Flights to Dubai (DXB)

In just over 40 years, Dubai has become the face of modernity – where architectural wonders preside over glittering seas and record-breaking malls.

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Flights to Dubai

Try and get a seat by the window for your flights to Dubai – as the plane descends, you'll want to see the sheer scale of its dramatic sprawl along the coastline, which is just as impressive as its skyline. In little more than 40 years, this city has transformed itself from a tiny settlement to a glittering metropolis and world-class destination.

While Dubai's startling feats of engineering such as the Burj Khalifa, the Palm islands, Burj Al Arab and The Dubai Mall are jewels in its crown, the city’s multi-faceted appeal extends to more than just its architecture. Some people are attracted to the buzz of the place – the frenetic pace and energy of a global business city and tourism hub. However, you might prefer the tranquillity of its desert retreats, golf courses, calm seas and beaches.

Beyond clusters of gleaming five-star hotels, with their luxury suites and infinity pools, there's a historic side to the city too. Visit Al Fahidi Historical District (formerly known as Bastakiya) to see traditional Arabic architecture, then tour the Heritage and Diving Villages of Shindagha.

Visiting Dubai is largely about consumption and one of the most popular activities here is shopping. As well as record-breaking malls packed with designer names, there are traditional souks and vibrant markets. And while Michelin-starred celebrity chefs have embraced Dubai’s high-end culinary credentials, there are still scores of independent restaurants with authentic flavours to explore.

It all adds up to a city of contrasts, and there's nowhere better to witness Dubai's diversity than the Dubai Creek. Here, traditional abras cross the waters, and dhows unload their cargo beneath shimmering skyscrapers. Nothing stays the same for long though, and there are always new and ambitious projects afoot, like the upcoming Creek Harbour development and the indoor city, Mall of the World.

The latter will have air-conditioned shopping streets, a theme park and a healthcare district. It almost sounds too good to be true, but given Dubai's already incredible rise, you wouldn't want to bet against it.

Go on a desert safari

You could be forgiven for thinking nothing but sand and the occasional cactus lie beyond the shadows of the city. But with Arabian Adventures tours, visitors can get up close with a wealth of wildlife, including Arabian oryx and gazelles. The Nature Trails trip is just one of many operated by the company.

Emirates Holidays Building
Sheikh Zayed Road
Business Bay Metro Station
800-ARABIAN (800 272 2426)

Go on a street food tour

Arva Ahmed’s Frying Pan Adventures Tours will show you the other side of Dubai’s food scene, away from the five-star hotels. There’s a menu of food trails to follow, from the Middle East Food Pilgrimage to the Little India On A Plate experience. Go with an empty stomach.

Frying Pan Adventures
Pickup point: Mall of the Emirates
Al Barsha 1
+971 56 471 8244 an external website in a new tab)

Shop at the Ripe Food and Craft Market

Held every Friday from 9am - 3pm (during the cooler months) in leafy Zabeel Park, you can pick up everything from arts and crafts to organic fruit and veg at the Ripe Food and Craft Market. It also runs at Al Barsha Pond Park on Saturday nights.

Zabeel Park
Sheikh Rashid Road
+971 4 380 7602

Browse art at Alserkal Avenue

For a taste of Dubai’s art scene, head to the brilliant Alserkal Avenue. This formidable arts complex boasts numerous galleries and creative spaces including The Fridge, A4 Space and Gulf Photo Plus, and hosts community events throughout the year. Art fans will also want to check out the upmarket galleries in Gate Village in DIFC.

Alserkal Avenue Arts and Cultural District
Street 8
Al Quoz 1
+971 50 556 9797

Tour Al Fahidi Historical District

There’s more to Dubai than sparkly new skyscrapers. Explore the old narrow alleyways of Al Fahidi Historical District – Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787, is home to the Dubai Museum. For a real insight into local culture, have a traditional Emirati meal with locals at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Al Fahidi Neighbourhood (formerly Bastakiya)
Bur Dubai
+971 4 353 6666

See the city from above

A trip to the top of the world’s tallest building should be on your Dubai – and any other - bucket list. In 2014, the SKY Lounge was launched, a VIP deck some 24 floors higher than the original observatory, taking you to an eye-watering 555 metres.

SKY Experience
144th Floor
Burj Khalifa
Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard
Downtown Dubai
+971 4 888 8124 4

Bubbalicious (Brunch)

Friday brunch is an event in Dubai, and this energetic affair at The Westin Mina Seyahi is one of the liveliest. Spread across three restaurants – Blue Orange, Hunters Room & Grill and Spice Emporium – and with live cooking stations, it offers everything from Asian noodle dishes and Arabian mezze to pasta and yorkshire puddings.

The Westin Mina Seyahi
Al Sufouh Road

+971 4 399 4141

Salt (Burgers)

Salt founded Dubai’s food truck scene. Serving sumptuous wagyu sliders out the back of their retro Airstream trailer, the team initially used Instagram to inform hungry punters an hour in advance where they would be selling a limited number of burgers. But success has seen them take up permanent residence on Kite Beach.

Near Kite Beach
2C Street, opposite 31A Street
Umm Suqeim

Café Belge (Modern European)

Modelled on the grand cafes of 1920s Brussels, this elegant Art Deco restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton has a raw bar and delicious Belgian frites. The giant seafood platters are tremendous, as is the burger. There’s also live entertainment most evenings.

Ritz-Carlton DIFC
Gate Village
+971 4 372 2323

Yuan (Chinese)

This classy Chinese restaurant serves Szechuan cuisine in the heart of one of the most famous hotels in the world. The main room is open and showy – definitely a place to be seen – with tall throne-like chairs and stunningly ornate ceiling sculptures. Don’t miss the deep-fried tiger prawns.

Atlantis The Palm
Crescent Road
The Palm Jumeirah
+971 4 426 2626

Creekside (Middle Eastern)

Sitting on the cobbles outside Creekside is a throwback to a time when the nearby souks were the closest thing you can get to a mall in Dubai. You can enjoy the local cuisine with a modern twist, while watching traditional dhow boats ferry goods and people across the creek.

Souk Al Kaber
Behind Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street
Bur Dubai
+971 4 359 9220

Bu Qtair (Indian/Seafood)

It might be in the shadow of Burj Al Arab, but the contrast between Dubai’s most celebrated hotel and this simple Indian seafood restaurant couldn’t be more stark. Bu Qtair is a shack on the beach, with plastic tables and paper plates, but the fresh-off-the-boat fish here are expertly marinated and totally irresistible.

4D Street
Near Sunset Beach
+971 55 705 2130

Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa

Heading out to The Palm Jumeirah – Dubai’s manmade palm tree-shaped archipelago – is an experience in itself, but staying at this luxurious hotel on the eastern section is the icing on the cake. Expect white sandy beaches, a huge infinity pool and three lagoon pools, superb restaurants and the only over-water villas in the UAE.

Crescent Road
The Palm Jumeirah
+971 4 567 8888

Park Hyatt

Standing out from the crowd without going higher than four floors can’t be easy, but the beauty in every corner of the Park Hyatt ensures its rating among Dubai’s best. Tranquil, sprawling and utterly relaxing, all rooms face the Creek.

Dubai Creek Club Street
Off Baniyas Road
+971 4 602 1234

XVA Art Hotel

This tiny gem is a boutique hotel in Dubai’s historic quarter, and it’s just the thing for art lovers. Aside from minimalist rooms designed by local artists, there’s a popular vegetarian cafe and a contemporary art gallery.

Al Fahidi Neighbourhood (formerly Bastakiya)
Off Al Fahidi Street

Bur Dubai

+971 4 353 5383

Al Maha Resort Hotel

A serene desert escape, this collection of tented villas in a pristine conservation area offers classic Arabian hospitality set against the raw beauty of a natural oasis. Activities include camel riding and desert walks or lounging around your own private pool.

Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Al Ain Road

+971 4 832 9900

Vida Downtown Dubai

In its modern Arabian style and with the comfortable rooms it boasts, this is an excellent boutique option in an area that is also home to The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa. While you’ll never be short of restaurant options nearby, Vida’s Sydney-born Toko eatery is well regarded for its contemporary Japanese food.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard

+971 4 428 6888

Burj Al Arab

The iconic Burj Al Arab redefines five-star luxury with its extravagant design, impeccable service and meticulous attention to detail. Even if you can’t afford a room, book a table at one of the excellent restaurants to see what all the fuss is about – it’s the only other way to get access to the hotel.

Jumeirah Beach Road


+971 4 301 7777

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