Updated: December 2022
A top travel destination lodged between desert and sea, Dubai offers something for all tastes, age ranges and budgets. Dubai is the tourism and business capital of the UAE and the Middle East while the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, is only about an hour away by car.
Dubai’s famous sights attract tourists from all over the world. From one of the world’s largest malls to the world’s largest aquarium, theme parks and so much more, Dubai’s attractions never end and there are options to suit every budget. With so many options it’s important to plan ahead.
Drawing upon decades of experience in this dynamic city, Top Spots Dubai has put together a list of the top 25 best things for you to see and do in Dubai. This comprehensive list, filled with tips, will guide you to the best places in Dubai for tourists.
Arrive in one of the world’s busiest airports. DXB International draws in excited tourists from all corners of the globe. Then, step into the city. Dubai balances tradition and modernity like no other place. There’s so much to see and do in Dubai from the city’s major sights and attractions including the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab to the bustling souks of old Dubai. Beyond the major attractions, Dubai’s excellent weather and surrounding natural terrain ensure that a host of action-packed adventures are possible from desert safaris to skydives and dune buggying. You can make your way around the United Arab Emirates in luxurious cars, wooden dhow boats, yachts, helicopters, or hot air balloons. Then, there’s the elite fine dining scene and nightlife. Dubai boasts some of the most impressive VIP hot spots where those in the know dress to impress and dine and dance the night away. For families looking to entertain their little ones, Dubai offers some of the most exciting options from the thrills of theme parks and waterparks to educational activities and encounters with the region’s wildlife.
1. Downtown Dubai
Number one on our list, Downtown Dubai is the home of several of Dubai’s record-breaking sights. Located within walking distance of one another, you can take in the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa. Then, you can walk from Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest malls to watch the Dubai Fountain, the world’s tallest fountain. After, you can visit the famous Dubai Opera. Albeit not as large as other Dubai parks, Burj Park hosts many events. With so many places to visit it’s no wonder that many tourists consider Downtown Dubai the best tourist place in Dubai. Best experienced by night there are many attractions catered towards night owls in Downtown Dubai. Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard is always buzzing and a great spot to have a nice lunch, dinner, or coffee. There are several high-end hotels and numerous dining options there for all budgets. There are also many free activities to do here so Downtown Dubai is one of the best places to visit in Dubai cost-free.
Tip: Souk Al Bahar is home to the newly opened Time Out Market where some of the best local food and beverage outlets are located in one venue. To make it extra special, you can sit on the balcony and watch the Dubai Fountain show.
2. At The Top, Burj Khalifa
Since its opening, “At the Top” at Burj Khalfa has been a must-see for all tourists visiting Dubai. The Burj Khalifa, standing at 828 metres, is a United Arab Emirates and global icon that made Dubai’s skyline one of the most famous in the world. Many consider it to be the best place in Dubai to visit. Its unique shape and design are certainly impressive. The scale and structure of this elegant tower, which takes its form from the Hymenocallis flower, are undoubtedly impressive. Levels 124 and 125 are accessed by the world’s fastest double-deck elevators. You can step out onto the outdoor observation deck and use high-powered telescopes to see the rest of Dubai. There are also other virtual reality and immersive experiences.
Tip: Sunset and sunrise timings are the best times to take Instagram-worthy pictures of Dubai.
3. Museum Of The Future
The Museum of The Future is located next to DIFC just off of Sheik Zayed Road, beside the Emirates Towers building. The immersive exhibition space is spread over seven floors and aims to introduce visitors to the possibilities for the future – specifically how the next 50 years might play out in the United Arab Emirates and beyond.
The current exhibitions explore the future of space travel and living, climate change and ecology, health, wellness, and spirituality as well as near-future technologies from pioneering innovators. There’s also a special space dedicated to children. Through a playful and educational environment, Future Heroes encourages kids to develop future-proof skills. When you’re done inside head out to the viewing deck.
The viewing deck is situated in the middle of the inner curve of the building and offers an impressive Insta backdrop. Check out their programming to discover special talks with innovators, scientists, and key industry individuals to learn more about their visions of the future. The aim is for the museum to become a center for understanding future trends in science and technological sectors.
Tip: Select the sunset slot. The 48-minute ride will give you a chance to enjoy a golden hour like no other.
4. Burj Al Arab
Burj Al Arab is not only one of the most famous hotels in the world but also one of the most famous places in Dubai for tourists. It is a global icon of Arabian luxury. It is famously known as the first 7-star hotel in the world. Situated on its own man-made island, the Burj Al Arab is a landmark of architectural innovation and design. If you are staying at the hotel, you have the option of arriving either by a Rolls Royce or by helicopter. There are numerous things to see and do at the Burj Al Arab. The spa is one of the most luxurious in the world and offers panoramic views of palm island and the Dubai Marina skyline on one side and Downtown Dubai on the other side. There are numerous dining options at the hotel, from the underwater Ristorante L’ Olivo at Al Mahara to Sal. The one-of-a-kind man-made beach and infinity pool terrace is a must-see. At Sal, you can even get a private cabana for more privacy.
If you are not staying at the hotel, you need not worry. For the first time in history, the “Inside Burj Al Arab” tour welcomes guests to a unique 90-minute tour of the hotel, with a dedicated butler. Visitors can learn about the design of the hotel and discover the untold stories of a global icon. Visitors enter the gilded doors of the Royal Suite to relive history through a special immersive experience.
Tip: The sunset views from the infinity pool terrace are one of a kind
5. Palm Jumeirah
Palm Jumeirah is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and certainly one of the best places in Dubai. It is one of the artificial islands of Dubai known worldwide for its scale and size. The island is shaped like a palm tree, with a trunk, 16 fronds, and an 11 km surrounding crescent. The island hosts a lively community with villas, townhouses, and apartments. There are numerous five-star hotels on the island with plenty of shopping, entertainment, and dining options.
Since opening in 2008, Atlantis hotel has been the largest hotel on the island and one of the most famous places in Dubai. The 1,539-room hotel pays homage to an underwater kingdom. The hotel hosts several water-themed attractions from the Aquaventure water park (the world’s largest water park) to the Lost Chambers Aquarium and the Dolphin Bay habitat. The hotel hosts many fine dining options, such as Asian favourites Nobu and Hakkasan.
The newly opened Nakheel Mall is a fantastic shopping destination known for having one of the best food halls in the city, Depachika. Meanwhile, Palm West Beach is where you go to eat, play and relax. The new beachside location is Dubai’s answer to Cannes’ La Croisette. Places like Lucky Fish and Surf Club are where Dubai’s ‘in the know’ go on the weekends to dine, drink, and have fun, all while enjoying amazing sunset views. Palm West Beach is one of the must-visit places in Dubai with a stunning view of the Dubai Marina.
Tip: Palm Tower is the only skyscraper on Palm Island. It is the home of Aura, the world’s largest 360-degree pool, Sushisamba, and “The View” where the ultimate Palm Jumeirah Instagram-worthy pictures can be taken.
6. Desert Safari
No trip to Dubai is complete without a desert safari. There is a range of options and packages to pick from. Most safaris include sporting activities such as quad biking, dune buggies, sandboarding, and camel rides. Thrill-seekers can enjoy the rush of off-road exploration on a 4×4 or a dune buggy. The desert is one of the most fun places to visit in Dubai.
Unique resorts such as Al Maha and Bab Al Shams offer chic stays and bespoke itineraries in the United Arab Emirates desert.
Some camps are located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve which is an 87-square-mile conservation reserve. The protected nature reserve, situated approximately one hour’s drive inland from Dubai, is home to enchanting and endangered wildlife. There are herds of Arabian gazelles and oryx, ubiquitous in the region, more than 100 different species of bird, nocturnal sand cats, and even Ethiopian hedgehogs.
Most safari trips start in the early afternoon with a pickup at a hotel in Dubai. They end with dinner at a camp in the desert and a drop-off at the hotel in Dubai in the evening. However, there is also the option of doing a morning desert safari. There are many desert safari options tailored to suit various tastes from family-friendly to luxurious. For adventure seekers, we recommend a desert safari that includes dune bashing in a 4 x 4. After a heart-racing dune bashing session in the 4 x 4, guests can experience local traditions such as falconry, camel rides and sports like sand surfing. Morning desert safaris also typically include an alfresco breakfast of delicious Arabic cuisine, served in a traditional Bedouin camp to give you a true taste of Arabian hospitality.
Tip: There are hundreds of desert tour operators to choose from in Dubai. Top Spots Dubai has curated a tried and tested selection of various types of desert safaris based on first-hand experience. Contact us to make your booking.
7. Beaches (Public Beaches and Beach Clubs)
Dubai boasts some of the world’s most Instagrammable public and private beaches. The various beaches are some of the best places to go to in Dubai. Here we share the best public and private options for any trip.
There is a beach for every kind of tourist in Dubai. JBR Beach and La Mer beach are the developed beaches of Dubai. They are favourites among families thanks to a wide range of activities. Water parks and inflatable courses keep kids entertained by day while cinemas, shisha lounges, and restaurants are a go-to for locals in the know-by-night.
Sports fans tend to favour the expansive beaches stretch of public beach that spans Jumeirah. These beaches are less developed. Two of the most famous are Sunset Beach and Kite Beach. You can paddleboard, kayak, or kite surf your way across this open stretch of beach or set down your beach towel and relax.
Tip: Kite Beach is a favourite among families thanks to its collection of beachside food trucks and open-air activities for children. Salt Burger is one of the best burger places in Dubai.
Dubai is home to some of the most well-known beach clubs in the world. The beach clubs are some of the coolest places to hang out in Dubai. Nammos at the Four Seasons transports guests to Mykonos with live music and sunset views to match. Drift Beach Club has panoramic views of Dubai’s skyline and beachside dining at its finest. Cove at Caesar’s Palace is a favourite of the party crowd with fantastic beats. Twiggy by La Cantine is a chic escape for those that want to stay in the city but feel like they are on vacation in a secluded place!
Some popular new beach clubs that have opened up: San Beach, Kyma, Peaches and Cream, Playa, Eva Beach House, Venus Ristorante & Beach Club, Soul Beach, Fluid Beach and February 30.
Tip: Look for Ladies Day offers. The ladies can benefit from some amazing deals and the men can enjoy the great vibes. Our @topspotsdubai Instagram page ranks the top beach clubs and the best deals.
8. Helicopter Tour, Palm Jumeirah
With a helicopter tour, you can experience Dubai from a unique vantage point and take in the most beautiful places in Dubai from above. Departing from the Atlantis hotel on Palm Jumeirah, helicopter tours are the ultimate jet-set way to absorb the city from above. Chartering open seas and skyscrapers, experience Dubai’s most captivating sights. Start from the Atlantis hotel and soar above the palm island with its private beaches, luxury villas and serene views of Jumeirah beach. Then head to the Burj Al Arab and make your way over the coastline of Dubai towards Downtown Dubai.
9. Yacht Cruises, Fishing and Jet Skis, Dubai Marina and Dubai Harbour
There’s nothing more ‘Dubai’ than a day spent on the seas of Dubai. Enjoy Dubai by sea and charter a boat for a few hours or for a few days. Yacht cruises leave daily from Dubai Marina, Dubai Harbour, Bulgari Island, and Business Bay Marina and cater to a range of requirements and budgets. Couples looking for a romantic experience can charter a private yacht, swim and catch the sunset. Groups of friends looking for fun can book a yacht with options for DJs. For those keen to get closer to the water and have more action, a jet Ski tour that circles the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel may be the preferred option. Avid anglers can embark upon deep-sea fishing tours in search of barracuda, grouper, and other local fish.
Tip. At Top Spots Dubai, we offer a superior selection of yachts to suit every budget.
10. Atlantis Aquaventure Water Park and The Lost Chambers Aquarium, Atlantis Hotel, Palm Jumeirah
The Atlantis hotel themed around the ancient lost underwater kingdom is one of the most fun places to go in Dubai with the family. Aquaventure takes the title of the world’s largest water park, with more than 100 slides and water activities. Aquaventure is not a typical water park by any stretch of the imagination – think sliding through shark-filled waters and cliff jumping from historic ruins.
Inside the Atlantis hotel, The Lost Chambers Aquarium encloses a whopping 11-million litre water tank. The attraction encloses a vast array of marine life from sharks to rays. The children can learn about the underwater kingdom and conservation practices by booking a behind-the-scenes tour or adults can book aquarium dives.
Tip: If the children are old enough, one or more of the parents can relax at the nearby White Beach Club.
11. Iconic Pools
Dubai is known for having some of the world’s best pools. From luxurious rooftop pools with stunning views of the city skyline to family-friendly pools with exciting water slides and activities, there’s something for everyone in Dubai. Here are some of the most iconic pools you have to try in Dubai:
The Aura skypool in Dubai is a stunning rooftop pool that offers breathtaking views of the city skyline. Located on the 63rd floor of the Ascott Park Place Dubai, the pool features a sleek and modern design, with an infinity edge that creates the illusion of water extending out into the sky.
Address Sky View
Address Sky View offers a pool day with impressive views of the downtown Dubai skyline. Choose between sun loungers or the bar, where you can enjoy light bites, beverages, and shisha. The pool is managed by the neighboring restaurant, Cé La Vi, known for its contemporary Asian cuisine. We recommend making a dinner reservation there to follow your day in the sun. It’s a unique and enjoyable way to experience Dubai.
Sal at Burj Al Arab
Sal, located at the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel, offers exclusive access to a stunning infinity pool with panoramic views of the sea. The club’s private panoramic cabanas come equipped with fresh fruit, dips, and bubbly, providing the ultimate luxury experience. The airy white interiors create a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere, and the club’s restaurant serves European cuisine from an alfresco terrace. It’s a beautiful and exclusive spot to enjoy Dubai’s natural beauty.
Address Beach Resort
The Address Beach Resort boasts the “world’s highest outdoor infinity pool,” offering stunning views of Bluewaters Island, Dubai Marina, Ain Dubai, and the Palm Jumeirah. The rooftop pool and its adjoining pool bar, ZETA Seventy Seven, provide a relaxing escape above the city. Book a floating breakfast or dinner experience to enjoy dishes served from trays floating in the pool. It’s a unique and unforgettable way to experience Dubai.
Tip: For Instagrammable Burj Al Arab views from your sun lounger, make a reservation at one of our favourite beach clubs in the city, Summersalt beach club at Jumeirah Al Naseem hotel. Not only can you have a dip in the sea and get a tan, but also enjoy one of the best lunch places in Dubai.
12. Historical Dubai
Dubai’s historic quarter is fondly referred to by local residents as “Old Dubai”. Old Dubai offers a taste of the historic community from which Dubai has evolved. While not entirely free, a local dhow boat is a must-try experience in Bur Dubai. Priced at just AED 2 per person per trip, it is a fun way to get a feel of how Dubai used to be. You can journey through and spice souk and then visit the Dubai Museum, situated in the city’s oldest building, the Al Fahidi Fort. Here you can take a peek into the history of the United Arab Emirates. Here you can discover the region’s rich heritage. In need of a coffee break? Make your way to the charming open-air Al Seef area where you can visit the coolest Starbucks in the city with views across the creek from Bur Dubai. You can also take an abra boat across Dubai Creek and visit the Gold Souk. Historical Dubai is surely one of the nice places to visit in Dubai.
Tip: Lovers of culture will appreciate a visit to the nearby XVA Hotel and Cafe in historic Bur Dubai, which showcases contemporary art pieces.
13. Ski Dubai and Ski Dubai Penguin encounter, Mall of The Emirates
A touch of the alps in the desert, Ski Dubai has captivated international visitors since its opening in 2005. Previously named the world’s best indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai is a winter wonderland with snowy adventures for all ages. Ski Dubai is one of the fun places in Dubai that tourists should visit. Snow Park is a picturesque setting to acquaint children with the magic of winter. Here, children can make a snowman or visit an indoor ice cave.
Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy hours on the slopes with routes and lessons available for various abilities and age ranges.
The Ski Dubai Penguin Encounter is an opportunity to witness the beauty of these special animals. It’s an unforgettable moment that stays with people of all ages.
Tip: Make sure you try the famous hot chocolate at Avalanche Café.
14. Gold Souk
Dubai is the city of gold! At the Gold Souk, you can Master the art of negotiation or just step back and observe the age-old trade of gold in a mesmerising location. This historic souk is packed with gold and gem traders, some of whom have been there for many decades. Prices are very competitive but the fun is in haggling, it’s part of the experience!
Tip: Those looking to purchase diamonds can contact Top Spots Dubai. We have links to some of the most credible traders in the market.
15. Dune Buggy and Quad Bike Tour
No desert Dubai trip for young people can be complete without a dune buggy or quad tour. The ideal activity for adventure-seeking visitors, here you can get close to the desert. Safari guides will drive you across the Dubai desert’s dunes. These specially-adapted off-road vehicles can climb high dunes and reach high speeds so make sure you are ready for an adventure of a lifetime!
Tip: Safety is always first. Remember to follow the instructions of your supervisor and keep a safe distance between yourself and other moving objects. Make sure to wear a helmet at all times.
16. La Perle
La Perle by Dragone offers visitors a fascinating immersion into the United Arab Emirates’ historic pearl diving heritage, in the form of a mesmerising choreographed live show. La Perle is Dubai’s first permanent show and offers guests the opportunity to take in an immersive creative performance. The show is fueled by the latest technology and combines stunning water and aerial stunts. The show chronicles the journey of a young girl who lapses into a dream-like world and journeys across the United Arab Emirates to find a pearl. Along the journey, she encounters the diversity of the region.
Tip: Al Habtoor City, on Sheikh Zayed Road, is home to numerous happening restaurants, bars, and clubs for all tastes.
Places to visit in Dubai for nightlife are rich and varied, Dubai is a city where people like to work hard and play even harder. The city is famous for its world-class nightlife venues, many of which have been cherry-picked from other party capitals. For example, 1 Oak from New York, Iris from Beirut, and Billionaire from Sardinia. There are also some special homegrown concepts like Soho Garden which is known for bringing some of the best international DJs to Dubai. Soho Garden has recently opened a new rooftop venue on the Palm with views of the Palm and Dubai Marina.
Tip: Dubai is a fast-paced city and new hot-spot venues open every week. Please contact Top Spots Dubai ahead of your planned outing to get access to the most happening nightlife destinations in town.
18. Hot Air Balloon
Gliding over Dubai’s immense desert, hot air balloon rides combine the thrill of adventure with a sense of peace. You can explore the Dubai desert from more than 3,000 feet above the ground, whilst taking in the desert dunes above and the United Arab Emirates’ majestic wildlife. The views of the surrounding terrain are magical. Hot air balloon trips usually last 40-70 minutes. You have the opportunity to go in a group or for those who want a more intimate experience, there is the option to book a private trip.
Tip: Hot air balloon rides usually take place at sunrise so make sure you plan the rest of the day to get the most out of the desert. You can plan everything from safaris to quad or buggy rides.
19. Horse Riding in the Desert
Equestrianism has a special place in the heart of most Emiratis. There are numerous world world-class horse stables situated around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A desert horse trek is a unique way to discover the desert and experience a different side of the United Arab Emirates. Under the supervision of an instructor, sunrise and sunset horse riding sessions are magical ways to get in your workout whilst also experiencing some of Dubai’s desert wildlife, from camels to oryx. There are numerous options available for different age groups and competence levels.
Tip: If you are lucky enough to be in Dubai during a full moon, make sure you book a magical evening full moon horse ride session.
20. Paramotor Flight, Skydive Dubai Desert Campus
A paramotor flight in the desert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Paramotors are an adventurous way to get to know the desert while soaring through the skies. A paramotor is a motorised paraglider, a propeller, powered by an engine, is strapped to the back of the pilot, who guides you into the sky.
Tip: Paramotor flights usually take off at sunrise or sunset, creating the perfect scenery for your ultimate Instagram selfie.
21. Topgolf Dubai, Emirates Golf Club
Topgolf is a unique game of golf from above. Topgolf Dubai offers striking skyline views with a fun-filled sporty environment. Topgolf is fun for beginner and experienced golfers. Topgolf Dubai has games available for both children and adults to suit every level.
Topgolf Dubai’s onsite bars and restaurants create a happening golfing ambience. Topgolf is a good place to visit in Dubai for those who want to be sporty but also have a fun social experience too. For those that wish to make the experience even more unforgettable, Topgolf Dubai has numerous private rooms that offer a more intimate experience. They are ideal for birthdays or corporate events.
Tip: Topgolf Dubai is open past midnight several times a week so it is ideal for those night owls who want to do something sporty and have fun into the early hours.
ToDA (Theatre of Digital Art) at Madinat Jumeirah is a multi-sensory, multi-media immersive art exhibition. At ToDA, you can discover historic masterpieces and contemporary art offerings as you’ve never seen them before. ToDA invites guests to enter into the heart of their favourite artist’s works with a 360-degree projection of art images. At ToDA, digital art is presented in multiple formats, from multimedia exhibitions to immersive installations as well as virtual reality. At ToDA, guests are given a multisensory experience, including visual effects and surround sound. Moreover, there is even a separate interactive room for children.
ToDA also regularly hosts special events such as painting sessions, live concerts, and jazz nights. Some of the nights have become hits among local residents.
Tip: Make sure to leave time to explore the rest of the Madinat Jumeirah. The Arabian style complex with Venetian waterways encompass a souk with various dining and retail options. Try one of the fine alfresco dining options with Burj Al Arab views. Our favourites include Taverna Greek kitchen, Anar, and the Meat Co.
23. Sonara Camp Sunset and Dinner Experience
The ideal desert alfresco dining experience, Sonara Camp has become a favourite among those that like to experience the spirit of the desert while enjoying the finest Arabian hospitality. The eco-friendly Sonara Camp is situated in the heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The camp is surrounded by the desert’s wildlife, including oryxes, gazelles, and camels. The Sunset and Dinner experience at Sonara includes a dinner consisting of seasonal ingredients as well as a camel ride, a fire show, and a falcon show. There is also a chance to experience desert sports including archery and sandboarding.
Tip: The camp is child friendly. Movies under the stars ensure the little ones enjoy their time just as much as the adults.
24. Camping and Glamping
A night spent in the desert is a must-do experience during a visit to the UAE. There are various ways that you can experience this. An authentic camping experience or a more luxurious glamping one. During both experiences you’ll experience the beauty of the desert landscape as well as refreshments and activities from a dune drive to a BBQ and stargazing by the campfire.
Tip: We recommend the Bosnian house, one of our favourite spots to eat.
25. Ain Dubai, Bluewaters Island (Temporarily Closed)
Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye) is located on Bluewaters Island. It is accessible by a pedestrian bridge from Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and by car from Dubai Marina.
Ain Dubai is the latest addition to Dubai’s record-setting attractions. At 250 metres high, Ain Dubai takes the title of the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel. Make your way to the top in comfortable and high-tech cabins, where you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the sea and skyline.
You can combine your Ain Dubai visit with a walking tour of Bluewaters Island. The island has something for everyone. TR88, Madame Tussauds, and Brass Monkey are some of the most famous attractions on the island. There are also some fantastic dining options nearby such as Alici and Puerto 99, where you can enjoy your meal and the skyline of Dubai. Bluewater island is one of the best places to visit in Dubai at the night.
Tip: Top Spots Dubai has access to the most sought-after vehicles in the city.