Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo
Wild Wadi Water Park
DAY 1 – Dubai
Spend your first night enjoying drinks and dinner at a couple of the places on our Wine & Dine list. Good combos include Bar 44 and Mezzanine, Cin Cin’s and The Exchange Grill, or Vintage and Fire & Ice — Raffles Grill.
DAY 2 – Dubai – Deira City tour
If it’s sweltering outside, stay indoors and save your sweating till evening. Start the day with shopping and people watching at Deira City Centre. Cafe Chic is close by for a superb lunch; book the day before. Indulge in a spa treatment or work on the tan before heading out around 4pm for sightseeing and souk-shopping. Check out Al-Ahmadiya School and Heritage House, charming museums in historic buildings, before exploring the souks. Pick up our 24-hour itinerary where you left off yesterday.
DAY 3 – Dubai – Jumeirah – Burj Al Arab
Enjoy Jumeirah, an affluent area stretching from Satwa all the way to New Dubai. With its low-rise white villas, verdant gardens and opulent Sheikh’s palaces, it’s easy on the eyes, although for eight months of the years it’s too hot to stroll. Make do with an early morning dip in the Arabian Sea at Umm Suqeim, the public beach overlooking Burj Al Arab. Do a Jumeirah Mosque tour; book through the SMCCU and don’t forget to cover up. Afterwards, pop across the road to check out lively Open Beach (aka Russian Beach) then take a local bus to Madinat Jumeirah. Enjoy lunch overlooking the mythical Arabian architecture, Venetian-style canals, and Burj Al Arab (no escaping it) followed by an afternoon of shopping. Hit Bahri Bar’s verandah for sunset drinks before dinner at Pierchic, Tagine or Eauzone, followed by a nightcap at The Roof Top.
DAY 4 – Dubai – Helicopter Ride & Ski Dubai
Art buffs should spend a morning appreciating contemporary art at Dubai’s galleries (see our Luxuriate! list) or appreciate Dubai’s rather creative urban development by helicopter (HeliDubai). The postmodern Moroccan space at Almaz by Momo is perfect for lunch afterwards. In the afternoon, you could hit the slopes at Ski Dubai, take a spin around the track at Dubai Autodrome or float over the desert in a hot air balloon. Get down to earth in a hurry by exploring real Dubai (see our “Near the Beaten Track” list) and tucking into a sloppy curry at Ravi or grilled kebabs on Al Mateena Road.
DAY 5 / 6 – Desert Safari
Spend a couple of days kicking back at a desert retreat such as Al Maha Desert Resort or Bab Al Shams, ticking off those kitschy Arabian experiences we love such as the camel ride and henna tattoos. At Bab Al Shams, you’ll also get an Arabic feast with belly dancer. The desert scenery is sublime, and at Al Maha you’ll have the chance to spot rare Arabian wildlife. Expats and locals love these dreamy escapes as much as tourists do.
DAY 7 – Tour End
Seeing you’ve been so busy, you’d better spend your last day by the swimming pool working on that tan. But don’t forget to pick up that gold and diamond ring you had made, take delivery of the painting you bought, and decide which carpet you want (don’t forget to bargain). If you’ve got time, squeeze in another spa treatment or a walk in a park, and if you didn’t get to one of the restaurants on our list, you’d better make a reservation now.