Best things to do in Dubai
Top 10 travel activities, tours and attractions

The best activities, attractions, visits and excursions in Dubai

You’re looking for the best things to do in Dubai ? The best travel activities, tours and attractions ? You’re in the right place! To help you organize your trip and not miss anything, our TOP 10 gathers the best things to do and see : points of interest, tourist attractions, excursions, sightseeing tours, monuments, museums, etc.
To save time and money, we advise your to book in advance your hotel rooms, activities and touristic services (insurance, transport…). In order to help you, we’ve selected the best offers available on the net. You will find all links in this article, together with a listing of our favorite travel websites. Have a nice trip . – By Flo, Caro & The Team

In this article, you will find :

What to do and see in Dubai - TOP 10 tours & activities

1. Visit the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (must-see activity)

  • Recommended duration :
  • Free : observation from the ground
  • Admission fee : 124th floor ($), 148th floor ($$)

As the highest tower in the world (2716 feet), Burj Khalifa definitely owns its #1 position on our TOP 10 Dubai. At the foot of the building, or at one of the observation decks, discovering this unique monument is THE unmissable activity of your trip to Dubai!

Tips & Useful traveller information

To visit the tower, you have 4 options:

  • Observation from the foot of the tower (free of charge):you get dizzy simply by observing the tower from the ground! The tower can be seen from just about anywhere in Dubai, but the most impressive view is from the Dubai Fountains at the exit of the Dubai Mall.
  • Visit of the 124th floor: the main observatory is located at 1496ft high. This is the classic option, which most visitors choose. The view is impressive: the city is so small below that you would almost have the impression of being on board an airplane! An interior (glazed and air-conditioned) and exterior (without glass but with bars) platform is available. Visits are organized by time slot and are limited. We therefore strongly advise you to book your tickets as soon as possible as it is difficult to get a visit at the time of your choice once you get there. You can also book a combined ticket with the Dubai Aquarium to save money.
  • Visit of the 148th floor: this deck is more “VIP”, and is located at 1820ft high. It also has both an interior and exterior platform. It offers an even more impressive view in a quiet and airy space (the number of visitors is very limited). The access to the 124th floor is also included, but the ticket is almost 3 times more expensive… Here again, it is better to book in advance as places are very limited.
  • Enjoy a meal at the “At.Mosphere” or at the “Burj Club”: the first restaurant is located on the 122nd floor of the tower. We didn’t have the chance to eat there, but if you have the (big) budget, please feel free to drop by. The second one is a bit more affordable and is located on the 5th floor. It’s a very nice restaurant with a beautiful view of the lake and the fountain show while eating. It also has a large terrace. If you want to eat at the Burj Khalifa, we would recommend the second option!

We really recommend your to visit the Burj Khalifa to enjoy the magnificent view from the observation decks.We tested both the 124th and the 148th floors, make sure you check out our detailed experience below, it will help you determine which option suits you best 🙂

Price & Online Booking : Burj Khalifa 124th floor e-ticketBurj Khalifa 148th floor e-ticket
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

Best deals to book your activities in Dubai

To book your activities, we recommend the following websites: Get Your Guide (German website with a large variety of offers), Ceetiz (French website which also has many offers, promotions and some exclusive offers), or Tiqets (very user-friendly user from your mobile).

Here is a selection of the best offers :

In our “Good deals” section, you’ll also find tips for booking your transport, hotel, etc. We’ve also listed the offers which you could be interested below each activity description. Have a nice trip ?

2. Go on a desert safari in the Dubai desert

  • Recommended duration :
  • Admission fee ($$)

This is probably one of the best things to do in Dubai! You’ll ride in a 4×4 which will take you to the desert with a few accelerations and skids in the sand dunes, before letting you enjoy this beautiful natural space. Quad or buggy rides are also available.

Tips & Useful traveller information

Most excursions offer you to spend the evening in a Bedouin camp, which actually turns out to be a tourist camp (like many things in Dubai…). But the food is good (barbecue), the atmosphere is also very good and the activities are numerous (belly dancing, tea service, henna painting, hookah, camel rides, sandboarding…). It is even possible to sleep in the camp if you opt for a safari including a night in the desert! On our side, we tested the 4×4 day safari and we really enjoyed it! 

If you wish to discover the Dubai desert in a more active way, quad, buggy and camel tours are also available. We tested the quad tours and had a great time skidding on the sand dunes!

Finally, note that many tours take place in the late afternoon. This offers a good opportunity to watch a sunset in the desert (it’s always a magical moment)!

Price & Online Booking : 4×4 Dubai Desert Safari
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

3. Go on an excursion to discover the other emirates: Abu Dhabi, Sharjah…

  • Recommended duration :
  • Admission fee ($$)

There are many different options to book an excursion from Dubai to its surroundings. In one day, you can easily travel back and forth to visit Abu Dhabi, Al Ain oasis or even the Musandam Fjords.

>> Check out our TOP 10 activities in Abu Dhabi <<
>> Check out our TOP 10 activities in the Emirates <<

Tips & Useful traveller information

If you’re staying in Dubai for more than 3 days, we suggest that you plan a day in Abu Dhabi. There you will be able to admire the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in the Emirates (and ninth largest in the world) and the brand new Louvre in Abu Dhabi! There is also the Ferrari World park, but we didn’t like it too much (feeling of emptiness with few attractions). Guided excursions from Dubai are offered and well organized. You can also get to Abu Dhabi by public transport, which is convenient and cheap!

If you stay more than 5 days in Dubai, we recommend the excursion to the beautiful Musandam Fjords (the fjords belong to the Sultanate of Oman, you’ll need to bring your passport to get there).

We also spent some time in Sharjah but were not particularly charmed by this emirate. We didn’t visit the other emirates (Ajman, Fujairah, Ras el Khaimah and Umm al Qaiwain), but don’t hesitate to visit them if you have the time!

Price & Online Booking : Excursion to Abu Dhabi (Louvre, Warner Bros or Ferrari World in option) / Excursion to the Musandam Fjords / All excursions from Dubai
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

4. Visit the traditional Dubai (Dubai Museum, souks…)

  • Recommended duration :
  • Free

The old center of Dubai is located on both sides of the Khor Dubai, the river that crosses the city (called the “Dubai Creek”). In this area of Dubai, there are many different souks (of spices, textile…,), narrow streets and beautiful museums (mosquée, fort, Indian temple…).

Tips & Useful traveller information

It’s really nice to walk around this area, which is very different from anything you can see in the other parts of the city.. You can visit the Dubai Museum (entry at 3 dirhams, or less than a dollar!), the museum presenting the history of the city. It is located in the Al Fahidi fort, the oldest building in Dubai, built in 1787!

To go from one side of the river to the other, we advise you to use an abra (it only costs one dirham). These small traditional boats are very unique and convivial!

5. Attend a water show: “Dubai Fountain” or “La Perle"

  • Recommended duration :
  • Free : Dubai Fountain Show
  • Admission fee : La Perle ($$)

There are 2 beautiful water shows in Dubai. Dubai Fountain allows you to enjoy different water jets “dancing” to classical, Arabic or international music compositions, all with an excellent light show. The show “La Perle” features artists and acrobats performing on a fully watered stage! These two shows are very different and therefore both deserve to be seen!

Tips & Useful traveller information

If you’re looking for things to do in Dubai in the evening, here are 2 perfect activities for you:

  • Dubai Fountain Show (free)

This first one is free, which makes it one of the must-do activities in Dubai. The Dubai Fountain Show takes place every evening at the foot of the huge Burj Khalifa tower (from 6pm to 11pm, every 30 minutes). You can see amazing water jets evolving to the rhythm of 20 different choreographies, calm or spectacular. Some projections can go up to 460 feet high! We were able to watch the last 2 shows of the day during our trip. Shows are also offered at the beginning of the afternoon, but they are less impressive (the show is conceived and thought as a night show with a very worked out play of lights). 

  • “La Perle” show (paying)

You need to pay for this second show, but it is worth the money! “La Perle” is a show directed by Franco Dragone, one of the most famous show creators in the world. It takes place in a huge 1300-seat hall, where more than 65 artists perform live. The sets are fabulous, but it’s the main stage that catches the attention: there is a huge swimming pool, modelled by different sets and used in a creative and original way. Some acts can be poetic, others spectacular (we loved the sequence with the motorbikes!), but one thing is sure: we’re not used to seeing that! If you have the budget, we definitely recommend you to book your tickets!

Price & Online Booking : La Perle
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

6. Have fun in one of Dubai’s amusement parks (Aquaventure, IMG…)

  • Recommended duration :
  • Admission fee ($$)

Dubai aims to become the Orlando of the Middle East. There are already many amusement parks and waterparks, we could even do a TOP 10 only dedicated to them! New attractions are announced for the years to come!

Tips & Useful traveller information

Dubai’s main waterparks are the following:

  • Aquaventure: located right next to the famous Atlantis Hotel, this park with its “South American” decor offers some great attractions, including a slide with a nearly vertical fall from a height equivalent to 9 floors! It is also possible to swim with dolphins, but we have not tested this activity.
  • Wild Wadi: this park is ideally located, just in front of the Burj al Arab Hotel. It offers a superb view of this monument and offers many entertaining attractions (slides that you ride down in buoys or a long fall following the opening of a trapdoor, quiet rivers, etc.). Difficult to choose between Wild Wadi and Aquaventure: we tested both parks, and they are both really good parks!
  • Legoland Waterpark: with LEGO® inspired settings, this park is mainly for children.

Dubai’s main amusement parks are the following:

  • Ski Dubai: this artificial complex is located in the heart of the Mall of the Emirates. You can ski, sled or play games on ice and snow (like sly down inside a giant ball)! It’s a very fun place, but you still wonder what all this has to do in the middle of the desert…
  • IMG: this amusement park is the largest indoor park in the world! The structure is fully covered and air-conditioned, and offers some sensational attractions inspired by the world of Marvel, the world of dinosaurs or cartoons. There were few visitors during our visit, which allowed us to enjoy each ride several times. We particularly recommend the rollercoasters “Velociraptor” (you go from 0 to 62mph in 2.5 seconds) and “Spiderman” (a roller coaster with a swivel car).
  • Motiongate: this park presents various attractions inspired by Dreamworks, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate movies.
  • Legoland: if you’re looking for something to do with children in Dubai, this park offers settings and attractions inspired by LEGO® toys.
  • Bollywood: the first theme park inspired by Bollywood cinema. There are a few rides, but visitors come here mainly for the scenery and the many colourful shows.
  • Ferrari World (in Abu Dhabi): we didn’t like this park, where few attractions are offered and the spaces are empty. The only strong point that can be worth the detour: there is “Formula Rossa”, the fastest attraction in the world (acceleration from 0 to 150mph in less than 5 seconds).
  • Other smaller parks, designed for children, are also accessible: Wonderland, Kidzania, Green Planet, Hub Zero, etc

7. See Dubai’s legendary hotels: Burj Al Arab & Atlantis

  • Recommended duration :
  • Free : observation from the outside
  • Admission fee : meal at the Burj Al Arab ($$$)

You can’t leave Dubai without visiting the two iconic hotels of the city! The Burj Al Arab is often listed as the only 7-star hotel in the world and is famous for its unique sail-shaped design. The huge Atlantis Hotel is located at the end of the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree (amazing view from the sky!).

Tips & Useful traveller information

Access to the Burj Al Arab Hotel is limited and it is not possible to go inside the hotel without being a guest. However, there are different options to visit it:

  • Observing the hotel from the public beach of Jumeirah or the Jumeirah Madinat: we recommend this option (free of charge), as it allows you to clearly distinguish the particular shape of the hotel while being in a pleasant environment. The boat tours on the Persian Gulf also offer a beautiful view from the sea.
  • Enjoy the view from the Wild Wadi Park: this water park is located right in front of the hotel and therefore offers a beautiful view of the building.
  • Have tea or dinner in one of the hotel’s bar-restaurants: plan at least 90€ per person, a chic outfit and you should book in advance.
  • Spend a night at the hotel: plan a budget going from 1600€ to more than 3500€ per night!

To see the Atlantis hotel, here are 3 possibilities:

  • Visit the “The Lost Chambers” Aquarium and observe the hotel from the Palm Jumeirah: located inside the building, the aquarium offers unique decors, although the visit is quite short. The view from the palm, at the foot of the hotel, is impressive but not ideal because the distance is not enough (the building is huge).
  • Observe the hotel during a cruise: thanks to the distance and the environment (the sea against a background of blue sky), boat tours undoubtedly offer the most beautiful view of the Atlantis hotel.
  • Spend one night in the hotel: at least $300 for a classic room.

Price & Online Booking : Burj Al Arab Skybar Beverage / Burj Al Arab Skybar Afternoon Tea 
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

8. Spend some time in Dubai’s waters: boat tours & water sports

  • Recommended duration :
  • Admission fee: abras ($), jet-ski, zodiac, dhow ($$), luxury yacht (“bateau mouche”) ($$$)

Take advantage of your stay in Dubai to discover the city from its waters! Beautiful boat tours are available both in the Persian Gulf and on the Khor Dubai (a part of the sea crossing the city, also called Dubai Creek). You can also choose a water sport like jet-skiing, kayaking or even flyboarding!

Tips & Useful traveller information

You can choose from different types of boats to go on a cruise in Dubai:

  • Zodiac cruise in the Persian Gulf (most popular option!): the coolest option with a great view of the monuments, including the Burj al Arab and Atlantis hotels (departures from Dubai Marina). If you are looking for something to do in Dubai with children, this is a great choice.  
  • Abra cruises on the Khor Dubai: the most authentic but also the cheapest choice! For only 1 dirham (a few dollar cents), you will board a small boat used by the locals and can cross the Khor Dubai in the old Dubai (crossing from 5 to 10mn). At this price, be sure not to miss out on the abra cruise!
  • Cruise (with or without dinner) on a yacht or “bateau mouche”: the most luxurious (and therefore the most expensive) option. The yachts usually depart from the Dubai Marina, while the “bateau mouche” departs from Old Dubai. 
  • Dinner dhow cruise: the most entertaining cruise. The tours take place aboard traditional boats (the dhows), and generally offer an all-you-can-eat buffet and shows on board. These cruises are offered on the Khor Dubai or at the Dubai Marina.  

On the watersports side, there’s also a lot of options you can choose from:

  • Jet-skiing: you can take jet-ski tours on the Persian Gulf, and enjoy a beautiful view of the Burj Al Arab Hotel.
  • Extreme Seabreacher tour: this really unique activity is worth the detour! The Seabreacher is a kind of mini submarine which reproduces the swimming of a dolphin. It’s a rather difficult concept to explain, but imagine speed peaks, jumps out of the water and mini dives, and you’ll have an idea of what awaits you! Of course, it is a pilot who takes care of controlling the craft but the sensations are still exhilarating.  
  • Flyboard & Jet-pack: if you have the budget and have never tried one of these activities, we really invite you to do it! These two equipments allow you to rise several meters above the sea thanks to a high pressure water propulsion system. The Flyboard offers foot propulsion while the jet-pack is worn on the back. We have a preference for the flyboard, which made us feel like we were in the shoes of Iron Man!  
  • Paddle, kayak, banana boat, etc.: As in all seaside towns, Dubai offers the typical beach activities. You can, for example, take a kayak or paddleboard tour or be towed by a boat by hanging on to large buoys.

Price & Online Booking : Zodiac boat tour / Dinner Dhow Cruise / Dinner yacht cruise / Jet-ski / Other watersports
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

9. Visit Dubai’s malls: aquarium, attractions & shopping

  • Recommended duration :
  • Free : access to the malls
  • Admission fee : personal spendings and attractions ($$)

Dubai is a real paradise for shopping lovers! Even if you haven’t planned to leave with your suitcases full of clothes (the prices aren’t necessarily cheaper than elsewhere, but the choice is large), it’s interesting to visit the largest malls in the city, which are luxurious, gigantic and extravagant at the same time. It is also home to some of the best attractions and activities in Dubai.

Tips & Useful traveller information

There are almost 100 shopping centers in Dubai. Each has its own particularity, but here are the main ones:

  • Dubai Mall: located right next to the Burj Khalifa, it’s the largest shopping mall in the world, with more than 1000 shops. One of the most famous attractions in Dubai is the giant Aquarium, which can be seen for free (you can buy a ticket to “walk through” the aquarium in an underwater tunnel and enjoy the impressive view)! You can also visit an “underwater zoo” (you have to buy a ticket for the aquarium tunnel to get there) and see huge “waterfalls” and an Olympic skating rink.
  • Mall of the Emirates: this huge mall is where Ski Dubai is located, an attraction where you can ski on a large artificial slope and take part in various games on the snow!
  • City Walk: located between the Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah beach, this open-air street offers many shops and a pleasant walk.
  • Deira City Center: this mall is not very well known but we really enjoyed for the shopping part. Indeed, its reasonable size and good organization makes it easier to find you way and be more efficient.
  • There are many other malls that may be worth the detour: Mercato Mall (Renaissance-inspired decorations), Wafi Mall (decorations inspired by Ancient Egypt), Dubai Outlet Mall (factory outlets with discounted prices), etc.

Price & Online Booking : Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo ticket / Ski Dubai pass 
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

10. Fly over Dubai: helicopter, seaplane, skydive or zipline

  • Recommended duration :
  • Admission fee ($$ or $$$)

Among all the things to do in Dubai, flying over the city is for sure the most unforgettable! Thanks to its unique architecture and its size, Dubai offers many sites to admire from a helicopter or a seaplane. The Palm Jumeirah is much more impressive from the sky, especially during a skydive! If you like adrenaline, zip lining through the buildings is also a great idea!

Tips & Useful traveller information

If you’re into free or cheap activities, this one is not for you! For thrill seekers or skyview lovers, you will need to pay the price… But the experience is definitely worth your money! There are 4 different options you can choose from:

  • Helicopter flight: classic and simple! You can fly for 12, 15 or 25 min. Of course, shorter flights are cheaper, and they still allow you to discover Dubai’s main sites from the sky (Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa…). Longer flights offer a full tour of the city, allowing you to better understanding its immensity and extravaganza. 
  • Seaplane flight: this one is more original, longer, but a bit more expensive. The view is amazing and the flight is very pleasant (without turbulence). This is a really unique experience, which can easily become the best highlight of your trip to Dubai! To learn more on the sensations and the details of this activity, you can check out our experience feedback below.
  • Skydive: this one takes place right above the Palm Jumeirah, one of the most impressive sites of Dubai to be seen from the sky. This is probably one of the best places in the world to skydive, but the price is quite expensive.
  • Giant zipline: the biggest urban zipline is in Dubai! From a 557-feet high skyscraper, you’ll launch yourself in the “superman” position at almost 50mph! The zip line, 0,62 miles long, runs through the Marina buildings, the most modern district of Dubai. It is a recent attraction in Dubai and already extremely popular!

If you are on a tight budget, you can just watch Dubai from one of the observation decks at the Burj Khalifa, but the view will not be as beautiful and the sensations will be very different. Also keep in mind that all these activities are in high demand and have limited capacity. Remember to book in advance!

Price & Online Booking : Helicopter flight / Seaplane flight / Skydiving / Zip line across the Marina 
 Attraction Pass including this activity : Dubai Explorer Pass
 Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking :  Find all hotels Our selection : Best hotels on a budget (1, 2 or 3 stars)Best luxurious hotels (4 or 5 stars)

Other things to do and see in Dubai (activities, excursions, tours, attractions...)

In addition to the activities listed in our TOP 10, you’re looking for things to do in Dubai? Here is a selection of other attractions and activities that are either free or cheap:

  • Jumeirah Beach: Dubai’s main beach
  • Jumeirah Mosquée: this mosquée, often described as the prettiest in Dubai, opens its doors to non-muslims so you can visit it (except on Fridays)
  • Heritage & Diving Village: a tourist area recreating the life of the old Bedouin villages and presenting the ancient economic activities of the town, pearl fishing and the construction of dhows (wooden boats).
  • Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding: a center dedicated to the understanding of Islam and the culture of the Emirates
  • Dubai Marina: an area described as the “new Dubai”, where it is pleasant to walk along the seafront and of course you can have a look at many boats there.
  • Madinat Jumeirah: a luxury hotel complex where it is possible to walk around. The decor (rather kitsch we have to say) is supposed to reproduce an ancient Arab citadel. The atmosphere is great and the walk is very pleasant.

Travel tips to visit Dubai and organize your trip (hotels, sightseeing tours...)

We tried to give you many travel ideas to find out what to do in Dubai. Here are some additional travel tips and good deals to help you organize your trip.

 Book accomodation in Dubai: you’ll find the greatest choice on Booking (for hotel rooms) or Airbnb ( for appartments).
 Book travel activities in Dubai: you can book all the best activities online on Viator (american website – many offers and sightseeing tours), Get Your guide (european website – our favorite choice with lots of good offers), Tiqets (european website – great one to book tickets for museums or attractions) or Ceetiz (european website with a large offer of activities worldwide and many promotions)
  Book tickets for Hop on Hop off Buses : with Big Bus Tours, you can enjoy live and audio guides and stop right next to the greatest tourist attractions.
 Book a flight to Dubai: you will generally find best prices on Skyscanner.
 Book and airport transfer in Dubai: save time by using the usefull Airport Shuttle
  Rent a car in Dubai: it is important to make a booking before departure, as prices on site are much higher than those displayed online. We advise you to use Rentalcars.

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