We find it very hard to get bored whilst in the UAE, as there are so many things to see and do whilst visiting the country. As a result we have produced a guide of our top attractions, to help you decide which tourist attractions you might want to visit.
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
You’ve most likely heard of this famous skyscraper. It’s currently the tallest structure in the world, standing at 828m! Its pretty hard to miss, being situated right in the centre of Downtown Dubai, next to The Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall. The Burj Khalifa contains two observation decks, one on the 124th floor and the other on the 148th floor. It’s pretty expensive to go up it (prices range from 125 AED / 35 USD for just the 124th floor to 500 AED / 140 USD for both floors together during prime hours).
Our advice: If you are on a budget, just do the lower floor, the views don’t actually differ that much, the higher floor is more about being relaxed and having a premium experience.
If you consider spending the premium, you should rather spend that money on a three course menu at the At.Mosphere restaurant on floor 122, where you’ll be able to enjoy the view much better and in true style, plus you get the food, and still don’t pay more than the folks up on 148 without a luxurious meal.
Note: As Dubai is situated in the desert, it is not uncommon for the city to be clocked in dense haze making visibility kinda poor. Take this into consideration when booking your ticket. That said, in the evening around sunset you’ll definitely get the best experience, whether it’s hazy or not.
Located next to the Burj Khalifa, who wouldn’t want to visit the worlds largest shopping mall?! Girls this one is for you! With 1,200 shops is a shopaholics paradise. Ranging from high fashion boutiques including the likes of Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Electronic stores. You will find everything in this amazing mall, you could say it’s a small city! With an ice rink, aquarium, a dinosaur skeleton and an indoor theme-park it really is mind-blowing.
The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain, surprise! Is the largest choreographed fountain system in the world, located in Downtown Dubai, below the Burj Khalifa. The best time to watch this show is during sunset, between 6pm and 11pm, when the shows run daily every 30 minutes. However, make sure to get there fairly early to guarantee a great view to watch and take pictures from. Whats more it is completely free, so you can watch as many fountain shows as you want!
This is an incredible development about 15 miles from the actual Downtown Dubai, but has since become Dubai’s second if not first heart, hosting some of the worlds tallest residential buildings, the Dubai Palm Jumeirah and much more. It’s one of the most densely populated places on earth with more that 120.000 people living in various skyscrapers of up to 500 metres in height. While that itself might sound crowded, it’s everything but that. The artificially built marina swaying through the extremely modern high-rise towers are beautifully designed and home to hundreds of small restaurants, shisha bars and shops along the promenade, while the actual beach is only a couple of minutes away.
Do you remember the year 2000? The whole Marina area was plain desert back then! And this is how it looks now, while new skyscrapers are still being added every year:
The Palm and The Atlantis
The Atlantis Hotel is set on the iconic Palm Jumeirah, overlooking the Arabian Gulf. It was the first resort to be built on the island and is themed on the myth of the Atlantis. It is a stunning hotel and definitely worth the visit, including the Atlantis waterpark.
The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago, created using land reclamation. The Palm hosts many famous hotel chains and resorts, including luxury apartments and houses for the rich.
Tip: During low season and summer, luxury resorts around The Palm have great deals on, so keep an eye out if you are wanting to stay in luxury, for a good price.
No visit to the UAE is complete without a trip out to the Arabian Desert. Dubai is an amazing city, but it lacks the ‘real’ UAE experience. Whilst visiting you must take a 4×4 desert safari tour. This is a half day tour usually departing around 2pm and returning after sunset. Trips vary depending on what you want to do, but generally they consist of: 4×4 dune driving, camel rides, sand boarding and an authentic Arabic meal in the desert. It is a great adventure fuelled afternoon, that we highly encourage you to do, trust us you won’t regret it!
A souk is a traditional market/bazaar. Dubai has got a fair share of them, especially around the old city centre area near the mouth of Dubai Creek, and it is certainly a nice experience and big contrast to this otherwise hyper modern metropolis. However, if you’re going to a different city in the Middle East as well, such as Doha, you’ll find more traditional, authentic and less commercialised bazaars there.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
This is most likely the largest mosque you’ll be able to visit, because the only two mosques which are even bigger, are located in Saudi Arabia, which – even more so for women – is not easy to visit. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been completed in 2007 after more than ten years of construction time and holds more than 40.000 people when full.
They offer free tours at certain times, check their homepage for more info on this. One tour is usually around sunset which is even more beautiful. Allow extra time for finding the free tour meeting point, changing into appropriate clothing and so on (women can borrow an abaya for free), it does take at least 30 minutes if not more. It can get very hot, especially in an abaya or in long clothes, but it is absolutely more than worth it, the shiny white marble tiles under the blue skies and the magnificent decorations manufactured all over the world really are nothing short of stunning.
Tip: Go for sunset and stay until after dark. The white mosque will be lit up by the setting sun and afterwards its 82 domes will be lit up in a mystic blue. Plus, it won’t be too hot with the sun gone.
For lovers of cars and speed, Ferrari world is heaven. Located on Yas Island (also hosting the Formula 1 every November), Ferrari World is an amusement park with all things, you guessed it: Ferrari! It is the first and only branded Ferrari Themepark in the world. And also home to the world’s fastest roller-coaster: Formula Rossa, reaching 240 km/h in under 5 seconds! It is a pretty crazy experience, and a must for all you adrenaline junkies out there!
Tip: During the Formula 1 weekend in November, if you’re attending the race you are also given free access to Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld on a day of your choice around the race weekend! This is a great deal as tickets to the F1 start at USD$140 or even less if you book early. Whereas the combined price of the two parks is already USD$80, which you basically get for free!
Yas Waterworld is a funfilled day out. Whether you are wanting to cool down from the Arabian heat, or you’re just a lover for waterparks, it is a great option when in Abu Dhabi! Make sure you arrive early to avoid long queues both in purchasing tickets and on rides.
Tip: During the Formula 1 weekend in November, if you’re attending the race you are also given free access to Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld! This is a great deal as ticket to the F1 start at USD$140. Whereas the combined price of the two parks is already USD$80, which you basically get for free!
Al Ain Zoo
The small city of Al Ain, also known as the Garden City, lies 100 miles east of Abu Dhabi in the Arabian desert. Although few travellers visit this city, if you have time it is definitely worth a visit. Al Ain Zoo is located in the foothills of the Jebel Hafeet Mountains. Thus, boasts stunning views throughout the whole park. It is particularly beautiful during sunset, when the sun shines through the mountains! When we visited, we did not see one ‘Western’ tourist, which was great as we could experience the real culture and heritage of the UAE, without another tourist in sight! It is also the cheapest zoo we have come across, at just 30 AED (USD$8!).
Al Ain Oasis
Is located in the heart of the city, it is the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spread over 1,200 hectares and containing more than 147,000 date palms, it really is an impressive site within Al Ain. It is a great place to spend the day if you’re wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and enjoy a calm and shaded stroll along walkways. The Oasis is open from 9am to 6pm daily and has free entry.
One of the most spectacular and scenic views in the region, the mountain of Jabel Hafeet boarders both the UAE and Oman, showcasing amazing views from the summit. However, you will need a rental car to get there, as taxis will be extortionate and may refuse to take you that far up. But it is definitely worth driving up to experience the views, especially during sunset.
Do you have any further questions, additional tips to add to our list, or you just enjoyed and found this useful? If so, do not hesitate to comment below on your thoughts! We love hearing from you guys! ???? Happy Travels!
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Loved seeing these some of places in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Looks like I missed a few things though – so I must go back 🙂 Thanks for the tips!
I guess it is a great excuse to go back to the UAE! No problem, we are happy to help 😀
Emma & Yannick