5 things to see in Dubai other than the Burj Khalifa

Dubai, which is known for housing the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, has many other sights to see. As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, it houses approximately 3.3 million people and saw about 16.73 million tourists in 2019, a record breaking number for Dubai. When planning a trip, it’s hard to narrow down all of the things to do while visiting. We’re here to help you decide where to start and what to see if you want to see it all.

How to get to Dubai

There are many ways to get to Dubai depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re coming to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, there are two ways that you can travel: By minivan and by car. Whichever one you choose, it’ll be about an hour and a half of travel.

The minivan seats up to nine people, so if you’re traveling with a small group, this is the best way to travel to Dubai. All you need to do is let the driver know what time you’ll need to be picked up when reserving the minivan, and you’re all set. If you want to travel by car, you can do so with up to four people. Similar to the minivan, you just tell them when to pick you up, and your trip is ready to begin.

If you’re coming from Ras Al-Khaimah, there are more ways to travel, but the timing varies depending on which way you choose. Between a taxi, bus, train or car, there is no lack of transportation. The fastest way to get to Dubai is by car or taxi, which takes a little over one hour. If you decide to take the train or bus, it’ll be a three hour journey. But once you’re there, you’ll forget about the trip and be ready to explore the city.

1. Shop ‘til you drop at the Mall of Emirates

Imagine a mall, ski resort, movie theatre, restaurant and bowling alley all in one. You can’t, can you? I’m here to tell you that the Mall of Emirates has all of this and more. Whether you’re looking for high end designer clothes or something more casual, healthy eating or fast food, an entertainment center or bowling alley, you can have it all inside of this mall. All while sleeping there too.

©Genlab Frank/Flickr

Whether you’re in Dubai alone, with family or friends, the Mall of Emirates will have everything you need and make you not want to leave. However, there’s so much more to see in Dubai and this is just the beginning!

Address: Sheikh Zayed Rd – Al BarshaAl Barsha 1 – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Hours of operation: Sunday-Wednesday – 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Thursday-Saturday – 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

2. Get some sun at Kite Beach

Known for its white sand, Kite Beach is a short 16 minute car ride away from the Mall of Emirates. As they say, enjoy your day like a VIP. While here, you can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs to make for a relaxing day at the beach. Did you forget sunscreen? No problem. Sole Mio, a beach club, will provide it for you for free, in addition to water to stay hydrated.

Kite Beach, Dubai

If you’re hungry when you get there or need a refreshing drink in the middle of the day, Kite Beach has no lack of dining options to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for some ice cream or oriental cuisine, you can find it all. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also take lessons at the Kitesurf School of Dubai and experience a true Dubai sunrise.

Hours of operation: 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

3. Immerse yourself in Dubai’s heritage at the Bastakiya Quarter

With just a 22 minute drive, you’ll go from the beautiful Kite Beach to Bastakiya Quarter. While Dubai is known for its skyscrapers and the biggest building in the world, it also has beautiful sights like the Bastakiya Quarter. The quarter shows the history of Dubai and what it was like many years ago. Beginning with Dubai’s oldest building, dating back to the 1780’s to the Al Fahidi Fort, you’ll get a feel of what the city was like before it was known as the luxury town that it is today.

©Diego Delso/Wikimedia

The Al Fahidi Fort has been turned into a museum, whose main goals and values are to keep this section of the city true to its past and preserve the area.

You’ll also find old homes, wind towers which were used to help regulate the temperature in these homes. Sometimes it’s nice to see all the beauty and skyscrapers that Dubai has to offer, but it’s just as nice to take a step back and try to put yourself in the shoes of those who lived many years ago. 

Address: Bur DubaiAl Hamriya – Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Hours of operation: Open 24/7

4. Minigolf your way under the sea, to the moon and more at 3D BlackLight Mini Golf

You’ve just been transported into the old city of Dubai, and now, a short 27 minute drive will transport you somewhere else. Whether you’re a professional golfer or a beginner, 3D BlackLight Minigolf is for people of all ages and experiences. You will be transported into new dimensions of the world you’ve never seen before.

From underwater to deep sea and the desert, you’ll see it all throughout this 18 hole golf course. While being transported around, you’ll have the added bonus of being in the air conditioned rooms. A nice change from the normal heat that Dubai brings all year round.

Best of all? All of the imagery you see during the course is all hand painted by 3D artists. Get some inspiration and creativity by going to this golf course and you’ll leave with a sense of wonder for the world.

They provide the glasses and all you need to do is bring yourself! 

Address: JBR 03 Bahar, Unit P24 E Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Normal hours of operation: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. 

5. Explore cultures of the world at Global Village

After discovering new parts of the world at the golf course, what better way than to discover new cultures than through a multi-cultural festival park? Only 30 minutes from the golf course, you will find Global Village. Global village takes you through the Americas, Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Europe, and more. While here, you’ll find rides, shows that focus on each culture, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and delicacies from various areas around the world. Get a taste of Indian culture while watching the Thailand Show. 

©Fariz Safarulla/Flickr

Best of all? If you’re coming with family or friends who are under three or over 65, they can enter for free. People of Determination, a term coined by the UAE to represent people with disabilities, can also enter for free. So, bring your friends and make this a day to immerse yourselves in many cultures, while making memories that last a lifetime.

Address: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road E 311 Road, Dubai
Hours of operation: Sunday – Wednesday: 4:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m., Thursday – Friday: 4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m., Saturday: 2:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

With all the beautiful sights that Dubai has to offer, it’s hard to pick just one or two things to do while you’re visiting. From skyscrapers to under the sea, Dubai has it all. If you’re looking for ways to spend a short vacation there, no matter where you start, you’ll be happy. If you have extra time and are looking for more fun places to see, I’d recommend checking out the Dubai Mall, Dubai Miracle Garden, Wild Wadi water park and Umm Suqeim Beach. Mix some sun with the fresh air and you can’t go wrong, no matter where you go!

Samantha Katzeff

Samantha Katzeff

San Francisco native and University of Oregon alumna. Lover of all carbs, cats and rain. Looking for new adventures and restaurants to try at all times to fuel my passion for food and travel.
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