Arguably, Dubai should rank highly at the top of a list of the world’s must-visit destinations. The city is a treasure trove for tourists, combining the mystique and history of the Arabian Desert with the gleaming amenities of a modern metropolis.
Checking off the record-breaking sites are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for tourists and a great place to start when planning a trip to Dubai. Though many cities have come close to rivaling its variety of awe-inspiring top attractions, few have been able to surpass the sheer number of outlets and types of sites that the small Emirate has to offer.
If you and your family are looking for the top things to do in Dubai during your trip, check out our list of some of best attractions, including…
- At The Top – Burj Khalifa
- Royal Arabian Safari at Sahara Desert Resort
- Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm
- Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
- The Dubai Mall
- and more…
Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in Dubai
Many of these must see attractions are available on the Go Dubai Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of popular Dubai attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post are separately ticketed and may not be currently included with the Go Dubai Card.
At The Top – Burj Khalifa
An a city of record breakers, the Burj Khalifa could be considered Dubai’s most famous landmark, and is certainly a ‘must visit’ during your trip.
Rising gracefully out of the desert, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and delivers stunning views to visitors when it officially opened to showcase all of its 160 floors in 2010.
No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to At The Top, the tower’s exclusive viewing deck. Spanning floors 125 and 148, At The Top gives visitors a full view of the city from the vantage point of the world’s highest outdoor observatory.
From this perch, you can take in the Dubai Fountain show, enjoying the synchronized water spectacle from an eagle eye point of view. With panoramic visibility on the rest of the Emirate, it’s the perfect spot for taking photos to remember your trip.
Finally, no trip to Dubai is complete without experiencing the majesty of the Emirate exactly like traditional Bedouins have, via a royal desert safari.
Climb aboard a luxurious Hummer H2 or Land Cruiser decked out with onboard refreshments to travel over the rolling sand dunes on a captivating nature drive.
Once in the desert, you can explore your surroundings further with a camel ride. Or, experience traditional Bedouin culture with henna painting before you savor a five-star buffet set-up at an Arabian fortress.
Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm
Ride the thrills and spills at Aquaventure Waterpark on Atlantis The Palm, Dubai’s extraordinary hotel built in the center of a manmade island. It’s one of the only places on earth where you can zip through a water tunnel while sharks and stingrays swim above you. If you’re after hair-raising drops and rushing rapids, you’ll find your buzz at Aquaventure.
Though if you’re interested in lazy sunbathing on a pristine, private beach, Aquaventure is for you, too. With areas for both relaxation and thrill-seeking rides, the legendary water park caters to anyone.
After you’ve splashed your way through Aquaventure, further your marine-inspired journey with a visit to the Lost Chambers Aquarium, also located at Atlantis The Palm. Wind your way through the aquarium’s 10 glass-tunneled chambers to get up close with sharks, stingrays, piranhas, lobsters, seahorses, tropical fish, and other sea life.
Marvel in a spellbinding underwater world designed around the myth of Atlantis, the lost civilization of ruins and shipwrecks. More than 20 different marine exhibits wait for you to explore. You can even feel a real starfish in the aquarium’s touch tank, or learn about the different types of fish from the aquatic center’s experts.
Xclusive Yachts, one of the city’s most popular boat services providers, offers a chance to view the wonders of Dubai from the water.
On a RIB speed boat tour, you can take in the Emirate’s various landmarks from the Burj Al Arab, to Atlantis The Palm, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, and Bluewater Island.
Dubai topped the record books again with the opening of the region’s largest indoor ski resort (in one of the world’s biggest malls, of course). Ski Dubai has five slopes of differing difficulties and inclines for skiers of any skill, from beginners to seasoned veterans.
It’s also the home of the world’s first indoor black diamond run for those who dare to conquer the demands of the snow. A ski lift ferries skiers up the runs, while an adjoining Snow Park includes sled routes and toboggan runs, climbing towers, and an ice cave to entertain little ones.
The recent introduction of live penguin encounters at the resort adds an extra element of fun to your visit to Ski Dubai.
Green Planet Indoor Rainforest
Dubai recently added an indoor rainforest to its list of attractions you might be surprised to find in a desert. At the Green Planet Indoor Rainforest, guests can delve into an exotic world of flora and fauna in a vertical tropical rain forest.
A place for all ages, the rainforest encourages increased education and knowledge about the natural world through a first-hand experience of the beauty of nature. Learn about all the layers of a rainforest and the plants and animals that call it home with a visit to this top attraction.
Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Dubai Sightseeing Tour
Dubai is a well-connected city, with most major sites and attractions branching off from its main highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. The Big Bus Dubai travels down SZR to connect you with all the top places to visit.
Whether you’re interested in the traditional culture of the city’s early trading ports and souks, or the iconic modern architecture of the Burj Khalifa, the hop-on/hop-off bus lets you explore the city at your own pace.
Enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin and open-top seating as you traverse the desert city. Buses come every five to 15 minutes, so you never have to worry about waiting around for long. With more than 35 stops on the entire tour and commentary offered in 12 languages, Big Bus Dubai provides interesting and entertaining background information.
Motiongate is a recent edition to Dubai’s wealth of attractions. Opened in late 2016, it’s one of the largest themed entertainment parks in the region, combining three of the largest and most prolific Hollywood studios – Dreamworks, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures.
Motiongate brings your favorite animated stories and characters to life. You can immerse yourself in the golden age of filmmaking by going behind the scenes to experience real life movie sets and the inner workings of a production studio. Or you can step into the action of your favorite films in the Green Hornet ride, a Ghostbusters battle, the interactive Smurfs village, or Shrek’s fairy tale journey.
If you’re not too tired of the rides and attractions, sit back and take in a high-energy live action stage show based on films like the The Hunger Games or Step Up.
If you’re traveling to Dubai with young ones, you’ll want to include a visit to KidZania to your itinerary. This play club, based in Dubai Mall, offers children from the ages of four to 16 a safe place to live out their play dreams.
Pint-sized guests can take part in role-playing activities that mimic their real-world counterparts. Whether it’s working as a doctor, or fireman, police officer, pilot, or beautician, kids are given the chance to play out their roles in an actual small-scale city built specifically for them to enjoy.
So there you have it. Our picks for some of the most popular and top things to do in Dubai for first time visitors during their vacation.
Dubai is famous the world over for the number of record-breaking sites, from the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, to the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, the world’s tallest hotel, to Ski Dubai, the Middle East’s largest indoor ski resort, and much more.
Dubai hosted both the world’s biggest fireworks display off its Palm Jumeirah, and the world’s tallest chocolate sculpture. The Emirate also boasts achievements of the world’s longest painting, the region’s largest Hollywood inspired theme park, and the world’s biggest candy store inside one of the world’s most gigantic malls, of all places.
Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with kids, teens, or just adults, we’re sure you and your family will have a great time.