The most asked question we got about Dubai was if the city has a soul and if it’s worth to go there. Our answer is: Yes, it is! In Dubai you can find places with an Arabic heartbeat and soul if you are willing to look out for it. Here are our 5 favorite places in Dubai to visit when you are not interested in shopping.
Burj Khalifa at sun rise
Let’s start with a typical sightseeing highlight in Dubai - Burj Khalifa. This really impressive tower is currently the highest building on earth. It’s a busy place and the entrance is actually in the big Dubai Mall. But when you are into sun rises you have to go there for it. You really get a different atmosphere in the very early morning than during daytime.
The best part of it is the change of the light from morning darkness to daylight with the characteristic red sun in UAE. Even if you have to get up very early it's worth it because of these three things: (1) you drive through empty streets in Dubai, (2) you enter the biggest shopping mall and nobody is there, (3) you welcome the day on the highest building on earth and will see the largest men-made shadow ever.
Don’t forget to buy the tickets for the sunrise happening ahead. Here you can book the event. It’s expensive (37EUR p.P.) like everything in Dubai but it comes with a great presentation and documentation of the building process of the Burj Khalifa. But go first up and make sure that you enter the 148th floor. Afterwards you can enjoy the presentation with a hot drink and a croissant of your choice which comes with your booking.
Old Dubai and Souks
If you want to find out more about the glamour of the traditional Dubai you should go to Old Dubai. Here you can find the Arabic heartbeat and some typical impressions you might have when you think about the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A really nice thing in Old Dubai is that you can find different souks dedicated to a specific product: gold souk, spice souk, textile souk, mattress souk and naif souk.
Make sure that you have time to explore the different souks. There you will find so many interesting things and you can improve your tradings skills because you have to negotiate with the salesmen a lot. Try it, it’s fun! If you need a rest try out the fresh juices at XY [LINK].
Khor Dubai & Heritage Village Dubai
After the souks you have to visit the Heritage Village. Best way to get there is to cross the Khor Dubai (or Dubai Creek) by an Arab. An Arab is a traditional, wooden boat that is used by the people here as a water taxi. It’s super cheap and fun.
On your way to the Heritage Village Dubai you will pass some nice textile souks and the Dubai Museum. Our favorite place here was by far the XVA Cafe and Hotel with the fabulous courtyard and the excellent food. There you will even find vegetarian and vegan options which we really adored. Don’t miss the gallery inside and if you saved some money you also can sleep in the hotel there. Looks actually very pretty and artistic.
Observatory at Marriott Dubai
For a nice view of the artificial island “The Palm” you can drive to the Marriott Hotel. At the rooftop you can find the “Observatory” which is a cafe and restaurant. The view in both directions is amazing and great for the sunset.
If you arrive earlier you can just scroll around in this district. It’s a fancy one and you will see some nice yachts there which can be very interesting when you are into sailing and boats.
Desert and Sand Dunes
Make sure that you go to the desert and sand dunes outside of Dubai. There will be a lot of tours you can book. It’s up to you how much money and time you want to spend, there is no limit. Be aware that a lot of people are doing this kind of tour and you have to pay much more if you want a really individual tour (starts with around 300 dollars).
But for the sand dunes and the Arabian desert it is worth to go there. We are sure that you also can rent a car and go by yourself. We haven’t time for that but normally we would do that because you can decide where to drive and how long to stop at all these beautiful places. But we also learnt that it’s not allowed for us to drive by ourselves on the sand dunes. Such a pity!
Conclusion about things you can do in Dubai
When you are willing to fine some nice and cozy places in Dubai you will find them for sure. Be aware that Dubai is hugh and not easy to explore because everything takes quite a time. We thought it’s really interesting to observe how a mega city developed in the desert and how multicultural Dubai really is. There is almost nothing in between - either you will love or hate it. What will you do?