The UAE is known around the world as an ultimate tourist destination. We’ve got the tallest tower in the world, one of the most beautiful mosques in the capital and of course some of the best beaches in the Middle East. But there is so much more than that in the UAE!
We’ve put together a great list which includes our top 20 picks of where you need to go and what you need to try both predictable as well as unexpected locations that you need to add to your list when visiting the United Arab Emirates.
The Dubai Frame
Dubai Frame is Dubai's latest landmark that overlooks the entire city. The unique architecture of the building allows you to enjoy 360 degrees views of both old and new Dubai.
Location Zabeel Park Cost Dh50 per Adult, Dh20 per child between 3 to 12 years old, Free for children under three, Entry for the elderly and people of determination and two accompanying persons will also be free of charge Timings Open daily from 10am to 7pm
Sample Sweet Salvation
Offering a menu of chef driven soft serve treats, shakes, hot beverages and cold brew from Dubai; Sweet Salvation is located in the popular City Walk district. A Dubai exclusive menu item comes in the form of the ‘Lotus Cookie’ cone with vanilla soft serve, date caramel sauce, lotus cookie crumb and chocolate sauce.
Location Al Mustaqbal Street, City Walk 2, Al Safa, Dubai Timings Open from Sun to Wed 10am to 10pm; Thu to Sat 10am to 12am
This spectacular place is one of a kind in the Middle East. The M.A.D.Gallery is a captivating universe of kinetic art (moving art) that houses many super talented and creative out of the box thinking artists. The first M.A.D.Gallery opened in 2011 in Geneva and after great success, MB&F decided to launch the gallery in Dubai last January.
Inside, you will not only find the complete range of MB&F Horological Machines and Legacy Machines, but you’ll also discovering Mechanical Art Devices from creative artists all around the world. When you walk in, you hear faint sound of whizzing and see pieces moving and actually floating. The M.A.D.Gallery is definitely our favourite place to bring out of town visitors.
Location Al Serkal Avenue in Al Qouz Cost free entry Timings Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 7pm Contact 04 3307366
Biryani at Pak Liyari
Known as one of the best Pakistani restaurants in Dubai. Their Biryani is outstanding and full of flavour. Additionally people love the korma, the saffron kheer and the kebabs. Everything is worth a try at Pak Liyari.
Location Behind Gulab Building, Al Fahidi Street, Meena Bazaar, Dubai Cost Dh12 Timings Open daily from 11am to 1am Contact 04 3535587
Zero Gravity, which opened its doors in 2013, is a beach club, bar, restaurant, pool and large-scale event concept located next to Skydive Dubai Drop Zone in Al Sufouh. It also has a 2,000 square metres expansion, with a 39 metres glass-fronted infinity swimming pool. Very popular on the gram. Experience a laid-back lounging session on the beach and pool, lunch or dinner in the ultra-modern restaurant and a full-on party vibe by night. Water sports include fly boarding, parasailing, banana boats and tubing, all at an additional charge.
Location Dubai Marina Cost starting from Dh160 per person Timings Weekdays from 10am to sunset, Weekend from 8am to sunset Contact 04 3990009
Black Tap Burger
The burger joint, which pays homage to the great American traditions, has revolutionized the burger and shake scene and carries the ultimate badge of street cool (when you go there you’ll understand). Black Tap’s flavours are simple, pure and uncomplicated, with each burger made from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients. There’s even a Pizza Burger! Their shakes are works of art and are stacked sky-high with toppings from sticky chocolate brownie to fluffy cotton candy.
Location Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel, Turtle Lagoon Cost various Timings Daily from 11am to 12am Contact 04 4229904
Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is a must see when coming to the UAE. The majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. This beautiful structure is the world's second largest mosque and arguably one of the most important examples of contemporary Islamic architecture in the UAE.
Location Situated between the three main bridges connecting Abu Dhabi City to the main land Cost free Timings daily from 9am to 10pm except during Friday prayers Contact 02 4191919
Wafi light and sound show
Audience members can Immerse themselves in an amazing convergence of light and sound where the tale of ‘The Return of the Pharaohs’ unfolds. This amazing attraction is a symphony of light and sound is projected across the Pyramids building in the Central Courtyard at Wafi Mall. The special effect of this show tells the story with anecdotes, sound and music.
Location Central Courtyard Wafi Mall Cost Free Timings Daily at 8pm and 9.30pm
The brainchild of Deem Al Bassam and Amal Al Marri, SALT was launched in May 2014. Ever since, the pop-up restaurant has found a permanent home on Dubai’s Kite Surf Beach, Jumeirah and has attracted thousands of visitors, including royals, who line up at the vintage Airstream trailer to grab a bite of its fast-selling sliders and shakes. Everyone has heard of Salt and most UAE residents have stood in line for ages to try it. Salt’s street food is all about going back to basics. There's a second location at Dubai Marina Mall.
Location Kite Surf Beach Cost Starts from Dh30 Timings Open daily from 9am to 3am
Weekends at the Al Ain Oasis
Taking place each Friday and Saturday until the end of March, a curated programme of activities will begin at 2pm and continue until 12am in the Western Plaza of Al Ain Oasis. Weekends at the Oasis will feature children’s workshops - with a range of arts and crafts projects for children of all ages to enjoy - as well as traditional cooking demonstrations.
Buy traditional, hand-made and modern Emirati products and produce. Visitors will have the chance to go horse riding through the ancient oasis, enjoy an array of food truck dining options, and watch movies and television shows.
Location Western Plaza of Al Ain Oasis Cost Free but registration is required to participate in adult workshops
The Brasserie 2.0 Brunch
One of the best Brunches in the city. Enjoy an extravagant selection of dishes from the far corners of the world. Brasserie 2.0 has on offer an array of fresh seafood delicacies, as well as their very own pizza oven – all this while the chefs fire up the outdoor grill for a flame grilled selection from the land and ocean. With views of the Arabian Sea, a stunning garden terrace area, over 10 live cooking stations packed to the rafters with dishes that will blow your mind, a live band, a refreshing juice and smoothie bar.
Location Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa JBR Cost Dh400 including soft beverages, Dh525 including house beverages and sparkling, Dh725 including bubbly Timings Every Friday from 1.30pm to 4.30pm Contact 04 3165550
Ski indoors in the desert
Discover the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. The mountain-themed wintery setting gives you the chance to ski, snowboard, toboggan and of course, meet some penguins. A perfect activity for people who want to try winter sports in the UAE.
Location Mall of the Emirates Cost Staring from Dh170 per person Timings Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 11pm, Thursday 10am to 12am, Friday 9am to 12am, Saturday 9am to 11pm Contact 800 386
Ladies night at China Grill
Just ask anyone where the best Tuesday ladies night is and they will tell you to float on over to China Grill for Madame Butterfly night. With unlimited white, red and pink grape (we really mean unlimited) and 50 per cent off the entire dining menu if you are a table of ladies. It is quite the hot spot to hit up on Tuesday nights.
Location The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina Cost Free Timing Tuesday from 6pm to 12am Contact 04 5117333
Project Space Art Jameel in Dubai
If you’re into art and want to delve deeper into the subject, then Al Serkal Avenue is your spot to go. One of their spaces, Project Space Art Jameel, features a year-round programme of art exhibitions, studios, workshops and events. While some of their shows feature works from the Jameel Art Collection, others are developed in collaboration with partner institutions; research studios and educational initiatives aiming to bring together creative communities of all ages and nurture experimentation, dialogue and a discursive approach to art and art-making.
Location Project Space Art Jameel, Alserkal Avenue Cost Free Timings 10am-6pm on Saturday and Monday-Thursday, on Sunday: by appointment only
Le Meridien Al Aqah
If you've got the time, a trip to the emirate of Fujairah is totally worth it. Because Fujairah's beaches are situated by the Indian Ocean, it is a perfect spot to snorkel and look at some marine life. Relax while enjoying the scenic views of beaches and mountains within the same field of vision.
Location Dibba Road, Al Aqah, Fujairah Cost varies Contact 09 2449000
Try Holland House’s mini pancakes
These are tiny pancakes the size of small hockey pucks. They are fluffy, warm pieces of heaven and come in servings of ten. You have the option of drizzling them with a vast array of sauces including, Nutella, lotus, honey and sugar, peanut butter, cinnamon, maple syrup and cheese. We recommend the lotus sauce, it’s a delicious and less sweet alternative to Nutella.
Location Kite Beach, Street 2D, Umm Suqeim Cost Dh25 Timings On Weekdays from 12pm to 10pm, weekends from 10am to 12am Contact 04 2999987
Global Village is one of the city’s leading family entertainment and cultural attractions. Global Village also offers a variety of dining options from different cuisines, along with thrill rides and children rides at the Fantasy Island. It is a great place to take the family as well as any visitors to Dubai. Global Village is open from November 1, 2017 until April 7, 2018.
Location Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road Exit 37 Cost Dh15 Timings Saturday to Wednesday from 4pm to 12am (Entry gates closed at 11.30pm), Thursday’s, Friday’s and public holidays from 4pm to 1am (Entry gates closed at 12.30am) Contact 04 3624114
Throwback Tuesdays at Waka
Celebrate the best of the '80s and '90s at Waka. They have unveiled a night dedicated to the most popping tunes of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Relive the two most exciting decades, as this lively Latin American dining destination comes to life every Tuesday with the greatest hits of the generation. Enjoy a sharing set menu including signature dishes a unique range of gourmet tacos, fresh ceviche and a selection of tapas, and three free house beverages.
Location Oberoi Hotel, Business Bay Cost Dh199 Timings Every Tuesday, 8.30pm till late
Jabal Al Jais
Stunningly beautiful mountainscapes with naturally sculpted rocks will take your breath away on your way up to Jabal Al Jais, the UAE’s tallest mountain. With temperatures recorded as low as -3 degrees Celsius (in January 2009 when the entire mountain cluster was covered in snow), it is also amongst the coolest places in the country, often making overnight stays here a bone-chilling affair.
Getting there: Take Shaikh Mohammad Bin Salem Road/E11 in Al Riffa and then Khuzam Road
Distance: 3hrs 30mins from Abu Dhabi Corniche; 2hrs 20mins from Safa Park
Dubai Opera is located in the heart of Downtown Dubai and was built to look like a traditional Arabian dhow. You may also have guessed this opera house isn’t strictly opera only, with performances at the 2,000-capacity venue ranging across ballet, magic, classical music, flamenco and West End and Broadway musicals. It’s no secret that going to the opera is a luxury. But at Dubai Opera no one will be alienated with sky high ticket prices. The 200 plus shows a year schedule means ticket prices will be taken on a show by show basis dictated by the length of the artists' run and how much they charge to perform at the venue.
Location Downtown Dubai Cost Various Timings Daily from 10am to 9pm Contact 04 4408888
Relax at El Chiringuito Beach Club
Reserve your Bali bed at the picturesque hot spot. It’s got nothing but good vibes, great music and is a must visit for all barefoot lovers of life.
Location Rixos the palm Cost Free entry on weekdays for ladies, Dh100 for men and is redeemable on food and beverages Timings Daily from 10am to 7pm Contact 04 2779180
Explore Big Red
Located just outside of Dubai on Hatta Road (E44), is a magnificent open dessert that beautifully juxtaposes the city life. You'll notice that the further you drive away from the city, the deeper the red colour of the dessert becomes. Then you’ll hit Big Red, a pretty popular spot for bashing dunes, but a beautiful and picturesque desert away from the hustle of Dubai. Grab some food, lots of water and enjoy a fiery red day out in the desert.
Dinner at La Petite Maison
Dubai-based La Petite Maison, the home of Nicoise (French Mediterranean) cuisine, and is listed in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for the fourth year in a row. It is a definite must visit, if you are a foodie and have given yourself a nice budget for fine dining. Expect it to be amazing.
Location DIFC Gate Village 8 Cost various Timings Open daily from12pm to 3.30pm and 7pm to 11.30pm Contact 04 4390505
Not much needs to be said about this iconic tower. Most tourists love to check it out, when they visit Dubai.
Location Dubai Mall Cost Non-prime hours Dh125 and Prime hours Dh200 per person for Adults Timings Daily from 8.30am until late Contact 04 4507600
This hot spot is every chic girl’s favourite place to dine and dance the night away. The French cuisine is out of this world delicious and the atmosphere is unlike any place in Dubai. The wooden floors, pastel colours and small intimate tables emulate a 1920’s Parisian bistro. However, the food, modern art and dance music give this place a very contemporary flare. At around 11 pm the music is turned up and everyone starts to dance. This includes all the waiters and bartenders. It is a night not to be missed.
Location Fairmont Dubai Cost A La carte Timings Daily from 8pm to 2am Contact 04 3545035
Try this insta-famous mini Nutella milkshake jar.
Location Al Meydan Rd, behind Al Qouz Pond Park, Al Khawaneej 1 behind Al Mamsha and Nadd Al Hamar Cost varies Timings Daily from 10am to 12am and on weekends until 2am Contact 050 1080716
The Dubai Mall Fountains
A favourite go-to spot among residents and tourists, the Dubai Mall fountain is an unforgettable experience that really just moves everyone because of its beauty and synchronized dance and song.
Location Dubai Mall Cost free Timings Evening shows daily from 6pm to 11pm, every 30 minutes Contact 04 3627500
Al Serkal Avenue’s Cinema Akil
In partnership with independent cinema platform Cinema Akil, Alserkal Avenue presents regular film screening programs featuring independent, art house, foreign and classic movies. All the film screenings are free to attend, and take place in the A4 Space cinema room or outdoors in The Yard. Perfect for the improving weather.
Location Al Serkal Avenue Cost Free Timings various
1Dh Bombay Toast
Bombay toast is the Indian equivalent of French Toast. It's unbelievably good.
Where to get it: At different street side cafés in Satwa and Deira
Dubai Water Canal Boardwalk
Take your time along the beautifully illuminated walkways and pedestrian bridges that overlook the Dubai water canal and enjoy the sight of the mechanical waterfall. It’s a perfect place to take photos and just enjoy a cool evening out. The Wi-Fi there is really good too.
Location Near Business Bay Metro Station Cost Free Timings Anytime
Umm al Quwain wetlands
The emirate of Umm al-Quwain is one of the best indicators of how the UAE used to look like. The wetlands were built near a prominent, bright blue lagoon, surrounded by little islands. These islands are a perfect location for bird watchers and all around nature enthusiasts. The wetlands are great to explore by boat or by kayak, especially the mangroves and the water channels between the islands.
Location Um Al-Quwain Cost Free Timings Anytime
Dubai Coffee Museum
Located in the Al Fahidi district, Dubai is home to the UAE’s first every museum dedicated to coffee. The museum opened its doors in September 2014 to mark International Coffee Day, which takes place on September 29. The museum is a showcase that connects the past and the present of the coffee world. The ground floor of the museum is made up of 6 different rooms including the different roasting and brewing styles from various countries, which are live demonstrated. The first floor of the museum offers a large selection of books about the history of coffee as well as documentaries that visitors can watch in the media room. Coffee lovers can also sit and enjoy some tasty coffee in their homey and cosy coffee lounge as well as purchase related items from the museum gift shop.
Location Villa 44, Al Fahidi Historical District Cost Free Timings Daily from 9am to 5pm, closed on Friday Contact 04 3538777
At.mosphere at Burj Khalifa
So many people, who visit the UAE would pay at least Dh200 to visit Burj Khalifa’s viewing deck, when instead they should seriously consider At.mosphere. No lines and no noisy tourists. Instead you get a chic venue, with great music and unbelievably tasty offerings for just around the same price. The menu features small platters of European haute cuisine and delicious street food. At.mosphere is one place that’s definitely worth a visit. Most people have this misconception of it being too expensive, but this lounge menu is the best opportunity to dine, quite literally, at the top of the world without breaking the bank (too much).
Location At.Mosphere Lounge, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai Cost a la carte Timings Daily from 5.30pm onwards Contact 04 8883828
Nikki Beach Dubai
Nikki Beach is one of the best beach clubs in town. The music, the food and the gorgeous pool is packed on the weekends, so try and visit Nikki on a weekday for a more relaxed vibe. Your entry fee will include a bed, towel and soft drink.
Location Pearl Jumeira Cost Dh150 on weekdays Dh300 on weekends Timings Daily from 11am to 8pm Contact 04 3766162
Try Simply Italian at Club Vista Mare
Simply Italian's menu showcases dishes from the different regions of Italy. Located at the beautiful beachfront destination, Club Vista Mare on the Palm Jumeirah, the venue is romantic and peaceful. We recommend the citrusy salmon tartare and the amazing homemade Raviolo stuffed with Burrata, zucchini and marjoram. It's creamy and delicious without being heavy at all.
Location Club Vista Mare Cost Approximately Dh300 per couple Timings Sunday to Wednesday from 12pm to 1am, Thursday to Saturday from 12pm to 2am Contact 04 5588354
If you're on your way to Abu Dhabi, make sure to stop by Last Exit, a cool unique food truck destination, inspired by roadside diners in the states, offering commuters and visitors a wide selection of fresh and tasty street food. There's another Last Exit just by Al Qoudra Lakes and one more in Al Khawaneej.