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10 Essential Things to Do in Dubai for Adventure and Culture

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I spent a week in Dubai exploring the city for work and personal purposes. Well, this list could easily be 50 different attractions in Dubai.

Many attractions are particularly unsuitable for me regarding what I like to do while traveling. Many of my experiences when exploring places revolve around cultural heritage, historical history, and food.

Night view of Dubai's illuminated skyscrapers showcasing urban luxury and innovation.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re a fan of attractions that include rides or man-made amusement, then Dubai will be a perfect place to do many activities during my week in Dubai. I narrowed it down to the top things to do that center around my core values while traveling.

If you’re a first-time visitor or want a simple list, I’ve done all the hard work for you. You’ll find all of my photography from my experiences in Dubai. Just look at the caption; you’ll know those are my photos.

1. Dune Bashing in the Red Sand Desert

A sandboarder in traditional white clothing observes the endless rolling dunes of Dubai's Red Sand Desert at dusk.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine the thrill as your 4×4 vehicle tackles the immense dunes of Dubai’s Red Sand Desert. You’re in the heart of an adventure that echoes the essence of Dubai – a blend of luxury and wild landscapes. Feel the vehicle plunge and rise over the sun-kissed sands, a roller coaster ride crafted by nature.

For the most comfortable temperatures and the chance to witness a breathtaking sunset, embark on your dune-bashing trip in the late afternoon. Make sure you bring a water bottle to stay hydrated, and definitely do not eat 2-3 hours before you dune bash. This is stated on the ticket when you make your purchase.

I followed the instructions, and I still even felt a little sick. That’s coming from someone who doesn’t mind bouncing around, too. As your day ventures into the evening, don’t miss the chance to contrast the intensity of dune bashing with the serene sandboarding activity.

Glide down the dunes, the same terrains that left you exhilarated with their unpredictability. If the gentle sway of a camel is more your style, cap off your trip with a camel ride, observing the desert’s beauty at a slower pace.

Remember, this isn’t just a trip; it’s your entry into the heart of Dubai‘s adventurous side. Bring your camera, pack your enthusiasm, and prepare for an unforgettable journey.

2. Dine at World-Class Restaurants

Authentic Turkish and Lebanese feast at ZouZou Restaurant in Dubai showcasing vibrant Middle Eastern cuisine
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Dubai offers an enchanting array of world-class dining experiences where the sheer diversity of gourmet options will thrill your palate. Imagine savoring a meal where every bite is a masterpiece crafted by the world’s best chefs.

A luxurious gold cappuccino at ZouZou, Dubai's premium Turkish & Lebanese dining destination.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

You’ll find yourself marveling at the stunning skyline views that provide a feast for your eyes and your taste buds.

  • Zuma Dubai: Indulge in exquisite Japanese cuisine, where modern flavors pay homage to the traditions of Izakaya-style dining. It’s a symphony of delicate sushi and vibrant, flavorful dishes that tell a story of culinary excellence.
  • 3 Fils: This spot is the epitome of a modern Asian bistro, offering an intimate rendezvous with high-quality ingredients and a menu that’s both innovative and comforting.
  • ZouZou Turkish & Lebanese Restaurant: Here, the heart of Turkish and Lebanese cuisine beats. Let aromatic spices lead you into a world where each dish boasts an ancestry of time-honored culinary traditions.

This city isn’t just about food; it’s about the experience – from the moment you step into the opulent interiors, you’re part of Dubai’s luxurious lifestyle.

See Related: The World’s Top Airlines for Seamless Travel

3. Burj Khalifa

Wide-angle shot of Burj Khalifa towering above downtown Dubai at sunset with clouds in the sky, reflecting the city's dynamic mix of modern architecture and leisure attractions.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine soaring through the sky as you ascend the iconic Burj Khalifa, the crowning jewel of Dubai. Standing at an impressive 828 meters, this marvel isn’t just the world’s tallest building; it’s a symbol of human ingenuity. Within its walls, you’ll find offices and the luxurious Armani Hotel.

Feel the rush of the city shrink below as you whizz up to the observation deck on one of the fastest elevators on the planet. Once at the top, breathtaking 360-degree views await to dazzle your senses, allowing you a glimpse of Dubai‘s heart from the clouds. It’s a unique, unmissable experience that defies words – this is where the sky is not the limit.

You cannot miss the fountain show. Check out it from our TikTok account here.

4. Jumeirah Beach

Jumeirah Beach, Dubai: Beachgoers, Ain Dubai Ferris wheel, multilingual beach instructions
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine your feet sinking into warm, golden sands as you gaze upon crystal-clear waters that invite you to dip in. At Jumeirah Beach, you’re not just visiting a beach; you’re stepping into a picturesque slice of Dubai’s luxurious lifestyle. The beach is framed by an iconic view of the Burj Al Arab, standing proudly on the horizon like a sail in the wind.

You can laze under the sun, letting the gentle waves whisper their tales, or indulge in exhilarating water sports that will get your pulse racing. Kayaking, jet skiing, or stand-up paddleboarding – choose your adventure.

Savor each moment and let the serene environment wash over you. The unparalleled views and the soft sand are the escape you’ve been craving.

Remember to bring sunscreen and a thirst for adventure, as the warm Dubai sun is as generous as the array of activities. That said, there are plenty of great things to do here at night, and the skyline views are incredible.

Stunning night view of JBR Beach with Dubai Marina skyline illuminated - urban luxury and tranquility.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

5. Dubai Mall

Crowds observing diverse marine life at Dubai Aquarium.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine a world where shopping and entertainment meet to create an experience that thrills your senses. You’re not just a visitor at the Dubai Mall but a participant in a spectacle of abundance.

With corridors lined with endless shopping choices, ranging from high-end boutiques to unique local treasures, you will find something that speaks to your sense of style. Between the allure of the storefronts, take a moment to indulge in a variety of restaurants offering culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds.

Indoor Ice Skating at Dubai Mall's State-of-the-Art Rink - Skaters gliding on ice, Reel Cinemas signage, luxury mall ambiance
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As you wander, don’t miss the Dubai Mall’s centerpiece, the Dubai Aquarium, an aquatic wonder that houses thousands of marine creatures. Experience the thrill of standing beneath a tunnel as sharks glide over your head, your gaze meeting theirs through the glass.

For those seeking entertainment, options abound. Lace up your skates at the ice rink, or if you prefer, immerse in cutting-edge virtual reality experiences that transport you to other worlds.

Above all, the view of the towering Burj Khalifa through the mall’s windows reminds you that you stand at the heart of a city that reaches for the sky. Welcome to Dubai Mall – a microcosm of the city’s spirit.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

6. Gold Souk

Kyle Kroeger at the Dubai Gold Souk shopping scene with diverse crowd and traditional market ambiance
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As you meander through the bustling alleyways of the Gold Souk, your eyes meet the shimmering displays of gold and jewelry — a testament to Dubai’s rich trading heritage. This isn’t just shopping; it’s an experience steeped in culture, where the air is laced with the scent of spices, and the art of negotiating is as valuable as the merchandise.

What to Explore Tips 18k to 24k gold ornaments Prices are negotiable; start low. Bespoke jewelry Research prices beforehand. Gold bars from vending machines. Visit later in the day for better deals.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, feel the weight of history in each carefully crafted piece, and engage with the artisans who’ve perfected their trade over generations. Wondering what to take home? Your options are vast, from elaborate necklaces to quaint gold trinkets.

Grab some spices, too, as a fragrant memento of your adventure. Remember, while the Gold Souk might be a treasure trove, the true spoils are in the stories you’ll tell.

7. Dubai Frame

The Majestic Dubai Frame against a serene blue sky, showcasing modern architecture and cultural heritage.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Have you ever wanted to witness Dubai’s dazzling dichotomy between the old and the new? Step into the Dubai Frame, an architectural marvel that does more than just tower over Zabeel Park. This landmark, shaped like a colossal picture frame, offers a unique perspective, with one side framing the robust modernity of New Dubai.

At the same time, the other encapsulates the history of Old Dubai. Inaugurated in 2018, the Dubai Frame is a testament to the city’s rapid transformation. Its design symbolizes a metaphorical bridge between the emirate’s past and future.

Bold against the skyline, capture your moments in photo-ops that rival the breathtaking vistas from its observation deck. As you walk the glass-floored walkway, you’re suspended between a city’s legacy and the pulse of its ambition. This view focuses on the story of Dubai, a city that’s both a canvas for futuristic dreams and a shrine to its humble creek-side origins.

Whether you’re an enthusiast of spectacular architecture or a lover of enthralling views, visiting the Dubai Frame is where your next story begins.

8. The Green Planet

Alt text: The Green Planet Dubai biodome, eco-friendly architectural marvel with circular fixtures and curved glass window against blue sky.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine stepping into a lush rainforest in the heart of the Middle East. At The Green Planet, you’re not just walking into a biodome. You’re immersing yourself in the exotic wonders of a tropical haven.

As you explore, the air is alive with the calls of over 3,000 species of plants and animals. It’s an educational experience where conservation meets education, allowing you and your family to learn about the precious balance within these ecosystems.

This indoor rainforest is not just a treat for your senses; it’s a journey into understanding the intricate connections that sustain life. Each encounter is thoughtfully crafted to inspire and educate visitors of all ages. Grab the chance to become a custodian of nature, even if it’s just for a day, as you navigate this man-made marvel designed to celebrate and protect wildlife.

See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World

9. Dubai Marina

A panoramic view of the Dubai Marina waterfront with modern skyscrapers and leisure boats.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Imagine strolling by the water as the sun sets, casting a golden glow on the luxurious yachts at Dubai Marina. The area exudes sophistication, offering you an array of chic restaurants where you can indulge in diverse cuisines with a view. Hotels in the vicinity rise tall, promising comfort and splendid vistas of this vibrant district.

As night falls, the area’s nightlife pulses into life, with venues that boast ambient music and crafted cocktails—perfect for a memorable evening. Need a break from the buzz? Duck into a cozy coffee shop and watch the world go by.

  • Attractions: Luxurious yachts, captivating views, world-class dining
  • Experience: Top-notch hospitality, bustling nightlife, relaxing coffee spots

10. AYA

AYA Universe Dubai immersive experience with vibrant lights and visitors
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Aya Universe in Dubai is an interesting experience. I’ve recently grown in affinity towards immersive experiences from living in Amsterdam.

This spot is located in the city of Dubai, which is one of the first shopping malls of Dubai that features an Egyptian theme several hotels and luxury fine dining are located in the mall, which was a bit of a strange entrance to the experience because the mall has plenty of vacant spots so it’s a little unique but I arrived. It was a transformation to a whole different universe.

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