Ever since my family moved to Dubai 2 years ago, I’ve been spending at least 3 months out of the year there – I love it! I’ve been able to do most of the touristy things and also get a glimpse of what it’s like to actually live there. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know this since you’ve seen me post about Dubai quite a bit (and by quite a bit, I mean A LOT!).
Based on this experience, I’ve had a lot of people ask me for recommendations about what to do and where to go when they’re in Dubai, so I’ve decided to put together a list of my top 10 things to see and do in Dubai.
There’s obviously so much more I have to share about Dubai but you can consider this list a great place to start, especially if you’re going to be there on a vacation or for a short time and want to see some of the best spots.
If there are any recommendations you want in particular (places to go out, restaurants etc.), make sure you comment below and let me know what you’d like to know about!
1. MIRACLE GARDEN
Miracle garden is truly that: a miracle.
A garden oasis in the desert, Miracle Garden has the most spectacular displays of flora and fauna that I’ve ever seen. From Mickey Mouse and dancing ballerinas, to castles and an Emirates A380 made out of flowers, this garden is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend visiting Miracle Garden to give your eyes and soul an adventure — plus your Instagram feed will thank you.
Miracle Garden is only open seasonally given the intensity of Dubai’s summers. If you’re there between early November to the beginning of April, you should be able to visit.
2. DESERT SAFARI
Going on a desert safari is a MUST when you come to Dubai. You get to experience the vastness and beauty of the desert, experience a dinner and a cultural show, and of course get some awesome pictures to go home with.
I went on a Desert Safari Tour with Arabian Adventures when I was in Dubai and it was everything I expected. We started with dune bashing, stopped to sand board, got to ride a camel and then enjoyed a dinner and a dance show.
3. Sheikh Zayed Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is also a must in my books. It is truly one of most grand and beautiful displays I’ve ever seen. It has the largest carpet in the world, chandeliers made with crystals and gold, and can hold up to 41,000 worshippers at a time.
Abu Dhabi is about a 1hr drive so it’s definitely something you can do in a day. You can drive yourself, go in a taxi or go on a tour bus. We did this trip with Arabian Adventures again and opted to go to Ferrari World theme park while we were there as well (so much fun and it has the fastest rollercoaster in the world!).
4. LA MER
La Mer is just an adventure for the eyes and soul!
It’s pretty much a plaza on the beach and there are restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, bathingsuit stores etc. but it all done with this beautiful colorful theme and contemporary style (read: Instagram heaven). It’s the perfect place to spend the afternoon walking around, grabbing a bit, and taking pictures in front of the colorful huts or wall murals. It’s also an amazing beach to swim at when the weather permits it.
5. SOUK MADINAT JUMEIRAH
The Venice of Dubai.
That’s the best way to describe the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. It combines so many things into one — a shopping mall in the style of a souk (i.e. bazaar), a place to eat, drink, and unwind, and also offers an incredible feeling of being on a canal much like Venice or Amsterdam.
Put simply, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Dubai. I love going here and eating at a restaurant close to the water.
6. FRIDAY BRUNCH
Friday (which in Dubai is basically their Sunday) is a staple of Dubai life, and is definitely something you should experience while you are there.
I’ve been to a few but nothing beat my experience at Saffron at Atlantis The Palm Hotel. It’s a buffet-style, bottomless drinks, music pumping, full blown party. The last time I went the DJ had some sort of Caribbean connection and played session after session of Soca and Dancehall music. It was such a fun time!
7. DUBAI FOUNTAIN SHOW
I’ve seen the fountain show and Las Vegas and the fountain show in Dubai. I won’t say one is better than the other but I will say that Dubai fountain show is etched into my memory because of how moving and beautiful it felt for me.
Perhaps it was because they played Andrea Bocelli in the background as the water danced which absolutely tugged at my heart strings that makes me biased. Regardless, I truly feel like you should see this watershow while you’re in Dubai, it is SO well done and just feel so GOOD to watch.
I recommend getting on one of the small boats they have there. It takes you out onto the water and away from the crowds so you can really take it all in.
8. BURJ KHALIFA
The tallest building in the world!
If you have a fear of heights or really, really fast elevator rides, you may want to sit this one out. If not, get ready for an amazing view of the city and beyond. Even before you get up there, you get to experience what it’s like to move in an elevator that takes you 10 meters per second and reaches the 124th floor in 60 seconds.
Once you’re up there, it’s somewhat hard to grasp how high up you are. It’s definitely something to see!
9. JUMEIRAH MINA A’SALAM/BURJ AL ARAB
Some would argue that is the most famous building in Dubai. It seems like every one has a picture in front of the Burj Al Arab, which btw is a so-called “6-star hotel.” Trust Dubai to build a hotel that outranks a 5-star.
The Minna A’Salam is a hotel on the beach that is adjacent to the Burj Al Arab and is a PERFECT way to spend a day on the beach, grab lunch by the pool, and get some awesome pictures. Note that you do have to pay to access this beach but man is it worth it! When you arrive, you walk through the gorgeous hotel down the beach, set up on the beach chairs and you’re greeted by someone who gives you a bag with iced waters and a call button that you can press whenever you want anything. There’s a beach menu so you can order food and drinks (alcohol after 11am) and you also have access to the pool area to chill out if you want a change of scenery.
I love going here!
10. DUBAI MALL AND MALL OF EMIRATES
First thought when you think about Dubai? Go!
Ferrari, Lamborghini, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, mansions, lions as pets…
Dubai is synonymous with shopping and much like everything else there, they take shopping to the next level. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world, and The Mall of the Emirates has a ski slope in it (yes, this mall in Dubai, which is a desert to be clear, has a whole ski slope with snow inside of it). Beyond that, the malls are just something to see! They are beautifully decorated, immaculately clean, and have some of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever seen for a mall.
You can expect to see all manner of fancy cars and high end stores when you get to the mall, but you can also find your everyday brands as well if you’re not trying to break the bank.
Have you been to Dubai? What would you add to this list? Are you planning a trip? If so, what are you planning to do that’s on this list (or not on this list)?