A Dubai bucket list guide

Al Seef Dubai - Things to do in Dubai - FooDiva

Al Seef Dubai

How should we entertain the myriad of visitors turning up on our Dubai doorstep, or ourselves on weekends? Well, for once, this guide is not about eating (even though you must munch, so I have included some dining links at the end) – however it will give you a round-up of bucket list options. Having lived here for 18+ years, I almost consider myself a local, so here is my #touristinmycity guide for anyone planning a visit to Dubai, and for those hosting guests. I have tried to give recommendations of stuff us ‘locals’ do, however please do check out the Dubai Tourism website for more mainstream activities. I incorporated many of the following activities in an itinerary for my family from Cyprus and Brussels over Christmas, so these are recently tried and tested 🙂

  • Historical Dubai: Dubai may appear decadent, but it boasts many historical Emirati facets. The old quarter of Bastakiya in Bur Dubai is lovely for a leisurely stroll around the wind towers and art galleries including a pit stop at long-standing Arabian Tea House. A little further along the Creek is the new Al Seef development, which combines regenerated wind towers (photo top right) with an al fresco development of cafes and shops – some even licensed (serving alcohol). Grab a traditional wooden ‘abra’ boat ride along the creek. Disembark at the spice souk in Deira where traders line up sacks brimming with spices.
  • Dubai Ferry ride - Dubai boat tours - FooDiva

    Dubai Ferry ride

    Dubai by boat: Take a ferry from Dubai Marina Mall (11am or 1pm daily – see schedule here) to Al Ghubaiba, which stops at the new-ish Dubai Water Canal (but don’t disembark here as this stop is like a crater on the moon). Great way to soak up, excuse the pun, Dubai’s landmark architecture from the sea. The Ghubaiba district is within walking distance of Bastakiya mentioned above, so you could cover both excursions off in one day. Best to pre-book as the boats often fill up. Alternatively, if you are prone to sea sickness, drive to the Dubai Water Canal pedestrian bridges for a stroll.

  • Jumeirah Mosque: For a spot of culture, a tour of Jumeirah Mosque (Saturday to Thursday 10am), followed by a camelcinno, made from local UAE camel milk at neighbouring The Majlis Café (also located in Dubai Mall). Known for its health benefits, camel milk has half the fat of cows milk, and over three times the vitamin C content. The camelcinno is my favourite for its more rounded and slightly bitter coffee.
  • Dubai Frame - Dubai sights - #touristinmycity - FooDiva

    Dubai Frame

    Dubai Frame: The crowds have subsided at Dubai’s latest landmark so you can be in and out within an hour (we arrived at 11am – opens at 10am). Plenty of parking right outside. AED50 entrance. At the top, soak up views from each side of the frame of old and new Dubai, plus a jaw-dropping glass-bottom floor which made me queasy! Snack refreshments at the top, and a few food trucks on ground level.

  • Al fresco malls: Forget indoor malls when the weather’s glorious even if these boast a ski slope and an aquarium. Enjoy the blissful climate instead by heading to some of Meraas’ al fresco malls. Aside from Al Seef, which I mentioned earlier on, my two other favourites are the second phase of City Walk with its European style streets, café culture and quirky boutiques. Or La Mer which sits on Jumeirah Beach – you can hire sunbeds here too if you get bored of eating. Masti is currently the only licensed restaurant (serving booze) in this development. Also keep an eye out for new opening The Yard in Al Khawaneej with a lake and walking trails.
  • A bird’s eye view of Dubai: The best way to see Dubai’s incredible man-made developments including all the Palm islands is sky high with a seaplane flight across the Arabian Gulf waters. Operated by Seawings, you can jet off and land at Jebel Ali hotel or Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club – all in under one hour.
  • Sunset yoga: For a little bit of exercise, I love ending a busy day with sunset yoga on the beach at Madinat Jumeirah overlooking Burj Al Arab. Even in the hot summer months, it’s nowhere near as steamy as a bikram class! Entrance through Talise spa at the Al Qasr hotel.
  • La Perle by Dragone - Dubai performances - FooDiva

    La Perle by Dragone

    An enthralling show: Dubai has its very own permanent performance by the founders of Cirque du Soleil, which is very impressive – La Perle by Dragone at the Al Habtoor Atrium. It’s expensive at full price but look out for regular offers. Alternatively, check out the calendar at Dubai Opera, which also includes London musical productions like Mary Poppins and Evita which I just saw.

  • Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary: At the mouth of Dubai creek in a wildlife sanctuary, sits a huge flock of gorgeous pink flamingoes. An absolutely mesmerising scene to watch at feeding time of 9am and 4pm (open daily except Friday).
  • A touch of art: In Abu Dhabi, however it is the Louvre, which is most definitely worth the 90 minute drive! A few too many antiquities for my liking, but the Jean Nouvel architecture is sensational. Some tips – buy your tickets in advance online (AED60); arrive for the 10am opening (closed Monday), otherwise expect huge queues for the galleries; skip the café/ restaurant and head elsewhere on Saadiyat Island for lunch.

On my bucket list to try is kayaking at Hatta Dam, still in the emirate of Dubai but another 90 minute drive easily. If you get there before me, let me know how it fares 🙂

Louvre Abu Dhabi - Abu Dhabi museums - FooDiva

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Useful dining links:

Any other must-sees for visitors?

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

How do we entertain the myriad of visitors turning up on our Dubai doorstep, or ourselves on weekends? Well, for once, I have compiled a guide that is not about eating (even though you must munch, so I have included some dining links) – however it will give you a round-up of bucket list options. Having lived here for 18+ years, I almost consider myself a local, so this is my #touristinmycity guide (see link in profile) for anyone planning a visit to Dubai, and for those hosting guests. I incorporated many of these activities in an itinerary (yes I love detailed plans ?) for my family from Cyprus and Brussels over Christmas, so they are tried and tested ??: a stroll around the regenerated @alseefdubai district. Any other must-sees? ??? #mydubai #foodiva

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4 Responses to “A Dubai bucket list guide”

  1. Fred @ Nouq camel milk ice cream & chocolates February 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Great list!
    I would just add the small yet interesting Dubai museum at the Al Fahidi Fort for an important review of the history of Dubai.

    • FooDiva February 13, 2018 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks Fred. Good one 🙂 I noticed Dubai Frame seems to have replicated some of the museum memorabilia, or perhaps they moved it across?

  2. Nancy February 13, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    I’d add the Etihad museum to learn more about the Emirates. I love the kitsch old Dubai museum in Bur Dubai but haven’t been in years. The new Etihad museum on Jumeirah beach road has Seven Sands onsite so you can end the tour with an Emirati meal.

    • FooDiva February 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Ooh I didn’t know the latter Nancy – will check it out! Thanks 🙂

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