Whether you plan to spend one day in Dubai as a stopover or as a day trip from Abu Dhabi – this post will help you plan your Dubai trip for a day.

I often have a stopover in Dubai when I visit countries in Asia, etc. and normally stay for a couple of days. But I have also visited Dubai for just a day and know how to make the most of a short Dubai trip. When people ask me about what to do in Dubai in 1 day, I can name tons of places.

However, I narrowed it down to the must-see attractions in Dubai, so that will ease your headache of planning. 

So, this post is all about your one day trip to Dubai – find out about the best way to explore this city in the Middle East, and some useful travel tips that will help you plan and enjoy your trip more.


Yes, Dubai is worth visiting for a day. One day in Dubai is enough to see some of the main sights. Of course, two or three days in Dubai would be better but you can see quite a lot in a day because some attractions are close by. Yes, it will be a busy day, but I want to make sure you get to see different places and don’t miss out on too much.



Let´s start with some quick travel tips to make your one day trip to Dubai as smooth as possible.

Where to Stay

Accommodation in Dubai is pricey. If you stay in Dubai for one night only, I suggest staying in Dubai Downtown, so you are close to the main attractions mentioned here – though it comes with a price tag.

➡️ Armani Hotel: It is no surprise that this 5-star hotel in Downtown Dubai, just inside Burj Khalifa (it occupies 11 floors of the tallest skyscraper in the world) and Dubai Mall, is synonymous with luxury and pure elegance. Check out the rates for Armani Hotel.

➡️ Carlton Downtown: This 4-star property is also located close to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall – The Financial Centre Metro Station is within walking distance and ideal for those who like to use public transportation. The pool area offers a nice view of Burj Khalifa, and from the 357 guest rooms, you can choose between deluxe rooms up to penthouse suites. Check out rates for Carlton Downtown.

➡️ Rove Downtown Dubai: This 3-star hotel is located a few kilometers from Burj Khalifa (not far from the international airport). While the hotel is very simple and offers basic amenities, you might be lucky enough to get a room with a view – a view of Burj Khalifa! Find the best for Rove Downtown.


Okay, with only one day in Dubai, there is not much time to relax. So let’s start straight away!

Old Dubai – Around 9:30 AM

Good morning, early birds! If you’re looking for a way to make the most out of your day in Dubai, my recommendation is to start in the vibrant and lively Old Dubai. 

Head to the Gold and Spice Souks for an exciting and cultural experience. While some shops may not open until 10 a.m., take advantage of the peaceful morning atmosphere.

I also love to visit when it is not so crowded yet, so I often come here in the morning before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. 

Which place to visit - Abu Dhabi or Dubai

I love stepping into a world of exotic fragrances and flavors at Dubai’s Spice Souk! This bustling traditional market is a feast for the senses, with colorful spices piled high in every direction. Honestly, this place is a haven for photographers, with so much colors and interesting items you can shop.

Where to buy cheap things in Dubai

I also make sure to stop by the renowned Gold Souk – a traditional market that has stood the test of time. Though I have never bought any gold in Dubai, I consider this a must-see, whether you’re an avid gold collector or just a window shopper,

Shopping here feels more authentic and rewarding than in fancy malls and if I buy souvenirs or small items, I do it here. If you plan to buy something, be prepared to haggle with the shop owners. but do not give up quickly. 

While most shop owners are foreigners (Afghan, Indian, and Pakistanis), it still has an authentic vibe to it.

Just a quick warning – visiting the souks can feel intense. Shop owners approach you a lot, and it is not really a relaxing time. Everyone wants to sell me stuff. I know not everyone loves such intense places, and female expats told me they avoid the place altogether.

Also, it is not what we normally expect from Dubai, because we mostly see modern and luxury areas and not the souks. 

Near the souks, is Dubai Creek – a natural saltwater creek. Dubai Creek is a great place to visit – especially in the mornings. I love energy as people start their day, and it’s a great time to scope out some souvenir and spice shops before the crowds hit.

  • If you are a female traveler, especially traveling solo, you might want to dress slightly more moderately, as stares can be intense. 

Bra Ride in Dubai things to do in Dubai in 2 days
To get from the Gold Souk to the Spice Souk, jump on one of the abras. The water taxis cost only about 0.25€ and are a fun way to cross the creek. Even if I do not plan to get somewhere, I just hop on the abra for the fun it is (and also, because it is so super cheap for most visitors).


🚇 By metro: Get to Al Ras Metro station, and from there, you just have to walk for a few minutes.

🚕 You can also take a taxi/Uber or use the hop-on and hop-off sightseeing buses, which drop you off at the souks.


ℹ️ It is free to visit the souks and you could visit at any time.

ℹ️ However, most shops are open from around 9:30 am or 10 am to 9:30 pm, and on Fridays from 4 pm to 9.30 pm.

La Mer – Around 11 AM

Then, it is time to get to La Mer. This area is quite close to Old Dubai. This beachfront area is the perfect place to rest and relax, indulge in a variety of water activities, and enjoy the views of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

La Mer Beach Dubai - best places to visit in Dubai

Though I am not the biggest beach person, I love soaking up the sun and enjoying the picturesque beaches dotted with cozy cafes and gourmet restaurants. 

The beaches here at the Persian Gulf are pretty and offer a haven to unwind and relax. And if that wasn’t enough, they even have free showers.

Restaurants at La Mer Dubai

You might not find it on many Dubai itineraries as it is quite new but I think it is one of the best places to visit in Dubai. After visiting the souks, this is also a great chance to rest a bit – at least I do – before exploring crazy Dubai Downtown.


If you are at the Gold/Spice Souk, you have to get to the other side of Dubai Creek by an abra or metro. Then, at Al Ghubaiba Bus Station, you can catch a bus that drops you off at La Mer. 

If you get here by car, you will find a parking garage with free parking. 


ℹ️ La Mer is open every day and there is no entrance fee.

ℹ️ The shops are normally open between 10 am to 10 – 11 pm or midnight.

Click here to read more about this part of Dubai.

Madinat Jumeirah – Around 2 PM

This stop – Madinat Jumeirah – is optional as it depends on how fast/slow you travel.

If you do not want to spend some more time at La Mer, add another great place to your 1-day Dubai itinerary: Madinat Jumeirah is a good short stop. It is a recreation of ancient Arabia, but also comprises five-star hotels, ornate souks, and restaurants.

What to do in Dubai on a layover
Madinat Jumeirah is pretty and picturesque – it has its own souk and many restaurants and cafes with a view of Burj al Arab.

You could also do an abra ride (small wooden water taxi) here. The rides here are way more expensive than in Dubai Deira, the Gold & Spice Souk area, but you can ride them for free if you stay in a Jumeirah hotel. If you have seen Instagrammers on an abra with Burj al Arab in the background, those pictures were taken here. 

I love this area – it is so pretty, and neat, and the views of Burj al-Arab are amazing. I also love the restaurants here, though they are much more expensive than in other parts of  Dubai. Also, I found the clothes and souvenirs here are much more expensive (but also more high-quality) than in the Gold and Spice Souks.

Again, if you do not want your 1-day itinerary for Dubai to be too busy, skip Madinat Jumeirah and enjoy some more time at La Mer instead. Madinat Jumeirah is just an extra for the very fast traveler.


ℹ️ From La Mer, walk to Century Plaza 1 station and take a bus to Madinat Jumeirah. There is a little bit of walking included (around 10 minutes).

ℹ️ Alternatively, you can take a taxi.


ℹ️ It is free to visit the Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

ℹ️ Shops are open from 10:00 am to 11 pm, and restaurants are open from 08:00 am to 02:00 am.

Burj Khalifa – Around 4 PM

Even if you are in Dubai for only one day, make sure to add Burj Khalifa to your Dubai itinerary. After all, it is the tallest building in the world.

Burj Khalifa stands proud next to Dubai Mall at 828 meters! But the real treat lies in the observation decks, from where you have an unparalleled perspective that will leave you in awe.

Before you go to the “top of Burj Khalifa” to enjoy incredible views, take a few pictures of the iconic building in the daytime. 

What to do in Dubai in 1 day
You can save time by booking your tickets in advance – with one day in Dubai, you don’t want to waste too much time in lines. 

Watching the sunset from the observation deck of Burj Khalifa is slightly more expensive. And it is not guaranteed that there will be a nice sunset to watch (Dubai can be quite foggy).  However, try to arrange your Burj Khalifa visit in the late afternoon and watch Dubai from above. 

If you need to know anything about me, it is my obsession with great views. This is why I love Switzerland and getting on mountain peaks, and this is why I love Burj Khalifa.

7 days in Dubai - best vintage points
It gets busy, and it is not really a relaxed atmosphere, but I still love going up and have done so four times so far. Check out my Burj Khalifa guide.

Don´t underestimate the time it takes to find Burj Khalifa’s entrance. It is located in Dubai Mall and it can take a while to find the entrance inside this giant mall. Also, you can book other packages and combine them with a dinner at Burj Club (I loved it).

Ticket prices vary depending on the level of access (levels 124 and 125 only are cheaper than access to level 148) and also the time of your visit.


➡️ Levels 124 & 125

➡️ Levels 124 & 125 and 148

➡️ Levels 124 & 125, including a dinner at Burj Club

If you do not buy tickets in advance, you might still be lucky and buy some at the ticket center.


ℹ️ You have to go to Dubai Mall. There you will see signs that lead you to “At the top of Burj Khalifa” which is on the ground floor. From there, you get up to the top.

ℹ️ The ticket center/entrance is located on the Lower Ground Level of Dubai Mall.


ℹ️ “At the Top of Burj Khalifa” opens around 10 a.m., and the last admission is at 9 or 10 p.m. (depending on the day).

Dubai Mall – Around 6 PM

Then, it is time to take the lift down and explore Dubai Mall – which is just gigantic – and busy! 

What attractions in Dubai Mall

If you are into shopping, you could spend days here at the largest mall in the world. Shopping in Dubai is more expensive than in Germany or the US – whether it is luxury items or clothes. The time when Dubai was known as a shopping paradise is for sure over. So unless you are looking for something specific, I would not necessarily recommend shopping a lot.

I love to stroll the mall because it houses several attractions like Dubai Aquarium. Inside Dubai Mall, you will also find a real dinosaur skeleton on display – popular especially if you visit Dubai with kids.

TIP: Don’t buy a ticket for the aquarium. You get to see some parts of it just by being in the mall and you´ll see the underwater animals. The aquarium itself is not worth the money – in my humble opinion.

Then it is probably time for dinner – and you can choose from many restaurants in the area.

ℹ️ Inside Dubai Mall, you will find many restaurants. At the food hall, there are some very affordable places with food from all over the world. 

ℹ️ Then there are also other – quite high-class – restaurants inside Dubai Mall. I suggest, however, having dinner at Burj Club (and buying your combined ticket with an entrance ticket to Burj Khalifa) or choosing a restaurant outside with a view of Dubai Fountain.

P.S.: There is actually a dress code for Dubai Mall. Many people ignore it but you are supposed to cover your knees and shoulders (as a woman or man).


ℹ️ If you visit Burj Khalifa first, you are already inside Dubai Mall.

ℹ️ But how to get to Dubai Mall? You can get there by metro/bus, and it is also a popular drop-off point for sightseeing buses.

ℹ️ If you get off at “Dubai Mall Metro Station,” you can either take another bus that drops you off at the mall or have to walk about one more kilometer from Dubai Mall Metro Station to get into Dubai Mall.


ℹ️ Dubai Mall is open from 10 am to 1 am. Restaurants and the food court are even open until 2 a.m.

ℹ️ There is no entrance fee for the mall itself.

Dubai Fountain / Burj Khalifa LED show – Around 8 PM

Dubai Downtown is a beautiful place to end your day in Dubai – this is where you have all the bling-bling you can imagine. After 6 pm, the famous dancing water show goes on just in front of Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. I can tell you, it gets crazy there. I mean, really crazy just because it is so crowded.

Water Fountain Show in front of Dubai Mall @shutterstock

Sometimes, the LED show takes place – which is honestly even more stunning than the water show. However, I have never really figured out when the LED show takes place. Check out the show time on the day of your arrival to find out when to see it.

Whenever the fountain show or Burj Khalifa LED show occurs, this place will be one of Dubai’s busiest. To get a good view, secure yourself a good spot before the show starts.

You can also book an abra ride and enjoy the water show without all the crowds. 

For a dinner with a view, visit one of the numerous restaurants outdoors that are close by. There are some nice restaurants with a view of the fountain, like the Mediterraneo of Armani Hotel, but make sure you reserve a table beforehand.


ℹ️ Shows take place from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM every 30 minutes.

ℹ️ It just lasts 3-4 minutes so be there on time.

ℹ️ The Dubai water fountain show is free. However, you can also book an abra ride and see the fountain show from a different perspective (and without the crowds). ➡️ Check out prices for the ride here.


ℹ️ You could reach the fountain even without entering Dubai Mall (e.g., coming from Dubai Opera). If you are at Dubai Mall, you will see signs that lead you to the fountain as well.


Alternatively: Dubai Desert Safari – Around 3 PM

Alternatively, you can do a desert safari in the afternoon/evening. I love desert safaris in Dubai, so I do recommend them. However, if you have only 1 day in Dubai I am unsure if it is the best thing to do. Why? 

Well, a desert safari takes some time (around 5-10 hours), and you will have to schedule all your other activities around it. You have to decide for yourself whether you want to skip some other activities instead.

Exploring the desert in Dubai

There are different desert safaris – most include dune bashing, stargazing, and a belly-dance show and some also include a nice BBQ (for me as a vegetarian/vegan, there were plenty of options available).

I enjoy the time in the desert – yes, it might be touristy but it is fun. Especially the dinners in the desert and stargazing were my highlights. Though I have done a couple of desert safaris and been back to my hotel on time, keep in mind that delays can always happen.

If you have to catch a plane that evening/night, only do a desert safari if you know you will definitely be back on time.

Find the best desert safari tour for your trip.

➡️ Find one of the most affordable desert safaris here

➡️ Do you prefer the morning desert safari? Then find out more here



BURJ KHALIFA – LEVEL 124 & 145 & 148  + DINNER



Ideally, you have more than one day in Dubai. But even with such a short amount of time, one can explore Dubai with good planning and an idea of what to see. Surely, there is much more to do, but these are my favorite places in Dubai.

With one day in Dubai, you can get an idea of what the city is about. 

Whether you follow this Dubai itinerary rigorously or not – the city is certainly like no other, and though surely not perfect, it is a lot of fun.

  • There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Dubai – check out my guide on what NOT to do in Dubai so you will stay safe!

Enjoy your 1 day in Dubai!

Pin It on Pinterest