Monday, 13 April 2015

My favourite highlights of Dubai

Are you visiting Dubai? Or do you live here and have friends or family visiting soon? After a long weekend with family visiting us here in Dubai, I thought I would share our favourite places to visit and things to do. As I have a three year old son, all the things we do need to be child friendly. Holidays (especially in Dubai) can be expensive, so we try to be careful with costs where we can.


There are tons of amazing things to do and see in Dubai, but as my sister in law and her partner only had a short time here, we tried to pack in as much as we could and had to prioritise! Hopefully we managed to give them a range of experiences and a chance to see the many faces of Dubai!


1. Dubai mall - Burj Kalifa - Dubai fountain

The Burj Kalifa holds the Guinness world record for being the tallest building in the world. The 828 meter tower is located in the centre of Downtown Dubai. It features 163 floors (plus 46 maintenance levels and two basement parking), 58 elevators and took 6 years to build. It opened in 2010. You can view the Burj Kalifa from outside, via the Dubai mall or you can go up to the 124th and 125th floors to the observation deck. I would definitely recommend booking this in advance as you pay four times the price if you turn up without a booking. Booking online cost approx 120 aed Per person. It's a really magnificent experience and you can see all across Dubai. We went up at night and the lights on all the skyscrapers were twinkling and street lights shimmering. An amazing view. I have heard that on a super clear day you can see all the way to Iran!

The Dubai fountain show is another spectacular experience that cannot be missed when in Dubai. There are plenty of restaraunts along the edge of the Kalifa lake where the fountain show takes place and I would recommend setting up camp in one of these as you will have a comfortable place to view them. We often choose Carluccios as it is an easy Italian restaurant, great for kids, simple yet delicious menu and reasonable prices. The fountains run every day from 6pm til 10pm, every half an hour.


Other highlights at Dubai mall - Dubai mall aquarium with underwater walk through tunnel, wall of fountains, Ice rink, food courts with every cuisine known to man, gorgeous restaurants outside and in Souk Al Bahar, various children's entertainment and shopping, shopping and more shopping!


2. Beaches

There are loads of gorgeous beaches in Dubai. Make the most of them in the winter months, as they get super hot in the summer! Some of our favourites include Kite beach, Al Suffouh Black palace beach and Jumeriah Beach Park. Most have good facilities for changing and nearby cafes and restaurants. Free, easy and so much fun! JBR beach and Kite beach offers water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and boat trips.
3. Dubai Deserts
It's easy to forget that Dubai has been created in the desert. The city is a magnificent example of human accomplishment, but let's not forget the natural environment here too! Some of our best times as a family have been camping and bbqing in the desert. Just 20-30 minutes out of the hub of the city and you reach the desert playground. We aim to set up around 4/5pm so we can sit on the top of the warm, soft dunes and watch the sunset. There are lots of companies here that offer desert safaris, camping and other excursions so if you are visiting Dubai without a host maybe try those. You don't necessarily need a 4x4 to get there, just off the d63 Al quadra road near the cycle track is a good spot!
4. Dubai creek - Souk markets - Traditional abra rides

This is always a favourite excursion with our visiting families. It really shows off the old style of Dubai and it is so much fun meandering around the traditional souks and bartering with the stall owners. You can pick up all sorts of souvenirs and mementoes here, from camels to pashminas, gorgeous Turkish plates, traditional arabic dress for adults and children, nic naks, hats, postcards, spices, fabrics, gold, jewellery and trinkets. The banter with the local stall holders is great fun so take a deep breath and get stuck in!
At the creek you can have a ride on a traditional abra boat. For 2 aed you can cross the creek to the Deira side. There you will find the spice and gold souks. There are plenty of opportunities to hire your own private abra or boat for a trip along the creek.
Well that's my top 4 places to go in Dubai, must see's for those here on a short trip. Dubai is full of amazing modern and traditional areas with great activities so it is hard to name just a few. Check out my "Dubai" tab for more reviews and ideas. Here are a few other recommendations for you to explore too...
- Madinat Souk Jumeriah
- Dubai Marina
- Dubai miracle gardens and newly opened butterfly gardens
- Brunches, available in most hotels.
- Sheik Mohammad Centre for Cultural Understanding
- Dubai Museum
- Bab Al Shams desert resort and spa
- Waterparks, Wild Wadi, Atlantis Aquaventure, Dreamland Umm Al Quaim
- Boat trips, available from a number of places along the coast, mainly from Dubai Marina
- Desert safaris and excursions
- Ski Dubai, largest indoor snow dome at Mall of Emirates
- SkyDive Dubai
What are your must see's for Dubai! I would love to hear your recommendations!





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