best things to do in Dubai
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12 Epic Things to do in Dubai For First-Timers

If anyone ever tells me Dubai is boring – I think I would just stand there, completely speechless, not knowing what to say.

I mean, it’s Dubai! Is there any other place anywhere else in the world where there is SO much to see, do, experience, eat, try, and buy than in Dubai?!

For sure NOT!

Needless to say the few days we spent in this glamourous megacity passed way too quickly without us doing everything we had planned beforehand.

I’m pretty sure you’ll have the same problem. There’s just way too much cool stuff in the city that you could spend years there and still discover something new and exciting.

However, if it’s your first time in Dubai and your time is limited, don’t worry. I did the planning work for you and compiled this blog post featuring the best things to do in Dubai – based on my personal experience.

I guarantee you will have the most fantastic time ever!

Are you planning your trip to Dubai at the last minute?

Here are the best tours and accommodations in the city!

🇦🇪 Best Tours & Experiences in Dubai

🛌 Best Hotels in Dubai

🤑 Want to save 50% on Dubai’s major attractions? Get the Dubai Go City Pass and enjoy discounts on top sights and experiences!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)

12 Awesome Things to do in Dubai For an Unforgettable Time!

1. Experience a Magical Dubai Fountain Show

The Dubai Fountain Show is a must-see attraction that’s guaranteed to leave you in awe.

Located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, the show features a stunning display of water, light, and music.

The fountains shoot water up to 500 feet in the air, creating a dazzling visual spectacle that’s synchronized to music that ranges from classical to contemporary.

The best time to see the show is at night when the lights make the water dance like fireflies. You can watch the show from multiple vantage points, including the waterfront promenade or one of the many restaurants in the area.

The show runs every half-hour in the evening, and it’s free to watch.

We saw nine different shows in total and each of them was special in its own way. However, my absolute favorite one was the Spanish version of Enrique Iglesias’ song “Hero”.

It was so incredibly beautiful that I even had tears running down my face!

2. Do Some Shopping at Dubai Mall

Just right next to the fountain, there’s the iconic Dubai Mall, one of Dubai’s most famous landmarks and a must-visit for anyone who loves shopping.

This mall is one of the largest in the world and features over 1,300 stores, making it a shopper’s paradise. From luxury brands like Chanel and Gucci to more affordable options like H&M and Zara, the mall has something for everyone.

In addition to shopping, the mall offers plenty of other activities to keep you entertained such as an Olympic-sized ice rink, a cinema complex, and an indoor theme park.

Moreover, don’t miss visiting the mall’s terrace from where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Dubai Fountain!

Dubai Mall is open seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 12:00 am. During weekends, it opens an hour earlier at 9:00 am.

However, it’s important to note that some stores and attractions have their own operating hours. So, it’s always best to check the official website of Dubai Mall before planning your visit.

3. Enjoy a Stunning View From The Tallest Building in The World

Visiting the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is another one of the best things to do in Dubai.

The observation deck, At the Top, is located on the 124th floor and offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.

From this height, you can admire Dubai’s impressive architecture and modern infrastructure, as well as the desert and the Persian Gulf.

At The Top Burj Khalifa

You can choose between a standard ticket or a VIP experience, which offers access to higher floors and exclusive lounges. We decided to just buy the standard ticket because for me the view from the 124th floor was definitely high enough!

If you use the Dubai Go City Pass, entrance to the Burj Khalifa is included.

The journey to the observation deck is an experience in itself, as you ride the world’s fastest elevator to reach the top.

One of the best times to visit the Burj Khalifa is during sunset or at night when the city lights are at their most vibrant. Trust me, the experience is truly unforgettable and you will leave with memories that will last a lifetime!

Tours you might find interesting:

4. Explore The Hip Beachfront Neighborhood of La Mer

La Mer Dubai is a vibrant beachfront destination located in Jumeirah 1 and is one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods.

It covers an area of over 23 acres and offers a range of attractions, including a family-friendly water park that features a range of attractions, including a lazy river, water slides, and a wave pool.

Moreover, the beachfront destination is home to over 130 shops, restaurants, and cafes, including international brands and local favorites.

La Mer Dubai is also known for its colorful and eye-catching street art. It features a range of art installations, including murals and sculptures, which add to the place’s unique and vibrant atmosphere.

Simply take a stroll around the area and discover the various artworks that are scattered throughout the entire central part of La Mer!

5. Stroll Along The Dubai Marina Walk

Next, head over to Dubai Marina, a man-made waterfront that stretches for over two miles and that is home to some of the city’s most luxurious hotels, restaurants, and residences.

The marina is a picturesque spot, with stunning views of the city skyline and the Arabian Gulf. Thus it’s one of the best areas to stay in Dubai.

One of the best ways to experience Dubai Marina is to take a stroll along the Dubai Marina Walk, a pedestrian promenade that winds its way along the waterfront.

The walk is lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

If you want to see the impressive skyscrapers from a different perspective make sure to take a boat ride along the marina. A range of boat tours are available, including dinner cruises and sightseeing tours.

Tours you might find interesting:

6. Take a Ride on The World’s Largest Ferris Wheel

INFO: As of May 5, 2023, the Ain Dubai is currently closed for maintenance.

While wandering around Dubai Marina, you will most likely spot the Ain Dubai, also known as the Dubai Eye. It is the world’s largest observation wheel and is one of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks.

The Ain Dubai is located on Bluewaters Island, a new development off the coast of Dubai and next to Palm Jumeirah.

You can take a ride on the Ferris wheel in one of its 48 capsules, each of which can accommodate up to 40 people. The capsules are fully air-conditioned and offer a comfortable and luxurious ride.

At a height of 250 meters, you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.

The standard price for a 40-minute single ride starts at AED 130. This ticket also gives you access to all other facilities on Bluewaters Island.

7. Wander Through The Souks of Old Dubai

Something you absolutely can’t miss during your first time in Dubai is experiencing the traditional side of the city. Thus a visit to the souks of Old Dubai is a must!

There are several souks to explore, each with its own unique atmosphere and products for sale.

The Gold Souk, for example, is one of the most famous (and also my favorite hehe) with over 300 stores selling everything from gold and silver jewelry to precious gemstones.

Gold Souk

The Spice Souk is another popular destination, with its vibrant displays of colorful spices, dried fruits, and exotic herbs.

If you’re a fan of unique clothing, make sure to explore the Textile Souk where you can find a wide range of fabrics and textiles.

And last but not least, there’s also the Perfume Souk where you can purchase traditional Arabic fragrances and scents.

Wandering through the souks and experiencing the city’s rich cultural heritage is definitely one of the best things to do in Dubai!

Tours you might find interesting:

8. Discover Al Seef District at Dubai Creek

Across the souks and on the other side of Dubai Creek, you find the beautiful waterfront district of Al Seef.

Located in the heart of Dubai, Al Seef showcases traditional Emirati architecture and culture and offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history and heritage.

The entire district is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways lined with shops, restaurants, and cafés. Probably the most iconic of the latter is a Starbucks in a traditional old-world charm building.

Starbucks in Al Seef

Browse through the many stalls selling handmade crafts, textiles, and other souvenirs, or sample authentic Emirati cuisine at one of the many restaurants.

The area also features a beautiful waterfront promenade where you can enjoy stunning views of the city skyline.

9. Experience Dubai’s History in Al Fahidi

Adjacent to Al Seef is Al Fahidi, a charming and picturesque area that dates back to the 19th century.

This historical neighborhood features narrow streets, traditional buildings, and wind towers which were used to cool homes before air conditioning was invented.

Simply stroll through the winding streets and alleys, admire the unique architecture, and learn about Dubai’s rich cultural heritage.

The area is also home to a number of galleries and museums, including the Dubai Museum, which is housed in a restored 18th-century fort.

Something not to miss is checking out XVA Café, a lovely café set in a courtyard dominated by a huge tree.

Whether you’re craving vegetarian or vegan Middle Eastern food, a fresh smoothie, or just a good cup of coffee – it’s the best address in Al Fahidi!

Tours you might find interesting:

10. Relax at Jumeirah Beach

Discovering all the different facets and diving deep into the history of this megacity can be quite exhausting – I’m speaking of experience. So if you feel the need for a break, make your way to Jumeirah Beach.

Jumeirah Beach is one of the most popular destinations in Dubai, known for its crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and picturesque sunsets.

The beach is located in the Jumeirah district, one of the city’s most upscale areas, and is lined with numerous restaurants, cafés, and shops. On the beach, you will find plenty of beach lounges and umbrellas available for rent.

Lean back, soak up the sun, and recharge your batteries while admiring the wonderful scenery!

11. Marvel at The Stunning Skyline From Dubai Creek Harbor

A relatively new addition to the Dubai skyline is Dubai Creek Harbor. Located at the mouth of Dubai Creek, it is just a short drive from the city center.

One of the highlights of Dubai Creek Harbor is the stunning views it offers of the city skyline.

You can watch the sunset behind the iconic Burj Khalifa while enjoying a cup of coffee or a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafés in the area.

View of Dubai Skyline

In addition to the beautiful views, Dubai Creek Harbor also offers a range of activities and attractions, including a sprawling park, a museum dedicated to the history of Dubai, and a vibrant market selling local crafts and souvenirs.

Make sure to come here in the evening, to experience the day turning into night and the skyscrapers slowly lighting up. The skyline at night is a truly breathtaking sight!

Best Things to do in Dubai

12. Stay at The Luxurious SLS Dubai

Last but not least, one of the best things to do in Dubai is stay at the SLS Dubai.

This luxurious hotel offers you a unique experience right in the heart of the city, combining modern design with a touch of old-world glamour.

The hotel’s location is just perfect, with many of the city’s top attractions just a short drive away. The rooms are very spacious and beautifully decorated, with state-of-the-art amenities and stunning views of the Dubai skyline.

Besides our extremely spacious, two-floor apartment with two balconies, my absolute favorite part of the hotel was the rooftop area on the 75th floor.

There you find two magnificent infinity pools offering an incomparable 360-degree panorama of Dubai.

Imagine the following scenario: First, you take a dip and enjoy a refreshing cocktail from the adjacent lounge and bar. Afterward, you head to one of the many surrounding sunbeds to stretch out, relax, and feel the warm sun rays on your skin.

Sounds heavenly right?

Well, it is! We did exactly this for an entire day and it was unbelievably great!

Combined with its unbeatable location, luxurious amenities, and impeccable service, the SLS Dubai is the perfect place to stay if you’re looking to experience the best of Dubai in style!

As you see, there are tons of amazing things to do in Dubai – and there are even more!

If you have some time left, don’t hesitate to add other activities to your itinerary. But promise to let me know so I can check them out during my next time in Dubai! 😉


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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:

Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!

Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, so I book an Airbnb every now and then.

Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without one. I use the simple and flexible one from SafetyWing that protects me against unforeseen events.

Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.

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17 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing such a helpful article. I am yet to visit Dubai, and looking forward to visiting all the places you have listed here.

  2. I would love to visit Dubai! So many great places to see. Excellent guide. I am definitely saving for future travel plans. Also, I loved the cat photo! Sooo cute!

  3. I’ve had layovers in the Dubai airport but never gone into the city itself – I definitely want to though! I’d love to go to the top of the Burj Khalifa and see some of the other outlandish things they have there!

  4. What a beautiful place. I haven’t heard many people mention La Mer, but it looks like a must see!

  5. I have to admit.. As someone who has never understood the appeal of Dubai, you have certainly given me a lot to think about – thanks for sharing!

  6. These are all my favorite things to do in Dubai. I am fortunate to have done all these things during
    my first visit to this luxurious and ultra-futuristic city.

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