A city unlike any other, Dubai effortlessly combines traditional Middle Eastern charm with seven-star glamour. Home to the world’s biggest malls and the tallest building, you can be sure of world-class comforts and a dazzling array of activities for a fun-packed city break.
Best time to visit: Dubai is sunny and warm throughout the year. Summer months have an average temperature of 36°C. Visit between October to April for moderate temperatures, with an average of 19 - 25°C.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) is located about 6 kilometres from the city centre.
You really can do it all in Dubai, from skiing and desert rides, to haggling at souks or soaking up a spa day. It’s a historic trading port that’s steeped in tradition but with a modern, almost futuristic outlook.
From enjoying its opulent malls, and hotels to the finest food, art and sport, Dubai offers seven wonderful ways to enjoy the best of the Emirate.
Friday brunch is a must for anyone visiting Dubai. There’s an endless choice of restaurants and cafes offering cuisine from some of the world’s biggest culinary names - but the subtly spiced Emirati food is what truly beckons.
Swap burgers for tasty meat shawarmas; enjoy hot and intensely flavoured Arabic coffee, with a doughnut-like ‘ligamat’ dipped in date syrup.
After dark, enjoy Dubai’s ultra-stylish nightlife, each venue with a different vibe. The quirky Music Hall on Palm Jumeirah is a theatre and club in one; Embassy boasts incredible 360-degree panoramic views. Cirque le Soir at Fairmont is a known A-list haunt.
With a rich heritage as a trading port, shopping is in Dubai’s bones. Few places in the world can match it for its love of shopping, with around 95 vast malls offering tempting tax-free prices, and its labyrinthine lanes of souks.
The Dubai Mall (also home to the Dubai Aquarium) is one of the largest shopping malls in the world. Tens of millions of people flock to its thousands of shops and hundreds of eateries every year.
Venturing off the beaten track, the noisy and aromatic souks hum with activity. Whether you’re at the Gold Souk (world’s largest gold market) or the Spice Souk, you’ll be drawn into a haggler’s paradise.
Regarded as one of the world’s safest cities, Dubai caters to families on a grand scale. There’s plenty for even the most active, experience-seeking families to do. Start the day playing on the beach, then maybe snowboard and meet some penguins at Ski Dubai. You might prefer to explore the desert on a 4x4 in the afternoon.
The city is home to Aquaventure and Wild Wadi, two of the world’s top ten water parks. Take to the air from the water on a luxury nine-seater seaplane tour, and enjoy views of the dazzling skyline.
Staying true to its Arabian heritage but a power player on the world stage, Dubai is a melting pot of culture, art and history.
In the Al Quoz district there are at least 10 art galleries on Alserkal Street alone, plus a growing number of art fairs in the spring such as Sikka and Art Dubai.
On the more traditional side, tours are taken around the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque several times weekly. The Grand Hall features a jaw-dropping array of rich ornamental patterns and Arabic calligraphy to behold. In the historic Al Fahidi district is the Dubai Museum, which opens the door into a past stretching back thousands of years. The district is home to lovingly restored 19th century homes, once clad in coral and noted for their elegant architecture.
Rest and relaxation is a must when there’s so much to experience in Dubai. There’s a wide choice of hotels for all budgets, from five-star and beyond beach resorts, to desert retreats and city-centre luxury apartments. The iconic Burj Al Arab is known as the Rolls-Royce of hotels, such is its ultra-premium luxury; striking landmark The Palm is instantly recognisable by its man-made palm tree layout.
As the city is right by the Arabian Gulf, you’ll see nods to its maritime heritage and marine life reflected everywhere. Hospitality is an art form here, with a concentration of world-class spas making Dubai the spa capital of the region.
Dubai’s history is steeped in its Arabic routes and the glittering Arabian Gulf. It was known for its pearl-diving and trading route at Dubai Creek, the old and still-beating heart of the city.
You’ll find beaches mainly where the resorts are, although there’s plenty of free-to-enjoy sandy stretches along the Dubai coast. The Gulf’s waters are warm and relatively shallow; even at low tide, you can walk out 100 metres to collect shells. and still find the water ankle-deep.
Popular beach spots include The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence - ideal for strolling, shopping and people-watching. The manicured lawns and gardens of Jumeirah’s Beach Park exude relaxed refinement, but it’s also perfect for family days out with playgrounds and BBQ areas. Al Mamzar Park boasts five beaches, plus pools and playgrounds.
Dubai is the perfect outdoor playground. It really comes into its own during a desert drive - you simply can’t leave without experiencing the fun of hurtling over the sandy dunes on a 4x4.
Thrill-seekers will find many ways to push their taste for adrenaline to its limits here. Every sport, from kayaking and scuba diving, to rock climbing and skydiving, is on offer.
Families can enjoy a rather more serene hot air balloon ride at sunrise, enjoying the breathtaking views of the golden dunes and colourful skies. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, watch a falcon soar and glide in a display of raw natural power.
Camel racing is another local must-see, with the season taking place over the winter and wrapping up in the spring with a big festival. Sports lovers take note: polo, tennis and horse racing events are firm fixtures here.
Thrill seekers: Water parks, desert safaris and skydiving adventures are all must-dos in Dubai
Shoppers: From quaint markets to massive malls, Dubai is any shopper’s dream.
Night owls: The Dubai party scene is huge, with hundreds of hotels boasting exciting bars and nightlife.
Language: The language spoken in Dubai is Arabic
Currency: The currency used in Dubai is the United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
Local time: Dubai is 3 hours ahead of GMT/UK time
Fly to: Dubai International Airport (DXB) is located about 6 kilometres from the city centre
Flight time from UK: 7 hours
Tourist Information: Further Dubai tourist information can be found at www.visitdubai.com
Visa & Health: Before you travel, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/united-arab-emirates for recommendations and advice on visas and health for your holiday to Dubai.
Temperature: Average highs of 36°C in summer and 19°C in winter.
Best time to visit: Between October and April, for moderate temperatures, sunshine and blue skies.
Dubai is sunny and warm throughout the year. Summer months have an average temperature of 36°C. Visit between October to April for moderate temperatures with an average of 19 - 25°C.
By car: Drive around the city at your own pace by renting a car. Rates can vary, but are usually cheaper when booked in advance. Remember that an international driver’s licence is required.
By taxi: There are taxis available all over the city, and they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
By water taxi: Try a traditional way of seeing the city by hopping on a water taxi, which operates between 5am and midnight.
Dubai Summer Surprises: This bright and bold festival takes place from July to September. It combines a shopping bonanza in thousands of stores with a wide range of fun family events.
Middle East Film and Comic Con: The biggest pop culture festival in the Middle East rolls into the city each April - a must for film, comics, music and theatre buffs.
Camel Racing Season: In April the free Al Marmoum Heritage Festival brings the traditional sport’s winter season to a close, with numerous events and must-see camel races.
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