A modern oasis bursting out of the endless dunes of the Arabian desert, Dubai is a gleaming testament to luxury and opulence that is unlike anywhere else on earth. In Dubai, things that once seemed impossible are made real.
Escape the blistering desert heat by going skiing indoors, wander across vast man-made islands that stretch out into the crystalline waters of the Persian Gulf, or touch the clouds from the observation deck of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Fifty years ago, Dubai was hardly more than a small fishing village tucked away in the desert. Now, it finds itself squarely on the cutting edge of technology, architecture and design—and its evolution isn’t anywhere near over just yet.
Travellers who find themselves tempted by the wonders of Dubai aren’t alone. Tourism to Dubai has skyrocketed over the past ten years, and it is now the fourth most visited city in the world. Then again, it’s not hard to see why. Having reinvented itself as a hub for luxury goods, fine dining and ground-breaking architecture, even the most seasoned travellers will find themselves stunned by Dubai’s extravagance.
Visit the oasis of luxury and book a flight to Dubai now.
When is a good time to visit Dubai?
The thing to remember is that summer in Dubai is extremely hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 50°C. The winter months, from December to February, have a pleasant Mediterranean climate, ideal for experiencing all Dubai has to offer. However, it is also peak tourist season, with rooms up to 75% cheaper in the summer. There are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained, inside or out, but travellers should consider what kind of things they are interested in doing before they plan their trip.
How do I get around?
Visitors to Dubai will have no trouble navigating the city: Dubai is serviced by an affordable and efficient metro system, with bus and tram service also available. Fares are calculated based on distance travelled, and children under five years of age travel free. Taxis are also readily available (though sometimes harder to flag down during morning or evening rush hours), and the industry is strictly regulated, resulting in a safe and reliable system.
What currency should I bring to Dubai?
The currency of the UAE is the dirham (usually shortened to either “Dhs” or “AED”). Travellers, take care: the 5, 50, and 500Dhs notes are all shades of brown and can be confused in dim light or when you are in a rush. Although it is always a prudent idea to call your credit card company and ensure that your card will be accepted when travelling, hotels and restaurants will accept all major credit cards. There are also ATMs available throughout the city if you need physical cash (for a visit to the souqs, for example).
Sightseeing in Dubai and more
Dubai is a paradise for sightseeing: it sometimes seems like there’s not a single structure in Dubai that isn’t billed as the biggest or best in all the world in one way or another. From the dizzying height of the world’s tallest building (the Burj Khalifa) to the world’s biggest picture frame (the Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park) to the world’s largest vertical maze (a 55-storey labyrinth crawling up the walls of the Al Rostamani Group Maze Tower), Dubai is a city made for picture-perfect moments.
Away from the gold and glass, Dubai also has a historic side that gives a peek into the city’s traditional past. A visit to Bur Dubai, the city’s historic district, will help travellers appreciate the enormous changes that Dubai has undergone in less than a century: institutions like the Dubai Museum or the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding offer a glimpse into the culture and past of what was once a very different place. Be a part of Dubai’s ongoing transformation in one of the world’s leading cities: book your flight to Dubai today!
Recommended attractions in Dubai
There is no shortage of things to see or do in Dubai, as visitors will quickly learn. Depending on the time of year, the weather outside may be too hot for some travellers, but fear not: if there’s one thing Dubai knows well, it’s air conditioning.
- Dolphin Bay
- Burj Khalifa
- Ski Dubai
- Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Located on the Palm Jumeirah, the man-made archipelago shaped like a palm tree, Dolphin Bay is a great place to swim with the dolphins, or just relax and observe the beautiful animals from afar.
This attraction is almost impossible to miss, whether travellers wish to see it or not. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa soars above the city skyline. Brave the observation deck or just stay on the ground and admire the graceful waterworks of the Dubai Fountain.
Worth a visit, if only for the sheer novelty of skiing in one of the world’s hottest major cities. With 22,500 square metres of indoor ski area, visitors will be able to spend so much time on the slopes that they may forget which city they’re in.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
For a break from the glitz and glamour of the city, travellers can experience lectures and exhibits on the history and culture of the United Arab Emirates. Monday and Wednesday mornings feature a traditional Arabic breakfast.
For more information on this Middle Eastern gem, see our Dubai guide.
Food in Dubai: No shortage of high-class fare
While Dubai has a well-deserved reputation as a city in which to do some serious shopping, in recent years many tastemakers have taken notice of Dubai’s underappreciated culinary landscape. And for those interested in having a tipple while on vacation, don’t despair: despite being a Muslim country, drinking is allowed—as long as it is in bars or hotel restaurants.
Hungry enough to eat a camel
The Dubai cuisine is basically a combination of Iranian, Lebanese and Arabic food. A popular street food is Manousheh, also called the Dubai pizza. Al Harees is one of the most traditional foods in Dubai, consisting only of wheat, meat and salt which are baked for hours. It goes great together with Tabbouleh, a salad made from tomatoes, green onions and cucumber, seasoned with fresh mint and lemon juice. The adventurous gourmet may try camel meat, which is popular among the locals.
Shopping: From malls to souqs, everything under the sun
For a shopping jaunt, the 1,200 shops and restaurants at the Dubai Mall are an obvious choice. Stroll through a world-class selection of luxury outlets on the mall’s famous Fashion Avenue, visit Level Shoe District, the largest shoe store on the planet, or just try to take it all in as you walk through a shopping centre the size of a small town. Apart from the biggest mall in the world, there are 70 more malls in Dubai. For a slightly less opulent taste of Dubai, travellers can visit the Naif Souq. A former camel market, the Souq is a great place to find authentic Arabian goods and services, such as henna tattoos, abayas and other souvenirs.
Is your mouth watering yet? See more of Dubai’s amazing offerings in our guide about eat and drink in Dubai.