While Dubai is not the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi is, do not underestimate this towering city's ability to take you to new heights. People often stop in Dubai for a layover, which is a shame as it has so much more to offer than just shopping and beautiful skyscrapers. So if you have two, three or 4 days in Dubai (or more!) coming up, then look no further than this itinerary for some ideas on how to make the most of your time there.
Dubai is a city of ambition, remarkable growth and maybe a little megalomania as well. It attracts many tourists every year for several different reasons. Whether it's to see the tallest building in the world (the Burj Khalifa), go on a desert safari or explore its many various souks (marketplaces), you can count on not getting bored here.
This 2 Days in Dubai Itinerary focuses on the downtown area of the city and its creative side. It also includes some shopping in Deira exploring its different souks on the first day.
So many wonders exist within this relatively small part of Dubai, and not surprisingly, it is also the most visited area by tourists.
On your first day in Dubai, you’ll admire some of Dubai's most magnificent and creative architectural pieces, have a chance to see the surrounding landscape, watch the famous dancing fountain show and have time for some shopping.
The Deira district in the city is a great area to go for some shopping. Here, you will find lots of different souvenirs, clothes, expensive jewellery, cheap ornaments, decorations and more.
The most exciting thing about shopping in Dubai is that you can often combine it with exploring exotic Dubai souks, which are traditional open-air Arabian markets. The souks are quite distinctive and a unique contrast to the overall modern vibe of the city.
The Burj Khalifa is a huge glass skyscraper that will be the first thing that hits your view the moment you arrive downtown. This astonishing piece of architecture is the world's tallest building, standing at 828 meters tall over the city.
The building features expensive restaurants, including the option of high tea 'up high' in the sky, and also two observation decks that are a great viewing point for the surrounding desert and ocean.
If you are looking to learn more about this building, its history and construction, consider taking a Burj Khalifa Tour.
Another impressive, yet much smaller building, is located to the West of the Burj Khalifa - the Dubai Opera. The Dubai Opera was opened not too long ago in 2016. It can fit up to 2,000 people and is used to host a variety of different events, such as plays, ballets, opera concerts and various exhibitions.
Despite being attached to the biggest shopping mall in Dubai, this Souk still retains its Arabic atmosphere by featuring stores you’d expect in a typical Arabic market, such as antique, carpet and other local product shops. Additionally, its beautiful royal interior and waterfront dining makes the shopping experience here much more pleasant and relaxing.
There’s nothing better than watching a spectacular and colourful water show, and the Dubai Fountain delivers just that! Come watch the world’s most fabulous dancing fountain perform a spectacle set on the Burj Khalifa lake. The spectacle does not only include water and lights, but the designers also incorporated the entire Burj Khalifa into the show.
Interestingly, the Dubai Fountains were designed by the same company that created the famous Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.
Bur Dubai is the oldest souk in Dubai and is a little less product-oriented than the rest of the markets on this itinerary. Everything you may have ever needed or wanted can be found here, from exotic textiles to knock-offs of famous brands. This market also has an impressive richly-carved wooden roof.
The Spice Souk is a haven for cooks and food-lovers everywhere. Anyone who’s ever tried Eastern Cuisine knows how aromatic and filled with spices it can be, and this colourful Souk provides great insightful (and fragrant) reasons for this.
The whole market has many different ingredients, such as spices, herbs and nuts, which will up your food game instantly. In other words, make it delicious!
When you step into Dubai's most famous Souk, you’ll realise that it wasn't just randomly given the name 'Gold Souk' for no reason. The Gold Souk is indeed overflowing with glittery gold jewellery and products.
No matter what type of gold ornament you desire, you should be able to find it here. Even if you're not interested in buying jewellery, this Souk is still a must-see for its beautiful, shiny and extravagant appearance. For this reason, this Souk is best to visit in the evening.
Don’t let the name of this Souk fool you as under the broad term ‘perfume’, it includes basically anything that has an aroma, like perfumes and essential oils.
The Perfume Souk is especially attractive to those who’d like to find out more about traditional Dubai ‘Oud’, which is worn by both men and women. It is a smell you'll recognise after spending only a couple of days in the city.
As mentioned above, Dubai is known for its creative design, but the city has much more to impress you with than just its buildings. So on the second day of this Dubai weekend itinerary, you’ll move on from the busy city centre to a much calmer beachside. You'll also travel through beautiful landscapes, both natural and human-made, as well as see even more modern architecture.
In a city full of creative ideas and brave, impressive projects, obviously, there has to be a population/street/neighbourhood of artistic souls somewhere. And indeed, many of these artistic souls can be found on Alserkal Avenue.
Alserkal Avenue is the centre of the Al Quoz District, which is known to be the Art District of Dubai. This street provides excellent insight into Dubai’s artistic culture through its numerous art galleries, events and pop-ups.
Here comes another example of Dubai's exceptional architecture - the iconic Burj Al Arab. The Burj Al Arab was not built to be the tallest, but to look like the sail of a cargo vessel... which it does! It is also not in the middle of the buzzing metropolis, but looks over the crystal clear water instead.
Despite Burj Al Arab's iconic look, Palm Jumairah island is probably the most well-known example of the city’s innovation and originality. This artificial palm tree-shaped island covers an area of over 5 sq. km and has many fancy and family-friendly hotels and restaurants.
Walking along the Palm Jumeirah Broadwalk, you can taste the local cuisine from multiple food trucks. Jumeirah Beach is also nearby if you fancy feeling some white, soft sand between your toes.
To finish off the day, spend your lovely cool Arabian evening exploring the busy beachside boulevard known as JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence). You can pass the time here by sitting at the bars or restaurants, doing some final shopping (if today is your last day), or admiring the blue ocean/Dubai’s impressive architecture.
If you’re a cinematography fan, you can also enjoy a movie at the open-air cinema.
Dubai is just one of the few major cities to explore in the United Arab Emirates. There are also many things to do in Abu Dhabi and other places in the UAE, so more than a few days is warranted when visiting the country.
This article was first published on Jun 9, 2019 14:15 UTC.
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