Dubai Itinerary: 7 Days
This Dubai itinerary is based on going for 7 days but could easily be stretched out if you want some down days in between, chilling at your hotel. Or you can condense it if you don’t have quite as many days. There are a lot of options of things to do in Dubai, after all it is a city built for tourists therefore below is a comprehensive itinerary to make the most of your 7 days in Dubai and complete your Dubai bucket list. If you need help finding accommodation, here’s a list of the best places to stay in Dubai.
Dubai Itinerary: 7 Days
Day 1 – Burj Khalifa And Downtown Dubai Sightseeing
Day 2: Discover Old Dubai & Visit Dubai Frame
Day 3: Dubai Miracle Garden & Global Village Or Skiing & Zipline
Day 4: Three Theme Parks & Waterpark All In One
Day 6: Visit the Palm, See Burj Al Arab & Go on a Dinner Cruise
Day 7: Water Sports & Desert Safari
Day 1: Burj Khalifa And Downtown Dubai Sightseeing
Dubai is famous for its jaw-dropping architectural splendors and engineering feats. And there is no better way to start your Dubai trip than with a visit to Downtown Dubai which is Dubai’s most modern neighborhood.
With loads of things to see and experience here, you can easily spend a whole day there.
Start off with an ascent to Burj Khalifa
This is not just Downtown Dubai’s showstopping highlight but also the world’s tallest man-made structure. Most visitors make it a point to visit the observation deck at the top of the Burj Khalifa on its 124th or 148th level or both.
This treats you with the unparalleled views over Dubai’s stunning cityscape, ocean, and desert. It’s ok if you don’t make to its observation decks; it’s still one of the best places to take pictures in Dubai.
Editor’s note: Burj Khalifa tickets are expensive, most things in Dubai are (and I say that as someone who frequents Singapore).
If you don’t have the budget to go up, as Neha says it is still impressive to see from the ground.
The tickets change price depending on the time of day too, and if you want queue jump ones, therefore if you’re not fussed about going up at sunset, or quickly, you can find more reasonably priced tickets.
I did go up at sunset something which was somewhat underwhelming since it’s the desert and so all you really see is a smoggy looking partially covered sun going down and then disappearing well before it hits the horizon. The main benefit of going at sunset is actually because then you get to see the city from above during the day and then all the sparkling lights below as night falls.
Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
At the bottom of the Burj Khalifa is the Dubai fountain show which takes place in the afternoons and evening.
This stunning spectacle of captivatingly choreographed water, light and music show is worth watching every time you visit Dubai.
If you want to take this experience to a whole new level, take an abra ride along Burj Lake to see it up-close and in detail (an abra is the word for Dubai’s taxi baots).
Editor’s note: the show is freeeeeeeeeeeee, something of a rarity in Dubai so you might as well go!
And it is also actually quite spectacular. I saw it in the evening which I think would be more impressive than the day time showing since you can see the lights more clearly then.
If you’ve spent an evening in Singapore before and seen their light and water show, you can expect more from the Dubai one.
Continue to Dubai Mall
Right next to Burj Khalifa is the Dubai Mall which is renowned as one of the world’s biggest malls.
While its 1,200 plus outlets cater to hardcore retail enthusiasts, its attractions including Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, KidZania Dubai, Dubai Ice Rink and aVR Park ensure that you’ll never have a dull moment here
Editor’s Note: I’m not sure how I feel about aquariums and so I wouldn’t be comfortable paying to go in one however it really is something impressive to see from the outside, right there in the middle of the mall.
There is a large section you can see without having to go in (it’s also just opposite a cheesecake factory ***drools***),
Step out for Enthralling Experiences
More attractions await you in the vicinity as you step out of the Dubai Mall. Right across from the light how is Souk Al Bahar which is reminiscent of a traditional Arabian bazaar however with a refined twist.
Looking for more unique experiences?
Check out Dubai Opera or hit the super glamorous sights across Downtown Dubai aboard a vintage-style double-deck tram; the route covers the whole of the downtown.
Top Tips for Day 1:
· Downtown Dubai is one of Dubai’s most posh neighborhoods. That said; it caters to every budget.
· There is a sprawling food court within Dubai Mall, where you can dine as per your pocket and preferences.
· You can access the massive tank and certain parts of Dubai Aquarium for free.
· For those looking to dine with a view, the region has a variety of dining venues overlooking Dubai Fountain, Burj Khalifa etc.
Day 2: Discover Old Dubai & Visit Dubai Frame
Today, expect an absolute shift in scene as you set out to explore the city’s quaint, old parts. It will be a complete contrast to what you’ve experienced on the first day.
Wander Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
This 19th century historical residential quarter is the oldest of its kind in Dubai. It’s a labyrinth of narrow streets, dotted all over with traditional, sand-colored structures topped with wooden wind towers. The majority of them are beautifully preserved and some converted into museums, art galleries, etc.
Editor’s note: This was by far my favorie area to explore as it felt the most authentic. The souq down by the water was great for souvenirs from scarves to.
Visit Dubai Museum
This museum is within the region’s oldest fort, Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787. From life-size dioramas and ancient dhows to distinct Bedouin crafts and archeological artifacts, the charming exhibits on display here will transport you to the Dubai’s pre-oil era, allowing you to experience the Emiratis’ age-old lifestyle.
Take an Abra Ride
This is one thing that you shouldn’t miss while in the old part of Dubai. An abra simply refers to a traditional wooden boat and a ride aboard them is one of the most amazing ways to experience Dubai Creek – the historic creek which divides the city into two: Deira and Bur Dubai. All you need to spend for this is just AED 1.
Explore Traditional Souks
The traditional Arabian bazaars across Dubai and Bur Dubai are real gems which let you experience the region’s authentic retail scene. Most popular among them is probably the Gold Souk which is definite to take your breath away with every store dedicated to gold jewelry.
Take in Views at Dubai Frame
Just about 10 minutes’ drive (from Bur Dubai) or 20 minutes’ drive (from Deira), Dubai Frame is a giant picture-like frame. The highlight is its sky deck with views over both Old and New Dubai. And of course, this is a wonderful alternative if you’re not able to afford Burj Khalifa entry tickets.
Top Tips for Day 2
· All attractions included above may not be at a walkable distance. But, you can easily get from one point to the other with the help of the metro or a cab.
· Old Dubai is particularly noteworthy for its multicultural culinary scene
· Souks across Deira and Bur Dubai are the places where you can experience bargain shopping in Dubai. Purchase gold, unique souvenirs and spices etc. at unbelievable rates.
· Pre-book your Dubai Frame tickets to avoid any hassle.
DAY 3: Dubai Miracle Garden & Global Village Or Skiing & Zipline
Option 1: Dubai Miracle Garden & Global Village
This is most recommended if you’re traveling to Dubai during winter months. Both are seasonal attractions and open only from October / November to April / May.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Right in the center of Dubailand is this 72,000-square-meter botanical wonderland, filled with millions of flowers and plants arranged in a staggering array of shapes, patterns and themes. In fact, this garden absolutely lives up to its name, as it’s a true miracle in the middle of the desert.
Global Village is unlike any other attraction in Dubai! It’s probably the only place where you’ll get to experience the cultures, cuisines and other specialties of about 80 countries under one roof, thanks to its over 30 pavilions representing different parts of the world. It’s at its best during the one-month long DSF (Dubai Shopping Festival) in December – January.
Editor’s Note: Global village feels a bit like going to a fairground, or winter wonderland for those from England, but with shops for each country of the world too!
Option 2: Ski Dubai and XLine Dubai
These are some cool experiences which are especially ideal for your summer trip in Dubai.
This is one of the most sought-after summer attractions in Dubai, with its super cool ambiance that is maintained at a consistent -4 degree Celsius all through the year. Rightfully so, you’ll get to enjoy all winter / snow activities imaginable here, from skiing and snowboarding to tobogganing and snow bullet ride.
This is especially for thrill-seekers who want to try something exciting during their Dubai holidays. The plus is that this zipline adventure (starting from JBR’s Amwaj Tower and ending at Dubai Marina Mall) allows you to experience the world’s longest and swiftest urban zipline.
DAY 4: Three Theme Parks & Waterpark All In One
If you’ve come to Dubai for its theme parks, then you shouldn’t miss the region’s first integrated resort with two accommodation options (Lapita Hotel and Rove At the Park) plus three parks, a water park and an exclusive dining and retail destination, Riverland Dubai. Main attractions to explore here are:
This Hollywood inspired park is the biggest of its kind in the region and brings you attractions based on the world’s three most iconic movie studios: Columbia Pictures, Dreamworks Animation and Lionsgate. There are five zones which collectively host over 40 thrilling movie-based rides, games and shows.
Bollywood Parks™ Dubai
True to its name, this is an absolute treat for Hindi movie buffs. It has five vibrant zones – each of them depicting rides and attractions themed around some of Bollywood’s all-time favorite movies such as Sholay, Lagaan, Don, Krrish, Rock On, and Dabangg.
Exclusively designed for families of kids from 2 to 12 years, it has over 60 fun-filled rides and exciting games arranged in its six amazing zones.
LEGOLAND® Water Park
Right next to LEGOLAND® Dubai is this one-of-its-kind water park in the UAE. The main highlight is its 20 plus rides and slides; Joker Soaker, Splash Out, LEGO® Slide Racers, and Build-A-Boat are just a few of them.
Top Tips for Day 4
· Pre-purchase your Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR) through a reliable service provider.
· Opt for a full-day, all park access pass if you wish to explore all parks in a day.
· That said, you can also book individual or two / three parks in one pass.
· If you wish to substitute DPR with other options, consider IMG Worlds of Adventure which is fully set indoors or visit Laguna Water Park or Wild Wadi Water Park.
Day 5: Abu Dhabi City Tour
Some of the United Arab Emirates’ most beautiful cultural attractions and architectural gems can be seen in the capital city of Abu Dhabi. Fortunately, this charming city is within a day trip from Dubai, just 1.5 to 2 hours away. Yes, you don’t have to pack or shift accommodation, as you can easily cover its main attractions in a day.
Subject to your interest, you can craft a full day Abu Dhabi program; make sure that you include attractions such as Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; Heritage Village; Yas Island’s Ferrari World , Warner Bros and Clymb Abu Dhabi; and Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum (Saadiyat Island).
Top Tips for Day 5
· If you’re traveling to Abu Dhabi for the first time, it’s highly recommended to sign up for a full day Abu Dhabi city tour organized by a reputable service provider.
· It comes with an experienced guide service and also includes roundtrip hotel transfers.
· But before you book, make sure that it covers all your favorite Abu Dhabi sights and attractions.
· As an alternative, you can visit UAE’s other popular emirates like Ras Al Khaimah.
DAY 6: Visit the Palm, See BurJ Al Arab & Go on a Dinner Cruise
Whether you’ve got a whole week or just a day in Dubai, be sure to include attractions in and around Palm Jumeirah in your travel program. After all, this man-made island, modeled after a giant palm tree with a crescent on its top, is one of the world’s greatest engineering feats.
Skydiving or a Helicopter Ride
You can go on a heart-racing skydiving adventure or a helicopter ride to take in the island in its entire grandeur. If this is not within your budget, take a monorail ride (from Gateway Station) or enjoy a drive across its stunning sights; it’s equally amazing.
Editor’s note: I really enjoyed the monorail ride as it allowed up to see how the palm really worked and get a view of more of the city.
Speaking of its attractions, one of the must-experiences is Atlantis Aquaventure within the imperial style resort of Atlantis, The Palm. It is packed with a whole host of fun and exhilarating segments including Aquaventure Water Park, Dolphin Bay, Sea Lion Point, and Lost Chambers Aquarium which is themed around the mythical lost city of Atlantis. Also, don’t miss the scenic waterfront promenade of Boardwalk.
Editor’s note: as I mentioned above I’m not personally happy giving my money to an aquarium. The water park looked amazing though.
Burj Al Arab
From Atlantis, you can take a short drive to Burj Al Arab, which is one of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, also distinguished as the world’s only seven-star hotel. While you can take some captivating selfies against its backdrop, you can make an entry to this opulent hotel by reserving a table at one of its dining venues.
Editor’s Note: If you’re staying at Jumeriah Beach or near there you’ll be able to see the BurJ al Arab from your accommodation.
Dhow Dinner Cruise
Finally, make your way to Dubai Marina to culminate your day with an unforgettable dinner cruise on board a traditional dhow. Dubai Marina is one of Dubai’s hotspots graced all over with uber contemporary style structures. And this dhow cruise promises you an unmatched vantage point to take in all. The bonus is great food and live entertainment on board.
Editors note: The dinner cruise we took when I was here was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip as they had a whirling dervish dancer come in and he was incredible!
Top Tips for Day 6
· As these attractions are not within walking distance it’s best to take the metro or hire a cab.
· There plenty of dining options in the area, including the food trucks along the Boardwalk.
Editor’s note: Cabs are one of the few things that are cheap in Dubai as the petrol is cheap!!
DAY 7: Water Sports & Desert Safari
Make your last day in Dubai the most memorable with a blend of exhilarating water activities and fun-filled cultural experiences.
Dubai’s gleaming waters are a haven for water sport lovers. Depending on your skill levels, you can choose to indulge in a variety of activities such as jet skiing, fly fish, banana boat ride, parasailing, flyboarding, and scuba diving.
As you set out on an evening desert safari, it’s certain to deepen your Dubai experience. Take in the thrill of a lifetime on a dune bash ride and further participate in an array of traditional activities at the desert camp. Ride camel, smoke shisha, get your souvenir pictures snapped in Emirati attire, and have your hands adorned with distinct Arabic designs. Continue with a lavish BBQ dinner and watch stunning performances like Tanura show and belly dance, before your unforgettable desert safari ends.
Editor’s note: Don’t miss going to the desert. It was incredible.
· Book water activities and desert safari in advance to ensure a hassle-free experience.
· For maximum savings, choose combo tour packaged with your desired desert safari and water activities.
Dubai Itinerary: Editor’s Bonus Tips
Safety in Dubai
This is the Middle East and while there is a Westen layer over the top of Dubai rules are still strict there and punishments for breaking them even stricter.
On the one hand that’s great as it means you can feel relatively safe as you explore on your 7 day itinerary and don’t have to worry about things like petty theft as much.
On the other hand though that means you need to be more conscious of your behavior than normal. While lots of foreginers visit Dubai and stay in the same hotel rooms when not married, this is technically illegal. As is drinking alcohol, unless you have a permit for it.
Aside from India, it’s one of the countries I’ve covered up the most while traveling. In India I did so primarily for my own safety, in Dubai it was primarily to stop people taking offensive, although I’m sure safety would be a factor too if showing lots of flesh in areas people aren’t used to that.
To cover up I just made sure my knees and shoulders were covered at all times while out and about.
Hotels in Dubai
If you’re going to spend your week running around to all the items in this Dubai itinerary it doesn’t matter as much where you stay. But if you want to balance out some of the siteseeing with chilled out beach lounging then your hotel choice will be very important.
The beaches attached to hotels are the areas where propriety in clothing is then suddenly dropped. It’s fine to sit on the beach attached to your hotel in a bikini or to wear a dress that shows shoulders to dinner in your hotel.
The most famous places to stay in Dubai are Atlantis the Palm (which would position you right next to their Aquaventure Waterpark), Burj Al Arab (It’s a 7 star hotel though so I really don’t know how many people’s budgets will stretch to that one) and the Jumeirah Hotels (these consist of Jumeriah Al Naseem Hotel, Jumeriah Beach and Jumeirah Al Qasr and are calmer than Atlantis which has a lot of children).
While it may look like Dubai is just fancy accommodation for hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a night there are actually some good budget friendly options too with cheap hotels from $50 a night and even beach front hostels with dorm rooms from $25 a night such as in The 7 Hostels.
Meaning, evening if you’re backpacking you could make Dubai work. And it’s the perfect place to stop of if traveling between Europe and Asia as so many flights go through there and some airlines, like Emirates, incentivise staying to explore on the way as well.
There are so many options of things to do in Dubai we’re sure you’ll have a wonderful time on your 7 Day Dubai itinerary. And once you’re back don’t forget to let us know what you enjoyed the most in the comments.
About the Author
Neha loves traveling and is an avid trekker and explorer. She has done her post-graduation in Mass Communication, loves meeting new people and strongly believes in the Gandhian principle “Simple living, high thinking”.
Read more on her blog Dubai Wikia or visit her on Facebook here.
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