Dubai is a modern city that has a lot to offer, from huge shopping malls to beautiful beaches. The entire city was built in less than 50 years and has evolved from an untouched desert to an impressive city with even a few world records to its name! We stayed 6 days in Dubai and have listed all our highlights in this blog for you! P.S .: if you still need practical tips before departure, have a look at this blog post!
Breaking world records at ‘The Burj Khalifa’
The number 1 attraction of Dubai is still the Burj Khalifa! Since 2007 is this tower (829.84 meters) the highest tower in the world. Initially, it would be called Burj Dubai, but in the end the name Burj Khalifa was given as a tribute to the President of the United Arab Emirates. He gave financial help to build the Burj when Dubai was experiencing a financial crisis. The total costs of this project is 1.3 billion euros. The Burj Khalifa is more than just a tourist attraction, it has a large hotel, 900 apartments and various office spaces.
- At the Top: you’ll visit the observation deck at the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa, which offers a spectacular panorama of the city Price: 29 euro (135 AED) or 46 euro (210 AED) during prime hours
- At the Top Sky: you’ll visit the observation deck at the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa Price: 82 euro (370 AED) or 116 euro (525 AED) during prime hours
It’s best to buy your tickets in advance, because most of the time the tickets are sold out at the doors. We booked our tickets online at the official website of the Burj Khalifa 1 day in advance. They offer different types of tickets, often combined with a dinner in the restaurant or a drink at the cocktail bar. We found these tickets were rather expensive. Since we also wanted to visit the Dubai Aquarium, we bought a combo ticket for both the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Aquarium. Eventually, it seemed that this combination was 10 euros cheaper. Tip: Those who take the metro to the Burj Khalifa must be prepared to cross the Dubai Mall. So leave on time, because your ticket is only valid on the booked hour!
Practical tips: All detailed information about prices and offers can be found on their website.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, a whole new world!
After our visit to the impressive Burj Khalifa we went to the big Dubai Mall, not for shopping but for the famous Dubai Aquarium. This huge aquarium of 20 meters high and 51 meters long is situated in the centre of the mall. There are more than 300 sharks and manta rays in this aquarium, together with many other fish. In total more than 33 000 different animals live in the Dubai Aquarium and the Underwater Zoo. The cheapest ticket includes a visit to the underwater tunnel and the zoo. It is quite an experience to walk through a corridor while several sharks, fish and mantas are swimming above your head. The entire bassin has the perfect lightning to see all animals clearly. We had imagined the tunnel itself a bit longer, because it is only 48 m. After the tunnel you should continue to the second floor, where the Underwater zoo is located. You can take the word “zoo” literally, because here are very special animals: penguins, jellyfish, seahorses and a 40 year old King Croc of 750 kg! This jug with its 5 meters length really is the highlight of the Underwater Zoo.
Prices and opening hours:
Price: The cheapest ticket costs 24 euro (110 AED). With this ticket you can enter the Aquarium Tunnel and Underwater Zoo. All information and prices can be found on their website. The prices online are lower compared to the prices at the doors.
Opening hours: 10am – 12pm (you can enter until 23.30u)
La Mer Beachfront, the newest hotspot in town
d This brand new hotspot in Dubai is only a few months old! It is a cool place to relax an is located on the former Jumeirah Public Beach (which is a 2.5 km long sandy beach). La Mer has more than 130 trendy shops, cozy restaurants and trendy cafes. Behind every corner are some nice details, such as the famous wings, a tap with drops, octopus ect. In terms of style, you could compare it to The Beacht at JBR. There is also a boulevard, perfect for a romantic evening walk with a stop at a cocktail bar.
Since this place is still very new, there is no metro line. To get there you can take a cap, walk from the metro stop or take a bus. If you prefer to walk, you must get off at the Emirates towers and walk for another 45 minutes towards the coast. If you plan a visit to this trendy place, be sure to check out their website.
Souk Al Bahar, escape the crowds
Souk Al Bahar is located right next to the tourist Dubai Mall and can easily be combined with a visit to the Burj Khalifa and/or the Dubai Mall. Personally, we found this a very beautiful part of Dubai. Perfect to escape the crowds! Here you have a nice view of the Burj Khalifa (photo tip!) and some nice restaurants.
Old Souk, Bastakia Quarter and Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood, the traditional Dubai
Dubai is not only about skyscrapers and shopping centers, there is also a more traditional part in the area around the Creek. Of course nothing in Dubai is ‘old’ or historical, since the whole city is almost 50 years old. In the Al Fahidi historical neighborhood they try to bring out the traditional style and way of life of the 19th century. The buildings were built using traditional building materials such as stone, plaster, teak, sandalwood, leaves and palm trees. The location at the Kreek used to have an important function in the organization of commercial relations with foreign countries. Currently, art performances and cultural activities are often organized. Due to lack of time we had to skip Old Souk and Bastakia Quarter. Based on the experiences of other people, it seems worth a visit! It is already on our ‘to do list’ for the next time!
If you go to Al Fahidi historical neighborhood, be sure to visit the Arabian Tea House Café. A very cozy and photogenic place!
Desert Safari, desert dreams (by Sandtrax)
The “Alhawere desert” is managed by the government and is located south-east of Dubai. This is also the only place where desert safaris are allowed. We did both a morning and evening safari, because we were so impressed by the magical desert landscape!
A morning tour, start the day in an active way!
Early in the morning at 6.45 am Chocolate Khan, who is one of the guides at SandTrax, picked us op at our hotel. From Burjaman it is a 45 minutes drive to the desert. Along the way we got all kinds of useful information about the desert, the history and traditions in Dubai. Once we arrived, we could immediately start our adventurous morning! The first activity on our planning was a quad bike safari through the desert. You follow the guide through the desert landscape to the perfect spot for sandboarding! You do not need to have experience to be able to sandboard. Yannick had never been on a board before and succeeded multiple times! After the sand boarding you return back to the ‘camelfarm’ to meet up with your humble friend. We had never seen a camel so close, and as animal lovers we were obviously impressed by these creatures! After this you can ride on the camel, which is a very different experience than horseback riding. Usually the ride takes about 15 minutes.
Practical tips: 6.45 am – 10.00 am
Price: 88 euro (400 AED)
An evening safari, to discover the Arabic traditions
The evening safari is the most popular excursion among the tourists, so we had to try it out. The main attraction here is the jeep safari. With different jeeps you drive/drift through the desert, on the amazing sand dunes. It feels like you’re on a railway! I recommend people, who suffer from motion sickness, to take something in advance. After the necessary portion of action, the jeeps will take you to a real bedouin-style camp with a BBQ dinner with the traditional Hubbly Bubbly. Here you can discover a bit more of the Arab culture. At the camp are several activities as water pipes, henna painting, Arabic costumes for memorable photographs, typical dishes, … Since the camp is located on a ‘camalfarm’ you can also take a short ride on a camel. This is much shorter compared to the morning safari. You can also test the quads on a small trail. After a nice BBQ it was time for some traditional dance! Our favorite was belly dancing!
Practical tips: 3.00 pm – 10.00 pm
Price: 55 euro (250 AED)
Tip: We chose the tour operator SandTrax, this company has nice qualitative safaris that were well rated on Tripadvisor! It is also nice that they work with small groups and if you are lucky, you may be alone! Our preference was for the morning safari, as it was slightly more active!
Jumeirah beach and Burj Al Arab
The world-famous 7 * hotel Burj Al Arab is the most iconic hotel in Dubai. This large sailboat is located on the tourist beach Jumeirah beach. Would you like to look inside this prestigious hotel without spending the night, you can! You can make a reservation in the restaurant or the spa, these two are accessible for everyone. Personally, I think this hotel with its surroundings is more impressive from the air, just like ‘The Palm’. Those who want to pay a little more can always choose to do a helicopter flight.