Dubai is not all shops and glitzy hotels, contrary to popular belief. This enormous desert metropolis is constantly attracting new visitors by adding significant cultural institutions, galleries, and design-focused shopping. There’s always the excitement of sliding between the high floors of a glass skyscraper or leaping into the world’s largest dive pool if you want an adrenaline rush. Almost anything is possible in this city, and we have a list to prove it: Here are some of our favorite long-standing and new things to do in Dubai.
Perched 200 meters atop The Palm Tower, this is the world’s highest 360-degree infinity pool. Aura Skypool not only provides uninterrupted views over the emirate, but also a one-of-a-kind pool day experience. The panoramic views of The Palm, the Burj Al Arab, and the gulf beyond from 50 stories up are an amazing opportunity to observe Dubai from above and change your viewpoint. Tickets start at around $46 per person for one of three sessions and should be booked in advance online.
As the only mosque in Dubai that’s open to non-Muslim visitors, the Jumeirah Mosque is popular with a range of travelers—it’s also the most photographed. Easily one of the most beautiful in the emirate, it’s crafted entirely from white stone in the medieval Fatimid style and particularly breathtaking at dusk. Visitors are allowed in six days a week (Fridays are for prayer), and tours are led by knowledgable guides who make the experience.
Deep Dive Dubai
With a depth of 60 meters, this is the world’s deepest pool. It contains 14 million liters of water and has a sunken city for divers to explore. Deep diving is only for certified divers, whereas snorkeling on the surface and scuba diving up to 12 meters can be done by anybody over the age of 10. Deep Dive Dubai is a must-try experience because it also serves as the region’s largest underwater film studio, with 56 cameras and the ability to create various moods. Tickets are necessary and can be ordered in advance or online.
Ain Dubai is 75 meters taller than the London Eye, making it the world’s tallest observation wheel. The wheel, which stands 250 meters above Bluewaters Island, provides panoramic views. Not only is it visible from various parts of Dubai, but it also appeals to a wide range of people, including schools, businesses, families, visitors, and locals. Tickets for rides on the structure are available at the venue or online.
Dubai Spice Souk
The spice market in Dubai is undoubtedly the most interesting of the city’s souks. It’s frantic, with enticing sights and aromas. The same items are sold by many of the vendors: Persian dried limes, saffron, barberries, rose hips, and typical Middle Eastern spice mixtures. Saffron is more affordable here than elsewhere in Dubai, despite its high price. The souk, which is part of a complex that includes three Jumeirah hotels and a nearby waterway, contains stalls selling anything from spices to handcrafted lanterns, clothing, souvenirs, and everything in between. There are also two dozen indoor and outdoor restaurants, as well as some of the most breathtaking views of the world-famous Burj Al Arab hotel. Entrance is free, however parking and abra-style water taxis are not.
XLine Dubai Marina
XLine Dubai, one of the world’s longest, steepest, and fastest urban zip lines, takes you belly-up across roads, buildings, and swimming pools in Dubai. Riders soar from the Jumeirah Beach Residence to Dubai Marina at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, passing by once-in-a-lifetime sights along the route. It’s even possible to ride in tandem with buddies.
Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
This charming area provides an insight into Dubai prior to the formation of the Emirates in 1971. The twisting alleyways and walks are lined with traditional structures made of stone, palm wood, gypsum, and teak—history and architectural buffs will enjoy getting lost here. The neighborhood offers a peaceful respite from the city’s traffic and skyscrapers, and the maze of roads gives the impression of being in a hidden town.
At the Top, Burj Khalifa
Unsurprisingly, the world’s tallest structure can be seen from practically anywhere in Dubai. Taking in the sights from the street is exciting enough, but you can also go to the top of the 160-story behemoth—be prepared for the adrenaline rush of the high-speed elevators, followed by pure wonder when you step onto the observation deck. Purchase tickets for a certain time window in advance online. The majority of first-time visitors to Dubai take the elevator to the top.