The United Arab Emirates is a country of contrasts. It blends old and new; tradition and forward-thinking; rugged and vast desert alongside modern, rich development. And no city embodies those contrasts more than Dubai.
Without a doubt, Dubai is the best-known area for tourists. From the iconic architecture to the surprisingly blue ocean to the rolling sand dunes in the desert, Dubai has a lot to offer. Much more than meets the eye, in fact.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, luxury, culture or heritage, there’s something to suit everyone here. And, on top of that, different seasons bring in additional festivities that can’t be found anywhere else.
So when should you visit, what should you visit, and what can’t you miss? Here are all of the unique things to do in Dubai as well as everything you need to know to make your trip unforgettable.
- When to Visit Dubai?
- Unique Things To Do in Dubai, UAE
- Conclusion: Unique Things To Do in Dubai
When to Visit Dubai?
The activities you take part in can be affected greatly by what season you visit. So, let’s talk about temperature and climate first.
Winter in Dubai is widely considered to be the best time to visit. The temperature falls from intense triple digits and it becomes much more comfortable to spend time outdoors.
Additionally, the holiday season brings with it special seasonal festivities, like ice sculptures in Zabeel Park and Christmas markets around the city. There is also a huge fireworks show during the new year.
Summer in Dubai is scorching, with the unforgiving hot sun and temperatures sitting in the hundreds. This makes outdoor sights more difficult, and a few of them are even closed as tourism dwindles.
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are great times to visit. The crowds have not yet arrived and the temperatures and prices are still reasonable. The city begins to feel alive as locals and tourists spend time on the beach and walking outdoor shopping centers.
No matter what time of year you visit, Dubai is filled with unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else.
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Unique Things To Do in Dubai, UAE
Dubai saw quick and tremendous growth due to the oil industry, which transformed Dubai’s desert into shining skyscrapers and architectural feats.
Outside of the city, the rolling dunes of the desert and rugged mountains are a beautiful, natural treat.
For visitors, this means a plentiful array of things to do in Dubai that range from city sights to nature. Here are the top sights to add to your Dubai itinerary.
1. See the Burj Khalifa’s incredible views.
Dubai is home to the tallest building in the world – the famous Burj Khalifa. This iconic building is identifiable from all around the city, and the Dubai skyline would not be the same without it!
The shape of the Burj Khalifa was inspired by the Spider Lily, a desert flower native to the region. Architect Adrian Smith designed the building, which took only six years to complete.
Standing at a whopping 2,722 feet tall, this skyscraper stands high above even the Eiffel Tower, which stands at just 984 feet in comparison.
Because of its height, the views of Dubai are unmatched from inside the Burj Khalifa. Visitors can dine at one of several restaurants located inside the Burj Khalifa, or just enjoy the views from the observation decks one the 124th, 125th, and the 148th floor.
When skies are clear, it’s possible to see straight out across the Persian Gulf!
2. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque.
This beautiful mosque is a must-visit attraction and one of the most unique things to do in Dubai. While plenty of tourists head to Abu Dhabi’s well-known Grand Mosque, this is a must-see if you are visiting Dubai.
Opened in 1979, Jumeirah Grand Mosque was gifted from the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the former Ruler of Dubai. The mosque can accommodate around 1,500 worshippers and is open to tourists outside of prayer times.
The interior of the mosque is adorned with glimmering marble, Arabic script, and floral embroidery. Women should carefully plan what to wear in Dubai‘s mosques, as they will need to cover their heads and dress modestly to enter.
3. Take an abra to the Grand Souk.
No trip to the Middle East would not be complete without exploring the local souks and experiencing a bit of traditional life around Dubai.
The best way to see the souks is to take an abra across Dubai Creek and walk into the open markets. Abras are small wooden boats that shuttle both people and materials across the creek between Deira and Bur Dubai.
Abras are the oldest form of public transportation in the region and are still used as water taxis today. They are extremely cheap to ride and offer nice views of the creek and city as you ride.
Once you arrive, the Deira Grand Souk is filled with aromatic spices, local clothing, kitchen goods, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon exploring.
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4. Ascend the unique Dubai Frame.
One of the more recent architectural feats in Dubai is known as the Dubai Frame. This unique structure is part building and part sculpture and is a symbol of uniting the old and new in Dubai.
Designed like an ornate gold picture frame, visitors ride an elevator to the top and take in sweeping views. On one side, Old Dubai is featured, with low-lying buildings stretching out away from you. On the other side, New Dubai’s towering skyscrapers shine through the windows, a stark contrast.
For roughly $13 USD, daring visitors can access the Dubai Frame’s incredible views from inside Zabeel Park. Ascending this structure is easily one of the most unique things to do in Dubai.
5. See the free Dubai Fountain show.
While this city is not the most budget-friendly destination, there are a few free and budget-friendly things to do in Dubai. This list includes watching the colorful and entertaining fountain show at Dubai Mall.
The Dubai Fountain combines perfectly timed blasts of dancing water and colored lights with various musical numbers and styles. Love it or hate it, it’s a spectacular sight, and it is very close to the Burj Khalifa, mentioned above.
Some restaurants inside the mall overlook the fountain, giving viewers an overhead vantage point for just the price of a tasty dinner. The fountain show is a popular and often crowded attraction, so this is a great way to view the show.
Nighttime offers the best views!
6. Experience the Dubai desert.
The Arabian Desert is one of the most spectacular sights in the United Arab Emirates, and there are pockets of this sandy desert found on the outskirts of Dubai.
Though it’s a popular activity, a desert safari is still one of the most unique things to do in Dubai, as they are not offered everywhere in the world. The most thrilling part is dune-bashing, which is zooming over the dunes in a 4WD vehicle like a natural roller-coaster.
If you like entertainment and dancing, consider an evening safari. These offer traditional Arabic dinner buffets, belly dancing shows, sand boarding, and dune-bashing.
If you are more interested in the natural beauty of the desert, consider a sunrise safari. These offer a gorgeous sunrise view, dune-bashing, camel visits, and more.
A desert safari in Dubai is a must-do for any first-time visitor.
7. Swim in the Arabian Sea.
Surprising to many, this city is home to some gorgeous beaches along the turquoise Arabian Sea. And in warmer months, this is one of the most unexpected ways to spend a day in Dubai.
There are a number of public beaches along Dubai’s coast, as well as private beaches on-site at various hotels. One of the most famous hotels in Dubai is the Burj al Arab, an ultra-luxury sailboat-shaped hotel.
It is renowned for its striking design, unparalleled service standards, luxurious interiors, and world-class amenities that make it one of the top luxury hotels in the world.
Surrounding this hotel is a public beach, so you can have your fill of sunbathing, kite surfing, and paddle boarding. Rentals and lessons are offered for anyone interested.
8. Walk the colorful Dubai Miracle Garden
The Dubai Miracle Garden grounds are full of hundreds of thousands of vibrant and colorful flowers. For a country in the desert, it is an incredible sight! It is hands down one of the most unique attractions in all of Dubai.
The garden undergoes a colorful metamorphosis each year, with approximately 50 million flowers meticulously arranged in a myriad of configurations. You’ll see low gardens and astonishing animatronic sculptures covered in flowers.
The colorful flowers blanket over 780,000 square feet and it is a bright change of pace from the rest of the city. Note that the Miracle Garden is closed during the hot summer months, so this is one of those sights you can not see year-round.
Conclusion: Unique Things To Do in Dubai
While there is an endless supply of things to do in Dubai, these are the most unique sights and attractions around.
From epic views to natural wonders to incredible architectural feats, this sampling of unique activities will undoubtedly leave you wanting more!