Written by Mark Smith. Published on .
A city with something for everyone, Dubai continues to grow in popularity amongst travellers of all types. From high-rise buildings to high-end hotels, the blue waters of the Arabian Sea to the vast sands of the desert, and enough shopping to wear even the most hardy of credit cards, visitors are finding excellent holiday value in this ever changing city.
This is a city that truly allows a holiday maker to invent their own brand of fun. Families with children (and adults that still want to be) find excitement in the themeparks with waterslides and rides from the casual to the hair-raising. Couples laze by the pool and on the beach during the day and dine in the evening, looking out over the glowing skyscrapers and across the waves. Adventure seekers tackle the sand on quad-bikes and four-wheel drives, while others get a unique perspective from a helicopter… or strapped to a parachute! And all around, the lustre of gold, or the draw of shop windows, has suitcases groaning at the prospect of the return flight.
At only 7 hours from the UK on direct flights with Emirates, British Airways, or Virgin Atlantic, Dubai is far enough for an exciting holiday, yet close enough to have a mini-break. Take a look at some of the best and most interesting things in and around the city, but whatever the reason, Dubai delivers in spades!
Opened in 2010, and holding the current record for the world’s highest structure, the Burj Khalifa stands proudly over the Dubai skyline at what seems an unfathomable height of nearly 830 metres. It also holds the record for a number of other things including the building with the most floors (211), the building with the highest observation deck (floor 148), the building with the highest nightclub (floor 144), the building with the highest outdoor observation deck (floor 124), and the building with the highest restaurant (floor 122). The restaurant, At.mosphere, offers visitors a “high tea” giving a whole new meaning to the concept!
Located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, this fanfare of water attracts thousands each day to witness the jets spray thousands of litres of water into the air in a mesmerizing light and sound show. At over 900 feet long and set in a 30 acre pool, the shows cycle through both modern and traditional Arabic music as well as world music, all as the water dances to the beat. Best viewed after dark, visitors can experience the spectacular from the unique vantage point of on the water itself by taking the Dubai Fountain Lake Ride.
One of the largest shopping malls in the world with over 1,200 retailers, serious shopaholics can get lost for hours (if not days!) in the Dubai Mall. Covering over 12 million square feet in the Downtown Dubai district, visitors will need to wear comfortable shoes to be able to cover even a portion of the mall. When the walking becomes too much, don’t despair! There are also several places to rest and relax, including a 22 screen cinema, an aquarium, and an underwater zoo.
If it’s all things that glitter and shine that you are looking for, the Gold Souk in the historical district of Deira is the perfect way to satisfy your desire. This historic market located at the mouth of The Creek is filled with pearl necklaces, diamond rings, and of course an abundance of gold jewellery.
Options for dining in Dubai are as endless as the imagination, with more cuisines than you can think of at your fingertips. Famous chefs have their own franchises with a number of resorts including Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen and Nobu Matsuhisa’s Nobu at Atlantis The Palm, and Yannick Alleno’s STAY at the One&Only The Palm.
Other than celebrity chefs or type of cuisine, the other major decision to be made over where to have your culinary experience comes down to location. If it is views over the Arabian Sea you are looking for then Villa Beach at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel offers spectacular ground level dining with views towards the Burj Al Arab. The restaurant has a casual environment with sand between the toes, but is hard to beat for location! For elevated views and a meat heavy menu, Prime68 offers views of Downtown Dubai and the Burj Khalifa from the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Of course if you don’t want any building in the way of the view, then At.mosphere on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa, mentioned above, is the place to be.
There are a myriad of activities on the water for the whole family in Dubai, with two major water parks to keep the kids, big and small, entertained. Wild Wadi Waterpark located next to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has a selection of rides and pools ranging from lazy and relaxing to thrilling and even terrifying!
Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm incorporates the thrills of their water slides and pools with marine life encounters at Dolphin Bay and Sea Lion Point. Tickets to Aquaventure Waterpark can be combined with the Lost Chambers Aquarium allowing fun both on and under the water!
The dunes surrounding Dubai hold a substantial range of tours and excursions for those looking to escape the city for a day. From adventurous activities such as four-wheel driving and quad-biking, to the more laid back approach of sunset dining in a Bedouin camp, visitors can even organise a camel ride for a traditional dune safari experience.
With Dubai’s proximity to Abu Dhabi, a day trip to Ferrari World will set the pulse racing with adrenaline fuelled adventure for motoring enthusiasts. Almost entirely indoors making it easily accessible even in the heat of summer, visitors can ride the fastest roller coaster in the world, race around a go-kart track, and experience the G-Force drivers of a Formula 1 car put themselves through.
Whether looking for a thrill or a luxury experience, don’t restrict yourself to the land or water. Helicopter flights over the city and surrounding bay offer unbridled views of the landscape. Hover over The Palm and really see the magnitude of this man-made island, and get a unique perspective of the towering skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai.
Those looking for the ultimate in adrenaline sports can even skydive over Dubai… I’ll leave it up to you whether it is brave or foolhardy!
Like restaurants, hotels and resorts in Dubai range in style, size, facilities, location, and price, with a few general rules of guidance. The districts of Deira and Creekside tend to be more traditional and offer excellent value for money. Downtown and Sheikh Zayed Road are principal business and shopping precincts respectively, offering mid to high quality hotels with excellent connectivity. Jumeirah Beach and Dubai Marina hold some of the principal entertainment, dining, and social facilities in the city, all within easy reach of pristine beaches. These districts are renowned for their excellent accommodation options including the Burj Al Arab and The Palace at One&Only Royal Mirage.
Lastly, The Palm holds some of the most prestigious resorts in the city, including One&Only The Palm, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Sofitel Dubai The Palm, and the Waldorf Astoria, just to name a few! At approximately 40 minutes drive to Downtown Dubai, these resorts tend to be suited to those looking to stay within the resort complexes on a luxury escape.
All up, Dubai is a fantastic destination for families, couples, business trips, stopovers, and adventures. Suiting holidays of all lengths and styles, it really is an all round holiday destination!
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