If you’re looking for a vacation experience that has everything from glittering skyscrapers to cultural takeaways to the perfect Instagram backdrops (atop a desert camel, perhaps?), then Dubai is the place for you. It has quickly become one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world and for good reason. Let’s go, shall we?
The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide to Start Planning Your Trip
Getting There Is Half The Fun
Think of it as a prequel to your vacation
Look, we know it’s not always easy to fly around the globe. But think of your time in the sky as a personal escape. We like to sit back and relax, which is the number one reason Emirates Airline is our favorite way to fly. First of all, there’s tons of space—even in economy—and each seat has USB ports, Wi-Fi and more than 2,500 entertainment channels. Second, the food does not taste like cardboard. Instead, what you are served depends on where you are traveling, so you can taste some gourmet cuisine before you even arrive. And third, there is a first-class shower spa on the plane. Yes, a spa. Enough said.
What to Bring Along
Rosewater Face Mist
It’s no secret that flying completely sucks all the moisture from your skin. Treat yourself to a little mid-flight refresh with a hydrating face mist.
A Patterned One-Piece
A vacation calls for a killer swimsuit. Hit up Jumeirah Beach in a playful one-piece that will stand out in the sea of black.
A Midi Skirt
For this trip, it’s best to leave the skin-baring clothing at home. Opt for pieces that cover your knees and shoulders, like a midi skirt with a short-sleeve shirt.
A Few Insider Travel Tips
Take our word for it
The Weekend Starts on Friday
Forget Saturday and Sunday. In Dubai, the weekend kicks off on Friday…with brunch, of course. We recommend Al Qasr, where you can listen to live music and indulge in all types of cuisines from American to Spanish and everything in between. In fact, Al Qasr is so big you’ll need a map to navigate through it.
Don’t Walk, Uber
If for some reason you don’t already have an Uber account, we suggest you download the app before your trip. Although taxis are easy to get, Ubers are a bit more reliable and they are everywhere. Plus, it’ll be a nice (air-conditioned) excuse to rest your legs after a day’s worth of exploring.
Be Smart About Alcohol
While a license is required for residents and tourists of Dubai to purchase alcohol in liquor stores, it’s readily available at many of the city’s hotels, restaurants and bars—and the attitudes are more relaxed than we expected. If you happen to be hosting a party of your own, just make sure to pick up something at the duty-free shop at the airport.
The Restaurants Are A Foodie’s Dream
Hint: Make reservations everywhere
If you’re looking for fresh fish, don’t let the quaint and casual appearance deter you. At this beach eatery, every dish is marinated to perfection and the constant flow of people is a quick reminder why it’s a must-try.
At.mosphere Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world (yes, the world), so make it a point to dine at this upscale steakhouse located on the 122nd floor. Enjoy a seven-course meal and wine pairing while taking in the gorgeous views. Not too shabby eating at the world’s highest restaurant, right?
Social by Heinz Beck
Contemporary Italian in Dubai, you say? Only when it’s prepared by world-renowned, three-Michelin-star chef Heinz Beck. Might we suggest Beck’s signature dish, fagotelli carbonara? You won’t be disappointed with his unique interpretation of the classic Italian dish (the sauce is inside the pasta).
These Aren’t Your Average Tourist Activities
Camel rides, anyone?
Visit Old Dubai
If you’re looking to fine-tune your cultural senses, a visit to Old Dubai is just what the doctor ordered. Take an abra, a traditional wooden boat, across Dubai Creek and start at the Al Fahidi Fort, which is home to the Dubai Museum and will give you a peek into Dubai’s history over the past 40 years.
Walk the Souqs
What’s a visit to Dubai without going to the spice souk? Your senses will be awakened by the aromas of cinnamon, cloves and saffron. If spices don’t pique your interest, perhaps the gold souk is more up your alley. Either way, the souks (aka marketplaces) provide for a unique shopping experience.
Go on a Desert Safari
Sandboarding. Camel rides. Dune drives. We don’t know about you, but this sounds like the most fun day, ever. Tip: Bring a cardigan or wrap for nighttime. It gets very chilly in the desert once the sun goes down.
Hit the Mall
The Dubai Mall is more than your average shopping plaza. From an underwater zoo to an indoor ice rink to a movie theater, there’s no shortage of entertainment. (It’s also where the Burj Khalifa is located.) Be sure to check out the water and light performance at the Dubai Fountain at dusk.
Relax on the Beach
Bright-blue waters, white sand and a view of the city’s skyline await you at Jumeirah Beach. The hotels offer a variety of water sports or you can just lay down a towel and take in the sun.