Dubai is a dazzling oasis where innovation meets tradition. Known for its futuristic skyline, luxury shopping, and melting pot of cultures, Dubai appeals to travelers with a promise of extraordinary experiences. From the towering heights of Burj Khalifa and the serene Jumeirah Beach to the vibrant Dubai Marina and the colorful Miracle Garden — this list covers the top 10 things to do in Dubai, including iconic landmarks, natural wonders and must-hit dining spots.
You cannot talk about Dubai without mentioning the iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. In addition to enjoying breathtaking views of the city from the observation decks, you can also eat at the renowned Atmosphere restaurant if you’re in the mood for luxury dining with stunning city views. If you want something educational beyond the remarkable observation decks, you can also explore the interactive Burj Khalifa SKY lounge for multimedia presentations on the tower’s construction and Dubai’s evolution.
Dubai also offers an unparalleled shopping experience and is home to some of the best luxury brand showrooms in the world. Right next to the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall offers the best of these experiences and more than just shopping. You can explore the Dubai Aquarium, the Olympic-sized ice rink and watch the impressive Dubai fountain show, synchronized with music and lights. Don’t forget to check out the mall’s array of international restaurants.
Dubai is not just about skyscrapers and shopping — it also offers some really unique nature experiences. When you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach, you can head to Jumeirah Beach. With its pristine white sands and clear waters, it’s a perfect spot to have a lazy beach day or take a dip in the Arabian Gulf. Better yet, it’s right in the heart of Dubai, so you don’t even have to travel far to get to this oasis.
A desert safari is yet another nature-based experience you can have in Dubai. You can ride through sand dunes in a four-wheel vehicle to truly experience the desert landscape. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, you can try sandboarding too. For a unique cultural experience, you can visit a Bedouin-style camp to enjoy activities like camel riding or getting henna on your hands. Don’t forget to end the night with a barbecue dinner against the backdrop of a starlit desert sky, usually with live entertainment, including belly dancing and traditional Arabic music.
Dubai is the love of my life. Having lived there for 15 years, it is like my second home, and even though we moved, my yearly visits are the ones I cherish the most. Dubai has it all. Sun the whole year round, activities for adults and kids, shopping like nowhere else and the polite people all around one can only dream of.— Zuzana, Lowcarb-Nocarb
Atlantis, The Palm
Atlantis, The Palm, is iconically shaped like a palm tree when you look at it from the sky. It is located on the Palm Jumeirah and offers a world of luxury and entertainment. You can visit the Aquaventure Waterpark, the world’s largest waterpark, to enjoy thrilling rides or explore The Lost Chambers Aquarium. There are also several renowned restaurants, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf.
The Dubai Marina is the epitome of modern waterfront charm, surrounded by towering skyscrapers and luxury yachts. It has a scenic promenade with stunning views, which look especially stunning against the evening lights. You also have the option to explore a number of waterfront restaurants or take a boat ride to appreciate the impressive skyline from the serene waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden and is one of the most beautiful themed gardens in the world. You can walk on meticulously manicured pathways and admire the many artistic arrangements that change with the seasons. This garden not only showcases natural beauty but also offers a stunning visual experience that is unique to Dubai.
Al Fahidi Historic District
Walking through the Al Fahidi Historic District, also known as Al Bastakiya, is like taking a step back in time as you walk through narrow lanes and traditional architecture. This old neighborhood provides a glimpse into Dubai’s rich history and cultural heritage. You can explore art galleries or visit the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort. The district’s cultural significance, coupled with its artistry and historical treasures, makes it a great destination if you want a break from modern Dubai.
Zabeel Park is a green oasis in the heart of Dubai. It offers a perfect blend of nature and entertainment, thanks to lush greenery, a picturesque lake, walking trails and the iconic Dubai Frame located within the park, providing panoramic views of the whole city.
Hatta Heritage Village
Nestled in the Hajar Mountains, the Hatta Heritage Village offers a wonderful view of the rich cultural tapestry of the United Arab Emirates. This preserved village offers a journey back in time, showcasing traditional Emirati life. From narrow lanes lined with restored buildings made of mud, stone and palm fronds to ancient watchtowers, a falaj irrigation system and exhibits of traditional artifacts, Hatta Heritage Village is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
From the majestic heights of the Burj Khalifa to the tranquil shores of Jumeirah Beach, everyone can find something they love in Dubai. Whether you want to revel in the futuristic skyline, savor international cuisine, immerse yourself in cultural heritage and experiences or explore the desert landscapes, Dubai will ensure an unforgettable journey for every explorer.
Shruthi Baskaran-Makanju is a food and travel writer and a global food systems expert based in Seattle. She has lived in or traveled extensively to over 60 countries, and shares stories and recipes inspired by those travels on Rainy City Life.