THE 10 MOST AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI (& ABU DHABI)

Hi guys! I got to spend a few days in Dubai during Arab Fashion Week this November, and when I wasn’t working I tried to explore around as much as possible.

Here is my take on the best things you could do in Dubai! 🙂

#1 Enjoy the skyline (it’s gorgeous, and free!)

It might sound silly but I was seriously blown away when I first saw the Downtown’s skyscrapers and I kept being in total awe for the entire time I was in Dubai.

I honestly prefer the Downtown’s skyline a little bit more than Marina’s one, but usually the second one is the most popular!

#2 Visit Madinat Jumeraih

Souk Madinat Jumeirah is “an authentic re-creation of an ancient marketplace with traditional Middle Eastern style and ambiance.”

It’s great to shop and get some souvenirs (I found the cheapest and most honest deals here!). Grab a coffee at Costa and enjoy the view on a true icon of Dubai: the Burj Al Arab Hotel or, as some people call it, the only “7-star-hotel” in the world.

#3 Treat yourself to a luxury hotel: Shangri-La and the view on Burj Khalifa

Dubai is famous for its luxurious hotels and I couldn’t complete my visit without experiencing one myself.

I chose the 5 star luxury of Shangri-La, located on Sheikh Zayed Road, which exceeded all my expectations.

The 302 luxurious suites are spacious and cozy, with a wonderful view on Downtown’s skyline. The breakfast buffet was probably the biggest, most complete and most international one I’ve ever tasted.

Credit: Shangri-La Dubai Credit: Shangri-La Dubai

Breakfast at Shangri-La Breakfast at Shangri-La

When I checked in my room and I saw the view on Burj Khalifa I literally cried my eyes out for the next 30 minutes. So gorgeous and so rewarding!

I next discovered an even nicer view, which is the one from the 42nd floor. I spent the evening chilling in a warm jacuzzi enjoying the view outside the window: most relaxing moment ever!

Great news: Hobby photographers that are not staying at the hotel but are willing to take pictures from the 42nd floor can reach out to the hotel and book a visit! 🙂 Have a look at the live view HERE.

Ps: The view during the day is as beautiful at the night’s one 😉

#4 Go on a Desert Safari Tour

This was probably THE reason I wanted to come to Dubai and definitely the thing I was most excited about.

All the tours honestly have the same program, but I personally chose Arabian Adventures‘ one, which costs around 200 AED (50€), and I was very happy with the tour.

Our guide Mohammed picked us up directly from the hotel and headed straight to the desert. After 20 minutes of dune bashing, we admired the sun going down. Our guide was extremely helpful and answered ALL my million questions.

The time we spent in the desert with actual daylight wasn’t much, so next time I’ll make sure I book a longer tour.

After sunset we were brought to the nearby Bedouin style campsite where we enjoyed a DELICIOUS dinner buffet (guys the food in UAE is so good I can’t describe it) while watching a fire show, typical Arab dances and belly dancing. Henna tatoos and suvenirs shops were also available on site.

I honestly didn’t want to ride a camel (even though it was available) because I feel the way they are treated is still kind of unethical (stand up, carry around a tourist for 2 minutes, kneel down, get a new tourist on, stand up, carry around a tourist for 2 minutes, kneel down, and so on).

#5 Shop at the local markets in Deira

Roam through the souks of the oldest part of Dubai: Gold Souq, Spice Souq, Perfume Souq, Naif Souq. 

Be mindful: it’s better to visit with a man. The area is not dangerous at all, but you’ll be surrounded by VERY PUSHY men asking you to check out their shop and buy all sorts of things. I planned to buy a lot of things at the markets but we were too overwhelmed by the annoying vendors and were “forced” to move on.

When you’re done shopping, head over to the nearby Port Saeed to admire the colorful dhow cruises and shipping boats.

#6 Visit the Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai has many theme parks (which are not really my thing), but I decided to give a chance to the Dubai Miracle Garden.

 

It was very pretty and really well constructed, but I wouldn’t visit it again. I’m still including it in the article because many people might actually enjoy it, especially families with children.

TIP: if you have time, get on the metro to “Mall of the Emirates” and grab a cab from there. You’ll save money! The area is quite isolated and there is no direct public transportation going there. I spent 80 AED on my way back to Downtown Dubai :/ not fun!

#7 Spend a day at Zero Gravity beach

[If you love this kind of pictures don’t forget to check out my travel diary!]

I decided to spend here my last afternoon in Dubai and I really enjoyed myself.

Zero Gravity is a “day to night oasis”, a modern beach club with a restaurant, a very fun pool (+ inflatable unicorns!) and a very relaxing beach.

For privacy reasons (Dubai is really strict about this) I’m not including pool pictures, but head over to their website to see more!

TIP: on Tuesdays women have free entry! Just give them a call the day before and ask them to add you to the Guest List.

#8 Have dinner in the tallest hotel in the world: Weslodge Restaurant at JW Marriott Marquis

Ok guys listen up because this was the absolute highlight of my Dubai vacation!

weslodge dubai

I had probably THE BEST DINNER OF MY ENTIRE LIFE at Weslodge, the first “rock’n’roll chic” North American saloon in Dubai.

The restaurant was opened in March 2016, brought to Dubai directly from Toronto, Canada.  It combines classy vibes with a surprising menu and hand-crafted drinks.

Weslodge is located on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis, the tallest hotel in the world located in the heart of Dubai’s Business Bay. The view during our dinner was absolutely unique.

I can’t stress enough how much I loved the view, the hospitality, the quality of the food, the genius of the recipes, the cocktails’ innovative spirit. Again, it was one of the best dinners I’ve ever had! All the “layers” of our experience were fully taken care of.

We kept looking at each other thinking “How can the food be THIS PERFECT?”. We’re Italians so we are used to great dishes, but these recipes felt like an explosion of taste and creativity in our mouth.

Tip: everything was totally delicious, but our absolute favorites dishes were Ahi Tuna Ceviche and the Tenderloin USDA Prime (UN-BE-LI-VA-BLE!).

#9 Shop at one of the 64 (64!) malls in Dubai

The Dubai Mall The Dubai Mall

“One of Dubai’s official sports is shopping.” The temperature in Dubai goes up to 47*C during summer (116*F), so it totally makes sense to me. Malls in Dubai are fresh and fun: you can find them everywhere in town, but the absolute best ones are considered to be the Dubai Mall, City Walk, Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Marina Mall.

Here you can find a complete list of the malls.

#10 Go on a daily trip to Abu Dhabi

Just 140 km from Dubai is the capital of the United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is also (obviously) the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest and richest of the UAE’s seven emirates. The transition from the Dubai’s emirate to the Abu Dhabi’s emirate is quite tangible: the streets suddenly become darker, the street lights have 6 lights instead of 2, and a lot of trees start to appear.

Abu Dhabi loves to express its wealth by planting trees, since (in the middle of the desert) the cost of maintaining ONE tree is more 2,000$ a year.

My hotel proposed me a daily tour in Abu Dhabi with Planet Tours, which cost around 250 AED and was the cheapest one I found.

My guide was FANTASTIC (I can tell he really loves his job) and for the entire tour explained us so many interesting things about UAE’s traditions and culture.

First stop was at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: to visit the “White Mosque” was such a dream of mine that finally being there extremely moved me. I dressed up in a typical “Abaya” to enter in the mosque, which has a strict dress code (learn more HERE), and spent about an hour exploring around.

Inside this magical mosque you’ll find the world’s largest chandelier, made with Swarovski crystals, and the world’s biggest carpet, which really impresses for its lack of seams.

Fast& Furious Abu Dhabi scene took place here 😉

abu dhabi

View of Abu Dhabi from the Heritage Village

The tour included sightseeing of the major points of interest in town: the Eithad towers (you might have seen these skyscrapers in Fast&Furious 7 ;), Miraj Museum, Ferrari World, Emirates Palace, the Corniche.

We also spent some time at the traditional Heritage Village, which provides an impression of the life during the old days (the comparison between the old houses and the new skyscrapers is so impressive!).

Keep in mind that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi were built over the last 40/50 years!


 

Hope you enjoyed guys! If you liked the article, don’t forget to pin it! Dubai was an absolute surprise for me and I can’t way to go back! What are your favorite spots in town? Let me know 🙂

Irene Ferri

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Comments (10)

Irene, I’m so so glad you liked both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Looks like you had an amazing time. I hope the tips I gave you helped!

These pictures of Abu Dhabi just look breathtaking. I had no idea that it is that beautiful.Great post!

Great guide! It seems like there are never ending things to do here and the food sounds divine!

Thank you SO much for this list! I was thinking about skipping Dubai, but now I know not to and can’t wait to go! Great tips and your pictures are absolutely flawless.

Stunning! I would love to go to Dubai (AND Abu Dhabi!). I haven’t done much research, but for some reason I was a little surprised with how long your list of things to do is – I feel like I had only ever heard of shopping spots before now. Pinning for when I can finally plan a trip there. Oh, and your picture of the Burj Al Arab with the palms is beautifully framed!

You photos are absolutely mind blowing- I have been to Dubai, but the way you portrayed Dubai is something else! thank you for sharing. The Shangri-La Dubai is the place to stay!

It looks like you had an amazing stay in Dubai.

I have not heard of the miracle garden before, but that looks like the kind of place that i’d love to explore.

It’s a shame to hear about the pushy men when you were shopping. I had a similar experience in Marrakesh. In the end I hardly bought anything because I was so annoyed by all the pushiness!

The skyline is amazing, and the NYE firework show looks out of this world. We’ve only spent 16 hours in Dubai on a layover but I think it’s time we spend a proper vacation there!

Thanks you much for this post. I was never into Dubai because I always thought you had to do most things indoors (like shopping malls and all). I am glad I was mistaken… I love your pictures of Abu Dhabi, amazing.

I loved Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I didn’t get a chance to hang out at the beach, but the week that I was there I got a lot in! I would love to go back and I would even consider living there for a bit. I loved the Miracle Garden. Such a wonder in the desert.

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