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What to Do in 3 or 4 Days in Dubai

THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI IN 3 OR 4 DAYS

Are you headed to Dubai and wondering about the best things to do in Dubai in 3 or 4 days? Then this post is for you. Whether you stay 3 or 4 days in Dubai, this post will help you plan your trip.

While you surely could see the main tourist attractions in only two days, 3 days in Dubai is a good amount of time to see a bit more of the city. And four days in Dubai is actually even better.

I have four different day plans for you. You can skip around and change the dates, but I clustered the activities together to minimize the driving and time spent in the car. The tips are a mix of my own personal favorite places and places that any Dubai visitor has to see at least once.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU). MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

Dubai 3 or 4 days, Arzo Travels
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR 3 OR 4 DAYS IN DUBAI

Before discussing your 3-day and 4-day itinerary, here are also some travel tips for your Dubai trip.

How to Get to Dubai

Dubai has two airports. Most likely, you will fly into Dubai International Airport (DXB International)

  • From there, it takes about 10-15 minutes by taxi to get to the old town of Dubai and about 20 minutes to get to Burj Khalifa. Don’t be surprised to be stuck in traffic even at night – Dubai is always busy. 

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the second biggest airport in the United Arab Emirates.

  • If you fly with Etihad Airways, you will most likely fly into Abu Dhabi.
  • It takes about an hour’s drive to get to Dubai (about 50-70€ taxi fare). 

How to Get Around in 3 or 4 Days in Dubai

RENT A CAR

  • If you are in Dubai for five days, you could actually rent a car. But I do not recommend it.
  • You should know that driving there, from my perspective, is a bit crazy.
  • There is traffic almost all the time (the streets are busy even at night), the people drive fast, like to honk their horns, and are a bit impatient.
  • You should have nerves of steel if you decide to drive, particularly around Downtown Dubai.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • If you like to use public transportation, I recommend getting an NOL card for public transportation. There is a one-time fee for it, but you can then recharge it. Public transportation fees are cheaper this way than if you buy single tickets each time. A ticket costs a bit more than 1€ with the NOL card (about 1.60€ without).
  • However, public transportation is not perfect. You can avoid the crazy traffic by taking the metro, which is great, but a) the metro lacks metro stops, so each stop is rather far from the last, b) the buses are not always well-connected for us travelers, so it is not easy to get from one popular station to another, and c) the metros can be stuffed with people.
  • While the air conditioning always works perfectly in the metro and the metro station, it is not the best feeling to be with so many people in such a small space, especially at peak times. I am, admittedly, a little claustrophobic, so if you are not, it should be fine.
  • I mostly take the metro for long distances. Especially for downtown. There is a lot of traffic, and getting around by cab can mean being stuck in it forever, so a metro ride can help you save time. Then I jump into a taxi for the shorter rides if there is no direct bus connection.

SIGHTSEEING BUS

  • Hop-on and hop-off buses are a great way to get from one popular tourist attraction to another – at least for some places (the ones I tested). They will not stop at each tourist attraction but at most.
  • There are two main sightseeing companies. They offer similar services, and there are just some minor differences.
  • The pass also includes a few cool attractions, so it saves money in addition to getting you from Point A to Point B.

Accommodations For 3 or 4 Nights / Days in Dubai

Accommodations in Dubai are not cheap, but the standard is quite high. If you are wondering where to stay in Dubai for 3 or 4 days, I suggest staying close to Dubai Downtown or Marina. If you are a beach person, choose a hotel close to JBR – Walk. However, these areas are also some of the most expensive ones. 

If you are looking for my personal recommendations for all budgets and areas, click here.

  • Dubai Marina: best place to stay if you prefer to be in a  lively part of Dubai, with the Marina close by, restaurants and cafes are numerous, but the hotels do not have direct beach access. However, you are quite close to several attractions. My favorite hotel in Marina is this 5-star Hotel: Grosvenor House in Dubai
  • JBR Walk: a lovely area with many restaurants and shops, most hotels have beach access, it is also close to Dubai Marina and Madinat Jumeirah. Check out the4-star Resort: JA Ocean View Hotel Dubai.
  • A nice 3-star budget hotel is Ibis Al Barsha (not perfectly located, but it offers good value for money and is still quite close to Dubai Marina.

Money Tips

  • Currency: Dirham. However, € and $ are often accepted. I mostly used credit cards and had some change for smaller amounts and tips in Dirham.
  • Tip: If you dine, the tip is often included in the bill (10%), have a look at the receipt. If it is not included, I always tip about 10%  (I always make sure to tip taxi drivers and hotel housekeeping, too).
  • Dubai is expensive. Accommodation, for example, is costly. However, you can buy food in some malls (food courts) or small street shops and do affordable activities. Here is my full budget travel guide to Dubai

Best Time to Visit Dubai for 3 or 4 Days

  • I do not recommend visiting during the summer (May – September). It gets really hot and unpleasant in the summer months. If you enjoy the heat, if you really, really enjoy the heat, visit Dubai between May and September. If you enjoy some warm months without the heat, then visit between late November and February.
  • Check also for the fasting time (Ramadan) because life is different during Ramadan when many activities cannot be done (also, alcohol is less available).

More Travel Tips

WHAT TO DO IN 3 DAYS IN DUBAI ITINERARY

Let´s start with the 3-day Dubai itinerary.

Day 1: Downtown Dubai and La Mer

Many of the places I mention for this day are actually the main tourist attractions and must-see places.

La Mer – Around 10 am

La Mer, located in the Jumeirah area, is a popular place in Dubai. It is a beachfront with many retail stores, stylish restaurants and cafes, the coolest bathhouses, and friendly, fun street art.

Fun day at the beach
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It is a great way to get adjusted to Dubai. 

  • With only 3 days in Dubai, I suggest staying at La Mer for just 2-3 hours.
  • There are sooooo many restaurants that you will definitely find something to your tastes.
  • You can also see some amazing street art – so make sure, to bring your camera.
  • HOW TO GET TO LA MER: You can get to La Mer via RTA Buses 9 and 88. Taking a taxi/uber is another way to get here. If you arrive there by car, you have free underground parking. If you have a City Sightseeing hop-on and hop-off ticket, you can get off at Jumeirah Mosque and only have to walk two minutes to arrive at La Mer.
  • OPENING HOURS/PRICES: La Mer is open every day, and there is no entrance fee. The shops are normally open between 10 am to 10, 11 pm or even 12 am.
  • Click here to read more about this fun part of Dubai.

Burj Khalifa – Around 1 pm

It doesn’t matter where you are in Dubai, you will always see it: the highest building in the world: Burj Khalifa. The very uniquely shaped building is one of the main tourist magnets of the city. And while you might think it is enough to see it from a distance, I recommend getting very close to it. Actually, I suggest getting to the top of Burj Khalifa. 

Dubai in 2 days
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7 days in Dubai - best vintage points
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From the top (level 124 & 125, and level 148), you have the most unique panorama. On the one hand, you will see Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall underneath you. On the other hand, the view will remind you that Dubai is surrounded by desert – actually, a long time ago, Dubai was a desert itself.

While I truly recommend visiting the top of Burj Khalifa, I also suggest buying tickets in advance. I have been to the top several times and was happy that I had bought my tickets online beforehand. The lines to buy a ticket were crazy. But even with an online ticket, you have to queue for some time. But that will be nothing compared to how long you have to wait in line if you buy a ticket that day. Also, tickets may sell out during the busy times of the high season.

  • The trip should take between 2-4 hours.

Get your tickets here (I normally buy tickets via GYG because of their generous cancellation policy).

Dubai Mall – Around 4 PM

I am not that into shopping, but Dubai Mall is really something. You should add this mall to your 3-day Dubai itinerary. It is crazy, it is unreal, and it is busy. 

What attractions in Dubai Mall
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My favorite area is Fashion Avenue, the luxury department section of the mall. It is less crowded and very fancy. And the public restrooms are the most luxurious I have ever seen. I’m not talking about restrooms in luxury hotels, these are public toilets for anyone to use. If you prefer more casual toilets and shops, there are also more affordable shops and stores (and restaurants). The food court has the cheapest food options.

  • From the mall, you can get to Burj Khalifa’s entrance and other sights like Dubai Ice Rink or Dubai Aquarium.
  • Yes, the mall is fun but I would not spend more than 2-3 hours there.
  • Try to avoid Dubai Mall on a Friday. Especially in the afternoons, it gets unbelievably busy.
  • HOW TO GET TO DUBAI MALL: You can get to Dubai Mall by metro/bus. If you get off at “Dubai Mall Metro Station,” either take another bus that drops you off at the mall or walk about one more kilometer to get into Dubai Mall.  Sightseeing buses also stop in front of Dubai Mall.
  • OPENING HOURS DUBAI MALL / PRICES: Dubai Mall is open from 10 am to 1 am. Restaurants and the food court are open to 2 am. There is no entrance fee for the mall itself, but you have to pay for certain activities like ice skating, etc.

Dubai Fountain – Around 6 pm

The Dubai Fountain is located just next to the mall and in front of Burj Khalifa. It looks like a giant pool with water that I´d like to jump into – but laws are strict in Dubai, so it’s better to only look.

Water Fountain Show in front of Dubai Mall @shutterstock
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@shutterstock

There are free dancing water shows daily for you to enjoy. Be warned: There are always crowds.

If you can, try to get a good view from the Apple Store in Dubai Mall. This is a popular spot and, thus, many want to enjoy the view from there, but there is a limited number of people allowed on the balcony. Be prepared to wait in line.

The bridge to the souk is another popular spot to watch the dancing water show, but you can also stand next to the mall or see it from one of the numerous cafes and restaurants. You can also book an abra ride (water taxi) and enjoy the water show without all the crowds.

In the evenings, there are often LED shows on Burj Khalifa. THIS is spectacular. However, I haven’t found a reliable schedule for the light shows, but you will be amazed if you are lucky and get to witness one.

  • Each show just takes about 2-4 minutes. Shows take place every 30 minutes after 6 pm. Check out the times here.
  • That being said, my main advice is to NOT visit on a Friday. Friday is the Sunday of the Islamic world. But people get out and get crazy. Seriously, the mall is crowded, and so is everything else. For Fridays, I would suggest a day out.
  • HOW TO GET TO DUBAI FOUNTAIN: There is a metro station (Dubai Mall station), and many buses go there. You could reach the fountain even without entering Dubai Mall (e.g., coming from Dubai Opera), but if you are at Dubai Mall, you will see signs that lead you to the fountain as well.

Stroll Dubai Downtown – After 9 pm

Downtown Dubai is a busy district with a lot of (luxury) shops, (luxury) hotels, and weird little things I have never really understood, like the bananas and other statues. However, it is beautiful – especially when it gets dark and everything is illuminated!

Dubai evenings are long – so even after 9 pm, everything is open and busy!

Day 2 in Dubai – Souk and Desert Safari

This day is the perfect get a complete picture of Dubai as you visit the old part of the city. Dubai Deira is the ideal place to explore souks (markets) – it is a must-see in 3 days in Dubai.

Gold and Spice Souk – Around 10 am

Have you heard of the famous gold souks? You will find them here, and yes, it is true: There is gold…a lot of gold! Besides the gold, you can buy souvenirs, (traditional) clothes, rugs, and more in this part of Dubai for a much lower price than in the malls. 

Gold Souk in Dubai points of interest
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Which place to visit - Abu Dhabi or Dubai
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You should also take the opportunity to ride an abra – a typical water taxi that gets you from one side of the creek to the other (for just 0.25€). This is a traditional and local way of exploring the city. 

It is an interesting but often crowded museum in Deira that illustrates Dubai’s history in an engaging way and if you want to learn more about Dubai and its history, I recommend visiting Dubai Museum.

  • HOW TO GET TO THE GOLD/SPICE SOUK: Catch a metro and get to Burjuman and then change metro lines and get to Al Ras, and then 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.
  • OPENING HOURS / TICKETS: It is free to visit the souks and you could visit at any time. However, most shops are open every day from around 9:30-10 am to 9:30 pm. On Fridays, the shops open after 4 pm and are open until around 9:30 pm. Entrance fees are just about 1€, and it is probably the best museum in Dubai.

This is a fun but stressful first few hours of the day. So, I recommend heading back to your hotel to get ready for another Dubai highlight! A desert safari.

Desert Safari – Around 3 pm

A desert safari is an amazing way to discover the desert. This part is one of my favorites, and I am sure you will enjoy it, too, because it is one of the best activities for your 3-day Dubai itinerary. 

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If you book the evening safari tour, you will be picked up around 3 pm from your hotel before heading out to the desert. The tours vary slightly, but most include wild dune-bashing in the desert, then heading to a recreated, traditional camp.

Dining in the desert while watching the stars and a belly dancing show is one of the most unique and best experiences in Dubai. If someone told me they stayed in Dubai for three or four days and had not taken such a tour, I would assume they were crazy. If you are on a budget and only spend money on one activity, I would spend it here. 

This is probably the best way to spend time away from all the modern parts of Dubai.

Find the best desert safari tour for your trip.

Day 3 in Dubai – Madinat Jumeirah, Marina, and JBR Walk 

This day (whether it is your first, second, third, or fourth day) can be all about the new and modern parts of Dubai. This is the beautiful thing: there are so many different areas and neighborhoods that you will not get bored in 3 days in Dubai.

Here are three entertaining and pretty areas that are just waiting to be explored. If you only have time to see one for whatever reason, I suggest visiting Marina. However, it is even better if you can visit all three of them.

Morning in Madinat Jumeirah. Later that day at JBR Walk. And the evening in Dubai Marina.

Madinat Jumeirah – Around 10 am

You can start with Madinat Jumeirah. It is a popular and luxurious recreational area in the souks. You cannot compare it with the old town of Dubai and its souks – this one is way fancier and less authentic. However, I still love it. 

What to do in Dubai on a layover
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If you stroll the souk and then the canal, you will have a view of Burj al-Arab, the most famous luxury hotel in the world. You will then see the souk and the luxury hotel. However, if you want to get into Burj al-Arab, you have to be an overnight guest or have a written reservation for one of the restaurants. But that should not stop you from visiting the area – there are plenty of other attractions.

  • HOW TO GET TO MADINAT JUMEIRAH: You can take a bus from several places in Dubai Downtown. Sightseeing buses also stop here. There is no metro stop near Madinat Jumeirah.
  • OPENING HOURS: Shops are open from 10:00 am to 11 pm, and restaurants are open from 08:00 am to 02:00 am.

JBR Walk – Around 12 pm

In between Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai Marina is JBR The Walk. This is a fun place, especially for beach lovers and families. 

JBR Walk - The Beach Dubai--3
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The free, public beach is perfect for water activities – adults and kids alike will love it. Also, there are some activities, like the Flying Cup, and playgrounds. This is actually a great place for the daytime – it is busy, fun, and enjoyable. Close by you will also find a Ferris wheel to enjoy nice views from. You can bring your own picnic or enjoy lunch/dinner in one of the numerous restaurants or cafes. 

  • HOW TO GET TO JBR: Take the metro – JLT Metro Station or Dubai Marina Metro Station are the closest metro stations. From there, either walk or take the tram to get to JBR.
  • OPENING HOURS / PRICES: Shops normally open around 10 am and are open until 10 pm. Restaurants usually close later. 

So, personally, all three places are good to visit either during the day or night, so I can‘t make the final decision which one to visit when, but this might be a great solution.

Dubai Marina – Around 6 pm

As mentioned, if you don’t have time to explore all of these areas, don’t skip the Marina. This is a wonderful example of the modern part of Dubai. 

Dubai Marina at nigt from Pier 7
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The density of skyscrapers is insane. Walk along the promenade, and you might have neck pain after a while because you will have to look up all the time. If you enjoy fancy yacht trips, this is also the place to be. Though I have never been to Florida, the Marina reminds me of it. There are a ton of restaurants and bars. For a great view, I recommend having dinner/lunch in one of the restaurants on Pier 7.

  • HOW TO GET TO DUBAI MARINA: Take the metro – Dubai Marina Metro Station is the closest metro station. If you get there by taxi, just the driver to drop you off at Marina Mall
  • OPENING HOURS / PRICES: It is open 24/7, but shops normally open around 10 am and are open until 10 pm. Restaurants normally close later. 

What to Do in Dubai in 4 Days – 4-Day Itinerary

Here are more places to see in Dubai in 4 days.

Day 4 in Dubai: Abu Dhabi, Oman, or Theme Park

I suggest a day trip to one of the places below. Of course, you could also squeeze it into your 3-day itinerary, but if you have 4 days in Dubai, it will be more relaxed to do so.

TIP: If you leave on day 4, do the day trip on day 2 or 3. It can always happen that you will be stuck for some unforeseeable reasons. Especially if your plane leaves early, you want to be 100% to be on time at the airport.

Abu Dhabi – Start Around 7:30 – 8 am

For a 4-day Dubai itinerary, I recommend doing a day trip outside of Dubai.

I have a few ideas, and the first is to visit the beautiful capital of the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi

most beautiful place in Abu Dhabi
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The city is located about 100 km from Dubai and makes for a great day trip. You can get there by bus (though it is tricky and complicated to use this mode of transportation), taxi, rent your own car, or take a guided tour. One of the most beautiful places is the Grand Zayed Mosque. This mosque is synonymous with beauty, symmetry, and perfection. I have never seen a more beautiful building than this.

For non-Muslims, Fridays are not a good day to visit, and neither are Islamic bank holidays.

You have to dress very conservatively. Women should wear a scarf over their heads and fully cover their bodies, men with their legs and shoulders covered when visiting the mosque. Check out my post on the Grand Mosque for more info.

After a visit, you will have time to head to the Emirates Palace or the Corniche, the beautiful promenade in Abu Dhabi with beach access. For the city’s best views, head to the Emirates Towers and see Abu Dhabi from above.

This will be a fun day trip from Dubai, and you will have a great third or fourth day in the Emirates. Check out my more detailed guide on what to do in Abu Dhabi in one day.

Oman – Start Around 7 am

Oman is also a great day trip from Dubai. While I enjoyed my trip, I want to say, in all honesty, that getting from Dubai to Oman was really stressful. 

Arzo Travels in Oman
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You might end up sitting on a bus, and you need to be patient (crossing borders is not difficult but time-consuming). If you are patient, then a day trip to Musandam-Oman is a great way to spend a day.

You will get a good first glimpse of Oman (which might make you hungry for more) – this includes a fun boat tour, some water sports activities, and a local buffet on the boat. While it was stressful, I loved seeing Oman for a day. Check out my guide on a day trip from Dubai to Oman.

Theme Parks – Start Around 9 am

Dubai is home to many theme parks. Personally, I would opt for a day trip to Abu Dhabi or Oman, but of course, taste differs, especially if you visit with younger ones – or if you love theme parks and roller coasters yourself, the theme parks might be better.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING DUBAI FOR 3 OR 4 DAYS

Dubai is a good destination for solo travelers, couples, families, and a friend´s getaway. It offers a nice mix of modernity and tradition. You can make it as luxurious as you want but also travel on a budget to Dubai. Check out my Dubai budget post for more info!

As you can see, there are many different things to do and see. So, whether you stay 3 or 4 days in Dubai, hopefully, this post has helped plan your 3- or 4-day Dubai itinerary. I hope, you will have a wonderful trip!

Safe Travels, Arzo
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