulevard for a relaxing time.

Dubai Parks and Resorts has over 100 different rides and shows to offer entertainment for visitors of all ages. Every theme park is unique and is a great place for a family holiday, lots of emotions and a great mood! 

My favorite park is Bollywood which is the world’s first and only theme park dedicated to Indian cinema. It recreates the atmosphere of an Indian dream factory – with rides, live performances, restaurants, and cinematic attractions with 3D and 4D effects.

Legoland Dubai is very similar to Legoland in Los Angeles and consists of an amusement park and water park. 

And the last park Motiongate is dedicated to Hollywood. It combines three legendary film studios (Sony Pictures Studios, Dreamworks Animation, Lionsgate) and is divided into five thematic zones. Favorite movies and cartoons come to life here and guests can visit their favorite characters.

For more information about parks and ticket prices, visit Parks and Resorts site. Looks like if you purchase online, there is a 10% discount.

Go For a Stroll in the World’s First Shopping Resort Mall of the Emirates

Mall of Emirates
Ski world in Mall of Emirates

Dubai malls are not only great places where to go shopping. They are also wonderful entertainment destinations for the whole family. They provide many opportunities to taste dishes from different cuisines, participate in adventurous activities, and just have a good time.

One of such malls is the Mall of the Emirates. It is one of the first shopping centers in the world of such size and number of attractions. 

It owes much of its high popularity to the ski attraction ‘Ski Dubai‘ that gives the feeling of a winter fairy tale in the midst of summer.

For a long time, I didn’t want to go there because we’d been to too many other malls. But when we finally went, I seriously loved the atmosphere with interesting design. The luxurious interior which includes high glass-domed ceilings, painted arches, and relief design walls, was complemented by excellent shopping opportunities and numerous cozy cafes and restaurants.

Observing winter fun of Ski Dubai through the glass window was also fascinating and kept us entertained for a while. And it was here where I saw penguins for the first time in my life!

In addition to winter fun, shops and numerous restaurants, Mall of Emirates has virtual reality shows Dreamscape, VOX cinema, entertainment center Magic Planet, bowling, and activities for children. 

It is really a cool Dubai sight to see on a first visit!

Visit One of the Best Beach Parks in Dubai – Al Mamzar Beach Park

best spots in Al Mamzar Beach Park

I want to finish my list of attractions in Dubai with one of the best beaches and one of the most popular tourist destinations.

Al Mamzar Beach Park is a coastline washed by the waters of the Persian Gulf with an adjacent park that has everything for sports, beach and family recreation. The entire territory of the park complex is densely populated with exotic plants, bright flower beds and lawns. There is also a lovely swimming pool and an entertainment center.

It is a relaxing spot in Dubai where to come to spend one long day on the beach with white like powder sand, have bbq in the shade of trees, play beach volleyball, read a book in tranquility, or simply take photos of a beautiful skyscraper panorama. 

Park is open every day from 8:00 to 22:00 and entrance ticket is 5AED per person. 


Alright, this is my guide to must do things in Dubai for first time visitors! Visiting these places will provide an excellent opportunity to get to know the city and understand what it’s all about. Also don’t miss my other posts packed with many more tips for UAE travel! They’ll help you get the most out of your vacation!

visiting Dubai for the first time
 
 

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel slowly and live in different countries around the world. At present time, she is living between Lviv, Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar-places and discover the world while working remotely.

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