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One day in Dubai. Things to see and do

The shining jewel of the desert, with its outlandish architecture, mind-blowing leisure activities and the world’s most luxurious hotels; Dubai is in a league of its own. Leaders in innovation, Dubai is home to some of the world’s record-breaking attractions, such as the tallest building, tallest hotel, largest indoor ski resort and largest shopping centre. It’s even served up the largest cup of hot tea. It’s safe to say Dubai is a leader in technology, architecture and real estate. So, with only one day to experience it, there’s no time to waste.

Dubai is a stopover dream with Dubai International Airport only a 46-minute metro ride away. If you’d like to make the most of the sights and delights of Dubai, it can be much quicker to drive. Hire a car and drive the 15-minute journey into the heart of the city. This suggested itinerary showcases some of the best things to do in Dubai and will give you an insight into the city’s historic past as well as its tantalising future.


Stepping out of the airport for the first time into a sprawling city of towering skyscrapers, wondrous sights and unbelievable attractions can be a little overwhelming. But, there’s more than meets the eye in this metallic paradise. Look beyond the gleaming success of its record-breaking sights and take the opportunity to explore more.

Get to grips with this urban playground and discover the buzz of the underground art scene that hums through the streets. One of the best places to discover this is along the City Walk, where international artists have been commissioned to transform the urban quarter into an outdoor gallery. Artists includes the UK born sculpturist Slinkachu, New York’s yarn enthusiast Magda Sayeg and French graffiti pioneer, Blek Le Rat. 

As well as soaking up the art, the City Walk is also brimming with restaurants, cafes and eateries for all budgets. With Indian, American, French, Italian, Turkish and Kuwait restaurants, all serving up tasty cuisine, you’re sure to find something to enjoy, that’s perfect for brunch.

Peer up at the skyline to spot the shadowing Burj Khalifa in the near distance, located in Downtown Dubai. From City Walk, it’s just a seven-minute drive, or a 30-minute walk, to the world’s tallest building. Standing at a mammoth 828 metres high, it took six years to construct the skyscraper in all its elegance. Take a trip up to the observation deck at either the 124 or 125 levels or go up further to the knee-trembling level 148. Experience unparalleled panoramas of the gleaming city in its entirety, against the vast desert and sparkling coast.


Escape the heat of midday and explore one of the world’s most lavish and exciting shopping destinations. At the foot of the epic Burj Khalifa, the bustling Dubai Mall is an attraction in itself and a popular hotspot for shoppers, foodies and explorers. Venture inside the sprawling Dubai Mall where something unique lies around every corner. Spanning over 3.77 million sq ft, it’s the largest shopping centre ever built. With dancing fountains, an exotic aquarium and an underwater zoo as well as over 1300 retailers shops and boutiques, there’s a lot to discover.

Walk through the aquatic wonder of the 270-degree tunnel to catch a unique glimpse of thousands of fish and sea creatures. Appear on the other side into an unparalleled world of fashion and entertainment. Wander through The Fashion Avenue for 150 international high fashion brands and boutiques. Venture outside to The Village for tree-lined walkways and quaint cafes or experience a touch of tradition in The Souk where you can pick up traditional clothing, accessories and jewellery.

The mall is home to an exceptional choice of restaurants and eateries where you can grab a bite to eat before heading back outside to view the dancing fountains. A couple of shows happen daily in the early afternoon, at 1pm and 1.30pm, or at 2pm on a Friday. Jets, lights and coloured projects move in time to well-known music to create an electric atmosphere. This is even more exceptional at night with the lights brightening up the performance. 


After all that excitement and with the cooler afternoon temperatures, step back in time to the open-air museum of the Bastakiya Quarter. Nestled between the Dubai Creek and the Bur Dubai neighbourhood, the historic monuments take you back to the 19th century where Dubai was just a mere fishing village. Stroll through the narrow walkways, into square courtyards to see the Persian architecture.

There are several interesting museums and galleries to visit in this area. One of these is the quaint coffee museum that showcases international and Middle Eastern antiques and artefacts as well as the history of coffee within the region. Settle into a cup of coffee in the comfort of the cosy lounge.


As you’re near the mouth of the river before it flows into Port Rashid, combine sightseeing with dinner on a dhow cruise down the Dubai Creek. Enjoy a relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s attractions and tuck into a delicious meal, with light music and undescribable sights. See the city as it starts to wind down for the evening with its beaming skyscraper lights beginning to illuminate the sky.

After you’ve docked, make your way to Sunset Beach to finish your snapshot of Dubai off in style. With rolling waves shelving gently onto the powdery sand, find your spot on the golden swath and watch the sunset behind the glistening horizon. The rich golden skyline is even more impressive with the iconic Burj Al Arab masking out the sail of a dhow in the forefront. As the sun slowly sets, enjoy the peace and quiet of Dubai before you leave this iconic city.

However you plan to spend your time in this modernistic metropolis, you won’t be disappointed as there’s always something unique and exciting around every corner.

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