Dubai skyline

The top 10 attractions in Dubai you must visit

Beginning its life as a small fishing village, the United Arab Emirates’ largest city, Dubai, is now a modern metropolis. Synonymous with extravagance and luxury, Dubai is also still in touch with its historic Arabian culture.

If you’re going to be spending time in this sprawling city, then we’ve got just the guide for you. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 attractions in Dubai you must see when visiting.

Our list of the top 10 attractions in Dubai you must visit

1. Aquaventure Waterpark

aqua adventure dubai
Atlantis Dubai is probably one of the best-known vacation spots in the city. This kaleidoscope of entertainment is made up of two world-class resorts, The Palm and The Royal, each offering luxurious rooms, great dining and much more. Within The Palm resort is a waterpark – but not just any waterpark, Aquaventure is the largest waterpark in the world.

Aquaventure Waterpark has something for everyone. For the thrill seekers, the park has over 105 record-breaking water slides, including body slides, water coasters, and river rides – there are even spots for cliff jumping and surfing within the park. For those with a more curious nature (or just for the animal lovers), there are plenty of marine life experiences within Aquaventure, including a shark safari and mini marine biologist programs. Park goers can even pay a visit to the Atlantis Lost Chambers aquarium or head to Aquaventure’s private beach.

2. At the top of the Burj Khalifa

burj khalifa dubai
burj khalifa dubai
The Burj Khalifa is one of the most recognizable buildings not only in Dubai and the UAE, but in the world, and this structure breaks a lot of world records. The Burj Khalifa stands at 828m (2,716,5ft) tall with 160 stories. It is the world’s tallest building and its tallest free-standing structure. It has the highest number of stories in the world and also the highest occupied floor. The Khalifa tower is home to the world’s highest outdoor observation deck and its elevator system also has the world’s longest travel distance. 

The Burj Khalifa is an architectural and an engineering wonder; a piece of art adorning Dubai’s skyline. A beacon of Dubai’s progress, this burj demonstrates just how much the city has changed over the past 30 years. Construction began on the tower in January 2004 and was completed by October 2009. Originally known as the Burj Dubai, the skyscraper was renamed for Sheikh Khalifa at its inauguration in 2010.

While adding the Burj Khalifa to your sight-seeing list is spectacular in itself, there is much to do inside the structure. The ‘At the Top of the Burj Khalifa’ experience inside the tower should not be missed by those visiting Dubai. The burj holds three observation decks on its 124th, 125th, and 148th floors, each providing a full 360° views of the Dubai cityscape. On the 125th floor, visitors can take part in virtual reality experiences such as ‘Dubai – A Falcon’s Eye View’, a simulated flyover of the city, and a virtual experience of the views from the tower’s pinnacle. For those looking for something a little more relaxed, the Burj Club is the place to be, offering a gym, spa, rooftop area and multiple bars – there is even a dedicated ladies floors with its own spa area.

3. The Burj Al Arab

burj al arab dubai
Another of Dubai’s iconic buildings, the Burj Al Arab is immediately striking to the eye. An icon of global luxury, this tower dominates the Jumeirah beachfront, sitting on its own man-made island. Shaped to resemble a ship’s sail, the Burj Al Arab is connected to Dubai’s mainland by a 280m-long curving bridge. Standing at 321m tall, this burj doesn’t quite measure up to its Khalifa counterpart but is outstanding none the less. With construction beginning in 1994 and the building opening in 1999, the Burj Al Arab was once the world’s tallest all-suite hotel.

The Burj Al Arab is one of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai, with the white-sand Jumeirah Beach on its doorstep. The hotel is home to a fitness centre and spa, complete with infinity pools and a jacuzzi. There are also a number of restaurants and bars within the hotel, and afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar and Restaurant is not to be missed. The Burj Al Arab Terrace is the perfect spot to unwind, with plenty of sun loungers and shaded area, and one of its two pools even stretches all the way into the sea. Enjoy a day in the sun here in a butler-serviced cabana or on the private beach area. 

One of the most iconic parts of this skyscraper is its world-famous helipad, which juts out over the edge of the building. While the pad is used by many of the rich and famous to land at the hotel in style, it has also been repurposed as a racetrack and even a tennis court, hosting the likes of Roger Federer and Andre Agassi.

4. The Dubai Mall

dubai mall
dubai mall
Those who are eager to shop ‘til they drop during their trip to the United Arab Emirates should not miss a trip to the Dubai Mall. One of the city’s premier retail sports, the Dubai Mall holds more than 1,200 outlets, meaning you’ll find everything you could possibly want here – and more!

The largest mall in the world, this shopping centre is home to some of the world’s best-known department stores, including Galleries Lafayette and Bloomingdales. And for those who aren’t as keen on hopping from shop to shop, or who simply need a bit of a break, there is much more to do. The Dubai Mall holds over 200 international dining spots, including American classics like the Cheesecake Factory, Asian and Middle Eastern Cuisine, and British exports such as the quirky Cereal Killer Café.

There is plenty of additional entertainments at the Dubai Mall, meaning visitors can spend a whole day here and not be short of things to do. Take a spin around the Dubai Ice Rink, kill a few hours watching the latest flick at the mall’s cinema, or even enjoy some family fun at the VR Park.

5. The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

sharks in dubai zoo
otter in dubai zoo
Located within the Dubai Mall (but deserving of its own mention on our list of the top 10 attractions in Dubai) is the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (not to be confused with the Atlantis Lost Chambers Aquarium). Visitors here will be treated to a wealth of marine life to study and explore.

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo holds one of the world’s largest suspended aquariums – a 10-million-litre tank which houses thousands of aquatic animals (over 140 species), including over 300 sharks and rays. The tank is 51m long, 20m wide and 11m high, and walking through the aquarium tunnel beneath the tanks provides 270° views. Visitors can also experience the suspended aquarium from above on a glass-bottom boat ride. Those wanting to get closer to the sharks can do so with the ‘Shark Encounter’ and ‘Shark Dive’ experiences.

The underwater zoo is located a level above the suspended aquarium and takes visitors through three ecological zones: Rainforest, Rocky Shore and Living Ocean. You’ll find otters, seahorses, piranhas and so much more at the underwater zoo throughout 40 individual displays. There are also rockpool areas where visitors can get up close with the inhabitants, and an ‘Otter Encounter’ where you can meet some of the zoo’s cutest residents.

6. The Dubai Fountain

dubai fountain
In Downtown Dubai, you’ll find one of the city’s most captivating sensory experiences, the Dubai Fountain, a spectacle of water, light, and music. Sitting on the 30-acre Burj Lake (just a stone’s throw from the Burj Khalifa), this fountain is more than 275m wide – approximately the size of two football pitches.

This is the tallest performing fountain in the world and jets around 22,000 gallons of water up to 140m in the air – truly a sight to behold. The Dubai Fountain show can be seen daily after 6pm, with a display every 30 minutes. Each jet is illuminated in a variety of colours, swaying in a choreographed routine with popular tunes playing in the background. 

Revellers can get even closer to the spectacle by taking a walk over the Dubai Fountain Boardwalk, a floating platform which is only 9m away from the fountain. It is also possible to take the Dubai Fountain Like Ride, a boat trip on the gentle waves, as the show takes place.

7. The Dubai Miracle Garden

miracle garden dubai
miracle garden dubai
The Dubai Miracle Garden is the city’s most popular flower garden, located in its Dubailand district. The garden was launched on Valentines Day in 2013, and at 72,000m² / 775,000ft², it is the largest natural flower garden in the world. The horticultural hotspot also won the Moselle Award for ‘New Garden Experience of the Year’ in 2015.

Due to the incredibly hot summers the UAE experiences, the Miracle Garden only opens for the winter season, from October to April. There are a wide range of floral displays made up of over 45 million flowers. Many of the flowers are sculpted into recognizable shapes and designs, such as animals and landmarks – there is even a ‘Floral Clock’, a giant working clock adorned with blooms which change from season to season.

Some highlights inside the Dubai Miracle Garden include:

Disney Avenue – see much-loved Disney characters brought to life by flowers, including an 18m/59ft-high Mickey Mouse
Dubai Butterfly Garden – the Miracle Garden also has a dedicated area housing over 15,000 butterflies across 50 different species
Hearts Passage – take a stroll through this tunnel of multi-coloured love hearts made entirely of flowers
Emirate A380 – a botanical wonder, this is a life-sized replica of the A380 plane which is decorated with hundreds of thousands of fresh flowers

8. Dubai Creek

dubai creek 1
More of an exciting area in Dubai than a specific attraction, and known to the locals as Khor Dubai, there is so much to do at Dubai Creek. A natural saltwater creek, this area extends 9 miles / 14 kilometres inland, forming a natural port into the city.

There are plenty of leisure spots to explore here, such as the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, located right on the water. There is also a park on the creek, with lush green grass where you can relax and enjoy the sun. The park is also great for a stroll or a bike ride, taking in views of the creek as you go. For those looking to learn a little from their trip to the creek, there are a number of nearby educational establishments to visit, including the Museum of Illusions and the Dubai Museum.

For anyone interested in shopping and dining experiences will find no shortage around the Dubai Creek. There are shopping malls and souks galore, including the Dubai City Festival Mall and the Gold Souk. A smorgasbord of restaurants lines the creek, catering to all tastes. Enjoy an ice cream as you stroll along the creek or experience a classic Dubai shawarma. 

9. The Dubai Frame

dubai frame
dubai frame
The Dubai Frame is an architectural landmark located in the city’s Zabeel Park and is the largest frame in the world. Measuring at 150m / 492ft high and 95m / 311ft wide, visitors can entre the frame and take a 75-second elevator ride to the top. The Dubai Frame is constructed out of 9,000m³ / 317,832³ of reinforced concrete, 2,000 tons of steel, and 2,900m² / 31,215ft² of glass. The structure was built in 2013.

The purpose of the Dubai Frame is literally to frame views of the city, showcasing both the old and the new. Those visiting the Sky Deck at the top of the Dubai Frame will also be treated to panoramic views of the city. The frame celebrates the thriving culture throughout the city’s past and present, with a look ahead to its future. Visitors will also experience an illumination show when heading to the frame during the evening hours.

10. Dubai Spice Souk

spice souk dubai
spice souk
Those looking to head to a traditional Emirati market and take home a taste of the local cuisine should head to the Dubai Spice Souk, also known as the Old Souk.

Traditional Arab souks provide a unique shopping experience you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The Dubai Spice Souk is on of the city’s most popular marketplaces. Walking through the souk is truly a feast for the senses; with a rainbow of spices on display, you’ll smell the abundance of aromas.
Try your hand at haggling with the souk’s vendors and take home a taste of the Middle East.

Explore Dubai and the Middle East

The Arabian Peninsula is home to a wealth of history and culture not to be missed. From the bustling cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE and Doha in Qatar to the craggy mountains of Oman’s Zighy Bay, there is so much to explore.

With a number of Emerald Cruises luxury yacht itineraries visiting this region in 2022 and 2023, now is the perfect time to book your Arabian adventure. You’ll also have the chance to enjoy a three-night city stay in dazzling Dubai on selected sailings.
Ready to start planning your Persian voyage? Download your FREE luxury yacht cruising brochure to find out more about the experience that awaits.