Where to Go in Dubai? Here are the Best Places to Visit in Dubai
As a regular Dubai visitor, I am always surprised to find out about new and cool places in Dubai – it seems a new attraction pops up every day.
Seriously, I doubt any other city is growing as fast as Dubai. Particularly for tourists, there are new places to visit in Dubai on a regular basis.
So, this post will help you find out about the best places to visit in Dubai – regularly updated by me… a regular Dubai visitor.
Forget about the posts that were written months ago and haven’t been updated since then. More than likely, the new cool places and attractions aren’t on those lists yet.
So, here is what you need to know for your next trip to Dubai.
I have listed my favorite areas in Dubai and the best tourist attractions that you´ll find in the neighborhood.
Whether you are on a budget or a luxury traveler, here are tips for the best areas to visit for each budget.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which mean I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
Find my guide on best places to stay in Dubai by clicking here.
Find out about the 50 best things to do in Dubai
How to Get Around
Personally, I have always used a sightseeing bus, public transportation or taxis to get around. It does make sense to rent a car if you are traveling in a group (and sightseeing bus tickets or public transportation would get more expensive). But you should know that driving in Dubai can be challenging (especially in places like Dubai Downtown) but maybe it is just me who is a chicken.
It doesn’t really matter if you are into crazy, busy, glittering, extremely high skyscrapers or not – you have to visit Downtown. No question about it.
Why is Downtown Dubai one of the best places to go? Well, first of all, because it is home to the tallest building in the world… Burj Khalifa! The skyscraper, standing at 822 meters, is one of the most iconic (but surely not the only) building in Dubai. And while you will see it from many areas – it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that you will be able to see it from many different areas – you should get a closer look.
If you are not scared of heights – or even if you are – you could get a ticket to get on level 124 and 125 (or level 148) and enjoy the view from Burj Khalifa. This experience is one of the best things to do. However, even if you decide against it for whatever reason, you have to stand in front of the Dubai Fountain to see it up close.
Speaking of the Dubai Fountain. This is another reason why Downtown is the top place to see in Dubai. To find out about the times for the dancing water show (which is totally free to watch, by the way), click here.
It is also next to Dubai Mall, the most famous – and probably the biggest – mall in the world.
Whether you are a shopper or not, the mall is more than a compilation of different retail stores and restaurants. You´ll find popular Dubai attractions, like the Aquarium, KidZania, or an Ice Rink.
But even if you just stroll through the area, you´ll stumble upon some weirdish things, like figures that kids especially will enjoy, or people who like modern art… I, who am neither of those things, was just left… surprised. Nevertheless, I smiled when I stumbled upon those figures here and there, and they might be some kind of secret Dubai tourist attraction…
If you are into opera, ballet, or theater, you will love the Opera in Dubai, which opened in 2016 and is a few minutes walk from Dubai Fountain.
Another reason why it has become one of the main tourist destinations in Dubai is because of the great hotels and restaurants that are found here. Armani Hotel is just one of them.
So, I admit that it took some time for Downtown to grow on me, but eventually it did, and now I love coming back every time I am in Dubai and always discovering something new.
If you plan your itinerary and aren’t sure how much time to spend here, I recommend planning in one full day to see as much as possible without being too stressed out.
So, want to know about more places to go in Dubai? Here is another must-see place.
The Burj al-Arab has been, and actually still is, one of the main attractions in Dubai. The most expensive hotel in the world (prices during off-peak seasons like summer or Ramadan are still above 1000€ minimum) opened in 1999 and visitors love photographing the hotel that is shaped like a sail.
Though you cannot easily enter the hotel (if you aren’t an overnight guest, you need a written reservation for a restaurant, etc.), the interest hasn’t waned at all and is one of the main places to see in Dubai.
Popular spots to photograph the hotel are from the beaches nearby, like the Kite Beach/Jumeirah Beach in the Jumeirah area.
The beaches right from the hotel (like Kite Beach) are free to visit. Though it is open to the public, you don’t have to worry about the beach being crowded or dirty. It is safe, clean, and quite empty by European standards, so the view of Burj al-Arab is not the only reason it is a must-see in Dubai.
However, in my opinion, one of Dubai´s most beautiful places, in all of the United Arab Emirates in fact, is Madinat Jumeirah. The area to the right of Burj al-Arab is a very lovely souk area with one of the best hotels in Dubai, as well as a canal lined with restaurants and little shops.
You can get a ticket and do an abra ride (a little traditional water taxi) , do some shopping at the markets (souks), and enjoy great views of the above mentioned Burj al-Arab.
If you aren’t an overnight guest in one of the Jumeirah hotels, you can still buy a day ticket and enjoy access to the private beach for a day.
P.S. This area is probably one of the most romantic areas in Dubai, so love birds will enjoy a nice evening stroll and dinner here.
Wild Wadi is also located in Jumeirah, right next to Burj al-Arab. It is one of the two main water parks – perfect for kids and adults alike.
Looking for more fun places in Dubai? Then find out about a top attraction in Dubai in 2018.
Officially, La Mer is also located in the Jumeirah area. However, I felt free to add it here as an extra place to visit.
La Mer is great, so I totally fell in love when I visited it for the first time. And this love grew when I visited again… and again.
It is different from the rest of the city – more relaxed, fun, and easy-going (we are talking about Dubai-standards), and I am not surprised to see it becoming one of Dubai´s top attractions.
It is also a place where you could spend all day – and I mean from the early morning to the late evening.
While there is still some construction work going on (after all, you will probably never find a place in the city where no construction work is ongoing), lots of the attractions have already opened and the “vintage” look is so unusual that this is quite an unusual Dubai sight.
What I liked the most was the love for details – keep an eye out for the street art and public showers, which were totally cute.
Well, even though La Mer has been one of my favorites, there are more things to see in Dubai – and the following place is quite a classic. Find out about the find out why.
Dubai is not only about modernity. It actually has an old town. Yes, you read right. It has an old town, which actually is pretty charming and totally different from the rest of Dubai.
Dubai Creek actually divides the areas Dubai Deira from Dubai Bur, so some of the places I mention below are actually in Bur, not Deira. However, it is easy to get from one area to the other by hopping on an abra (water taxi) or crossing some bridges.
One of the most popular tourist places in Dubai is the Gold and Spice Souks. You´ll find many little stores along the Creek, on both sides. It is so much fun to hop onto a water taxi and get to the other side (and it only costs about 0.25€), which in itself is a very iconic thing to do in the UAE.
But before it gets confusing, let´s start with the best places to visit in Deira.
The Gold and Spice Souks are crazy – seriously! If you think Downtown is crazy, then you will experience a different kind of crazy here. Gold as far as the eye can see – okay, this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but if you want to see what a gigantic necklace made of high-carat gold looks like, then you can find out here. So, you will find out quickly why it is one of the best tourist places to visit in Dubai.
But, of course, the souk has more than gold. It is a great place to buy spices, souvenirs, very affordable local clothes, rugs, and more.
Western people might feel overwhelmed as you are constantly approached by retailers, but knowing this will happen can help you politely say you are not interested and keep on moving.
Women should probably dress a bit more conservatively, especially in this area, if you want to avoid open stares from the locals.
Dubai Museum is actually on the other side of the Creek – and so it isn’t technically in Deira, but I’m still adding it here.
The museum is a great place to get a good illustrated overview of the local history. So, it is perfect for kids and adults alike.
This actually means that it can be quite busy (yes, it is a must-see), but I still recommend a visit (p.s. tickets are available for less than 1€; if you have a hop-on and hop-off ticket, it is often involved).
Al Bastakiya (also known as the Al Fahadi Historical District) is another lovely area that I recommend visiting. This historical district is easily reached from Dubai Museum (on foot), and while it is a famous place in Dubai, it is not as overrun as many other places. So, if you prefer tight, winding alleys while enjoying a more authentic experience, then this is one of the best tourist attractions in Dubai for you.
Okay, if you are still wondering about “What to see in Dubai?” then check out some more ideas below.
Find out about the best tours in Dubai.
Zabeel Park / Dubai Frame
Zabeel Park is a really beautiful, lush, green, and neat park that you can visit for a small entry fee of about 1€.
One reason I have added it to the list of the top places to visit in Dubai is easy – it is a great place for families or for anyone who enjoys some tranquility and peace.
But the other reason is that one of the newest attractions, Dubai Frame, is located right next to the park. The golden frame has become a popular sight and looks pretty in the daytime and at night (illuminated in different colors).
But it is not only nice to look at – you can also visit the Frame and enjoy the view from above. The tickets are about 12€ (just buy it at the ticket center) and you get access to the top.
Fifty meters above the ground, you can walk on the glass floor and see Dubai from a different perspective. It has quickly become one of the main places to see in Dubai, so another bucket list item for your trip to the UAE.
Oh, this is another place that should be on your Dubai bucket list: Marina.
Tall buildings, good restaurants, a canal, and nice pathways – these are just a few of the features for this area. In the evening, it is a lovely place for nice strolls. Given the fact that the skyscrapers are illuminated and it gets quite busy, it is a place that you really have to visit.
While not everyone likes the extremely modern look, it somehow represents the modern Dubai like only a few places do. Kids will also love it, as you can rent little buggies so that they can be a bit more active.
You will also find many yachts here, and if you are into boat tours (btw, to my thinking, how can you NOT be into boats?), you can book one (speedboat, dinner cruises, and more) and see Marina while lounging.
Of course, shopping addicts will love it here, too, given that Marina Mall has enough shops to make any serious shopper happy.
But most of all, the amount of luxury hotels is impressive. While this means that it is not the most budget-friendly area, you will find several top-notch hotels that include great pool views, etc. It is a great place to stay in Dubai – the metro station is close by and so is the tram, and you can walk to other top tourist attractions in Dubai quite easily.
It is especially popular at night – find out why.
JBR Walk – The Beach
One of the areas you can reach on foot easily from Marina is JBR Walk (The Beach). It is actually one of the liveliest and busiest areas in Dubai, day or night.
While it is actually in Jumeirah, I created a special space for this important place in Dubai, as it is like a little town all on its own.
The beach area (public and free) is very popular amongst visitors, and while it often seems that some areas are deserted in the daytime (at least if it isn’t winter), this is quite a popular spot all year round.
JBR Walk is not only home to several luxury hotels (you will find some mid-range hotels as well, but generally speaking, it is a more expensive area) and restaurants – a lot of them.
So, you can easily spend all day here: swim, do some activities like water sports or see JBR from above by getting on the Flying Cup, then have lunch, see some street art, let the kids play on the playground, and top your day off with a dinner in one of the restaurants and bars (there is something for every taste).
One of the most prestigious projects in Dubai has probably been the creation of Jumeirah Palm. This man-made island, in the shape of a palm, is located close to Burj al-Arab (when I speak about proximity, it normally means several kilometers) on one side and JBR Walk (and Marina) on the other.
The Palm is not only famous for its unique shape, but also because you will find some of the most famous hotels on the island.
If you ask people about “Dubai´s best places to see,” people will probably mention Atlantis.
One of the most iconic hotels is probably the 5-star Atlantis – The Palm, which is a popular tourist spot because it is also home to attractions like the Lost Chambers and Dubai Aquaventure (and you can do a helicopter tour from here).
Though you will find quite a number of luxury hotels, there is still a lot of construction work going on.
While the pathways are perfect for nice bike rides or walks, I admit it kind of disturbs me to see all those half-finished construction projects on the way to any hotel on the Palm.
However, this is one of the most exclusive areas in all of Dubai. All of the hotels are top-notch, and it is also a luxurious residential area. If you are short on time and don’t stay in one of the hotels, you can plan in a few hours to have a look around – or you can skip it.
If you have a few days in Dubai, then why not get a day pass? Many hotels offer day pass tickets for their beaches and pools – and admittedly, the beaches here are quite nice (even with all the construction you might see from the beach area).
Love! If you visit the desert, you will find another very traditional area of Dubai… the amazing desert.
Sure, it doesn’t have the highest sand dunes ever, and while the desert might not be as iconic as the Sahara, I truly recommend spending some time here. To keep it short, the desert is one of the top things to visit in Dubai because it is pretty great.
If you are in the city and have not planned a trip to the desert… well, you are missing out. The desert is much more than just some sand dunes. This is a great place for adventurous activities, like 4×4 wheel dune bashing, sand boarding, buggy rides, or hot air ballooning.
There is a lot to see in Dubai´s desert – even if it seems to be just about sand dunes.
The best place to have a BBQ? In the desert! It is not only romantic, but fun (for people of all ages) and delicious (as an insatiable vegetarian, I feel confident enough to say so). You can book a tour in advance as well. An evening in the desert (alone or with friends/family) would be a great way to end your Dubai trip.
This area probably doesn’t belong with Dubai´s most famous places – at least according to its name – but it is actually one of the best attractions in Dubai (or let’s say, one of the best things to do in Dubai).
If you have done some research on activities in Dubai (here are my tips for the best things to do in Dubai), you will most likely have seen images of Miracle Garden.
And Miracle Garden is as pretty as it looks in the pictures. While it can be crowded (it is only open in winter), it is still worth a visit. As the biggest flower park in the world, it is fun for the whole family.
Fifty million flowers – of all kinds – are displayed in a fun and cool way. If you don’t want to bring your own snacks and drinks, you can buy them from one of the numerous little stalls.
There is also the Butterfly Garden, which I personally haven’t visited (mainly, but not only, because I am scared of butterflies). But butterfly addicts could add this place to their Dubai itinerary.
A few new attractions and parks are planned for 2019.
Close by is Global Village, another Dubai attraction that is open in the winter months and a main draw for families.
It is a place for people of all ages. You can ride roller coasters, shop, and dine. And, of course, admire the main attraction: the Global Village. It is a tiny version of the world, with more than 27 pavilions representing 75 different countries.
Tickets are only about 5€ each; food and rides cost extra.
I recommend visiting Miracle Garden first before heading over to spend the rest of the day at Global Village.
Also, in Dubailand, you will find another Dubai attraction – IG World of Adventure.
This giant indoor park is open all year long, and is especially fun for kids.
Okay, these were a few of the great places to visit in Dubai. Most of them are for visitors of all ages, so it is fun regardless of whether you visit as a solo traveler, a couple, with friends, or with your family.
While exploring all of these areas could take weeks, you can get a good overview of them in a week or so (find my ideal 7-day Dubai itinerary). If you have less time, I hope this guide helps you pick the perfect places to see.
Find my guide on best places to stay in Dubai by clicking here.
Find out about the best things to do in Dubai