Plentiful of sunshine, endless desert sands, fascinating architectural landmarks, vibrant heritage, unbelievable shopping and dining choices and the coolest of their kind in leisure activities – there are loads of things that make Dubai a vacationers’ favourite. Whether you are heading to Dubai to spend a relaxed long weekend or just want to take a break from your daily grind, you can be assured of returning home refreshed. So how about spending three days in Dubai? Continue reading for a local’s guide to touring this world-renown desert oasis!
Day 1: Discover Dubai’s Traditional and Modern Aspects
Highlights: Half-Day Dubai City Tour, Burj Khalifa Tour, The Dubai Mall
With very limited time in Dubai, it is wise to explore the region’s must-sees on a guided sightseeing tour. Take your pick from the flexible hop-on, hop-off Big Bus Tour or a more personalized Dubai city tour arranged by an experienced travel agency.
Whichever you opt for, make sure that it covers all of the city’s prime spots and attractions, from parts of Old Dubai (such as Al Bastakiya Quarter and traditional souks across Bur Dubai and Deira) to the iconic ever sights along Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah and Sheikh Zayed Road (Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Mosque, Atlantis and The Palm are a few to mention).
Note from Lauren: If you’re feeling bougie enough for a luxurious splurge, Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab is an iconic choice. It costs a whopping $150 USD per person with an amazing assortment of dainty sandwiches, scones, teacakes and more, but the view from your fancy table makes this experience one of a kind. It was definitely a memorable experience for us having High Tea at the opulent 7-star hotel!
Afternoon to Evening
Dedicate your rest of the day to explore the Downtown Dubai area. This is hands down the country’s most stylish neighbourhood where you get to see some of the world-renowned and record-breaking attractions. Ascent the world’s tallest building as you make your way up to the At the Top Observation Deck on Burj Khalifa’s 124th level or 148th level. Following a super-swift elevator ride, get ready to treat yourself to the most spellbinding 360 degree views of the city.
Another definite must-see is The Dubai Mall – the biggest of its kind, it has over 1200 retail outlets and some 200 dining choices. Not to mention its vast array of amusement and edutainment experiences, from the Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo and VR Park Dubai, to Ekart Dubai, Dubai Ice Rink and KidZania Dubai.
Before you leave the place, grab one of the best spots to watch the remarkably choreographed Dubai Fountain Show wherein water twirls and twists in perfect harmony of light and music. The fountain performances run every thirty minutes from 6pm to 11pm daily so you definitely won’t miss it visiting The Dubai Mall in the evening!
Day 2: Get Active With Sand, Snow and Water
Highlights: Sunrise Desert Safari, Ski Dubai, Waterparks and water sports, Palm Fountain Show
Dubai is an absolute delight for fun and thrill seekers. So today, be prepared to unleash your insane and adventurous side.
Start your day off right with an early morning desert safari. This gives you a first-hand look at the sun brightening up the region’s desert sands. That’s not all. It promises you a thrill of a lifetime, with activities such as 4X4 dune bash, quad biking and dune buggy rental.
What’s more, you will even get the chance to ride a camel. The whole experience won’t last for more than 2-3 hours, which means you will have ample time for other activities.
Mid-Morning to Evening
It is well worth utilizing this time to visit one of Dubai’s astonishing theme parks. There is the largest of its kind IMG Worlds of Adventure and the region’s first of its kind Dubai Parks and Resorts where you can enjoy four parks at one location. You can further choose to get wild at Dubai water parks like Aquaventure Waterpark, Laguna Water Park or the latest AquaFun Dubai.
Note from Lauren: Most of Dubai’s water parks (Atlantis Dubai, Wild Wadi Dubai, Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai) have the famous trapdoor water slide where a door drops open right beneath your feet and you experience free fall for a moment before hitting the water at high speed. (Anyone reminded of Emperor’s New Groove “Pull the lever, Kronk!”?) My brother and I had a blast sliding down Poseidon’s Revenge at the Atlantis’ Aquaventure waterpark.
Photo from Flickr
Now if you want to forego the usual theme park fun, just find your way to Ski Dubai – this snow-themed destination is nothing short of a winter wonderland with the finest facilities made available for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, etc. It is also home to a massive snow park where you can be part of the coolest of its kind, rides, activities, and experiences. Most of all, don’t miss to catch up with the adorable Gentoo penguins.
For water sport aficionados, a Dubai visit is incomplete without going in, on or under the water. Head to Marina or Jumeirah area where you can sign up for your most preferred water activities such as jet skiing, a speed boat tour or deep sea cruise. Looking for extreme water adventures? You can’t go wrong by choosing fly boarding, wake boarding, wind surfing, etc. You can further add a fun twist to your adventure ride with Fly Fish, Banana Ride or Donut Ride. Want to fly over Dubai’s gleaming waters? Definitely opt for the parasailing tour.
Now that you are in the Jumeirah area, don’t retire for the day until you watch Palm Fountain Show. Located at the Pointe on the man-made island of Palm Jumeirah, this brand-new show may be similar to the Dubai Fountain Show but is grander, more vast and regal. After all, it is the world’s largest fountain!
Photo by Neha Singh
Day 3: Go Beyond Dubai and Enjoy a Dhow Cruise
Highlights: Abu Dhabi City Tour and Dinner Dhow Cruise
Morning to Evening
The stunning sights and sounds make it irresistible to stay put. That said, a quick day trip to Abu Dhabi will reveal you a different side of the UAE that is modern, traditional and scenic all at once. Just about a 2-hour drive away from Dubai, it is the country’s capital as well as the largest city. And one of the best ways to get an overview of all city sights is to go on an Abu Dhabi city tour.
It leads you through the bustling yet charming Date Market and introduces you to Abu Dhabi’s ultimate leisure and entertainment spot at Yas Island which holds attractions such as Ferrari World, Yas Water World, and Yas Marina Circuit to name a few. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is also an iconic landmark, equally stunning as the Louvre in Paris.
You will also get to make brief stops at the imposing Emirates Palace Hotel (plenty of photo ops here), Abu Dhabi Corniche, and most importantly the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is the region’s largest and one of the world’s most breathtaking mosques.
Want to explore the unrivalled natural beauty and cultural charm of the place? Add a mangrove kayaking tour or visit attractions such as Qasr Al Hosn, Qasr Al Watan, etc.
Once you are back in Dubai, travel straight to your dhow cruise location at the stylish Dubai Marina or the quaint Dubai Creek (famed for its historical sights). You will likely be welcomed with a complimentary drink before boarding the vessel. Settle yourself into its fully enclosed and air-conditioned lower deck, or more ideally move to the partly-open upper deck.
As the dhow sets sail, admire the magical nighttime allure of Dubai from water. This lets you witness Dubai’s spectacular sights from an unperturbed and marvellous standpoint. In fact, there is no better way to conclude your Dubai holiday than with a leisurely, 2-hour dhow cruise dinner. Enjoy your buffet experience with traditional live performances such as the Tanura show while you set sail for your final night in this glamorous Arabian city!
So that rounds off our 3 days in Dubai itinerary! There is never a dull moment in Dubai even if you choose to visit the place during the harsh summer months (thanks to its attractions like Ski Dubai). But whenever you plan to visit the UAE, be sure to do a bit of planning; it will take you a long way while allowing you to maximize savings and make the most of your Dubai visit.
Neha is a travel blogger who enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and learning about the local culture and food. Born and raised in India, she developed a love for culture, exploration and mountaineering, and moved to the UAE as she set on her pursuit to become a travel writer. She is always looking forward to visiting new places and likes to play tennis in her spare time. You can find Neha’s other amazing posts on Dubai at dubaiwikia.com!