Whether you have a week to spare or just a 12-hour stopover, if you are unsure what to do in Dubai, here are my favourite things to do in Dubai alone
It had been a destination that had been on my travel wish list for years: Dubai, a millionaire’s playground full of glitter, gold and opulence with gorgeous beaches, futuristic skyscrapers and year-round sunshine.
From the best desert safari Dubai to shopping in the gold souks, Dubai is a city bustling with modernity and skyscrapers. From indoor ice rinks and beautiful architecture to the world’s largest building, Dubai has to be seen to be believed, and once you’ve experienced the magic of this Emirate, you may not want to leave this desert paradise.
I love Dubai and have now made this cosmopolitan Emirate my home. It's safe and great for solo females, and there are plenty of Dubai activities. In this article, I share my favourite things to do in Dubai alone and the best places to visit in Dubai solo.
Things To Do in Dubai Alone
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and one of Dubai’s most iconic sights. Needless to say that you can get an amazing view of the city from the observation deck, which stands at 555 metres (a must-see in Dubai).
You can also have your photo taken against various backdrops as you go in and then purchase them at the end. There's a souvenir shop at the top too!
There are several experiences you can do here, such as ‘The Lounge' one if you're feeling flush, but just going to level 124 is enough to see the view. Make sure to pre-book if you're visiting during peak seasons so you don’t miss out.
I did this experience with the fast-track ticket and loved it.
Tip – The entrance to the Burj Khalifa viewing deck is in Dubai Mall, so I recommend doing this experience before or after watching the free Dubai Fountain show as it's so close! * Check rates and availability: Burj Khalifa Tickets
If you feel the need to escape the modern hustle and bustle of the city, then the old quarter of Dubai is calling. One of the must-do things in Dubai is to browse the Dubai spice souk (market) for nose-tingling sensations; the spice market and the gold market are worth a look and a haggle.
Once you're in amongst the bustle of the markets, you'll get a real sense of old Dubai. Dubai’s history only dates back about a century, but long before they struck luck with oil, Dubai was originally a place of pearl diving with the first Persian settlers.
Walk through the sand-coloured footways, drink tea in the outside cafes, then take a traditional Dhow cruise (a traditional boat) along Dubai Creek for a contrast of new and old Dubai.
If you’re unsure if you can navigate yourself around or you want to learn more about its history from a guide, there’s an Old Dubai tour you can take where you get to experience Arabic coffee and street food. * Check rates and availability for Old Dubai tour
3. Go Shopping
Recognised as being a luxury shopper's paradise, Dubai has some of the best shopping in the world. Dubai's sprawling malls offer every top-end fashion chain you care to name.
Even if you aren’t shopping, they are definitely an experience. Make a beeline for the Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai. It's one of the world’s largest, with some 1200 shops to look through. You could literally spend days within the three main malls.
You can even ski in one of the world’s deserts! Inside the Mall of Emirates, you’ll find indoor ski slopes at Ski Dubai. It's one of the unique things to do in Dubai, and even if you don’t want to ski, it is definitely worth seeing and looks like a giant snow dome.
Another mall to see is Ibn Battatu Mall. I love this one as it has several different courts, from the Tunisia court to an Egyptian one. It’s really beautiful and my favourite mall. Most hotels have free shuttles to some of the malls, but Dubai Mall, Mall of Emirates (MoE) and Ibn Battatu are all on the metro (Dubai Mall is a 15 minute walk from the station inside the mall!)
You no longer have to cover your shoulders or knees in the malls but bear in mind that it is still a Muslim country, so I tend to take a cardigan with me. Make sure to take some good walking shoes with you as you can walk for miles in the malls, and you will hear the call to Prayer too.
You can just go around the shopping malls yourself, but if you’re searching for a Dubai shopping tour, there is a private one you can take, but it is pricey. * Check rates and availability for private shopping tour
If you are planning on visiting Dubai Mall, make sure that you see the aquarium there (you can even dive in it!), but the one that you shouldn’t miss is the aquarium at Atlantis Palm Hotel which is absolutely amazing. You’re guaranteed to spend hours just gawping at rays and sharks as they mesmerise you.
Wander around the Lost Chambers Aquarium (where you can also snorkel with the sharks!) and the Atlantis Room displaying artefacts from the fantasy world of Atlantis, before having a drink at Nasimi Beach. The Atlantis is one of my favourite places in the city. * Check rates and availability: Atlantis Lost Chambers
Dubai has several waterparks, including Wild Wadi Water Park, which is close to the Burj Al Arab and is one of the top tourist places in Dubai and is good for adults.
You may not want to go to Legoland alone to experience a waterpark or bounce on AquaFun, which is at Jumeirah Beach (they are more of the popular Dubai attractions for families and kids).
The best one has to be Aquaventure at Atlantis Park. If you’re at Atlantis (see the aquarium section above), then you have to go to the waterpark. It’s now the biggest waterpark in the world (of course, it’s Dubai!)
It really doesn’t matter if you’re solo either, as you can easily spend a day here embracing your inner child on the water slides or for an adrenalin rush.
The park has several record-breaking rides whether you’re looking for speed or height. Experience The Odyssey of Terror, which is the tallest waterslide in the world, or just leisurely float around the river rapids avoiding any children as you go around.
I took the Leap of Faith, which is a near-vertical drop of nine stories high. You even go through a shark lagoon on the way down! It took some bravery to jump down the slide, but it was definitely exhilarating.
If you’re here during the summer months, it’s the ideal place to cool off from the heat too, especially if you're visiting between July to September. * Check rates and availability for Atlantis Aquaventure
Don’t be confused, as this has got nothing to do with animals! Instead, you can race across sand dunes in a 4×4 and explore the stunning desert landscape.
Excursions in Dubai also include driving a quad bike for some dune bashing or combining your safari with a visit to a Bedouin village, a place to visit in Dubai to see traditional nomadic life.
This tour is a bit touristy, but it’s a great way of seeing the desert and a show with traditional dancing. You can pay extra for a longer camel ride or to ride a quad bike (ATV). A buffet dinner is included too. I even bought a necklace from here with my name in Arabic! * Check rates and availability: Desert Safari, Quad Bike & Camel Ride
7. Lay On The Beach
No trip here is complete without a dip in the warm waters of the sea, and if you have the time, one of the relaxing things to do in Dubai is catch a few rays. Most of the hotels have private beaches, which you can pay to enter, or there are three beaches that are public.
Kite Beach is fab! It’s not on the metro so you have to take a bus from the metro or a taxi to it. The beach is lush, and there are food trucks and market stalls, and you get a great view of the Burj Khalifa behind you and the Burj Arab to your left when you’re lying on the beach.
Another public beach is JBR which is accessible from the metro, and a 15 minute walk past the marina. There are lots of restaurants along here and showers that you can pay for (they are 2 minutes long) and you can go jet skiing from the marina. There are sun loungers that you can rent on both beaches if you don’t want to lay on the sand.
Secret Beach is another public beach but there isn’t anything here except sand and sea! So you have to bring your own food or drink and don’t expect toilets. You may prefer either Kite Beach or JBR instead.
In case you haven't heard of it, the Burj Al Arab is the world’s first 7-star hotel which is built like a sail. It’s pricey with a minimum spend, and the decor may remind you of a cruise ship, but on a visible night, you can see the lights of the Atlantis Palm in the distance, and if you’re lucky, you can see ‘The World,’ Dubai’s latest development in the ocean. * Check rates and availability for Burj Al Arab tour
9. Visit Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Just along from the Burj Al Arab is Souk Madinat Jumeirah: Dubai’s own little Venice, where you can take a boat ride through the narrow waterways to the Arabian Market. This area has great restaurants and bars and is vibrant at night. A unique way to get here from the hotel is via beach buggy cruising along the sandy beach.
10. Take a City Tour
If your time is limited, a good way of capturing the true essence of the city is on a Dubai sightseeing hop-on hop-off tour, visiting places in Dubai.
With a choice of starting points, you can jump on and off at will. Fancy a bit of window shopping and a trip up the Burj Khalifa? Then maybe a quick visit to the beach?
Not a problem, a Hop-on Hop-off bus tour allows you to do that. With three routes, you can work your way around the city.
It's convenient and cheap and will give you an excellent overview of the best places to visit in Dubai. Allowing you time (if you can) to return to places that took your fancy. * Check rates and availability: Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
This may seem a bit romantic for one, but seeing Dubai from up above is the best way to really view this exciting Emirate. If you have the cash and have already been to the Burj Khalifa and are looking for something more exhilarating for a view, consider a hot air balloon ride.
Soaring up to 4000 feet high, you can watch the sunrise over the dunes and the Arabian Gulf and spot camels from above. This way, you actually get to see the Burj Khalifa too! * Check rates and availability: Hot Air Balloon in Dubai
If you prefer something a little more exhilarating, how about Skydive Dubai? This is where you throw yourself out of a plane over Dubai Palm and get to admire the amazing view as you descend back down to earth. * Check rates and availability for Skydive Dubai
Other Things To Do in Dubai On Your Own
The Emiratis love their camel racing, and the Nad Al Sheba Camel Track can be found just outside the city, but as betting is forbidden, it’s all about the taking part. Visit from October to April for camel racing.
Other places in Dubai to visit include the Dubai Miracle Garden, strolling along the Dubai Marina Walk, taking a boat through the Dubai Canal, or experiencing the walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence.
Discover everything to do in Dubai along with how to get around and the best time to visit with my Solo Travel in Dubai guide.
Emirates is Dubai’s national airline and offers great fares to the city. They are actually my favourite airline and have amazing service with the new A380 (double-decker) airbuses on most of the London to Dubai routes which take under 7 hours.
If you’ve only got a short layover here before your connecting flight, you can still do a tour of the city (book through the tourist stands at the airport).
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