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. Dubai is a city that is abundant with trading activity and pearl diving history.
The city is bustling with modernity and skyscrapers, with man-made creations of architecture and stunning landscapes. 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. From indoor ice-rinks to the world’s largest building and aquarium, Dubai is full of fun activities and things to do. 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 including places to visit in Dubai.
1. Watch The Sunset at Burj Khalifa
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). Pre-book so you don’t miss out.
* Check prices, dates and availability: Burj Khalifa Tickets – Level 124 & 125
2. See Old Dubai
If you feel the need to escape the modern hustle and bustle of the city, then the old quarter and the souks (markets) of Dubai are calling. Walk through the sand coloured footways, drink tea in the outside cafes, then catch an abra (traditional wooden boat) across to the spice and gold markets. 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 lucky with oil, Dubai was originally a place of pearl diving with the first Persian settlers.
3. See One of The World’s Largest Aquariums
The aquarium at Atlantis Palm Hotel is absolutely amazing and 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.
* Check dates, prices and availability: Atlantis Aquaventure & Lost Chambers
4. Take a Dune Safari
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 combine your safari with a visit to a Bedouin village, a place to visit in Dubai to see traditional nomadic life.
* Check dates, prices and availability: Desert Safari, Quad Bike & Camel Ride
5. Go Shopping
Recognised as being a luxury shopper's paradise, Dubai has the 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. Most hotels have free shuttles to the malls. Just remember to cover your shoulders and knees even when shopping to adhere to the signs on the malls.
6. Go Skiing!
Yes, you can 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.
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. Dubai’s beaches can be easily reached via the Hop-on Hop-off bus routes or the metro system and once the sun drops, the restaurants come alive. Most of the hotels have private beaches which you can pay to enter or you can choose the public beach of Jumeriah beach.
8. Have a Drink at The Skyview Bar in Burj Al Arab
The world’s first 7 star hotel 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.
9. Splash Around at a Waterpark
Dubai has two waterparks including Wild Wadi Water Park, one of the top tourist places in Dubai and Dubai attractions for those seeking adventure. But the best one has to be Aquaventure at Atlantis Park. Are you brave enough to take ‘The Leap of Faith?'
10. Visit Souk Madinat Jumeriah
Just along from the Burj Al Arab is Souk Madinat Jumeriah: 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.
11. Go Camel Racing
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 during October to April for camel racing.
12. Take a Ride on a Dhow & Visit The Souks
One of the must do things in Dubai is browse the Dubai spice souk (market) for nose-tingling sensations; the spice market and the gold market are worth a look and a haggle. Then take a traditional Dhow cruise (a traditional boat) along Dubai Creek for a contrast of new and old Dubai.
14. 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, 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 prices, dates and availability: Dubai Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
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 with our Solo Travel in Dubai guide.
Emirates are Dubai’s national airline and offer 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 takes 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).
How good is Dubai for solos? Although I wasn't solo for this destination, I felt really comfortable being here. Because it is so cosmopolitan I feel it is a safe and fun destination for solo females.
Check out the Dubai page on the Girl about the Globe website. With everything you need for pre-planning your trip.