From scaling the world’s tallest tower to traversing the desert dunes, Dubai is sure to make an impression
Dubai packs a lot of into its 4,000 square metres of city and desert and an ever-growing list of attractions means there’s always a new experience to add to the list.
A must-see for many is the iconic Burj Khalifa and an elevator ride to the At The Top observation decks perched 456 and 555 metres above ground level. The views are particularly splendid at sunset but with the world’s tallest tower open for business from 8.30am to 1.30am, it’s an unforgettable experience by day or night (and you can pick up some cool souvenirs from the on-site store). The latest high-rise hot ticket experience is the 150-metre-tall Dubai Frame with a glass bridge observation deck that’s definitely not for the faint-hearted, but the reward is a bespoke bird’s eye view of old and new Dubai.
Aerial adventure of another kind comes courtesy of a 40-minute Seawings Silver Air Tour that’ll whizz you up and over the skyscraper-laden skyline between Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa in a classic seaplane. Or tick off a bucket list dream by booking yourself in at Skydive Dubai for a tandem jump over Palm Jumeirah (sign up for the video footage, as a permanent record of your bravery).
For those more comfortable with two feet on the ground, we recommend jumping on a City Sightseeing bus, which operates daily tours of the city across several routes, with hop on-off opportunities at all the major sights and shopping hotspots.
Those seeking a curated itinerary need look no further than Arabian Adventures. Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia on a Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari, get up close to an Arabian thoroughbred at a Stable Tour with Breakfast at the famous Meydan Racecourse, or get a taste of life on the water with a Cruising Adventure that captures the best bits of the Dubai skyline from the deck of a stylish yacht or catamaran (barbecue included) – and there are plenty more tours to choose from besides.
Follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia on a Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari
Get your feet wet with some immersive ocean action and ride the waves on a thrill-a-minute Yellow Boats tour in and around Dubai’s coastal attraction. Kids and the young at heart can enjoy plenty of water park fun, too. The original splash and soak day out, Wild Wadi Water Park, beside Jumeirah Beach Hotel, takes you on an Arabian folklore-themed journey through its thrilling rides and slides. Out on Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis The Palm is home to the world-famous Aquaventure Waterpark with 17 hectares of attractions, including slides that’ll shoot your though shark-filled lagoons.
Cool down by practicing your downhill slalom at Ski Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates, where snowboarding, skiing and a fun snow park that’s home to king and gentoo penguins is sure to give you goosebumps. Head back outdoors, where two-wheel fun is available with ByKy cycle hire at key locations on the 11-kilometre-long Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk and the picturesque Dubai Marina promenade. Simply find a station, download the NextBike app for your smartphone, pay upfront and hit the road. If you’re still going strong then it’s time to Bounce or Flip Out in Al Quoz, where two rival destinations filled with wall-to-wall trampolines attract jumping jacks of all ages.
Outside the city limits lies a world populated by beasts: Dubai Safari. Home to more than 2,500 animals, the 119-hectare park features four themed villages, the world’s first drive-through crocodile exhibit and the UAE’s only drive-through hippo and tiger enclosure. Nature meets playtime with high wire action at the Nature Adventure Park in Mushrif, where you can zip-line through a natural ghaf tree forest. Exotic animals with a penchant for the tropics are found in the recreated rainforest at Green Planet in City Walk, while Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall boasts 70 different marine species and (weighing in at 750 kilograms and measuring over five metres in length) the terrifying King Croc.
Make sure to keep an entire day free for a trip out to Dubai Parks and Resorts, the Middle East’s largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment destination. With three awesome theme parks in one location you can’t go wrong. Perfect for those with kids aged two to 12, Legoland Dubai has more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions as well as 15,000 Lego models, including a replica of Burj Khalifa made out of 439,000 Lego blocks. Motiongate Dubai combines three legendary film studios in one park, with a stellar cast of rollercoasters, multi-media rides, interactive labs and shows with a Hollywood theme. Or, head East for the Bollywood Parks Dubai take on movie magic. Exhausted by the non-stop action? You can rest up the Polynesian-themed Lapita Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection Hotels (it’s within walking distance), where pampering haven Ola Spa offers an impressive selection of soothing treatments (we rate the Lomi Lomi massage).
The spectacular micro robot-controlled jets of The Dubai Fountain shoot giant plumes of water 500 feet into the air
Dial down the legwork and engage the brain with a quirky interactive experience at Brainscape Games in Downtown Dubai where teams are locked in a room and need to solve a series of puzzles to escape. Young minds also get a workout at KidZania as they try their hand at a variety of fun careers, from being an airline pilot to cooking up a storm as a chef and a whole host of role-playing activities besides. Playnation in City Centre Mirdif is another interactive entertainment hub, with Soccer Circus Dubai, iFly, 10-pin bowling and more. It’s also home to edutainment hotspot Little Explorers.
End the day in a more relaxing fashion with a wander to the Burj Khalifa Lake, where the spectacular micro robot-controlled jets of The Dubai Fountain shoot giant plumes of water 500 feet into the air with displays set to music. The fountain performances are scheduled every 30 minutes from 6pm, with later shows on weekends. For the best views, get a spot on the nearby bridge as early as you can. And if a movie and popcorn sounds like just the ticket, do it in five-star style at VOX Cinemas’ 4DX theatre, at Mall of the Emirates.