The city of superlatives, Dubai is grand, opulent and extravagant, to say the least! Striking a perfect balance with its modern lifestyle and ancient Arabian culture, this emirate has the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Creek, the Palm Islands and an array of other attractions to entice its visitors. Offering a dazzling nightlife, it has some splendid hookah lounges, pubs, and restaurants.
If you are visiting Dubai for the first time, you will be mesmerized by the tall towers, beautiful beaches, and wonderful malls, in addition to the city’s rich culture and traditions. But that’s not all, we bet there’s probably a lot of stunning places you don’t know about in Dubai. So, before you plan your next visit, check out the top 28 places you need to see in Dubai.
Here are the top 28 tourist attractions to see in Dubai:
1. Burj Khalifa
Towering at a height of 2,700 feet, the Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest tower in the world. With two observation decks, a Las Vegas-inspired fountain, nine of the city’s best luxury hotels and multiple restaurants, this 21st-century architectural marvel must be your number one place to visit when in Dubai or even the UAE. Also, make sure to book your tickets in advance well to avoid last moment hassles.
2. Palm Jumeirah
Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s magnificent artificial archipelago, is the epitome of beauty created by land reclamation, extending into the Persian Gulf. The archipelago resembles a palm tree with a circle when you take an overhead view of it. It was one of the first major tourism projects in the UAE and currently houses some of Dubai’s top tourist destinations like Atlantis, the Palm, Aquaventure Waterpark and the Lost Chambers Aquarium.
The principle sectors of Palm Jumeirah have been named Trunk, spine, fronds, and crescent. The entrance to Palm Jumeirah is the broad trunk which connects the mainland by a bridge. Another bridge connects the trunk to the spine. The crescent is the breakwater and is connected to the spine by a vehicular tunnel. Palm Jumeirah is flanked by apartments, retails, villas,royal hotels and resorts, mainly on the trunk and the crescent. The offshore development was intended to be the first of three similarly shaped developments, the other being Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. By the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, Palm Jumeirah was housed by at least a population of 10,000. The most picturesque zone of Palm Jumeirah are the long fronds and you can catch sight of it’s real beauty with an aerial view from the helicopter or aeroplane.
3. The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall, also known as the home of the Dubai shopping festival, is one of the world’s largest shopping malls with an area of over 500,000 square meters! With more than 1200 stores, a large walk-through aquarium, a world-class ic rink, 14,000 parking spaces and more exciting experiences for shoppers, the mall was voted the best shopping experience in the world by Grazia Magazine in 2010.
Dubai Mall is one of the city’s premier malls, offering entry to the world of amusement and entertainment. It is home to the famous Underwater Zoo, which is a walk-through aquarium with a collection of over 300 species of marine animals. Another favourite activity here apart from shopping is the Dubai Ice Rink. It is a family-oriented attraction open to the general public. The rink also serves as a multi-purpose venue that can be transformed into a concert arena, or host private functions. Serving as the entryway to Burj Khalifa, there are unlimited options of shopping and eating. Other than that, the mall also offers a gaming zone and cinema complex and thus packing all the leisurely activities under one roof.
4. Burj Al Arab
Established in the year 1999, Burj Al Arab is one of the premium hotels of Dubai located on an artificial island off Jumeirah Road. Designed in the shape of a sail of a dhow, this iconic landmark houses an array of shiny chauffeur-driven limousines and a private helipad. Talking of luxury, the hotel features an attractive fountain, an admirable lobby and richness induced 203 suites. Standing tall at a height of 180 meters, the royalty factor of the hotel is brought out by its may interior elements adorned in real gold! A prior reservation (on its website) is required to get past the lobby security to visit its restaurant if you are not staying there.
5. Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Located on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo houses over 33,000 marine life occupying the 10 million litres of water within the tank. A unique underwater zoo occupies the level above the tank showcasing a plethora of underwater life that can be found inhabiting the oceans, rivers and other water bodies across the planet. The VR Zoo makes up the third section offering thrilling wildlife adventures via realistically created virtual tours.
6. Dubai Marina
Nestled in the region popularly known as ‘New Dubai’, Dubai Marina is a conceptualized man-made canal city. It offers luxurious lifestyles through its exquisite waterfront development along the Persian Gulf shoreline. There are classy hotels and upscale shopping and other leisure options here. It also contains the Dubai Marina Mall Complex, a shopping and entertainment destination.
Considered to be one of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in Dubai, the Dubai Marina is an ideal place for many people to either go for a jog, an evening of shopping or just taking a stroll by the waterfront. For a quicker commute within the Marina, there is the Dubai Tram which can get you to both ends of the complex for AED 3 – AED 5 varying on the distance.
Want to explore the Dubai Marina a bit differently? Take the Water Bus which takes you around the Canal. One can either opt to reach another destination in the Marina by paying AED 3 – AED 11 per ticket on this or just take a sightseeing tour on the water bus with a day pass for just AED 25.
7. Dubai Dolphinarium
Home to the majestic Black Sea bottlenose dolphins, Northern and Southern American fur seals, and exotic birds, the Dubai Dolphinarium is famous worldwide for its awe-inspiring and interactive shows. Located in Creek Park, a family entertainment and activity park in Dubai, the Dubai Dolphinarium is a major tourist attraction where people from all over the world flock in large numbers all around the year to enjoy exciting marine mammal and bird shows.
This indoor Dolphinarium is renowned for its world-class facilities where guests of different age groups can indulge in a variety of fun activities like swimming with dolphins, feeding exotic birds, enjoying thrilling 5D and 7D cinema experience, bouncing on a trampoline, and walking through a maze of mirrors. At the Dubai Dolphinarium, one can also buy souvenirs and have a fun dining experience at the onsite restaurant. Whether travelling solo or with family, the Dubai Dolphinarium is must-visit.
8. Global Village Dubai
Global Village Dubai is claimed to be the world’s most significant tourism, leisure and entertainment project of UAE. It is the region’s first cultural, entertainment, family and shopping destination. Every year, the place receives over 5 million visitors over an area of 17,200,000 sq ft. The compound has various pavilions that each
Managed by Dubailand on the outskirts of the city, the event is organized during the winter season between late November and late February and is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival. These pavilions represent a different country or a region usually by creating an imitation of a famous landmark of the country. It is a perfect place to get souvenirs from around the world along with global authentic cuisine, exciting rides and street performers.
9. Miracle Garden Dubai
Miracle Garden is one of the most beautiful and biggest natural flower gardens in the world. Located in Dubailand, it is spread across a vast area of over 72,000 square meters, the garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden featuring over 45 million flowers and plants. The place is a heaven for those seeking nature’s beauty in the city. The garden is open only from mid-November to mid-May.
10. Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai is an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square meters of the indoor ski area. It is the largest indoor ski park in the world. The park has a Snow Park, ski slopes, an ice museum and a skiing academy for those who wish to learn skiing. Apart from the regular facilities, Ski Dubai also hosts various events and concerts and a very cosy eatery called the Avalance Cafe which has a balcony that faces the ski slopes.
Ski Dubai is a wonderland that comprises of five slopes, a chairlift and real penguins (each one individually named). With approximately 6000 tons of snow and a temperature of 4 degrees Celcius, grab a nice hot chocolate at one of the few eateries in the park too. The admission to this unique place includes skis and snow gear; hats and gloves are sold separately.
11. Madinat Jumeirah
Situated in Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah is a luxurious 5-star resort built with the motto of ?staying different?. One of the largest resorts in Emirates, it has a private beach, several restaurants, ballrooms, an amphitheatre, fitness clubs, kids club, theatre rooms and a turtle sanctuary as well. Madinat Jumeirah has three grand hotels- Jumeirah Al Qasr, Jumeirah Mina A’salam and Jumeirah Al Naseem, and Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf which has summerhouses and villas. The resort also has its own Jumeirah Souk which has more than eighty shops, bars and restaurants. All the guests staying in the hotels of Madinat Jumeirah get a complimentary access to the private beach, wild wadi waterpark, kids club, Jumeirah souk, turtle sanctuary and talise spa and fitness centres.
12. Dubai Frame
One of the most recent megaprojects of Dubai launched in January 2018, the Dubai Frame is the world’s largest frame structure inspired by the logo of the upcoming World Expo 2020 which is to be held in the city. Located in Zabeel Park, it acts as a frame to some of the greatest architectural marvels of Dubai including the Burj Khalifa. It is flanked by two high-rise towers that go up to 150 meters and are connected by a Sky Deck which has a breadth of 93 meters acts as a top member of the frame structure.
13. Al Bastakiya
If you wish to get a slice of Dubai’s history then a visit to Al Bastakiya is a must. A trip to Al Bastakiya or Al Fahidi district can quench your thirst for discovering the historical roots of today’s glamourous star town. Characterised by large buildings made in traditional materials like mud and wood, Al Bastakiya place oozes charm of its own.
Also known as Old Dubai, this area came into existence in the nineteenth century much before Dubai’s transformation into the swanky town that we know today. Once here you may get to participate in art events that can be enjoyed with much fervour with the locals in this beautiful setting. It is rightly said that no trip is complete until you have seen Old Dubai. So, go ahead and unleash that explorer within you and add Al Bastakiya on your travel itinerary right away.
14. Dubai Fountain
Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest choreographed water fountain located in the beautiful Burj Complex. This dancing fountain surges as high as 150 meters in complete synchronisation to classical, Arabic and other popular world musical numbers. Forming beautiful arcs and jumping to the beats, this fountain was designed by California-based WET, the creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. The show begins in the evening every day, and the best way to approach it is through the Dubai Mall.
Nestled in the middle of the 24-acre Burj Lake, this Dubai Fountain set against the shimmering Burj Khalifa holds performances of around 5 minutes each. Visible from several vantage points, one can also take a closer look at the fountain by booking a wooden abra (a traditional Arabian boat) cruise that sails everyday between 17:45 and 23:00. About 1.5 million lumens of mesmerising projected light from the show is what attracts visitors here.
15. Saeed Al Maktoum House
Al Maktoum House is a historic building located in the Al Shindagha Area of the city. Former residence of Dubai’s then ruler Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the house built in 1896 is now a museum. Visitors can enjoy and get to know about the city and royal family’s culture and lifestyle. It is now a famous tourist spot which impresses residents and visitors with its simple yet vast stature, open areas and courtyards, and cooling wind towers. You can find a lot of old pictures, documents, stamps and coins, jewellery and decorative items in this ancient museum.
16. Dubai Creek
This Saltwater Creek is UAE’s one of the major port and divides the city into two parts and connects the trading port to the desert. Extended to the Persian Gulf and the wildlife sanctuary, this waterway acts as a commercial lifeline as it facilitates not just tourism but also harbours ships, trade and commercial activities. This is a popular place for an evening visit. Witness the lights and music shows, floating and moving dhows, yachts, boats and vessels to get a glimpse of old Dubai during the trade times. A delectable meal and a starry waterfront is all you need to end your journey and trip on a good note!
The creek was developed with the intention of creating a custom and import duty-free trade and to make Dubai as a major hub for the merchants and traders worldwide to conduct trade activities. Surrounded by the Deira twin towers, Dubai creek towers and the Sheraton Dubai creek, this port is a perfect amalgamation of traditions and modernised living and matches up with the overall architecture of the city. Also known as River Zara, this creek is a highly picturesque spot and attracts masses towards its traditional appeal which makes it different from the surrounding high-rise structures. It gives the city a new identity and boosts the marine trade as well.
17. Jumeirah Mosque
Jumeirah Mosque is regarded as one of the most beautiful mosques in the UAE. Built exactly on lines of Cairo’s Al Azhar Mosque that is eight times its size, this mosque is an excellent example of Islamic architecture. It is the only mosque in Dubai that is open to non-muslims. Its detailed architecture and design are even more glorified when lit up in the evening. It is also one of the most photographed mosques in the UAE.
Exemplifying the medieval Fatimid style of architecture, the fort is adorned with two minarets displaying intricate stonework. To fully enjoy and explore the Jumeirah Mosque, one can book a 75-minute guided tour with the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), which is organized six days a week from Saturday through to Thursday at 10:00. One has to reach the main entrance of the building by 9:45 without any prior reservations. Most unusually, photography inside is allowed, so itÍs worth bringing a camera.
18. Dubai Gold Souk
Dubai is famous not just for its deserts, adventure parks and resorts, but for its many shopping hubs as well. Dubai’s famous gold souk happens to be the world’s largest gold market! Situated in Deira, this golden souk is the most famous and highly visited tourist spot in Dubai because of its excellent quality and designs of gold. With more than 350 jewellery traders and retailers, Gold Souk is restocked with at least 10 tons of gold daily.
19. Jumeirah Beach
Stretched along the coast, south of the city’s historic Al Faihidi district, this sandy white strip of sand is among the top beach destinations for the visitors of Dubai. The cluster of high-end resorts and properties such as Burj Al Arab (Arab Tower) hotel, Wild Wadi Water Park, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab (Arab Tower) hotel adds grace to the lively waterfront. For adventure buffs, there is the facility for various watersports like jet skiing, kitesurfing and more. For a quiet day at the beach, visitors can rent sun loungers too.
20. Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary
With over 500 flamingos and several species of birds and fishes, Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is a wetland reserve. Perfect for tourists, environmentalists, photographers and botanists, it is a protected area and has a large number of migratory birds, fishes, crustaceans and mammals. This delicate and vast ecosystem has three birding hides which allow visitors to explore and engage in bird spotting.
The sanctuary located in Ras Al Khor area aims at conservation, protection, preservation and maintenance of eco-tourism and nature. Also known as the “Cape of the creek”, it is a perfect mix of an architectural and a natural reserve. With avid birdwatching spots and perfect breeding grounds for fishes and birds, you can also spot several lagoons, mangroves, mudflats and salt flats. Not just the flamingos but you can also witness the roosting bird catching fishes out of water or rare grey herons and snowy plovers. You can explore the flamingo or mangrove hides which take you a step closer to the beauty of nature and sets you free and open in the wild.
21. Dubai Museum
Nestled in the Al-Fahidi Fort, this magnificent museum of Dubai was built in 1787 and is the oldest building in the Emirate. Restored in the year 1971 by the ruler of Dubai and then extensively renovated in 1995, today this beautiful architecture houses the city’s heritage and many important historical events. While the main aim of the museum is to present the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai, it also showcases fascinating old maps of the Emirates and Dubai explaining the giant expansion of the region after the oil boom.
The exhibits in the museum vary from many traditional boats and a palm-leaf house to Emirati wind-tower. Various galleries in the complex display the general culture of the land mainly emphasizing the 1800s. Emirati musical instruments, plethora of artifacts exchanged from African and Asian countries and the 3,000-4,000-year-old graves at Al Qusais archaeological site will baffle you with its past.
22. Atlantis the Palm
With a private sandy beach and 5-star amenities, Atlantis is the first ever resort to be built on the Palm Jumeirah Island in Dubai. Offering mesmerizing views of the Arabian Gulf and being themed on the myth of Atlantis, this resort inculcates a few distinct Arabian elements. Providing unique features such as an underwater aquarium and swimming with dolphin opportunities, Palm Atlantis is surely one of the world’s most popular attraction destination for tourists.
Palm Atlantis is home to some of the world’s best adventure parks and aquariums. The Aquaventure Park is the largest waterpark in the middle east. Moreover, The Lost Chambers Aquarium is also a must watch one for all visitors. As far as resorts are concerned, Palm Atlantis has some of the best lavish resorts in Dubai. With pink palatial structures, soaring turrets and an Arabian archway, the look of the resorts are itself fascinating. The rooms have Arabian and oceanic style decors and feature all amenities that one requires. The views from the balcony are awe-inspiring and it adds up to the beauty of these resorts. Guests enjoy an exclusive free access to thrilling water slides in the Tower of Neptune and the Tower of Poseidon. There is also a private water playground for kids which features some adventurous water adventures for younger ones.
23. Mall of the Emirates
The Mall of the Emirates, located in the Al Barsha area of West Dubai, is a shopping mall frequented by both tourists and residents of UAE. It is a one-stop-shop destination that has earned it the epithet of being the “World’s first shopping resort.” It has also been named as the “World’s Leading New Shopping Mall”. The Mall of the Emirates is home to a magnificent family leisure centre housing Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort and Snow Park, the first of its kind in the Middle East.
The 500-seating capacity, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre is one of the primary attractions within the mall along with Magic Planet, the popular entertainment center for people of all ages. Founded and owned by Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Mall of the Emirates boasts of 100 odd food shops including top restaurants and cafes. Visitors hoping to find a respite from shopping are free to catch a film at VOX Cinemas or be entertained in different ways. The visitors can also put up at the adjoining 5 star hotels in order to maximize their experience at the mall.
24. IMG Worlds of Adventure
Established in 2016 in ‘the heart of Dubai’, IMG is the city’s first mega indoor theme park with world-class amenities and entertainment. Situated on the famous Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, this cartoon-themed park sprawls across 1.5 million square feet of amusement park space. Located next to Global village, this entertainment destination is full of live shows, attractive rides, movies and fantastic food options. Popular franchises there are characters from Frozen, Disney, Cars, Marvel, DC comics and more.
25. Dubai Opera
Located in Downtown Dubai, this 2016 established Opera is one of the finest and radiant cultural and art centres. Built by the famous Emaar properties, Dubai Opera is a multi-format performing arts centre with the capacity of holding approximately 2000 persons. It engages the audience and brings an exciting vibe and life to the place. Dubai Opera is a unique blend of art and culture and presents something you’ve never had seen before. The opera is shaped like a dhow or a sailing vessel and hosts several performances like theatre, ballets, concerts, orchestras, conferences and even fashion shows.
26. Kite Beach
Not just a beachgoers hub, but a regular spot for watersports enthusiasts, Kite Beach, is the newest beach in Dubai to have a lasting impression on visitors. Wakeboarding, kitesurfing and paddleboarding are a few things that visitors try out when visiting Kite Beach. One can try their hand at volleyball too with the net set upright on the beach. Kite Beach is a local and tourists favourite beach destination with its clean sands, adventure and relaxing opportunities available at everyone’s disposal.
27. Alserkal Avenue
Alserkal Avenue is an arts and culture district in Al Quoz, Dubai. Started as an industrial unit with several warehouses, the community has now been transformed into a significant art and culture forum. The Alserkal District accommodates several houses for local and global artists, art galleries, museums, performing platforms, design studios and exhibition halls. The place is a perfect amalgamation of engineering and creative spaces and at present has more than 94 warehouses.
28. Aquaventure Waterpark
One of the biggest water parks of Dubai, Aquaventure is located in the Atlantis hotel complex. This amazing water park offers a series of pools, shoots and flumes and a few thrilling rides. Adrenaline pumping Tower of Neptune and the equally exhilarating Tower of Poseidon are some of the key highlights of the park. Visitors can also relax at the Cabanas, have a nice meal at the various restaurants and shop some souvenirs at the many stores in the park.
The park houses the Country’s longest river called Rapids that goes up to 2.8 kms, a private beach for visitors to relax after a long day at the park and other facilities like sunbeds, experiences like the Shark Safari if you wish to go ‘safely’ swim with the sharks, feeding the stingrays or even go zip lining 20m above the park as you fly through the compound.
Do note that many rides and attractions of the park have a strict height, weight and health restriction.