Best Things to Do in Dubai | Guide for a Perfect First Visit in 2024

Oct 30, 2023 | 0 comments

In Dubai, you can have a relaxing day at the beach, take a leisurely walk in the desert, and enjoy a drink at the top of a tall building all in one day. Nada Badran, who has lived in Dubai for over 30 years and is an experience curator and tour guide, describes the city as having a special charm. She says there’s a lot of excitement in the air, and every day brings new opportunities for creativity and fulfillment. However, Dubai often faces misconceptions from some people. One of the most common misunderstandings is the belief that everything in Dubai is glitzy, artificial, and lacks depth, but that couldn’t be more wrong. The reality is far from these assumptions. Similarly, some may have the misconception that Dubai is unsafe for visitors. However, real-life experiences demonstrate the opposite. So, if any of these misconceptions have made you hesitant to plan a trip to this lively city, you can relax and put your worries aside. And once you arrive, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Dubai.

1. Learn about local coffee culture

Learn about local coffee culture

Dubai is home to many cafes where you can satisfy your coffee cravings. The Arab world is renowned for its coffee, offering a variety of options like traditional Turkish coffee and trendy choices like cereal lattes. There are plenty of cool, unique, and artsy coffee shops to explore. Some of them feature lovely gardens and outdoor spaces, while others have captivating interiors with moody vibes and immersive themes. 

Here are some of the most satisfying cafes you can try in 2023:

2. Experience a delightful cruise along Dubai Creek

Experience a delightful cruise along Dubai Creek

In the past, Dubai Creek played a vital role in trade, connecting different ports in the Persian Gulf. Today, it provides a picturesque way to discover the city and is one of Hayter’s top recommendations. To make the most of this experience, Hayter suggests visiting Dubai Creek before sunset and renting an abra, a traditional wooden boat, for a private cruise. As you sail through the creek, you’ll witness the sky turning pink and hear the call to prayer echoing in the air, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

3. Go stargazing in the desert

Go stargazing in the desert

Going stargazing in the desert is considered one of the best things to do in Dubai. The desert surrounding Dubai provides a perfect setting for stargazing due to its dark skies and minimal light pollution. Many tourists and locals alike choose to participate in night safaris or guided tours that offer the opportunity to stargaze with the guidance of an astronomer and access to telescopes. The experience of witnessing the vast expanse of stars in the desert sky can be truly awe-inspiring and is often regarded as a memorable and unique activity in Dubai.

4. Give golf a try while you’re in Dubai

Give golf a try while you're in Dubai

Even though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a Middle East vacation, Dubai offers several well-known golf courses. One of the best is The Emirates Golf Club – Majlis Course. If you’re lucky, your credit card might even offer free rounds of golf as a perk. Keep in mind that the most comfortable time to play golf in Dubai is between November and March when the weather is more pleasant.

5. Take some time to relax at one of Dubai’s lovely beaches.

Take some time to relax at one of Dubai's lovely beaches

Dubai has some amazing public beaches that are not crowded at all. You can simply enjoy the warm Arabian sea and soak up the sunshine without spending any money. Give Kite Beach a try as it offers more than just a great beach experience. You’ll find fantastic showers and bathrooms there, along with a few food stands and coffee shops. For an extra special treat, you can rent a Careem bike and take a leisurely ride along the long boardwalk of Kite Beach.

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6. Enjoy the wide variety of food in Dubai.

Enjoy the wide variety of food in Dubai

The city is a fantastic place for food lovers because of its restaurants with innovative designs and a wide variety of culinary options. When you’re planning your meals, consider trying out these chic restaurants:

  1. Amazonico, where you can have a sensory journey through the Amazon; 
  2. SEVA, a relaxed plant-based cafe located in a wellness center; and 
  3. Jun’s, a fusion restaurant that has the impressive Burj Khalifa skyscraper as its backdrop. At Jun’s, the chef even aims to personally introduce himself to every table. 

Chef Cheung from Jun’s says that Dubai offers a wide range of flavors and textures and is always pushing boundaries when it comes to food. He and his team are motivated to deliver excellence because the Dubai food scene ensures top-quality food and service in every part of the city. There are very few places in the world that cater to such a diverse group of people like Dubai does.

7. Maximize your Dubai hotel experience with Privlee and Viya

Maximize your Dubai hotel experience with Privlee and Viya

Dubai has many stunning hotels, and most of the time, you can buy day passes to enjoy their facilities, such as beaches, pools, spas, and even tennis and padel courts. 

You can also check out apps like Privlee and Viya, which are great for both tourists and residents. With these apps, you pay a fee and get unlimited access to partner hotels, beach clubs, and gym facilities. This way, you can try out a new place every day and have a fantastic time.

Both Privlee and Viya provide a convenient way to discover and access the facilities of prestigious hotels in Dubai, allowing you to experience the city’s luxury offerings without the need for a full hotel reservation. It’s a flexible and cost-effective option for those who want to enjoy the perks of Dubai’s high-end hotels on a day-to-day basis.

8. Explore the charming streets of old Dubai 

Explore the charming streets of old Dubai

Some people feel happiest when wandering through the streets, alleys, and souks of Old Dubai. These places are bustling with activity. The labyrinthine souks are filled with vendors eager to sell you something. You’ll often hear them calling out names like “Shakira” and “professor” to grab your attention. People go into inviting small shops where you’ll find stools to sit on and enjoy a cup of chai. Every transaction involves a lively bargaining debate. The sounds of carts mix with the scents of aromatic spices and musky perfume. It’s a vibrant and sensory experience that you won’t want to miss.

9. Visit Al Serkal Avenue

Visit Al Serkal Avenue

When you visit Al Serkal Avenue, you’ll find yourself in a unique and artistic space. It used to be an industrial area with warehouses, but now it’s a vibrant hub for art galleries, start-up businesses, and quirky shops. According to Badran, it’s like stepping into a different world filled with art, cozy cafes, and boutique stores. The best part is that you can explore the galleries without paying any entry fee, so it’s a great place to wander around and soak up the creative atmosphere, even if you’re not an art enthusiast.

10. Embark on a desert adventure

Embark on a desert adventure

Experience the thrill of the desert by going on a 4×4 tour or trying out extreme off-roading with a dune buggy or quad bike. Expert Rangers can guide you through the mesmerizing desert landscape. If you want the complete Arabian desert experience, you can book a package that includes activities like sandboarding, camel riding, enjoying a traditional Arab dinner, and watching entertaining performances. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the rich culture and natural beauty of the Arabian desert.

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11. Take a ride on the Dubai Metro

Take a ride on the Dubai Metro

If you’re looking for a convenient and affordable way to explore Dubai, the Dubai Metro is your ticket to getting around. This extensive and well-maintained public transportation system connects major locations throughout the city. Not only is it a practical choice, but it also gives you a chance to experience Dubai like a local. Join the residents who rely on these trains for their daily commutes and enjoy the ease and efficiency of traveling on the Dubai Metro. It’s time to embark on an adventure and discover the city with ease.

12. Try indoor skiing

Try indoor skiing

Dubai always knows how to turn dreams into reality, and Ski Dubai is a perfect example. Imagine being able to go skiing indoors and then step outside into warm weather. Well, at Ski Dubai, it’s possible! This incredible ski resort maintains freezing temperatures throughout the year, ensuring a winter wonderland experience. They provide cozy ski suits to keep you warm and comfortable. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, lessons are available to help you improve your skills. And here’s a fun bonus: inside the resort, you’ll even find a chair lift and adorable penguins! Get ready for an unforgettable skiing adventure, right in the heart of Dubai.

13. Visit Expo City Dubai

Visit Expo City Dubai

Immerse yourself in a futuristic and captivating miniature city known as Expo City Dubai. This remarkable venue continues to offer much of what was showcased during the World Expo, which was originally scheduled for 2022 but was delayed due to the pandemic. As you explore this sustainable city, you’ll encounter educational experiences and attractions centered around global topics. Additionally, there are multiple playgrounds and parks where you can relax and enjoy.

14. Treat yourself to a day of luxury at Dubai’s newest resort

Treat yourself to a day of luxury at Dubai's newest resort

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the sensational Atlantis The Royal, even if you’re not planning to stay overnight. This ultra-luxurious resort made headlines when Beyonce performed an exclusive show for its opening ceremony. With its eight restaurants led by celebrity chefs (including the renowned Nobu by the Beach), a breathtaking rooftop infinity pool, a club offering panoramic skyline views, and a plethora of other exciting experiences, Atlantis The Royal is a must-visit destination. Treat yourself to a day of luxury and make lasting memories at this remarkable resort.

15. Get ready for an incredible scuba diving experience

Get ready for an incredible scuba diving experience

Deep Dive Dubai takes swimming to a whole new level with the deepest pool in the world, reaching a depth of around 197 feet. Whether you’re interested in scuba diving, freediving, or snorkeling, they offer courses to cater to your preferences. Even if you’re already certified, you’re invited to explore this captivating underwater world designed to resemble a sunken city. It’s an opportunity you won’t want to miss!

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16. Pay a visit to the Museum of the Future.

Pay a visit to the Museum of the Future

Prepare to be amazed by the Museum of the Future, a truly remarkable architectural marvel. The building’s shape and design are breathtaking, with Arabic poetry adorning its exterior. Its circular structure represents humanity, while the central abyss symbolizes the infinite possibilities of the future. Inside, you’ll encounter immersive exhibitions that encourage introspection about our world, the future, and our own selves. To ensure your visit, it’s best to purchase tickets in advance as this popular attraction may not always have same-day availability. Get ready for an enlightening experience that will leave you inspired.

17. Visit Hatta

Visit Hatta

If you’re looking to appreciate nature and enjoy outdoor activities, Hatta is the perfect destination for you. Located in the Hajar Mountains, about 60 miles outside of Dubai, Hatta offers breathtaking views and a range of exciting experiences. You can go on a hike and marvel at the stunning scenery, try kayaking in the reservoir or explore designated mountain biking trails. Additionally, there’s a heritage village where you can explore restored traditional houses and see a defense tower. Hatta is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in nature and discover the rich cultural heritage of the region.

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