On the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates, you will find Dubai. Sharing its borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast, Dubai has something for everyone.
But what draws 16 million people to visit this destination each year?
Known as the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf, Dubai contrasts the old with the new, the modern with the traditional. Even its landscapes are contrasting, from the Blue waters of the Arabian Sea to rolling desert sand dunes. With some of the most luxurious hotels and year-round sunshine, this is an ideal destination for both couples and families.
This man-made island sits off the coast of Dubai and is so large it can be seen from space. It’s the size of 800 football pitches and adds 87km to Dubai’s coastline. The Palm is home to many hotels including the incredible Atlantis The Palm, numerous upscale shops, restaurants and leisure facilities such as Aquaventure Waterpark and Dolphin Bay. The Palm offers a new and different Dubai experience and is rapidly becoming the top place to be.
The Dubai Marina is a fabulous place to walk around with skyscrapers and perfect clear waters, it is also the heart of Dubai’s café culture, and features the Marina Walk, a beachfront paved walkway with 305 outlets and 69 restaurants. It is a haven for shopping and indulgence.
Shopaholics are spoilt for choice in Dubai. The Mall of Emirates alone has over 500 fashion, electronics, interior and lifestyle stores plus more than 80 dining options, cinemas, hotels and entertainment venues. Dubai Mall has hundreds of stores and restaurants as well as being the home of SEGA republic, an indoor theme park with over 200 games.
Dubai is a leading culinary hotspot for fine dining, international flavours and local specialities and is an absolute delight for any food lover. With celebrity chefs, Michelin starred restaurants and Friday Brunch events along with the Dubai Food Festival, there really is something to suit all tastes.
Dubai is home to some of the best beaches. Jumeirah beach is perhaps the most popular with its crystal-clear waters and soft white sand and you will find a string of cafes, barbeques, palm trees, desert gardens and children’s parks. Located across the Al Manara Road junction, Kite Beach sees thousands of tourists every year, who visit this beach specifically to enjoy extreme sports and kitesurfing. If you are looking to spend time relaxing, then Al Sufouh Beach is one of the best beaches. Al Sufouh Beach is one of Dubai’s best beaches. Nicknamed the Secret Beach, this hidden gem has rows of palm trees so it is hidden from the city.
Dubai’s dunes and desert landscapes offer a vast array of excursions including safaris, dune driving, and camel trekking. The Western Hajar Mountains which run alongside Dubai’s border with Oman boasts numerous trekking possibilities, with spectacular mountain scenery and a well-established network of trails; many of them along old donkey tracks through the mountains.
Dubai Creek marks the border between Deira, to the north, and Bur Dubai to the south. Located north of Al-Maktoum Bridge, one of best attractions is the Dhow Wharfage, where you can find beautiful dhows that are more than 100 years old and other boats still in use for trading.
Along Dubai Creek, on the Bur Dubai side, is the Al Seef district, a lovely area with beautifully kept buildings, shops, and a floating market. On the northern banks of Dubai Creek, Deira is the most multi-cultural part of the city and home of the famous souk. The Gold Souk of Deira is the world’s largest gold bazaar and the spice souk is a perfect place to wander for hours.
The symbol of the city at 829.8 metres high, the now famous Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and a must-see on any visit to Dubai. From the 128th floor Observation deck, the views are absolutely incredible.
This part of the world experiences sunshine all year round, with temperatures averaging around 30 degrees. Typically, July and August are the hottest months with temperatures over 40 degrees. Cooler and more pleasant conditions are generally found between October and March and there is very little rainfall, if any, all year round.
It’s worth mentioning the annual holy month of Ramadan. Whilst Dubai does not shut down completely during this time, some places have reduced opening hours and alcohol restrictions may apply. However, the city is quieter during Ramadan and this is a time of year when expats and visitors alike enjoy Dubai with less tourists.
If you’re looking for beachside suburbia and refined luxury, Jumeirah is the ideal location. If you’re looking for a more traditional cultural trip you would be best based in Al Seef or Al Fahidi.
Downtown allows you to be in the heart of the action – the Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera, The Dubai Fountain – and, of course, the tallest tower in the world is here. However, if you want to show off, The Palm is the place to be – ultimate glamour and lots of photo opportunities for Instagram!
If you’re interested in Dubai’s best dining and nightlife options, then Dubai Marina is a great location to stay, but if your time in Dubai is short, perhaps because you’re looking at a long weekend or stopping over as part of a two-centre, then staying near the airport in Deira or Garhoud is also a great option.
Getting around Dubai is very easy thanks to the city’s advanced rail system. Spanning over 70kms, the fully automated Dubai Metro is an efficient way to explore the city. There are only two main lines making it easy to plan your journey. Dubai Metro trains provide dedicated cabins for women and children, featuring extra space for pushchairs. They are identified with pink signs along station tracks and inside cabins. However, there’s no obligation for female passengers to travel in these sections of the train. They’re offered as an alternative for comfort.
Taxis are a cost-effective means of getting around Dubai. They are cheaper than the UK and they provide the freedom to move at your own pace. You can easily spot cabs by their tan bodies and red roofs; the pink-topped cabs are designated for female and family passengers only and they are driven by women.
Walking is also a great option, particularly in the cooler months, as a lot of Dubai is easily walkable.
Dubai is a region where modern progression is seamlessly blended with history, culture and tradition. High rise skyscrapers stand next to ancient citadels, glittering mega malls stand alongside traditional souks and multi-lane motorways complement the winding waterways. It offers a holiday destination that delivers out-of-this-world experiences and something for everyone. Dip your toes in the warm, clear waters that surround Dubai and enjoy a destination where worlds and cultures collide.
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