Dubai is filled with captivating sights, from its new shimmering skyscrapers to the Al-Fahidi Fort – which is the oldest structure in the city, filled with captivating stories. There are countless shows to visit here, too, from dancing dolphins to the mystical fountain lights. Don’t forget to swing by the Aquarium and Zoo, so the little ones can meet some beautiful animals during their trip.
Anyone who has visited the Al-Fahidi Fort will know that Dubai is about much more than towering skyscrapers and spectacular modern marvels. Originally built in 1787, The Al-Fahidi fort is the oldest building within the sprawling metropolis of Dubai, and provides a fascinating throwback to an era completely unknown to the modern visitors and citizens of Dubai.
The fort is located just south of Dubai Creek, an area which is bustling with trade and activity, and was formerly the border of urban Dubai. It is for this reason that the fort was formerly used as the city’s defence stronghold and was also once where the monarch was based. Since then, the fort has been used as the city’s arsenal, storing a barrage of heavy weapons and artillery, and also as the city’s prison. Today, the fort is home to Dubai Museum, which provides an embodiment of traditional life in Dubai and depicts how Dubai has grown to become one of the world’s richest cities.
Alserkal Art District in Dubai is a renovated abandoned warehouse that houses lots of art, from both local and international artists. This chic district is home to multiple galleries with a whole range of art to suit all tastes, in a friendly, family environment where you can wander around, and discover incredible things.
In the art district there is also a library, cinema and various restaurants, meaning you can spend the whole day here taking in the wonderful sights. Stop off for some lunch and settle down to a film in the evening, and the Tom and Serg cafe can make you a fantastic cup of coffee whenever you want to rest your feet.
There are plenty of activities for families to do nearby too. Take the kids to the indoor trampolining centre Bounce for hours of fun, climbing at Rock Republic, or drop by any of the gyms and sports centres just outside of the arts district, for a break from sightseeing and the beach.
If you’re looking for an aquatic experience, you’ll never forget the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in The Dubai Mall is the place to be. As well as the hundreds of crustaceans, rays, and sharks there are to see, there are activities to be enjoyed which are both thrilling and fascinating. The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo’s impressive collection includes a 10,000,000-litre tank with the world’s largest Sand Tiger Shark collection, and one of the world’s largest crocodiles, which weighs 750 kilograms.
As well as the opportunity to see all of these animals, the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo also offers a plethora of activities which allow you to get even closer to the sea life. The activities on offer include scuba diving, cage snorkelling in a tank with thousands of aquatic animals and exhilarating shark encounters. As well as experiencing these up-close encounters with animals from the depths of the ocean, you can also see the wild animals which walk the land with the VR Zoo exhibit.
Visiting the Burj Khalifa Skyscraper is a must when visiting Dubai, as the view from the tallest skyscraper in the world is a breathtaking sight. Book a ticket to go up to the 160th floor, past the Armani hotel and the Sky Lounge, all the way to the top.
At the Top is the viewing platform, where you can see the glorious city of Dubai spread out beneath you, which can be admired from 360 degrees. Kids love peering through the binoculars at the top to see the many buildings and beaches down below, and in the evening, couples can gaze at the beautiful sight of the city lit up at night.
Stop off at the Lounge, to have coffee at the highest lounge in the world as well, and sit down to an array of sweets at treats at 585 metres, to have Tea in the Clouds, which comes with an exclusive tour of the outdoor terrace.
Just a stone’s throw away from Dubai International Airport, lies the thriving, up-and-coming district of Deira, where there really is something for everyone; from the thrill seekers, to the shopaholics. In this busy district, there are enough sites and activities to fill an entire trip to Dubai alone; with spas, malls and sites of cultural and historical interest all within its vicinity.
If you’re looking for somewhere to buy the perfect holiday gift, or are just looking to treat yourself, browse the range of premium, designer outlets at the Deira City Centre Shopping Mall. Head over to the Dubai Dolphinarium and watch on in aquatic awe as dolphins and seals perform in staggering shows which are fun for all of the family. Indulge your inner-petrol head and get the adrenaline rush of your life over at Xtreme-Simulation – the most advanced racing simulation centre in Dubai. Alternatively, take some time to get away from the sights and sounds of the city and pamper yourself with a heavenly spa treatment at YHI Spa.
If you struggle to get all of Dubai’s stunning skyline in one picture, then this is the perfect attraction for you. Standing at almost 500ft tall and spanning over 340ft wide, The Dubai Frame is the world’s largest picture frame. With so many spectacular structures already scattering the skyline, the frame’s architect, Fernando Donis, decided that rather than adding another large skyscraper to Dubai’s skyline, he would create something which would allow you to see all of its attractions at once.
The Frame is designed and positioned so that you would be able to see all of Dubai’s skyscraper scattered skyline if you were to look through it. The top of the frame is a glass bridge and a viewing platform, where you can see both sides of Dubai and even the ground beneath you. Look to towards the south and you will see the majesty of modern Dubai, whereas to the north you will see the older region of Deira. However, Dubai’s most frame-ous attraction is more than just a viewing platform; on the ground floor, you will find a museum with interactive exhibits that showcase the past, present and future of Dubai.
One of the things which often takes visitors to Dubai by surprise is the stark contrast between the modern skyscrapers and ancient sites – The Dubai museum epitomises this. The famed Dubai museum was first opened in 1971, but the building in which it exists, the Al Fahidi Fort, was built in 1787.
The Museum contains a wide selection of galleries and exhibits, each with the purpose of showcasing the traditional way of life in Dubai. This includes a gallery which depicts how Dubai has grown from its modest beginnings to the skyscraper scattered, financial superpower that we know it as today. This features old maps of Dubai as well as timelines which show the city’s growth. Most notably, there is also a life-sized diorama of Dubai’s pre-oil era, which includes portrayals of family life in Dubai, as well as craftsmen, street venders and a model mosque. There is also an exhibit which showcases the archaeological finds from excavation sites in the area.
Believed to be the most photographed mosque in Dubai, Jumeirah Mosque is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It’s not hard to see why visitors get snap-happy around this majestic mosque, as there is so much beauty to behold when viewing the building from the outside. The impressive carved domes which comprise the roof sit between two tall, stunning spires, which strike into the sky above the mosque. The entrance is characterised by the high, deep archways, each of which are supported by a duo of columns. It is even more spectacular when lit up at nightfall.
The large mosque, which is big enough to hold up to 1,200 worshippers at once, was a gift to the current ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, from the former ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum – the father of Sheikh Mohammed. It has an “open doors, open minds” policy, so visitors of all faiths are invited to enter the mosque and learn about Islamic life. Tours of the mosque are also available for non-Muslims, which inform visitors about the local culture, and provide information on Islamic holidays, rituals, traditions and cuisines.
While the Dubai Mall has several spectacular attractions to boast, the fountain lights truly are its pièce de résistance. The lights of Dubai mall fountain is the world’s largest musical fountain, with multiple shows taking place throughout the day to wow those who pass by.
The statistics alone are staggering: the fountain is made up of a 275-meter arc of jets which is capable of shooting water over 150 meters high – that’s almost as high as a 35-storey building. Accompanying the jets are over 6,000 lights and 50 colour projectors, which together are strong enough to completely illuminate the towering sprays of water.
The Lights of Dubai mall fountain truly is one of the most spectacular sights in Dubai and better yet, it’s completely free of charge to watch. You don’t need to worry about getting up close to get the best view either; there are plenty of excellent viewing spots for the fountain in the area, including an array of restaurants which are nearby.
Located just off Dubai Creek in the Al Shindagha area, Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House is one of the most prominent sights in Dubai. The building itself is a stark contrast to the towering skyscrapers we’ve come to associate with modern Dubai, but its appearance, structure and historical significance make it a must-see attraction for anyone planning a trip to Dubai.
The house was first established in the late 1800s, making it over 120 years old, and was the official residence of Dubai’s ruler between 1912-1958, whom the house is named after – Saeed Al Maktoum. The house itself is an architectural marvel; the carved stone structure has an ancient yet majestic appearance. This essence is only enhanced at nightfall, at which point the house is illuminated with vibrant, colourful lights.
However, there is more to see at Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House than just the building itself. There is a museum within the house, where there are countless artefacts and images of old town Dubai. Spectacular views of the Dubai skyline can also be enjoyed from the house’s top floor.