When travelers of old got lost in the desert, they would sometimes spy glittering oases on the horizon, only to find they were mirages — hallucinations likely caused by dehydration. But while Dubai is a glittering oasis, it’s no mirage. This dreamy desert destination is all real and it’s rich in sights to suit every type of traveler. So, which Dubai attractions should jump to the top of your must-see list? Here are the best of the best.
1. Reach new heights at the Burj Khalifa
If you didn’t visit this iconic skyscraper, were you really in Dubai at all? No list of things to do in Dubai would be complete without name-checking the Burj Khalifa. It’s the tallest building in the world and, unsurprisingly, offers unbeatable panoramic views of the city. Skip the line (and time your visit for sunset), when the panorama really puts on a show!
2. Feel freedom in the desert dunes
Get out of ultra-modern Dubai and get back to nature. There’s no better way to experience the desert outside of the city than with a heart-pumping quad bike ride. It’s the ultimate adventure activity and a truly epic way to experience one of earth’s most epic landscapes. Adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers alike can’t miss this one!
3. Soak in the sights in comfort
Temperatures in Dubai can reach scorching highs. How to see all the sights the city has to offer and still skip the sun-stroke? We’ve got three words for you: air-conditioned bus tour. A hop-on hop-off tour gives you the flexibility to see all the best places to visit in Dubai. You can see the old city, the marina, the beachfront, and more all at your own pace — without breaking a sweat. Now that’s cool.
4. Marvel at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The numbers say it all: spread over 30 acres, with room for 40,000 worshippers, and boasting an enormous 60,570 square foot prayer carpet. The carpet is as beautiful as it is impressive — it took artisans 2 years to create,! Located an easy day trip from the heart of Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has to be seen to be believed.
5. Enjoy panoramic views in an intimate setting
Yes, the Burj Khalifa has an impressive view of Dubai. But what’s the one thing you can’t see from the Burj Khalifa Skydeck? The iconic skyscraper itself. Get another angle on Dubai’s breathtaking skyline from the Burj Al Arab Skyview Bar. In this relaxed setting you can sip on craft cocktails while taking in the city lights and the Arab Gulf. Our tip? Some tours cover the cost of your drinks!
6. Earn bragging rights on a hot-air balloon ride
Nothing says “living my best life” like a desert sunrise on a hot-air balloon ride. Add cruising through the dunes in a vintage car and an alfresco breakfast to the mix and things are looking pretty luxe. If you decide to soar to new heights on this tour, don’t forget your camera. This is a “pics or it didn’t happen” kind of experience.
7. Cool off at the Aquaventure Water Park
There’s more to Dubai than desert. Discover the city’s cooler side at the much-loved Aquaventure Water Park. Once you’ve had your fill of the park’s world-class rides and slides, stroll over to the Atlantis Aquarium. It’s home to a staggering 65,000 varieties of marine life. Fun for all the family, guaranteed!
8. Feel the thrill of the famous fountains
The fountain show at the Dubai Mall is, quite simply, one of the greatest spectacles on earth, where 6,000 lights meet 22,000 gallons of airborne water. And locals know there’s only one way to see the show — from the deck of a traditional water taxi, where you can see all the action up close.
9. Take zip lining to new extremes
Love the excitement of zip lining? Then don’t leave Dubai without riding the longest urban zip line in the world. The XLine Zipline stretches for one kilometer over the Dubai Marina. Once you’re strapped in, you could reach speeds of up to 80 km an hour. Only in Dubai…
10. Uncover fascinating history in the old city
Dubai may be one of the world’s most modern cities, but this desert hub has a rich and vibrant past. Learn about it for yourself when you wander the old city. Start by strolling the marina and taking in the Blue Mosque. Then, get haggling with vendors at the bustling Spice Souk and Gold Souk. Souvenirs: sorted.