Going to Dubai? If this is your first time in Dubai, here’s a guide to make sure you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Dubai!
Best Things To Do In Dubai
Dubai is such an exciting city with SO much to do!! Dubai is a huge city — it can definitely be overwhelming if you’ve never been before. To help make planning your first Dubai trip easier, here’s a guide to the best things to do in Dubai. These are the things you shouldn’t miss your first time in Dubai!
Burj Khalifa — Tallest Building In The World
Only in Dubai can you stand on top of the tallest building in the world! The Burj Khalifa is 2,722 ft tall — that’s over 1/2 mile tall and three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower!
Sometimes from here you can’t see the ground because it’s higher than the clouds! Here are some tips for visiting the Burj Khalifa:
Buy Your Ticket Online In Advance
To get the best price, avoid waiting in line at the ticket counter, and ensure there are spaces available when you want to visit, be sure to buy your ticket in advance online.
There are several different ticket types you can purchase. Knowing which one to choose can be a bit confusing. Our ticket type was “At the Top, Burj Khalifa” for Level 125 + 124. This includes entry to the outdoor observation terrace on Level 124 where you can take pictures without glass. After that we chose the “General admission entry” although you can also choose a “Fast track entry” if you want to skip waiting in line to go to the top.
Get There Early
Tickets for the Burj Khalifa are sold by specific time slots. Plan to get there at least 15-30 minutes before your entry time shown on the ticket.
How Long To Spend
Plan for at least 2 hours to get to the top and enjoy the views on both levels. The visit is not guided so you can go at your own pace and stay at the top as long as you want.
How To Get There
The entrance to the Burj Khalifa is located inside the Dubai Mall, the second largest mall in the world. Getting there through the mall can feel like a maze! The closest mall entrance to the Burj Khalifa is the main entrance near the fountains. Fortunately there are plenty of helpful security guards all over the mall who can point you in the right direction if you get lost.
Dubai Mall — 2nd Largest Mall In The World
After visiting the Burj Khalifa you’ll end up in the Dubai Mall, the second largest shopping mall in the world.
Dubai Mall Fast Facts
- 4 Floors
- Over 1,200 stores
- 120 restaurants
- 250-room luxury hotel inside the mall
- 22 movie screens
- Over 14,000 parking spaces
Dubai Photo Tip
Near the Laudree shop in the mall there’s a great view of the Burj Khalifa!
Dubai Photo Tip #2
Just outside of the mall’s main entrance, near the fountains is this fun “I Love Dubai” sign with the Burj Khalifa in the background!
Here’s the exact location of the I Love Dubai Sign on Google Maps.
Dubai Miracle Garden — World’s Largest Flower Garden
Dubai is the place to be if you want to visit the world’s largest everything! With over over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants, the Dubai Miracle Garden is a colorful oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s called the Miracle Garden because it’s a miracle all these flowers can grow in the middle of a desert!
The Dubai Miracle Garden is 780,000 sq ft large — that’s over 23 football fields!
How Long to Spend At The Garden
There are so many beautiful backgrounds for photos — it’s a photographer’s dream come true! Plan for about 2 hours at the garden.
Guinness World Records
The gardens have won 2 Guinness World Records. The life-size Airbus A380 airplane flower structure is listed as the biggest flower structure in the world. And the 59 foot topiary of Mickey Mouse is the tallest topiary supported sculpture in the world. If you’re a Disney fan, there are also structures of Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie — all officially licensed by Disney.
Another superlative for Dubai! Dubai is home to the largest picture frame in the world.
The Dubai Frame is a funky, nearly 500-foot tall giant picture frame in the middle of Dubai — that’s about 45 stories high.
View from the Dubai Frame
You can actually go inside the giant picture frame for a panoramic view of Dubai!
This is the fun light-up ceiling in the frame. It’s constantly changing colors!
Tips for Visiting the Dubai Frame
Only 200 visitors are allowed per hour at the Dubai Frame. You may want to buy your tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in line or missing your desired time.
Best View of Dubai Skyline
The best, most iconic view of Dubai and the Burj Khalifa is from the Shangri-La Hotel.
Rooms at the Shangri-La have this view!! Can you imagine waking up to this futuristic view in Dubai??
There’s also a small outdoor terrace on the 42nd floor, accessed through the indoor swimming pool area.
How To Get There
To access the 42nd floor, you need to be staying at the hotel or have restaurant reservations at the hotel. Keep reading for our favorite restaurant recommendation at the Shangri-La!
Atlantis is an iconic landmark in Dubai. It was the first resort to open on Dubai’s famous palm tree shaped island.
Atlantis is home to a massive, 42-acre waterpark with some of the craziest, most adventurous water rides you’ll ever see.
Watch the video above for a thrilling first-person perspective on these unique rides!!
Best Rides at Atlantis Dubai Aquaventure Waterpark
Here are some of the best rides at Atlantis that you definitely shouldn’t miss:
This tube ride starts with a terrifying trapdoor that suddenly drops and the rider falls over 100 feet at nearly 40 miles per hour!!!
The Leap Of Faith
On this slide you’ll drop 9 stories in 3 seconds. The near-verticle drop is 90 feet tall!!!
These unique inner tube slides are like a water roller coaster!! The water jets propel you up and down just like a rollercoaster!!
This 6-person tube ride was one of my favorites!! You fly up at 46-feet tall vertical wall!!
Like a lazy river, but with white water rapids!!!
Dubai Foodie Tip
Don’t miss the coconut milkshake at Aquaventure!! So good! They also have fun chocolate-covered ice cream pops shaped like a donut!
The Lost Chambers Aquarium
The Lost Chambers Aquarium is one of the top ten largest aquariums in the world and home to over 65,000 marine animals. You can see baby stingrays, moon jellies, piranha, anchovy, sharks, moray eels, lobsters, anemones, arapaima, and more! There are even guest rooms at the hotel with a view of this aquarium so it looks like your room is under water!! Would you want to stay in an “underwater” room?? Watch the video above to see!!
Don’t miss the 32-foot-high Dale Chihuly sculpture in the lobby of Atlantis!
You’ve seen the famous palm-shaped island in Dubai? The Pointe is a scenic beach and shopping area at the tip of the world-famous Palm Jumeirah island. It’s free and open to the public, and there are over 80 restaurants, retail shops, and attractions to experience at The Pointe.
There are beanbag chairs, tables, umbrellas and more on the beach all free to use and available to the public. The Pointe is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon, sunset, and evening, having dinner at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Dubai Photo Tip
The best view of Atlantis is from the beach at The Pointe! Definitely go for sunset!
Best Dubai Hotels — Where To Stay In Dubai
As travel bloggers, we’ve had the opportunity to stay in some pretty amazing hotels. However I can honestly say that the Palazzo Versace Dubai hotel is one of our favorite places we have ever stayed.
Staying at the Palazzo Versace feels more like staying in a luxurious 16th century Italian palace.
Every single piece of furniture and fabric in the hotel is designed and tailor-made by Versace exclusively for the Palazzo Versace Dubai.
With its high ceilings, luxury designer linens, marble tiled bathrooms, landscaped gardens, and crafted Italian furnishings, the hotel exemplifies the Versace lifestyle.
There’s even a chocolate fountain at breakfast!!
The Spa at Palazzo Versace Dubai
I was so comfortable and relaxed during my massage I literally fell asleep!!
Best Restaurants In Dubai
Vanitas Italian Restaurant
There are 8 restaurants and bars at the Palazzo Versace Dubai, and each one has their own al fresco terrace with views of Dubai Creek and the beautifully landscaped gardens and 3 lagoon pools.
Of course they have an amazing Italian restaurant. I highly recommend the spaghetti with burrata!
Another one of our favorite restaurants in Dubai was Enigma at the Palazzo Versace Dubai. Enigma offers a “Taste of Persia”, with a variety of authentic dishes from Iran inspired by the Iranian origins of its 2-Star Michelin Executive Chef. I loved the brownie in a treasure box!
Hoi An Vietnamese Restaurant
If you want to see the best view of Dubai (shown earlier in this post) you need to be staying at the Shangri-La hotel or have a restaurant reservation there. If you’re looking for a restaurant recommendation, I highly recommend Hoi An Vietnamese Restaurant.
We loved the pho, fried rice, curry chicken, selection of appetizers, mango sticky rice, and fried ice cream for dessert!!
Ayamna Lebanese Restaurant
For the most authentic Arabic food and dining experience in Dubai, I highly recommend Ayamna at Atlantis, the Palm. Aymana means “the Good Old Days” in Arabic. I highly recommend the tasting menu at Aymana. Be sure to go hungry!! They will bring you a TON of food!! And it’s all SO good! It’s the perfect meal after a full day in the sun at Aquaventure Waterpark!
There is a nightly show with a belly dancer. Be sure to make reservations so you get a good table with a view!
Don’t miss the sticky date pudding for dessert!!
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Have you been to Dubai? Did I miss any of the best things to do in Dubai? Let me know in the comments!