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You have just landed at the DXB airport and have a day to spend in the most gorgeous emirate of UAE. Before the next onward flight, you want to make the most of Dubai’s shopping, cuisine, outdoor and architectural marvels. But with the clock running out on 24 and so much to see, how would you plan your one day in Dubai? Quick planning and a brush up on the city’s everyday routine will help you experience the most sought after activities.
Truly, it is very difficult to fit in favorite attractions in 24 hours from such an extensive list. But to get the best of city in the shortest time possible, we have listed out some highly recommended activities and attractions along with the time needed to complete each of them. Depending on your flight timings and the actual stopover time in Dubai, there are quite a few options; here is a list of suggestions to make your trip memorable.
To plan your own journey for the 24-hours experience, here’s our list of Dubai tours and attractions. These are highly recommended activities by tourists that cover the best of Dubai in the very little time that you have.
The Big Bus Tour is just the thing if you want to visit all the famous landmarks of Dubai in the relaxing atmosphere of an air-conditioned bus. Featuring two routes, the Day Tour and the Night Tour, the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour lets you choose between 24-hour and 48-hour ticket letting you plenty of time to visit the attraction and shop for souvenirs. There are freebies as well included in the tour such as a free dhow cruise, free entry to Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s house and free entrance to Dubai museum. Those opting for a 2-hour night tour will enjoy the illuminated skyscrapers beaming their flashy lights.
Tourists have the choice of getting on and off at any of the pre-decided bus stops, so that they can combine their itinerary for the day with the Big Bus Tour.
The list of shopping malls in Dubai is countless right from the humongous malls selling branded goods to the small shops famous for trinkets and souvenirs. Whichever mall you decide to visit, you have to go on a tax free shopping spree in Dubai. If you are a true shopper at heart, then even the whole day wouldn’t seem enough. But set aside at least half of your day for shopping.
Here are the top 5 shopping places to check out:
Bastakiya Quarter in Bur Dubai is the place with which Dubai shares its traditional roots. It’s been declared a conservation area and no vehicles are allowed. Walking tours are arranged regularly in the mornings where a walk down the narrow alleys will give you a peak into the restored buildings. Visit Basta Art Café and the nearby galleries if you are interested in knowing Dubai’s growth graph. Be prepared to reserve half of your day at Bastakiya.
Dubai’s cheap eats are famous not just because they are light on the pocket but also for the fact that the restaurants in Dubai are not affordable to a common man. If you want to taste a hard hitting combination of delicious food and rock bottom prices head to Jumeirah and Satwa. Restaurants operating for more than 20 years will narrate tales of bygone Dubai as they serve delicious local Arabic, fast food and Asian cuisine.
The Gold Souk has proved to be an antithesis to the saying ‘All that glitters is not gold’. The whole souk glitters with the yellow metal as you are literally magnetized into buying at least some piece of gold. In fact, some tourists arrive in Dubai just for tax-free shopping of gold and international brands. An hour and two should be reserved for souks.
Jumeirah beach is a must visit attraction for any tourist in Dubai. More than the beach itself, the long strip of five star hotels instantly catches your attention. There are lot of water sports and family activities to do on the beach itself, especially the Kite beach which attracts a lot of Kite surfers. Reserve your evenings for the beach activities.
Cruising down Dubai Creek is a once in a lifetime experience particularly when it’s on a traditional Dhow in the shadows of the moonlight. If you are traveling as a couple, the cruise sets up a perfect romantic setting amidst the flickering background lights, music and belly dancing and BBQ buffet dinner. The cruise takes approximately 2 hours of sailing in the Dubai Creek.
We would not recommend the experience if you have swished down the slopes of Switzerland in its full bloom. But for a first timer, it’s an amazing place especially when it contrasts so much with Dubai’s image as a hot, sunny place. The world’s famous indoor ski slope in the Mall of Emirates has some amazing setting for beginners and intermediaries to enjoy snow activities like skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing. Better still, there is the Mall of Emirates to hunt for, after the wonderful snowy experience. Allot at least half a day for this activity.
If you are visiting Dubai as a family and have 3-6 hours to spare, then Wild Wadi should be a top priority on your scheme of things. The kids will love the killing waves whilst the adults will time-travel back to their younger days. A perfect place if you are a water baby.
If you feel the creative geniuses behind the world’s tallest building deserves applause then a visit to The Observatory at Burj Khalifa is certainly suggested. It takes you the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa where high atop you’ll enjoy the most extraordinary view of Dubai city. The entry is through the world’s largest Dubai Mall from where you will ride in one of the world’s fastest elevators to reach the Observatory. Reserve at least 45 minutes – hour to enjoy the scenic views.
Unless you own a property on the islands or have booked a room in the Atlantis, the Palm Islands are just one of the amazing sightseeing points to be admired from a distance. Picturesque opportunities are in plenty with yacht charter companies who arrange for sailing trips around the Palm and the World islands.
A stay in the Burj Al Arab is dream accomplished only by a few. For the others who want to gather memories of a visit to the Burj Al Arab rather than just clicking photos of the hotel from a distance, the idea of afternoon tea at Sahn Eddar provides an insight to the splendor of the hotel’s interiors. If you can afford, the Majlis Al Bahar on the beach is a more attractive option from where you can marvel at the Burj Al Arab’s true outer beauty.
The hot air balloon flight in Dubai is a renowned activity for taking in the amazing views of Dubai; numerous tour operators have started offering this service because of its consistent popularity. If you have the extra cash, try to book a ticket to take a trip around Dubai in a hot air balloon, the views are fantastic and unforgettable, that said, only book if you prefer to enjoy the early morning landscape rather than walk and explore by foot as it will take up at least 6 hours of your day.
If you thought, the Hot Air Balloon ride was the only way to experience the pictorial horizon of Dubai, think again. Call your tour operator for an exclusive Helicopter or Seaplane 30-minute tour to enjoy Dubai scenic spectacles through a bird eyes view. With a handy cam or a digital camera in hand, capture images of characteristic landmarks like Palm Islands, Burj Al Arab, and Burj Khalifa from unthinkable angles. In less than half an hour, you will have seen Dubai’s true beauty.
First time jumpers are just going to love this! Learn to aviate and enjoy the experience of total weightlessness in the sky. As you venture into open air, memorize the bird eye’s view of the Palm Island, Sheikh Zayed Road, Arabian Sea and the Jumeirah Beach. However, be prepared to allot at least 3 hours for parachute jumping and adventure skydiving.