Dubai’s must-visit districts

Dubai is far more than colossal skyscrapers and indulgent shopping malls


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Dubai is a fascinating chequerboard of development that juxtaposes chic blocks of modern skyscrapers with charming historic neighbourhoods, harking back to the city’s mercantile past. Both contribute to Dubai’s rich and unique identity. Here are some of the most interesting areas to visit in Dubai.


Downtown Dubai

A visit to this metropolis is only complete once you’ve taken in its gigantic skyscrapers. The city’s sky-piercing landmark the Burj Khalifa is the most iconic example. It stands at a staggering 830m, with 160 floors of apartments, countless restaurants, a swimming pool, a health club and numerous viewing platforms. 

Lose yourself in The Dubai Mall, the largest shopping and leisure centre in the world. Families will love the colourful aquatic displays at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, as well as the colossal aquatic jets launched into the air by The Dubai Fountain.


Jumeirah Beach

A broad expanse of soft sandy shoreline, Jumeirah Beach is Dubai’s golden mile. Overlooked by the lofty sail of Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, it’s an ideal place to stretch out in the sun or enjoy some of Dubai’s prime watersports. Breeze out onto The Gulf on a jet ski or try your hand at windsurfing, while the younger swimmers will have hours of fun on the waterslides at Wild Wadi Waterpark.


Al Quoz

Previously a residential zone for the city’s industrious work force, Al Quoz in central Dubai is now a magnet for trendsetters and hipsters. Head to the hub of it all, Alserkal Avenue, where a sprawling complex of warehouses are filled with art spaces, concept stores and fitness studios. Music concerts, film screenings and contemporary theatre performances happen regularly, as well as exhibitions by cutting-edge artists. Meanhwile, cafés such as the chic Tom & Serg and the motorbike-obsessed Café Rider match Al Quoz’s stylish surroundings.


Dubai Old Town

For a glimpse of Dubai in the 19th century, take a turn down Al Fahidi’s charming alleyways and sand-strewn streets. Once a bustling trading hub for merchants, it was protected from attack by ancient forts and watchtowers. Today it’s full of restored and preserved houses and populated by a tight maze of shops, art studios, cafés and boutique hotels. The Old Town also extends across Dubai Creek to bustling Deira, where vibrant souks hum with a constant flow of shoppers seeking fresh produce, fragrant spices and dazzling goldwares. Jumeirah Creekside Hotel is a great location from which to reach Old Dubai.


The Palm Jumeirah

A striking man-made island that fans out into the Gulf in the shape of a palm tree, the Palm Jumeirah is one of Dubai’s icons. It’s home to a luxurious portfolio of hotels, including the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, alongside some seriously indulgent spas, world-class restaurants and smart residential towers. Elite beach clubs such as Club Vista Mare and Nasimi Beach are set against glimmering vistas of the ocean, making this an ideal location to unwind and enjoy Dubai’s highlife.