Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai

Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai. Dubai unabashedly aims to be the biggest, best, and most modern city on earth, and it may be getting close to claiming that title! Click through to read the full post!

Dubai unabashedly aims to be the biggest, best, and most modern city on earth, and it may be getting close to claiming that title! Nothing in Dubai is done cheap, or on a scale that is anything other than world class.  Whether it is the tallest building in the world, biggest shopping mall in the world, or making the impossible possible (indoor ski resort and man-made islands resembling gigantic palm trees), Dubai is willing to spend to spend what it takes to attract the international tourists.

Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates in the heart of the Middle East, just across the Persian Gulf from Iran, bordering Saudi Arabia, and not very far from Iraq and Syria.  Just saying the names of those countries makes many westerners cower in fear, but in terms of Dubai, these fears are largely exaggerated. For a more detailed explanation on why you should feel comfortable visiting Dubai, see my post on, “Why you should NOT be afraid to visit Dubai.”   The geography of Dubai is the desert you would expect, but what is largely missed is the fact that Dubai features world class beaches across the Persian Gulf.

If you could go back and visit Dubai 40 years ago you would find nothing but sand dunes and a small fishing village.  Oil has helped fund the city’s explosive growth, but now tourism is keeping that trend going.  Dubai is now the 8th most visited tourist destination in the world, but getting there hasn’t slowed down their ambitions. There are still tons of ongoing construction projects for additional attractions and mammoth skyscrapers.  This glitzy city isn’t just for oil barons, but is actually affordable enough for the everyday tourist.  Below are 10 of the top attractions you can’t miss on a trip to Dubai.

Top 10 Things To Do In Dubai. Dubai unabashedly aims to be the biggest, best, and most modern city on earth, and it may be getting close to claiming that title! Read more on Avenly Lane Travel© Subbotina | Dreamstime.comDubai. Burj Khalifa. Night View Photo

Burj Khalifa

Not only is the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world, but it is almost 1,000 feet taller than its closest competition.   To get up and down, it also houses the fastest elevator in the world. Whether you go up to the observation deck, or observe from the ground, this one is impossible to miss.



The Palm Islands

These islands are man-made.  From pictures it is hard to realize the sheer magnitude of what has been created.  Each palm fawn island has beautiful beaches, million dollar homes, luxurious hotels, and shopping malls stretched all the way across.  The best way to see them is to take the subway/tram straight through the heart.


Dubai Mall!

Dubai Mall

Who wouldn’t want to shop at the biggest mall in the world?  The mall is part of a 20 billion dollar downtown complex (yes, 20 billion with a b).  It features 1,200 different stores, and is likely home to every store you can think of, plus a whole lot more.  One of my favorite features is that you can access the mall from the airport without ever having to step outside into the scorching heat.  The mall is directly linked by air conditioned footbridges (I called them gerbil tubes) to the subway.


Dubai Miracle Garden! See out list of the top 10 things to do in Dubai on Avenly Lane Travel!

Dubai Miracle Garden

Some may find it ironic that the world’s biggest natural flower garden is in the heart of the desert, but with the way Dubai tends to do things, can you be surprised.  The garden features over 45 million flowers fashioned into the most amazing shapes and designs.  Too bad I missed this because the gardens are closed in the summer as the flowers can’t withstand the extreme heat.


The Burj Al Arab is the only self-proclaimed seven-star hotel in the world. Click through to read the top 10 things to do in Dubai! Photo:© Subbotina | 

Burj Al Arab Hotel

The Burj Al Arab is the only self-proclaimed seven-star hotel in the world.  Even though seven-stars isn’t really a thing, no one seems to question the Burj Al Arab because it fits the bill of ultimate luxury.  This massive hotel is built on its own island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, and is every bit as opulent as it claims.  While there, I was told that we were so lucky, and that we could get an incredibly deal at the Burj Al Arab, only $1,500 a night (obviously I didn’t get the experience of staying there).


Ski Dubai! Read our top 10 things to do in Dubai!

Ski Dubai

Yes, there is an indoor ski resort in Dubai located inside the Mall of the Emirates (different mall than the Mall of Dubai)!  While it is not the biggest ski resort in the world, it is legitimate skiing and snowboarding.  There are multiple runs and amazing snow (the always keep it below freezing inside, so the snow doesn’t get crunchy).  You can rent all necessary equipment and even take lessons if you like.  While inside I totally forgot it was 117 ° F outside. The novelty of snowboarding in the middle of the desert is unreal.


4782110223_05f36820e1_bPhoto: ashraful kadir

Desert Safari

You can’t go to Dubai and not take a desert safari.  Quite quickly you can leave Dubai and see nothing but blowing sand dunes for miles and miles.  There are tour operators all over town selling packages.  Usually they are around $50 and include a city tour, some 4×4 dune crashing, camp fire dinner, and belly dancing.  There are also tours that feature camel riding, sand boarding, and so much more.


DUBAI, UAE - JANUARY 10: Beautiful aerial view of Dubai Marina just after the sunset in Dubai January 10, 2014

Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk and Dubai Marina

This is the most pristine community I have ever seen in my life.  Every single brick of every single building is meticulously placed and beautifully maintained.  This neighborhood features tons of high rise condominiums, cafes, bars, more shopping malls, beautiful hotels, beach access, and a waterway snaking through the center.  I took a water taxi down the waterway and couldn’t stop gawking at the endless amount of perfect buildings.


Old Dubai Markets! Click through to see the top 10 things to do in Dubai! Photo: Lay 89 , Els / Flickr

Old Dubai Market (Deira)

Not all of Dubai has sprouted up in the last 40 years.  If you want to see what life was like before the skyscrapers and luxurious hotels, head down to the old markets (souks).  If you want your own traditional jewelry or headscarf, this is the place to get it.  The array of textiles and spices seems endless.  Remember, if you want to buy anything negotiating a price is almost expected.


Dubai fountain!
Dubai Fountains

If you have been to the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, then you get the idea of what the Dubai fountains are, now just make that idea a lot bigger and more grand.  These fountains are also located at the Mall of Dubai, and nightly shows feature the fountains spraying and dancing to a vast array of music.  The best part about this show is that it is free.

What places are on your top 10 list in Dubai?

(This post was written by my husband)

Read Next: Why You should Not Be Afraid To Visit Dubai



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  • Sanja says:

    Wonderful article on Dubai, it really is an impressive country and I love the way you described things to see. Definitely on my bucket list:)

  • I’ve heard so much about Dubai, and I can’t believe how much there seems to be to do and see. The markets would be a must-visit for me!

  • liz says:

    I love the look of the old market but its a pity that more of the old culture doesn’t survive. Thanks for sharing your top tips though, v informative!

    • Claire Kennedy says:

      Yeah, it’s true! My goal is to get to Oman this year to experience more of the culture. They are way less touristy.

  • Great list on Dubai! It’s such an amazing place, I’m surprised you were able to stop at a top 10!

  • Vlad says:

    I’ve read so much about Dubai but I’m always surprised by how much there is to see and do. Could you visit the city on a budget though?

    • Claire Kennedy says:

      Hey Vlad, Dubai is actually really cheap! I was shocked by how inexpensive everything was. The expensive part would be the flight there (depending on where you live).

  • Loved the Dubai safari and the fountains were cool! Not that keen on the mall or the fancy hotels. Would love to visit the old markets next time we are there, that looks really interesting!

  • Great list! I’ve always loved visiting Dubai. It’s such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing!

  • I just wrote a blog post like this. We overlapped on some, but I totally missed some from this list. Wonderful job!

    • Claire Kennedy says:

      Thanks so much Anna! I just clicked over to your site and read your post on Dubai! Your list is awesome, so detailed!

  • I didn’t know there’s so much to do in Dubai! Sounds great!!

  • Marc says:

    Pretty cool list. Done several of those during a short visit to Dubai and probably will be visiting soon all the fun activities we have missed. Thanks for the share.

    • Claire Kennedy says:

      Hey Marc, Thanks! We actually plan on going back as well and hitting up some of the sites we missed the first time around. Will probably be a quick trip, but it is surprisingly easy to navigate quickly in Dubai.

  • Diana says:

    None of the travel blogs ever mention that Dubai is built entirely by slave labor. I guess it wouldn’t be good for the tourism. I won’t be going there.

    • Elena says:

      Cheap labor yes, but not slave labor. The people who built it are contract workers from extremely poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The type of people that Western countries don’t even allow to enter, so they are left to die of hunger. They work in the Middle East as builders and house maids and, guess what, they are happy they have this opportunity because each worker can now send money to their families. Their families can eat and their children can go to school. That doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen sometimes, but it’s not like some hateful comments on the Internet. I have a Sri Lankan lady come and clean my house every week. She has been in the Middle East for 30 years now. She isn’t going anywhere, because there is no options for her at home. Staying away from home was tough, but on the other hand, she could give her son a better life, education, food and clothes. In fact, she is helping her family even now, 30 years later. She is definitely not a slave.

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