There are so many activities in Dubai that it would be impossible to list them all here, and of course impossible to do them all in one trip to Dubai.
Nevertheless, I offer you my list of the most popular, fun and extravagant activities in Dubai that I have tried during my different stays in Dubai.
I even give you some good tips to book some of them at the best price - as you probably already know, most of these activities are quite expensive in Dubai!
MUST-DO ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI, THE GREAT CLASSICS
You would need at least one month to discover all of the emirate. And to think that I often hear my friends telling me "ah but there is nothing to do in Dubai..." !
So if you only have a short stay, here are the best excursions and activities to do, the ones I recommend to focus on first!
1. the Burj Khalifa, THE FIRST ONE !
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in Dubai... and in the world (828 meters)! It is therefore unthinkable to come to Dubai without climbing at least once to the top of this iconic tower! For me, it is THE activity in Dubai that it is impossible not to do during a first stay!
The Burj Khalifa offers from its two observatories a breathtaking view.
You can either choose the classic visit to "Burj Khalifa At the Top", which is located on the 124th and 125th floors (there is even an outdoor platform!); or the VIP visit to the second platform, closer to the top, "Burj Khalifa At the Top Sky" on the 148th floor. This platform is more of a private lounge with beautiful glass windows, and snacks are included.
No matter which one you choose, you will enjoy a 360° panorama of the city and you will realize its immensity and, if the weather is not too humid, its proximity to the desert. By the way, if you don't know when to go to Dubai I have a complete article on the subject 😉
Be careful though, this experience is very popular (despite its high price: $45-56 for the "At the Top" ticket and $102-147 for the "At the Top Sky" entrance), and is even a star attraction. Therefore, if you would rather avoid the line at the entrance, it is absolutely necessary to book your tickets in advance! Otherwise, you won't be able to find a ticket on D-day by going directly there to buy one.
Moreover, by booking your tickets, you will even be able to book the best time slot for the visit, namely the one that will allow you to watch the sunset over Dubai. You will have the chance to admire Dubai by day and by night: it's just sublime!
For me, this is the activity that you cannot miss in Dubai! And if you have the opportunity, choose the late afternoon slot to enjoy the sunset over the city.
2. THE DUBAI AQUARIUM, AN UNDERWATER ZOO IN THE HEART OF A SHOPPING MALL!
Dubai owns the biggest shopping mall in the world, the Dubai Mall. And in the heart of it exists a gigantic aquarium that you absolutely must visit (especially if you have children!). Even if you can see most of the fishes from the hall, I still advise you to buy a ticket to see all the species. Especially since this visit includes an underwater zoo that can't be seen at all from the lobby of the Dubai Mall.
You'll have to pay around $34 to see the 33,000 fish and aquatic animals at the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo and walk through its long and incredible underwater tunnel. You'll have to pay more if you want to take a clear-bottom boat ride over the aquarium, dive with the sharks or feed the animals.
My advice: There is a "combo" ticket that includes the visit of the Burj Khalifa + the Aquarium. The two monuments being side by side, it will allow you to optimize your time and while saving money at the same time since the "combo" ticket is less expensive than if you take each activity separately. More information by clicking here 🙂
3. DINNER CRUISE IN ABRA
During one of your evenings in Dubai, let yourself be tempted by a dinner cruise. There are several choices: you can either board a traditional boat, a abra/dhow, or opt for a beautiful yacht with a panoramic view. You can also enjoy a cruise with a buffet dinner or prefer a table service. Not to mention that cruising is possible both in the heart of the marina and in the old Dubai.
Your choice will surely depend on the occasion you wish to celebrate on board, and on your budget!
4. IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE, AN INDOOR THEME PARK
The IMG Worlds of Adventure is the largest indoor theme park in the world (16.1 million square feet, or 1.5 million square meters). There are all kinds of attractions for all ages (many roller coasters and simulators) but also stores and restaurants in different areas: the world of "Marvel" and superheroes, the world of "Cartoon Networks" (for the little ones), the dinosaurs of the "Lost Valley"...
5. Legoland Theme Park, THE THEME PARK OF THE LEGO UNIVERSE
The Legoland Theme Park in Dubai is a great adventure for children between 7 and 12 years. It offers them about 40 attractions, including many construction games and rides. They can build Lego cars, see miniatures of the region's major monuments and visit a Lego factory! An activity that older children will love too!
By booking online, you will often have the possibility to benefit from a discount on the entrance fee and to have the "cut-file" access included, something that will not be possible to obtain if you buy your tickets in person on D-day. Moreover, by booking in advance, you will be sure to have a place and that you won't have to wait once arrived 😉
DUBAI'S WATER PARKS
The weather in Dubai is hot, very hot! So if you feel like cooling down a bit, I recommend you to spend a day in one of the water parks of the city. For me, the Atlantis Aquaventure is the most interesting if you have a family, while the Wild Wadi Waterpark is best if you are only with adults.
6. Atlantis Aquaventure, THE TOP WATER PARK
Located on The Palm Jumeirah, next to the huge Atlantis The Palm hotel (it's actually part of the resort), Atlantis Aquaventure is probably the most impressive water park in Dubai. It is also the most famous and newest water park in the city.
Everything is there: better than the real thing decors, a giant wave pool, big slides (one of which goes through a pool full of sharks), a river to go around the park in a buoy, a zip line...
Note that if you are a resident of the Atlantis Hotel, you will have free access to this park.
7. Wild Wadi Waterpark, FOR THRILLS
If you like real thrills, the Wild Wadi Waterpark, near Madinat Jumeirah, is the place to go. You will find many different attractions (about 30) such as a 120-meter long slide, a surfing station or a river whose currents will make you spend a pleasant moment with your family.
Staying in one of the Jumeirah hotels will also give you free access to the park.
8. Legoland Waterpark Dubai
Located in the south of Dubai (next to Legoland), this park is a perfect world for Lego lovers. Initially designed to stimulate the creativity of children from 2 to 12 years old, this water park offers many attractions for all ages: wave pool, river rafting, slides...
The good plan: There is a ticket that allows you to access two parks on the same day.
You can choose between: Legoland, Motiongate, Bollywood parks & Legoland Waterpark. If you want to visit both parks (Legoland & Legoland Waterpark), this could be a good compromise 😉
More information by clicking here.
9. OR YOU CAN GO JET SKIING!
Among the water activities you can practice in Dubai, there is of course the jet ski. It is one of the most popular activities because it allows you to discover Dubai from another angle.
If it's your first time, go near the Burj al Arab, which is one of the best places to discover Dubai by jet ski from the Gulf. Whether you're alone or a couple, book your jet ski rental today for the best price.
DESERT EXCURSIONS: ONE OF MY FAVORITE ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI
10. HOT AIR BALLOONING OVER THE DESERT
If you really want to live an unforgettable experience, I recommend you to go to the desert and take a hot air balloon ride. Many agencies offer this kind of excursion, with the possibility to combine some other services with it, like a small safari in the desert. Generally, you get picked up early in the morning at your hotel (the return trip is of course included), then brought to the desert where the balloon is awaiting you.
Once on board the balloon, you will realize that Dubai is really at the doors of the desert and that said desert is immense and magnificent. You will just have to immortalize these magical moments: the first rays of the sun playing on the dunes, the colors of dawn... This memory will remain engraved in your memory forever!
Expect between $260 and $397, depending on the provider and your chosen formula (safari, night in the desert...).
11. 4X4 DUNE TOUR
If you go to Dubai without visiting the desert at least once, you'll really regret it. Especially since it's only a few miles outside the city!
So do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the most popular excursion in Dubai's desert: the 4x4 ride. Spending a few hours behind the wheel of a big car to tackle the desert dunes will certainly do you good. But don't venture out on your own with your rental car, because driving in the sand is not easy! Preferably, opt for the offer of an experienced service provider. This way you will have a great time without risking getting lost or stuck.
Most of these desert excursions cost around $56 and include various activities: dune tour in 4x4, sandboarding, Arabian coffee, short camel ride, falconry demonstration, henna tattooing, ...
Some activities are only available as an option during these excursions, so you will have to pay a supplement if you wish to do them: quad bike tour, buggy, ...
Pick up from and drop off at your hotel or any other location of your choice is also included.
12. A NIGHT UNDER THE STARS
To experience the vastness of the desert and the beauty of its landscapes, you will need to spend more than an afternoon in the desert! After a 4x4, quad or camel ride, let yourself be tempted by an evening under the stars in the Dubai desert!
Expect on average between $80 and $136 for this type of excursion. A rather interesting price, considering that having dinner in the dunes while sitting by the fire, and spending a night in a camp will surely be a highlight of your stay... and of your life!
Note that you will also have the possibility to sleep in a luxury hotel in the heart of a protected reserve, if you opt for this option. This will allow you to see gazelles and oryx...
UNUSUAL ACTIVITIES IN DUBAI
Everything is possible in Dubai, you will quickly come to realize it!
13. SKIING IN DUBAI IS POSSIBLE!
You're probably wondering how it is possible to ski in Dubai when the average temperature is over 86°F all year round? Well, it is in the Mall of the Emirates, a gigantic shopping mall, that you can try the indoor skiing adventure! This is one of the really atypical activities you can do in Dubai 😊
There is indeed an indoor ski resort, le « Ski Dubai » with 5 slopes of different difficulties and lengths (from beginner to black slope). Ski, snowboard, freestyle and sledging enthusiasts have a great time there.
So if you feel like skiing in the middle of the desert, count on about $56 for a 2-hour session. You will also be able to buy an unlimited access pass for the day, if you so wish. And you will be able to participate in other activities proposed by the mall: the complex proposes for example a swimming session with penguins. The activity is rather expensive but in the city of excess, how to resist?
PS: Don't forget to put a knit cap in your suitcase (the ski equipment is provided)!
14. ZIPLINING BETWEEN SKYSCRAPERS AS WELL!
If sliding down the 490-feet-long (150 meters) zipline at the Mall of the Emirates isn't enough fun for you, let yourself be tempted by the Dubai Zipline, the world's largest urban zipline! !
The XLine Dubai is a descent - to be done alone or in pairs - of about 3,250 feet (one kilometer) starting from one of the "Amwaj towers" (560 feet high - 170 meters) with a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) above the marina and between the skyscrapers of Dubai.
This experience, unique in the world, will cost you about $170 per person.
15. HELICOPTER FLIGHT OVER DUBAI
A helicopter flight over Dubai: there is nothing better to realize the immensity of the city and its unique architecture! You will first see the alignment of skyscrapers along the Sheikh Zayed Road, with the Burj Khalifa dominating the city and the impressive Burj al Arab hotel dressed on its island. Then you will see the blue of the Gulf and the ochre colors of the desert in the distance.
This excursion in the air is certainly is certainly not for all budgets but it is an impressive activity that you must experience at least once in your life! Moreover, you can choose between several formulas (of 12, 17 and 22 minutes with prices ranging from $180 to $340).For example, choose the 12 minutes tour: it is affordable and will allow you to see the main part of Dubai, such as the old Dubai, the Burj Khalifa and the coast, with The World Islands. On the other hand, if your budget allows it, opt for the 22-minute flight, the most complete tour of Dubai. You will then see the famous Burj Al Arab, the Dubai Creek, the Palm Jumeirah or even the camel race track.
16. BOAT RIDE ON THE FAMOUS DUBAI FOUNTAIN
The Dubai Fountain which sits at the foot of the world's tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, offers spectators a light and sound show several times a day.
You can watch it for free from the edge of the fountain, but if you want to see the show even closer, opt for a ride on the fountain in an abra (a traditional boat).
This is a brand new activity in Dubai and places are limited, so I suggest you book your seats before you go due to the popularity of this activity. Especially if you want to do the ride at night!