Adorned with sky scrapers, shopping malls and other sightseeing attractions such as the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building), Dubai is definitely a must visit place. In addition to all these glamorous and modern features, the city also offers numerous cultural highlights and things to do as well. While you are in Dubai, make sure to check out the following top attractions:
• Burj Khalifa – A whopping 829.8 meters high, the Burj Khalifa, is the tallest building in the world and also Dubai’s landmark building. Considered as the most famous attraction in Dubai, a visit to the observation deck on the 124th floor of the building is a must-do while you are in the city. The views of the city from the deck are simply astonishing. A high-speed elevator takes you up to the observation deck for those 360-degree views of the desert on one side and the ocean on the other.
Enclosing the Burj Khalifa, are beautifully designed gardens, with winding walkways. You can also see the world’s tallest performing fountain – the Dubai Fountain, which is modeled on the famous Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. If you are visiting the Burj Khalifa, buying an “At the Top” Entrance Ticket in advance will help you avoid long line-ups, especially on a weekend.
• Dubai Mall – With almost 1200 stores, Dubai Mall is the city’s premier mall as well as the world’s largest shopping mall. Providing entry to the Dubai Aquarium and the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai mall stands with all its glory as one of the must visit places in the city. For those looking for entertainment options, there is a giant ice rink and aquarium, indoor theme parks, gaming zone, cinema complex and around 150 food outlets. The mall also hosts special events such as live music and fashion shows almost always. The most famous event happens to be the Dubai Shopping Festival during January and February and the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival in July and August.
• Dubai Museum – Another major attraction in the city is the excellent Dubai museum, located in the Al-Fahidi Fort, which was built in 1787 to protect Dubai Creek. Considered as the city’s oldest structure, the walls of the fort are made of traditional coral-blocks that are held together with lime. The fort has served many purposes – as a residence for the ruling family, a seat of government, garrison, as well as a prison.
The entrance has exhibit charts that explains the evolution of the city from a fishing and pearling village to a world hub of finance, commerce and tourism. Several traditional boats can be seen in the courtyard as well as a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind-tower. While the hall to the right showcases weaponry, the hall to the left features Emirati musical instruments. The display halls in the ground floor has exhibits that gives an idea of the various aspects of traditional Emirati life. Here you can also see archaeological findings from nearby excavation sites.
• Bastakia (Old Dubai) – The Bastakia Quarter, also known as Al-Fahidi neighborhood, which was built in the late 19th century once served as the residence of rich Persian merchants who came to Dubai, after being attracted by the city’s tax-free trading and access to Dubai Creek. Bastakia, which occupies the eastern part of Bur Dubai has many well-preserved coral and limestone buildings, many of which have wind-towers on the walls. These wind-towers served as form of air conditioning for the many houses. The Majlis Gallery, with its collection of traditional Arab ceramics and furniture and the XVA Gallery, with a contemporary art collection are worth visiting, while you are here.
• Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House – This expansive courtyard served as the residence of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, who was the Ruler of Dubai from 1921 to 1958 and grandfather of current Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. The residence has been rebuilt with the finest Arabian architecture and restored as a museum. The original residence, built by Sheikh Saeed’s father in 1896 to watch shipping activity from the balconies was demolished and the new house was rebuilt next to the original site. The current house has been kept similar to the original one by incorporating wooden lattice window screens, carved teak doors and gypsum ventilation screens having floral and geometric designs. There is a central courtyard with thirty rooms around it. Inside the house, you can see the exhibits of the Dubai Museum of Historical Photographs and Documents, maps, letters, coins, and stamps showing the development of the Emirate.
• Dubai Creek – Dubai city is divided into two towns – Deira to the north and Bur Dubai to the south, by the Dubai Creek. Along the bank of the Creek, north of Al-Maktoum Bridge is the Dhow Wharfage, which is still used by small merchants from across the Gulf. If you visit this place, you get to watch the loading and unloading of cargo on and off the dhows. You can also enter the Dhow for a tour to understand the life of these traditional sailors. In order to travel across the creek, you can either take one of the many restored dhows used as tourist cruise boats or take a small wooden ferry, known as an abra.
• Jumeira Mosque – The most beautiful mosque in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque is an exact replica of Al-Azhar Mosque in Caira. This mosque is a great example of Islamic architecture. Built of stone, this structure showcases the medieval Fatimid tradition, with two minarets that features the subtle stonework details. Lit with floodlights in the evening, the mosque looks extremely attractive. Guided tours of the mosque are organized on all days except Fridays, by the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding to offer a better understanding of the Muslim faith.
• Deira – Deira is located on the northern bank of Dubai Creek. The shore is lined with modern office buildings, banks and hotels. Deira is well-known for its traditional souks such as Gold souks and spice souks that are busy with customers all the time. Deira Gold Souk is famous as the world’s largest gold bazaar. If you are visiting Deira, you must go and see the Heritage House that was built in 1890 and served as the home of a rich merchant from Iran and later became the home of a famous pearl merchant in Dubai – Sheik Ahmed bin Dalmouk.
• Dubai Aquarium – The Dubai Aquarium, located on the ground floor of Dubai Mall is one of the top tourist attractions of the City. The aquarium is home to around 140 species of sea life. By entering the Underwater Zoo, you can view the amazing sea world by walking through the aquarium tunnels. Glass bottom boat tours, cage snorkeling and shark diving are some of the popular activities on offer.
• Jumeirah Beach – Jumeira beach, spread with white sand is the number one beach in Dubai. This is one of the most favorite places to stay for tourists There are plenty of hotels along the length of the beach. Numerous restaurants, sun loungers and jet skiing options can also be found here. The main attractions around the Jumeira Beach are the Majlis Gardens and Majlis Ghorfat Um Al-Sheef, which was the summer residence of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum.
• Kite Beach – Kite Beach is world famous as Dubai’s number one destination for kite surfers. Located south of Jumeirah beach, this long stretch of white sandy beach is a great place for sunbathers. Water kite surfing, paddle boarding, and other different water-sport activities are popular here.
• Burj al-Arab – The world’s tallest hotel, Burj Al-Arab stands 321 meters high over the coastline of Umm Suqeimon on its own artificial island. One of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, it is designed to resemble a billowing dhow sail. At night, the exterior is lit up by a choreographed colored lighting show. Consistently voted the world’s most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al-Arab is rather expensive for the average visitor. One night at the most luxurious suites in this hotel costs more than $15,000. For those who can afford such luxury, a great way to experience the extraordinary opulence is to have dinner at the amazing underwater Al-Mahara restaurant, where you get to view the awesome sea life while you eat.
So, on your next holiday to Dubai, enjoy the endless attractions and things to do in Dubai and shop till you drop!