Start your trip by soaking in what Dubai is famous for- shopping & beaches. Head straight to the nearest metro station, get a daily pass or NOL card (click here for details) and take the red line to alight at Dubai mall/Burj Khalifa station.
Dubai Mall & Souq Al Bahar
Take a look around the world’s largest mall, ‘Dubai Mall’- shop till you drop, visit the ‘Aquarium’ (inside the mall!) and click pictures in front of the famous divers of the Dubai mall waterfall. Follow the directions to ‘Souq al Bahar’ & exit the mall. Visit the souq, have a scrumptious meal from any of the outdoor restaurants and admire the mighty ‘Burj Khalifa’.
The beach & The walk
Take a local taxi to ‘The beach’ by Meraas opposite to JBR. Go for any of the water sports available at the beach, take a dip in the calm sea & watch the sunset. Checkout ‘The walk’ while you leave the beach which is an outdoor dining and shopping promenade next to the beach.
Walk to ‘Dubai Marina’ which looks stunning under the stars with lights all around. End your day by taking a relaxing Dhow cruise ride of 90min, sailing aside luxurious private yachts to jet ski’s to shining skyscrapers. Some companies even offer a dinner on cruise along with Tanoura dancers on board.
Souq Madinat Jumeirah
Start your day with a visit to ‘Souq Madinat Jumeirah’ which is an indoor bazaar built like an authentic Arabian shopping street with shops lining wood-framed walkways. From souvenirs to locally made jwellery to spices to lanterns available, it is an upgraded version of Diera souqs in Old Dubai. It is also an ideal photo point to capture Burj Al Arab towering over the Madinat Jumeirah resort.
La Mer beach
Take a local taxi and visit the ‘La Mer beach’- do not forget your swim suit! With art installations, catchy wall art and peppy graffiti, La Mer is a perfect family destination that has water parks for all ages and a beach too. Restaurants line on both sides to grab a bite after exhausting water park rides.
Mall of Emirates
Head straight to the ‘Mall of Emirates’- well, you can’t go around Dubai without passing by a mall! Shop in bulk from Carrefour or slide down the snow in ‘Ski Dubai’ in sub zero temperatures (inside the mall!) Metro station is right beside the mall- catch your train to your hotel to end the day.
A day in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi day trip- ‘Abu Dhabi’ is around 1.5 hours drive from Dubai and is a perfect one day trip to do in your Dubai trip. You could take a metro to Ibn Battuta station and catch a bus to Abu Dhabi bus station or pretty easily, book a full day Abu Dhabi tour (We booked this one!)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
‘Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’ is the reason why I chose to visit Abu Dhabi. From the largest hand made carpet to heavy chandeliers with Swarovski crystals and galvanized gold to 80+ tombs all around, the mosque is stunning, elegant and a must visit in the middle east.
In & around Abu Dhabi
The tour also takes you around Abu Dhabi covering major tourist attractions (from outside like the Lourve & Ferrari world) and city points. It is a good way to understand the relationship between Dubai & Abu Dhabi and how its leaders have shaped the emirates – all from the informative guide.
The later half of the day is reserved for a 7 hour ‘Desert safari’- you could spend the first half chilling in your hotel room or visit the ‘Kite beach’ or take a ride in the ‘Flying cups’ in JBR or go for an adventurous Jet skiing in the Jumeirah beach.
We booked the 7 hour desert safari (this one!) that includes quad biking (extra payment), dune bashing, camel ride, sandboarding, Arabian buffet dinner, cultural performances like belly dance & Tanoura dance. The Bedouin camp also offers henna painting and a photo-opp in traditional Arabic dress holding bald eagle.
Take the metro in red line and alight at the Al Jafiliya metro station to reach the ‘Dubai frame’. I loved the concept of having New Dubai on one side and Old Dubai on the other, along with showcasing the history of the country as you ascend to the top and the country’s ambitions and aspirations for the future while you descend.
Dubai museum & Al Fahidi Historical District
Take a local taxi and reach the ‘Dubai museum’. It provides a wider picture on how the country’s people survived in the desert in the past and how they have built up an entire empire from sand. Walk out to Al Fahidi Historical District or commonly known as ‘Al Bastakiya’. Old buildings that have been restored act as quaint souvenir shops, art galleries and art cafes while the walkways are desert-colored, roofed by beige cloths that throw beautiful shadows on the cobbled path.
Walk around to the Bur Dubai Abra station through the Textile souq or Bur Dubai souq and catch an ‘Abra’ for AED 1 to cross the creek. Visit the ‘Spice souq’, ‘Gold souq’ and ‘Diera Grand souq’ – shop Arabian spices, perfumes, souvenirs, dates, cheap chocolates & colorful lanterns as you smell around the tens of types of spices and catch a glimpse of gold necklaces up till the waist.
Take Abra back to the other side and reach Al Fahidi metro station, interchange lines at Burjuman and alight at Burj Khalifa metro station. From the authentic Old Dubai to the shining New Dubai- lets climb up the tallest building in the world, the ‘Burj Khalifa’. Level 124 is breath taking as it is roofless, breezy and the glass is non reflective. Watch out for all the informative displays throughout the experience to know more about the modern day Dubai.
Once you have spent as much time as you like from the top, I would suggest watching the ‘Dubai fountain’ once from up and then from ground- I mean have you ever seen a fountain from up above?. The fountains are up for 5mins every 30mins starting at 7pm. You could go extra by opting for a boat ride to watch the fountain up close.
On your last day, you could fit in any one of the water/amusement/theme parks spread across Dubai like Aquaventure, Wild wadi, IMG world of adventures, Bollywood park (preferably if you are travelling with kids) or go for ‘Miracle garden’ & ‘Butterfly garden’ (for any age group). It takes more than half a day to cover latter combination and head straight to the ‘Global village’ that opens at 4 in the evening.
Saving the best for the last- Be ready for a fun filled, colorful, energetic night shopping and trying out new food as you stroll around pavilions of different countries around the world. We took around 5 hours walking around exploring all corners of Global Village. I believe it is the best way to end your visit in Dubai as it clearly represents the spirit of the country- positive, fun & the best!