Recently I described my amazing experience with the highest skyscraper in the world – Burj Khalifa. Today I would like to share with you my stopover in Dubai, where I was planning to see another 20 must-sees.
Dubai is one of the biggest cities in the Middle East with a well-being economy, that has been growing rapidly for the last decades. The city is a workplace for many Asian immigrants, who by their own hands rose many amazing skyscrapers and other buildings possible to see today. Dubai is the biggest city in the United Arab Emirates with the biggest economy in the Persian Region and finally – one of the biggest flying transport hubs in the world. As far as I know at the time of preparation of this reading Dubai International Airport is 3rd the biggest in the World. Most of the objects have been raised in the previous decade.
My meeting with Dubai basically happened twice, but only once I decided to spend a day there. Everything is because of the flying hours. Sometimes, when you want to have a nice flightseeing setting the flying time during the day is a priority, making potential stopover places omitted. Anyway, I have been to Dubai downtown just once, but I will be back for sure.
We were planning our journey to Malaysia and Thailand in December 2016. It was going to be our first long-haul journey. We decided to choose Emirates Airlines the main hub in Dubai. Fortunately, the flying times were favorable for us. The first flight from London was scheduled at 20:25 with an estimated landing in Dubai International (DXB) at 7:15. The next flight to Kuala Lumpur International (KUL) was scheduled at 4:10 the next day, giving us exactly 20 hrs 55mm of total staying.
We were flying to Dubai on Friday night (27.01). Unfortunately, the very commencement of our journey wasn’t successful. After boarding, we had to sit on the plane and wait. The reason was a tripped fuse in the plane, which happened at the moment when the aircraft left the chute. Repairing this defect took around 1 hour and finally, we departed at 21:35. Well, in the beginning, we lost 1 precious hour in Dubai.
After around 7 hours of routine flight our plane touched down at the massive Dubai airport, but as late as 8:30. Terrible queues to passport control also consumed our time, and finally, around 10am we left the airport 🙂
What is the best transport in such a big city like Dubai? Obviously metro! This kind of transport is highly advisable for me because is rather overground. The underground section is only in the city centre. Other parts of the route are elevated on viaducts, making The metro route a sightseeing route at once. There are 2 metro lines in Dubai: a red one is the main spine of city transport, and a green one, feeds the old town. Next, to the Red and green line operational another four are planned. All fully automated and driverless trains operate within 45 stations at a considerable 25km distance? This is amazing and makes all the main Dubai attractions easily accessible. Aside from the metro, you can move within Dubai by bus but is much slower in spite of a well-developed express road net. I used the buses to reach the places, which the metro doesn’t.
TOP 21 MUST-SEE IN DUBAI
I am going to describe the places, marking them on the map at once. Thanks to this you will be able to find them easier. They are not in a special order. I have gathered them randomly. Some of them are interested in my point of view only, although visiting them you won’t regret it.
1. Burj Khalifa – for me the most interesting building in Dubai, because I like panoramas and long-distance observations from the top. To find out more my experience at the top of this building read this article. There is also some general information too.
2. The Palace Downtown Dubai – one of the most luxurious accommodations in Dubai, however, the external presence of this building can definitely draw attention. The building represents a Moorish style performing in a typical Arabic view and colour. The symmetrical facade is represented by porches with the ogival main entrance. This 5-star hotel is located vis-a-vis the Dubai Fountains.
3. Souk Al Bahar – in the literal translation means ‘Market of the sailor’. It is located vis-a-vis the Palace Downtown, a bit closer to the Dubai Mall. It’s the most prominent souk in Dubai, offering distinctive Arabic products and clothes. The building is famous for its architecture – large corridors built with natural casing stone, restrained lightning, and Arab decorations. Souk Al Bahar has over 100 shops and over 20 restaurants.
4. The Dubai Fountains – is the World’s largest system of choreographic fountains set on the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake. These fountains are illuminated by 6600 lights and 25 color projectors. The length is 275m and water can shoot up to approximately 150m in the air accompanied by a range of contemporary classical Arabic and world music. The Dubai Fountains consist of many water jets and shooters making the water shoot up in many different patterns and combinations. The beam of light from the fountain can be seen even 30 km away. The fountains show takes place every 30min from 6pm daily.
5. The Burj Khalifa Park – is an 11 ha area surrounding the Burj Khalifa skyscraper. At the center of the park is the water room, which is a series of pools and water jet fountains. All plants are watered with water coming from the Burj Khalifa cooling system.
6. The Dubai Opera – a modern building located vis-a-vis the Burj Khalifa Park is a multi-format performance centre. There are a lot of events to see like theatre, opera, ballet, conferences, and exhibitions. This is undeniably the city’s major cultural hub and main entertainment venue with 2000 seats.
7. Dubai Mall – is the second-largest Mall in the world by total land area – the equivalent of 200 football pitches. The Dubai Mall includes 1200 shops and in 2011 was the most visited place on Earth. Every year Dubai Mall attracts nearly 54 million visitors. Aside from shopping, this is also a great leisure centre. Dubai Mall has been opened in November 2008. My wife was fascinated by the high fashion outlets, which we were passing by. There are 70 of them in the whole Dubai Mall, especially on Fashion Avenue. Our attention drew also the indoor fountain, which gathers a lot of people willing to take the picture. Due to lack of time, we couldn’t see the other leisure spots like the Olympic-sized Dubai ice rink and massive cinema complex. Because of earlier transport circumstances we were quite late. At 12.30 we had an entrance to Burj Khalifa’s top deck.
8. The Dubai Aquarium and underwater zoo – this is a 10 million liter tank, which contains more than 33 thousand animals and the largest collection of sand tiger sharks. The aquarium is home to 140 species of sea life.
9. The Emirates Towers – contain two towers rising up to 355 and 309m. This building complex is the symbol of Dubai. You can see it easily from the metro. They are the most amazing skyscrapers in Dubai.
10. Jumeirah Mosque – one of the most iconic landmarks in Dubai and the only mosque open to the public. This mosque was entirely built from white stone in the medieval Fatimid tradition with towering twin minarets framing a large central dome. The mosque can accommodate up to 1200 worshippers at any given time. The landmark is easily seen from the metro route (Pic. 14).
11. Sheikh Zayed Road – this is a part of the E 11 highway, a transportation backbone of the United Arab Emirates. This highway is also the longest road in this country. In Dubai, this is the main thoroughfare running through the modern downtown business district. The Sheikh Zayed Road is one of the best on-the-ground vantage points for Dubai’s famed skyscraper views.
12. Burj Al-Arab – is the world’s tallest hotel, counting 321m high on its own artificial island on the Dubai coastline. This is also one of the most expensive hotels in the World with the most luxurious suites for only 15k USD for 1 night. The hotel features a picturesque view of the city from the Sky View Bar, located on the 27th floor, although a minimum spend is required.
13. The mall of Emirates – the second largest shopping centre in Dubai after The Dubai Mall. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Dubai, where there are a lot of cafes, restaurants, and shops, that have hundreds of high-end brands. The main attraction is the walk-in chilling freezer, which leads directly to Ski Dubai. The architecture of this Mall combines Arabic and Mediterranean elements.
14. Ski Dubai – is a spectacular indoor resort dedicated to snow and skiing. It features all types of snow activities. The temperature level inside is -4.
15. Dubai Marina – is an artificial canal city, built along a 3 km stretch of Persian Gulf shoreline. The population of Dubai Marina is about 50k inhabitants with the further capability of up to 120k when all is ready. In order to create this man-made marina, the developers brought the waters of the Persian Gulf into the site of the Dubai marina, creating a new waterfront. This large central waterway has been excavated from the desert. Upon completion, it is claimed to be the world’s largest man-made marina, beating Marina del Rey in California.
16. Jumeirah Lake Towers – consist of 80 skyscrapers being constructed along the edges of the 3 artificial lakes. The towers will range from 35 to 45 floors, except the Almas Tower with 66 floors.
17. Palm Jumeirah Island – is one of two palm islands, located alongside the Persian Gulf shore in Dubai. Both Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali take the shape of a palm tree. Palm Jumeirah Island is a major tourist place in Dubai to go for. However, the best way to view the Palm Islands is from the air or atop one of Dubai’s many high-rise skyscrapers, such as the observation deck at the Burj Khalifa.
Other major attractions are to be seen i.e. from the Burj Khalifa observation deck. At least we saw them, having a shortage of time. When you owe a telephoto lens with a considerable zoom you can close up interesting objects from some distant district. One holdback is a high haze concentration, that can impair your view. I am showing you the objects, that I couldn’t visit directly due to lack of time, but they were easily visible to me when I was standing at the Burj Khalifa observation deck.
18. Dubai Frame – is one of the newest of Dubai’s sights. This 150-meter-high picture frame consists of a series of galleries with Dubai’s history and Emirati heritage. You can also go to the Sky Deck, where fantastic panoramas of both old and new Dubai are located.
19. Deira Clocktower – a roundabout in eastern Dubai (Deira). The Clocktower at this roundabout was erected as a symbol of Dubai. It remains a prime attraction in Dubai and one of the 17 most beautiful clock towers around the World.
20. The World Islands – are islands spread across the coast of Dubai and look like the World Map at the ocean. The only way to travel between the islands is by yacht or by air.
21. Safa Park – a big urban park located near Sheikh Zayed Road. Initially, the park was located on the outskirts of Dubai. The park includes 3 lakes, a small forest, and a hill. The park is perfectly visible in its entirety from Dubai’s high-rise towers.
Here are all 21 attractions, that I saw during my stopover time. There are at least twice more spots to see in Dubai. I was run out of time when I wanted to visit Old Dubai. There are many interesting places there. Basically, my Dubai sightseeing was confined to the red metro line. If I would pick up the green one, then I could see Old Dubai with the Dubai Creek area. Because we had a slot for the Burj Khalifa observation deck, this destination had to be prioritized. I am convinced, that I will visit this splendid city in the future and see other must-see places, which I couldn’t this time.
In the finish, I strongly recommend setting your stopover journey as much convenient as possible in order to have good sightseeing in the meantime of the journey to the final destination.
- Interactive map of Dubai Metro
- CutureTrip: Top 20 must-see sights in Dubai
- Visitdubai.com: Things to do in Dubai
- LonelyPlanet: Top things to do in Dubai.