Are you going or thinking about going to Dubai? In that case, you are probably wondering what to do in the majestic Arab city. While there is something to do for everyone, it might be challenging to pick the best activity. Dubai arguably has so much to choose from that it becomes challenging to pick suitable activities.
This is precisely what we experienced when we visited Dubai in October 2021. At that time, Dubai was experiencing low numbers of covid infections and had fully reopened. With Dubai fully open, all activities that you could think of were available. We did our research and made a selection of things to do during our five-day stay.
What you must know is that not all activities are suitable for each traveler. For example, those afraid of large crowds of people should skip the fountains at the Burj Khalifa while suffering from motion sickness shouldn’t take a drive into the desert’s famous red dunes.
Fortunately, Dubai has something to offer for any traveler. Some of the things you can do include going into one of the exciting Malls, going to a water park or visiting the souks, or visiting Burj Khalifa. You can go into the desert or even make a day trip to Abu Dhabi outside the city.
As we wanted to make the most out of our time in Dubai, this is an overview of the activities we enjoyed the most.
Dubai Desert Safari
While the city of Dubai has enough to keep you busy for an entire vacation, the desert is where you can have an authentic Arabic experience. There are multiple tour organizers, and most desert safaris include the same activities. On our trip into the desert, we were picked up in our hotel and started our activities, including quad driving, off-road experience in the dunes, sandboarding, and a desert camp with shows, camels, and a barbecue.
Depending on your budget, most safaris will include one or more of these activities. The safari usually takes place in the afternoon, but there are morning options available as well. Personally, we would recommend taking a safari that skips the camp.
You can read all about our desert safari and why we would recommend skipping the camp in a blog that is coming soon.
The Expo2020 world exhibition is impressive. We spent a morning and early afternoon at the Expo but would have stayed longer if we had known more about it. This experience does not just play with all of your five senses but also helps you better understand different countries and cultures.
At the Expo, most countries of the world welcome you to their beautiful pavilions. Each pavilion offers a unique and exciting experience. For example, at the USA pavilion, you step onto a conveyor belt that takes you to an exhibition before you can literally touch the moon and see a replica of a SpaceX unit. One of our favorites was the Saudi Arabian pavilion.
The Expo2020 area is situated on the outskirts of Dubai but is easily accessible by Metro. We would recommend going to the exhibition for at least a full day. We would, however, skip the warmest parts of the day as it involves lots of walking outside where there is no live-saving air conditioning.
Aquaventure at Atlanis
In the heat of the desert, waterparks offer a cooling yet thrilling experience. And Dubai is home to one of the best waterparks globally, situated at the tip of the Palm Jumeirah. As part of the Atlantis Hotel, Aquaventure offers endless rides. Some of those are relaxing, while others will make sure your body starts pumping exciting doses of adrenaline through your veins.
The waterpark is included in your hotel room costs if you are staying at the Atlantis Dubai hotel. If you are not a guest of the hotel, you can still access the waterpark. You can buy a ticket online and trade it for a wristband at the park’s access.
Before you go, there are a few things that you must know. You can read more about Aquaventure in our special blog.
The View at the Palm
Dubai has lots of different observation decks and viewing platforms. Of course, the most famous viewing venue is part of the tallest structure in the world: the Burj Khalifa. Unfortunately, Dubai has one big downside for each one of those observation decks. The desert sand spoils lots of the viewing fun. Only on days with very clear visibility, desert dust isn’t obstructing most of the view. While we were in Dubai, we couldn’t see downtown Dubai from the Palm or the Palm from Downtown.
That is why we would recommend a viewing platform in or around an area that is worth viewing. The View at Nakheel Mall sits in the middle of Palm Jumeirah. From there, you have a unique view of the artificial islands as well as the Dubai Marina. On top of that, you get to enter a lovely exhibition about how Dubai built the Palm Islands. At the exhibition, you will learn about the vision behind the massive land reclaim operations in the world.
A brief impression of our experience at The View at the Palm.
We absolutely loved the Souks. There are different souks in Dubai, all situated in the Deira city district. At the Souks, you can buy gold, spices and lots of other memorabilia. It reminded us of the much larger souks you have in Marrakech or Istanbul, and it feels like Dubai’s entrance into the old Arab world. We would recommend staying at least a long morning at the Souks and possibly taking a boat trip over the Dubai Creek from there. Or cross the water into Bar Dubai, which feels even more like a genuinely Arabian experience.