GMT +4 hours
Dubai, a land of opulence, wealth and mind-defying architecture that will never fail to impress.
Dubai is one of the world’s most exciting destinations; a glittering city that guarantees fun, sun and endless tax-free shopping. In this ever-changing emirate, spectacular and innovative developments grace endless golden beaches and towering commercial centres, all the while contrasting starkly against a silent desert interior.
Best time to visit
The United Arab Emirates are warm all year round, but the best time to visit is from November to March when the average maximum temperature is 25°C. May to September are the hottest months, when temperatures often exceed 40°C.
Renowned for wealth and splendour, Dubai offers an endless list of activities to occupy you on your stay in this beautiful city. Famous structures such as the tallest building in the world; the Burj Khalifa, the world-class Burj al Arab hotel and the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island, have become the epitome of Dubai’s extravagant culture.
The oldest part of the city is centred around the Dubai Creek, with souks vending an array of spices and textiles, mosques and an authentic regional architecture in the Deira and Bur Dubai districts. Here, you can make your way from one side of the creek to another on a quaint water taxi, also known as an abra.
The city’s aorta is Sheikh Zayed Road, a massive multi-lane highway that links the Creek to Jumeirah and Jebel Ali as well as all the main shopping malls. Although most of Jumeirah beach is occupied by upscale hotels, there are certain parts that are open to the public (entrance fee applies) and offers access to a spacious recreational park, hemmed by a vast stretch of open sand with the warm, albeit sometimes choppy waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Spend some time away from the beach, and head to the huge shopping malls dotted around the city. As the creators of The Shopping Festival, it is no surprise that the nation’s favourite pastime is shopping, with the vast malls remain devoid of visitors by day, but springing into life later in the evening. The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are the two biggest with ice rinks, cinemas, western high-street and designer brands, vast gold souks and giant fish tanks.
The Dubai Mall’s famous Dubai Fountain shoots water jets at an astonishing height of 150 metres tall and spans over 270 metres in length. Created by the designers of the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, this spectacular sight performs to an impressive array of musical accompaniments to include Andrea Bocelli’s Con te partiro (Time to Say Goodbye). Avoid disappointment and make note of the world’s largest fountain’s performance schedule before you arrive, as there are only two shows during the daytime, with evening performances running every half an hour. For fantastic view of the city below and the desert beyond, why not ascend 124 floors to Burj Khalifa's 'At the Top' viewing point. Be sure to book in advance, as this attraction is one of the most popular in Dubai.
A city surrounded by beach, mountains and desert, it's no surprise that a world of exhilarating and fascinating excursions are available further afield. For thrill seekers, a sunset 'dune bashing' session in one of Dubai's national parks are a must-do activity, and for the full effect, sit in the front seat of the 4x4! Other excursions include trips to the capital city of Abu Dhabi with lunch at the opulent Emirates Palace and an enchanting tour of Dubai city itself.
The best dining establishments are concentrated in the numerous luxury hotels, which compete with each other with celebrity chefs, Michelin Stars and extravagant gourmet cuisine. Most hotels offer a choice of dining options, whilst the Madinat Jumeirah complex is a particularly pleasant place to stroll, shop and eat for guests and non-guests alike. For more affordable dining alternatives the big malls offer every type of cuisine imaginable including American and regional fast foods, noodle bars, restaurants of every denomination and about three times more coffee and cake shops than seems economically viable.
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24 hours in Dubai
Our travel experts reveal their top tips for a 24-hour stopover in Dubai.
Driving up, the sheer size of Atlantis The Palm takes your breath away, and in the entrance a glistening Venetian glass sculpture hints at the water theme. For something different, stay in the Neptune suite next to the giant aquarium – you can soak in a bubble bath while fish swim past.
There’s a great choice of restaurants. My favourite was Nobu - the food is out of this world (I recommend the sushi and chicken teriyaki) and the service was impeccable. Be sure to make a reservation! There’s also a wonderful spa, huge pool area and private beach. The staff are so friendly and nothing is too much trouble for them. Atlantis is an experience, not just a holiday."