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What to See In Dubai As A First Timer

Is this your first ever trip to Dubai? Figuring out what to do in Dubai will be one of the hardest tasks that you will be facing now. But with this extensive compilation of top Dubai sights and activities, we are sure that you will be able to easily pick your favorites! Yes, this exhaustive list covers all top attractions and experiences from almost all categories including definite must-sees, historical sights, cultural landmarks, seasonal sights, theme parks, and brand-new attractions. So, are you ready to discover Dubai? Let’s Start! 

Dubai Must-Experiences  

Observatories at Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa, opened in 2009, continues to be the tallest man-made structure on the planet. Most people limit their Burj Khalifa visit to a selfie or groupie. That said; it is worth climbing its standard observation deck on 124th level or Skydeck on 148th level, which is also the world’s highest observation deck at a height of over 555 meters. True to your imagination, it promises you the most comprehensive and stunning look at Dubai and beyond. There is also a multimedia display which sheds some fascinating facts about Dubai’s past and the structure itself. Apart from these, one of the main highlights of your visit here is the elevator ride that takes you to the observatory in less than a minute. 

The Dubai Mall 

Sitting next to Burj Khalifa at Downtown Dubai, the Dubai Mall is so enormous that you must definitely pre-plan your visit here. Whether your priority is shopping at its over 1200 outlets, digging into its dining scene or want to make the most of its leisure attractions, it guarantees you an all-inclusive experience under a single roof. While the entry into the mall is free, you must be prepared to pay separate fee to visit some of its top segments such as Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, KidZania Dubai, Ekart Dubai and VR Park Dubai. 

Dubai Fountain Show 

No visit to Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall or Downtown Dubai (as a whole) is complete without witnessing this impressively choreographed show. It was the world’s largest fountain show till recently when Palm Fountain was unveiled in 2020. Set on Burj Lake, it is a free attraction. But, if you wish to see it up close without any hindrance, nothing could beat an abra ride on Burj Lake! 

Dubai Frame 

With its distinct picture-frame kind of structure, it is the biggest of its kind in the world. Its sky level serves as the best vantage point to admire both the sights of old and new Dubai. There are also two galleries where one (Past Gallery) steps back in time and the other (Future Gallery) walks you into the high tech future of Dubai. 

Burj Al Arab 

The sail-shaped structure is more than 20 years old, but it is still considered one of the world’s most luxurious hotels, with its striking all-suite accommodation. If you are looking for an economic alternative to glance into its interiors, you can book a culinary session here or more aptly sign up for Inside Burj Al Arab tour, which allows for a detailed look at the sumptuously extravagant Royal Suite, the tallest of its kind atrium, and the immersive ever Experience Suite, among others. 

Desert Safari 

 A mix of natural desert scenery, heart-racing thrill, roller-coaster kind of fun and exciting cultural activities makes this quintessential Dubai activity a favorite of one and all. There is 4X4 dune bash, camel ride, quad biking etc as part of most desert safaris. Moreover, BBQ dining and traditional shows like Belly Dance and Tanura show are included in evening desert safaris. 

Dhow Cruise 

No matter you wish to see Dubai from an unobstructed standpoint or simply want to have some quality relaxed moments in the middle of the city, this classic cruise perfectly fits the bills. The approximately two hours cruise sails you down Dubai Marina or Dubai Creek (as per your choice) aboard a traditional wooden dhow. Pick a cruise inclusive of buffet dining, live music and entertainment; they add to the allure of the cruise. 

Palm Jumeirah 

You may be quite familiar of this iconic man-made island which resembles a giant palm tree topped off by a crescent. A drive around its trunks, fronds, and crescent should be top on your Dubai tours checklist. For a comprehensive view of the island, you can head to the dedicated observation deck or consider signing up for a helicopter tour or even the daring sky dive activity. 

Brand-New Attractions & Tours

Ain Dubai 

Make your first ever Dubai trip memorable by taking to Ain Dubai. Opened in October 2021, it is the world’s largest observation wheel which ascends you to a height of over 250 meters. It takes about 40 minutes to complete a rotation, thus giving you enough time to take in the mesmeric city sights across Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and Palm Jumeirah. And the best thing is its spacious capsules where each of them is air-conditioned and fully-enclosed with a capacity to accommodate 40 riders at a time. 

Deep Dive Dubai 

This latest Dubai attraction has already become a sought after spot for divers, swimmers and water enthusiasts in general. After all, it is the world’s deepest pool where you can plunge down up to 60 meters depth. With over 14 million liters of fresh water, it is like six Olympic size swimming pools combined. This indoor attraction is modeled like an abandoned underwater city, and comes with a high-end hyperbaric facility that is capable to cater to any unlikely emergency situation. 

Sky Views Dubai 

The recently opened attraction offers one of the most premium vantage points to admire the breathtaking city sights. However, it is more than just an observatory. Found atop Address Sky View Hotel, it allows you to enjoy the Middle East’s first Glass Sky Slide Ride and even take part in the exhilarating ever hands-free Edge Walk experience. 

The View at the Palm 

This is another newest observation deck in Dubai. What makes it special is that it has been launched to give you an exclusive and comprehensive look at the whole of the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah. A visit here is considered a cost-effective yet risk-free alternative over activities like sky diving. It is placed on the 52nd level of Palm Tower. 

Madame Tussauds Dubai 

Located adjacent to Ain Dubai on Bluewaters Island, Madame Tussauds Museum is the first of its kind in the Middle East. With the life-like wax figures of your favorite celebrities from all over the world, it not only lets you see them up close but also capture tonnes of cool snaps with them. 

Palm Fountain 

Palm Fountain is the world’s largest fountain show where the water is choreographed in seamless sync of music, light and colors. It is a free attraction and is located at the Pointe, Palm Jumeirah. 

Historical & Cultural Landmarks 

Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood 

Looking for the top historical attraction in Dubai? This preserved ethnic neighborhood, also known as Al Bastakiya Quarter, is unmissable. It lets you glimpse into the modest life of Dubaiites and Emiratis before the discovery of oil in the region. Step into its many art galleries, museums etc; majority of them are free to visit and some won’t cost you a very nominal amount. 

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU)

If one of the prime purposes of your Dubai visit is to learn about the Emirati culture and heritage, SMCCU should be your go to destination. Located in Al Bastakiya Quarter, it guarantees you an authentic awareness of everything that you would like to know about Dubai or UAE, from its traditions and past to the religious belief. All its sets you back for a visit here is AED 25. 

Jumeirah Mosque 

There is no lack of mosques in Dubai, but this one stands out for being one of the region’s few mosques that is open to non-Muslims. It is also special for its traditional Islamic architecture with two minarets, complemented by stunning arches, columns, and marvelous geometric patterns to name a few. Jumeirah Mosque tours are organized by SMCCU. 

Amusement Parks

Dubai Parks and Resorts 

Feel the pinnacle of theme park amusement and thrill as you visit Dubai Parks and Resorts. It is the Middle East’s first integrated resort with multiple accommodation options, a dedicated retail and dining section, and mostly four extensive parks. This makes it a haven for the fans of theme park rides and games. Choose from the right pass which allows access to two or even all of its parks such as Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai and LEGOLAND Water Park. 

IMG Worlds of Adventure 

It is one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks. With four exciting zones, it is a treat for kids and kids-at-heart alike. There are a vast spectrum of cool rides and exhilarating attractions inspired by Marvel superheroes, all-time-cherished Cartoon Characters and even primitive yet timeless dinosaurs. 

Aquaventure Waterpark 

This is one of the ultimate attractions for water park lovers traveling to Dubai. Located within the five-star resort, Atlantis, The Palm resort, it is home to some amazing, record-breaking rides and slides. With more attractions in the vicinity, you can combine Aquaventure trip with a visit to Lost Chamber Aquarium, Dolphin Bay etc. 

Laguna Water Park 

The newest park in Dubai’s vibrant La Mer area boasts of some innovative rides to take your water fun and thrill to next level. The showstopping highlight here is WaveOz 180 FlowRider; it is a surfers’ favorite, being one of just three-of-its-kind surf experience in the world. 

Beaches & Green Parks 

Mushrif Park 

Be it for relaxation, action, fun or education experiences, a trip to Mushrif Park ticks all the boxes. It may be one of the city’s oldest parks, but it is sure to blow you away with its offerings, mainly Aventura Parks, International Village, Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre and Mushrif Equestrian and Polo Club. 

Creek Park Dubai 

One of the greenest spots in Dubai is also a favorite of kids and adults alike. After all, it hosts some of Dubai’s top family-friendly attractions, ranging from the exuberant Dubai Dolphinarium and Children’s City to Mini Golf, exclusive bike trails and cable cars. 

Kite Beach  

True to its name, this lively Dubai beach is a paradise for kite surfers. With that being said, you get to engage in many both aquatic and non-aquatic activities here, from kayaking, paddle boarding and beach volleyball to skating at XDubai Kite Beach Skatepark. 

Al Mamzar Beach Park 

If it is a spotless surrounding with exceptional swimming facilities you are looking for on your beach visit, simply head out to Al Mamzar Beach Park. It has everything for a leisurely outing in Dubai, such as BBQ areas, kids’ playground, and a protected beach. 

Wildlife Attractions 

Dubai Safari Park 

A visit to Dubai Safari Park should be one of the first things to do in Dubai for animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. It spans over 119 hectares and has over 3000 animals in its five cool sections including Arabian Desert Safari, African Village, Asian Village, Adventure Valley and Explorer Village. 

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary 

If you are traveling to Dubai in winter months, be sure to make a stop at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. This preserved wetland area is one of Dubai’s hidden gems where you get to see the migratory birds, particularly the flocks of pink flamingos. You can conveniently watch the birds as well as the scenic surroundings via heading to one of its three hides. 

Top Events & Shows 

Dubai Expo 2020

If you are making your debut Dubai travel anytime soon, catching this mega event should be top on your Dubai bucketlist. It is the MENASA region’s first World Expo and will be running in Dubai till March 31st, 2022. So don’t miss this once-in-the-lifetime chance to be part of the grandest ever Expo event. Visit the exclusive Expo site at Dubai South; it is truly a world of wonders with the pavilions of over 190 countries. 

Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF)

Started two decades ago, this annual one-month long event is still one of the main reasons that make Dubai a perennial favorite of most visitors from across the world. Beyond top-notch entertainment and major discounts of up to 90% on majority of merchandises, it allows you to take home prices worth millions of dollars with raffle draws. It mostly takes places in December – January / February. 

Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS)

As the name indicates, it is the summer version of DSF and falls during the region’s summer months in July – August. From fantastic shopping options and mega raffle draws to kid-exclusive attractions to the most immersive shows and experiences, there is a lot to do and see during DSS. 

Eid in Dubai 

This indicates two of Dubai’s main religious festivities: Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha. Not to mention, Eid in Dubai is one of the best times to visit Dubai, with whole of the city rife with exciting discounts, amazing activities and mindblowing performance. However, their dates and months vary subject to the moon sighting.  In 2022, Eid Al Fitr falls on the first week of May and Eid Al Adha on the second week of July. 

La Perle by Dragone Show 

While the majority of events and shows in this section are active only during a particular month or season, you will get to watch La Perle by Dragon all through the year, no matter when you plan to visit. For those who don’t know, this is a striking Cirque-Du-Soliel kind of show, conceived and crafted by the theatre maestro, Franco Dragone. It is the region’s first permanent show and is conducted at a special aquatic stage at Al Habtoor City. Enriched by a 270-degree seating, the show along with the settings and extraordinary acts of its brilliant performers are sure to blow you away. 

Seasonal Attractions 

Dubai Miracle Garden 

More than 150 million flowers across this 72,000-square-meter space make it one of the miraculous spots in the desert city. Yes, you will get to see here flowers from almost all species and colors arranged in a spectrum of designs, patterns and shapes. However, it is open only in winter months from October to April. 

Global Village 

Global Village is one of the most awaited seasonal attractions in Dubai and for all right reasons. With about 30 pavilions representing over 70 countries, this lively attraction is the ultimate spot to celebrate world cultures, savor cuisines from different parts of the globe, watch celeb performances, and take home some amazing souvenirs, apparels, accessories etc. 

Dubai Garden Glow 

Dubai is another seasonal sight that is active only during winter months. The main highlight is Glow Park filled with eco-friendly arty exhibits and hand-made lights. There are also many fascinating segments within the garden, such as Dinosaur Park, Art Park, Magic Park, and Ice Park. 

Conclusion 

It may not be feasible for you to see or experience all the above attractions on a single visit. So, take your time and do your research before you put together your dream Dubai holiday. Each of the sights or activities mentioned in this list is distinctly unique and has an extraordinary exquisiteness of its own. And we hope that you get this exciting chance to know it for yourself! 

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