Dubai is one of the most known cities in the world. Even my mum wanted to visit Dubai because “it was cool and her friends had already visited”. I guess now she can be proud that she has been twice! 🙂 Many muslim travellers visit Dubai with their families and I always get the question of what is there to do in Dubai. Well it’s time to share some of the many amazing things you can do with or without your family in this small wander-city as I like to call it.
So what is there to see and do in Dubai?
One of the Biggest attractions of Dubai is the dancing fountain in Dubai Mall with a great view of the Burj Khalifa. The fountains are definitely something you should see and enjoy. It is fun watching water “dance” to different music tunes. The fountains start at 6pm until 12pm, and they perform every 30min for approximately 5 minutes or less.
Tip: If you want to have a nice spot to see the fountains then you should visit just after the performance finishes. This way the crowd will move and you will get the best spot. One other favourite option is to visit the new Five Guys store, order some food and watch a couple performances. 🙂
If you’re not scare of heights, then a visit to the Burj Khalifa should be on your list. The tallest building of the world gives you a great view of Dubai and the surrounding area. Book in advance to find the perfect slot, maybe just before sunset so you can see Dubai during the day and night. There are also many vouchers for discounts. More on this at the end.
Jumeirah Medinat Souk & Hotel
Souk Madinat Jumeirah is an authentic re-creation of an ancient marketplace with traditional Middle Eastern style and ambience, located in the Madinat Jumeirah resort. It is a great place to spend few hours exploring the market, having dinner or lunch in the restaurant and finally taking an abra around the resort. The abras are small boats that take you around the resort and offer a great view of the Burj Al Arab, they cost 75AED per person.
Located at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Wild Wadi is a place to find a wide range of water slides, rides and surfing opportunities. Book in advance and you can find some deals online for discounts. Also it is advisable to go early to avoid big queues.
Mall of the Emirates
Who says you can’t ski in Dubai? Spend a day with the kids in Mall of the Emirates and dance with penguins, slide and have fun as a family. It is definitely an interesting experience considering that it’s 40C outside. There are other family-friendly activities you can enjoy and even go to the cinema if you want.
Dune Bashing & the dessert experience
One of the best moments for me was visiting the desert and dune bashing. It is very touristy but it’s definitely a nice experience with the kids. Just make sure your camel ride and camp site are kid-friendly, as there might be belly dancing. There are loads of tour companies that can offer this and you can find some great offers online. I believe we paid less than £40 per person when I went there.
Tip: Shop around and don’t book directly with your hotels because they are usually more expensive.
Hot Air Balloon Ride
This one is on my list of things to do in Dubai for sure. The hot air balloon ride takes you hundreds of feet into the clear blue skies, while offering you the chance to see the beauty and charm of Dubai from the skies. Definitely a family experience to remember.
Visit one of the many souks
Dubai is full of several shopping opportunities and one of the places not to miss is the souk, an open-air market in Dubai Creek. There’s always something on offer for every member of the family. You’ll find many different items including jewellery, souvenirs and other traditional spices at an affordable price. Don’t forget to bargain and ask for a discount. Never ever pay the full price 🙂
Jumeirah beach and the JBR walk is one of my favourite places in Dubai. I have been there three times, but it’s the first time I went to the beach. The water was crystal clear and so warm. Great for a family as you can swim, eat , shop and relax until late in the evening. You can also enjoy a wide range of water sports activities including sailing, swimming and snorkelling. You can read my review of the Intercontinental hotel and also there are plenty of other judging options around the Marina and Jumeirah beach.
Located at the Dubai Creek Park, Children’s City is one of the top attractions in the city, worth visiting with family. Kind of a children’s dream destination or maybe even an adult. Covering more than 80,000 sq. ft. of educational area, Children’s city is a perfect place for kids to enjoy several fun-filled activities. Here you’ll find activities on culture, nature, space and many different interactive exhibits.
Dubai Mall Aquarium
Dubai Mall offers plenty of things for everyone young or old. The Aquarium is free to view on the outside and it can be great for the kids to do some fish spotting. You can also pay an entry fee and go under the tunnel. For those who are fearless, you can even swim with the sharks. 🙂
Heritage village takes you back in time. Showing you how bedouin Arabs lived, their history and crafts. It is a nice way to spend your day in Dubai and see how this city transformed from a small village to the mega famous city. Heritage village is located in Dubai Creek. You can find more information here.
Dubai Miracle Garden
This is one of the places I really wanted to visit but it wasn’t open in October. This is a natural flower garden and it takes great craftsmanship(?) to create every year. It covers some 72,000 meters and it is a very popular tourist attraction. The garden is open only between October to April, since it can be very hot during summer for the flowers and visitors. For more information here
If you are visiting Dubai for a short period of time and you cannot visit all the attractions, then the best option for you will be a tour bus. There are many companies in Dubai that offer tour buses to the most popular attractions in Dubai. The bus is hop on and off which means you can explore areas at your own leisure and then just hop back on to the next destination. There are many coupons available to online to save money on these buses, so do shop around for the best price.
Money Saving Tips
PricelessArabia: I have covered Priceless Arabia here and they do have some great discounts for restaurants, attractions and hotels. If you have a MasterCard, this can be a great option to save money. They also have a collaboration with the Entertainer magazine which saves you from buying the full guide.
Groupon UAE: Groupon has some great discounts for Dubai attractions and you can save a lot of money. I did manage to book a tour bus for only £15 instead of £30+. My advice is start buying and booking your attractions before you arrive in Dubai as slots get booked up quickly and you will be left with limited options.
There are so many more things to do in Dubai, so if you have any more tips and attractions, please do share them in the comments below.