Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Marhaba l Dubai!

Dubai – a city that buzzes with life, excitement, and with glitz and glamor – is the Disneyland for adults. Get ready to immerse yourself in the splendor of the exotic Middle East and revel in the majesty of this ultra-luxurious city. Your trip will undoubtedly be an unforgettable one – there is so much to see and do, with exciting activities, exotic souks, innovative attractions and a blend with the traditions of the Middle East that it’ll be impossible to get bored.

 

Dubai tops every traveler’s bucket-list for many reasons. A melting pot of culture, glamour, tradition and innovation. People from all over the world call this place home, with its iconic skyscrapers, its dazzling streets, record-breaking towers and palm shaped islands. The juxtaposition of old and new is more evident there than anywhere else, with traditional creeks and souks blending effortlessly in this man-made playground of glorious sights. You’ll be taken on a thrilling journey through the traditions of Dubai, the alchemy of playgrounds, world-famous monuments, and gorgeous mosques…

 

There’s so much more to this capital city though. It’s the type of place that caters to all types of travelers – do you want to visit beautiful historical sights? Revel in beautiful panoramic vistas? Gawk at futuristic attractions? Are you a foodie? An adrenaline junkie? You’ll pretty much find it all in Dubai.

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PLANNING & BOOKING

The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!

Unforgettable Moments - Dubai

From having a magical dhow cruise, to the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa and the striking Jumeirah Palm, it’ll be hard to get bored. Get lost in exotic souks, learn about culture in Dubai’s incredible museums, visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites, learn about the deep-rooted Emirati traditions at the various mosques there and embark on fun adventures all in one week.


From having a magical dhow cruise, to the awe-inspiring Burj Khalifa and the striking Jumeirah Palm, it’ll be hard to get bored. Get lost in exotic souks, learn about culture in Dubai’s incredible museums, visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites, learn about the deep-rooted Emirati traditions at the various mosques there and embark on fun adventures all in one week.



Day-by-Day Breakdown

Day 1: Arrival + Landmarks

Arrival

The Dubai Airport is very close to the city center, so you won’t be spending too much time getting to your hotel. You can go there by taxi, bus or metro.

If you plan on taking public transportation:

The first thing you need to know is that you need to buy a NOL card because any cash is generally not accepted in metros, buses or even the water buses. You can purchase the Red Ticket day Pass which will essentially give you unlimited rides for $5.45.

 

·      By metro: You can reach the downtown in 50 minutes if you take the red line from T3 or T1 at the airport. If you’re staying near Dubai Creek, then it’s recommended to take the green line. It’s important to note that the metro will only allow two pieces of luggage.

·      By bus: The bus will take you an hour to get to the center.

·      Taxi/Uber: A taxi or Uber will take you to the center in as little as 13 to 15 minutes and the trip costs approximately $15.

 

We recommend getting the earliest flight arriving to Dubai so you can fully enjoy checking out all attractions on your first day.

Morning

First, grab breakfast at Baker and Spice, winner of the Timeout Breakfast of the Year 2017, where you’ll find a spectacular assortment of all types of pastries, baked cookies, freshly brewed coffee and homemade jams. You can’t leave without trying their renowned shakshouka!

 

You’ll generally want to take your first day a little bit slow, so you can fully get a gist of the vibe of the city. Start at the Dubai Mall. Now, let me tell you. Malls in Dubai are a whole different ordeal than your normal local mall. Dubai is known to be all about extravagance and luxury, and you might easily find yourself spending your whole day at the Dubai Mall. There is an incredible assortment of stores, food courts, souks, an ice rink, the renowned Galerie Lafayette and a whole arcade space. Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in the world, so good luck finding your way around 1,200 retail outlets!


Afternoon

Spend an hour or two at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, where you’ll find the largest suspended aquarium in the world. The attraction tops the list of things you need to see in Dubai. You’ll get to directly interact with the ecological system, you can even dive with sharks or experience cage diving with crocodiles and manta rays. If you want to add a little bit more to your aquarium visit, then you can also try the glass bottom boat.

 

Have lunch at Mezza House, and then walk over to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The iconic symbol of Dubai majestically rises over the city of Dubai and can be constantly seen from different parts of Dubai. You can’t miss out on the incredible views you’ll get by climbing up to the 125th floor (or the 148th for a little more money). Definitely try to time your visit with the sunset so you can watch the golden hues of sunset color the reflective exteriors of the buildings around.


Evening

The largest of its kind in the world, the Dubai Fountain is the perfect attraction to start your evening with. There is a show every 30 minutes where the fountain dances of the tunes of Arabic songs. Next, head to Souq el Bahar for a quintessential Arabic experience. The souq perfectly reflects Arabic design and architecture, exuding an oriental energy through its high archways and textiles. There are over 22 waterfront restaurants with gorgeous terraces that you can choose from there for the perfect dinner.

Day Two: Historical Dubai

Morning

Many people think that Dubai is all about skyscrapers and futuristic architecture and is void of culture. But that couldn’t be further away from the truth – the Emirati culture is as present and as strong as ever, with deep-rooted traditions seeping their way through the glamor of the city. 


The Bedouin Culture has been evident for hundreds of years, and despite Dubai’s rapid development, you can still experience the epitome of the Bedouin culture in Old Dubai. Have breakfast at your hotel and then head to Dubai’s Old Quarter where you can walk along the waterfront Bur Dubai. There you’ll be bombarded with a wild energy, action, and a hustle and bustle that you won’t experience anywhere else in Dubai. 

The Dubai Creek is where you’ll find traditional wooden abras juxtaposed with old markets, dozens of galleries and museums and a true, unfiltered energy of the Bedouin culture

 

Walk over to the Bastakiya Quarter (also known as Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood) and spend your morning exploring the winding alleyways that snake their way through sandstone houses, and little towers. Enjoy a  mint lemonade at the XVA Gallery.  



Afternoon

Dubai has quite an interesting past, and you can learn all about it at the Dubai Museum. You’ll learn about how the city became what it is today in a short amount of time, what it was like before and much more. Stop for lunch at the Basta Art Café and then get ready to haggle your way through the mystical souks of Old Dubai. The most interesting spot in the entire Old Quarter is the place where all the souks (markets) meat. 


Take an abra boat ride across the creek until you reach the Gold Souk. This is Dubai’s most visited souks and for good reason – you’ll find the cheapest gold there, and you’ll find haggling and bartering exciting and refreshing! Your senses are in for a treat at the Spice Souk where you’ll pretty much find every type of herb and spice imaginable. Lastly, choose between the Bur Dubai Textile Souk or the Perfume Souk.


Evening.

As night falls, Old Dubai is beautifully illuminated, adding a fairytale-like atmosphere to the entire quarter. You’ll be enamored by the sight of illuminated dhows floating across the creek. Make your way to the Heritage & Diving Village where you’ll get a glimpse of local life, and have a heart Arabic feast at Kan Zaman.




Day 3: Adventures!

Morning

Have breakfast at Tom & Serg, one of the most famous breakfast joints in Dubai where you’ll be impressed by the quality of food and how affordable it is. Make sure to go early, however, because grabbing a table on weekends can be quite tough. Start by visiting the 20th century white-washed Grand Mosque that boasts the tallest minaret in Dubai. Take in the beautiful Islamic architecture of the mosque, check out the domes, and the muezzin’s minaret.

Afternoon

The Burj Al Arab Tea Experience is a must-have at the renowned Skyview restaurant. With a gorgeous setting – think floor to ceiling windows, panoramic vistas of the city, and views of the Palm Jumeirah – you’ll be served traditional Arabic tea with dates, and finger sandwiches.

 

Next, visit the Mall of Emirates – a sprawling mall with a ski slope, a theme park, a disco bowling and hundreds of shops all in one. The most important attraction, however, is Ski Dubai. This winter wonderland is perched amidst the heat and humidity of Dubai, and you’ll be able to do everything from sipping on hot chocolate, to tobogganing there.

 

You can choose between Ski Dubai and going to Atlantis, a huge resort with an AquaVenture waterpark there. By sunset, we recommend taking a Marina Cruise where you’ll enjoy circling around the marina, and watching the attractions of Dubai while sipping on champagne and enjoying the breeze.


Evening

Walk around the beach-facing JBR at night, where you’ll find a wonderful beach promenade that bustles with life, restaurants and a great atmosphere. We recommend grabbing a drink at Black Tap after.


Day 4: Day trip to Abu Dhabi!

t feels like Abu Dhabi is one of those cities that is set on breaking every world-record ever. From the largest hand-loomed carpet in the world, to incredibly huge parks, and all types of cultural historic attractions – you’ll be overwhelmed with choices when you visit Abu Dhabi.



Morning – the journey: 

  • Traveling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is affordable, quick and hassle-free, and you can choose from a few different options.

  • ·      You can take the bus from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station, and it will cost around AED25, and it will take about  2 hours. If you flew in with Etihad, this bus service is free, just make sure you book ahead (24 hours in advance.)

  • ·      If you have a car, then we highly recommend going by car and it will take about 1 hour 25 minutes.

Start your day by having breakfast at Nahaam, a poolside brunch restaurant located by the Jumeirah Etihad Towers. You’ll get incredible views of Abu Dhabi, and the food there is simply impressive. After you’ve had breakfast, head over to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. If you have to visit one attraction in Abu Dhabi, make sure it’s this one. We recommend spending two hours at least there as this place is huge. Get ready to immerse yourself in extravagant architecture, Arabic craftsmanship, beautiful calligraphies and mind-blowing prayer halls. Make sure you wear long, loose fitting clothes.



Afternoon: 

Visit The Louvre Abu Dhabi, one of the most highly-anticipated museums worldwide. The architecture is simply unparalleled, a peninsula that has water snaking its way through the sides and the awe-inspiring collection will have you spending hours there. There are galleries separated into 12 different chapters of humankind, thus taking you on a journey through all civilizations, cultures and religions. Don’t forget to take pictures of the hundreds of pieces of artwork there!

 

Hit the beach by sunset, or go on a dhow cruise along the Corniche.

 

Evening: 

We definitely recommend having dinner at Cipriani, a restaurant that blends Italian and Japanese cuisine together and has beautiful views of the marina.

 

Later, enjoy a drink at Rays Bar where you can savor cocktails, good views and better music!


Day Five: 

Morning

Head over to Midriff City Center, a hub for all types of entertainment and relaxing spas. Have a quintessential French breakfast at Paul, and then head over to IFLY Dubai. If you’ve always wanted to skydive, but you’re too scared to actually do it, then iFly is a pretty decent alternative. You’ll get an adrenaline-pumping experience as you defy gravity in an indoors wind tunnel and it’s suitable for people of all ages!

 

Afternoon

Spend all your afternoon at Kite Beach Dubai, a beautiful beach that has every type of activity imaginable – from paddle boarding, to kayaking to beach tennis!


Evening

A table on The Agency’s terrace overlooks the grandeur of Burj Al Arab, and has incredible drinks, food, and a live DJ every night.

Day Six: Explore the desert.

Morning

Start your day extremely early to experience the closest you can get to a magical carpet ride over the terrains of Dubai. A hot air balloon journey is a must-have so you can experience the sand dunes of Dubai, with camels wandering around, gazelles run wild, and the city sprawls endlessly beneath you.


Afternoon + Evening

In the afternoon, we recommend ending your trip with a desert safari to encounter the rugged, raw part of Dubai. You’ll be going on a 4WD adventure through the dunes of Dubai, and then you’ll be getting in touch with the Bedouin side of Dubai. The sway of a belly dancer’s hips, the aroma of fresh Arabic tea, a traditional Arabic barbecue and of course, hookah, are bound to make your experience unforgettable.


Day 7: Ma’asalama Dubai!


We recommend getting the latest flight out of Dubai so you can experience just a little bit more of the city. If you still have time you can check out:

·      Alserkal Avenue – an art district with a number of contemporary art galleries that host rotating collections ranging from fashion, design and art.

·      Go shopping!  Midriff City Centre, Mall of Dubai, Mall of Emirates…It’ll be hard to run out of options!