Dubai Travel Guide
Love it or hate it for its excess, Dubai is on a mission to redefine the modern city. You'll find historical sites such as the Dubai Museum (housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort), ambitious, cloud-scraping architecture, and endless entertainment (think shopping, amusement parks, indoor skiing, and more).
Many travelers make a beeline for the Dubai Mall, which can feel overwhelming in its vastness. Inside, there's a 22-screen theater; an indoor theme park, called Sega World; an enormous play space dubbed Kidzania; a giant Aquarium with an underwater zoo; and a full-sized ice-skating rink. (Tip: You'll be walking for hours so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.) Don't miss the Dubai Fountain, which stages a daily 6 p.m. show that easily rivals anything that the Bellagio in Las Vegas has to offer.
Not for the faint of heart, the Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest skyscraper at 2,625 feet with the world's highest observation deck on the 124th floor. Also worth visiting is the Walk, the biggest residential construction in the world. It's a great place for watching people—and their cars. Recent spottings include a gold-plated Porsche Cayenne or a two-tone Ferrari. Rev your engines.
An ever-changing selection of cars and motorbikes gets raffled off to passengers willing to shell out $139 for a ticket in the Finest Surprise raffle, which has been going on here since 1988.
Located inside the Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is the world’s largest indoor ski slope. This unique attraction allows tourists and snow-deprived Dubai natives to ski on five runs of varying levels of difficulty, ensuring that even novice skiers can get in on the fun.
The Burj Khalifa, also referred to as the Burj Dubai, is one of the city’s most recognizable structures and the tallest building in the world. The 160-story skyscraper rises 2,716.5 feet and has the world’s highest outdoor observation deck, located on level 124.
Because Terminal 1 is so crowded, finding a place to sit can be difficult unless you gain access to a lounge (or stake out a seat in McDonald’s, Starbucks, or one of the other dime-a-dozen food-court outposts). The new Zen Gardens is a good, free place to sit unmolested and read.
Right across from the hotel’s reception area, Wing’s bar is one of the lesser-known oases in the airport (i.e., it is often quiet and seating is easier to find).
XVA, an art gallery owned by Mona Hauser, is located in the Bastakiya district and focuses on Middle Eastern and Islamic art. The gallery hosts rotating exhibits from artists based throughout the region, including Arezu, Mohsen Ahmadvand, and Simeen Farhat.
Make your way to one of the two “quiet lounges,” which are essentially rows of recliners placed close together on either side of the Sheikh Rashid Terminal. They’re free and hard to get, so if you can snag one, get over your need for privacy. “Quiet,” however, is a bit of a misnomer.
It’s rare that we recommend visiting an airport’s tourism kiosk, but the DTCM is actually worth seeking out. Staffed by the nicest people in the airport (all fluent in English), it functions less as a hotel and day-trip listing facility than it does as a full-fledged concierge desk.
Five Green is the first United Arab Emirates concept store devoted to urban street-wear and art sourced from all over the world. This concept store-gallery holds cutting-edge art shows and performances as well.
The "sheikh of chic" of Kuwait, Majed al-Sabah, enters the Dubai scene with his trademark luxury shopping destination in the Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
One of the best places to escape the maddening airport crowds is this expensive and lavish reception and service center for VIPs—or those willing to pay (about $500 per person) to be a VIP for the day. Reserve at least 24 hours in advance to stake your place among only 150 people.
With the opening of Terminal 3 in October 2008, the airport’s retail operations—all controlled by Dubai Duty Free—doubled to 160,000 square feet of shops. You can easily while away the hours of your stopover here.
Located off Sheikh Zayed Road in the Al Quoz district, The Third Line gallery displays and promotes regional and Islamic art from artists throughout the Middle East. Featured artists have included Abbas Akhavan, Rana Begum, and Shirin Aliabadi.
The defining structure of the Dubai International Financial Center, the Gate rises 15 stories and was designed by American-based architects, Gensler. The structure itself is home to the DIFC Authority executive offices, as well as a number of the world’s top financial institutions.