Posted on Mar 13, 2015
Since the recent Etihad glitch on Christmas Day, I've been inundated with e-mails from people who were lucky enough to take advantage of the crazy airfare prices to Abu Dhabi asking for the best places to see in Dubai. After living here for three years, I've got the city memorized like the back of my hand, so I've compiled a list of my top ten hotspots to checkout while in Dubai!
10) Dubai Marina
In earlier years I would've placed the Marina higher on the list, but as of late it's been undergoing construction with many of the restaurants and cafes closed for renovation. Nonetheless, it's a great place to walk with a beautiful view overlooking the Marina. Walk long enough and you'll find yourself at Marina Mall, a smaller, very manageable mall here in Dubai.
Places to try: Cafe Bateel, Johnny Rockets, Reem Al-Bawadi, Zaffron, Pier 7.
9) Global Village
Global Village is food, shopping, entertainment and a carnival all wrapped in one. It's perfect for kids and features over 30 countries or pavilions to visit that sell food and products traditionally found in that country. Visit Morocco for some amazing tea cups, Iran for Persian, handmade rugs, Turkey for beautiful lanterns and silver jewelry, China for fun fashion jewelry, Thailand for the sweetest Coconut water you'll ever drink, India for stunning pashmina's and Yemen for pure honey!
Tip: Be sure to visit the website for visiting hours as it's not open year round due to the summer heat and is only open in the afternoon - late night.
The City Walk is a fun outdoor area with restaurants, cafes and shops. It is all outdoors, so if you're visiting Dubai in the hotter months, you might want to skip this one.
Places to Try: Sapori Di Bice is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Dubai and also be sure to check out Pappa Roti - it's a must!
7) The Palm Jumeirah
Dubai is known for their luxurious hotels and some of the best restaurants we've eaten at have been at hotels. The Palm Jumeirah (where I live!) has some of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai that are worthy of checking out, even if you're just stopping in for coffee. Definitely check out Zabeel Saray, the One&Only, Anantara, Rixos and of course, Atlantis (pictured above). Atlantis is also the home of Aquaventure - a really fun waterpark!
Places to Try: Ba at the Fairmont is my favorite Chinese spot with amazing views of the Marina, Talise Spa at Zabeel Saray is the most luxurious spa in all of Dubai, also be sure to check out Nobu or Kaleidoscope at Atlantis.
6) Wild Wadi
Wild Wadi is an awesome water park located next to the Burj Al Arab with one of the most thrilling slides, the Jumeirah Sceirah (you're in a capsule where the floor drops from under you after a 3-2-1 countdown!), wakeboarding, a wave pool and a fish spa! Keep in mind that expats and tourists will be dressed in Western bathing suits.
Tip: If you're here in the Summer you can take advantage of women-only nights. Visit their website for more info.
5) Desert Safari
The desert safari is an all-day event so if you have the time while you're, it's worth doing. One thing to note is that most evening desert safari's include a belly dancer, so I'd recommend a day-safari which also includes more physical activities. I highly recommend North Tours morning Desert Safari that includes dune bashing, 4x4's (upon request), camel-rides and sandboarding.
Tip: Dune bashing is not for the faint of heart! It's similar to being on a roller coaster, so if you get car sick easily, it might not be for you.
4) Old Souk at Bur Dubai
If you're looking for a more traditional place to check-out, definitely make your way to the Spice Bazaar and Old Souk in Bur Dubai or take the dhow across the creek to the Gold Souk in Deira. You can find lots of souvenirs to take home as gifts and be sure to try one of the shawarma and smoothie stands!
Tip: Go here for abayas, the abaya stores at malls are super overpriced, and don't be afraid to bargain!
3) JBR The Beach
JBR The Beach is a newer development (parallel to The Walk at JBR) that's right along with beach with awesome restaurants and boutiques. There's tons of activities on the water for kids, but keep in mind it is a beach and there will most likely be people laying out on the beach year 'round. We love coming here at night for dinner and walking along the beach.
Places to Try: Big Chef, Eggspectation, Cheesecake Factory, Awani, Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery.
2) Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa
The best way to see the Burj Khalifa (and to take the best pictures) is to go to Dubai Mall and exit on the ground floor onto the pavilion. Before you will be the Burj Khalifa and TONS of other people soaking in this Dubai hot-spot. Eat at one of the restaurants along the pavilion or across the bridge at Souk Al Bahar for great views and the famous water show that comes on every 30 minutes.
Places to Try: Social House, Eataly, Mango Tree and Zahr El Laymoun.
1) Madinat Jumeirah
Madinat Jumeirah is definitely my most favorite hot-spot in Dubai with its stunning views and beautiful architecture. Take the gondola ride and see the huge grounds that include Al Qasr, Mina A'Salam, Dar Al Masyaf and the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah. This is also one of the best places to come and get great views (and photos) of the Burj Al-Arab (you can't get in to the Burj Al-Arab without reservations). Shop at the boutiques and dine at Anar (my hands-down favorite restaurant in Dubai!) or any of the other amazing restaurants here.
Places to Try: Frioul Bistro de Luxe, Anar, Trader Vics, The Meat Co.
Honorable Mentions: Kite Beach, Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Battuta Mall, The Galleria, Mercato Mall & Miracle Gardens.