Whether you’re extending a stopover in Dubai or making it a holiday destination, you’ll find it easy to be amazed in one of the most breathtaking cities in the world – and we’ve put together the perfect Dubai Itinerary covering what to do in Dubai for 3 days (or more!) to help you get the most from your visit.
Dubai is big and fast. Offering the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping centre, the world’s largest indoor theme park, and a plethora of jaw-dropping man-made and natural wonders, Dubai is a place you won’t forget in a hurry. Scroll down for our list of the top things to do in Dubai to make sure you get a real taste of what Dubai has to offer.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Essential Tips to Help Plan Your Dubai Itinerary
- 2 What to do in Dubai for 3 Days
- 2.1 Visit the world’s tallest building
- 2.2 Take a 4WD Trip to the Desert
- 2.3 Visit the Dubai Mall – the world’s largest shopping mall
- 2.4 Experience The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
- 2.5 Visit IMG Worlds of Adventures – the world’s largest indoor theme park
- 2.6 Shop In the souks of “Old Dubai”
- 2.7 Take A Cruise On Dubai Creek
- 2.8 Try Traditional Arabic Sweets At Habiba Al Nabulsi
- 2.9 Swim At One Of The Many Beaches
- 2.10 Take A Walking Tour Through The Historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
- 2.11 Dubai Friday Brunch
- 3 Where To Eat in Dubai
A Guest Post by Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures
Essential Tips to Help Plan Your Dubai Itinerary
Getting around Dubai
Where to stay in Dubai
- JA Ocean View Hotel
Luxury: The Oberoi ($120+ per night)
The Oberoi is a contemporary luxury hotel in Dubai located minutes from the Dubai Mall and boasting world class service. Rooms feature floor to ceiling widows allowing you to watch Dubai turn from day to night in air conditioned comfort which includes free wi-fi and a personalized butler service. Its the perfect place to spend 3 days in Dubai.
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Mid-Range: JA Ocean View Hotel ($80-100 per night)
The hotel has spacious rooms that overlook Dubai Marina and the Arabian Gulf and a great pool for cooling off from the harsh desert sun. It’s within walking distance to many of the shops and restaurants at The Beach complex at JBR The Walk. You can also cross the road to the public beach if you want to swim in the ocean.
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Budget: Rove City Center (<$60 per night)
Perfect for an overnight or stopover stay, the Rove City Center offers 3 star facilities a short 7 minutes drive from Dubai International Airport and 20 minutes by car from the Dubai Mall, and is on the metro line for those who prefer public transport to private taxis.
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What to do in Dubai for 3 Days
Visit the world’s tallest building
At 828 metres high, the Burj Khalifa is currently the world’s tallest building, variously described as a “Vertical City” and “A Living Wonder”. Opened in 2010, the Burj Khalifa boasts two observation decks – one that sits on the 124th and 125th floors, and a second on the 148th floor – at an altitude of 555 metres it’s the world’s highest observation deck, and the view is understandably spectacular. And if the tower is not impressive enough, at it’s base lies the man-made Burj Khalifa lake, where the Dubai Fountains (similar to those outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas) perform their music, water and light show each night. It’s almost unbelievable that there is another 270 metres of building above you when you’re standing at ground level!
Take a 4WD Trip to the Desert
No matter where you are in Dubai, the desert is never too far away. Take a ride in the back (or the front if you’re brave!) of a four-wheel drive through the sand dunes, letting an experienced driver lead you around the peaks and troughs of this phenomenal landscape. There are a huge number of desert safari options including morning and evening safaris, with traditional sunset dinner options and also the opportunity to go sand boarding drive an off-road dune buggy. You can even stay overnight in the desert or experience an early morning hot air balloon ride for an unforgettable experience. Its an absolute must during Dubai in three days!
Visit the Dubai Mall – the world’s largest shopping mall
Covering an area of more than 1 million square metres (or about 200 football pitches), boasting over 1,200 retail shops, hundreds of food and drink options, an aquarium, an Olympic size ice rink and a Kidzania, the Dubai Mall really does cater to all needs!
As you would expect, shopping in Dubai is a key past-time and the shops range from high street fashion to haute couture, with plenty of opportunities to get your gold fix in the Gold Souk. And to make navigation easy, the Dubai Mall is located next to the Burj Khalifa.
Experience The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
Visit IMG Worlds of Adventures – the world’s largest indoor theme park
IMG Worlds of Adventures is the world’s largest indoor theme park and offers something for kids of all ages. There are a number of adventure zones covering the Cartoon Network, Lost Valley and Marvel!
Our pick of the rides was the Hulk Epsilon Base 3D where the “stereoscopic cinema dome” allows you to strap in to your motion seat and witness the Hulk take on his deadliest foe in a fully immersive 3D experience.
As you would expect there are height restrictions on the rides, however there are plenty of rides available for the younger customer, with many rides available for those at least 1.05m tall, and also a number that have no height restriction at all.
Shop In the souks of “Old Dubai”
For those wanting something a little more traditional or “authentic” you should take the time to head north across Dubai Creek to Deira or “Old Dubai”
Deira is the perfect place to experience a history that goes back well beyond the modern growth of Dubai, though you could argue that Deira’s spice souk, textile souk and gold souks were simply precursors to the amazing malls that grace Dubai today!
The gold souk is a highlight for many visitors to Dubai. It offers very reasonable prices (with the price per gram set twice a day) and with approximately 10 tonnes of gold available at any given time, you’ll be hard-pressed to walk away without finding what you want. Bartering is expected, but as the gold price is set, you will only be able to negotiate on the price of the craftsmanship on offer.
Take A Cruise On Dubai Creek
Alternatively, if you’re in a hurry to start your gold shopping, opt for an abra – a small motorised water taxi – the perfect way to get across Dubai Creek.
Try Traditional Arabic Sweets At Habiba Al Nabulsi
Don’t be fooled by the shabby appearance – the Habiba al Nabulsi restaurant in Deira isn’t known for its salads or meats but for the amazing Arabic sweets and desserts that will satisfy even the sweetest tooth. A must try is the delicious kunafa with kashta, a type of filo pastry and cream dessert covered with orange blossom syrup.
Swim At One Of The Many Beaches
Dubai is blessed with a number of beautiful beaches – with a mixture of public and private access. JBR Beach and the Dubai Marina areas are the nicest public family-friendly beach on offer with golden sand and gentle waves, cabanas for hire and a playground for kids. For sports junkies you can’t go past Kite Beach which offers kite surfing, beach football, tennis and volleyball. For a more luxury experience, the private Palm Jumeirah area is where to head. Many of the five-star hotels have private beach access with a mix of secluded, adults only or more party style beach clubs.
Take A Walking Tour Through The Historic Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
If you want to see what Dubai was like before all the skyscrapers, then a visit to Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood is the best place to see it. The area is one of the oldest heritage parts of the city, dating back to the 1900’s. The best way to see the sights and navigate the winding alleyways is by taking a walking tour. While you’re in the area, visit the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) which showcases the culture and customs of UAE. You can take part in an Arabic class, or visit one of the local mosques on a guided tour.
Dubai Friday Brunch
If you’re in Dubai on a Friday (the Emirati weekend), then be sure to take part in a Dubai expat tradition of taking brunch. Most of the hotels serve an incredible feast of food from all around the world, and there are plenty of family friendly ones with roving magicians and petting zoos! Top places to take brunch include Jumeirah Beach Hotel, The Westin or At.mosphere at Burj Khalifa; and if you are looking for one of the swankiest Afternoon Teas in the world – and a true luxury experience – book your seat at the SkyBar in the Burj Al Arab where you’ll enjoy a 7 course afternoon tea with champagne in one of the few 7* hotels in the world.
Where To Eat in Dubai
Dubai is one of the best places in the world to eat, with a mix of cuisines from around the world. Here are our top picks for a high, medium and low-end budget.
Top end: On the north side of Dubai Creek are some of the city’s best culinary experiences. Miyako is consistently one of the area’s favourites, with amazing Japanese menu. The restaurant is split in three parts with a teppanyaki room, sushi bar and a tatami room.
Medium: Seven Sands serves traditional Emirati cuisine that’s absolutely delicious. It’s right on the beach at Dubai Marina so you get to look out on the waves as you dine. We loved the Thereed (traditional Bedouin stew).
- Lamb Thereed on a bed of rice
Low End: Dubai has an incredible food truck scene, and Last Exit Food Truck Park is the perfect place to head to sample amazing street food from around the world. It’s a 1950’s retro-themed foodie heaven!
So there you have it – hopefully we’ve given you enough travel inspiration to help you plan what to do in Dubai for 3 days – and given some great ideas for the perfect Dubai Itinerary to make sure you get the most from your visit. Don’t forget to let me know you’re own highlights once you’re back!
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Kylie Gibbon is a passionate traveller who’s been to over 45 countries around the globe. The Our Overseas Adventures blog chronicles her family travels with her husband and 6 and 8 year olds in tow, including an 8-month sabbatical through SE Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in 2016. Now based back in New Zealand, the family continues to travel as much as possible and are always planning their next adventures!