One of the most popular cities globally, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, is filled with awe-inspiring landmarks that ooze luxury, history, and culture. All Dubai landmarks are an experience that one must indulge in when visiting this luxurious but small city.
The most defining feature of Dubai is the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, but apart from that, the city contains many cultural highlights and nature escapes. You can go from grandeur to history quickly in Dubai.
Dubai was not always the face of luxury. The Dubai of the past attracts tourists at the same rate as the new part of the city. You will find small glimpses of what Dubai used to be like among its tall buildings and stunning skylines.
From the grand shopping malls with everything from ski-slopes to world-class aquariums and museums that show the history of this great city, this Dubai guide will take you through all the famous landmarks in Dubai.
So get your pen and paper ready, grab a beverage to sit down with, and prepare to dive into what sights you should not miss on your next trip to Dubai.
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Using the map of Dubai, you can explore all the landmarks.
If you want to see the stark difference between the new and old Dubai, this Dubai landmark is the one for you. The Dubai Frame sits smack dab in the middle of the older neighborhoods and the modern part of the city.
It is a new addition to the skyline of Dubai and is a grand 150-meter-high picture frame. The Frame has quickly become one of the most important landmarks in Dubai, with tourists flocking to it to take memorable pictures.
Once inside, you will be greeted with a series of galleries that will take you through the history of Dubai and give you a chance to explore the heritage of the UAE.
On top of the Dubai Frame, there is a viewing deck that lets you take pictures of the city on either side, and you can end your visit here by visiting the Future Dubai Gallery - a museum that shows you what Dubai aspires to be in the near future.
A symbol of luxury, the Burj Al-Arab is one of the most expensive hotels in the Middle East and the world. It is located on its own artificial island and boasts some of the most costly rooms in Dubai.
The structure of the Burj Al-Arab was built to resemble a billowing dhow sail and is recognized as one of the famous buildings in Dubai. At night, a choreographed light show can be seen projected on the exterior of the building.
There is a Skyview Bar on the roof of the Burj Al-Arab where tourists can enjoy incredible panoramic views of the city and the sea. There is also an underwater restaurant that allows you to eat while surrounded by sealife.
One of the most luxurious places in Dubai, if you have a good amount of pocket change, this monument of Dubai is a great place to visit.
Tourists visiting the Dubai Mall can enjoy a full day of shopping in this magnificent building. The layout is massive, and even if you're not one to spend a lot of money on clothes and miscellaneous items, you will enjoy just wandering the hallways.
Filled with plenty of shops, the Dubai Mall is a symbol of luxury interspersed with all the brands you could ever want in one place. There is even a hallway dedicated to luxury brands on the ground floor, which is great to walk through.
The best attraction in the mall is the Dubai Aquarium. Inside the aquarium, there are more than 140 species of aquatic animals, along with sharks and rays.
One of the most famous buildings in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa stands 2,172 ft. tall, making it the tallest skyscraper in the world. It is known as the 'Jewel of Dubai,' and even if you live under a rock, you have heard of this famous landmark.
It is located in Downtown Dubai, next to the Dubai Mall, and has one of the tallest observation decks in the city. Tourists can travel to the 124th floor to marvel at the gorgeous views of the city down below from the observation deck.
On the way out after the observation deck, you can walk through the history of how the Burj Khalifa went from concept to construction and to the grand building we all know and love today.
A must-visit when you're in the city, one of the most famous landmarks of Dubai, is the Dubai Fountain. It is located on the human-made Burj Khalifa Lake and is right in front of the Burj Khalifa, next to the Dubai Mall.
It was constructed in 2009, and if you are lucky enough to catch a light show here, you will understand why it is so popular with tourists.
Every night, the Dubai Fountain captures onlookers' gazes with a water dance and light show. The water and light dance around to music playing from speakers all around you.
The Dubai Fountain is the largest performance water fountain in the world, and watching the light show will definitely make your Dubai trip that much sweeter.
Something for the history and culture lovers that visit Dubai, this museum is located in the old Al Fahidi Fort in Bur Dubai - one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.
The fort was built in 1787 and has been home to the ruling family, a seat for the government, and a prison. It now shows visitors what the UAE and Dubai looked like before the oil boom and the vast expansion that followed after.
Outside in the courtyard of the Dubai Museum, you will be able to enjoy several traditional boats and a palm-leaf house with an Emirati wind tower.
From musical instruments to old weapons, the Dubai Museum is a popular attraction for many tourists and is one of the most famous historical buildings in Dubai.
Al Fahidi Quarter is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Dubai and sits right next to the Dubai Creek. It was built in the 19th century and served as the home for wealthy Persian merchants.
It is located in Bur Dubai, which the locals refer to as the old part of the city. When you visit this area, you will be surrounded by buildings made of limestone and many walls topped with wind towers.
If you're interested in seeing what a slow-paced, old Dubai looked like, this is the place you need to visit. It is very popular amongst tourists coming to the city and has become one of the most famous historical landmarks of Dubai.
This part of Dubai will show you what the city looked like before modernization and oil fortunes came into play. Dubai Creek is famous for its markets, known as souks, and its surrounding area, including the Al-Fahidi neighborhood.
Dhow boats line the shores, full of goods ready to be exported to different countries. Souks here sell all kinds of items from all over Dubai.
The famous Gold Souk, Spice, and Textile Souks are in this area, which means you have access to a full day of traditional and expensive shopping. There are boats available to take you across the water to the other side as well if you'd like.
Located on the northern bank of the Dubai Creek, Deira Dubai is one of Dubai's most famous historical places. This is the part of Dubai Creek where most of the souks are located.
There is a Gold Souk with many shops filled with gold and other types of jewelry. The Spice Souk next to it will not only serve as an excellent place for you to discover some new spices, but will be pleasing to the eyes as stall vendors arrange everything in a very artistic manner.
There is a museum and sightseeing company here as well that takes you on an aerial tour of Dubai. Spend the whole day exploring this area of Dubai and end the day at the Deira City Centre Shopping Mall.
Not too far from the modern and clean lines of the city lies the Ras Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located along the Dubai Creek and includes the mangrove forests and wetlands nearby.
The Ras Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary is an excellent place for people that love nature, as you can spot several species of birds and flamingos wading through the lagoon.
Visitors can walk through the salt flats, intertidal mudflats, and mangroves to discover the different terrains and animals that live in these areas. Whether you love birds or have a soft spot for nature, this is one landmark in Dubai that you can't miss.
One of the most famous natural landmarks in Dubai, the Dubai Miracle Garden, is a place you need to see. It is 72,000 square meters in size and has over 150 million flowers across all its exhibits.
The Dubai Miracle Garden is the world's largest flower garden and features miniature versions of many different buildings either made out of flowers or covered in flowers of various kinds. They even have a flower version of the Burj Khalifa.
There is a three-domed butterfly garden in the Miracle Garden as well, where you can see all types of butterflies. There are also full-sized houses covered with flowers and a flower pyramid. Whether you love flowers or are amazed by art, this is a great place to spend an afternoon in Dubai.
The UAE has many theme parks, and each one of them will take you down a memory lane of shows and movies you have definitely once seen. This is what makes IMG Worlds of Adventure one of the most famous monuments of Dubai.
IMG Worlds of Adventure is located on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, next to the Global Village. It is an immersive entertainment park that caters to kids and adults alike.
One zone is dedicated to Marvel's iconic characters, while another is specifically for the wonderful world of the Cartoon Network. There are plenty of rides and attractions here that will make your day fun, whether you're traveling alone or with your family.
While many major landmarks in Dubai are open year-round, to be visited at anytime, the Global Village is an attraction that you can only visit from November to early May.
The Global Village is essentially a massive theme park that contains huge stalls representing different countries from around the world. You may even spot your own country and all its foods and clothes right in Dubai.
The Global Village is located right next to IMG Worlds of Adventure and is on Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Road.
A new attraction in Downtown Dubai, the Dubai Opera, is perfect for those looking to experience a little bit of artful entertainment while in the city. It opened in 2016 and can seat up to 2000 people.
There are year-round programs of opera, ballet, and concerts by famous musicians on offer, as well as well-known theatre productions and classical music concerts. They also host comedy shows and domestic productions.
The building itself is a contemporary architectural masterpiece. The walls are made of glass and steel, which reflect the water from the Burj Khalifa Lake, and again paying homage to the traditional dhow.
If you're in search of an escape from the modern feel of Dubai city, then Al Qudra Lakes is the place to head to. This desert oasis is a 30-minute drive from the city and is one of the most popular natural landmarks of Dubai.
The Al Qudra Lakes is a series of lakes set in the Al Qudra Desert, and it is one place that you will get a real feel of the desert that once stretched over the whole city.
You can see desert foxes and oryx in their natural habitat here, as well as over 170 species of birds. Some birds are even native to the UAE and are on the endangered species list, such as the Steppe Eagle and the Asian Houbara.
You will also come across several food trucks that offer different cuisines and snacks, or you can opt for a traditional Arab meal at Bab Al Shams resort.
One of the most famous malls in Dubai, apart from the Dubai Mall, is the Mall of the Emirates. It is a great place to visit to experience many different shops in a more manageable way than the Dubai Mall.
There is a new fashion wing covered by a glass dome that provides a nice place to sit and marvel at the architecture. However, the most popular attraction at the Mall of the Emirates is Ski Dubai.
Ski Dubai features a huge ski slope with chairlifts, along with a penguin enclosure, which is kept at a continuous temperature of -4 degrees celsius. Once you walk in, you will definitely feel like you've entered a ski resort.
Located on Al Khaleej Road in Bur Dubai, the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum is the perfect place to go if you want to see what historic Dubai was like. The museum takes you through the role that Dubai played as the trading link between the East and the West.
The museum has hundreds of artifacts on display from the Ubaids, Romans, Greeks, Babylonians, and other civilizations that passed through this region of the UAE.
There is something for everyone here, and history buffs will especially love the 7500-year-old bull-shaped vase and the 16th-century Kaaba curtain. Visitors can also enjoy the Rare Book and Manuscripts Museum and the Armory Museum.
One of the must-see historical sites in Dubai, the Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House, is a former residence of the Ruler of Dubai from 1921 to 1958. It has now been turned into a museum.
The original building was completed in 1896, but later demolished to make space for the house that stands there today. Inside, there are exhibits that show old photographs of Dubai from 1948 to 1953. The photos will give you a rare glimpse into what Dubai looked like before the oil boom.
The house is a masterpiece of architecture and is made in true Gulf style. You will be struck by its vaulted high-beam ceilings, sculpted window overhangs, and arched doorways as you make your way through the house.
One of the most interesting things that the Emiratis love to do is to make their own islands using intensive land reclamation methods. The Palm Jumeirah is one such artificial archipelago that was created at the edge of the Persian Gulf. It sits right next to another artificial archipelago, the World Islands.
The Palm Jumeirah is further divided into several islands known as the Palm Islands. These islands will expand Dubai's shoreline by a range of 520 km once completed.
Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Jumeriah, and Palm Deira are islands that you can go to, and each offers a different day adventure. There are hotels on each of these islands as well, which means you can stay here if you fancy.
Located on the Palm Jumeriah, Atlantis is a luxury resort hotel famous for being the first resort built on the island. It is one of Dubai's most famous landmarks, and it attracts scores of tourists every year.
The design of the resort is based on Greek mythology, but it combines Arabian elements as well. The hotel itself is divided into two accommodation wings, the east and the west tower.
The resort also includes the Lost Chambers Aquarium and the Aquaventure Waterpark, which has many rides and wave pools that are sure to keep you occupied and cool in the summer sun of Dubai.
One of the most famous landmarks of Dubai, the Dubai Marina, is a beautiful beachfront area surrounded by towering skyscrapers. The most popular part of the Dubai Marina is the Jumeirah Beach Residence section, also known as JBR.
JBR is right next to the beach, ironically called The Beach, and offers water sports and even an obstacle course that visitors can take part in. The views across the water are stunning, especially at sunset.
Along the beach, there are many different places to eat, all the way from fine dining to quick snacks. You can enjoy seafood and Turkish ice cream here while you walk along this beautiful part of Dubai.
If you're looking to spend the day admiring some contemporary art, put the Alserkal Art District at the top of your Dubai bucket list. It is part of the old Al Qouz industrial district, and it has fast become one of the most important landmarks in Dubai.
You will find some of the most important contemporary art galleries in Dubai here, like the Green Art Gallery, the Third Line, and the Ayyam Gallery. There are also smaller, more independent galleries showcasing art from lesser-known artists.
Another Asian landmark on the list that is centered around theme parks and family fun is the Dubai Parks and Resorts, a location where the fun never stops.
Within the Dubai Parks and Resorts, you will find Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, Legoland Dubai, and Legoland Water Park. You're really spoilt for choice here, and you should consider spending at least two days exploring all the parks.
There is an attached dining hub, Riverland Dubai, which has all types of cuisines available to end your day of fun with some fuel. It is located on Sheikh Zayed Road and will not take you more than 20 minutes from Downtown Dubai to reach.
Barjeel in the Arab language stands for wind tower, and that is precisely what you will see when you visit this famous landmark of Dubai. These wind towers were unveiled in 2019 as part of Dubai's Design Week.
The structure pays homage to regional traditions as these towers were used to keep the city cool before modernization came into play. The style of the building features geometric elements similar to Arab construction styles.
There are many mosques all over Dubai, but the magnificent Jumeriah Mosque is one of the more popular ones amongst tourists. It is one of the few in all of the UAE that allow non-Muslim visitors.
During the daytime, there are tours that guide people through what the Muslim faith is, and for people who are not too keen on religion, they go through the history and architecture of the mosque, too.
The Jumeirah Mosque is located on Jumeirah Beach Road, which provides a stunning background to the mosque's white stone exterior.
Dubai is known for its luxury and extravagance, but it also has so much more to offer. Many parts of Dubai will show you how the city was before the oil boom too.
There will never be a dull moment on your trip to Dubai, with its old neighborhoods with wind towers for air conditioning to the ultra-modern Alserkal Art District and more.
I hope this guide helped you discover Dubai to the fullest, and showed you the city in a new light that is not limited to the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena.
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