A buzzing city with a multitude of things to see and do, everyone should visit Dubai at least once in their lifetime. Because there is always something going on, it can be overwhelming to plan a trip in this marvelous city.
To help you out, here is a detailed itinerary of what you can do from sunrise to sundown for the ultimate weekend in Dubai.
Day 1: Morning
Start your first morning in Dubai with a stroll along The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residences. Eggspectation is a highly popular, family-friendly restaurant that has an egg-focused breakfast menu. If you have dietary concerns, this restaurant caters to gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
After you have consumed your egg-tastic breakfast, it is time for some relaxation on The Beach. Here you can soak up the sun (remember your sunscreen!), go for a swim, and maybe even have some fun at the world’s biggest inflatable water park at the Dubai Aqua Park.
While in the area, make your rounds at Dubai Marina which is the bigger locale where JBR is to be found. Dubai Marina is where 14 of the 20 tallest residential towers in the world are located, including:
- Princess Tower
- 23 Marina
- The Torch
- Marina 101 Cayan Tower
- Elite Residence.
Once you have bronzed yourself to satisfaction, it is time to check out some of Dubai’s other star attractions. There are lots of options for all interests.
Adventure seekers may opt to ride the infamous freefall water slide Jumeirah Sceirah at Dubai’s iconic water park called Wild Wadi; or go skiing or snowboarding in the desert at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha.
Other thrilling options include:
- Jumping out of an aeroplane and free falling above The Palm Jumeirah at Skydive Dubai, located in Dubai Marina on Al Sufouh Road (be sure to book this experience in advance)
- Swimming in shark-infested waters at Atlantis, The Palm.
However, if these daring activities aren’t what you want to sign up for, you should instead head to the Dubai Miracle Garden in Barsha (South) and the Dubailand area for a relaxing day outdoors. This gorgeous fantasy land is full of elaborate flower sculptures, and don’t miss the butterfly sanctuary!
It is your first evening in Dubai, and you are certainly in for a treat. There is no better place to enjoy your first dinner than in Downtown Dubai. There is a reason that the Arabian Souk Al Bahar is so popular. It offers jaw-droppingly beautiful views of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain — the largest choreographed fountain in the world. Here you will be able to choose from among 22 different dining options.
Karma Kafé, which serves Asian fusion cuisine, offers the best views of the dancing fountain. However, if you are looking for something a little more special and romantic, The Palace hotel next door should be for you.
Walk off your dinner with a stroll towards The Dubai Mall, catching a glimpse of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Alternatively, take a jaunt around the fountain and head to At.mosphere, the highest restaurant in the world, in the Burj Khalifa, for an elegant dessert and a cosmopolitan drink with sensational views.
Day 2: Morning
Wake up early on day two, so that you can make the most of the day! Your first port of call should be Old Dubai, where you can get an authentic cultural experience. Keep in mind that this is the traditional centre of the emirate, so ensure you are dressed conservatively with your shoulders and knees covered.
Do some shopping at the traditional markets in Deira. If you have ever wondered what 300 shops overflowing with gold looks like, then the Gold Souk will be a wonder for you to behold. Continue south until you reach the Deira Grand Souk, formerly known as Al Souk Al Kabeer. A long time ago, this was the most significant marketplace in Dubai, and visiting it will show you how it was in a bygone era.
If you are interested in the history of Dubai, make sure to stop at Dubai Creek (located adjacent to the Grand Souk), to see a living remembrance of when Dubai was celebrated as a seafaring trading hub for pearls, fish, textiles, and more.
Another cultural option is to take an Abra across the Creek to Bur Dubai, where you can find many historical monuments and museums. The Dubai Heritage and Diving Villages, as well as the official residence of the late Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum (1912-1958), the grandfather of Dubai’s current ruler, are all located in the Al Shindagha area.
By this time you are probably already starving, so head to Bayt Al Wakeel for a traditional Levantine and Emirati lunch. Built of mud, coral, and wood in the 1930s, this is one of the oldest buildings in Dubai, and it houses a maritime museum as well as the delicious restaurant. Make sure to order a glass of refreshing Middle Eastern lemonade — also known as a “lemon and mint juice” to energise you.
Once you have had your fill, continue down the river until you reach the Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood (a.k.a. Al Bastakiya Quarter). In this neighbourhood where wealthy merchants once lived, you will find old Arabian homes with traditional wind towers, winding alleys, and contemporary art galleries.
You can’t come to Dubai and not experience a desert safari! These excursions are a phenomenal way of experiencing the UAE sands and Bedouin culture. All safaris include a range of activities, including:
- Dune bashing
- Quad biking
- Camel riding
- Belly dancers
- An Emirati dinner under Arabian tents
Depending on how many of these activities you decided to do and which safari package you booked, you may or may not be back in the city by the evening. However, if you are, you should undoubtedly hop aboard a dhow cruise for dinner. On this cruise, you get to see the sites of Old Dubai from a vantage point that most people tend to miss.
Keep in mind that in Dubai, Friday and Saturday are the weekend days. Friday is the weekly holy day in the UAE, so many places will have different opening hours. Before you visit a site, be sure to check the timings first. Additionally, the majority of shops in the souks close between 1pm and 4pm daily (except on Fridays).
Have you been to Dubai before? What are some of your favourite spots? Let us know in the comments below!