No matter what type of holiday you’re looking for, Dubai is all things to all people
The city and emirate of Dubai has been a popular destination for many years now: whether you’re a honeymooning couple looking for ways to spoil yourself, a family wanting somewhere friendly (and with guaranteed sunshine!), or simply an adventure seeker, it’s time to experience this vibrant city. Add to this the fact that it’s one of the top shopping destinations in the world and you’ll find that Dubai has something for everybody, no matter how long you’re staying. Let’s find out more, shall we?
Dubai is for… couples
Its reputation for luxury and opulence means that Dubai is a popular honeymoon destination, but even if you don’t have a vast budget and the desperate need for the Honeymoon Suite you can still have a magical time with your loved one.
Let’s start things off with a spot of dinner, shall we? Of course, there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, but how about one that also doubles as a sightseeing tour? The Alexandra is a Dhow, a traditional Arabic ship that has been transformed into a floating restaurant, taking you on a two-hour cruise around the Marina and Lagoon while serving delicious food in the company of Tanura dancers. It’s an experience that combines the best of modern and traditional Dubai into one unforgettable evening.
Back on dry land, you can spend the days sunning yourself on the beach, at a beach bar, or swimming in the clear blue water; find yourself a spot on Kite Beach, La Mer Beach, the JBR Beach, Sunset Beach, or any of the others. Then how about a classic date night? Get dressed up in your best evening wear for a night at the theater or the Dubai Opera, followed by a meal at one of the many restaurants on the Boulevard, offering you a wide selection of both Middle Eastern and international cuisine.
For something a little more low-key, there’s always a picnic in the park. The park? Sure. Despite being a city of skyscrapers, Dubai has a plethora of alluring parks and open spaces as well. Whether you want to go for a stroll, a cycle or a jog, Dubai has a bunch of parks to explore and green spaces to enjoy. Take a paddle-boat out onto the lake in Zabeel Park, or go for an evening wander in Al Barsha Pond Park. For more wholesome fun, head to the nearby Unwind Boardgame Cafe, for coffee, cake, and a selection of over 500 board games to while the time away.
If all that eating, drinking and treating yourself sounds like a lot of effort, how about rounding things off with an indulgent massage treatment? There are a number of spas to choose from, but as an example the Talise Ottoman Spa at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray Hotel on The Palm offers treatments such as body masks of gold or roses, green tea treatments, or their spectacular 1001 Roses: a skin-softening bath while you feast on ripe strawberries, with a personal sauna and relaxation area for you and your partner before a 60-minute side-by-side massage. Heavenly.
Dubai is for… families
Despite being seen as a bit of a playground in the sense of glamour and wow-factor, Dubai is also a fantastic destination for families. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, whether they’re very young, at an inquisitive age, or at the point where they’re just too cool for family holidays, there are places to see and activities to keep everybody entertained.
At the most obvious end of the scale, there are beaches. Miles and miles of beaches. And, as an added bonus, Dubai is one of those places where you’re virtually guaranteed your holiday won’t be a washout because of the weather, so you can rest assured that if all your family needs is sand for sandcastles and some waves to splash about in, it’s got you more than covered.
For the more adventurous water lovers among you, there are a number of aquaparks. Both Atlantis Aquaventure and the Wild Wadi Waterpark have some of the highest and longest water slides in the world, as well as wave pools and, at Aquaventure, the nine-story Leap of Faith, an almost vertical slide that plunges you down and through a tunnel submerged within a shark-filled lagoon! Both of these parks also have dedicated areas for toddlers as well, so the whole family can play and explore for hours.
Even more grown-up activities have things to entertain the “I’m boooorrred!” crowd. The Dubai Mall contains an aquarium and underwater zoo, so as a reward for time spent in the shops, be introduced to sharks, rays, and even penguins! Elsewhere in the mall, you can find KidZania, a 7,000 square-meter replica of a city with over 70 role playing activities for kids between two and 16 years of age in which they can work in scaled-down versions of a hospital, radio station, restaurant, TV studio, fire station and more, learning about the real world in a fascinatingly interactive way.
There are of course thousands of other activities on offer. Dubai is brimming with unique theme parks, for example, so whether you’re looking for the perfect family outing, or adrenaline-pumping rides (or a combination of the two!), you’ll find them here. Dubai Parks & Resorts, IMG Worlds of Adventure, VR Park are just a few of the options for you and your family.
Otherwise, consider skate or bike hire at Creekside Park, exploring the desert in 4x4s or by camel, doing traditional handicrafts in the old village of Shindagha, learning about Bedouin history at the Dubai Museum, or heading to the top of the Burj Khalifa for a selfie to make anyone jealous!
Dubai is for… adventure lovers
As mentioned earlier in the article, you are, essentially, in the middle of the desert in Dubai, so why not take advantage of that fact and do a bit of exploring? Desert safaris are available either in an SUV or, if you fancy something a bit more traditional, by camel. Camping out under the stars for a night or two is an amazing way to experience this part of the world away from the glitz of the city, an experience offered by Platinum Heritage and many other companies in Dubai.
The Hatta Dam offers surfing, rafting, wakeboarding and kayaking, where you can paddle your way through the waters of the picturesque Hatta mountains. There are also plenty of opportunities to get even wetter, including scuba diving and kitesurfing at one of the many centers dotted along the coastline by The Palm, so whether you’re an expert or a beginner, you’ll find something to keep you busy.
To see everything from a different perspective — 4,000 feet in the air! — why not take a ride in a hot-air balloon over the vast desert? In the chill of the early morning, you’ll drift silently over the sands, gazing for miles and spotting wildlife down below.
If you’d prefer your adventures more grounded, why not head to the ski slope? Crazy though it seems, the vast Ski Dubai indoor ski area includes five slopes (including the world’s only indoor black diamond run). You can rent everything you need onsite, and even if you’re not a skier you can enjoy everything else that’s on offer: toboggan runs, a body slide, ice caves and more.
No matter what makes your adrenalin flow, you’ll find it in Dubai, all year round.
Dubai is for… retail therapy
One of the reasons a lot of people love visiting Dubai — no matter how long they’re here for — is the sheer range of opportunities to get some shopping done. No matter what you’re looking for, you can be pretty sure you’ll find it here somewhere.
Firstly there are the malls… and what malls they are. By sheer area, the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping center on the planet, featuring over 1,200 shops and services. The mall’s Fashion Avenue alone is home to 200 of the world’s most famous brands, including Cartier, Armani, Christian Louboutin and Balenciaga.
If that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of other retail therapy options: The Mall of the Emirates, for example, is home to more than 560 shops, as well as a multiplex cinema, and a swathe of restaurants and bars. For something slightly more eclectic, head to the Global Village. It’s a collection of 26 pavilions housing 3,500 displays from 78 cultures across the world. You can try foods from those places, pick up traditional handicrafts, or simply wander from place to place seeing famous sights recreated right here in front of you. Part shopping experience and part theme park, it’s something that you don’t get anywhere else in the world.
Something a bit more laid-back and homely are the souks, Dubai’s traditional markets. Trading in gold, spices, perfume and textiles, each souk is a sensory adventure, with the smells of exotic spices in the air, the sparkling of jewelry, and the heady scent of perfume wafting between the tightly-packed stalls. Do a bit of haggling and come away with a bargain, something special to really give you a lasting memory of your trip.
Dubai is for… a stopover
One of the best things about Dubai is that even if you’re not heading there as your final destination, it’s the perfect place to use as a stopover: a holiday within a holiday, if you like.
Why not plan it into your itinerary? Take 24 hours out of your longer journey to give yourself time to relax and see a bit of the city; after all, the airport is easily accessible by Metro (approximately 25 minutes) or taxi (approx. 15 minutes).
Take a walk, have a meal, go for a swim, see a show, have a night out… it’s up to you how you spend your stopover, but it’s something few people consider. And, depending on the time of day or night, your options will be different, meaning no two stopovers will be the same.
This article was prepared in cooperation with Dubai Tourism Board.
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