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10 Awesome Things to Do in Dubai: 4-Day Itinerary

After an amazing time in Indore, India, my boyfriend, Tim, and I made our way to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). This blog post focuses on our 4-day Dubai itinerary, how we got to Dubai, where we stayed in Dubai, some of the top things to do in Dubai, and more.

Table of Contents

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    Introduction to Dubai

    the infamous Burj Khalifa

    Situated on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is the most populous city and emirate in the UAE. The city was established in the 18th century as a small fishing village and grew into a regional trading hub in the early 20th century, then into a center for tourism and luxury in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

    The city is known for its luxury shopping, groundbreaking and modern architecture, and lively nightlife scene and is home to the second most 5-star hotels and the tallest building in the world. Dubai is also famous for its 5 artificial islands: the Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and the Deira Islands), Bluewaters Island, and the World Islands.

    How to Get to Dubai

    Dubai skyline as seen from The View at the Palm

    We flew to Dubai from Indore, India on an Air India flight. The journey took nearly 7 hours, including a 2 hour layover in Mumbai, India.

    Where to Stay in Dubai

    the pool at the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Canal View

    Situated in the Business Bay area, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View is the perfect place to stay when visiting Dubai.

    The hotel offers gorgeous canal and city views, awesome facilities, including an outdoor pool, spa, and fitness center, on-site restaurants, free private parking, and friendly staff. It’s also walkable to some of the top things to do in Dubai, like Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Dubai Fountain, and is easily accessible to other parts of the city via Uber or cab.

    We chose to stay here, since it was more affordable than the other hotels we considered and since some excursions wouldn’t pick us up from other parts of the city due to traffic. And, we’re glad we did. We got upgraded to a large room with an incredible city view when we arrived and felt like the hotel perfectly suited our needs during our stay!

    Currency in Dubai

    Sara in front of Palm Jumeirah at The View at the Palm, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    The currency in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED). The dirham has been tied to the U.S. dollar since 1997, so the exchange rate between the two never changes. Note that we were able to use our credit cards everywhere in Dubai, but it’s nice to have some local currency on hand for tipping.

    Is Dubai Safe?

    an incredible view of Dubai from The Next Level at The View at the Palm

    Dubai is considered a safe destination for tourists and residents alike. The city has a low crime rate compared to other major cities, and the Dubai government places a strong emphasis on security and safety. One of our Uber drivers shared about the meticulous procedures the government has in place for them, which made us feel especially safe here!

    Of course, like anywhere else, you should still use common sense and take basic precautions to ensure your safety while in Dubai:

    • Respect local laws and customs: Dubai has strict laws around behavior, attire, and alcohol use, so be sure to familiarize yourself with these and adhere to them during your visit.
    • Pay attention to your personal belongings: While theft and petty crime are rare in Dubai, you should still keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places like markets and popular tourist attractions. I always carry a cross-body purse, money belt, RFID blocking wallet, and/or my favorite travel fanny pack with me when traveling to and exploring new cities.
    • Stay informed: Pay attention to any potential safety concerns or advisories, especially if you’re traveling during times of political unrest or heightened security.
    • Traffic safety: Dubai is a busy city with lots of traffic. Be sure to exercise caution when crossing roads and to use designated pedestrian crossings.
    • Health precautions: Dubai has high-quality healthcare facilities, but it’s always best to be prepared. Bring any medications that you use on a regular basis, pack any medicine, feminine products, etc. that you may need during your trip, and consider travel insurance if you want to be extra prepared.

    What to Wear in Dubai

    Sara in front of the Burj Khalifa, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    Speaking of adhering to local customs, you’ll want to dress modestly while in Dubai. Though Dubai is a modern, cosmopolitan city, it’s also part of the UAE, where Islamic traditions are practiced. Here are some high-level guidelines for what to wear as a woman traveling to Dubai:

    • Avoid revealing, sheer, transparent, or tight-fitting clothing, and opt for loose-fitting, breathable outfits made from lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen; maxi dresses are a great choice for Dubai!
    • Cover your shoulders and knees, especially while in mosques or other religious sites and in more conservative areas; you can wear a scarf over your shoulders if you choose to wear a sleeveless top or dress.
    • When at the beach or pool, it’s acceptable to wear swimsuits, but choose modest styles with adequate coverage. Bikinis are generally acceptable, but it’s best to cover up when walking to and from the beach or pool.

    Here’s what I wore in Dubai:

    Dubai Weather

    Dubai Downtown

    Most of the year, Dubai experiences a desert climate, which is characterized by hot and sunny conditions and limited rainfall.

    Winter (December – February) is the best time to visit Dubai (in my opinion!). Temperatures range from around 68°F to 86°F during the day, which are ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing, and drop as low as 59°F in the evenings.

    Spring in Dubai (March – May) sees a gradual increase in temperatures, as the city transitions to the hotter summer months. Humidity levels and daytime temperatures start to rise, with highs reaching the mid to upper 90s°F.

    Summer in Dubai (June – September) is extremely hot and humid with daytime temperatures often exceeding 100°F. I’d recommend avoiding a visit to Dubai in the summer if at all possible!

    Autumn in Dubai (October – November) marks the transition from the scorching summer to more moderate temperatures. This time of year is again more comfortable for outdoor activities, but humidity levels may still be relatively high.

    We visited Dubai in January and had great weather the entire time, including during our Dubai desert safari. We’d highly recommend a visit to Dubai in the winter, especially since the Dubai Miracle Garden is also open during this time of year!

    4-Day Dubai Itinerary

    Sara & Tim at the Dubai Miracle Garden, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    This 4-day Dubai itinerary highlights some of the top things to do in Dubai, while also including some down time, since we were a bit tired after spending a week and a half in India. You can always add, replace, or remove some activities based on your interests and preferences, but this itinerary was perfect for our 4 days in Dubai in January.

    Day 1:

    Day 2:

    Day 3:

    Day 4:

    10 Awesome Things to Do in Dubai

    Tim & Sara on their Dubai desert safari, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    And, without further adieu, here are 10 awesome things to do in Dubai. In fact, many of these are considered top things to do in Dubai, so be sure to incorporate some or all of them into your Dubai itinerary!

    At The Top, Burj Khalifa

    Dubai city views from At The Top Burj Khalifa, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    At more than 2,700-feet-tall (that’s more than a half a mile!), the Burj Khalifa dominates Dubai’s skyline and provides a stark contrast against its desert backdrop. It’s the tallest building in the world, and visitors can go inside the Burj Khalifa for 360-degree views of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf.

    During your visit to At the Top, Burj Khalifa, you’ll have the opportunity to:

    • Ride in the world’s fastest elevator
    • Learn about the architecture and technology behind the Burj Khalifa
    • Admire Dubai from the world’s tallest building
    • Use telescopes to enhance your view of the city’s landmarks
    • Watch the Dubai Fountain show from the observation deck

    A Broad Recommendation: If you’d like to watch the Dubai Fountain show from the observation deck, be sure to book your entry for 30 minutes before the show starts. The Dubai Fountain shows run daily, with afternoon shows at 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm (except for Fridays, which are at 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm) and evening shows every 30 minutes from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

    A visit to At The Top, Burj Khalifa is one of the most popular things to do in Dubai, so be sure to add it to your Dubai itinerary!

    • Hours: Weekdays from 9:00 am – 11:00 pm & weekends from 5:00 am – 12:00 am (last entry is 45 minutes prior to closing)
    • Time to Visit: 1-1.5 hours
    • Cost: 179 AED ($48.74 USD) for adults; free for children under the age of 4 (note that these prices vary based on time of day & time of year)

    A Broad Recommendation: If you’d like to go inside the Burj Khalifa, book your Burj Khalifa Level 124 and 125 Entry Ticket in advance. There are a limited number of immediate entry tickets available each day, and they do sell out, especially during peak tourist season. Visits are based on 30-minute intervals, and ticket prices vary by time of year and time of day.

    Dubai Mall

    Downtown Dubai & Burj Khalifa

    Another one of the top things to do in Dubai is a visit to the Dubai Mall. The Dubai Mall is the flagship mega-project of Emaar Properties and an integral part of Downtown Dubai. At 12 million square feet, the mall is home to more than 1,200 retail stores, two anchor department stores (France’s Galeries Lafayette and America’s Bloomingdale’s), and more than 200 cafés, restaurants, and bars.

    It’s also home to the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, which is one of the largest aquariums in the world, the Olympic-sized Dubai Ice Rink, which hosts international competitions, skating lessons, concerts and more, and Reel Cinemas, which has 22 screens and can seat 2,800 people.

    • Hours: Monday – Thursday from 10:00 am – 12:00 am & Friday – Sunday from 10:00 am – 1:00 am
    • Time to Visit: You could spend 10 mins to an entire day exploring the Dubai Mall, especially if you’re interested in shopping, ice skating, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, dining inside the mall, the cinema experience, etc., so plan accordingly based on your preferences!
    • Cost: Free to visit + the cost of any experiences or shopping

    Dubai Fountain Show

    the Dubai Fountain show at night

    With 6,000 lights, 25 colored projectors, and 22,000 gallons of airborne water, Dubai Fountain is the world’s largest performing fountain. It sits on the 30-acre Burj Lake and is choreographed to various songs, ranging from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music, in a mesmerizing water, music and light show.

    The Dubai Fountain is one of the top things to see when exploring Downtown Dubai, so be sure to time your visit accordingly!

    • Hours: Saturday – Thursday at 1:00 pm, 1:30 pm & every 30 minutes from 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm & Friday at 1:30 pm, 2:00 pm & every 30 minutes from 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
    • Time to Visit: 30 minutes
    • Cost: Free

    Burj Lake Boat Ride

    Sara & Tim on the Burj Lake boat ride, one of the most fun things to do in Dubai

    A fun way to experience the Dubai Fountain show is by boat. We booked the 5:45 pm time slot for the Dubai: Burj Khalifa Fountain Show and Burj Lake Ride and had front row seats to the show! The sun was also setting around this time, which made for an even more incredible experience (note that we visited in January, and sunset times may vary throughout the year).

    Before the show, we got to cruise around for about 20 minutes in an ‘abra’, i.e. a traditional, wooden water taxi, from which we could see some of the city’s most iconic monuments, like the Burj Khalifa, Souk Al Bahar, and the Palace Downtown. Then, we got to watch the magnificent Dubai Fountain show from the boat (while parked).

    I’d recommend watching the fountain show several times during your visit to Dubai and taking the boat tour at least once to get the full experience!

    • Hours: 30 minute time slots starting from 5:45 pm – 10:45 pm
    • Time to Visit: 30 minutes
    • Cost: 68.24 AED ($18.58 USD)

    A Broad Recommendation: If you plan to do a Burj Lake boat ride, be sure to book your tickets in advance and arrive at the meeting point between 15 – 30 minutes early, so you don’t lose your time slot.

    Dubai Desert Excursion

    No visit to Dubai is complete without a Dubai Desert excursion! We did the Dubai: Red Dunes ATV, Sandsurf, Camels, Stargazing and 5* BBQ at Al Khayma Camp excursion and had an awesome time.

    During the excursion, we traveled to the Lahbab desert, which is known for its red-orange dunes, and got to:

    • Drive ATVs through the desert
    • Try sandboarding for the first time
    • Feed some adorable baby camels
    • Take a short camel ride
    • Hold a falcon
    • Try Arabic coffee
    • Enjoy a BBQ buffet
    • Watch some traditional dances and a fire show
    • Smoke Shisha (well, Tim did; I wasn’t really interested in this)

    We also could’ve dressed up in Arabian attire and tried henna tattooing, but we opted out, since we’d already gotten some henna in Indore!

    This excursion is one of the most fun things to do in Dubai and a great way to learn about Arabic culture. The tour lasts around 6 hours, and pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Dubai is included, which is super convenient.

    • Hours: 11:30 am, 2:00 pm, or 2:30 pm pick-up time (we did the 2:00 pm pick-up time in January, but the best times to visit may vary throughout the year)
    • Time to Visit: 6-7 hours
    • Cost: 699.39 AED ($190.42 USD)

    A Broad Recommendation: Wear long pants to avoid the engine heat from the ATVs and bring a jacket for the evening, as temperatures drop quite a bit in the desert at night. Also bring some sunglasses and a scarf for the ATV ride.

    Dubai Miracle Garden

    a lovely floral town at the Dubai Miracle Garden, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    With more than 150 million flowers in full bloom, the Dubai Miracle Garden is the world’s largest natural flower garden and has quickly become one of the most unique and colorful attractions in Dubai.

    The flowers are preserved by reusing wastewater through drip irrigation and are manured into intricate displays, like a floral clock, the Smurfs’ Village, elephants, penguins and horses, a castle, and the infamous Emirates A380, which was featured in the Guinness World Records for the ‘World’s Largest Flower Structure’!

    Dubai Miracle Garden is definitely a must-see on any fall, winter or spring trip to Dubai. In fact, this was one of our favorite things to do in Dubai!

    • Hours: Sept 29th – June 2nd, Monday-Friday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm 
    • Time to Visit: 2-3 hours
    • Cost: AED 95 ($25.87 USD) for adults 12+, AED 80 ($21.78 USD) for children 3-12 & free for children under 3 years old

    Deira Souks

    Dubai Creek in Deira, one of the top things to do in Dubai

    Situated along the banks of Dubai Creek, Deira is a bustling district in Dubai, renowned for its Gold, Spice, and Old Souks.

    The Deira Gold Souk is one of the largest gold markets in the world. Here, visitors can wander through narrow alleyways lined with shops showcasing a dazzling array of gold jewelry. I bought my first pair of real gold earrings here and paid much less for them than I would’ve back in the U.S.!

    Adjacent to the Gold Souk is the Spice Souk, where visitors can immerse themselves in a sensory experience of aromatic spices, herbs, and traditional perfumes. Here, you can explore stalls piled high with colorful spices and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of a traditional Arabian marketplace. Tim especially loved trying the colognes and bought some for himself and for my brother.

    The Deira Old Souk is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways filled with traditional shops selling textiles, fabrics, and more. Here, you can discover hidden treasures, bargain for various items, and grab some souvenirs to bring home to your friends and family.

    • Hours:
      • Deira Gold Souk: Daily from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
      • Deira Spice Souk: Monday – Friday from 7:30 am – 9:55 pm & Saturday – Sunday from 7:30 am –11:00 pm
      • Deira Old Souk: Saturday – Thursday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm & Friday from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
    • Time to Visit: 2-3 hours
    • Cost: Free unless you buy something

    The View at the Palm

    Palm Jumeirah as seen from The View at the Palm

    Another spot for epic views of Dubai is The View at the Palm. At more than 780-feet-tall, The Observatory, i.e. the 52nd floor viewing deck of the Palm Tower, offers incredible, panoramic views of the world famous Palm Jumeirah, the Arabian Gulf, and the city of Dubai.

    Located on the 54th floor of the Palm Tower, The Next Level takes things one step further, offering stunning, 360-degree views from the highest observation deck on the Palm Jumeirah—without the glass windows. This ticket also includes skip-the-line access.

    We went during off-peak hours and chose the ‘The Next Level’ ticket, which includes:

    • The Palm Jumeirah Exhibition
    • The Observatory
    • The Next Level

    In my opinion, the views from the 54th floor without the glass are well worth the price difference between this and the ‘General Admission’ ticket.

    • Hours: Daily from 9:00 am – 8:30 pm
    • Time to Visit: 1-1.5 hours
    • Cost: AED 100 ($27.23) for General Admission Tickets & AED 175 ($47.65) for Fast Track + Next Level Tickets (note that there are other experiences, but these are the most popular; check out their website to learn more)

    Dubai Marina

    Dubai Marina, a must-see in Dubai

    Dubai Marina is a vibrant waterfront district known for its stunning skyline, luxurious yachts, and bustling promenades. We mainly just walked along the marina promenade, taking in the views of the waterfront, towering skyscrapers, and massive yachts, and had lunch at one of the waterfront cafés.

    Some other things to do in this area include a boat tour or cruise, the Dubai Marina Mall, Skydive Dubai, and the Dubai Marina Yacht Club.

    • Hours: All day
    • Time to Visit: 1-2 hours
    • Cost: Free

    Jumeirah Beach

    Jumeirah Beach Residence, a must-see Dubai neighborhood

    We ended our trip to Dubai with a visit to the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) district. JBR is known for its luxurious beachfront properties, lively atmosphere, and diverse range of attractions and amenities.

    Jumeirah Beach, one of Dubai’s most famous beaches, offers lots of activities, like swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, and water sports, such as jet skiing, banana boating, parasailing, and flyboarding.

    The Walk at JBR is a bustling pedestrian promenade that runs parallel to the beach and is lined with restaurants, cafés, and shops. It’s a vibrant hub for shopping and dining and offers a lively atmosphere both day and night.

    Connected to JBR by a pedestrian bridge, Bluewaters Island is a new waterfront development that features the iconic Ain Dubai (Dubai Eye) observation wheel, along with a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. It’s a must-visit destination for panoramic views of the Dubai skyline and the Arabian Gulf.

    • Hours: All day
    • Time to Visit: We only spent an hour or so walking around here, but you could spend an entire day or more here, depending on how much you’d like to see and do
    • Cost: Free

    Where to Eat in Dubai

    We aren’t huge foodies, but we did enjoy all of the meals we had in Dubai. Here are the places we dined at:

    • BAI Bar & Terrace (we ate here 3 times!) – a casual, lounge-style dining experience with nice city views
    • Maison de Curry – a contemporary 2 Michelin star restaurant with awesome views of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain
    • Sammach Spot – a delicious seafood restaurant that also has a great view of Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain
    • Saya Brasserie – a cozy café inside City Walk that offers cute drinks, yummy cakes, American breakfasts, and more
    • Ahla Tallah Grand Gourmet – a Lebanese restaurant in Dubai Marina with a large outdoor patio

    Other Things to Do in Dubai

    Sara relaxing at the Dubai Miracle Garden

    We only had 4 full days in Dubai, so we couldn’t see and do everything this incredible city has to offer. Here are some other great things to do in Dubai that we couldn’t fit into this 4-day Dubai itinerary:

    • Something we really wanted to do but just didn’t have time for was an Old Town food and walking tour; here are some of the options we considered:
    • Another thing we really wanted to do was a day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi; this is the tour we researched: Dubai to Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque & Qasr Al Watan Palace
    • We also thought a yacht tour would be fun if the weather was warmer. Here are some of the most popular and highest rated options we saw:
    • Dubai Frame – the UAE’s latest cultural landmark, Dubai Frame ‘frames’ panoramic views of Dubai and serves as a metaphorical bridge connecting the emirate’s rich past with its magnificent present and ambitious plans for future development
    • The Flying Cup – located at JBR, this is a unique dining and entertainment experience that offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of Dubai’s skyline while seated in a ‘flying cup’
    • The Green Planet Dubai – a unique, 4-story, indoor rainforest with more than 3,000 plants, trees, and exotic species, like giant Amazonian water lilies, toucans, tree frogs, and sloths, educational exhibits and interactive displays, and up-close encounters with tropical animals
    • Museum of the Future – a cutting-edge innovation hub and exhibition space that features interactive exhibits, immersive installations, and multimedia displays that highlight groundbreaking developments in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, sustainability, healthcare, and urban planning

    Well, there you have it! Let me know what you think of these 10 awesome things to do in Dubai, and if you’ve been to Dubai, let me know what you’d add to this list!

    XOXO Sara at Travel A-Broads

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    15 days ago

    I have been to Dubai but sadly it was just for a day on a layover. I need to go back and do more of these fun things! Seems like four days is a good amount of time there.

    15 days ago

    I have never been drawn to visit Dubai, however, after reading your post, the desert excursion looks fabulous. That would be one thing I would love to do. Plus some of the high points look pretty cool too.

    Angela Price
    16 days ago

    I’ve been to Dubai many times and done all but one of your suggestions. It is a country that always has something new to experience, so you never get bored.

    16 days ago

    Dubai is an incredible destination, your 4-day itinerary is great, puts everything relevant to see, do and experience.

    17 days ago

    I’ve only spent 3 hours in Dubai as I was transitting, but hope to spend a few days or longer there on another trip. Thanks for all the great information, Dubai looks like a great place to visit.