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Travel Guides Mapped

21 epic things to do in Dubai that will make you book a flight ASAP

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Luke Dooley May 02, 2019 11:55 am 52

As one of the fastest growing cities in the world, Dubai is certainly one to add to your list. The city is a futuristic-inspired hub of luxury with coastal clubs, desert safaris, lush parks, and towering architecture that you just can’t find anywhere else.

With activities to suit all kinds of tastes and adventure, you’ll never find yourself bored in this vibrant metropolis. To help ensure that (and to help inspire you to book your flight ASAP), here are our favourite things to do in Dubai.

Enjoy the view from the world’s tallest building

Burj Khalifa, Dubai/Shutterstock

One of Dubai’s most popular attractions is the tallest building in the entire world – Burj Khalifa. It’s a seriously impressive structure so you’ll have to creek your neck from the ground to try and comprehend where the Burj ends and the sky begins. You have the option to go up to a number of viewing decks over 100 storeys high. We recommend going all the way to At.mosphere, a cocktail bar on the 122nd floor for a truly epic experience.

Shop in style at The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall/Shutterstock

Have you been to a mall that covers ground equal to about 50 soccer pitches? Well, the Dubai Mall does! It’s home to over 1,200 stores which are sure to keep any visitor occupied. While you’re there, take a trip to the mall’s aquarium where you’ll find a multitude of rare sea creatures. Return to the foot of the Burj at the main entrance to The Dubai Mall where you can take in an incredible fountain show every 30 minutes.

Walk through a massive floral garden

Dubai Miracle Garden/Shutterstock

It’s hard to believe a botanical garden can survive in the desert, but if it can be done anywhere it’s at Dubai Miracle Garden. Situated on the outskirts of the city, this dreamy place is home to more than 50 million blooming flowers. All forms of flora are beautifully manicured throughout the garden, creating a very Instagrammable scene. There’s even a grounded Boeing jet as part of the floral displays!

Take in the action at camel racing

Camel racing, Dubai/Shutterstock

Although camel racing probably sounds completely foreign to you, it’s the norm in Dubai. In fact, it attracts crowds of locals and tourists as there are several tracks close to the city. If you drive half an hour outside the downtown core you’ll reach Marmoom Camel Racetrack, and here you’ll meet camel owners from Dubai and beyond. If you want to catch a stomping race, the season runs from October to April. 

Visit one of the world’s most luxurious hotels 

Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai/Shutterstock

Dubai is home to what’s unofficially dubbed the world’s only ‘seven-star’ hotel, and this building screams luxury. Burj Al Arab was built to resemble the sail of a ship and the building can be seen from all over the city. It was made even more famous when pictures emerged of a tennis game between Roger Federer and Andre Agassi, which took place on the helipad. Check out the hotel and see if you think it deserves a new star rating!

Do brunch Dubai style

Yalumba Dubai/Facebook

Put simply, brunch is huge in Dubai. And if you’ve never been to the city, you’ve probably wondered if drinking alcohol is permitted. This question can be answered with one word – brunch. You can pay anywhere from $50 to $300 to eat and drink as much as you want for four hours during a brunch buffet. This deal is offered in spots all over the city like Yalumba, Toro Toro, Warehouse, Giardino, and so many others.

Take a water taxi to Old Dubai

Water taxi, Dubai Creek/Shutterstock

At Dubai Creek you can take in the historical centre of Dubai. Although it’s located at the other end of the city from the Marina, the Creek feels like a totally different world. The traditional pearl diving centre of the city grew from this area. Today, you can visit the gold and spice souks (markets), and get a true taste of the Middle East. Yes, this includes tons of delicious hummus options.

Embark on a desert safari

Desert safari/Shutterstock

You can arrange to be picked up anywhere in Dubai and then brought out to experience the real sand and camels of the Arabian desert. Driving over the sand dunes in a 4×4 is an exciting joyride worth trying while you’re in Dubai. Once the driving is done you can relax at a traditional desert village. Join a camel riding class or venture out on a quad bike if that’s more your thing!

Go indoor skiing or snowboarding

Ski Dubai/Shutterstock

Once you touch down in Dubai it won’t take long for you to realize how monumental the malls in this city are. But Mall of the Emirates offers something rare – Ski Dubai. This indoor ski resort will blow your mind when you see it. You can be outside in crazy desert heat and within moments you’ll be in full ski gear getting ready to tackle the slopes. It’s all about balance, right?

Explore Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina/Shutterstock

A simple walk around the Marina is an experience in itself and it’s a great way to take in the skyscrapers of the city’s most desirable location to live. With plenty of options for food, drinks, and shisa, you can choose how you want to spend your afternoon or evening. From the Marina, you can get a boat for 50 Dirham (less than $20 CAD) which brings you along the coastline of the city. During the trip you’ll see everything from the skyline to Old Dubai!

Fly high at Kite Beach

Kite Beach, Dubai/Shutterstock

Of course, this beach is named after the much-loved activity that takes place here. You can watch kite surfers in action off the coast, or dabble in some water sports with options for kayaking and paddle boarding on the water. You can also get some exercise in on the soft running track which goes the length of the entire beach. And if you’re not feeling that, kick back and chill out as you sunbathe.

Cycle along the Al Qudra path 

Al Qudra cycle path, Dubai/Shutterstock

For biking enthusiasts, the Al Qudra cycle track is the preferred destination of the weekend. It’s situated just outside the centre of Dubai so you can bring a bike with you or rent one when you get there. You’ll see wildlife such as oryx and gazelles roaming around so make sure to be careful on your bike! That said, an hour or two on the saddle along this desert path is a game-changing experience.

See wildlife at Dubai Safari Park

Dubai Safari Park/Shutterstock

Dubai Safari Park is an eco-friendly safari park with more than 3,000 animals. The park opened in 2017 and covers 119 hectares with themed villages such as the Arabian, Asian, African and Safari Village. You can see everything from spotted hyenas to cobras, flamingos, ducks, crocodiles, and rhinos, at the animal sanctuary.

Discover a secluded beach

Black Palace Beach, Dubai/Shutterstock

Black Palace Beach is one of the lesser known beaches in Dubai, with views of the Burj Al Arab to the right and the famous Dubai Palm to left. The vistas are stunning in this area and it’s relatively unknown, which makes it a perfect place to relax away from the bustle of Kite Beach and JBR. With white sand and crystal clear water, it’s a little piece of paradise.

Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, Shutterstock

From Dubai, you can head out on a half day tour of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi where you’ll get to see one of the world’s most incredible places of workship. The architecture, the culture, and everything in between will leave you awestruck at the largest mosque in the UAE. A tour takes roughly five hours and you can arrange to have a guide pick you up right from your hotel.

Hike up the ‘Secret Staircase’

Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Rent a car and head out to the Musandam Peninsula in Oman where you can enjoy the three-hour ‘Secret Staircase’ hike. The staircases were once built by goat herders and you can almost feel the history surrounding you as you walk up them. Don’t forget to bring lots of water, sunscreen, a hat, snacks, and your passport – you’ll need that to cross the border at Oman.

Make a splash at a water park

Let’s face it, you’re never too old to enjoy a good day at the waterpark. And since Dubai has an amazing climate year-round, it’s home to a number of awesome waterparks where you can cool down as the temperatures rise. Near the waterfront, you’ll find Aquaventure Waterpark (also home to a zip line), Wild Wadi Waterpark, and Splash ‘n’ Party. Oh, they even offer free admission on your birthday (as if you need an excuse!).

Be amazed at Jumeirah Beach Residence

Jumeirah Beach Residence/Shutterstock

Jumeirah Beach Residence is home to a mix of restaurants and bars right on the beachfront. It’s somewhere that gives you the perfect mix of Mediterranean vibes and Arabian luxury. Hang out on the beach or chill out at the pool in one of the many beachfront hotels. Complete the aqua adventure course just off the beach and watch skydivers land at the nearby Skydive Dubai before you decide if you’re brave enough to do it yourself!

Score a goal at Sports City

Natural grass and sports pitches aren’t regularly found in Dubai, but Sports City is stepping up to the plate. You can check out the local clubs playing everything from rugby to soccer, netball, and athletics. The Irish even take over Sports City every October for a festival of Gaelic football and hurling. Possible visit from Conor McGregor? You just never know.

Go on a boat party

@megayachtbrunch/Instagram

Locals and new transplants to Dubai like to have a good time (who doesn’t?), so aside from the luxe beach clubs and upscale restaurants, you have the option to sail out on a boat party for fun. The world’s largest yacht brunch, Mega Yacht Brunch, has everything from a massive dance floor to hot tubs, bars, and chefs cooking up a storm as you cruise. Boat parties offer a great new way to see the city skyline, plus a nice mix of partying and dining.

Watch the sunset from Al Qudra Lake

Al Qudra Lake sunset, Dubai/Shutterstock

No matter where you are in the world, seeing the sunset reminds you of how lucky you are to be there at that time, taking it all in. In Dubai, you can see the perfect desert sunset at Al Qudra Lake. Located in the middle of the city, it’s a cluster of man-made lakes in an area that’s home to antelopes, birds, and more. This is one sunset you’ll remember forever!

What are your favourite things to do in Dubai? Share them with us using the hashtag #dailyhivemapped.

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