The way I describe Dubai to friends is like being in a sauna. When you go in the sea, it’s like swimming in a hot bath, only to get out into the sauna again. It’s exceptionally hot. Despite the heat, it is one of the most impressive cities I’ve ever been to. A city that follows the coast. Humungous tower blocks, bigger than I’ve ever seen, right on the edge of the beach and beyond that, desert for miles and miles.
Most of the buildings are based on other designs from all over the world, where you’ll easily recognise the Chrysler Building, The World Trade Centre and more recently, they’ve given us Londoners a run for our money with a (much bigger) version of our London Eye.
When we visited, the heat was so unbearable that the majority of the activities we did happened to be inside.
Burj Khalifa – You’d be silly to head all the way to Dubai without visiting the Burj Khalifa. AKA the tallest building in the world! Although I would highly recommend going up it, even seeing it from the ground is a spectacle. The Dubai Mall sits right at the base of the BK with loads of restaurants overlooking it, but we popped across the water to the Souk side of the Mall to see it through the beautiful classic looking archways.
Burj Al Arab – Another incredible sight. The instantly recognisable sail shaped building that sits on it’s own island in the middle of the beach. We wanted to make sure we saw the building on the trip so got a taxi to the beach one day and sunbathed and swam in it’s shadow. The beaches of Dubai are extremely clean, with life guards keeping you in certain swim areas. They’re actually extremely strict about swim safety as there are a lot of water sports taking place on the beach too.
Walk along Jumeirah Beach at sunset – The sunsets in Dubai are nothing short of spectacular.We witnessed them from a few different spots and they throw up the most incredible colours reflected against all the buildings. Walking along Jumeirah Beach had to be my favourite sunset though, seeing the sun dip below the horizon and silhouette the new ginormous ferris wheel, while camels wandered back and forth across the sand.
Camel Ride – We have done a few camel rides in our time, so we didn’t need to do one in Dubai too. Saying that, if you find yourself travelling to the seaside city, as if a camel ride isn’t incredible enough, what an experience to do it against the backdrop of the incredible buildings right next to the sea.
Drinks at Dubai Marina – One night, we met up with a group of friends at the Dubai Marina, right behind our hotel and popped into Pier 7 and up to Cargo. Stepping into Cargo felt as though we had literally stepped back into London. A huge bar took up the middle of the room with seating all around as well as panoramic views of the Marina below. It was too hot to sit outside, but we took up a side booth and ordered Happy Hour cocktails overlooking the twinkling lights of the boats around us.
At.Mosphere – The tallest restaurant in the world and the best way to see the view from the Burj Khalifa. Disclaimer, we didn’t actually eat at the restaurant although we had every intention of doing so. We were placed at a table in the middle of the restaurant, so that we couldn’t even see the view and they said they had no tables by the window. We had booked online, so I think if you do, you need to specify that you want a table by the window. Jordan recommended the restaurant and it’s such a good hack, rather than paying the £100 fare to go to the viewing platform, it makes much more sense to pay half that fee AND get some food too!
IHOP – Not your typical Dubai spot, but after our brunch plans at At.Mosphere fell through, we popped into the Dubai Mall. As I have never been to the States before, I’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing IHOP, so Ben said it was imperative that we went! The pancakes were predictably delicious and they have one of the most incredible views over the Burj Khalifa! Talk about Brunch with a view.
Palazzo Versace – We spent the most gorgeous afternoon being wined and dined in the Versace Hotel. Not only was the restaurant stunning and the food delicious, but the hotel completely follows suit. The hallways are adorned with fashion sketches and murals all directing your attention out towards the beautiful infinity pool and view of the river beyond. We ended up being the last to leave the restaurant, taking our wine out onto the terrace to enjoy in the remainder of the days’ sunshine.
Kite Beach – One of my friend Scarlet’s housemates works in beach sports, so we headed down on one of our days staying with her to chill on the beach and while there, we came across a cute little Chiringuito that served the most delicious hummous and extremely sugary ice teas. We stayed there for a few hours after sunbathing, our feet in the sand, our hair drying in the sun, sipping on our iced teas and people watching. There are similar chiringuito’s all the way down Kite Beach, so it’s well worth a wander.
Watch the Fountain Show below the Burj Khalifa – One of Scarlet’s recommendations while we were staying with her was to see the fountain and light show. On our last night in the City, we headed to Karma Kafé and ordered some cocktails and nibbles before settling in to watch the show. People pour out of the mall to view the spectacle, so it’s so much more relaxing sitting down to watch it.
Dubai Aquarium – Sadly we didn’t have time to visit the aquarium nestled right in the middle of the Dubai Mall, but there are so many amazing experiences to try like an Otter experience, tank dive, Shark Encounter and Scuba Dives. Walking through the mall, you can see the the outside of the aquarium and it does look impressive!
Dubai Miracle Garden – With the heat being what it was, it was practically impossible to walk around outside for too long so we passed up visiting the Miracle Garden, but it is one of those places that everyone seems to visit and love when they go to Dubai. The gardens look absolutely spectacular with blooms framing hearts, planes and even buildings, if the weather had been a bit cooler, I would have loved to have gone!
Aquaventure Waterpark – Another of the stops that we didn’t manage to visit. Atlantis alone is such an iconic building and there are restaurants, experiences and numerous attractions within the waterpark to keep you amused all day. The entry fee isn’t cheap at