Lately I have been feeling like I should visit Dubai. If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have told you that Dubai is the last place on earth I’d be going to. But now, I find myself more attracted to it and I feel like a lot of places in Dubai are worth visiting.
The thing is, a bunch of friends who have recently had the chance to visit Dubai told me wonders about it. Not to mention social media, with Instagram showing picture after picture of fabulous shiny skyscrapers, state of the art buildings and even beautiful beaches and sand dunes. I’d be able to see all these places in Dubai.
One thing for sure, my tastes in travel have changed with time. I used to get itchy feet within two days of visiting a big city. I would hardly care for things such as modern architecture – like that of lots of places in Dubai.
After visiting Bangkok, in Thailand, Saigon in Vietnam, and even Delhi in India, I have started growing a taste for big (and modern) cities, which all seem to have a unique vibe, a crazy energy that keeps me wanting to explore more. These are all the kind of things that those who visit Dubai apparently experience.
It turns about that I do enjoy wandering the streets with no real purpose in mind, turning corner after corner to come across the most incredible scenes: a man pulling his bike on a narrow alley in Varanasi; a barber cutting the hair of a boy in Udaipur. I wonder if any of the places in Dubai would give me such a feeling of discovery, and I am all for finding out.
Yes, I would love to visit Dubai – at least for a few days and so that I could finally see all the famous places in Dubai people talk about. So, here’s a few reasons why everyone should visit Dubai and a list of all the places in Dubai that are worth visiting.
Why Visit Dubai
It is a major airport hub
I have noticed that a lot of flights from Europe to South East Asia stop in the United Arab Emirates (I stopped in Doha on my way to Indonesia). Airports in the region are simply impressive. This surely is the case with Dubai, which is one of the world’s busiest airports. A lot of people who visit Dubai end up there on a stop over and love it.
Sure enough, I wouldn’t mind taking the opportunity to actually spend a few days checking out a few places in Dubai.
It is rapidly changing
No other place on earth knows development to the same level Dubai is experiencing it. At any moment, a new skyscraper is being built and the skyline is always taking a new shape. The best part of it is that since the government is generally involved in the construction of these marvels, tourists who visit Dubai can get in for free (hats off for a city that is famous for being so expensive!).
It’s incredibly diverse (and the food is amazing)
I would have never imagined that, but friends who had the opportunity to visit Dubai told me it is incredibly diverse. Come to think of it, it does make sense: this is a place where people from all over the world fly in and out of, regularly. And more than that, they do work there as it is a huge business hub.
This means that Dubai is a huge melting pot, as reflected by many places in Dubai, with cultures mixing to give it a special international flavor. And by flavor, I don’t only refer to the actual culture that each resident brings into Dubai. I also mean the food: whatever kind of food one may wish for is apparently available in Dubai – Lebanese, India, French… you name it!
And apparently, there’s a lot of street food to be found in Al Dhiyafah Road, which means that it is not nearly as expensive as one may think of. Just one more reason to visit Dubai. But more than that, those who visit Dubai can also enjoy food tours and they aren’t that expensive at all.
It’s a sand and sea extravaganza
Among the coolest places in Dubai, there’s the desert dunes. In case nobody has noticed, I do love deserts. I have a real fascination for them. There are some amazing beaches in Sardinia with gorgeous sand dunes and I try to go (though walking on the dunes is forbidden, to protect them). I have some very old pictures in them, where I pretend I am a beduin.
If I ever visit Dubai, I’ll make it a point to go on a desert safari – I’d prefer riding buggies, but it is also possible go ride camels (do make sure that these activities are 100% ethical before agreeing on doing them). Among the things to do in Dubai that can be enjoyed in the desert there’s drinking mint tea; enjoying a belly dancing show; going sand boarding (I have done this in Huacacina, Peru, and in Atacama, Chile, and it is a lot of fun!); and even henna painting.
But there is more. I do enjoy a good day at the beach (well, I am from Sardinia after all) and some of the best places in Dubai are actually beaches. Not only that: I do enjoy boat trips and I could even take a yacht for rent in Dubai to go along the coast. Those who are short on time can take fast boat tours. And those who have the budget, can splurge on a luxury boat tour.
It’s home to the best shopping
I admit not being much of a shopaholic, but I do enjoy an afternoon of browsing through shops and even day-dreaming of being filthy rich to afford luxury items. People who visit Dubai enjoy endless shopping opportunities. But there’s more to it: next to luxury brands, Dubai has plenty of souks where it is possible to buy at more than reasonable prices. And I do love exploring markets (and possibly engaging in haggling!).
More Places In Dubai That Are Worth Visiting
Burj Khalifa is the symbol of the city, one of the most famous places in Dubai and the tallest building in the world. In other words, people who visit Dubai shouldn’t skip it for any reason. Needless to say, the views from Burj Khalifa are jaw dropping. Tickets to Burj Khalifa can even be bought online.
Nobody would visit Dubai and ever think of skiing, right? Well, apparently… it is possible (well, it does look like anything is possible in Dubai). In fact one of the coolest (literally!) places in Dubai is Ski Dubai, a ski resort with slopes long enough to either ski or snowboard. They even rent all equipment. I know it makes zero sense, but I love skiing so why not?
Bastakia (Old Dubai)
Bastakia Quarter (also known as Al-Fahidi neighborhood) is one of the places in Dubai worth visiting. It was built in the late 19th century and the area was meant to be the home of wealthy Persian merchants (indeed the buildings follow the typical architectural style of Iranian coastal houses). It is located near the creek. Buildings in the area are beautifully preserved. Wind-towers had been adjoined to homes and provided some form of cooling system, trapping the wind and funneling it down into the houses.
Those who visit Dubai should not miss the Majlis Gallery, also located in Bastakia, which has a great collection of traditional Arab ceramics and furniture (which are all kept in a wind-tower); and the XVA Gallery, which on the other hand has a contemporary art collection.
Dubai Creek is one of the places in Dubai worth seeing. It separates the city into two towns – Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south. The creek was what had originally attracted settlers in the area, for fishing and for pearl diving. Of particular interest is the Dhow Wharfage which is located on the Creek’s bank, north of Al-Maktoum Bridge. Some of the dhows anchored in the creek are over 100 years old, and others are still used by small traders from across the Gulf.
One of the nicest things to do in Dubai is to actually sail on one of the dhows. Many of them have actually been restored as tourist cruise boats and it is possible to sail along and enjoy dinner at the same time.
I don’t dive – shame on me, because I know that underwater there’s a whole different world that deserves to be explored. However, I know that one of the top places in Dubai that should be visited is the Dubai Aquarium. The incredible thing? It’s apparently possible to dive in Dubai Aquarium. I may finally give it a try!
Jumeirah Beach is one of the coolest places in Dubai. Not only it can be enjoyed as a regular beach: it is possible to go parasailing there, to enjoy a spectacular view of Dubai and of the Palm islands. Up to 3 persons can apparently go on the same parasail – even more fun, actually. Yet again, proof that those who visit Dubai are bound to have fun.
I always enjoy a bit of adrenaline – that’s why I love rafting and zip lining. Aquaventure Waterpark is one of the coolest places in Dubai to get that adrenaline going. There’s even a lovely private beach there.
Best time to visit Dubai
The best time to visit Dubai is between November to April, and generally during the winter months. January and February are the busiest months, because that’s when the Dubai Shopping Festival happens. Needless to say, that’s when places in Dubai get the most crowded, with hotel rates and airfares skyrocketing.
In terms of weather, winter is the best time to visit Dubai because it is a bit cooler and hence it is possible to venture on outdoor activities.
The months from April to October are definitely not the best time to visit Dubai. That’s when temperatures start rising, going well beyond 40 degrees Celsius. The weather tends to be really hot, and worst than that it is so humid that any outdoor activities are impossible. During those months, the places in Dubai that are worth exploring are the shopping malls that are all air-conditioned – so the best things to do in Dubai during the summer are all shopping related.
Where to stay in Dubai
Such a famous destination as Dubai has no shortage of incredible accommodation options. Those who visit Dubai generally opt to stay in one of its super luxury hotels. Burj Al Arab is one of the most famous places in Dubai. It is located on its own island and all rooms have ocean views. And if this is not enough, there is a sky-view bar at 200 meters above sea level. The only minor downside is that it is incredibly expensive.
For as expensive as Burj Al Arab is, other places are actually quite cheap – so that those who visit Dubai won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to enjoy it. Rove City Centre and the rest of the Rove chain are all budget friendly and at the same time incredibly stylish, in line with the rest of the city.
Another option is to stay in a holiday home or apartment, even better if it has a penthouse. Dream Inn Dubai may seem pricey, but the place is so big that it fits an entire group and the costs can be easily shared. Not a bad option for those who visit Dubai with friends.
For more places to stay in Dubai, check this post.
Have you been to Dubai? What would you add to the list of places in Dubai that are worth visiting?
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