The fourth most visited city in the world after Paris, London and Bangkok, Dubai is one fascinating place. Constantly evolving, it’s a city bursting at the seams with luxury cars, glitzy skyscrapers, azure waters, man-made islands, shopping malls (Dubai Mall is one of the world’s largest), hundreds of hotels and some remarkable restaurants. Put all of that together with close to 365 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder 14.9 million people paid Dubai a visit in 2016. But with so much to see and do where should you start?
Visit the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
This is more than just a stunning hotel, it is a symbol of modern Dubai. Repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel, this magnificent destination offers 202 duplex rooms, nine bars and restaurants, high tea and afternoon tea all complemented by the finest service and facilities throughout – right down to an optional chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. Take a selfie in front of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah’s distinctive sail-shaped silhouette and you’ll be the envy of all your friends. Or better still, download the Gold on 27 app, and you can book a reservation for sundowners inside this stunning bar.
See the world’s tallest building
The Burj Khalifa is on everyone’s ‘bucket-list’ and rightly so. Located next to Dubai Mall – the Burj Khalifa measures over 828 metres in height, making it the tallest building in the world. There are now three viewing decks: At The Top on floors 124; and At The Top Sky on floors 125 and 148. Tickets can be bought in advance online and if you visit at sunset or in the evening, you can also watch the world’s tallest performing fountain in Downtown Dubai. The fountain performs to different songs from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. When operational, the Burj Khalifa fountain has over 22,000 gallons of water in the air at any given moment.
Stroll around Dubai Marina
Characterised by glitzy residential towers, the man-made Dubai Marina is changing all the time and there’s always something for visitors to explore and enjoy. One of the best ways to see Dubai Marina is simply to walk around it. Dubai Marina has been built with several kilometres of walkways, ideal for an afternoon stroll or a moonlight walk after a romantic meal. Visitors flock to Dubai Marina for its popular selection of restaurants, cafes and shops. There are occasional markets and it’s the perfect place to hire a yacht and cruise around the area.
Go to brunch
This is a Dubai institution and a rite of passage. Clichéd it may be but this is a popular choice with residents and visitors alike. In a nutshell, it involves a four hour all-you-can-eat-and-drink-marathon. There are hundreds to choose from – AED 99 budget options through to an eye watering AED 1,500+ a head. Latitude at Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a fabulous choice for families, couples or groups of friends looking for a lively option that covers all bases when it comes to food. Prices start from AED 350 per person.
Wild Wadi Waterpark™
Blow away the cobwebs the following day with a trip to Wild Wadi Waterpark™. This is a fantastic day out and includes rides and attractions for the whole family. Themed with characters inspired from Arabian folklore, the younger ones will love the kids’ activities in Juha’s Dhow and Lagoon which includes five slides and water guns. Take it easy and relax in a rubber ring on the lazy river a.k.a Juha’s Journey or hurtle down the adrenaline fuelled 120-metre high Jumeirah Sceirah at speeds of 80km/h. Surfers can try the Wipeout and Riptide Flowriders that shoot out seven tonnes of water per second to create real waves, one of only four such rides in the world.
Kite beach has been transformed in recent years and is now home to a whole host of activities. You’ll find SUP (that’s stand-up-paddle boarding), kite surfing, surf school, volleyball, beach tennis and football to name a few. Then there are plenty of cool and quirky outlets at Kite Beach to choose from if you fancy a bite to eat. Try Wanna Banana for banana treats; the Park House café – a spin off from Ripe Market which serves local organic produce; Taqado for Central American flavours; Amor for pizzas; SALT for burgers or try Holland House Mini Pancakes to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. You can also enjoy lazy days or lively nights at one of Dubai’s luxurious beach clubs. Planted in the grounds of the distinctive wave-shaped Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Cove Beach is a high-end beach club offering fantastic Mediterranean-inspired food and a tranquil atmosphere. But the big selling point is undoubtedly the location—right next to the beautiful Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Barasti is another popular beach club. It started life as a beach shack in 1995 and is now one of the liveliest beach clubs in town. During the day, soak up the sun on one of the over-sized beds and as night approaches, watch as Barasti transforms into a bustling night spot complete with live music and a DJ.
For a taste of old-world Arabia, jump in a taxi and head down to the Al Fahidi historical district. Here you can explore the city’s history with a trip to Dubai Creek, famed for establishing the old pearling industry. Watch traditional dhow boats laden with goods sail past then explore Dubai Museum and the city’s oldest buildings which date back to 1787. Discover archaeological finds, local antiquities and artefacts and witness the city’s incredible transformation through a series of aerial photos and a multimedia presentation. Interestingly, this whole area was the inspiration for the modern day version, Souk Madinat Jumeirah.