The jewel of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai welcomes visitors from all around the world on a daily basis. Many are just stopping over in the emirate on their way somewhere else, others stay for longer. Regardless, there is a huge amount to experience here and enough to keep you busy no matter how long you spend in this fascinating city.
Once you've seen the major sites, wander a bit further afield and discover rolling sand dunes, the local cultural heritage and a staggering choice of shopping options. Whether it's your first visit to Dubai or you've been here before, there'll be something on this list to keep you entertained when you next visit the emirate.
These are attractions every visitor to Dubai needs to see. If you're only here for a layover and have a limited amount of time to see the city, start with the below attractions... then pick a couple more which interest you to round out your trip.
Right in the center of downtown Dubai is Burj Khalifa! At a height of 828 meters, it’s the world’s tallest building. Besides several accommodation and dining choices, it hosts two breathtaking observation decks on its 124th and 148th levels.
One of the world’s biggest malls, the Dubai Mall is located next to Burj Khalifa. It is leisure-seekers’ paradise, a shopaholic's favorite, and of course, a dream spot for foodies. After all, it boasts of 1200+ outlets, over 200 dining choices, and loads of amusement and entertainment options including the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, KidZania Dubai and VR Park Dubai.
A must-see for all age groups, this fountain show on Burj Lake outside of Dubai Mall will take your breath away with its intricate harmony of water, light and music. It’s a free attraction unless you choose to watch it from a premium vantage point like Dubai Fountain Boardwalk, Burj Lake Abra Ride or a restaurant facing the fountain.
This sail-shaped structure, set on its own private island, is renowned as one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. You can choose to stay here or access its extravagant interiors on a culinary session or simply take a selfie against its majestic backdrop.
If you're staying on the Palm, chances are you'll spend most of your time simply enjoying your resort. Saying that, it's worth venturing out (even to another resort) to see the amazing view of the Palm from above. And, if you aren't staying here, head over for the day!
This five-star resort on the island’s crescent part is an epicenter of fantastic accommodation, sumptuous dining and remarkable leisure attractions. It's also the site of the Aquaventure Water Park, Lost Chambers Aquarium and Dolphin Bay, among others.
The recently launched attraction at Palm Jumeirah’s Pointe is the world’s largest fountain show where the perfect synchronization of water, light and music result in a spectacle like no other. It is also the region’s first colored show.
Did you know that an aerial experience like sky diving or a helicopter ride used to be the only way to take in the exact shape and structure of Palm Jumeirah? But not anymore! The brand-new observation deck inside Palm Tower allows you to admire this island in its true grandeur - while keeping your feet on (relatively) solid ground.
If you enjoy shopping, Dubai is the place for you. While the malls are impressive and well worth visiting, most of the actual shopping is done at the traditional markets, or souks. In Dubai, you can find a souk which sells just about anything you want. Here are some of our favourite places to shop in Dubai.
This traditional market has hundreds of thousands of shops all dedicated to selling gold jewelry. Even if you don’t plans for shopping here, be sure to check out this souk completely clad in unmatched shine and glitter.
It’s difficult for the connoisseurs of tastes to leave out this bazaar in Dubai. From the rarest and most aromatic to most exceptional quality, you’ll find here all types of spices at super reasonable rates.
This is the centre of shopping, dining and entertainment in old Dubai. Many of the souks are around here and it makes a fun place to wander around. Prices are also more reasonable here than in many of the malls. There are also some good food options, so be sure to stay for dinner.
This market is perfect for anyone who wants to return home with stunning Dubai souvenirs, striking clothing and cool jewelry at bargain rates.
This is an Arabian style accommodation complex with four luxurious hotels and some 40 plus dining choices, complemented by world-class recreation and shopping attractions including Madinat Souk.
While a lot of emphasis gets put on Dubai's malls and flashy buildings, there are many opportunities to learn about the local culture and heritage while you're in the area. See the traditional fishing boats, learn about Emirati culture and religion and discover one of the region's favourite sports - camel racing.
This modest sand-colored structure holds the credit of being the region’s first public school.
The museum is located inside Dubai’s oldest fort in Al Fahidi Fort. Its many inspiring arts and artifacts on display shed light on Dubai’s pre-oil phase and humble past.
Whether you wish to know about the Emirati culture, history, religion or even cuisines, this is the most authentic spots to be in Dubai.
Neither Dubai nor the UAE is be the birth place of coffee, but it certainly is indispensable to the region’s culture and history. This museum is a testament for this!
One of the region’s oldest mosques, Jumeirah Mosque is renowned for its stunning medieval Fatimid architecture style.
Al Marmoom is most popular being the venue of Dubai’s iconic camel race. More than that, it boasts of a Camel Hospital and a heritage market (open only in March – April.)
You can go on a traditional dhow cruise which promises you a stunning vantage point of the region’s most iconic and classy attractions such as Cayan Tower. And it's not just about the being on a boat - if you simply want to see the city from the water, you can catch the commuter abra from Deira. A dhow cruise is an experience and often includes dinner and entertainment.
If you've had enough of the city and the heat, head to the beach for a few hours. As well as long stretches of white sand, Dubai's beaches are clean and good for watersports. And don't worry about what to wear - your usual swimsuit (or bikini) is perfectly acceptable on the beach.
This vibrant hotspot in Jumeirah is especially famous for its chic ambience and attractions including Laguna Water Park (with one of the world’s ultimate surfing attractions).
This is more than a place to relax and enjoy invigorating sea breeze. It also provides superb facilities for activities like kite surfing, parasailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing etc.
Visiting Dubai as a family? Don't worry, there's lots to keep kids entertained while you're here. If you've already explored all the kids activities at the Dubai Mall (mentioned above) and had enough of beaches and fountain shows, here's a few more ideas on how to keep your little ones busy during your trip.
For those who don’t know, IMG Worlds of Adventure is the world’s largest indoor theme park. From IMG Boulevard and Lost Valley to the classic Marvel and Cartoon Network, it four zones across this 1.5 million square feet facility have something for all age groups.
This amusement venue is where you can experience the cultures, cuisines and other specialties of about 80 countries under a single roof. Don’t miss it; but this is a seasonal attraction open only during winter months from October to April. Combine it with the Miracle Garden (below) for a great evening out.
Every year from mid-November to mid-May, the Dubai Miracle Garden opens with a splash of colour. Over 150 million flowers are arranged in colorful arches and patterns, making different shapes each year. From vertical gardens to a floral sculpture forming the shape of an Airbus A380, there is something here to delight visitors of all ages. And, as a bonus, the Dubai Butterfly Garden is right next door.
One of the newer attractions in Dubai, the Museum of the Future is well worth visiting for the whole family. There are three floors of immersive exhibitions, focused on the possible futures of outer space resource development, ecosystems and bioengineering; and health, wellness, and spirituality.
There is also a dedicated space for kids, called "Future Heroes" with plenty of opportunities for playing. The main children's area is best suited for kids over three.
Legoland Dubai has to be the perfect place for children aged 2-12! From Lego-themed activities, rides, a full water park and seriously impressive Lego displays, you can easily spend a day here. There are also shows and opportunities for children to build their own creations. And, if you're a Lego-loving family, you can even choose to stay at the on-site hotel.
If you've had enough of shopping and want more adrenalin-inducing activities, Dubai has you covered. Here are just a few ideas to get started.
For an adventurous trip through the desert, try 4×4 dune bashing - and don't expect a relaxing ride. The rollercoaster drive up and down the steep dunes will leave you excited for more and perhaps a little dizzy. If that doesn't pique your interest, try riding through the desert on camel back instead, or consider sand-boarding through the dunes. For the truly adventurous, try them all on a desert safari.
Dubai is home to the world’s swiftest, steepest and longest urban zipline. XLine is a must for adventurers who want to see the grandeur of Dubai Marina from a sky-high perspective.
Boost yourself into the air like a super hero! Flying above the water is enough to pump your adrenaline already and you can add an extra fear factor by trying out some tricks. You control yourself with the water jets - but be warned, flyboarding isn't as easy as it looks!
For the ultimate view of Dubai, try skydiving! Think free-falling through the air overlooking the Palm, with the city in the distance. Or, if the the big jump sounds a bit intimidating, book an indoor skydiving session to try free-falling in a controlled environment. Either way, the adrenalin will keep you giddy for the rest of the day.
Planning on visiting Dubai? Read our guide on where to stay in Dubai and our article on Dubai travel costs.
Last Updated 11 June 2022