Before physically visiting Dubai, it is not quite obvious how vast the city is. Generally, people divide the city into two main areas: the old Dubai and the new Dubai. But there are actually many districts, all with very different atmospheres. To help you find your way around them during your trip, I'll now let you discover the districts of Dubai in this post!
DEIRA, THE OLDEST DISTRICT OF DUBAI
Deira is the oldest district of Dubai. Located west of the creek, it is easily accessible from the city center thanks to the Green Line of the metro of Dubai – but also thanks to the abras, small traditional boats that cross Khor Dubai and that are still used to this day.
Deira is one of the two districts of Old Dubai. It is known for housing most of the city's souks such as the Gold Souk, the Spice Souk and the Naif Souk in which you can find a wide variety of products. You can go on a guided tour of the Deira Spice Souk to learn all about the products available!
In this authentic district, you will discover an amazing historical and cultural heritage. Additionally, it is also home to some of the cheapest hotels in the city.
This is a very modern area located in the heart of Dubai. It is a large-scale, mixed-use complex and one of the most touristy places in the city, home to some of Dubai's most famous landmarks – such as the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest tower), the Dubai Fountains, the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Opera
There can also be found the Souk Al Bahar, a very luxurious covered market, more modern than the traditional souks of the city. The area is also home to some very popular luxury hotels. Downtown Dubai is one of the most accessible areas of the city, which you can reach by taking the subway’s Red Line and getting off at the Burj Khalifa or Dubai Mall stations.
Sheikh Zayed Road
Sheikh Zayed Road is the city's main thoroughfare and is part of the E11 highway that connects to Abu Dhabi from Dubai. This major thoroughfare begins in the heart of the city and is actually an extension of Downtown Dubai.
This grand thoroughfare is home to some of the city's most iconic buildings such as the Rose Tower, a 1,092 feet high skyscraper (333 meter), or the Millennium Tower, one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. The Burj Khalifa Tower is also located nearby.
BUR DUBAI, THE HISTORIC DISTRICT OF DUBAI
Just across the Dubai Creek from Deira, Bur Dubai is Dubai’s historical center. In the small streets of this district, you can make many beautiful discoveries, admire traditional houses and visit the textile souk – which is still to this day one of the most authentic places in the city.
Bur Dubai is also the perfect place to make some cultural visits – especially to the Dubai Museum, which is located in the oldest building of the city: the Al Fahidi Fort. The district is home to other interesting sights such as the House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum and the Sheikh Mohammed Cultural Center, in which you can learn a lot about the history and culture of the emirate.
Just like in Deira, it is possible to find accommodation here much cheaper than in the more modern and posh districts – to spend a pleasant stay in Dubai without breaking the bank.
Dubai Creek Harbour
Dubai Creek Harbour is a modern and new district of Dubai, and still in full development. It is set to become one of the city's most popular new tourist areas, and the district that beats all the records.
At the moment, this area is best known for the Dubai Creek Harbour Tower, which is destined to become the world's tallest new tower, as well as the Dubai Creek Harbour Mall – also destined to be the world's largest shopping mall.
Another recent district that reflects the constant development of Dubai is Business Bay , a modern central business district with many large towers that house offices, but also more residential areas as well as establishments dedicated to entertainment.
This is where the Dubai Water Canal is located – it connects the old city of Dubai to the Persian Gulf. This artificial river is lined with many fancy restaurants and luxurious hotels. Some of the city's most beautiful architectural buildings can be seen here, such as The Opus, a state-of-the-art building that houses offices, residences and a large hotel. Business Bay is also the place to see La Perle by Dragone, one of the most popular and impressive water shows in the UAE.
Dubai Marina is located in the heart of the modern part of the city. For a time, this district was called "New Dubai". It is a very residential area, well served by public transport and where almost everything is within walking distance. It is home to one of the city’s largest shopping malls – the Dubai Marina Mall.
Dubai Marina is best known for two things: first the beautiful buildings that line the bay, and second the many luxury yachts that can be seen there.
Moreover, The Cayan Tower Tower, the highest spiral tower in the world, is also located here.
In this district, you will be able to do many activities such as boat tours, a zip line ride (the Xline Dubai Marina), a visit to a water park (Aqua Fun Park) and many more! If you are interested in a luxury yacht cruise, you can book one by clicking on the button below 😉
Jumeirah Beach Residence
This area, often referred to as JBR, is located just across from the Dubai Marina, along the Persian Gulf coast. It is largely residential, but also one of the most popular areas for tourists due to the beauty and quality of the facilities found here, as well as for its perfect beachfront location.
Jumeirah Beach Residence is a lively area that is home to The Beach, a large and popular beach lined by The Walk, a promenade with many cafes, luxury stores and restaurants.
As with all the upscale areas of central Dubai, the hotels here are mostly high-end.
Jumeirah Lake Tower
The Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) is a large residential district in Dubai. It consists of 80 towers constructed along the edges of three artificial lakes, and is located right next to the Dubai Marina, on the other side of the famous Sheikh Zayed Road. It is a largely residential area, with a quieter atmosphere than can be found in the surrounding areas – but still home to some interesting sites.
This district was developed around three large artificial lakes. It is home to many restaurants, some of which are among the most famous in Dubai – and there are also many shops, cafes, as well as a large green area popular with sportsmen.
Here, it is possible to find hotels that are a little less luxurious (and therefore a little more affordable) than those in Dubai Marina or JBR, and offer very nice views of the skyscrapers and the marina.
PALM JUMEIRAH, DUBAI'S ICONIC DISTRICT
Here’s one of the most iconic districts of Dubai! Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree – and a project of enormous proportions. This island has greatly contributed to the emirate's worldwide fame: it is home to some of the city's most popular resorts, such as the famous Atlantis Hotel – possibly the most luxurious 5-star hotel in the world.
Many activities are available on the island, including scuba diving, water skiing, snorkeling, kayaking ... But there are also several great attractions on this island, such as:
- Palm Fountain, the largest fountain in the world;
- Atlantis Aquaventure Park, a hugely popular water park;
- The View at the Palm, a viewing platform located 240 meters above sea level that offers a unique view of the islands and the city;
- The Pointe, a long seaside promenade;
- The Nakheel Mall, a luxurious shopping mall with the world's biggest brands;
- Palm West Beach, a beach lined with many restaurants – perfect for relaxing and swimming;
- Al Ittihad Park, a green space with a beautiful variety of plants and trees, all native from this region of the world.
Palm Jumeirah is an area well served by road and tunnels, and which can therefore be easily reached by car or public transport. For very touristy activities such as the Atlantis Aquaventure Park, I advise you to book your tickets well in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises (such as the tickets being sold out on the day you wish to go!)
BLUEWATERS, DUBAI'S NEWEST DISTRICT
Bluewaters is one of the newest districts in Dubai. It is located off the marina and like Palm Jumeirah, it is built on an artificial island. It is connected by a 300 meter long pedestrian bridge to The Beach, in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area.
Bluewaters is a very modern district with a few residences and many shops. The main attraction on this island is Ain Dubai, the world's largest observation wheel, which has quickly become one of Dubai's must-see tourist attractions. From the observation wheel’s cabins, it is possible to see the entire Bluewaters island as well as some of the tallest buildings and attractions in Dubai. All around this wheel you can find shopping centers, many restaurants and even a souk.
As you might have guessed, the hotels in this area are often very luxurious. This is where the Caesars Palace of Dubai is located, in particular.
Dubai Media City
This central district of Dubai is located right next to Dubai Internet City. This is where almost all the headquarters and offices of the city's major media are located (press and advertising agencies, websites, TV channels...). But beyond that, it's also a very lively and festive area, where you will always find something to do.
The big attraction here is the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre – it’s the largest open-air stage in Dubai, where many concerts, shows and special events are organized.
Dubai Media City is very easy to reach by public transport.
Al Barsha AND Barsha Heights
Al Barsha is a district located in the new Dubai part of the city – in the south of Dubai. It is a modern and well connected district, known for being very commercial: that’s where you can find the famous Mall of the Emirates, for one.
This incredible mall is home to nearly 600 stores and boutiques, but also many entertainment venues and even a ski slope! It's the perfect place for both shopping and entertainment in the heart of the city.
To get to this district, you only have to take the subway’s Red Line and get off at the Mall of the Emirates station – one of the largest stations in Dubai's transportation network. Al Barsha is a lively district with a very pleasant atmosphere, where you can also find many restaurants to taste all the local specialties
Barsha Heights is an area of Al Barsha that is home to a few more affordable hotels, which will suit people traveling on a relatively tight budget. This part of the city is also home to Dubai Miracle Garden, the largest natural flower garden in the world.
Mirdiff is a rather posh district, close to the airport of Dubai. It is a bit different from the other modern districts of the city, because here you won't really find any big buildings. It is a district where you can find a lot of stores, some shopping malls and parks as well as green spaces that are particularly appreciated, such as the public park of Al Mushrif, in which you can find a zoo.
With the expansion of Dubai, Mirdif has become a popular residential area for families and expatriates. Many people from Europe and South Asia live here. It is also a popular place for people who work in Sharjah, but still want to live in Dubai.
That's it for this article on Dubai districts, I hope you enjoyed it and that it will help you find your way around during your trip to Dubai! And by the way, if you still don't know where to sleep in Dubai, don’t hesitate to read my article on this subject 😉