19 Feb Things To Do in Dubai This Winter
Dubai is now in the top 10 most visited cities in the world, thanks to its shopping, sunshine and luxury lifestyle.One of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, oil originally powered Dubai’s economy. These days, tourism is the major money maker, which is partly why it’s also home to some of the world’s biggest and best hotels.And yes, it’s also known as being a bit of a playground for the wealthy – but there are also plenty of things to do, like hitting the beach and malls, that cost very little.So find out what all the fuss is about with our guide for things to do in Dubai over a long weekend break.
Icons of Dubai
1. Visit the world’s tallest building
As of 2016, the Burj Khalifa is the holder of nine world records. This magnificent building is 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) high and has a whopping 160 stories. It’s the tallest free-standing structure and the highest outdoor observation deck in the world.Book ahead for the observation deck “At the top” as this is one of the most popular attractions – most people spend an hour and half here.
2. Watch the Dancing Fountains
The world’s largest dancing fountain is one of the best free attractions in Dubai.They do both a daytime and evening show where 22,000 gallons of water flies through the area, expertly choreographed to music, at heights of up to 450 feet.Many bars and restaurants have great views of the displays, and there are also viewing galleries specifically for it.
Shopping in Dubai
3. Marvel at the mega malls
There are 96 malls in Dubai – and shopping is just part of it.You can go skiing in the Mall of the Emirates or visit an aquarium at The Dubai Mall. The mega malls are essentially mini-cities, and you can eat, drink, shop and play here – and easily spend the whole day in one.They all have different attractions inside, as well as themes and decor, so if you have time, try and visit a few of them.
4. Barter in the souks
If you prefer to haggle rather than just hand over your credit cards, Dubai’s souks make for a more soulful shopping experience.There are several, but if you were going to hit only one – the Gold Souk is your best bet – it’s the largest (and shiniest) in the world.You can also take walking tours of the souks if you want to learn a little more about their history.
Eating and drinking in Dubai
5. Have a drink in a brilliant bar
Barasti is a great bar, right by the beach. It’s a popular spot all year round, with live music and DJs. They also show sports on the big screens.As the weather’s bound to be good – you can also find more outdoor bars at the Irish Village, again often with live music.
6. Have a cocktail on a rooftop
Dubai has a thriving rooftop and high-rise bar scene.The Uptown bar in Jumeirah Beach Hotel is very stylish. They have different offers every night, a weekday happy hour, and, as they don’t take reservations – you should be able to get a walk-in spot when you arrive.The Observatory in the Marriott Harbour Hotel is on the 52nd floor. You can look down on the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina, as well as across Dubai, while you sip an well-made cocktail (see below for food options).
7. Check out Dubai’s dining scene
Also in the Marriot hotel, but on the 5th floor, is The Croft, a lovely British restaurant with great food and service.The steaks in the Manhattan Grill at The Grand Hyatt by the Creek are awesome, although they don’t come cheap.Pier 7 is a relatively new Marina development. It’s got about 5 restaurants and bars above each other all with different themes and all with cracking views of the water.
8. Have a loooooong brunch
The week begins on a Sunday in the Middle East, so Friday is Dubai’s Saturday. This is the time to go and try one of their legendary brunch experiences.Choose your destination depending on who you’re with, as there are some family-friendly versions and other more boozy alternatives.Most brunches are afternoon affairs and can last up to five or six hours – so you might want to pace yourself.
9. See some of the major music and entertainment acts
Dubai is firmly on the world music map now, big-name stars play in the open air throughout most of the year.Check the Dubai Events Calender to help time your trip with all the major music and sporting events.
10. Dance until the small hours at a super club
While the top clubs in Dubai generally only get mentioned when a Premier League footballer is spotted partying hard there when they should be training – Dubai has become a clubbing destination to rival Ibiza.Rave next to the waves during the day at Blue Marlin Ibiza, which has outdoor terraces and live music, or dance with a view at People by Crystal which has two floors.
11. Play a round at a top golf course
There’s certainly no problem finding enough sand to fill the bunkers here. Dubai even has British-style links courses out in the desert.If you want a huge challenge, start with the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club and play in the natural desert landscape.This is the home of the Dubai Desert Classic, now one of the biggest professional tournaments in the world, and a challenging 72 par (Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods are among the past winners).
The Jumeirah Golf Estates has some outstanding courses, and the Earth Course is very well regarded – being the home of the DP World Tour Championships and the famous Race to Dubai.Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson (who is now an ambassador for the club) and Lee Westwood have won here.If you have time, YAS in Abu Dhabi is an hour drive away. It was also the first links course to be built in the Middle East.Probably the best value golf course in the Middle East is the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club (it’s about 30 minutes drive north of Dubai).They’ve got a brilliant 9 hole floodlit course if you want to play a game in the cooler temperatures.
12. Visit in December for some world-class rugby
The three-day Dubai Rugby 7s is part party, part competition – it’s a smaller and quicker version of rugby.The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is played here and there’s also a women’s tournament running alongside it.The fancy dress party is one of the highlights of the social calender – see website for details on tickets.
13. Take in the tennis
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships usually takes place in February and March and sees the big names in the men’s game play it out.
14. Or watch the arrows fly
Usually darts is played indoors, but in Dubai they do things differently. To watch some of the major players, head to an outdoor oche.
15. Have a flutter on the world’s richest race day
You can see top class horse racing at the Meydan Racecourse – home of the $10m Dubai World Cup.The season runs from the end of October to the beginning or March, culminating in the big race.
16. Get yourself wet at a water park
Dubai has some really good water parks to try – you could easy spend a half day there.Jumeirah’s Wild Wadi has thirty rides, including the Burk Surj and the Wipeout and Riptide where you can have a go at body-boarding and knee-boarding.It’s cheaper to book online and if you’re staying at one of the Jumeirah hotels, you get free access (although the length varies depending on which one you stay at).If you’re also fan of theme parks, then Dubai is hoping to give Florida a run for its money when the world’s biggest theme park opens in August 2016.
17. Have a go at some watersports
Specialist centres often cater for lots of different sports, so you could try paddle boarding and jet skiing at the same time for instance.There are also some random things to try, like an air-conditioned self-steer submarine shaped like a shark.If you want to combine water and taking to the skies, have a go at flyboarding (sometimes called jet blading). Find out more about Dubai watersports here.
18. Cruise down Dubai Creek in a Dhow
Spend a restful hour on a traditional sailing boat cruise down the creek.It’s worth taking a Dhow cruise during the day, as this gives you a different perspective of Dubai. However you can also go for a more romantic evening cruise, which you can combine with a meal and entertainment.Cruises often come as part of a city tour.
19. Hop on an Abra
Take one of the water taxis across Dubai Creek like the locals – they’re very cheap and take about 20 mins to cross.
20. Relax and sunbathe on the beach
Dubai has miles upon miles of beaches (and unsurprisingly, sand).Some of the beaches are for hotel guests only, although you can pay a fee to get in. However there are plenty of free beaches, like Sunset Beach.
21. Swap the beach sand for the desert
A high-octane Desert Safari is a must – as you drive up and down the gigantic dunes in an off-road vehicle.The driving experience is usually teemed with something cultural in the evening – like watching belly dancing and eating traditional food.You can also book camel rides or have a go at sand-boarding on the dunes as well.
22. Take a tour
If you’re pushed for time, think about booking a half day or full day tour.Your ticket should include trips to the Dubai Museum, guided tours of the souks, a Dhow cruise and a sightseeing bus taking you out to some of the famous landmarks.
23. Relax in a spa
If you’re staying at one of the luxury hotels, chances are they’ll have a top class spa.The Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel’s Talise Ottoman Spa has the largest hammam in the Middle East and there are 42 different treatment rooms – so you might want to reserve a half day for the perfect pamper.
There are many South Indian restaurants in Dubai. Please visit Appam Corner restaurant to taste our South Indian recipes