Dubai, the city of possibilities
Glamorous hotels, gigantic designer shopping malls, indulgent restaurants, sweeping deserts, and sparkling beaches - Dubai is renowned for its sheer extravagance. Think of a holiday to Dubai, and you may simply think of All-inclusive resort stays and shopping till you drop - but there's certainly more than meets the eye.
From fascinating mosques and fantastic golf courses, to exciting water sports and great museums, there are plenty of cultural and active things to do during your stay in this decadent city. Check out some of our favourites below.
Visit a mosque
Go beyond the modern skyscrapers and you'll find that Dubai is still a wonderfully cultural and religious city, with ample opportunity to learn about the authentic Arabian lifestyle. Our favourite way to immerse ourselves in this rich heritage is by visiting the magnificent mosques that stand proudly in the city - especially the Jumeirah Mosque. One of the only mosques in the UAE that allows non-Muslim visitors and organised tours, this is the ideal spot to truly delve into a culture completely different to your own.
See the museums
Another way to quench your cultural thirst is by exploring the large array of museums that are nestled throughout the city. From the Camel Museum and the Women's Museum, to the Coffee Museum and Coin Museum Bur Dubai, Dubai's society is brilliantly represented within these museums' walls.
We recommend visiting the interesting Dubai Museum. Located in the Al Fahidi Fort (the oldest building in Dubai), there's a huge range of exhibits, including dioramas showcasing Dubai’s supersonic development from a tiny pearling town to the thriving metropolis you see today.
The Gold Souk is akin to a shopping centre comprising only of extravagant jewellery shops. Found in the old city centre at Deira, the incredible earrings, bracelets and necklaces glister temptingly at you, and as this is the Middle East - haggling is expected. Hone your haggling craft and you can get gold, platinum and silver at bargain prices, or you could simply 'window shop' and marvel at the gleaming jewellery.
Shop at The Dubai Mall
The Dubai Mall is so much more than just a shopping experience. Brimming with amazing attractions, there's so much to see and do here that you can easily spend a day exploring the six floors - and probably even need to visit again to see it all. A glitzy ice rink, a 22-screen cinema, an indoor theme park, an aquarium with more than 33,000 marine creatures - oh, and more than 1,200 shops...this is an amazing experience whether you’re splashing the cash or just marvelling at the scenery.
Despite its incredible size, don't be fooled into thinking that the Dubai Mall is the only place to shop. Our top 10 list of shopping malls in Dubai is the perfect list for those who love to splash the cash, or simply want to see an amazing amount of designers in one place.
Enjoy the beach
There aren’t many huge cities that can boast beaches as beautiful as Dubai’s. Much of the sand is privately owned by the big, luxury hotels, but there are plenty of stunning spots that are open to the public and only charge a very small fee. Al Mamzar Beach Park is one of the finest examples, with fine white sand. If spending your whole afternoon soaking up the sun isn't really your thing, there's plenty of fantastic water sports to try, including kite surfing, fly boarding and jet skiing.
Marvel at Burj Khalifa
Dubai has never been a city famed for subtlety, and its increasing desire for world records led to the building of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It is nothing short of a modern engineering and architectural masterpiece at 164 floors high. The view from the top is something truly breath-taking and the observation deck features floor-to-ceiling glass walls providing incredible views of the city below.
Atlantis The Palm
When you learn that Atlantis has a 65,000 marine creature aquarium and one of the world’s finest water parks you might be tempted to think that this is an entertainment complex. And in a sense, it is, but it’s also one of Dubai’s finest hotels (an achievement in itself). Atlantis has more than 20 restaurants, bars and lounges, a dolphin habitat and nearly a mile of sandy beach – there isn’t much that you can’t do here.
Play a round of golf
As a city frequented by the rich and the richer, it’s not really a big surprise that Dubai has a passionate love affair with golf. There are a huge number of golf courses here and they have been designed by some of the biggest names in the sport – Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els. The Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club is a brilliant 18-hole championship course best know for its amazing sail-shaped clubhouse, whilst the Emirates Golf Club has a historical side thanks to it being the first grass golf course in the Middle East.
Eat like a king no matter your budget
The beauty of food in Dubai is that you can experience some of the most incredible flavours and cuisine in the world regardless of how much money you want to spend. There's everything from the rustic budget restaurants offering immaculately spiced Indian cuisine to the swanky New York-style steakhouses, where the prices might make you expect to be served up diamond-encrusted fillet mignon.
Go on a desert safari
Dubai has an adrenaline-fuelled side too. Leave the tall skyscrapers and pristine white sands behind and venture to the burnt orange desert dunes, sweeping as far as the eye can see. These soaring sand dunes are the perfect outdoor playground, where you can jump into a 4x4 and career miles across the desert, before speeding along on a quad bike. The path can get very bumpy, but the heart-pumping adrenaline and incredible views make it all worthwhile.