An aerial view of Dubai's coastline

A startlingly modern oasis in the middle of the desert, Dubai is a destination for all. Whether you’re here for its stunning sites, jaw-dropping extravagance, or extraordinary leisure attractions, Dubai offers a multitude of options in every category.

If you’re wondering where to stay in Dubai to make the most of your trip, we have some ideas to get you started – no matter what your tastes and interests are.

Dubai from above

At a glance

Best area to stay in Dubai for first-time visitors

Downtown Dubai

The striking desert city of Dubai
  • Location: The man-made archipelago juts into the Arabian Gulf and is a part of a massive development that comprises Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Burj Khalifa/The Dubai Mall Station

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 20 Minutes

There is no better way to soak up the sights, sounds and unequaled fervor of this contemporary city than staying in downtown Dubai. This is the heart of modern Dubai and this is where you’ll get to see the city’s many claims to fame.

Some of the most famous sites in Dubai are are crammed into this remarkable part of the city. See the Burj Khalifa up close, visit the Dubai Mall and watch the famous Dubai Fountain show just around the corner from your hotel.

Stay at Manzil Downtown, walking distance from the Burj Kalifa and Dubai Fountains with a pool on-site

Best area to stay in Dubai for modern luxury

Palm Jumeirah

An aerial view of the Palm Jumeriah
  • Location: At the Interchange 5 of Sheik Zayed Road, between Dubai Internet City and Jebel Ali Port.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Dubai Internet City

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 30 Minutes

Want to experience Dubai’s unequalled modernity with a distinct, laidback-appeal? If so, head to its legendary Palm Jumeirah. This man-made island is famous for its unique palm tree design topped off by a crescent. Staying here, you'll also be close to some of the region’s stunning sights which make Dubai world-famous.

Visit the Aquarium and water park at Atlantis, a five-star resort on the island. See the Palm Fountain Show, which rivals the one downtown, and see The Palm from above from the Palm Tower - a truly remarkable sight!

Stay at W Dubai - The Palm, a beachfront resort with large guest rooms, a private beach and terraced outdoor pools.

Best area to stay in Dubai for couples


Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai
  • Location: Jumeirah encompasses Jumeirah 1, Jumeirah 2 and Jumeirah 3 regions

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 20 Minutes

You don’t have to travel far for a refreshing dose of seaside vibe in Dubai. With its smorgasbord of compelling sights, relaxed ambience, top-notch dining and eclectic amusement choices, this coastal neighborhood is a favorite of beach bums, fun-seekers and honeymooners.

There are enough exciting attractions in Jumeirah to keep you occupied for the length of your stay and more. As well as relaxing on the beach, you can marvel at the Burj Al Arab, a sail-shaped building on a private island, or visit the Jumeirah Mosque. If you enjoy surfing, visit the Laguna Water Park or spend the day at Kite Beach. For shopping or food, visit the Madinat Jumeirah which boasts over 40 restaurants and range of shops including the Madinat Souk.

Stay at the Bulgari Resort, Dubai, for a truly luxurious beachfront trip. If your budget doesn't stretch quite that far, try Rove La Mer Beach for a more affordable hotel at the beach.

Best area to stay in Dubai on a budget


The Spice Souk in Deira, Dubai
  • Location: Deira is a part of Old Dubai which also encompasses Bur Dubai and Dubai Creek areas.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Union, Deira City Centre and Gold Souk Metro Station

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 15 Minutes

For budget-conscious visitors traveling to Dubai, this neighborhood is an absolute treat. This area is rife with traditional bazaars that are locally called souks, along with tonnes of cafes, restaurants etc serving the most scrumptious and authentic local delicacies such as shawarma, falafels and kunafah.

From traditional markets to authentic restaurants, Deira's attractions give you a peek into another side of Dubai. Browse through the Gold Souk for a startling range of jewellery, or visit the Spice Souk for spices (of course) and wonderful market photos. And just take the time to wander around Deira City Centre and discover the local restaurants and shops.

Stay at the Mark Inn Hotel Deira for comfortable and affordable accommodation near a metro station.

Best area to stay in Dubai for families


The Global Village in Dubailand
  • Location: It lies off Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Rashidiya Metro Station or First Gulf Bank

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 30 Minutes

Dubailand is a carefully planned neighborhood with a range of accommodations, cultural landmarks and attractions that are ideal for families with little ones. From amusement parks to malls and camel races, there's plenty to do in this neighbourhood that will keep the whole family entertained.

Visit IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world's largest indoor theme park, and get lost in the rides and activities - there's truly something there for all ages. Then head to the Global Village for dinner, where you can try food from over 80 countries. A trip to the Al Marmoom Heritage Village is also a must, with the Camel Hospital a fun sight for younger travellers.

Stay at the Studio One Hotel, with family rooms available.

Best area to stay in Dubai for culture

Al Fahidi

The stores of Bur Dubai Grand Souq in Al Fahidi, Dubai
  • Location: Close to Dubai Creek, in Bur Dubai.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Al Fahidi Metro Station

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 20 Minutes

There are many quintessential experiences such as Desert Safari Dubai that allow you for a genuine look at the region’s ancient culture and lifestyle. But for those who wish to feel the real spirit and allure of old Arabia or Dubai, the Al Fahidi neighbourhood in Bur Dubai is the ideal place to stay. Delightfully detached from modern Dubai, you'll find quaint narrow streets and modest dwellings throughout the 19th century Al Bastakiya Quarter (officially Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood).

Staying here, you'll have the opportunity to go beneath Dubai's glitzy exterior and discover more about its history and culture. Spend a morning visiting the Dubai Museum to learn more about what the emirate's humble past. Then head to the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to get some insight into Emirati history, religion and food.

Stay at the MAZMI CASA walking distance to the Grand Mosque and with views of the creek.

Best area to stay in Dubai for nightlife

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina at night.
  • Location: At the interchange 5 of Sheik Zayed Road and is between Dubai Internet City and Jebel Ali Port.

  • Nearest Metro Station: Dubai Marina station

  • Distance from Dubai International Airport: Approximately 25 Minutes

As the sun goes down, Dubai Marina is one of the best places to be in Dubai, especially if you wish to see the floodlit version of the city skyline in its entire splendor. While there's a range of exciting nightlife options at the Dubai Marina, the best experiences are the ones that offer spectacular views of the city.

Take a leisurely stroll along the marina after dark to admire the city views. Or, go on a traditional dhow cruise to see the glitzy buildings from the water. For a more adventurous experience, head to XLine Dubai, the world's largest urban zipline, to see the marina from the sky.

Stay at Grosvenor House, a luxury hotel with panoramic views of Dubai Marina.

As you can see, you're spoiled for choice when choosing where you should stay in Dubai. Wherever you choose, you can be sure it will be safe, complete with multitude of accommodation, shopping, and dining choices.

Most neighbourhoods are also easily accessible with public transport only minutes away, so the glitz and glamour of this striking desert city are never far away.

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and editor of Faraway Worlds. She is a freelance writer and guidebook author and has written for several travel publications, including Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and The Culture Trip. With a background in communications, she has studied ancient history, comparative religion and international development, and has a particular interest in sustainable tourism.

Originally from South Africa, Roxanne has travelled widely and loves learning the stories of the places she visits. She enjoys cooking, dance and yoga, and usually travels with her husband and young son. She is based in New Zealand.

Last Updated 27 April 2024

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