Dubai is one of the world’s most exciting cities, from its world-class contemporary architecture, cultural institutions, galleries, malls and restaurants to its verdant parks, pristine beaches and adventure sports. If you only have one day to spare, or are on a stopover, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Dubai.
Start your day in Old Dubai at the Gold Souk on the Deira side of Dubai Creek. Wander past the glittering storefronts, where you can stop and haggle, or keep going until you reach the vibrant colours and aromas of the Spice Souk.
From there, hop aboard an abra (a traditional wooden water taxi), pay the AED1 fare, and five minutes later you will be in the in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood on the Bur Dubai side of Dubai Creek, where you can take an in-depth look at traditional Emirati culture at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. If modernity is more your thing, then close by is the Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai’s immaculate new contemporary art institution on Jaddaf Waterfront.
For lunch, jump in a taxi and make your way to Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), where you will find some of Dubai’s finest cafés and restaurants ranging from La Petite Maison and Zuma to Burger and Lobster and Cipriani.
Just one stop on the Dubai Metro from DIFC will take you to Downtown Dubai, home to Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s most iconic building, and The Dubai Mall. Book the ‘At the Top’, Burj Khalifa SKY package and experience spectacular views of Dubai on a guided tour of Level 124, Level 125 and Level 148 of the world’s tallest building, travelling at 10m/s in one of the world’s fastest elevators and stepping out onto the outdoor terrace of one of the world’s highest observation decks, 555m above the ground. With all these accolades, this is an essential experience, even if you only have 24 hours to spend in Dubai.
Finish the afternoon with a shopping spree at The Dubai Mall. The largest shopping mall in the Middle East and the second largest in the world, don’t leave without browsing the boutiques of Fashion Avenue, home to more than 200 global designer brands.
Make your way to Souk Madinat Jumeirah, which is modelled on a traditional Arabian souk, to indulge in a little more shopping before enjoying a sundowner on the terrace at the multi-award-winning Folly by Nick and Scott—just one of the excellent restaurants in the souk.
Stay for dinner and you won’t be disappointed. Trained by Gordon Ramsay, Nick Alvis and Scott Price are two of Dubai’s most talented chefs.
The perfect finale to your 24 hours in Dubai, why not end the day with an extravagant performance at Dubai Opera, before stopping by The Dubai Fountain on your way back to the hotel. The world’s largest performing fountain, the magical display of lights, music and water are mesmerising.
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