De United Arab Emirates, a land of crazy extremes! Dubai takes the cake and I think it is a city that is high on everyone's list. When you are here you will be immersed in the wealth, luxurious and beautiful sights that the city has to offer. Think, for example, of the most luxurious 7 * hotel in the world, the Burj al Arab or the tallest building in the world at 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa† Enough to see to fill at least 5 days! To help you on your way, we have already put together the absolute must-sees of Dubai for you here.
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What budget do you need for Dubai?
I have visited Dubai 2 times. 1x as a 'normal' holiday and 1x at the end of my 8 month trip through Asia. Those 8 months I lived on a budget of around 35 to 40 euros per day, so I thought it was quite exciting to go to Dubai. Dubai is known as an expensive destination. Still, I was firmly convinced that with my backpacker skills I could explore Dubai on a normal budget! I ended up staying in Dubai for 5 days and have an average of 50 euros per day spent. This includes transportation (subway), accommodation (hostel), desert excursion & food. Not bad right?
Also read: Dubai | In a super cheap, low budget way
Subway in Dubai
The metro in Dubai is just as easy as the metro in, for example Paris or London. When you arrive at Dubai Airport, you can sign a 'Nol Card' to buy. As a tourist you can choose from the red or the silver version. The red Nol Card can be loaded up to 10 single journeys or 5 daily passes, after which you have to buy a new card. The silver Nol Card can be compared to a debit card and unlike the red Nol Card you can use this frequent reload† So if you are going to use the metro several times or if you come back to Dubai more often, it is better to opt for the silver version.
The metro in Dubai is not expensive and actually a 'must' if you want to explore the city. Dubai is very big and has temperatures that you don't want to walk into. Make sure you have the app Maps.me on your phone so you can see where the nearest metro station is and download the Moovit app to plan your metro trip.
Dubai is A-MA-ZING and you will be amazed! Below I list the sights that I would definitely check out.
1. Burj Khalifa
You haven't been to Dubai if you haven't seen the Burj Khalifa of course. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 828 meters† Talk about must sees in Dubai! You can also go to the Burj Khalifa, but I didn't do this myself because I thought it was quite pricey. The environment of the Burj Khalifa is very nice and you immediately take in a number of sights.
Next to the Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Mall containing the largest indoor aquarium in the world, on the other side you can visit a 'Souk' (Souk al Bahar) and at the foot of the Burj Khalifa you will find the Dubai Fountain† More on this later!
2. Burj Al Arab & the Beach
The Burj Al Arab is certainly one of the must-sees in Dubai, both up close and far. Do you want to admire the Burj Al Arab from the beautiful beach in Dubai? The area surrounding the Burj Al Arab is also very nice to walk through! When you go here in the evening you will see how beautifully the Burj Al Arab is lit up.
3. Dubai Mall & the Aquarium
The Dubai Mall is the first place I went to when I arrived in Dubai for the 2nd time. I hear you thinking.. backpacker skills and then go straight to a shopping center…?! But I didn't go to the Dubai Mall almost every night to shop, but to eat. You can eat cheaply in the food court of the mall† The choice is huge!
In addition to the food court, you will also find many restaurants in the shopping center, which are of course a bit more pricey. Besides the fact that this is a food Walhalla, you also go to the Dubai Mall to escape the heat from outside and to largest indoor aquarium in the world to admire.
4. Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain is arguably the holy grail of the must-sees in Dubai. It is the largest and most expensive fountain show in the world that you can see every day. Every evening from 18.00 p.m. the show starts every 30 minutes. The fountain can spew up 83.000 liters of water simultaneously, reaching a height of 150 meters. The fountain has a length of 2 football fields together and has a total of about 150 million cost. BIZARD right? It is not for nothing that there are always a lot of tourists here to see this.
If you want a unique view of the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain, you can visit the Apple Store in the Dubai Mall. The immensely large Apple Store has a balcony where customers can look out over the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa.
5. Visit a 'Souk'
For example, you can spice souk or a Gold souk visit, which actually stands for a kind of luxury market. The nice thing about visiting a Souk is that you can taste the atmosphere of the Middle East and you can also score the most souvenirs here. Next to the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain you will find the Souk Al Bahar which is very nice to visit (although of course you will find most tourists here).
6. Dubai Marina
I personally think the area at the Dubai Marina is very cool to see, it definitely belongs on the list of must sees in Dubai. Here you will find beautiful buildings, the most expensive yachts and stylish cafes. Because this neighborhood is not so touristy, it gives you a better idea of how the people live here. After walking around here and taking some nice pictures, you can cool down in the nearest large shopping center: Mall of the Emirates.
7. Mall of the Emirates
Another shopping center in my list of sights in Dubai. But after you have walked through the Dubai Marina district you will be very happy when you walk into this shopping center. Hello Airco & hello another food court!
8. Desert Safari
You can book a desert safari at booking offices, online or at your accommodation. I've done this safari both times I was in Dubai and still think it's really awesome! It is really one of the absolute must sees or must dos in Dubai. You will be picked up by a jeep with which you will drive with a small group towards the desert. Here you have the opportunity to ride a small stretch of quad bike. However, this is disappointing and I would not necessarily recommend it, unless you really want it.
After this the coolest thing starts: with the jeep you will certainly drive a half an hour through the desert until the sun goes down. It feels just like a roller coaster, but in an incredibly beautiful environment. Once the sun begins to set, stop to take pictures and enjoy. Then you will go to a camp where you can ride a camel (just don't do this though.), from a unlimited buffet can enjoy, smoke shisha and see a show. Certainly touristy, but very fun and a completely different Dubai experience!
Want to know more about desert safaris in Dubai? Read the extensive article about desert safaris and sandboarding on stripeaway.nl
9. Skydiving above the Palm Jumeirah
Just to be clear: my 50 euro daily budget was of course not my bucketlist skydive over the Palm Jumeirah. (of course). The jump above the palm costs 500 euros but is (in my opinion) worth every euro! Who wouldn't want to see the palm from above? I can Skydive Dubai 100% recommend if you're thinking about doing this too!
In love with the Middle East?
Is this list of must-sees in Dubai not enough for you? Are you as crazy about the Middle East as we are? In love with the beautiful culture, the palaces, mosques and the friendly people? Then take a look at our Middle East page.