PLACES TO GO IN DUBAI AT NIGHT (FOR NON-PARTY PEOPLE)
Here you will find out about the best places to visit in Dubai at night.
Dubai might be lovely during the day, especially at hotspots like Dubai Fountain and Miracle Garden, where tons of people can be found discovering their beauty. Still, it gets even more exciting and awesome in the evening. Some areas seem to be in a deep sleep and only awaken at night. Dubai at night is surely more fun than Dubai during the day.
After the sun sets in the winter months, and even more so in summer (April-October) when it is too hot to spend the day outside, people get out of their houses/hotels/malls in the evening time – ready to spend a fun night out.
While some beautiful areas are extremely sleepy during the day, they fill with life at night, and things get exciting.
Find out about the best places to visit in Dubai at night- no clubbing, just places that are fun for people of all ages.
Disclaimer: Though I visited all these places at night (and totally loved them), I kind of suck at taking night shots most of the time, so while the pictures often do no justice, you can trust my words.
I have written quite some Dubai posts, which you can check out here.
One of the best places to visit in Dubai at night is Downtown.
Downtown Dubai, home to many world-famous attractions like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and the Dubai Fountain, is busy during the day but gets crazy in the evening/night.
WHAT TO DO AT DUBAI MALL IN THE EVENING:
There are a couple of attractions in and around Dubai Mall you can visit.
The Dubai Fountain Water Show runs every 30 minutes between 6 pm-11 pm – but it comes with the crowds. The number of tourists in front of it can be insane. It is free to watch but each show just lasts a few minutes, so be there on time to not miss it.
Check out the showtimes here to ensure the times are still correct and you don’t miss out on the show.
Burj Khalifa is even more beautiful in the evening when illuminated or when the LED show takes place in the evening. That indeed was spectacular every time I watched it.
I could not find a schedule for the LED shows.
Dubai Mall is an attraction in itself. It is open until midnight and it is like a little but very busy town. In the evening, more than during the day, it is stuffed with people dining, shopping, and strolling the biggest mall in the world.
Make sure to walk around the mall and stroll along the streets, as downtown wears its prettiest dress at night (even the trees are illuminated).
You can head to one of the many rooftop bars to enjoy breathtaking views of the downtown area.
City Walk At Night
Another place to visit in Dubai in the evening is City Walk. Lovely but sleepy during the day, it is a fun and popular place to see “after dark.”
Whether you visit with children or without (there are some extra activities for kids in the evening), this place is great for enjoying a nice dinner or a quick stroll (the area is not really that big).
The shops are open until 10 pm (on Fridays and Saturdays until Midnight), so it is also a good way to shop your way around Dubai.
As in many popular places, it is a lot about lights – and City Walk is no different and walking here at night is a fun activity.
La Mer at Night
Another must-see in Dubai at night is La Mer – one of Dubai’s most popular places for locals and tourists alike. La Mer is located in the Jumeirah area with its own beach and many retail stores, restaurants, and stylish cafes.
While it is also busy during the day, unlike some other hotspots, it is even more beautiful at night. I could spend all day at La Mer without getting bored.
There are so many restaurants and cafes that you’ll be sure to find something that suits your cravings.
You´ll have great views of Burj Khalifa from there, which is even prettier at night than it is during the day – and watching the sunset from there is a lovely and romantic way to start the night.
Dubai Marina was established in 2003 – in Dubai, this is practically old! The artificial marina boasts several skyscrapers and restaurants and is another top place to see in Dubai at night.
Stroll along the three-kilometer-long stretch of the Persian Gulf shoreline, and do not forget to look up – the high buildings in this area are one of a kind! You won’t take too many strolls in the world that will astound you with so many impressive buildings – that are illuminated in the evening!
Some bars have loud music playing, but in general, it is also very child-friendly.
The sunset is pretty from here, the walks are easy, and the area is pedestrian-friendly. Enjoy great views from one of the restaurants or go on a dhow cruise in the evening (there are also dhow dinner cruises available).
Madinat Jumeirah at Night
This extremely picturesque place is probably best known for its unique view of the iconic Burj al-Arab hotel – Madinat Jumeirah!
With its many walkways, restaurants, and little shops, it is great to visit in the daytime, but it is an even better area to visit in the evening.
Many restaurants, some are part of the luxurious hotels of the Jumeirah group – offer great food (pricey though) with nice views.
While it is one of the most romantic places to visit in Dubai at night, it is also gorgeous for anyone who enjoys an evening stroll or dinner in a fine dining restaurant!
Dubai Desert at Night
One of the things to do at night is to spend an evening in the desert of Dubai (or even at night).
After going on a desert safari (that includes a ride on a 4×4 and normally some wildlife spotting), have a BBQ in the desert (you can even have great veggie options), enjoy a belly dancing show, stay in a “traditional” Arabian camp, and enjoy the sunset and later stargaze.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful memories you will have from your Dubai trip and a great place to spend the evening.
JBR Walk and the Beach are trendy during the day – and after sunset.
While most people enjoy going to the beach during the day, you can have an amazing time in the evening, too. Whether you chill at the beach or explore one of the numerous cafes and restaurants, and bars, this place is perfect for families, couples, and anyone who likes popular hotspots with different activities, street art, etc.
The Frame at Night
One of the newer attractions in Dubai is the Frame. After sunset, you will see it illuminated in different colors, even from far.
However, if you head there yourself, you will have the chance to get some stunning views of Burj Khalifa and other places in Dubai. Since the skyline of the city looks just amazing at night, this place is great to visit after spending a day at Zabeel Park.
The frame is open until 9 pm – tickets are 50 Dirham (about 13 €) and can be bought just at the ticket counter. Ideally, you can there before sunset and can enjoy the views while it is still light, watch the sunset here and then enjoy the skyline of Dubai Downtown from here.
Al Seef at Night
It seems that each month a new area pops up. One of the newest ones is Al Seef.
While it is lovely but extremely quiet during the day, it is a popular place amongst locals in the evening.
Located in Deira, many restaurants have opened that are overlooking the Creek, and it is a calmer place to have a drink and end your day here.
While you will find many modern buildings that host restaurants on one side, you will also find other restaurants built in traditional Arabian houses; but don’t let the look fool you. These were built just recently, but they still have a charm that modern buildings do not have.
Take your time while walking the 1.8 kilometers and seeing another, more unique, and lesser-known part of Dubai in the evening.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING THE BEST PLACES AT NIGHT IN DUBAI
WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI – FUN ACTIVITIES FOR ALL BUDGETS AND AGES
Whether you visit as a tourist for a short time, stay longer, or live in Dubai – here is a list of the best 50 things to do in Dubai.
After endless visits, I have concluded that Dubai does not get boring. There is so much to do and see, making planning challenging and overwhelming. It seems that there are new attractions popping up regularly.
P.S. Some activities are not offered throughout the year. Especially in the summer, some places are closed, so please double-check the dates.
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.
Booking Tours When I book tours, I normally use GetYourGuide. Many of the links I added will lead you to GetYourGuide as it is my personal favorite because of its generous cancellation policy. Normally, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour and get a full refund – especially in times like these – with all the uncertainty, it is a lifesaver.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI
Are you ready? Here is my ultimate list of 50 cool and most fun things to do in Dubai – for young adults, kids, and everyone else.
GO ON A DUBAI DESERT SAFARI
Going on a desert safari is one of the best things to do in Dubai! There are many different desert safari tours offered in Dubai, and I tried several of them.
However, my favorite is the one that includes 4×4 wheel drive and a BBQ and a belly dance show. I had enough vegetarian options, but meat-eaters will also find something. Some argue, that it is quite touristy. Yes, it is but it is still a great experience.
Desert Safaris normally take between 5-9 hours
You are – usually – picked up at your hotel and will be dropped off there, too.
Prices vary and depend on the activities and food offered. Find the best rates for your desert safari:
A seaplane flight sounds pretty amazing, right? A seaplane flight in Dubai sounds even better, as seeing Dubai from above is such fun and one of the more unique things to do. It is a bit fancy and surely not one of the cheap activities you can book, but since it is a lot about Dubai’s luxury, it is a unique activity.
It is unfortunately not a cheap activity but one of the most unique things to do in Dubai.
You can book different tours. Check them out here to find out about prices.
There are different take-off locations – when booking check where your flight will start.
The flight takes around 30-35 minutes, but plan a couple of hours for the whole activity.
EXPLORE LA MER
Relax at La Mar which is one of the newer hotspots in Dubai. And if you ask me, that is not surprising. Whether you want to spend a day at the beach, stroll the beachfront, chill at one of the very cool restaurants and cafes, or just check out the coolest street art – La Mer is a beautiful place and great to visit as a family, with friends, as a couple, or solo.
There is no metro going, but some buses and if you stay in a big hotel the shuttle bus might get you here. However, if not, a taxi would be the c choice to get here (taxi drivers will know where it is).
There is no entrance fee
Most restaurants and shops are open from 10 am until 11 pm.
You can also do water sports and rent equipment at the beach area
A speedboat tour in Dubai is great to enjoy the breeze – especially on a hot day – and to see Dubai from a different perspective. While the boat rides fast, it stops at several tourist attractions like Atlantis Hotel or Burj Al-Arab -, so you have time for snapping pictures.
Do you enjoy the thrill? Then sit at the front of the boat
Most tours start in Dubai Marina
Most of the speed boat tours last between 60-90 minutes
Explore Dubai Marina and see all the cafes, food trucks, restaurants – and skyscrapers. This is one of the best places for nice strolls.
Yes, I am a city girl, and this area is definitely nicer and easier to walk in than many other areas in Dubai that are not very pedestrian-friendly. The amount of skyscrapers is insane. So, whether you come here during the day or in the evening, it is always worth a trip.
If you are with kids, you can rent a little cat car, or you just walk along the beautiful promenade. If you stay a minimum of 2 days in Dubai, it is a place you should visit.
Dubai Marina “is open” 24/7 – it gets especially busy in the evening and its the best time to visit
You can reach Dubai Marina also via metro and then get use the tram for longer distances (but most of the area is best explored on foot)
HAVE A DRINK AT PIER 7
Dubai Marina is beautiful – especially in the evening! So don´t miss Pier 7 at night and dine in one of the seven restaurants with beautiful views at night. With all the illuminated buildings (including the shopping mall), the view from there is just superb! I have to admit that the Scene Dubai (4th floor) staff was not the best, but the views are great.
For great views AND nice staff, head to the 6th floor ASIA ASIA
During the high season, I recommend booking a table on the terrace in advance
ENJOY A MARINA CRUISE TOUR
Boat tours are one of my favorite ways to get around. Walking Marina is fun, but for a unique angle of Dubai´s great Marina, go on a Marina Cruise tour.
If you love food and boat cruises (two of my personal favorite things), you can even book dinner on a boat.
When in Dubai, visit the highest building in the world, Burj Khalifa which is probably also the most famous attraction in the city. Go to the top of Burj Khalifa and enjoy amazing views from up there. Plan in some time to see the water dance show from above and ideally, plan to see the sunset from Burj Khalifa as well.
I had to stand in line for ages, so probably a VIP ticket is the better choice for the people who are less patient.
On my second visit, I got a ticket that included a lunch/dinner at the Burj Club as well, and the price was definitely worth that experience.
On my third trip, I visited with my two little nephews – the older (4 years) loved the views. But Burj Khalifa does not allow strollers for the younger ones
Watch the water fountain show at Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa and literally see the water dance. The show itself is quite short (about 2-4 minutes), and I have seen nicer shows (e.g. in Kuala Lumpur), but sitting at a cafe and watching it is still lovely.
This place gets crazy – especially in the evening. Avoid coming here on weekends.
For a great – free – view, just visit the Apple Store inside Dubai Mall and get on the balcony so you can see it from above. The “seats” are limited, though, but there are also nice views if you stand just in front of it. However, it might be totally crowded as all the tourists get to the water show on time.
Since there are many restaurants close by, you can get more exclusive views. I had a nice view from Burj Club, a restaurant that is part of Burj Khalifa.
If you want to get very close to the water fountain show, you can do an abra ride. You can buy tickets just at the abra station at the water fountain or booked them in advance.
REST AT ZABEEL PARK
For those who do not believe that Dubai has some greenery, Zabeel Park will prove him/her wrong:
Kids will love it as there are many playgrounds, and the older ones also enjoy the mobile phone chargers in the shape of palms (bring your cable, and you can recharge your phone while relaxing in the park).
Located between the Gold and Spice Souks and Burj Khalifa – not too far away from the Crown Prince of Dubai’s palace and from there you can walk to Dubai Frame (more on that later).
For a small entrance fee (about $1), you can visit Zabeel Park and relax in the lush and green park.
GET A TAN AT KITE BEACH
Not all beaches are free and public (most actually belong to luxury hotels), but you can chill for free at Kite Beach and enjoy great views of Burj Al-Arab. Even on sunny days, it is not crowded by European standards. Personally, I like the beach area at JBR or La Mer a bit better. But if you prefer beaches with a good view of Burj al-Arab, then this is your beach.
The water is pretty, the view amazing and best of all: It is a free and public beach area
Want to splurge? Getting inside Burj al-Arab isn’t easy if you don’t stay overnight. You need a written booking reservation for one of their restaurants. So why not have an afternoon tea at Burj Al-Arab (it is still on my own list) at the only “7* hotel in the world”. It is not a bargain but probably an amazing experience.
If you do not stay overnight at Burj al Arab, you will need written confirmation for the restaurant reservation
Click here to book your dining experience at Burj al Arab
Alternatively, you can book spa treatments to get access to the hotel
BOOK A HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE
One of my personal highlights was flying over Dubai in a hot-air balloon. I did my first, and so far only, hot-air balloon ride in Dubai. Dubai surely cannot be compared to Cappadocia in Turkey but it was still worth it.
You are normally being picked up at the hotel
It is worth waking up early to have such a unique experience
Click here for more information on a hot air balloon ride in the desert.
TRY OUT FLYBOARDING
There are a lot of adventurous things to do for those who like to be more active. The activity is unique and is not offered everywhere, so make sure to try this in Dubai.
Try out Flyboarding in Dubai and soar above the Persian Gulf.
EAT TONS ON A FRIDAY BRUNCH
Dubai is known for great brunches, so experience an infamous Friday Brunch in one of the top hotels or restaurants in Dubai. I tried out the Friday brunch at the fancy Ritz-Carlton JBR, and I was not disappointed.
Friday Brunches are quite costly, so some research might be needed if you are on a budget
Booking in advance might be good (especially for popular places)
You might not be able to do a Friday Brunch during Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting)
Ramadan in 2022 – 2. April to 2. May
PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY
I am not a party girl – so I won’t be able to give the best advice firsthand. However, Dubai’s nightlife is supposed to be great if you like to dress up, drink and enjoy fancy nightlife.
So, though the Emirates are Islamic, Dubai is quite liberal, and partying – and drinking – is allowed.
Just be aware not to overdo it. I saw security being quite strict with drunken people
Try out dates in Dubai. When I talk about dates, I don’t mean dating in Dubai (I have never tried that out), but I mean the delicious little things you can eat. You find many different kinds of dates – some with nuts in them, chocolate, and more.
Dates are healthy, vegan (mostly), sweet, and a traditional snack of that region.
They also make a great gift for your loved ones back home. You can buy them in every supermarket and many other stores and souks (markets).
Do some winter sports. Though it is surely not the most natural environment to ski, skiing in Dubai is for sure a great place to escape the heat in Dubai.
You find Dubai Ski in the Mall of Emirates on the Ground Floor
Explore Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world. Seriously, the mall is crazy and it would be easy to spend several days in it. From luxury to budget brands, from beauty and fashion to electronic stores, from fast-food stalls to fine dining restaurants – you will find everything at this shopping mall.
Whether you are in Dubai for 1 day or much longer, Dubai Mall is a must-see place.
Dubai Mall is located next to the water fountain and Burj Khalifa
Tips: Do not visit on a Friday (evening) – it will be crowded as heck
There is actually a dress code (cover shoulders and knees) though it is not often respected
GO HOTEL SIGHTSEEING IN DUBAI
The hotels in Dubai are among the best in the world – some are attractions in themselves. If you do not stay overnight in one of the top hotels, you can still see some and be amazed at what hotels could be like.
This can be done in several ways. You can book day tickets for the pool areas of some top hotels, make restaurant or spa reservations, or just visit them without any “obligations”.
Burj Al-Arab is not open to the public, you will need a spa/restaurant reservation
Atlantis Hotel on The Palm is probably one of the best hotels to check out (no reservation needed)
COOL OFF WITH JET-SKIING IN DUBAI
If you prefer outdoor activities, go jet-skiing in Dubai – where everything is about higher, faster, further, jet-skiing seems to be the perfect activity in Dubai. It is fun, but also very refreshing on a hot day.
Visit the souks in the old part of the city – this part is different from the rest of Dubai, and though it is hectic, it has some traditional charm. If you visit, be prepared to haggle – never accept any price immediately. Normally, you can get things for 50%, but you need to be patient and nice while discussing prices. Apart from spices and clothes (you will also find traditional clothes for a much lower price than in the malls), there is gold…a lot of gold.
Many souvenirs etc. are much cheaper here than in malls
Do not forget to haggle
If you like to buy gold, check the gold rate online first
For women, I recommend not to wear the most revealing clothes and dress modestly
DISCOVER AL BASTAKIYA
Explore Al Bastakiya, which is quite close to the souks and is one of the oldest districts. It is located at Dubai Creek, and quite charming with the narrow streets. It shows you another side of Dubai and is definitely a nice break from Downtown’s modernity. This is also a more off-the-beaten place, and I have never really seen it as crowded as other parts of the city.
The Secret Garden is probably the most beautiful restaurant/cafe in Al Bastakiya
It is great to visit at any time of the day, but in the evening it actually is livelier and lovelier
HOP ON AN ABRA
You can also do an inexpensive abra ride on Dubai Creek, which is a natural creek close to the Gold and Spice Souk. Abras are traditional wooden water taxis that you find mostly in the old part of Dubai.
To get from the Spice Souk to Bur Dubai, you only pay about 0,25€ (1 Dirham).
If you like to have the whole abra for yourself, you can get it for 20 Dirham (about 5€).
If you prefer a fancier abra ride and do not mind paying a bit more, you can also do an abra ride in Madinat Jumeirah.
LEARN ABOUT HISTORY AT DUBAI MUSEUM
Learn about Dubai´s past. Apparently, Dubai is super modern, but if you visit one of the museums (Dubai Museum is the best choice), you´ll learn more about its past (yes, there is some history involved). It is near Al Bastakiya and very popular amongst UAE visitors.
So it might be quite busy during high season, but it is still worth it, and it is quite illustrated so you learn about the life of people in Dubai easily (and thus it is a great fun thing to do with your kids, too).
The entree fee is just about 1€
Free with your Sightseeing hop-on and hop-off ticket.
HAVE FUN AT THE DUBAI JBR WALK
You should make sure to discover the JBR Walk by foot – a popular area with many restaurants, hotels, cafes, and access to the beach. In March 2018 Flying Cup opened. For about 20€, you can hop into the capsule and enjoy an amazing view of JBR The Walk – The Beach.
If you are more into relaxing at the beach, this beach might be a good option (though it can be quite busy)! Alternatively, you can check out street art, eat your weight in meals from all around the world, or do one of the many other activities offered there.
SPEND A DAY AT THE GLOBAL VILLAGE
Another popular place is the Global Village, where you can learn about other cultures. You can also enjoy a ride in one of the 50 rides in the Fantasy Island theme park and visit pavilions of different countries.
Pay is about 5€ ($6), but rollercoaster rides cost extra.
Location: It is located a bit further away from other Dubai attractions, so it is probably not a place to quickly go through (combine it in the winter months with a trip to Miracle Garden).
VISIT A MOSQUE
Actually, most mosques in Dubai look similar and there is not a big variety in the architecture but they are very pretty overall, so make sure to stop by one and admire the architecture.
Jumeirah Mosque is one of the very few mosques in Dubai open to non-Muslims.
You have to take part in a free tour to enter, so check out the times. It is a beautiful mosque – so even if you don’t go inside, it is lovely to look at from the outside.
TIP: you need to cover your head/arms/legs as a female when visiting a mosque, and as a male, you also have to cover your arms and legs. It is close to La Mer so you could combine it with a trip there.
ADMIRE FLOWERS AT MIRACLE GARDEN
Miracle Garden is a perfect place to take 10000 pictures.
This is art that comes from flowers. Though it is totally crowded, it is worth a visit, and I reckon it is great for people of all ages.
Miracle Garden is not open in summer, though (it normally opens in November).
Take a bus/cab and plan in a few hours for this trip. It is close to Global Village, so the most efficient way would be to see both places in one day.
The entrance fee is about 12€ entry
CRUISE MARINA, ATLANTIS, AND BURJ AL-ARAB
Another boat cruise for a hot day. One of my favorite activities anywhere in the world: doing boat cruises.
I normally spend a lot of time, cruising lakes in Switzerland but also boat cruises in Dubai are not too bad. With all the stunning buildings in Dubai, boat cruises are pretty amazing – and there is something for every taste.
Whether you like to have dinner on board or just sail along Burj al-Arab, I am sure you will find the perfect cruise for yourself.
HAVE AN ADVENTURE AT IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE
The IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world´s largest theme park, is still on my”to-do list” for Dubai.
I am sure your kids will love it – but even the grown-ups can have a fun day here. So plan a day for this giant theme park where it is a lot about thrilling rollercoaster rides.
GET AROUND VIA DUBAI FERRY
An inexpensive way to do a little boat cruise is by doing a ferry ride (okay, I know another kind of boat ride), but it is way cheaper and shorter – and you get from a. to b.
You can also use your NOL card to hop onto the ferry and get around in some parts of Dubai (e.g., Dubai Marina).
SPEND A DAY AT A WATERPARK
Book a ticket for one of the waterparks in the city.
I never spend much time in waterparks…except when I did in Dubai at the Aquaventure Waterpark…and later at Wild Wadi Waterpark. I enjoyed both my days at the waterpark – though I felt they were very crowded and surely overpriced. It is easy to spend a full day at one of the biggest and best waterparks in the region with all the different slides, different pools, and more to do at the waterpark.
If you are looking for a more affordable waterpark, then check out Laguna Waterpark at La Mer. Though I haven’t visited that waterpark myself – yet – it is located in my new favorite area, and it is about half the price of the other two water parks (probably as crowded). Get the best price for the Laguna Waterpark at La Mer.
EXPLORE DUBAI VIA HOP-ON AND HOP-OFF
The best way to get around in Dubai is to hop on one of the sightseeing buses and discover many areas by bus – with great stops along the way.
There are actually two operators – either City Sightseeing or Big Bus. Both offer almost identical, but there are some differences in the extras, lengths, and minor differences in the routes.
If you do not plan to stay overnight in Abu Dhabi, you should make a day trip to the capital of the United Arab Emirates. I highly recommended a day trip to the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, and see, among others, the stunning Grand Mosque, stroll along the Corniche. Click here to find out what else to do in Abu Dhabi.
Getting there by car takes about 1 hour and there are also buses and guided tours that get you to Abu Dhabi.
The beach at Dubai Palm is my favorite in Dubai, but since it is private, this is an easy and legit way to get access.
DO A BIKE TOUR
Rent a bike at a rental station on the Palm and explore Palm Jumeirah this way. You just need a mobile and a credit card with you.
The Palm is one of the best places to ride because the streets are new, which makes cycling easy.
STROLL MADINAT JUMEIRAH
Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most beautiful places in Dubai. Though it is a recreation of ancient Arabia, it is extremely modern, and it is also home to some fantastic luxury hotels. You can also dine there, do an abra ride, shop in the souks, or just get lost there.
From there you´ll also have beautiful views of Burj Al-Arab.
BOOK A PRIVATE YACHT CRUISE
Okay, if you want to splurge, then hire a private yacht. Dubai is the city of the rich – so a private yacht cruise sounds pretty standard there.
Dubai has several underwater restaurants, so why not dine in an extraordinary atmosphere? I admit that it is still on my own bucket list – but if you have the perfect companion with you, I cannot imagine anything more romantic.
This Egypt-inspired Wafi Mall also has a free light show every evening, which is worth watching. Though Wafi Mall might not be on your two-day Dubai itinerary, it is a fun place to see in Dubai if you are staying longer.
Skateboarding can be done anywhere – sandboarding in Dubai is more exclusive. If you love snowboarding, you will love this. I sucked at it – but well, sports, other than walking/hiking/dancing, are not so much my strong points, but it was a fun and cool Dubai experience.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, one of the biggest indoor aquariums in the world, is located in the Dubai Mall. You can see a part of it for free when strolling on the ground floor of the biggest mall in the world. If you want to see more of it, get a ticket and discover marine life.
To be honest, I have visited twice so far. Both times, it was included in my hop-on and hop-off tickets. I personally do not think it is worth almost $40 (no discount for kids above 3 years). However, the reviews are good, and if you are into marine life, this might be a fun activity for you.
If you like to see Dubai from above, then head to Dubai Frame. This cool golden frame opened in January 2018, and you get an amazing view from the skyline of Dubai, but you can also walk on the glass floor and see 100 meters down. If you visit after sunset, is it beautifully illuminated, However, I recommend visiting in the daytime. Check out city tours, including a trip to The Frame.
STOP AT DUBAI GLOW GARDEN
A perfect Instagram location is the Dubai Garden Glow – a garden with beautifully arranged lights. It is not a place to spend hours at. But if you have some free time in the evening, go and visit this place in Dubai.
I only passed it in the evening – when I was in my taxi, and I always have wanted to come back but never made it. Seeing dinosaurs at Dubai Garden Glow makes me believe this is a great thing to do with kids.
SPEND TIME AT CITY WALK
There are so many new areas in Dubai that you might not be able to visit all, but add City Walk to your itinerary as it is one of the best things to do in Dubai for free. Whether you visit with kids (they surely will love it with all the activities they offer for younger tourists) or as an adult.
It is an interesting place to stroll along – especially in the evening when all the stores and places get illuminated, and you have a lovely view of Burj Khalifa. You will even find some street art there, and you have plenty of dining options here, too.
Enjoy Your Trip
Enjoy your time in Dubai.
Though I could probably add many more things, these are my 50 favorite things to do.
DUBAI TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some – quick – travel tips. For more detailed information, just click on my Dubai travel guide.
Best time to visit: Between late October to the end of March (the weather is lovely around that time of the year, it is not too hot). During this time, you will do most of the best things to do in Dubai (as some activities in Dubai are also closed in the summer months)
What to wear: You don’t have to cover up – as a female you can wear shorts and tops but keep in mind, it is still a conservative city, so don’t overdo it. Check out my What to Wear post for more info.
How to get around: By public transportation, taxi, and Uber. I never rented a car in Dubai as driving seems very stressful if you aren’t used to crazy driving. Also, guided tours can be great if transportation is included.
Where to stay: Ideally, in Dubai Downtown or Marina. If you are looking for beach access, check out accommodations on the Palm or at JBR. Here is my full “Dubai – where to stay” guide.
Alcohol is allowed – but only in certain restaurants and hotels.
PIN ME FOR LATER – FUN DUBAI ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES & BUDGETS
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Conclusion: Things to See and Do in Dubai
As you can see, it is not only about malls and skyscrapers. Dubai offers so many activities for people of all ages and fitness levels. And I hope that this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Dubai – whether you are on a budget or want to splurge. I hope you have found out what to do in Dubai.
As a regular Dubai visitor, I am always surprised to find out about new, cool and best places to visit in Dubai. It seems a new attraction pops up every day.
Seriously, I doubt any other city is growing as fast as Dubai, and new places pop up each day, and I am sharing with you popular places as well as some more lesser-known attractions for your Dubai itinerary.
Whether you are on a budget or a luxury traveler, here are tips – for each budget and each age.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means 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.
TOP PLACES TO SEE IN DOWNTOWN DUBAI
It doesn’t really matter if you are into crazy, busy, glittering, extremely high skyscrapers or not – you have to visit Downtown as it is one of the best places in Dubai to visit. No questions about it.
What makes Downtown special? Well, first of all, because it is home to the tallest building in the world… Burj Khalifa!
Standing at 822 meters, the skyscraper is one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai. And while you will see it from many areas – it probably doesn’t come as a surprise given its size – you should get a closer look.
Tip: If you want to visit the top of Burj Khalifa, book your tickets in advance.
Next to Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Fountain. To find out about the times for the dancing water show, click here.
The show is free to watch, just a little warning in advance: It will be crowded. Like seriously crowded. Get there on time to get a good spot or book an abra ride so you can watch it without the crowds.
Dubai Fountain is also next to the Dubai Mall, the most famous – and probably the biggest – mall globally.
Whether you are a shopper or not, the mall is more than a compilation of different retail stores and restaurants! Dubai Mall is a must-see place. You´ll find popular Dubai attractions, like the Aquarium, KidZania, or an Ice Rink, and it is probably one of the craziest places to visit in Dubai.
But even if you 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 secret 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 minute’s walk from Dubai Fountain.
It has become one of the main tourist destinations because of the great hotels and restaurants that are 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. Now I love coming back every time I am in Dubai and always discovering something new.
If you plan your Dubai 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.
Click here to find out more about accommodation in Dubai Downtown for each budget.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN JUMEIRAH
Another beautiful area in Dubai is Jumeirah Here are the best places to see in the area.
The Burj al-Arab has been, and actually still is, one of the most expensive hotels in the world (prices during off-peak seasons like summer or Ramadan are still above 1000€ minimum). It 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 Burj al Arab 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 Kite Beach is open to the public, you don’t have to worry about the beach being crowded. It is safe, clean, and quite empty by European standards, so Burj al-Arab’s view is not the only reason it is a must-see in Dubai.
One of the most beautiful places in Dubai is, in fact, Madinat Jumeirah – a recreation of ancient Arabia that is, however, quite modern. The area to the right of Burj al-Arab is a charming souk area with one of the best hotels in Dubai and 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 lovebirds 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 in the city – perfect for kids and adults alike.
A long lazy river and adrenaline-fuelled speed slides, 30 slides, and more – you can spend a whole day there if you love slides, pools, and water activities in general.
Tip: If you stay in a hotel that is part of the Jumeirah Group in Dubai, you will have free access to the Wild Wadi Waterpark. Click hereto find out more about the best places to stay in Jumeirah.
In the heart of Dubai, you will find an Urban Shopping and Dining Paradise. City Walk is a bit sleepy during the day, but it is a fun and popular place to see “after dark.” It is also the perfect place for shopping fans or families as it offers many activities (free and paid) for children.
You will also find some street art and have interesting views of Burj Khalifa, and you also have some street art here. For the best experience, I recommend coming here in the afternoon and then stay until late.
La Mer is a bustling beach area with restaurants, shops, street art, and more. This is the place to chill and rest but also to enjoy some “city life”.
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.
The “vintage” look of the shops is so unusual that this is quite an unusual Dubai sight. Keep an eye out for the street art and public showers, which were totally cute.
PLACES TO GO TO IN DUBAI DEIRA
Dubai is not only about modernity. It actually has an old town. Yes, you read right. It has an old town that is pretty charming and totally different from the rest of Dubai.
Dubai Creek actually divides Deira from 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.
Gold and Spice Souks
One of the most popular tourist places in Dubai Deira 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.
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.
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 retailers constantly approach you, but knowing this will help you politely say you are not interested and keep 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. So it isn’t technically in Deira, but I’m still adding it here.The museum is a great place to get a well-illustrated overview of local history. So, it is perfect for kids and adults alike.
This actually means that it can be quite busy, 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 historic 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.
Staying in Dubai Deira? Personally, I would not recommend staying here (though I have done so myself). Some hotels are great, but especially as a solo female traveler in Dubai, Deira is probably is not the best choice.
Zabeel Park is a lovely, lush, green, and neat park that you can visit for a small entry fee of about 1€.
I have added it to the list because it is a great place for families or for anyone who enjoys some tranquility and peace.
You will also find one of the newest attractions, Dubai Frame, which is located right next to the Zabeel 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€ (buy them 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. If you are scared of heights this place probably is not for you, though.
MORE PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI
Here are a few more places to add to your bucket list and which did it really fit in the other areas.
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 this area’s features. 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 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.
Personally, I love staying in Dubai Marina. It isn’t the cheapest place to stay, but I love its vibe and the hotels’ views there. Click hereto get the best hotel rates in Dubai Marina.
JBR WALK – The Beach
One area you can easily reach on foot 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 in the winter), this is quite a popular spot all year round.
JBR Walk is 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 famous for its unique shape and because you will find some of the most famous hotels on the island.
If you ask people about the best places to visit in Dubai, people will probably mention Atlantis.
One of the most iconic hotels is probably the 5-star Atlantis – The Palm, 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 some 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 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. Admittedly, the beaches here are quite nice (even with all the construction you might see from the beach area).
If you visit the desert, you will find another very traditional area of Dubai… the amazing desert.
Sure, it doesn’t have the highest 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 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 dunes. This is a great place for adventurous activities, like 4×4 wheel dune bashing, sandboarding, buggy rides, or hot air ballooning.
There is a lot to see in Dubai´s desert – even if it seems to be just about dunes.
The best place to have a BBQ? In the desert! It is romantic, fun (for people of all ages), and delicious (as an insatiable vegetarian, I feel confident enough to say so).
An evening in the desert (alone or with friends/family) would be a great way to end your Dubai trip.You can even book a hotel in the desert.
Dubailand probably doesn’t belong to Dubai´s most famous places – at least according to its name – but it is home to some main attractions.
If you have done some research on activities 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 visiting. As the biggest flower park in the world, it is fun for the whole family.
50 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.
Close by is Global Village, which is another attraction that is open in the winter months and the main draw for families and one of the top places to visit in Dubai with your family.
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.
IMG World of Adventure
Also, in Dubailand, you will find IMG World of Adventure.
This giant indoor park is open all year long and is especially fun for kids and adults will enjoy it.
Okay, these are the best places to visit in Dubai – in my honest opinion. 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 places could take weeks – (find my ideal 7-day Dubai itinerary), if you have less time, I hope this guide helps you pick the perfect places for you.
Are you heading to Dubai soon 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 is a great itinerary that will help you plan your trip.
While you surely could see the main tourist attractions in only two days, three 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.
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In this Dubai itinerary for 3 or 4 days, you will find out:
How to Get to Dubai
How to Get Around
Accommodations for 3 or 4 Nights / Days in Dubai
Best Time to Visit Dubai
More Travel Tips for Dubai in 3 or 4 Days
3-Day and 4-Day Dubai Itinerary
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.
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.
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.
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 4-star Resort: JA Ocean View Hotel Dubai.
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).
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).
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 is a popular place in Dubai and is located in the Jumeirah area. It is a beachfront with many retail stores, stylish restaurants and cafes, the coolest bathhouses, and friendly and fun street art.
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.
See some amazing street art – 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 or 12 pm.
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. I am talking about 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 recommend getting to the top of Burj Khalifa.
But let‘s focus on the main attractions here. As mentioned, the highest building in the world is a must-see. From the top (level 124 & 125, and level 148), you have the most unique views. 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.
You have to enter Burj Khalifa via Dubai Mall.
The trip should take between 2-3 hours.
Get your tickets here (I normally buy tickets via GYG because of their generous cancellation policy).
HOW TO GET TO BURJ KHALIFA: You have to go to Dubai Mall. There are signs that lead you to “At the top of Burj Khalifa.” The ticket center/entrance is located in the Lower Ground Level of Dubai Mall. You cannot enter Burj Khalifa from outside the mall (unless you live/work there).
OPENING HOURS/ TICKETS: “At the Top of Burj Khalifa” – opens around 10 am, and the last admission is at 9 or 10 pm (depending on the day).
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.
My favorite area: Fashion Avenue, the luxury department section of the mall. It is less crowded, 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 in 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 the ice-skating rink, 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.
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.
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), and thus, 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. 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.
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.
EXTRA TIP: DUBAI MUSEUM. If you want to learn more about Dubai and its history, I recommend visiting Dubai Museum.
It is an interesting but often crowded museum in Deira that illustrates Dubai’s history in an engaging way.
Entrance fees are just about 1€, and it is probably the best museum in Dubai.
From the souks, it is just an abra ride away.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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 in 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. 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 or ask the taxi 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. 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.
In Abu Dhabi, there are quite a few places to see. 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.
The mosque is free to visit, and it is open to non-Muslims. 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 bodies fully covered, 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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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!
Are you heading to Dubai and wondering about the best Dubai tours? Then find out about fun day tours from Dubai that are worth the money.
No matter how often I visit Dubai, I always find new places and more things to do; I never actually get bored.
It almost feels like home to me, and whenever I hear people saying, “Dubai is boring” and “there is not much to do and see,” I almost feel offended. Of course, people could discuss many things, but Dubai being boring surely is not the case.
So, before you think there are only malls and skyscrapers, I have listed my favorite and the best tours in Dubai.
Here are the top tours in Dubai that are worth your money!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means 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.
HOW TO BOOK TOURS IN DUBAI
I normally book tours via GetYourGuide. I love GetYourGuide because you can normally cancel tours and activities up to 24 hours in advance without any cancellation fee – this is especially great because we never know what might happen (that is out of our control). And you often do not have this option when booking with tour agencies directly – not even when you book with the best tour operator for Dubai.
So, the top Dubai tours are normally offered via GetYourGuide and because I use them (and pay for the tours myself) I recommend them and have linked to them in this post.
BEST EXCURSIONS IN DUBAI
Here they are, some of the best Dubai tours and excursions.
If you go to Dubai and skip the desert, you are missing out! The desert is not only extremely picturesque but also a lot of fun. It almost does not matter what tour you do – a Dubai desert trip should be on your itinerary.
Of course, it plays a role in what you personally like and what tour you book. So, here are my favorite desert safaris in Dubai.
DUNE BASHING AND BBQ
If you want to do something different, book a dune bashing Dubai tour, including BBQ.
There are many different tour operators, and many tours are similar. However, some tour packages and services differ slightly. Some pricier tours have complimentary alcoholic drinks included with the BBQ, while others only offer soft drinks and water, for instance.
Typically, you will be picked up from your hotel, and then you head to the desert and start with some dune dashing – The dune bashing part is fun!
After a few minutes of dune bashing in a 4×4 (including some photo stops), you will have a nice dinner in the desert (in a traditional Arabic camp) and can get some henna paintings and watch a belly dance show.
More desert safari tours: If you prefer a more active tour in the desert, book one that offers sandboarding or a tour where you can drive a buggy.
As for the best desert safari tour operator in Dubai, I recommend GetYourGuide yet again. There are several options so that everyone can find the best Dubai desert safari tour for their own needs.
Desert safaris often are not full-day Dubai tours but take about 4-10 hours.
Okay, though I mentioned at the beginning that it is not only about skyscrapers, I cannot ignore the fact that the tallest building in the world is in Dubai: Burj Khalifa. And to be honest, getting “to the top of Burj Khalifa” is pretty fun and a must Dubai excursion.
Plan in a few hours for this activity. You should definitely book your ticket in advance – the lines are crazy most of the time, and even with a ticket, you might have to stand in line.
I have been at the top three times and probably will visit again. Burj Khalifa, 828 meters high, offers tickets for level 124+125 or level 148.
With the latter ticket, you can visit all three levels. You can also skip all the lines and go to the top quickly, so it saves time, but it’s much more expensive. The view is slightly better, but if you are in no rush or on a budget, then the view from level 124+125 is just fine.
More tours of Dubai – Burj Khalifa: If you would like to combine your Burj Khalifa tour with a lovely dinner (or lunch), you can get a combo ticket for Burj Khalifa and a meal. You will find two different restaurants inside the building where you can get these tickets.
I booked one of them myself, and it was definitely worth the money. Check out my Burj Khalifa guide for more information.
A trip to Musandam, Oman, from Dubai, is a fun activity and one of the best-guided tours in Dubai (or better from Dubai). However, this is not for those who dislike longer bus rides because it is a full-day trip from Dubai.
The Musandam Governorate is a mountainous Omani peninsula projecting into the Strait of Hormuz, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates.
It takes a few hours to get to Musandam, but once you are on a dhow (traditional wood boat), you can relax and unwind (especially after some busy time in Dubai).
Though the drive was too long for my taste, and the water in Oman quite dirty (petrol in the water, I am not sure if that is something Musandam constantly struggles with), I enjoyed the trip and think it is overall great value for money. While I don’t want to say everything was perfect (it is time-consuming), I recommend this tour as it gives you a small glimpse of a different country.
You have several tour operators, but the services are similar.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a beautiful day trip destination from Dubai. If you do not rent a car and drive yourself, I recommend going on an organized tour, as taxi costs add up and you need a taxi in Abu Dhabi to get to several main tourist attractions.
Of course, you have to book a tour that includes a trip to the majestic and fantastic mosque – Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi!
The most beautiful building in the world is the main attraction in Abu Dhabi – unlike most mosques in Dubai, this one is also open to non-Muslims. So, you can visit it and explore many parts of the mosque on your own.
Make sure not to book your tour on a Friday or on a religious bank holiday, as the mosque is closed for visitors.
However, there are different day tours from Dubai to Abu Dhabi – some combine a trip to Abu Dhabi downtown, the big Ferrari theme park, or the quiet new Louvre museum. So, when you book your tour to Abu Dhabi, check out carefully which sights will be visited.
One of the top Dubai activities – though not very popular – is a trip to Sharjah. The lovely city bordering Dubai (depending on your location, it might take only 20 minutes to get to the city center) makes a great day trip. Sharjah has quickly won me over!
I preferred the quietness and calm compared to Dubai– and it is green! But there are more to see than the green parks, exciting shopping malls (though much quieter than in Dubai), a beautiful promenade, and a water fountain show – Sharjah is the smaller version of Dubai (in green!).
However, if you want to have a night out and enjoy a few drinks – Sharjah is not for you as drinking is forbidden and more conservative than Dubai in general.
Book yourself a tour to see the most exciting tourist attractions in Sharjah. And with a trip to Sharjah, you have also visited another Emirate (it is not only a city but also an Emirate).
I actually recommend staying longer than a day, but it is a top tour if you are in Dubai for a shorter time – here are some tours that will show you Sharjah in a nutshell
Water parks in Dubai are very popular – apparently, people enjoy some time in the water on warm days.
I am not a water park person, but I visited both of the most famous water parks in the UAE, and it was fun – both times. So, I want to say that water parks in Dubai can be fun even if you are not into water parks. And if you are, you will love it!
Whether you book a tour to Wild Wadi Waterpark, which belongs to the Jumeirah group (and so it comes with a view of the Burj al Arab, the most famous hotel in the world), or a tour to Aquaventure, which belongs to the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm (and so it comes with a view of the Atlantis Hotel); both are places where you can easily spend a day.
They are perfect for hot days and the “chilly” ones (as it never gets really cold in Dubai).
If you are on a budget, I recommend bringing your snacks & drinks, and towels as these are expensive renting, but if you don’t have a tight budget, also book one of the cabanas and enjoy a day in the waterparks.
Kids traveling to Dubai will love either one, but they are both great for people of all ages. You have tons of slides, pools, and other water activities you can do there.
If you have been following my stories on Instagram, you will realize how much I am into boat tours… and how often I hop on a boat.
Any kind of water transportation is great for me. Tour Dubai in a boat. It’s perfect for several reasons:
Boat tours are fun. And they allow you to do Dubai sightseeing the easy way. They offer you the best breeze on a hot day (and there are many of those hot days in Dubai).
So, these are just some of the reasons why they are my favorite activities in a city of superlatives – if you book the right tours, you can even spend a romantic time on the boat, including a dinner – or you do a fast speedboat tour. The choices are endless.
Dubai is a huge city! I know this is not new to most people, but getting around and seeing the most interesting places can be daunting.
Some of the popular places are spread out and far from each other, so it takes time and nerve to get from point A to point B (you might spend quite a lot of time stuck in traffic).
As mentioned earlier, it is not only about the malls and skyscrapers; but if you have a limited amount of time (let’s say less than two days), you should consider booking a city tour.
This will allow you to be shown around, see several of the hot spots in Dubai easily.
Taxis and public transportation are pretty affordable in Dubai. Still, prices add up, and a tour might be even cheaper than hopping on taxis or the metro/bus, depending on the places you want to see and learn about the history of the city or at least the history of certain parts of Dubai.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN JORDAN – GREAT AREAS AND HOTELS FOR ALL BUDGETS
Are you planning your Jordan itinerary and wondering about where to stay in Jordan? Then this post is for you. Find out about the best places to stay in Jordan – here are the best areas, and hotels for all budgets.
Jordan is absolutely amazing. It has become a trendy tourist destination, and that is for a good reason. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the Middle East and has so much to offer, from stunning scenery to small cute villages and fun cities.
It is a great place to visit for anyone: whether you are an adventurer or interested in history and culture, a family, or a solo female traveler, Jordan is a great place to see.
It is also very safe and let’s not forget Jordan’s generous hospitality. There are many reasons to discover this beautiful country.
So, here are my tips for areas to stay – including accommodation tips.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.
Amman is the capital of Jordan, so of course, you must make a stop here. This traditional Arabic city is full of interesting things to do and fun activities. With about 4 million people living here, it is also very hectic and busy.
This city is the perfect place to either start or end your Jordan trip. It’s also in a convenient location, making it easy to take a day trip to Jerash, which is only 48 km north of the capital.
I stayed at the Nomads Hostel while I was in Amman. It was very conveniently located near Rainbow Street and made it easy for me to connect with other female travelers. The hostel was fun, modern, and clean, with a great location. Check it out here.
For a mid-range hotel option, I suggest Albasem Hotel, which is well-rated and centrally located. Check out rates and availabilities here.
The Dead Sea is located along the western part of the country and is a great place to visit in Jordan. This salt lake is situated at the lowest land elevation in the world. If you are visiting this fun locale, one night is enough to experience it.
You should know that there are only luxury hotels here, which are quite expensive.
But staying at one is great if you are looking to relax at the hotel’s private beach or lay out by the pool after a few busy days in Jordan – or if you need a place to refuel before the real adventure begins.
Best Places to Stay at the Dead Sea
I stayed at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa. The staff was really nice and very polite. My room was nice but a little outdated, especially in the bathroom, but the bed was comfortable. The hotel was done in the Arabic style, and breakfast and dinner were included. I would say it was definitely worth the money. Check out rates here.
The Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa is also a good place to stay, situated among beautiful mountain landscapes and offering relaxing spa amenities. Find out more about this luxury hotel here.
The Kempinski Hotel is another luxury accommodation that sits at the edge of this famous salt lake. Find out about the rates here.
For a budget option, try the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, a well-rated 4-star hotel with great amenities and private beach access. Find the rates here.
The next great place to stay in Jordan is the country’s most famous and most popular area. This is not just because Indiana Jones was filmed here, though that has increased its popularity. No, it is also because Petra has been declared one of the world’s new Seven Wonders.
Petra is just amazing. You must stay there during your time in Jordan. There is so much to do, and it is so huge that you will not be able to see everything in one day. You will need to stay over at least one night. When you buy your Jordan Pass (which also includes the price for the visa) you have to choose whether you want to have a 1, 2, or 3-day access pass for Petra. I suggest visiting Petra for 2 days (if you are in Jordan for about one week).
Best Places to Stay in Petra / Wadi Musa
The Mövenpick Resort is a very nice luxury hotel located just next to Petra. But it is very popular and fills up fast, so if you want to stay there, then I suggest you book early. It really is the perfect location. Check out rates here.
Another beautiful place to stay near Petra is the Hayat Zaman Hotel And Resort Petra. It actually is a beautiful luxury hotel about a 15-minute drive (10 km) from Petra. It was my favorite place to stay in Jordan. It is a great choice if you don’t have to watch your budget closely. Check out the hotel here.
For a cheaper option, you can stay in Wadi Musa at the Cleopatra Hotel. It is only 2 km away from Petra. It is a simple place to stay but was fine for 2 nights as it is close to the main attractions. Read more about the hotel here.
Wadi Rum is a must-see place. Known as the Valley of the Moon, it is the largest wadi* in Jordan, and so it doesn’t surprise that it is one of the best places to stay in Jordan.
* Wadi is Arabic and refers to a valley, ravine, or channel that is dry except in the rainy season.
There are several options to stay in Wadi Rum.
My tip is to stay in a Beduoin camp. Though they are made to appeal to visitors from around the world and have been adapted for this purpose, they still feel authentic. There are quite a few camps ranging from simple to luxurious, and most of them also offer desert tours.
I advise that you stay overnight so that you can watch the sunset over the wadi. Though it can rain, the experience is worth it.
My suggestion is to arrive in the late afternoon/evening, end your day in the camp, have dinner at the fire camp (and watch the sunset), and then do a full-day tour the next morning.
If you do a full-day tour, it ends around 5 or 6 pm, so you can then spend another night in the camp and then depart in the early morning.
The Bedouin camps will normally provide breakfast to guests, and you can also have dinner on request. If you do a full-day safari tour, lunch is normally included with a tour.
While there, I stayed in a simple but nice camp that I booked through Booking.com. However, for some reason, that camp is closed now.
Where to Stay in Wadi Rum
Make sure that you check out tours offered when you book your accommodation.
This camp looks pretty similar to the camp I stayed at, and they also offer tours, so once you have your night booked, then email them and ask about tours.
Aqaba is a port city located on the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba in the south of Jordan. It is a top destination for water sports lovers and is the only coastal city in the country.
There are many beach resorts here as well, but this city generally attracts lovers of water sports. It is a popular destination for those who enjoy diving, windsurfing, snorkeling, and other water sports. It also has a rich history, dating back to 4,000 BC when it was first inhabited.
I didn’t go here because I don’t dive or snorkel, and with only a bit more than 7 days in Jordan, I had to set priorities about the places to visit. Still, Aqaba is very popular among visitors and a great place if you like windsurfing, scuba diving, etc.
The Yamanieh coral reef found at the Aqaba Marine Park is a favored dive site, and if you are into this, then Aqaba is a great place to stay in Jordan.
On the way from the Dead Sea to Petra, you will find the less popular and famous Dana Nature Reserve. Despite not being as well-known as other places in Jordan, Dana is gorgeous.
Everything here is quite simple, but it is the place for hiking and seeing great sunsets.
Whether you are staying a full day, two days, or even longer, Dana is a great place to visit in Jordan. It is a little different than the other spots you will see in the country, but that is part of its appeal. Normally, all hotels and Bedouin camps offer hiking tours, which you can join for a fee.Once you have booked your accommodations, ask about the hiking tours.
Where to Stay in Dana
I stayed at Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp – it is a very basic camp. You have shared toilets, and mattresses were not great. However, I still recommend it because the food and the views are great (and sunset from here is top!. So, I definitely enjoyed my stay at there (plus it is very budget-friendly). Check out their rates here.
Jordan is an amazing country with so many places to see.
Whether it is a 5-star luxury hotel or a tent in a Bedouin camp, you will get to see and experience the true beauty of Jordan if you pick the right activities and the perfect accommodation for you.
As stunning as Jordan is, staying in one place and only doing day trips is not the best idea. So, traveling around – and changing hotels – is the best way to see the country.
I also hope you have found the answer to your question on where to stay in Jordan and now know which hotels and areas to choose when planning your Jordan trip (whether you do a road trip or do day trips).
TIPS FOR A PERFECT ROAD TRIP IN JORDAN – ITINERARY
A Jordan road trip is one of the best trips you can take in the Middle East. Even as a solo female traveler in Jordan I had a blast and congratulated myself for discovering Jordan by car.
The country, the people, the sights, the nature, the food… Road tripping Jordan was an absolutely amazing experience.
Luckily, Jordan is also a very safe destination to visit – this means the conditions are great for an unforgettable road trip.
I came to Jordan right after spending time in Lebanon, and I admit, I was worried that Jordanians would drive like Lebanese people. Luckily, they do not. I could not have driven in Jordan if this had been the case. Actually, this Jordan road trip was so relaxed and fun, that I feel I have to recommend it to anyone.
DRIVING TIPS FOR YOUR JORDAN ROAD TRIP
Here is some information about driving in Jordan. While I think, that driving in Jordan is/was quite easy and straightforward you should probably be aware of these things before starting your Jordan road trip.
Rules For Driving in Jordan
Drive on the right side.
You have to wear a seat belt.
Driving age: 18. If you want to rent a car: 25 years old.
Bring a driver‘s license when renting a car and a credit card (a deposit is charged most times, but you will get refunded if everything is okay).
You are not allowed to throw things out of a car – and compared to many other countries in the Middle East, it actually is quite clean.
GPS – I had Google Maps and Here We Go. However, sometimes they did not get me where I wanted to go. Since there are some new streets, both apps had problems guiding me. Overall, they worked well, but not perfectly. Make sure to download an offline map before your trip.
Signs are in Arabic and English, so you should be fine understanding directions.
You will most likely need to rent a car for the road trip and not drive with your own one. When you rent a car, you will get a paper – and if the police give you a fine, it has to be written on that paper, which you have to hand into the rental company when you drop off the car.
There are a lot of police stops throughout the country. You could be pulled over at any time, but normally it is fine, and you have to present your papers.
P.S. I was pulled over and, apparently, one paper was missing. The rental company did not give it to me. The police handed out a fine but I did not have to pay on the spot. When I gave that fine to the rental company, they said that it would not be a problem and would pay for it… Apparently, they do not always hand over that particular certificate, and so they accept the consequences.
Just double-check all the papers when you pick up the car, so you avoid any – unnecessary – problems.
Speed limits: Many speed signs will tell you the exact speed limit, but in general: 60 km in cities, 80 km in rural areas, and 120 km on highways.
There are speed humps. A lot of them. Many, many of them. They are everywhere. So, always watch out for them because they sometimes even appear out of nowhere – and even if you stick to the speed limit, you very quickly have to sharply reduce your speed if you don’t want your car to be damaged. While speeding in Jordan is less of a problem than in other countries, it sometimes even cause some danger. Anyhow, don’t be surprised by allllll the speed humps.
Sometimes, animals are on the street. And sometimes humans are on the street. In the town center near Petra, people sat on the curb (with their legs and feet in the street)… smoking shisha. Some people in groups don’t like to walk behind each other but would rather walk next to each other – even if that means that people walk in the street. So, always watch out.
Compared to other countries in the Middle East, driving in Jordan was easy – people mostly stick to their side of the lane. However, never believe that drivers will follow all the rules and drive carefully.
Don‘t drink and drive. Unfortunately, this isn’t a global rule (some countries do allow drivers to have a few drinks), but you can’t drive in Jordan if you have had a drink.
I saw plenty of petrol/gas stations – however, this does not mean you will find one every 50km. So, whenever you have a longer distance to drive, make sure you refuel your petrol/gas. There is always service, and you can wait in the car while it gets refueled – you have to pay in cash.
Petrol/gas prices are quite affordable – and unlike in Germany, where prices change many times over the course of the day, the prices are more stable and cost about 1€ for 1 liter.
One of the reasons I loved Jordan was because of the friendly locals. When I drove through villages and towns, many kids waved at me and were smiling. However, some teenage boys did throw stones at me and my car. My tip: ignore and continue driving when you encounter those teenagers and wave back at the cuties.
If you drive at night, double-check your lights as there aren’t many street lights.
The King’s Highway: In ancient times, the King’s Highway was a trade route that linked Africa with Mesopotamia. It ran from Egypt to Aqaba, then to Damascus and the Euphrates River. Today, you can still travel along this ancient 280-kilometer-long roadway, passing through tiny villages and mountain towns. Popular attractions include St. George’s Church, the ruins of Mukawir, the site of Umm ar-Rasas, the Crusader castle of Kerak, and Shobak Castle, among many others. This road will also take you from Amman and pass through other popular destinations in Jordan, like Wadi Mujib, Dana National Park, and Petra.
Jordan Pass: Most nationalities have to pay for a visa: The Jordan Pass is a pass that you can buy (online or when you arrive in Jordan) and which includes the visa and entry to most attractions in the country. Financially, it makes sense to buy the Jordan Pass if you stay in Jordan for a few days and visit places like Petra or Jerash.
Jordan is a very safe country and as a solo female traveler in Jordan, I never had to worry about my safety. Exercise common sense whether you travel alone or not.
What Car to Rent for Your Road Trip in Jordan
So, for the road trip you will need a car – obviously. Most likely you have to rent one and here is what to consider before booking a rental car.
I picked the smallest car available. However, later in the mountains, I realized that it was challenging for the small car to drive up the mountains. It did a good job after all but from what I know now, I suggest renting probably a medium-sized car.
Unless you have a lot of luggage or you are a group of 5 people, you will not need a big car.
A 4-wheel drive is not needed – for a trip to the desert, where 4-wheel drives are essential, I highly suggest, booking a tour.
When renting a car, make sure all damages are well recorded when you pick up the car. So, you do not get blamed for damages you did not cause when dropping off the car.
TIP: I always get full insurance when renting a car. It is a bit more expensive, but it is less stressful in case anything happens to your car (whether it is your fault or not). Make sure all papers are complete when picking up the car.
So, for this Jordan road trip itinerary, you will need a minimum of 5 days. However, 7 or 10 days in Jordan would be much better as you could actually see all places mentioned here.
If you plan a two-week road trip, you will actually have enough time also to rest and relax and spend time at the beach (or in the desert).
With a 5-day Jordan road trip, you have to skip two or three places mentioned here.
Anyway, here we go. Here are places not to miss when road tripping Jordan.
Road Trip Stop 1: Amman
Amman is the capital of Jordan and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Half of the people in Jordan live here – not surprisingly, it is a hectic and exciting place to visit.
I really enjoyed my time there, and I think visiting Amman is one of the best things to do in Jordan. While the city dates back many thousands of years, there is a mix of both ancient and modern architecture.
Amman is teeming with shops, restaurants, active nightlife and it has a hectic feel as everything always feels like it’s in motion. There are several attractions offered within the city, such as the Roman Amphitheater, downtown Amman with its souks, and the Citadel’s views.
Entry to most attractions is free with your Jordan Pass.
You can get around on foot, take a bus, or an Uber if needed in Amman.
Tip: I recommend spending one or two days in Amman – and discovering the city WITHOUT a car. It is hectic and busy and parking in the city center is probably a pain. Make Amman your starting point of the road trip and pick up the car after your time in Amman.
WHERE TO STAY IN AMMAN
I stayed in Nomads Hostel Hotel (and another place that isn’t worth mentioning). It was very conveniently located near Rainbow Street and made it easy for me to connect with other female travelers. The hostel is fun, modern, and clean, with a great location. Check it out here because it surely is a perfect budget accommodation.
For a luxury hotel, try The House Boutique Suites, which is also near Rainbow Street (which is probably one of the best places to stay) and offers lots of amenities.Find out more about the hotel here.
Then head from Amman to Jerash. It takes about 1 hour to get to Jerash and is about 50 km (depending on where you pick up your rental car).
Road Trip Stop 2: Jerash
Dating back almost 6,500 years, Jerash is located just north of Amman and in the northwest part of Jordan. Jerash is a must-see on this road trip.
It is one of the best-preserved cities from the Roman Empire’s rule and is truly amazing. It was rediscovered about 70 years ago and got restored. You can explore many attractions in Jerash, including the 2nd-century Hadrian’s Arch (aka Triumphal Arch), the South Gate, the forum, the hippodrome, the Corinthian columns of the Temple of Artemis, and the Temple of Zeus, among others. The Jerash Archaeological Museum also exhibits its finds for viewing.
Entry is free with your Jordan Pass.
Tip:I recommend renting a car now and getting to Jerash by car. Driving from Amman to Jerash is hassle-free. Plan half a day for a trip to Jerash (max. one day if you are really into history) and then head to the Dead Sea.
After a few hours or a full day in Jerash head to the Dead Sea, which is a 1,5 – 2 hours drive (95km).
Road Trip Stop 3: Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is located along the western border of Jordan and is the lowest point on the planet (it is more than 400 meters below sea level).
It is so salty that you cannot swim in it because you only float. And even though you cannot swim there, it is fun to float and also, the mud from the Dead Sea can be used to soften your skin. Even Cleopatra was known to do it. You do not have to believe Cleopatra´s word but I tell you: it really works.
So, the minerals in the mud make it a natural spa destination, and the beaches are also popular.
Most of the access to the beach (Dead Sea) is private and belongs to the resorts in the area – but there is a public beach to enjoy.
Tip: Many people visit the Dead Sea on their way back to Amman – because this is the place to chill and relax. I did not wait until the end – I was ready for a day in luxury accommodation and wanted to get pampered.
If you plan a 5-day road trip, I would probably just visit for a few hours, but if you road tip Jordan in 7 days, stay a night here and chill before you get to experience some adventure.
BEST PLACES TO STAY AT DEAD SEA
I stayed at the Mövenpick Resort & Spa. My room was nice but a little outdated, especially in the bathroom, but the bed was comfortable. The hotel was done in the Arabic style which was lovely. Breakfast and dinner were included but you can also book it without any dinner/breakfast/lunch. Check out rates here.
The Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa is also a good place to stay, situated among beautiful mountain landscapes and offering relaxing spa amenities. It is a bit more expensive than Mövenpick Hotel. Find out more about this luxury hotel here.
For a budget option, try the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, a well-rated 4-star hotel with great amenities and private beach access. Find the rates here.
Driving around the Dead Sea is easy and hotels normally offer free parking.
From the Dead Sea to Wadi Mujib, your next destination. It takes about 30 minutes (18 miles/25 km). Wadi Mujib is at the Dead Sea, so this estimation is based on the premise you stay at/near Mövenpick Hotel.
Road Trip Stop 4: Wadi Mujib
Wadi Mujib is a river canyon where the Mujib River empties into the Dead Sea, making the area the lowest nature reserve in the world at 420 meters below sea level.
The Wadi Mujib Gorge is a stunning place and a fun and exciting destination while in Jordan. You can hike the area, climb stairs under waterfalls, cross through the water, and float in between the gorge. The water is filled with the little fish – and I got my “pedicure” when they were nibbling my skin.
This is a very adventurous place to visit and was one of the highlights during my road trip.
Tip: The gorge is closed in the winter. The exact times depend on the actual weather conditions, but it might close mid-October for a few months. You can get there from your way from the Dead Sea to Dana, and it will take a few hours (or up to a day, depending on which tour you want to do).
There is an entrance fee (not covered by the Jordan Pass) that is about 25€ – you can only pay in cash. You can rent a personal guide like I did for another 25€, and it was absolutely amazing. I did the shortest – yet not easiest – hike through the gorge, and it was just better than expected.
I am an active person, though not very sporty, and it was not always easy but definitely doable with the help of a guide. If you are active and fit, you can do it yourself. Bring suitable shoes with you!
I would try to leave Wadi Mujib at around 3 pm at the latest, so you can experience the sunset at this gorgeous place that I am talking about now.
From Wadi Mujib head south towards Dana Nature Reserve. It takes about 2 hours (150km).
Road Trip Stop 5: Dana
Located between Petra and the Dead Sea, Dana is a lesser-known stop, and many don’t add it to a Jordan road trip but features stunning sights.
The Dana Nature Reserve encompasses about 300km around Dana Village and Wadi Dana.
It is inhabited by the Al Atata Tribe, who have been living there for 6,000 years. Popular among hikers, Dana offers many hiking trails. Wadi Dana, a canyon, is also visited for its natural beauty and views. The town of Dana is about 500 years old, and you can see many aspects from the 19th century well-preserved and still present today.
Tip: This place is a bit more off-the-beaten-path. But if you are into hiking or hidden gems, you should not miss out. I am not a hiking fan, but I did a short hike. But most of all, I loved the sunset in Dana. Accommodation here is mostly very basic, yet it is a great place for any Jordan road trip itinerary.
WHERE TO STAY IN DANA
I stayed at Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp – it is an elementary camp. You have shared toilets, and mattresses were not great. However, I still recommend it because the views are great (and sunset from here is top!), and the food was great. They also offer guided hiking tours (from a few hours to a 2-day hiking trip). So, I definitely recommend staying here (plus it is very budget-friendly). Check out their rates here.
From Dana, it is time to head even further south. It takes about 1 hour to get to Petra from Al Nawatef Bedouin Camp (50km).
Road Trip Stop 6: Petra
Petra is perhaps the most visited place in Jordan and one of the best stops for your road trip. Located in the southwestern part of the country, it was the Nabatean kingdom’s prosperous capital around 1 BC.
It flourished under Roman rule but was then destroyed by an earthquake in 4 AD.
Only the Bedouins remained after that until a Swiss explorer re-discovered it in the 19th century. Some attractions in Petra are the Siq, the Theater, the Treasury (Al Khazna), the Monastery (Ad Deir), the Royal Tombs, and Colonnade Street. You can also visit a nearby Nabatean site that was built around the same time as Petra.
Tip: Petra is huge…I am serious. You can’t see it in a few hours. You will be able to the Siq and the Treasury, but you won’t see the main attractions. You would need more than a day for all that. I booked a 3-day pass with my Jordan Pass, but I only visited on two days because I somehow felt it gets repetitive (apps, yes, I said it), and some places looked similar.
There is a lot of walking, and some hiking included – wear comfy shoes and never, never ride a donkey.
There are terribly treated (from what I saw), and if you need a ride, you can take an electric minibus for some parts. Even though the buses don’t take you up all the way to mountain peaks, I guess it is not an option to ride a donkey.
So bring enough drinks and snacks (though there are stalls where you can buy all that) and prepare for some nice walks.
Petra By Night was a little disappointing – too many people, too loud, and too short. It wasn’t worth the money, in my opinion (and it is not covered with the Jordan Pass).
WHERE TO STAY IN PETRA
The Mövenpick Resort is a very nice luxury hotel located just next to Petra (so perfectly located). But it is very popular and fills up fast, so if you want to stay there, then I suggest you book early. Check out rates here.
Another beautiful place to stay near Petra is the Hyatt Zaman. It is a beautiful luxury hotel about 15 minutes drive from Petra. It was my favorite place to stay in Jordan. It is a great choice if you don’t have to watch your budget closely. Check out the hotel here.
You can stay in Wadi Musa at the Cleopatra Hotel for a cheaper option, which is only 2 km away from Petra. It is a simple place to stay but was fine for the 2 nights I stayed there as it is close to the main attractions. Read more about the hotel here.
From Petra, head to the next stunning place in Jordan – Wadi Rum. It takes about 90minutes (100km) to get to Wadi Rum (Visitor Center).
Road Trip Stop 7: Wadi Rum
There is absolutely no way to skip Wadi Rum on your Jordan road trip. Wadi Rum, also known as Valley of the Moon, was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural and natural significance.
Inhabited by the Nabataeans in prehistoric times, this area has a unique landscape and stunning views. It is also the largest wadi in Jordan. It is famous for its red-pink desert sands, natural arches, mountains, and prehistoric rock engravings.
Wadi Rum also became well-known as a filming location for movies, such as Lawrence of Arabia. Other attractions include the Burdah Rock Bridge, Al Hasany Dunes, and the Khazali Siq.
Tip: I suggest staying at least one night in Wadi Rum. Most other visitors only come for a day (for a few hours), but they miss out on a magical night. There are several camps and it was amazing. Basically, all camps offer tours for the day. And you have dinner/breakfast and lunch if you stay with them overnight and book a tour.
You should not drive with your own car in the desert. The desert is huge, and you would need a 4 wheel drive and should have at least some experience driving in sand. You can leave your car at the visitor center and then will be picked up from the company you booked the tour/accommodation with. It sounds complicated but is quite easy if you book in advance.
WHERE TO STAY IN WADI RUM
I stayed in an excellent camp, but it seems the owner has some troubles with the police and it was closed?! I am not sure, but you cannot book it anymore, and the last review looked like this. Anyhow, you should not worry.
Make sure that you ask about the tours once you have your accommodation booked. This camp looks pretty similar to the camp I stayed at, and they also offer tours, so once you have your night booked, then email them and ask about tours.
From Wadi Rum you could either head back to Amman or get to Aqaba. Aqaba is in the very south and it takes about 1 hour (60 km) to get there from Wadi Rum Visitor Center.
Road Trip Stop 8: Aqaba
Located in the southern part of Jordan, Aqaba is the only coastal city in the country. This port city is situated off the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.
It is a popular destination for those who enjoy diving, windsurfing, snorkeling, and other water sports. It also has a rich history, dating back to 4,000 BC when it was first inhabited. Some attractions to see here are the Yamanieh coral reef and the Aqaba Fort. There are many beach resorts here as well, but this city generally attracts lovers of water sports.
Since I, personally, had not added Aqaba to my road trip, I actually can’t say much as I am not into diving and am also not a beach person. However, it is very popular with people who like to dive. Aqaba is probably one of the best places to chill and rest.
WHERE TO STAY IN AQABA
For accommodations, you can stay at Al Manara Hotel in Aqaba, a luxury resort highly rated for its location, service, and amenities.
A more mid-range hotel would be the Lacosta Hotel, close to the beach and other attractions and often includes breakfast.
A budget option would be the Amir Palace Hotel, a charming boutique hotel in the city center.
Tip: This could be your last stop – and from here, you could head back to Amman or continue your journey (many visit Israel afterward). If you go back straight to Amman it will take around 5-6 hours (330 km).
Road Trip Stop 9: Amman
Aqaba – or Wadi Rum – is quite far from Amman. If your flight is from Amman, it is time to head back north. It takes time, so make sure to leave early – or better, book your last night in Amman, so you don’t have to stress.
As great as driving in Jordan is, it always can happen that something happens with your car or streets are closed, so plan in enough time for the drive back.
PLACES TO STAY IN AMMAN
Though I mentioned it above, here are three places that are probably great fits for all budgets.
Nomads Hostel Hotel: Check it out here because it surely is a perfect budget accommodation.
Albasem Hotel is well-rated and centrally located. Check out rates and availabilities here.
Jordan is such an amazing country. Unfortunately, public transportation is not great, and so the best way to experience Jordia is on a road trip. As mentioned, I traveled as a solo female traveler and I loved it! So, whether you plan a road trip in Jordan by yourself, with friends or family, or alone – just do it.
Jordanians are very relaxed, friendly, and always happy to help and I am sure you will have a great time!
Are you planning your Abu Dhabi itinerary and wondering about the best things to do in Abu Dhabi? Then read on as this post will help you plan your trip – whether you stay in Abu Dhabi for 1 day, 3 days, 5 days, or longer.
Here you will find out about what to do, the best places to visit in Abu Dhabi, and many more travel tips for your trip.
ABU DHABI TRAVEL TIPS
Before talking about things to do, here are a few important travel tips for your trip.
Abu Dhabi is not as famous as Dubai (both cities/emirates border each other) but it is actually the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
In short: I recommend Abu Dhabi to anyone who enjoys nice beaches and who wants to have a more authentic feeling of the UAE.
Do´s and Don´ts in Abu Dhabi
Any intimacy between couples should be reduced to a minimum (even holding hands) and is completely forbidden in some places (mosques etc.).
Do not drink alcohol in public, unless you do it in a licensed restaurant/bar etc. Do not get totally drunk.
Homosexuality is forbidden in the UAE.
Disclaimer: This post also contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my links (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.
What to Wear in Abu Dhabi – Dress Code for Females
Though the UAE is an Islamic country, you do not have to cover your head. However, you should be aware that there is a dress code in many places, like shopping malls or public places.
You can wear bikinis at the beach and shorts/skirts in many places, but probably not bring the shortest and tightest clothes you have.
If you want to find out more about the dress code for Abu Dhabi, you can read my post about “What to wear as a female in Dubai”. Though Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative, the post gives you some great ideas about the dressing behavior in Abu Dhabi as well.
Is Abu Dhabi Safe for Tourists? Solo Female Travel in Abu Dhabi
Keep in mind, that Abu Dhabi (UAE) is not a democracy nor transparent. So, I can just talk about how I felt, as we do not have reliable information about the crime rate.
I think Abu Dhabi, like Dubai, is a great place to visit as a tourist because it is safe. Safe in terms of crime and terror (read more about safety in the UAE here).
As a solo female traveler, it is a great destination and I absolutely loved it. As always, exercise common sense, but you should not be afraid to travel to this Islamic country (as I also think Dubai is great for solo female travel).
Where to Stay in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has some amazing hotels. The standard is pretty high, but so are the prices. Though hotels here seem a bit more affordable than in Dubai, it is not a budget destination.
Let´s talk about the best activities and attractions.
Admire the Grand Mosque
Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is definitely one of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi. The mosque is one of the most stunning, or probably the most stunning, most incredible building I have ever seen.
It is the largest mosque in the UAE – it can host more than 40,000 people. It was constructed between 1996 and 2007 and has become one of the main attractions in the city.
The beauty is just beyond words! If possible, visit it during the day and at night time as well.
While it is pretty to look at any time of the day, it has a special charm at sunset. Though I am not religious, I love the muezzin´s call for the pray.
If you have the chance, try to visit during prayer time (5 times a day). However, it is closed on Friday mornings or special occasions.
The best: it is free, free, free, and totally awesome.
You must follow a few rules when visiting but it is all worth it.
How to get there: The mosque is located at the “beginning” of Abu Dhabi. Whether you are coming from Dubai or Abu Dhabi airport – it is almost impossible to miss it. There is a bus going from Abu Dhabi Downtown, or you can take a cab.
Click here to find out more about the most beautiful place in Abu Dhabi and what to know before visiting the Grand Mosque.
Corniche is a beautiful 8-kilometer promenade with access to the public beach.
In my honest opinion, the beaches here are nicer than in Dubai. The water is clearer and the sand finer. And it is less busy than Dubai´s beaches. It is also a nice place to walk, jog, or ride a bike with some nice views of Abu Dhabi.
You can either spend a full day here (strolling and spending time at the beach) and just come here for a quick walk.
It is free to visit (including the beaches). However, there are some parts that are private beaches that belong to luxury hotels. Those parts cannot be accessed if you are not a hotel guest.
Visit Heritage Village
Abu Dhabi sightseeing is not complete without a stop at Heritage Village. It is a small recreation of a traditional desert village with crafts workshops & monthly cultural festivals.
It is a charming place, though quite small. If you do not visit any workshops, you will not need a lot of time to visit this place.
Heritage Village is located at the “end” of the city, so you can either continue to the Emirates Palace afterward, Marina Mall, or Corniche.
This is another free activity in Abu Dhabi.
Explore Emirates Palace
The Emirates Palace is one of the most expensive and luxurious hotels in the world and one of the main tourist attractions. Many visitors find their way to this hotel – so it can be “busy” in front of the hotel. At night, the buildings around are illuminated which makes the area even prettier.
I had lunch at one of the restaurants and thus was able to do a bit of sightseeing, but you can visit even without dining there. The guards might ask you what you’re doing there, so be prepared for an answer. However, they were quite nice and if you say, you want to have a coffee, it might be fine.
The access is limited to the lobby (which is stunning) and sometimes certain exhibitions.
After lunch, I headed to the backyard, which was lovely, too. It is a nice way to splurge even if you do not stay overnight at the Emirates Palace.
Whether you use this as an itinerary for Abu Dhabi or just an inspiration, you can do the above-mentioned activities in one day.
Shop Souvenirs or Traditional Clothes
Of course, Abu Dhabi has some big modern shopping centers like Marina Mall. The malls here are not as numerous and big as in Dubai, but (window) shopping is one of the most popular things tourists and travelers do.
If you like to get souvenirs or traditional clothes, I recommend getting them from smaller markets, so-called souks, which you can find in many places. Do not forget to bargain when you buy from the souk.
See Abu Dhabi From Above
To see Abu Dhabi from above, go to Etihad Towers Observation Deck. The deck is part of a luxury hotel and part of the Jumeirah group.
You might remember those views from the Furious 7 movie.
The Observation Deck at 300 is located in Etihad Towers’ second tower (there are two of them) and offers the highest vantage point in the UAE at 300 meters on level 74. To compare: at Burj Khalifa, you can visit levels 124, 125, and 148. However, level 74 should be good enough for some awesome views.
As I have a thing for great views, it was on my list, but I spent too much time on Zaya Nurai Island so I ran out of time.
It was on my list for the second trip to Abu Dhabi. After reading the reviews, a visit seems to be totally worth it, but Abu Dhabi in December can be quite foggy, so I had to postpone my visit again.
However, if you have a clear day, you should visit.
Hotel guests can get up there for free.
Other guests have to pay an entrance fee of AED 95. They also get a credit voucher of AED 55 which can be redeemed on the day of your visit at the cafe on the observation deck.
Do a Speed Boat Trip
One of the best things to do – especially on a hot day – is to enjoy a breeze while doing a speed boat tour in Abu Dhabi. As we all know, is that it can get really hot in Abu Dhabi. The best you can do is to combine sightseeing with colling down.
You can forget the heat even in the hottest summer months. Also, it is a nice thrilling activity – especially if you sit in the front. But no worries – it is not as adventurous as a skydive – so even families can hop on a speedboat (minimum age is 5 years).
Depending on the tour you choose they last about 60-100 minutes.
The meeting point depends on the boat tour. Tip: if your boat tour starts from Emirates Palace, you can combine the trip to the Emirates Palace with the boat tour.
I have done a couple of desert safaris in Dubai and totally loved them. They were actually one of my travel highlights, and so was the desert safari in Abu Dhabi.
If you have not planned any desert safari in Dubai, you should definitely do a desert safari here. They are some of the most popular UAE activities.
On my last trip, I visited the UAE with my cousin, and I booked the trip for both of us. After asking her about the highlight of the trip to the United Arab Emirates, one of the first things she said was “The desert safari in Abu Dhabi.”
The desert safaris normally include dune bashing and photo stops in the desert. If you do them in the afternoon/evening, you can also expect a nice BBQ (which also cater to vegetarians and vegans).
My top recommendation for a desert safari in Abu Dhabi is the one in the evening with dinner under the stars – what an experience!
If you like a desert safari and would like to test sandboarding, I recommend this desert safari.
Spend a Day at Ferrari World
Ferrari World is rated as one of the best activities in Abu Dhabi. What could a Ferrari World park be? Well, it is a mostly indoor theme park located on Yas Island. Actually, it was the world’s first Ferrari-themed park and features Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster.
While I am not that much into fast cars or roller coasters, I have never visited so I cannot give you my two cents on it but
While I am not that much into fast cars or roller coasters, I have never visited so I cannot give you my two cents on it but if you are into theme parks and/or interested in cars, it should be on your list.
Plan a full day for that activity. As it is located at “the beginning of Abu Dhabi,” it is great to start coming from Dubai.
Relax at Saadiyat Island – probably the most beautiful public beach in Abu Dhabi. It is a natural 27-square-kilometer island about 15- minutes drive from Abu Dhabi Downtown.
The beaches at Corniche are pretty and free, however, the 400-meter Saadiyat public beach is even more beautiful. It is also not very crowded, and it feels safe enough to leave your stuff at the beach while hopping into the water. I admit I tend to be a bit paranoid in some places and never leave my stuff unattended.
I have not figured out how to get there if a public bus is getting there, so I recommend getting there by taxi.
Though it is a public beach, you have to pay about 25 AED entry (extra fee for renting a lounge and towels).
If you stay in one of the few hotels on Saadiyat Island, you will have free access to the hotel beach.
Do Cultural Sightseeing (Louvre)
Visit the Louvre. Yes, Abu Dhabi has just gotten its own Louvre!
Once you are on Saadiyat Island, you can visit the Louvre museum which is an art and civilization museum that opened in November 2017. The UAE and France signed an agreement that allows it to use the Louvre’s name until 2037, and has been described by the Louvre as “France’s largest cultural project abroad”.
Of course, they probably just got paid very good money – either way, now Abu Dhabi has its own Louvre.
The museum encompasses 9,200 square meters of galleries, including a permanent gallery and a temporary gallery. It is the largest museum on the Arabian peninsula – with artworks from around the world intending to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art.
I stopped by, but the lines were quite long, so I did not get into it. This should not have come to a surprise to me as by 2019, the Louvre Abu Dhabi had already attracted 2 million visitors. Thus, I recommend booking your tickets in advance.
Open from 10:00 am – 6.30 pm from Tuesday – Sunday, closed on Mondays. The last entry time slot is 5:30 pm, and visitors must depart at 6:30 pm.
When in Abu Dhabi, you need to plan a day trip to this private island – beautiful Zaya Nurai Island.
I missed out on some activities because I spent too much time at Zaya Nurai Island Resort. It is a private island that has been voted to one of Conde Nast Traveller UK’s most incredible islands. It is just really beautiful!
Depending on your budget, you could either book one of their incredible villas, OR get a day pass which is surely worth each penny. This will allow you to access their beaches and some pools and more. On the island, you can do watersports, rest & chill at the beach, enjoy a fun day in one of the lounge areas, or get pampered in the spa.
It is a 15-minute boat ride off the shores of Abu Dhabi.
Day passes are AED480. AED420 of which is redeemable against food and beverage, spa, and activities. For this price, you have the boat tour and beach and pool access already included.
If you are in Abu Dhabi, consider a day trip to Dubai. I know not everyone likes the idea of a busy city, but I highly suggest at least a day trip to Dubai if you have one week in Abu Dhabi.
There are buses from Abu Dhabi to Dubai for about 10€ ($11) return. However, whenever I wanted to use them, it was still not perfect as I would end up in the middle of nowhere in Dubai.
So, I suggest either doing a guided tour from Abu Dhabi to Dubai or splurging and taking a taxi from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (prices depend on your starting point, but I always paid around 60€).
Also, I have written a quite detailed post on whether to visit Abu Dhabi or Dubai to check out if you are unsure which city/emirate to visit.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi in one day is possible. But with so many fun and interesting things to do in Abu Dhabi, you should try to add a few days to your Abu Dhabi itinerary so you can get a better glimpse of the city.
It is a safe city and has quite a lot to offer – whether you visit by yourself, with friends or family or with your partner. Given its religion and politics, there are things to keep in mind when visiting (as you can see in my do´s and don´ts), but Abu Dhabi is an interesting place to visit.