11 activities to make the most of a long winter sun stay in Dubai
Whether you’re here for 10 days, two weeks or more this glittering metropolis has an endless supply of wonderful activities to enjoy
Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to filling their sunny days in Dubai. The city is already blessed with beautiful beaches, rich culture and incredible dining – and that’s before you head out to explore the desert. A long stay here? Easy. And the weather, especially during our British winter, is perfect for every kind of escape.
Whether you’re a first time visitor or not, a trip to Dubai isn’t complete with visiting the top of the Burj Khalifa. A staggering 828 meters tall, it’s three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building. The view from the two observatories At The Top and At The Top Sky are pretty astounding. At its base you’ll find the all-singing all-dancing Dubai Fountain, with shows every afternoon and evening. For a taste of old Dubai take a tour on a traditional abra boat across the creek and delve into the emirate’s fascinating history at the Dubai Museum and the Etihad Museum.
Relax at the beach
Dubai not only has beautiful warm weather and sunshine, but some of the most incredible beaches, too. Best of all, many are free to access, so you can eat, relax and play shoreside for as long as you like. Some of the most popular spots are Sunset Beach, Kite Beach and La Mer. If you get bored sunbathing, almost every watersport you can imagine is on offer in Dubai, from jetskiing to wakeboarding to kitesurfing.
Kite surfing on a beach
Fun for all: whether you like watersports or just taking it easy on the sun-lounger, the beaches have something for everyone Credit: Getty
Taste Emirati cuisine
A longer stay provides time to dine on authentic cuisine. Al Fanar conjures up the Dubai of old and serves home-style favourites such as maleh (salt-cured fish) and naghar mashwi (spiced grilled squid), while the old creekside neighbourhoods of Bur Dubai and Deira are brimming with Arabic restaurants. A walking tour with Frying Pan Adventures will also give you an excellent introduction to local food.
Retreat to the mountains
Hatta, in the Hajar Mountains, is a picturesque exclave just 90 minutes’ drive inland from downtown Dubai. Here you can contrast your time in the city with hiking, biking and kayaking the tranquil waters of Hatta Dam.
Kayaking in Hatta
With world-class courses and a glorious ten hours of sunshine a day, golf is hugely popular for holidaymakers in Dubai. If that’s not your thing, there’s paddleboarding around Palm Jumeirah as well as cycling and beach yoga. Adventurous types are spoilt for choice with paragliding, skydiving, hot-air ballooning, go-karting and urban ziplining on offer across the city. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC). Taking place 29 October to 27 November 2021, DFC is a month-long celebration of health and fitness, including free workouts and fitness events across the city.
Hit the shops
From markets to malls to souks, shopping in Dubai is an unforgettable experience. The Dubai Mall, for example has a musical fountain, aquarium, ice-rink, VR park and a dinosaur skeleton, as well as shops and restaurants. But if you really want to get under the skin of the city, head to the Dubai Creek area (which can also be explored by abra boat) for the traditional souks, where you can find everything from spices and hand-woven textiles to perfume and gold.
Unwind at the sea
Fancy some pampering in world-class surroundings? Head to one of the city’s many decadent spas, where ancient hammams and classic Arabian products mix with new-age treatments on the menus. For a taste of ancient Arabia, try the Shiffa hammam at Fairmont The Palm – a vigorous body exfoliation followed by an indulgent heated rose clay body mask. Or experience a more unusual treatment at Caesars Bluewaters Dubai, where you can burn up to 600 calories on the Iyashi Dome – a tanning-bed like structure that uses state-of-the-art infrared rays to eliminate toxins from the body.
Explore the art scene
Alserkal Avenue, a collection of warehouse galleries, and d3, the Dubai Design District, are both must-sees, as are City Walks Dubai Walls, a collaboration by 16 of the world’s top street artists. Opened in late 2018, the spacious Jameel Arts Centre has a fantastic collection of contemporary art, while the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque is one of the few open to non-Muslims. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) may not sound like the most obvious place for fine art, but is in fact home to an array of galleries, as well as the stunning new Grand Mosque, which has a beautiful facade of carved wood latticework and stained glass.
Jameel Arts Centre
For the art lovers: find Jameel Arts Centre on the Dubai Creek Credit: Beno Saradzic
Head to the beautiful dhow-shaped Dubai Opera for an evening of opera or ballet, or enjoy the spectacular performance art show of La Perle by Dragone. For dinner, explore the luxury side of Dubai’s dining scene at Pierchic’s romantic overwater restaurant or enjoy At.mosphere’s breathtaking views at the top of Burj Khalifa.
Be a big kid
From IMG Worlds of Adventure (the world’s biggest indoor theme park) to Dubai Parks & Resorts, there are rides aplenty in Dubai. And don’t forget the water parks, such as Wild Wadi, which has been thrilling visitors with its wave pool, water slides and artificial surfing machines since 1998.
Embrace the desert
There are many ways to experience the city’s desert surrounds. Platinum Heritage’s Al Marmoom Bedouin Experience includes traditional food and cultural lessons about the oldest inhabitants of the region. A visit to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve provides the chance to see wild oryx, falcons and camels, while Arabian Adventures can take you on a desert safari, complete with dune bashing, camel riding and sand surfing.
Camel riding across the desert
Broaden your horizons in Dubai
In Dubai, you’ll find all the right ingredients for a sun-soaked trip. The sophisticated metropolis by the sea provides unforgettable experiences, from serene safaris in the desert to dining in the world’s tallest building. Broaden your horizons with a trip that takes in its exhilarating mix of record-breaking architecture, traditional neighbourhoods and white sand beaches. You’ll return home with plenty of tales to share.
Find out more at, visitdubai.com
Keeping everyone safe
Dubai has taken the pandemic incredibly seriously putting in strict measures to keep residents and visitors safe. The emirate, which is on the air corridor list from the UK, has received the WTTC Safe Travels Stamp and has launched the Dubai Assured programme that sees inspectors visit hotels, restaurants, retail premises and attractions every two weeks to ensure they are complying with all safety requirements.
For more information on entry requirements designed to keep everyone safe, go to visitdubai.com/en/coronavirus-advisory