Dubai Travel Guide
Soaring into the 21st century as a bastion for technology, trade, recreation, and some of the world’s most captivating sights, this towering domain of glass, lights, beaches, and opulence has risen in popularity as a destination for leisure just as much as commerce. Whether you’re looking for a varied landscape of exhilarating sports, indulgence in fine dining and entertainment, exploring the Emirati nation, or a bit of everything, you’ll find it all in Dubai. Being such a varied and rich place, it can be a daunting task to know where to start. Fortunately, you’re in the right place - read on for our guide to the top sights, experiences, and immersions into Dubai’s culture.
While the city might be known foremost for its luxury and lights, sports and their varieties available in Dubai are another big attraction. With roughly 72 kilometers of coastline, recreation on the water, gentle and thrilling alike, are abundant and highly recommended to everyone. The location provides for gentle, calm waters - perfect for sports of all kinds, including water skiing, jet skiing, wake surfing, tubing, surfing, parasailing, windsurfing, flyboarding, and more. A great location to try so many different sports, all with highly qualified, professional instructors, staff, and gorgeous views. Towed tubing, kite surfing, and flyboarding are among the most popular, placing Dubai as a beach goer’s dream. You can easily spend your whole visit on the water. We recommend bringing along waterproof cases and a good camera, since you’ll want to capture memories of the water.
Indeed, the attractions on the water are wonderful, but about the attractions in the water? With a number of diving experiences for visitors of all skill levels, you can brave the marvel of a deep diving tank, swim amongst the coral community and fish friends at Dubai’s Atlantis The Palm or go on a guided diving tour of the waters off Dubai, and more! Wherever you look in the city, you’re sure to find a variety of diving experiences here in Dubai.
A more interactive and memorable way to tour the city, follow a skilled guide along Dubai’s waterfront and ride the waves. Here’s a view that is less commonly seen, as is fun for solo travelers, couples, or groups all the same. In addition, many of the jetski tours are based near some of the most iconic landmarks in Dubai, including at the end of the ambitious Palm Islands.
Away from the water, you’ll find more extreme sports in the many rolling sands and dunes of the desert near Dubai. Dune bashing is another favorite, famous in this region of the world and a truly adventurous Dubai experience. You and your party will take your own sports utility vehicle and enjoy drifting, sliding, and skidding out on the sands while being guided. Watch stunts performed by professionals. Be sure to dress for the sand and hold on tight, as this experience can be quite intense. You can go just for the drive or take dune bashing with some of the other many desert packages, complete with painting, camel riding, shisha, elaborate feasts, and dancing throughout the evening.
Beyond the adrenaline rushes of dune bashing, you can also partake in other sports out on the sand. This includes quading or motor biking over the sand, sandboarding, and sand skiing. From rugged rides and daring stunts on the dunes, to taking a backseat with a professional driver in a dune buggy, visitors will love all the options available to them, along with the thrill of sporting in the sand.
Camel Rides and Races
For those who want to enjoy the desert but at a calmer pace, you can partake in a much older pastime - camel riding. Enjoy a gentle ride on these iconic animals as part of your tour into the desert, or in a relaxed ride along the beach. These make for a fun experience whether you’re a family, a couple, or even a solo traveler. Don’t forget to take photos on your ride, as it’ll be a unique addition to your photo albums. Looking for a bit more adventure? You can take a step back and watch camel racing! This is a native activity and spans back as tradition into the seventh century. This option provides you the opportunity to do it as a standalone activity, or as a part of a larger itinerary.
Dining Around Dubai
Whether you’re wanting to frequent some of the most accomplished establishments, tour local cuisine, take part of some of the world’s most esteemed talent, or just wanting somewhere nice to eat, Dubai visitors are truly spoiled for options. We’ve got some highlights covered here, but in truth, Dubai’s cuisine deserves its own article simply due to the scope of options available.
Il Borro Tuscan Bistro is a great option for many groups, offering a highly celebrated Tuscan menu with carefully sourced ingredients, hosted in a gorgeous dining area. It doesn’t matter if you’re a family looking for a special treat, a couple looking for a great date, or a solo traveler wanting to indulge in the finest, Il Borro Tuscan Bistro hosts for all.
Al Rabbash is a local establishment that offers native fare, sandwiches to die for, tea, juices, and shawarma that has grown their own local following. This establishment has many locations around Dubai, but you can’t go wrong looking for food here - it’s a bit more casual and a lot more affordable if you’re seeking a more relaxed experience.
Al Ostadi Special Kebab is another rare item predating the heyday of Dubai, being one of the oldest restaurants in the area. For those wanting an older, more authentic experience, the Perisan style fare with generous portions has been a favorite for generations.
For those craving Japanese cuisine while staying in Dubai, Netsu has you covered, with a highly celebrated attention to service, quality beef, and recreation of the Izakaya experience. It sports a stunning interior and is a favorite for date nights, with a menu of carefully sourced, fresh seafood, grilled meats, and other cuisine that’s the talk of the town.
Camp in the Desert
While the desert is home to plenty of sports and tours, some might prefer the joys of sleeping under the desert night sky and the mesmerizing landscapes of dunes after the sun has gone down. For those, a stay a bit longer might be appropriate - camping in the desert. Whether you’re wanting a simpler experience in a vehicle, or with a full camp staffed with their own chefs and entertainment, there are plenty of options to experience camping in the desert in Dubai. This is a great way to give you and your party more time to enjoy and explore the pristine and varied scenes away from the buzz of the city. From lakes to beaches, mountains and dramatic desert views, visitors can take their time enjoying their stay with any number of camping options. Particular interest areas include the Bedouin-style camping options, which are intricately put together with elaborate fabrics, local cuisine, and a cultural flare that’s a great fit for those wanting to engage and learn about the local ways of life.
The list of thrilling experiences and sports still hasn’t reached its end. Above the soaring heights of the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, the daring can brave one of the most memorable challenges - diving into the winds well above the skyline. Skydiving is a great thrill in itself and combining it with the ride up and amazing photo options, it’s a great addition to any adventurer’s itinerary here in Dubai.
Lamborghinis, SR3s by Radical Motorsport, Seat Leon Cup Racers, Porches, Bugattis, McLarens, antique models - you name it, and Dubai is known for it as a center for motorsports. Whether you’re buying or renting your own to tour the city, or to enjoy high speeds on the available tracks, visitors can suit up to enjoy the thrills of high-speed racing or coast around Dubai. No matter what experience you’re looking for, you’ll definitely find it here. In addition, for enthusiasts who love engaging with and seeing luxury cars, car meets, car shows, and dealerships are plentiful, with a vibrant and robust local car culture. Come out to a special track to enjoy the thrill of racing, or cruise around the city in a supercar during your visit.
Sharjah Art Foundation
For those visiting Dubai with an affinity for the arts, the Sharjah Art FOundation is a spotlight for Emirati artwork, artwork of the Arab world, and beyond, one of the most esteemed collections of the nation. Arabic music, indigenous forms of painting, galleries, exhibitions, and poetry showcase work from around the world are regular at this museum.
If you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the local art scene, Alserkal Avenue is another esteemed hotspot for artisans, creative minds, and imagination here in Dubai. The Zerzura bookstore is a quiet corner to tuck into a novel or magazine. These include bestsellers but also local authors, antique works, and signed copies from famous authors. Despite the local geography, Food Explained is another popular addition to Alserkal Avenue, leading in local agriculture and responsibly sourcing foods, perfect for grabbing a quick snack while browsing the Avenue or picking up groceries and local ingredients for a home-cooked meal. Workshops like DNA Wellness promote healthy and holistic living with classes to get visitors engaged and moving, and the Pekoe Tea and Bread Bar is a great place to unwind with friends. Explore dance and yoga studios, intricate and captivating light shows, carefully crafted fabrics, clothing, shows, and browse independent galleries. Find something new here at Alserkal Avenue, one of Dubai’s most exciting and original corners.
Beaches of Dubai
Of course, with all the talk of fine dining and sports, we couldn’t forget this attraction - the coastline of Dubai. With a number of beaches geared towards nightlife, quiet outings, and everything in between, visitors will delight in the number of options. Soaring skylines near lively beaches include the gentle waters and sunbathing at Jumeirah Beach Residence, reminiscent of the scenes at South Beach or the Gold Coast for those who want to be closer to the city lights and the water. Slightly farther away via water taxi is the Nasimi Beach at Atlantis and Eden Beach at the Rixos in the Palm Islands, but offer a more private experience with highly acclaimed food. Kite Beach is a quieter public option, as are the shores north of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club. As nice as the sun and water are, do be cautious about heat and wear sunscreen! Many businesses and attractions in Dubai have their services in the morning or the later evening, and this isn’t an error - the midday sun can be unbearably hot. For those who prefer sleeping in, coming in the early evening or around sunset is another great option.
After all the talk of dunes, deserts, intense sun, and camels, you can also ski here in Dubai. You’ll be equipped in full winter gear, the same as you would in the mountains on a ski lift! Located in the massive mall of the Emirates, this is a great option for families and groups, with sliding down slopes, bunny slopes, and more challenging courses for skiing and snowboarding, a snow park for children and even an area where you can meet king and gentoo penguins! You really can see and do it all in this city, and all the extensive facilities at Ski Dubai are no exception. For those more serious athletes, or those wanting to speculate, regular classes and competitions are also held here. With this central location, versatile and responsive reservations and support aplenty, Ski Dubai is accessible and fun for everyone.
Dubai is also a city known for its stunning manmade works and architecture. One of these projects are some of the most striking artificial islands in the world - the iconic Palm Jumeirah! With its assortment of luxury accommodations, private beaches, fine dining, and exclusive events, centering your trip around the Palm Islands is another option, with its own collection of indulgent hotels and services. Even just visiting and touring the Palm Jumeirah and getting a closer look at the massive island projects off of Dubai’s coast via boat or helicopter is another point of interest for those who want to see behind the scenes of Dubai. The ambitious Deira Islands project and the World Archipelago, all visible from space, are also of note in the area.
Museum of the Future
Amid such sights as the mighty Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Almas Tower, or the many massive projects off of Dubai’s coast, the Museum of the Future is another worthy inclusion. One of the newest attractions of Dubai, this museum celebrates the cutting edge and technological vision of Dubai, an exciting insight into the ambitious and shocking plans of the nation. These are especially prevalent in robotics, artificial intelligence, human augmentation, and smart cities. Those who come to Dubai with an interest in futuristics, technology, and the cutting edge of Emirati science and projects will definitely want to add the Museum of the Future to their itinerary.
Along with the beaches, towers, dunes, and deserts, there is another local sight that’s worth a mention - the joys of an oasis getaway! While these, like other experiences in the desert, might be a bit of a ride away, it’s well worth it. These are usually located farther to the north or south, but the trip will lead you to breathtaking views of immaculately crafted spaces of green, aqueducts, canals, and vernacular architecture. This is a truly unique opportunity and makes for great photos!
Hot Air Balloon Ride
A soothing alternative to the buzz of a helicopter is a hot air balloon ride, offering great views of Dubai’s formidable skyline, endless beaches, and infinite desert. To get a good look at Dubai in its entirety on a gentle ride that makes for a great photo opportunity, a hot air balloon ride is another good item to consider.