Dubai is so full of spectacular sights that you might be wondering how to experience the best ones if you don’t have too much time. Therefore, we’ve put together a little itinerary to help you see the best of Dubai in a day. So, assuming you’re here on business, or on a stopover, you can still enjoy everything this glamorous city has to offer. We recommend that you stay at a hotel close to the airport to save time and reach all attractions via a Metro line. No doubt, your one day in Dubai is going to be magical.
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What’s The Best Time To Visit Dubai?
Dubai is hot – there’s no escaping the desert climate. However, it’s much cooler between November to February. If you’re in Dubai during this period, don’t miss the Dubai Shopping Festival!
A few facts about Dubai
The roots of this city go back to the beginning of the 18th century and for about one hundred years Dubai was a small village with less than 1000 people. However, due to its location, it developed into an important trading hub and in the 1960s it was the global centre of gold trade. At the end of that decade oil was discovered and a huge infrastructure boom occurred. In just a few years, the city grew about four times and started attracting many people. Still, the oil reserves this city has are not that big and today this energy source accounts for only about 5% of Dubai’s GDP. The rest comes from financial services, tourism and many other forms of trade.
One Day In Dubai Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Dubai.
Go for an early morning balloon ride
If you decide that this is what you want to do in Dubai to start your day (and you really should), you’ll be picked up at your hotel and taken to the launch site at dawn. There you’ll be gliding over the billowing sand dunes in your balloon with a pilot, watching the desert sunrise break over the city. Flying with falcons at 4,000 feet above ground does some wonderful things to your heart. After the flight, you’ll freshen up at a private desert conservation reserve, enjoy a gourmet breakfast and be back at the hotel before 9 A.M. Be sure to book this in advance if you want to enjoy this incredible start of your one-day tour of Dubai.
Have fun at Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark
If you’re just looking for some good clean or even adrenaline-pumping fun, you can always just spend your morning in this amazing place. Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark even has its own private beach you can use when you get tired of the incredible waterslides all around you (and that’s honestly quite hard). No matter if you’re alone in town or with your whole family, there something for everyone here.
Check out Burj Al Arab
An incredible number of tourists make a visit to this iconic building a vital part of their one-day tour of Dubai. Burj Al Arab is actually a hotel, one of the tallest in the world at that, but due to its fantastic architecture it has become one of Dubai’s symbols. It is designed to be in the shape of a sail of a ship and has won numerous prizes over the years for its design. While mere mortals will struggle to book a room here, it’s certainly a great place to snap some photos and one of THE things to see in Dubai.
Explore the Souks of Dubai
What to see after this excellent ride? Simple, grab the Metro and go to Al Ras Station, 400 meters from Deira, to explore the Spice and Gold Souks of Dubai. Enjoy browsing window after window of the most expensive gold, mounds of herbs and spices, silk shawls, handicrafts and more. Barter and buy something to take home. You won’t be sorry if you make this place a part of your Dubai itinerary.
Cross the Dubai Creek
Directly in front of the Deira souks is the ancient Dubai Creek. Grab an ‘Abra’ (a long-boat) and cross the creek to the other side, to Bur Dubai. Explore and shop around in that part of the city. What to see here? You absolutely must visit the old and beautiful Sheikh Mohammed Mosque.
Check out Burj Khalifa
Out of all things to do and see in Dubai in a day, a visit to this incredible landmark is probably the most amazing. Get off at the Burj Khalifa Metro Station, only 13 kilometers from Deira. Buy an admission ticket for AED 300 and go up to the 148th floor’s observation deck to enjoy a fabulous view of the city. The 828-meter tall world’s tallest building is a fabulous sight from any angle.
Visit the Dubai Fountains
The world’s largest choreographed fountains are located on the lovely Burj Lake, in front of Burj Khalifa. Watch jets of water soar up to 140 meters. There’s a show every half an hour, with a different design and song each time. Don’t forget to enjoy the Dubai Fountain lake ride. It is an exclusive, fun and extremely exciting activity you must try.
Take a break for lunch
The Dubai Mall is just the opposite of Burj Khalifa. Have lunch at one of the great eateries in the food court. Enjoy some kickass burgers at Five Guys or some lovely Indian food at Pappa Roti. You can also check out the list of restaurants in this mall to find something that suits you better.
Explore the Dubai Mall
The aforementioned mall, with its 1000 stores across 4 levels, has loads of choices if you don’t know what to see in Dubai next. You can, for example, check out the indoor Theme Park, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and the Dubai Ice Rink, as well.
On the other hand, if you don’t know what to do with kids in Dubai for the day, KidZania, only 3 minutes from Dubai Mall, is an interactive ‘city’ for children, with kid-sized buildings, cars, offices and parks. Kids can work at any job here, wear uniforms, obtain career advice and even salaries in KidZos and drive small cars around!
Check out the SEGA Republic
Visiting the SEGA Republic is another great thing to do in Dubai with kids. Situated close to KidZania, kids can enjoy 16 rush rides, 170 video and arcade games and a virtual games area where one can snowboard, bobsled, free-fall, joyride; fight the dead and much more. Tickets are AED 300 per person.
Enjoy an evening Cruise
If you don’t have kids, bypass KidZania and SEGA Republic and take the Metro all the way to Dubai Marina for a yacht cruise. Important: book the cruise in advance. Cruise in a motor Gulf Craft yacht for two hours along Dubai’s shores, sailing by the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Atlantis and the Palm Jumeirah islands. The Dubai Marina is 23 minutes from SEGA Republic if you take the Metro line.
Stop for dinner
The yacht drops you off at Dubai Marina, where you can enjoy dinner in one of the nearby restaurants. The Dubai Marina mall offers a luxurious shopping experience and several classy eateries, so it’s a great place to wrap up your one-day tour of this incredible city. Once the dinner is done, just take the Metro back to your hotel for the night.
Where to stay in Dubai?
Park Regis Boutique Hotel
325 Road, Al Thany Street Jumeirah
Park Regis Boutique Hotel is an elegantly furnished, modern boutique hotel only a two minutes’ walk from the beach. Guests can enjoy a day swim or an evening beach walk. The rooms are bright, modern and quirky with a bit of a beach vibe, while some of them feature a city view.
2nd Dec Road Jafiliya, Trade Centre
Rove Hotels are smart, fuss-free and affordable hotels that can be found all over Dubai city. They all feature modern and spacious rooms and a wide range of amenities & facilities like outdoor pool, fitness area, on site restaurant and bar. Pick your favourite according to location.
Day trips from Dubai
Should you want more from your visit to Dubai, there are plenty of one-day tours you can set up. From visiting other fascinating cities to exploring the incredible nature of this part of the world, day trips from Dubai can make it all happen.
Abu Dhabi is the country’s capital and a city that has modernized itself in quite a spectacular fashion. However, there are still some fantastic things to see that are connected to its humble beginnings. The Heritage Village will tell you all about it, and the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque made of white marble is a sight to behold. Of course, you really should miss out on the Ferrari World theme park for some serious fun.
To get away from city life, book a day trip from Dubai to Musandam Peninsula. Crystal-clear waters, fascinating landscapes and maybe even some dolphins on the way will make you forget all about the stress. Climb aboard a dhow for an unforgettable cruise and dive and snorkel to get to know this incredibly beautiful place even better.
How does a desert adventure sound? Dubai can accommodate you with that, since there are many day trips that take you out there into the wilderness where you can even meet Bedouins. But you can also experience an adrenaline rush if you find yourself behind the wheel of a 4×4 vehicle, and smoking shisha with your hosts in this environment is also something very special.
Extra tips for visiting Dubai
- The Dubai Metro connects the Dubai Airport to Jebel Ali at the other end, where you get off to visit Bollywood Parks, Dubai. Use the Metro to reach Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina and Dubai World Trade Centre if you want to efficiently explore Dubai in one day.
- Dubai Tram stops connect with Metro stops and can be used to see attractions not connected by the Metro line.
- The Dubai Metro runs every day from 5.30 am until midnight, Saturday to Wednesday. On Thursdays, it runs from 5.30 am until 1 am and on Fridays, from 10 am until 1 am.
- Buy a prepaid Nol card from any Metro station and use it to pay for Dubai’s buses, trams, taxis and the Metro.
- The good transportation system makes it possible to enjoy several wonderful sights of Dubai in a day. However, we recommend that you estimate routes and distances and book cruises and tours in advance to ensure a smooth and memorable day in this great city.
- Avoid scheduling meetings with locals during the 5 daily prayer times.
- Tourists are expected to wear modest clothing and avoid public displays of affection.
- Bikinis are allowed in the water but modest cover-ups are best on the beach.
- Drinking and driving will earn you fines, imprisonment or even deportation.
- During the holy month of Ramadan, restaurants will be closed during the day. Even non-Muslims are not allowed to eat in public during the day.
- If you’re a man, it’s best not to shake a Muslim woman’s hand unless she offers to shake yours.
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