Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirates, is the largest city in the country with nearly 1.6 million inhabitants. Capital of the emirate in which it is located, the emirate of Dubai, it is not the political capital of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi). Discover my tips for visiting Dubai as well as the essentials of a visit to the city of excess.
Dubai remained a small city in the Persian Gulf for a long time, living mainly from fishing, until 1950 when the discovery of oil propelled the city into the 21st century.
Back from Dubai with pictures in my head, I can’t tell you the countless things I discovered there. I will, however, try to show you around Dubai as best I can by introducing you to the things that have impressed me the most as uk citizen working in dubai
REACH THE CITY CENTRE OF DUBAI FROM THE AIRPORT
First step of your trip, reach Dubai city centre from Dubai airport. First of all, a quick word about Dubai Airport, the third largest airport in the world, aims to become number one in a few years’ time. The airport sees nearly 80 million tourists each year. They were only 25 million 10 years earlier. There is a good chance that you will land and take off from this airport if your stay is dedicated to visiting Dubai. Don’t be afraid to arrive early to catch your flight back, you won’t be bored in this huge airport.
The airport consists of 3 terminals. The 1 for international flights, the 2 for low cost flights and the 3, the largest terminal in the world, mainly hosts the famous A380s of the local airline: Emirates.
To reach Dubai’s city centre from the international airport, there are several options available to you.
First of all, public transport. This will be the cheapest way to reach Dubai’s city centre from the international airport.
There is a bus service that serves many stops in central Dubai. These buses are accessible from Terminal 1 (via lines 4, 11, 15, 33 or 44) or from Terminal 2 (via line 2).
The second solution, a little simpler, is the metro. This one serves terminals 1 and 3 of Dubai airport. It reaches the city centre in 10 to 20 minutes depending on where you want to go. The price of the metro in Dubai is very affordable.
As in all airports, many taxis are available at the airport exit, offering to drive you to the city centre or to your hotel. Moreover, if you wish to reach your hotel directly after landing, do not hesitate to ask it if it does not have a shuttle (sometimes free) between Dubai airport and the city centre.
Another solution, certainly one of the easiest and least stressful and to book in advance your private shuttle that will take you to your hotel. This solution is certainly not the most economical, although it will only cost you about ten euros, but it is certainly the most practical. This will save you valuable transportation time to visit Dubai as soon as possible.
VISIT DUBAI, SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE
Before I tell you about the visit of Dubai itself, I share here some practical information that is always useful before a first visit to Dubai.
What is the best season to visit Dubai?
As for the season, the best months to visit are from November to March. It is between 20 and 25 degrees, ideal temperatures to visit the city but we will talk about the different seasons to visit Dubai a little lower.
Do you need a visa to visit Dubai?
For entry formalities, no visa is required to enter Dubai (or rather the United Arab Emirates). A simple stamp will be added to your passport!
What is the currency used in Dubai?
The currency of Dubai is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED), 1 AED is equivalent to about 0.2 euro.
Is there a time difference between France and Dubai?
Yes, there is a 4-hour gap between France and the United Arab Emirates.
How long does it take to get to Dubai?
Travel time between Paris and Dubai is about 6:30 am to 7 am.
FLIGHT FOR DUBAI
If you want to go to Dubai via a direct flight, you must choose Air France or Emirates airlines.
Of course, many airlines serve Dubai but it will take a stopover before you get there. The price of a flight to Dubai varies between 300 and 400 euros on average. Flights with stopovers are often cheaper.
HOTELS IN DUBAI
Dubai is full of hotels. From the small hotels of Old Dubai to the huge hotels of The Palm Jumeirah, there is a lot to choose from in Dubai…
On the budget side, prices are rising fast, especially if you want to sleep in a 5-star hotel! Booking your hotel quickly helps to avoid paying too much. As soon as you have your flight, remember to find your hotel…
To enjoy the beach, choose a hotel in Jumeirah or The Palm. If you are in Dubai for only 2 or 3 days and you want to visit Dubai mainly, choose a hotel in Downtown Dubai or Deira instead.
USEFUL LINKS TO VISIT DUBAI
To finish this practical part and to have more precise information about Dubai, I recommend you to consult these websites:
Advice on entry / security formalities in Dubai: Ministry of Foreign Affairs on UAE
Book a flight to Dubai on Emirates: Emirates
Complete guide to prepare your trip to Dubai: Dubai Travel
VISIT DUBAI: WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI? THE ESSENTIALS OF A VISIT TO DUBAI
No doubt, in Dubai you will not be bored. Wanting to take the place of “the world capital of tourism”, Dubai does not lack unique places to visit. We’re going to start our city trip with what revealed Dubai to the world.
Burj Khalifa is of course the fashionable place in Dubai, the number 1 in Dubai where you will absolutely have to stop during your stay in Dubai. Burj Khalifa is indeed a tower 828m high with more than 160 floors. This tower is the highest in the world. It has indeed set many records. You will find, for example, the fastest elevator in the world (40 km/h). Despite some controversy over the working conditions of employees, nearly 12,000 people participated in its construction.
This tower is located south of old Dubai in the downtown district of Burj Khalifa, just next to the Dubai Mall and opposite the Dubai fountain with its highest water jets in the world. A short parenthesis on these fountains which offers you at a fixed time a real sound and light show not to be missed under any pretext.
This tower is open to visitors, you can buy tickets for around 30 euros. If you can, do not hesitate to buy your tickets in advance on the internet. This ticket will allow you to go to the 124th floor, 425m high or 125th but also to the 148th floor. Be careful with earaches during the ascent, the speed of the elevator is quite impressive. You will then access a terrace with a view of Dubai and “The World”. In the distance you will see Palm Beach and Burj Al Arab. Discover my article on my visit to Burj Khalifa
PALM JUMEIRAH AND ATLANTIS HOTEL
This famous palm tree drawn on the water consists of 16 palms and a trunk. It mainly houses villas and hotels for a total of nearly 10,000 inhabitants. Don’t be fooled by appearances, the images are quite misleading, this “artificial palm tree” measures nearly 11 km in diameter for 5 km long. At the end of the palm tree you will find the luxurious Atlantis hotel, with its gold dispenser and rooms overlooking the aquarium. The best ways to get there are, without a doubt, by taxi or single rail.
A great way to discover this palm tree but also its surroundings and book a helicopter flight. You will be able to enjoy a breathtaking view of Dubai.
VISIT DUBAI: BURJ AL ARAB
Dubai symbol the Burj Al Arab (Burj meaning “Tower” in Arabic), was built in 1993. This tower is actually a seven-star luxury hotel. 321 m high, 38 floors, it has long been Dubai’s highest used building. It is placed on an artificial island specially designed for the hotel. Famous for its very particular shape representing a sail, this luxury hotel is forbidden to visitors. You can nevertheless enter it by booking to have tea for a price around 70 euros or dinner there.
A less expensive solution to discover Burj Al Arab but also Palm Jumeirah is to approach it by boat. Indeed, a boat trip is a good way to contemplate these emblematic sites of Dubai at a lower price.
THE WORLD IN DUBAI
Another impressive construction of Dubai, the World Islands or The World. The World is a set of artificial islands representing the world. Between 250 and 300 islands are under construction, these islands will be sold later on, villas will be built there. These are only visible from Burj Khalifa, thanks to a helicopter tour or, according to the architect, from the international space station.
DUBAI MALL: THE LARGEST SHOPPING CENTRE IN DUBAI
Dubai Mall and Ski Dubai are two of the city’s most popular places. Dubai Mall, located at the foot of Burj Khalifa, is the largest shopping centre in the world. More than 1200 shops, an aquarium, waterfalls, an Olympic skating rink… It is a place worth visiting, it has many records of all kinds, such as the largest acrylic panel in the world that overlooks an aquarium. Dubai Aquarium, let’s talk in a few moments. The visit of this aquarium is a real must for a visit to Dubai.
DUBAI AQUARIUM AND UNDERWATER ZOO
Visiting the Dubai Aquarium is like meeting more than 33,000 aquatic animals on the third floor of a huge shopping centre. Among these species you can admire rays, sharks and other equally impressive marine species. A 48-metre long glass tunnel invites you to a spectacular underwater walk. A boat trip with a transparent bottom or a swim with sharks, the experience will leave you with unforgettable memories!
In view of the crowds of people attending this activity, we strongly recommend that you book your ticket in advance, so you can enjoy a queue-cut ticket and you won’t waste any time.
Back in this famous Dubai Mall. You can easily get lost in this real labyrinth. Many cafés and restaurants are at your disposal. Unlimited and free access to Wifi is very convenient if you do not have an internet connection. Depending on the length of your stay, I advise you to go for a walk and leave at the end of the day, you can admire the magnificent spectacle of the water jets and illuminated burj khalifa. These water jets are also a record for Dubai with the highest water jets in the world, just ahead of Las Vegas.
Another atypical place in Dubai is Ski Dubai. Located in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai’s second largest Mall, Ski Dubai is a real ski slope.
SKI DUBAI: THE DUBAI SKI RESORT
Skiing in the middle of the desert seems inconceivable to you? Yet the Mall of the Emirates contains the first covered ski resort in the Middle East. The 3,000 m2 dry ice park consists of five slopes for all levels, as well as a free area for snowboarding. You can also go down in a ringo, or sluice buoy, for even more thrills. Ski Dubai is a very fun activity for children but also for adults. Here too, queue cutting tickets for the Dubai ski resort will be recommended..
WILD WADI WATER PARK IN DUBAI
Let’s now discover two of Dubai’s must-see attractions that will delight children! Fill up on the thrill of challenging gravity through some of the world’s most extraordinary attractions! Try surfing, confront the eye of a cyclone and slide down a slide at 80 km/h, all in an oriental fairytale setting. This state-of-the-art water park provides entertainment for the whole family and also offers quieter activities, such as a relaxing buoy ride or a sound and light show. If you stay several days in Dubai then spending a day in this water park can be a good thing especially if you travel during the hot periods of the year.
Dubai’s second largest water park – the Waterpark Aquadventure! The largest water park in the Middle East is the perfect place to escape the heat of Dubai with your family. If you’re looking for adrenaline, the Leap of Faith is a must. This almost vertical slide throws you into a tube in the middle of the sharks! The Aquaconda is an opportunity to sail at high speed on a five-person buoy. After so many emotions, relaxing on the beach in an exotic setting will be welcome. Of course the goal is not to discover all the water parks of Dubai but choosing one of them is a thing to do. You can book your tickets for the waterpark aquadventure on the internet in advance.
VISIT DUBAI: THE ESSENTIAL EXCURSION IN THE DESERT
Dubai’s proximity to the fine sand dunes gives rise to a host of activities. If you’re looking for the thrill, you’ll never get tired of going up and down steep slopes in a 4×4 or quad. Then, you will join a traditional Bedouin camp for a typical dinner and a night under the stars. Sandboarding on the famous Big Red is one of the most fun activities. What could be more original than taking a ski lesson on the dunes? Finally, take a camel ride to observe the fauna, before closing the day with a local meal and a belly dance show.
Visiting Dubai is also visiting its marina. The Marina District in Dubai is one of the most beautiful districts in the city. The marina is the largest in the world, with nearly 200 buildings, some of the most beautiful in the world. Walking along the marina is very pleasant, the canals surrounded by buildings offer a unique view.
THE OLD DUBAI: DEIRA AND BUR DUBAI DISTRICTS
Old Dubai corresponds to the historic districts of Dubai. The 2 main districts of old Dubai are Deira and Bur Dubai. They are located in the northern part of the city, on the banks of Dubai Creek, a stretch of sea that flows into Dubai.
These 2 districts are among the must-see places during a visit to Dubai. And this, in particular for:
the souk of Old Dubai and in particular the most famous, the Spice Souk and the Gold Souk (gold jewellery)
the traditional architecture of many restored buildings
a crossing of Dubai Creek by abra (traditional wooden boat)
Fort Al Fahidi located in the Bur Dubai district, which has been transformed into a museum
These 2 districts are served by several metro stations. It is therefore easy to get there by public transport. It takes a big half day, or even a whole day if you want to visit the museum, the souk, make a small crossing in abra for example.
Old Dubai is also full of small restaurants where you can eat cheaply. In short, it is a place to discover in Dubai. Don’t miss these 2 neighborhoods.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN DUBAI?
Both a state and a city, Dubai is constantly expanding towards the desert. Each of its neighbourhoods has its own atmosphere and culture. This quick guide will help you to easily find accommodation in Dubai:
VISIT DUBAI: HOW TO GET AROUND?
Dubai, claiming to be the world’s tourism capital, is not to be outdone in terms of transport.
To visit Dubai you must use a means of transport. You will therefore have the choice of travelling by taxi at very reasonable prices. There are many of them in this city, and they regularly stop by the roads offering tourists who are a little too reckless to make their journey easier. Indeed, the distances are quite impressive and misleading. We quickly find ourselves having to travel 5 or 6 km to go from one part of the city to another under heat sometimes difficult to bear.
Another means of transport, the metro, which you will find in different parts of the city, will take you to the tourist attractions connecting the city centre to Palm Beach.
Buses are also available. If you decide to use this means of transport, you can enjoy the air-conditioned stops.
WHEN AND WHEN TO VISIT DUBAI?
With its arid subtropical climate, Dubai can withstand temperatures of up to 50° from June to September. From May to the end of October, rain is rare. Thus, the ideal time to visit Dubai is between November and April, with a thermometer reading no more than 28° in the afternoon. When it comes to events, don’t miss the Dubai International Film Festival, whose mission is to be open to all cultures. Filmmakers from the Arab world are also presenting their latest works, proving that the Middle East has many talents. As for the gastronomic festival, it takes place at the end of February to discover the emirate’s cuisine with its feet in the sand. At the same time, the jazz festival takes place, which is intended to be international in scope. Enjoy the summer season with the Dubai Summer Surprises. The shops offer interesting sales and many activities are available for families. On the program: sand sculpture, puzzle game, video games and many more!
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