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15 Best Things To Do In Dubai In 2023

“What’s there to do in Dubai? It’s such a boring, artificial city to visit!” I remember thinking to myself when someone talked about visiting Dubai, and for the longest time, I really believed it. So much so that I was able to talk myself out of visiting the city for more than 8 years… until recently.

For most of 2020 and 2021, I was stuck in my home country, Thailand, unable to travel anywhere due to COVID-19 for a year and a half. This almost drove me insane. However, when I got fully vaccinated, it was finally time for me to travel again.

As I was researching a destination I could visit during COVID-19, I found that Dubai was one of the few places that was still accepting travelers. I was so eager to travel somewhere abroad that, despite my belief, unfounded as it may be, I decided to give Dubai a go, and boy, how wrong I was!

All this time, I thought Dubai was a soulless city with nothing of interest for me. But after spending more than a month here, I can say that Dubai is so much more than it led me to believe.

From the unrivaled cityscape and skyscrapers as far as the eyes can see, to all the fun activities and unique places to visit, I have decided to compile a list of 15 best things to do in Dubai. With all the information you need, you can have the time of your life in this city where anything is possible.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at all the cool things to do in Dubai, all laid out on a map below.

“What’s there to do in Dubai? It’s such a boring, artificial city to visit!” I remember thinking to myself when someone talked about visiting Dubai, and for the longest time, I really believed it. So much so that I was able to talk myself out of visiting the city for more than 8 years… until recently.

For most of 2020 and 2021, I was stuck in my home country, Thailand, unable to travel anywhere due to COVID-19 for a year and a half. This almost drove me insane. However, when I got fully vaccinated, it was finally time for me to travel again.

As I was researching a destination I could visit during COVID-19, I found that Dubai was one of the few places that was still accepting travelers. I was so eager to travel somewhere abroad that, despite my belief, unfounded as it may be, I decided to give Dubai a go, and boy, how wrong I was!

All this time, I thought Dubai was a soulless city with nothing of interest to me. But after spending more than a month here, I can say that Dubai is so much more than it led me to believe.

From the unrivaled cityscape and skyscrapers as far as the eyes can see, to all the fun activities and unique places to visit, I have decided to compile a list of 15 best things to do in Dubai. With all the information you need, you can have the time of your life in this city where anything is possible.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at all the cool things to do in Dubai, all laid out on a map below.

Dubai Things To Do Itinerary Map

❤️ Must Visit:Burj Khalifa
🥘 Place to Eat:Shimmers
🏛️ Best Museum:Al Shindagha Museum
☀️ Great Day Trip:Desert Safari

15 Best Things To Do In Dubai

1. Go On A One Dirham Abra Ride Across Dubai Creek

If you think Dubai is just for rich travelers, this will completely change your mind. Did you know that you can take a scenic boat ride on a traditional wooden abra across Dubai Creek for only 1 AED?

That’s right! You can cruise through the old quarters in a small open-air boat, where you will be able to see the lives of regular people living in Dubai who aren’t just elites driving Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bentleys as they often advertise themselves.

If you are interested in seeing how regular people live in Dubai, the boat ride is definitely one of the first activities I recommend you do. To get on one of these boats, you will have to get to one of the many Abra Stations along the Creek, and the people there will direct you to one.

The route I took started from Abra Station near Baniyas Square Metro Station, and from there, the boat took me to Bur Dubai Souk, which is near Al Fahidi Historical District, the next item on the list.

The Abra ride costs 1 AED per person per trip, and they operate between 5 AM and 12 AM every day. You can check out which route to take from the maps available at the Abra Station. I highly recommend getting on one in the evening for a stunning sunset view over the Old Quarter.

2. Explore The Al Fahidi And Al Seef Historical District

Al Fahidi Historical District is a historical neighborhood area that was first established in 1890 by affluent Persian merchants who were drawn by trade opportunities and incentives provided by the government.

As time passed, the neighborhood was constantly being demolished and converted into an office complex, part by part, until a British architect who lived in the area started a campaign to preserve the remaining traditional houses, narrow pathways, and public square. Eventually, this turned it into the tourist attraction we see today.

Within Al Fahidi Historical District, you will find all kinds of museums like the Coffee Museum and the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cultural Centre, all housed in these beautiful traditional houses made out of stone, gypsum, teak, and wood.

You will also see several traditional wind towers that were used to cool down the houses back in the day, all scattered across the crisscrossing pathways, waiting for you to explore.

If you are looking for a place to rest from the sun or are looking for souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants to indulge yourself in, Al Seef Historical District, located east of Al Fahidi just across the road, is also another great place to be.

Located right by the bank of Dubai Creek, Al Seef offers a great range of cafes and restaurants for you to relax by the river. It is especially beautiful in the evening when the sun is about to set and the city lights start to come on.

Al Fahidi opens between 7 AM and 8 PM, while Al Seef is open 24 hours. However, the museums and shops in the historical district have their own opening times, so be sure to check each one out and plan your visit accordingly. There is no entrance fee for either of these places.

3. Stroll Around All The Souks In Old Town District

While you are around the historical quarters, located a bit west of Al Fahidi, you will find Bur Dubai Souq, a nice small souq where you can get the feel of traditional Arab markets.

Keep in mind that while you are here, you might encounter many touters trying to sell you stuff, but don’t sweat it too much. It is to be expected when a tourist walks into an Arab market. All you have to do is say no and simply continue marveling at the sights, sounds, and smells of an Arab market.

Within the souk, you will find all kinds of shops catered towards tourists, such as souvenir shops, spice shops, and carpet shops. Bur Dubai Souk’s opening hours are between 10 AM and 10 PM every day.

TIPS: If you are looking for a souvenir, do not buy it here. You will find cheaper options at bargain shops like Day to Day or Green House.

4. Learn More About The History Of Dubai At Al Shindagha Museum

Only a few minutes’ walk north of Bur Dubai Souk, you will find a museum district that will shatter the misconception that people often have about Dubai – that it is a city with no culture and soul.

Within this newly built Museum District, you will find a collection of museums that are dedicated to highlighting all the historical events that happened in Dubai, from its time when it was a small pearl trading village to an oil-rich futuristic city that defied all odds and turned the impossible into the possible.

One of the first museums I highly recommend you visit is Al Shindagha Museum, which will allow you to get a glimpse of what it was like back when they were nothing but pearl traders here, highlighting all the significant turning points, all the way from a small village to them sending space probes to Mars.

There are also many other museums in the area that you can visit, such as Crossroad of Civilizations Museum, a large cultural center displaying ancient artifacts; Perfume House, a collection of local plants used to create perfume; House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, a traditional home turned museum of a former ruler of Dubai; and many more.

Al Shindagha Museum’s opening hours are from 10 AM to 8 PM, and the entrance fee is 15 AED per person. With the ticket, you will be able to access four museums in one go: Al Shindagha Museum, Perfume House, Crossroad of Civilizations Museum, and Emerging City Museum.

5. Go Up The Dubai Frame For Sunset

The Dubai Frame is a newly built architectural landmark built in the shape of a massive picture frame, all wrapped in this beautiful gold and blue pattern that can be seen from miles away across the city.

It is considered to be the largest frame in the world, and it was constructed as a viewpoint positioned in a way that allows you to see all the stunning skyscrapers of modern Dubai on one side and the older parts of the city on the other.

The vertical parts of the frame are used as elevator shafts, taking visitors up and down the observational deck that runs the entire length of the top horizontal part. Inside the observational deck, you will also find glass-bottomed floors that you can walk on. The faded floors will clear up as you step on them, looking down almost 150 meters onto the building’s lower span.

Surrounding the entrance of the Dubai Frame, you will also find Zabeel Park, a great spot for you to take a stunning photo of yourself with the Dubai Frame, although you will have to pay around 5 AED to enter.

I highly recommend you visit the Frame in the evening before sunset and be up there before it gets dark, so you will be able to see the views of the city during the day and night in one go.

The Dubai Frame opens from 9 AM to 9 PM every day, and the entrance fee is 50 AED per person. They often offer discounted prices for the Dubai Frame, so if you are looking to save some money, be sure to buy the Dubai Frame’s ticket online in advance.

6. Visit Dubai’s Museum Of The Future

Despite still being under construction, the Museum of the Future is still a stunning landmark that you should definitely visit when you are in Dubai. The Museum of the Future is an exhibition space dedicated to innovation and futuristic ideologies located right at the heart of Dubai’s bustling financial district.

The exhibition is housed in this unique, complex, and beautifully designed torus-shaped structure, comprising many glass windows that form an Arabic poem written by Dubai’s ruler about the emirate’s future.

Inside, there are 7 floors, each dedicated to different exhibitions that will be on display when it is finally open. It is probably one of the most complex structures to be built in the country, and maybe in the world, with many parts having to be 3D-printed.

At night, the poem pattern covering the exterior facade is lit up in its full glory for anyone to see. The best place to get a stunning photo of the Museum of the Future is from the platform level inside Emirates Tower.

Simply follow the directions to Leens Cafe on the second floor and you should be able to exit the building and see the museum in its full glory. Since the Emirates Tower is a hotel, it is open 24 hours, but I highly recommend you get up to the platform at sunset.7. Spend A Day At The Dubai Mall

“The Dubai Mall? For real? I didn’t travel all the way here just to go to the mall!” I know that is what you are probably thinking to yourself, but hear me out. Dubai Mall is considered to be the largest mall in the world, with more than 1200 stores covering an area equivalent to 200 football pitches. That, in itself, should be enough of a reason to give Dubai Mall a go, but there’s more.

The Dubai Mall is so massive that it has its own aquarium, an Olympic-sized ice rink, a massive indoor cinema complex, many stunningly designed fountains, an open-air section called the Village, and a 155-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton at the souk area.

It can take many hours just to see some of the points of interest I mentioned above and even more to explore every corner of this massive shopping mall. It literally takes more than 20 minutes just to walk from the Dubai Mall metro station to the mall itself! Possibly the longest walkway I have ever experienced.

I thought I wouldn’t enjoy Dubai Mall as much since I would rather be outside exploring nature, but my goodness, they really hit it out of the park with this tourist attraction, with enough wow factors to keep me occupied for hours. Plus, it is also located right by the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa, as well as one of the largest fountain shows in the world, which we will cover next.

The Dubai Mall opens between 10 AM and 1 AM every day, and you can access it via the Dubai Mall Metro Station. Just make sure you time your departure carefully, as it takes more than 20 minutes to get to the metro station. You might be there after the metro closing time, which is between 11 PM and 1 AM, depending on the day.

8. Watch The Fountain Show At The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Fountain is one of the largest fountain shows in the world, and it is something you shouldn’t miss, especially if you are already spending your time exploring the massive Dubai Mall.

Surrounded by the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Souk Al Bahar, this large fountain is a remarkable choreographed fountain system located on the 12-hectare (30 acres) manmade Burj Khalifa Lake. It uses more than 6,500 lights, 50 colored projectors, and a 275 m long tube that shoots water as high as a 45-story building (152 m).

Combine these architectural wonders with classical Western and Arab music, and you have one of the most impressive and epic fountain shows you will ever experience in your life. It blew my mind away so much that I decided to stay longer to watch another one.

I didn’t have to wait for long, though, as the Dubai Fountain light and music shows are performed every 30 minutes from 6 PM to 10 PM on weekdays, and from 6 PM to 11 PM on weekends (weekends in Dubai are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), or twice during the day at 1:00 PM and 1:30 PM.

Best of all, it is free to enter, which is pretty amazing for the experience you get. Personally, I found that the best time to see the performance is right at 6 PM during the blue hours when the purple-ish sky creates a beautiful contrast for the fountains. If you are in Dubai, do not miss the fountain show at Dubai Mall!

9. Check Out The Modern Souk Al Bahar

Right next to the Dubai Fountain, you will also find another souk called Souk Al Bahar, which takes the old traditional souk concept and modernizes it in a way that you don’t see it anywhere else but in Dubai.

Souk Al Bahar is located in an air-conditioned building, where you will be able to find all kinds of cafes and shops for you to indulge yourself in. Additionally, there are several outdoor restaurants where you can indulge in delicious food while watching the Dubai Fountain Show, without having to cram with the crowds below.

The Souk Al Bahar is also connected to the Palace Downtown, where you will be able to capture one of the best views of Burj Khalifa, its stunning man-made lake, and the beautiful buildings of Souk Al Bahar, all in one frame. So, be sure to walk by there.

All in all, it is a great place to stop by before you end your evening at the Dubai Mall, with a nice glass of wine at your own leisure. The Souk Al Bahar opens from 7 AM to 1 AM, and it is free to enter the premises.

10. Relax At Kite Beach Or At La Mer Beach

With so many activities being indoors, I think it is time to change things up a little and go for a nice beach day at either Kite Beach or La Mer Beach located not too far from Dubai Downtown.

What’s the difference between the two beaches? Well, it depends on what you are looking for for your beach day. Kite Beach is a vast strip of white sand beach where you will be able to enjoy all kinds of activities like kitesurfing and kayaking or simply just go sunbathing.

Other than that, it has a few small shops and cafes for you to relax by but no big restaurants for you to have dinner by the beach. If you are looking for something like that, La Mer Beach is more suited to you.

La Mer beach is smaller, but it has a ton of restaurants and cafes for you to indulge yourself in. Despite its size, you can still have a great time relaxing by the beach here, although it may feel a little more crowded than at Kite Beach.

All in all, if you are looking to spend an entire day at the beach, Kite Beach is perfect for you. If you just want to stroll around and have dinner by the beach, then La Mer Beach is going to be more up your alley. Both of them are nice, and they serve a different purpose in my opinion, so make sure you pick the right one.

11. Visit Souk Madinat Jumeirah For A Stunning View Of Burj Al Arab

One of the most iconic landmarks in Dubai that everyone wants to see is Burj Al Arab, a sail-shaped hotel built on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach. The best place to do that, I found, is at Souk Madinat Jumeirah, another modern souk located near Burj Al Arab where you can get several stunning views of the iconic building in its full glory.

The souk itself is built inside a massive traditional-style building with crisscrossing hallways, pathways, and waterways, and the souk comprises many shops, cafes, and restaurants that you can enjoy.

You will be able to see Burj Al Arab from many pathways around the outdoor section of Souk Madinat Jumeirah, but the best viewpoint, in my opinion, is at Shimmers Restaurant, a beachside restaurant located in the area of Jumeirah Mina A’Salam Hotel. This is where you will have to get to in order to access their private beach.

Usually, you will have to be a guest of Shimmers (highly recommended if you are looking for a nice beach-side restaurant with a view of Burj Al Arab) or the hotel to access the private beach. However, as long as you act like a tourist, you should also be able to walk in freely without any problems.

At the beach, you will be able to have a clear view of Burj Al Arab and its artificial island, as well as a beautiful sunset over Atlantis from afar. Visit the beach at sunset, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

12. Spend The Entire Day At The Palm Jumeirah

The Palm Jumeirah is another iconic landmark of Dubai that you should definitely not miss. It is an archipelago of artificial islands constructed using land reclamation and built in the shape of a palm tree, extending into the Persian Gulf.

The Palm comprises many luxury residential houses, shopping malls, waterparks, and the most iconic of all, the massive Disney-esque hotel that is the Atlantis, all connected by a monorail and a road that lets visitors move around the archipelago easily.

There are so many things to do on the Palm that you will have to dedicate an entire day if you want to see them all. For the best viewpoints from above, I highly recommend you get to the top of The View of the Palm, an observation deck where you will be able to see the Palm in its full glory from above.

The entrance fee to the View of the Palm is 69 UAE for non-prime hours and 143 AED for prime hours. You can get a discount by booking the ticket online in advance. Personally, I went during non-prime time at 10 AM and the view was stunning nonetheless.

After the viewpoint, you can also continue on and visit the Atlantis Hotel, stroll along the Broadwalk, or visit the Lost Chambers Aquarium, which has over 65,000 marine creatures and apparently is more interesting than the one offered at Dubai Mall.

You can spend the afternoon soaking wet at the Atlantis massive waterpark and feel the frenzy of excitement while riding a collection of record-breaking rides in its Atlantis Aquaventure park. You can also buy a one-day pass where you will be able to get access to everything in one day without having to pay separately. You can get an exclusive discounted price for the Atlantis one-day pass here.

13. Watch The Sunset At The Pointe At The Palm

While you are at the Palm, I also recommend you visit the Pointe, a waterfront complex located along a 1.5 km seaside promenade where you will be able to enjoy a nice dinner at one of the many upscale restaurants while watching the sunset.

At around 6 PM, you will also be able to witness another fountain show, this time at the Palm Fountain, which is considered to be the largest fountain in the world. I prefer the epicness of the Dubai Fountain show, but since it is free and you are already at the Pointe, you might as well enjoy it.

The Palm Fountain shows occur every 30 minutes between sunset and midnight every day, and it is free for everyone to visit. If you are seeking a lovely place to spend the evening at the Palm, the Pointe is the best choice.

14. Get The Iconic Sunset Photo At Dubai Creek Harbour

For those of you who are looking for a perfect place to capture the stunning beauty of Dubai’s futuristic cityscape, one of the best viewpoints in the city is at Dubai Creek Harbour, an upscale residential area located far enough on the other side of Dubai Creek for us to be able to see the city in its entirety.

Along the riverside promenade, you will also find these beautifully designed resting stops scattered along the walking path, and one of them is aligned perfectly with Burj Khalifa, allowing you to capture some really stunning portraits here, especially during sunset.

You just have to wade out some of the narcissistic Instagrammers who think they own the place and spend hours taking photos without sharing with anyone. Trust me, I had to tell off one Indian lady just because I gave the spot to her and she didn’t give it to anyone else after.

To get to Dubai Creek Harbour, unfortunately, you will have to rely on Careem or Uber to take you there, and it can be quite expensive at around 40 AED per trip coming from the metro terminus station (Centrepoint). For the best light, I highly recommend you visit Dubai Creek Harbour around 5 PM, just in time for the beautiful sunset light.

15. Enjoy The Best View Of Burj Khalifa At Level 42nd Terrace Of Shangri-La Hotel

You are probably wondering why I have not recommended going up Burj Khalifa. Personally, I always think that going up to the top of a landmark as iconic as Burj Khalifa or the Eiffel Tower is such a waste of money because when you are up there, you won’t be able to take a photo of the city with its most iconic landmarks since you are on top of it.

It took me almost a month to track down and find the very best viewpoints of Dubai where I could see Burj Khalifa. After searching rigorously, I finally found it!

The best viewpoint in all of Dubai is on a private open-air terrace on the 42nd floor of the Shangri-la Hotel, located in the center of Dubai’s Downtown. The 42nd terrace of the Shangri-la hotel is situated directly above a complex highway that aligns perfectly with Burj Khalifa, and it is high enough to be above all the towers, allowing you to have a clear, unobstructed view of Burj Khalifa and the city.

But what if you are not a guest of the Shangri-la hotel? Can you still go up? Yes! It took me ages to find this information, but if you are a couple and you are not guests of the hotel, you can access this private terrace on the 42nd floor by paying 250 AED (the price for 2), and you can get up there anytime for as long as you want, provided that there is no private event going on.

With the 250 AED entrance fee, you will be able to redeem the exact fee at any of the restaurants inside the Shangri-la hotel, which I think is a pretty good deal.

To make the most out of it, I decided to get up early in the morning at 5 AM to see the city view from above at night and stay until sunrise, which allowed me to capture both night and day photos of the city.

Once we got down in the morning, we were able to use the entrance ticket to gain access to the delicious breakfast buffet from the hotel for free, which I think was awesome.

If you are looking for the best viewpoints in Dubai and do not mind spending 250 AED to get access to it (with complimentary food), the 42nd-level terrace at Shangri-la Hotel is as good as it gets.

0 where over 190 countries from all over the globe have come together to showcase their technologies and architectures across a sprawling 438-hectare area (1083 acres) near Dubai.

It is an event of a lifetime, full of events, amazing architecture, and performances that you are going to want to see. If you fly via Emirates Airlines, you will also get a one-day ticket to Dubai Expo 2020 for free, which shows just how big of a deal the event is to Dubai and its visitors.

If you are not flying with Emirates, you can also get a Dubai Expo 2020 ticket from here. There is quite a lot to see at Dubai Expo 2020, and if you want to see all the highlights, you are going to have to plan your day out very carefully or spend more than a day there.

Best rental Car Services in Dubai

Fuel Policy
Vehicle to be returned with the same fuel level as it was given to the renter at a time of a car delivery. Failure to obey this rule leads to a compensation fee of up to 800aed. All fees to be settled before or upon car return.
Fuel Policy
Vehicle to be returned with the same fuel level as it was given to the renter at a time of a car delivery. Failure to obey this rule leads to a compensation fee of up to 800aed. All fees to be settled before or upon car return.
Deposit Policy
you will sign an agreement under which you undertake to pay all charges for the period of the car rental all applicable charges like fines, salik, petrol fee, extra km, vehicle damage & scratches, smoking in the vehicle TO BE SETTLED UPON CAR RETURN if a client has some not covered charges they must be paid in the next 10 day
Deposit Policy
you will sign an agreement under which you undertake to pay all charges for the period of the car rental all applicable charges like fines, salik, petrol fee, extra km, vehicle damage & scratches, smoking in the vehicle TO BE SETTLED UPON CAR RETURN if a client has some not covered charges they must be paid in the next 10 day
Rental Policy
Vehicles rented on a Weekly contract that are returned during the first week of the rental will be charged based on the Daily rate. Similarly, vehicles rented on a monthly basis that are returned during the first month of the rental will be charged based on the Weekly rate. For an immediate early contract termination without any advance notice, a one-day rental charge will apply.
Rental Policy
Vehicles rented on a Weekly contract that are returned during the first week of the rental will be charged based on the Daily rate. Similarly, vehicles rented on a monthly basis that are returned during the first month of the rental will be charged based on the Weekly rate. For an immediate early contract termination without any advance notice, a one-day rental charge will apply.