The Best Dubai Itinerary – 5 Days in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is a great place to visit – not only as a layover destination. From deserts to beaches, from skyscrapers to garden, from adventurous activities to relaxing at the pool with view. There is definitely a lot to do – this 5-day Dubai itinerary helps you making the best of your time and see great places and doing fun activities.

While I cannot claim to have seen it all in Dubai, even after numerous visits, I have discovered the top sights of the city as well as some hidden gems and so I have only listed the best of the best places and activities for your 5-day stay in Dubai.

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Travel Tips for your Dubai Vacation

How to Get Around

Rent a Car

If you are in Dubai for five days, you could actually rent a car. But you should know that driving there, from my perspective, is a bit crazy. There is traffic almost all the time (even at night, the streets are busy), and 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.

Click here to get the best deals when renting a car

Public Transportation

Metro Station in Dubai
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If you stay in Dubai for a few days, I recommend getting a NOL card for the public transportation (there is a one-time fee for it, but you can then recharge it; public transpiration 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). It makes sense if you stay longer and prefer it over taking a taxi each time.

However, public transportation is not perfect. You can avoid the crazy traffic by taking the metro, which is great, but a) the metro stations do not have enough 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, it is not the best feeling to be with so many people in such a small area, especially at peak time (I am, admittedly, a little claustrophobic, so if you are not, it should be fine).

I mostly take the metro for long distances (especially downtown, where there is a lot of traffic and getting around by cab can mean being stuck in it forever) and then jump into a taxi for the shorter rides, if there is no direct connection.

Sightseeing Buses

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 stop, so I only used them as a means of transportation once in a while.

There are two main sightseeing companies. They offer similar services, but one has a 5-day ticket and the other offers 7-day tickets.

The pass also includes a few cool attractions, so it saves money in addition to getting you from Point A to Point B.

Accommodations

Accommodations in Dubai are not cheap, but the standard is quite high.

You can check out rates for accommodations in Dubai here, and if you are looking for my personal recommendations for all budgets and areas, click here.

Okay, enough talking. Here are my ideas for Dubai in five days – the best Dubai itinerary you can find! 🙂 

The Best Dubai Itinerary for 5 Days

Day 1 in Dubai

Of course, it depends on when you arrive in Dubai, but I recommend starting slow. If you have five days, don’t jump into the busiest place right away. Also, in order to really relax on your vacation, it is a great idea to start slow, ease your mind and body, and do the busy things later.

Wild Wadi Waterpark or Jumeirah Beach/Kite Beach

Wild Wadi Waterpark

It belongs to the Jumeirah Group and has some cool slides and fun water activities. As a guest of any Jumeirah hotel, you will have free access.

Wild Wali park with kids in Dubai
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If not, you can buy tickets online (and skip the lines). The tickets are not cheap, but kids in particular will love it. It would be easy to spend a full day here.

From the waterpark, you will have great views of the Burj al Arab, one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai.

If you are looking for a cheaper option, go to Jumeirah Beach.

Jumeirah Beach / Kite Beach 

The beach is lovely, with great views of the world´s most famous hotel – Burj al Arab. It is a public beach in Dubai (not all beaches are free or public) and it is not overly crowded. Beaches in Dubai are generally very clean, safe, and fun.

Why is Dubai better
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Normally, you can leave your stuff at the beach when you hop into the water. I felt safe enough to do so, but still keep an eye on your things.

Both sightseeing companies stop here, but there are also bus stops (there is no metro stop nearby).

Madinat Jumeirah

It is so pretty and picturesque here. You should plan for a few hours (if you dine here) to check out the area. I recommend getting here while it is still light outside, so you can see it during the day and at night.

Instagramspots in Dubai
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If you are a hotel guest at one of the Jumeirah hotels, you can take an abra (water taxi) for free (if not, you can buy a ticket) and relax while seeing the area from the water.

It has its own souk and a bunch of restaurants and cafes with a view of Burj al Arab (though quite pricey, I do believe it is worth it, as the view is not something that you can get just anywhere).

It is not far from the public part of Jumeirah Beach (and just a stone’s throw from Wild Wadi), and though the area is not huge, it is the perfect place to end your day.

Day 2 in Dubai

Dubai Frame

One of the newest attractions, located at Zabeel Park, is the huge, golden frame near Downtown Dubai (meaning xxs kilometers). It is a great attraction to start your day.

Instagram places in Dubai - where to go in Dubai
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Tickets are around 12€ and can be bought at the ticket center. Though it probably isn’t the best place for people who are scared of heights, it is fun and quite lovely. 

You will have great views of Burj Khalifa (where you will be heading later that day) and it gives a good overview of the city. 

Walking on the glass floor is a bit weird and can be scary (after all, it is in 100 meters above the ground), but it is so much fun and different from the rest of our 5-day Dubai itinerary.

At 9 am, when it opens, it is not crowded and you can enjoy the views and have the glass pathways almost to yourself.

It will probably take 1-2 hours in total to see the Golden Frame and walk through it.

Zabeel Park

If you don’t believe that Dubai has meadows and greenery, then head to Zabeel Park. This lovely little park is a perfect place to recharge your batteries and prepare yourself for the craziest part of the day.

Entry is about 1€ and it is just next to Dubai Frame, so you can do both attractions in the morning.

After some rest, it is time to visit the busiest part of Dubai – Welcome to Downtown.

Alternative Morning Activity for Day 3

Jumeirah Palm

If you don’t like heights and also don’t wanna rest at Zabeel Park, head to Jumeirah Palm.

Arzo Travels Dubai Palm from above
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While the Palm has become incredibly famous, I think getting there for a few hours, riding a bike there, doing a boat tour, or strolling around the area is definitely enough if you have only four or five days in Dubai.

If you are interested in visiting an aquarium, you could visit the Lost Chambers at Atlantis Hotel.

From there, it go to one of the main attractions in Dubai.

Dubai Mall

Even if you aren’t into shopping, you should visit Dubai Mall at least once. Not only because it is located directly next to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain, but also because it is out of this world.

Dubai Mall at night
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I never bought a lot there, but liked strolling it at least once or twice each time I was in Dubai. The Fashion Avenue is extremely picturesque, and there are plenty of places to eat cheaply in the food court.

Tip: Do not visit Dubai Mall on a Friday as it is the Sunday of the Muslim world. However, shops are open and it is more crowded than usual because many people have a day off. So busy Dubai Mall gets even busier.

Burj Khalifa

Afterwards, it is time to head to Burj Khalifa, which is just next to Dubai Mall. If you are not scared of heights, there is an option to get to the “top of Burj Khalifa” and either visit level 124+125, or level 148.

7 days in Dubai - best vintage points
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Get your tickets in advance. If you want to buy your tickets at the ticket counter, you will be waiting an eternity (which isn’t so much fun). Even with a ticket, you have to stand in line for a bit. (If you buy tickets for level 148 – which, of course, is a bit more expensive – you can skip the lines though. I also saw families with little children that were allowed to skip lines with tickets for level 124 and 125.)

The prices depend on the time of your visit and the level of access you buy.

This might take a few hours, so if you actually visit the top of Burj Khalifa, you should probably go outside the mall (before you go up) to take pictures of it in the daylight.

From up there, you also have great aerial views of the Dubai Fountain.

Dubai Fountain

This is another place that you should add to your “Dubai 5-day itinerary.” It is located just in front of the Dubai Mall and is a perfect place to end the evening.

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

The water show takes place several times a day, and at night, it is an absolutely amazing place to visit. With the illuminated Burj Khalifa, it is just beyond beautiful. The dancing water show is free and open-air. It only lasts for a few minutes, but despite the crowds, it is worth visiting.

If you have a budget, you can dine in the mall, which has cheaper dining options. Or, you can enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants with a terrace and view of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain.

It is also a nice place to stroll around, so after you are “done” with Dubai Fountain, Dubai Mall, and Burj Khalifa, don’t go straight back to your hotel. Instead, plan in a few minutes or an hour to discover the area by night. It is quite beautiful and interesting to walk around – and absolutely safe, even as a solo female traveler.

Day 3 in Dubai

For day 3 I recommend waking up early, because this will be a busy day but there are some incredible Dubai highlights waiting for you.

Gold and Spice Souk in Dubai Deira

The Gold and Spice Souks are fun places to visit and, in my opinion, must-see spots, especially for those who don’t like the modernity of Dubai. It is a perfect place to see another side of Dubai. With a more authentic touch, you will really love it here (though the shop owners are mostly from other Asian countries).

Which place to visit - Abu Dhabi or Dubai
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Souvenirs, rugs, and Arabian clothes (and gold and spices) are much cheaper than in any other part of Dubai, which makes it also a perfect place to shop if you’re on a budget.

The amount of gold you will see here is astonishing. But, so are the spices. It surely takes half a day to discover the area.

To get from the Gold and Spice Souk to the other side of Dubai, jump on one of the abras that only cost about 0.25€.

If you ask for the Spice Souk, people will direct you to the correct abra, and after a short ride, you will get to the other side of Dubai, past the creek.

Extra tip: If you want to learn more about Dubai and its history, I recommend visiting Dubai Museum. It is an interesting – even (or especially) for kids – museum in the area that illustrates the history of Dubai in an engaging way.

La Mer Dubai

La Mer just opened recently and will probably become one of the hotspots in Dubai. The area is located in the Jumeirah area (further away from Burj al-Arab). It is a fun beach section, with a lot of retail stores, stylish restaurants and cafes, the coolest bath houses, and friendly and fun street art. 

La Mer Beach Dubai - best places to visit in Dubai
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The Burj Khalifa is omnipresent, and from La Mer, you will have a lovely view – a beach with a view of the tallest building in the world!

This is the perfect place to spend a full day (there are free – and very stylish – showers, clean toilets, and you can either bring your own towels or book some sun beds and umbrellas), but it gets even better in the evening! So don’t leave too early. Make sure you top your day off at La Mer.

There are a lot of restaurants, so you will definitely find something to your tastes. To see some amazing street art, walk along the rail stores and bring your camera.

Desert Safari

Though I think it is among the three best things to do in Dubai, I have left this activity for the third day. A desert safari is so much fun, and perfect for people of (almost) all ages.

Arzo Travels Abu Dhabi bestthings to do in Abu Dhabi Desert Safari
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There are different tours available, but I recommend the 4×4 dune bashing adventure, including a BBQ in the desert. You dine under the stars, often with Arabian music in an Arabic-style “village.” Book a tour, you will not regret it.

These evening tours often start around 3 pm (you will get picked up from the hotel and be dropped off there again around 10 or 11 pm).

There are some morning tours available, too.

Day 4 in Dubai 

There will be many locals and expats here, as it is not a hot spots for tourists yet. Watching the sunset from here is a beautiful way to end you day (and as always, with Burj Khalifa in the background).

How to get here: I admit, I am not the biggest fan of the public transportation in Dubai. The bus connection is not great, though there is a bus stop close by, so taking a taxi will probably be the best way to get here. 

Different Ideas for Day 4

Day Trip to Abu Dhabi

For the fourth day in Dubai, I have several different suggestions and you can see what is best for you.

A day trip to Abu Dhabi is a great idea. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and getting there takes about 60-120 minutes from Dubai. Though I recommend visiting Abu Dhabi for longer, one day is actually good enough to get an overview and see the main sights of the capital.

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You can rent a car and drive yourself – driving to Abu Dhabi is quite easy most of the time. Though I have never driven myself, the streets are not that busy and it is mostly just a straight shot. Of course, you have much more flexibility if you drive yourself, but driving in Abu Dhabi is a bit more stressful and parking at popular sights is not always easy.

If you go there for one day, I recommend booking a tour in advance. Tours are not that expensive and you can easily get around in Abu Dhabi with one. Of course, you are kind of stuck with the tour itinerary and don’t have much freedom. However, it is great for those who like to have a fixed itinerary and want to learn about the sights and places from a tour guide.

Places to see in Abu Dhabi: The Grand Mosque, the Emirates Palace, the Etihad Towers, and the Louvre. If you are into theme parks, you could book a tour to Ferrari World instead.

Miracle Garden and Global Village

Miracle Garden is a flower park located a bit further from the other popular tourist attractions. Entry is about 10€, and for that you will see flowers – a lot of flowers, designed and decorated in a lot of interesting shapes and designs. It is the biggest flower park around and strolling the area should take about two hours.

Better place to visit in UAE
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Afterwards, you could head to Global Village. It is close to the above mentioned garden, and for about 5€, you have entry to a theme park that has roller coasters and displays from many different countries in the world. Hence the name. 

Though the roller coasters cost extra, it is a fun place to visit for a day – especially in combination with Miracle Garden.

Theme Park

Dubai is also home to several theme parks that probably would take a whole day. I have not visited any of them, but if you prefer a theme park over the above mentioned ideas, you could check them out.

Day 5 in Dubai

Okay, JBR – The Walk and Dubai Marina are both fun places to visit in the day or night, so you can decide which one you prefer to visit when. Both should be on your list for the last day. Their proximity to each other makes them super convenient to visit in one day.

JBR – The Walk

This area is extremely popular during the day (and also in the evenings). For me, it wasn’t love at first sight, but when I visited again, I finally got what the fuss was about.

JBR Walk - The Beach Dubai--9
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You have free beach access here. You have street art. You have restaurants and cafes. You have stores. You have water sport activities and playgrounds. You have attractions like the Flying Cup (which offers beautiful views of the area from above).

JBR Walk - The Beach Dubai--7
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JBR is definitely fun and a perfect place for your last day in Dubai.

Dubai Marina

Okay, if I had the money (I am working on that, but it might take awhile), I would buy an apartment in Dubai Marina.

Personally, my favorite cities in the world are New York and Hong Kong (I was blown away by the skyline). You see, I have a thing for skyscrapers, so it’s no surprise that this is one of my favorite neighborhoods. 

Dubai Marina at nigt from Pier 7
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The density of skyscrapers is high here, and so are the prices for accommodations and dining. But it is still worth a visit. Seeing the yacht club and strolling the area (beautifully illuminated by night) are now “typical“ Dubai to me and if you have more than two days in Dubai this is the must-see place – whether you end or start day five here, it is a bucket list destination for a trip to Dubai

I hope, this “perfect” Dubai itinerary is helpful when you stay in Dubai for a bit less than one week. From a neutral point of view (and if I hadn’t visited Dubai before) I would have loved this itinerary 🙂

Safe Travels, Arzo
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