Dubai attractions

Dubai attractions


Globetrotters often refer to Dubai City as a “city of superlatives". Four decades ago, what is currently the largest city in the United Arab Emirates was a humble fishing village. Thanks to vigorously bubbling petrodollars, the settlement was transformed into a metropolis with spectacular buildings and a breathtaking high-rise backdrop. According to current estimates, what counts Dubai City about two million inhabitants.
In view of its limited oil reserves, which will last for the next 40 years, the emirate relied on tourism as a second mainstay. In 2018, before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, almost 16 million visitors and over 89 million air travelers were counted at the Dubai International Airport hub. Dubai is also a cruise ship destination in the cooler half of the year.

Dubai's cruise terminal 

Since 2020, Dubai has had two high-performance cruise terminals, the Mina Rashid and the Dubai Harbor Cruise Terminal. The Mina Rashid Terminal at the entrance to Dubai Creek has been in operation since 1972. The Harbor Cruise Terminal, which was co-initiated by the Carnival Group, was laid out in the shadow of the artificial island of Palm Jumeirah.

Mina Rashid

Mina Rashid, the luxurious Dubai Cruise Terminal, is spacious, lavishly equipped and tailored to the diverse needs of travelers. Individualists among the passengers can reach the sights of the metropolis with the "Big Bus" called Hop On - Hop Off buses, free shuttle buses to the Mercato Mall, the omnipresent taxis or the metro. In the vicinity of the Mina Rashid Terminal, visits to the historic districts on both sides of Dubai Creek, the Jumeirah Central Mosque and the Dubai Downtown district are particularly recommended.

Dubai - Mina Rashid cruise terminal


Dubai - Mina Rashid cruise terminal



Dubai art object in the Mina Rashid cruise terminal


Harbor Cruise Terminal

Dubai's newest cruise terminal has been designed no less lavishly and spaciously than Mina Rashid. Due to the long distances to be covered in Dubai, the Harbor Cruise Terminal offers individual tours to the Burj Al Arab, Ain Dubai, the world's tallest Ferris wheel or the Mall of the Emirates.

Dubai - Harbor Cruise Terminal


Our top sights in Dubai

Regardless of the distances to be covered, the length of the urban area extends from north to south over a good 60 kilometers, Dubai's most important sights are scattered across the urban area. The selection we have made does not claim to be complete. Depending on your interests, other goals are conceivable.

The historic neighborhoods along Dubai Creek

Dubai Creek is an arm of the Persian Gulf that is up to 1.300 meters wide and eleven kilometers long. It separates the districts of Bur Dubai and Deira. Both areas represent the city's historic districts. The Dubai Creek is the traditional waterway from which dhows sailed to Iran, Iraq and India before the discovery of oil. Nowadays, creek tours are carried out using dhows or abras, small water taxis.

Dubai Creek with dhows


There are extensive souks on both sides of the creek. On the northern bank we find the gold and spice souks. The Bur Dubai Souk Market is located on the south bank in the city of Shindagha. The locations Bastakiya and Al Seef are of further interest.

The most important building in Bastakiya is the Dubai Museum, enclosed by the al-Fahidi Fort. The fortress, built in the second half of the 19th century, is the oldest structure in the city. It was built from rammed earth, coral stone and shells. The building has had an underground section since 1995. The museum houses a weapons collection and an archaeological department.

Dubai Museum - Al Fahidi Fort


Dubai Museum - Al Fahidi Fort



Dubai Museum - Al Fahidi Fort 


We recommend spending enough time in the winding, traditional neighborhoods. The city districts show the original Dubai. Typical buildings in the district are the ubiquitous wind towers. Before air conditioning, towers provided relief from the scorching heat of the summer months. Openings allowed cooler air to flow into the buildings and warmer air to flow out.

Dubai - Bastakiya district


Photo impressions of the historic districts

Dubai - Wind towers in Al Fahidi district
Dubai - Roof level in the Al Fahidi district
Dubai - Roof level of the XVA-Art Hotel in the Al Fahidi district
Dubai - Roof level of the XVA-Art Hotel in the Al Fahidi district
Dubai - Als Seef district
Dubai - Al Seef district
Dubai - Creek with the Infinity Bridge
Dubai - Creek - tradition and high-rise buildings
Dubai - Al Seef district
Dubai - Watchtower in Al Fahidi district
Dubai - House of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Maktoum
Dubai-Creek

A selection of unique buildings

As of mid-2019, the statistics for Dubai named 190 buildings more than 150 meters high. Dubai is following in the world in terms of skyscrapers Hong Kong, New York and Shenzhen ranked fourth. Many of the buildings have special features that make them appear unique. Our favorites from the abundance of outstanding buildings:  

Burj al Arab - the tower of the Arabs

The luxury hotel Burj Al Arab, inaugurated in 1999, is known worldwide for its silhouette reminiscent of a sail. The official 5-star rating does not do justice to what is offered. The fairytale decor of the hotel encouraged the media to transform the luxury domicile into a 7-star hotel. The hotel only offers its guests suites. Their sizes vary between 169 and 780 square meters. The spectacular building, which towers over 60 floors, is located on an artificial island. Including the antenna tip, the Burj Al Arab is 321 meters high. Unlike the Burj Khalifa, there is no public viewing terrace in the Burj Al Arab. In order to enjoy a view from above, an external guest is forced to reserve a table in the “Skyview Bar” for a lot of money.

Dubai - Burj Al Arab
Dubai - Burj Al Arab seen from the Seawings plane
Dubai - Burj Al Arab seen from lake
Dubai - Burj Al Arab seen from Palm Jumeirah

 

Burj Khalifa - the tallest structure in the world

The Burj Khalifa, which opened in January 2010, is currently the tallest free-standing building in the world at 828 meters. It has 189 floors. 163 of the floors are used for offices, a hotel and apartments. No fewer than 57 elevators access the needle-shaped structure. The viewing platforms are located on the 125th floor at a height of 456 meters "At the top". It allows visitors a 360 ° view. A second platform with a viewing terrace was set up on the 148th floor at a height of 555 meters. The view from both levels is phenomenal. The total usable area is more than 517.000 square meters. According to Fifa standards, this corresponds to more than 72 soccer fields. The construction costs were around one billion euros.

Dubai - Burj Khalifa
Dubai - Burj Khalifa
Dubai - Burj Khalifa at night
Dubai - Burj Khalifa illuminated
 
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

Adults will pay a minimum of 2023 euros to visit the lower platform in 42.
Prices vary according to the time of day. We recommend the scheduled tickets early before starting the journey
to book online. The view from the top is worth the financial investment!

Option1: The classic ticket for the 124th and 125th floor.
Burj Khalifa level 124 and 125 entry ticket

Option 2: The ticket to 148 floor and 124, 125 floor. Skip-the-line access for security and elevator.
  Burj Khalifa: Tickets & Tour Level 124, 125 and 148

Detailed article about the Burj Khalifa

Museum of the Future

The Museum of the Future in Dubai is a futuristic museum that showcases the possibilities of the future and the influence of technology on our lives. The impressive architecture of the 77 meter high building, designed by South African architect Shaun Killa, is shaped like a twisted torus and is made from 1.024 glass fiber reinforced plastic panels. Various future technologies are presented in the museum, including smart cities, health innovations, artificial intelligence, robotics and nanotechnology. Visiting the museum is a fascinating experience for anyone who is enthusiastic about architecture and future technologies.

Dubai - Museum of the Future
Dubai - Museum of the Future - in the dark
Dubai - Museum of the Future - AirPenguin - autonomous flying object
Dubai - Museum of the Future - flying fish - autonomous flying object
 
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

Ticket Museum of the Future
Tickets for the Museum of the Future should be booked very early. During our last visit in December 2023, the tickets could not be booked for 3 weeks at the earliest!!

Detailed article about that Museum of the Future

The Dubai Frame

In January 2018 the largest picture frame in the world was inaugurated in Zabeel Park with the shiny gold "Frame of Dubai". Two 150 meter high towers are connected in the lower part by a base building and in the upper area by a 93 meter wide bridge construction. This creates the illusion of a picture frame. Depending on the location, the viewer sees the “new” Dubai with the Burj Khalifa or the “old” Dubai with the Deira district. Visitors can enjoy unrestricted 360 ° panoramic views from the sky deck. A large, accessible glass area in part of the sky deck ensures a thrill. On the lower level of the frame, a museum presents the city history of Dubai.

Dubai Frame


Dubai Frame

Dubai Frame - Selfies on the glass bottom


Dubai Frame - Selfies on the glass bottom

  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

Ticket Dubai frame
Dubai Frame ticket. Bypass the queue at the checkout.
Admission to the well-groomed Zabeel Park is included in the ticket price.

  Activity

Small Group City Tour with Dubai Frame Ticket
Half-day Dubai city tour with a guide and Dubai Frame entrance tickets.

The Opus by Omniyat

The architectural masterpiece of the star architect Zaha Hadid (†) is located in Dubai's Business Bay. The flowing complex includes a Melia Hotel as well as luxury apartments and business premises. At a height of 71 meters, an asymmetrical, three-story bridge construction connects the two towers of the building.

Dubai - The Opus


Dubai - The Opus

Dubai - The Opus - Foyer


Dubai - The Opus - Foyer

  Location Al A'amal St - Business Bay; in walking distance from Burj Khalifa, go to Google Maps
  The entrance area with the four-story atrium can be visited.

Sky Views Observatory

On the 52nd floor of the five-star luxury hotel “The Address Sky View” is one of Dubai's newer attractions, the observation deck of the Sky Views Observatory. The platform is located in downtown Dubai between two 237 and 260 meter high twin towers of the hotel and apartment complex.

Dubai - The Address Sky View – Hotel LobbyDubai - The Address Sky View – Hotel Lobby


At a height of exactly 219,50 meters, the Sky Views Observatory offers fantastic views of the Burj Khalifa, which is 500 meters away as the crow flies, the Dubai Mall and the surrounding area.

One element of the connecting piece between the residential towers is a 25 meter long glass floor embedded in it. We already know something similar from the Dubai Frame. The glass floor opens up a view of the green area below. From what we can see, the glass floor is enthusiastically used for Instagram photos.

Other memorable elements of the Observatory include a glass slide embedded in a glass tube leading from the 53rd to the 52nd level and the Air Walk. This offers daring people the unique opportunity to defy gravity at a hair-raising height while roped up in the outdoor area of ​​the Observatory for a reasonable fee.

Dubai - Sky Views Observatory - View of Burj Khalifa
Dubai - Sky Views Observatory - the second tower
Dubai - Skyline seen from Sky Views Observatory
Dubai - Skyline seen from Sky Views Observatory
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

To avoid unnecessary waiting times, we recommend pre-booking your visit to the Sky Views Observatory online. The organizers allow a maximum of 200 visitors access to the facility every quarter of an hour.

Option 1: The classic ticket:
Buy Sky Views Observer Ticket

Option 2: Ticket including Edge Walk:
Buy Sky Views Observer Ticket with Edge Walk

Dubai Fountain

The Dubai Fountain sprays in the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake in front of the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. The largest water features on earth create up to 250 different fountains over a length of 1.000 meters. The jets of water spray up to 150 meters high. The fountain shows, accompanied by music, begin daily at 13:00pm and 13:30pm, and on Fridays at 13:30pm and 14:00pm The more spectacular evening shows start around 18:00pm and last until 22:00pm, on certain days longer. As an encore, the Burj Khalifa is illuminated.

Dubai - Burj Khalifa Lake
Dubai Fountain - evening show
Dubai Fountain - evening show
Dubai Fountain - illuminated Burj Khalifa
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission Free entry. We recommend choosing multiple locations to watch the show, which only lasts a few minutes.
Suitable positions are the often overcrowded promenade in front of the mall, the less frequented restaurant level in front
the Souk al Bahar or the bridge next to the Hotel Palace Downtown Dubai.
  Activity

Fountain Show & Traditional Burj Lake Cruise
Watch the Dubai Fountain Show during a 30-minute ride on Burj Lake in a traditional "Abra" water taxi.

Selected malls and the City Walk

We don't know the number of malls in Dubai. Three malls are a must for international guests. There are the luxurious Dubai Mall, the no less glamorous Mall of the Emirates and the small and "grounded" Mercato Mall. We also find the souk interesting al Bahar and the new City Walk. This is a pedestrian zone with shops and restaurants.

The Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is located in the Downtown Dubai district. Apartment houses, office buildings and hotels dominate there. In the center of the district are the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. With more than 350.000 square meters of retail space, the Dubai Mall is one of the world's largest shopping centers.

Dubai Mall from a bird's eye view


Dubai Mall from a bird's eye view



Dubai Mall - the level of luxury brands 


The Dubai Mall was originally designed for 37 million visitors a year. Before the start of the corona pandemic, 80 million people visited the shopping temple. More than 1.300 shops and over 200 restaurants and bars are presented in the huge facility. The anchor tenants are Galeries Lafayette and Bloomingdale's. Interested parties will find 150 luxury shops and first-class dining establishments on “Fashion Avenue”.

Dubai Mall in the evening


The Ice Rink, an Olympic-sized artificial ice rink, a hall for fashion shows, a multiplex cinema, a music-controlled fountain, the largest indoor aquarium in the world and much more have been set up so that visitors don't lack anything. The mall management is making arrangements to accommodate 100 million visitors a year.

Dubai Mall - Bakery

A “Chinatown” was recently installed on the first floor of the extensive mall. The facility is still under construction as of December 2023. Success remains to be seen. What we found remarkable was a porcelain shop where prices for artistic vases cost several hundred thousand US dollars.

Dubai Mall - Chinatown


Dubai Mall - Chinatown



Dubai Mall - Chinatown - china shop 


 

  For cruise ship guests: The Dubai Mall can be reached quickly and easily by taxi from Port Mina Rashid. The distance is "only" 14 kilometers. For a taxi ride you have to spend almost AED 60, corresponding to 15 euros. Please note the stand fee of AED 25 (6 euros) at the terminal. Generally speaking, there is only AED 5 costs for getting in a taxi. All taxis are equipped with taximeters. Many taxis also offer payment by credit card. 
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission Aquarium and underwater zoo day ticket
Day ticket for the aquarium and the worthwhile underwater zoo of Dubai.

The Mall of the Emirates

The Mall of the Emirates is a different kind of experience. The dimensions of the sales area are put at more than 600.000 square meters. Over 500 shops are spread over four floors. In addition to the luxury brand shops typical of the UAE, buyers will also find shops with lesser-known brands for consumer electronics and everyday items. In addition, a theater, a mega-cinema and a gigantic arcade are part of the equipment.


Dubai - Mall of the Emirates



Dubai - Mall of the Emirates 


If you feel like skiing in a desert region like Dubai, you can visit “Ski Dubai”, the largest indoor ski facility in the world, in the Mall of the Emirates. Ski Dubai offers its guests three ski lifts and ski slopes of various degrees of difficulty. The longest descent is 60 meters long with a height difference of 400 meters. A halfpipe and a snow park with toboggan runs complete the offer.


Dubai - Mall of the Emirates - Halfpipe Ski Dubai


Dubai - Ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates

For cruise ship guests: The Mall of the Emirates is around twelve kilometers from the new terminal at Dubai Harbor. From the Mina Rashid port, taxis travel around 25 kilometers on mostly inner-city expressways.
{  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

Ski Dubai + Ski Dubai: Snow Park
Different options for Ski Dubai + Ski Dubai: Snow Park are available.

Market Mall

The Mercato Mall, designed in the Italian Renaissance style, is located in the Jumeirah district, relatively close to the Mina Rashid Terminal. The mall was developed for the needs of local residents. That explains why it seems down-to-earth and less ostentatious than the two aforementioned shopping malls. Of course, there is no lack of a supermarket, a cinema or other entertainment options. A stroll from the Mercato Mall to the newly developed “City Walk” is ideal.


Dubai - Mercato Mall



Dubai - Renaissance style Mercato Mall 


Location: go to Google Maps
For cruise ship guests: Free shuttle buses run from the Mina Rashid Terminal to the Mercato Mall

Mall Souk Al Bahar

A bridge leads from the Dubai Mall over Burj Khalifa Lake to the Souk al Bahar. The modern building complex creates the fiction of an Arab old town. A welcome change after the opulence and splendor of the Dubai Mall.

Dubai - Souk Al Bahar


Location: go to Google Maps

City walk

Like the previously presented malls, the lifestyle destination of the City Walk awaits with elegant shops. There are also international restaurants and bars outdoors as well as well-designed outdoor areas with small squares, fountains, benches and plants. The X-shaped pedestrian zone, the buildings of which are reminiscent of individual European cities, extends from the Coca Cola Arena, which was built in June 2019, over several blocks towards Jumeirah Beach.


Dubai-City Walk



Dubai-City Walk 


In addition to the 17.000-seat Coca Cola Arena, the nearby “Green Planet Dubai” invites you to visit. The spectacular structure is a mixture of a zoo and a botanical garden. Birds, sloths, reptiles, amphibians and fish live on four levels in an artificial tropical rainforest. From the treetop of a fake rainforest tree there are views of the rainforest and the birds flying around. Amphibians, reptiles, mammals and fish can be admired on the lower levels.


Dubai - Coca Cola Arena


Dubai-Green Planet

  Location City Walk - Al Wasl; go to Google Maps
  Admission

Green Planet Dubai
Entry to Green Planet Dubai. Bypass the queue.
Tickets online from AED 89; at the counter from AED 120 (22 or 30 euros).

Ain Dubai - the largest ferris wheel in the world

Ain Dubai stands on the man-made island Bluewaters Island in front of the coast with the skyscrapers of the Jumeirah Beach Residence. The tallest Ferris wheel in the world went into operation in October 2021.

Ain Dubai - the largest ferris wheel in the world


The tourist attraction is 260 meters high; the diameter of the wheel is given as 250 meters. The wheel carries 48 cabins. The number of passengers is put at 1.750. The tour in the air-conditioned gondolas takes just under 40 minutes. The Ferris wheel offers fantastic views of Dubai's skyscraper backdrop, the new Harbor Cruise Terminal and the island of Palm Jumeirah with the luxury hotel Atlantis The Palm. Next to the Ferris wheel is a branch of Madame Tussaud's wax museum.

 

  Location City Walk - Al Wasl; go to Google Maps
  Admission

Ticket Ain Dubai
Ain Dubai Ferris Wheel Ticket. Save queuing on site!
Ticket prices: depending on the time of day between 130 and 180 AED (32,50 to 45 euros).

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah is a gigantic man-made island off the coast of Dubai. The island is shaped like a palm tree. The trunk of the "palm" alone is four kilometers long. Its width is 600 meters. A twelve kilometer long, sickle-shaped outer ring protects the area from flooding. The 50 hectare hotel complex "Atlantis The Palm" and the "Aquaventure" amusement area were built at the tip of Palm Jumeirah. Several thousand villas and apartments as well as various hotels stand on the stylized palm fronds.

Dubai - Palm Monorail with the Atlantis Hotel
Dubai - Palm Jumeirah - Atlantis Hotel
Dubai - Palm Jumeirah - Royal Atlantis Resort
Dubai - Palm Atlantis Aquaventure

 

The Atlantis Hotel can be reached with a monorail called a monorail. The train starts in front of the trunk of the palm tree at the "Gateway Station".
  Location go to Google Maps
  Admission

Atlantis Aquaventure & The Lost Chambers AquariumUnlimited access to the water park and aquarium on the selected ticket date. Tip: be there very early as there is so much to experience.

Jumeirah Central Mosque

Dubai's religious landmark is said to be one of the most beautiful structures in Dubai. The Muslim house of worship is open to people of different faiths six days a week; the mosque is reserved for believers only on Fridays. The unmistakable features of the mosque are the two 70-meter-high minarets and their five domes.

Dubai - Jumeirah Central Mosque

Dubai - Jumeirah Central Mosque


On opening days, guided tours are held in English for a small fee. Dubai's largest mosque was built from ivory-colored limestone in the medieval tradition between 1975 and 1978. In the dark, it is effectively illuminated. Inside, apart from an imposing chandelier, it looks more functional. The church offers space for up to 1.200 prayers.

Guided tours start at 10:00 am at the Sheik Mohammed Center for Cultural Understanding. The falcon waiting there may be picked up.

{  Location go to Google Maps

Wings of Mexico

The Mexican artist Jorge Marin created the "Wings of Mexico". The two wings of an angel represent from their Creator's point of view the potential, dreams and successes of humanity. The monument is the meeting point for instagrammers and selfie lovers.

Downtown Dubai with the Wings of Mexico statue

Downtown Dubai with the Wings of Mexico statue

{  Location Between Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard and Burj Plaza overlooking the Burj Khalifa. The Wings of Mexico is within walking distance from the Dubai Mall. go to Google Maps

Expo 2020,

With the organization of the Expo 1 world exhibition, which began on October 2021, 2020, the emirate set another highlight. The site of the world exhibition “Expo 50” stretched out in the middle of the desert, almost 2020 kilometers from the Port Rashid cruise terminal. Due to the corona pandemic, the event was postponed to 2021. The organizers invited the world to "join our efforts for a cleaner, safer and healthier future for all".

Dubai - Expo 2020 advertisingDubai - Expo 2020 advertising


The organizers and the partner countries and various organizations worked on five subject areas: The world exhibition was based on the maxims "Build Bridges (build bridges), Leave No One Behind (leave no one behind), Live in Balance (life in balance), Thrive Together ( Together to success) and VAE Vision 2071". With the guiding principles, the organizers wanted to "explore the most urgent challenges facing humanity from a cultural, social, ecological and economic point of view".

Dubai Expo 2020 - Terra Pavilion


The goals that command attention are difficult to reconcile with the lived present of the Emirates in the present. That being said, pavilions worth seeing included the Terra Pavilion as well as the buildings of the UAE, Spain, the USA and of course Germany. Campus Germany presented innovations on the topics of mobility and sustainability. Under Expo 2020 in Dubai we report in detail about the world exhibition.


Dubai - Expo 2020 - Campus Germany


Dubai - Expo 2020 - Campus Germany

Expo 2020 lasted from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
  Location go to Google Maps

What do day guests do within a few hours?

Given the abundance and diversity of the attractions on offer in Dubai, the question remains to be answered: what do the day guests who have come by cruise ship or who are on their way to the ship do?

The length of stay does not harmonize with the generally short lay times of the cruise ships. Under Dubai in 5 hours we present a tried and tested guide to visiting the main attractions of Dubai Downtown. We definitely recommend visiting the lower observation deck of the Burj Khalifa to enjoy the unique view of the sprawling capital.


Dubai - view from the Burj Khalifa to the southwest



Dubai - view from the Burj Khalifa in north direction 


When accessing the “At the Top” viewing platform, visitors cannot avoid visiting the Dubai Mall that flanks the tower. If there is more time, crossing Dubai Creek with an Abra is a good idea. The trip costs two dirhams, a small amount of cents. Despite the excellent public transport in Dubai City, we recommend using taxis to save time. Compared to Germany, taxis are inexpensive; they are available at any time and they are the fastest means of transport.

Trips with the futuristic ferry boats are attractive and inexpensive. The trips start at Al Ghubaiba Marine Transport Station and end at Dubai Marina. The tours, which are organized several times a day, show Dubai's skyline from the waterfront. The passengers are presented with unusual sights.


Dubai ferry boat


Dubai's skyline as seen from the water

Dubai Ferry boat tickets cost AED 50 or AED 75 (Gold status, corresponding to first class). We recommend the "Standard"; the passengers stay on the open deck at the stern of the ship anyway during the journey. The Dubai Canal Marine Transport Station is not recommended as an exit. Anyone who gets off there ends up in "no man's land" and is forced to walk several hundred meters to the nearby hospital. In our experience, the chances of finding a taxi there are poor.
  Location Al Ghubaiba Marine Transport Station go to Google Maps

A 20-minute “snapshot tour” with a seaplane from Mina Rashid to the Burj-Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab and over Palm Jumeirah is not cheap pleasure, but still unforgettable.


Dubai - Seawing's Seaplane


Dubai - Seawings stretch limousine

Short flights like these are offered by "Seawings Seaplane Tours", for example. The Snapshot Tour currently costs 940 dirhams or 235 euros. Transport from the cruise terminal to the aircraft and back is not included in the scope of services. The return trip to the aircraft can be booked for a small fee. 

Update January 2024