What to do in Dubai

Dubai is just as glamorous as you would think. Tall skyscrapers, gold vending machines, super yachts, fancy foreign cars, and the only 7–star resort in the world, the Burj Al Arab. The landscapes change fast and there is so much to see, but here are my top experiences in to have in Dubai.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Stay at the Burj Al Arab

 Burj Al Arab JumeirahDubai, United Arab EmiratesStay at one of the only 7 star hotels in the world! Shaped like a sailboat and full of color.

One of the only 7–star hotels in the entire world, this place exudes luxury. You cannot miss the hotel as it is shaped like a sailboat. Fun fact: each floor has its own concierge and smell — that’s right, a different smell. It smells amazing in there.

Visit the Dubai Miracle Garden

 Dubai Miracle GardenDubai, United Arab EmiratesSuch an interesting concept! Everything is made of flowers and stunning.

Open only during the winter months when the heat won’t kill the flowers. The within the garden houses, cars, and famous landscapes are sculptured out of millions of flowers.

Go to the top of the Burj Khalifa

 Burj KhalifaDubai, United Arab EmiratesOver 1800+ feet in the air at the top! #extreme

While this may sound scary, the view from the top is quite spectacular. Purchase a ticket in advance because they do sell out. I would recommend going around 5pm so you can see the daylight, sunset and night time views. It is a bit pricey, about $100USD but worth every penny.

Go on a desert sunset safari and see camels

 Al Sahra Desert Resort Equestrian CentreDubai, United Arab EmiratesGo on a sunset desert Experience and see beautiful camels.

This is such a different vibe from the concrete jungle that is the city. It’s dusty, it’s hot and it’s beautiful. When you see the camels and their silhouettes against the sunset you will feel like you are living inside the movie Aladdin. These tours typically offer henna and falconry as well.

Visit the Dubai Aquarium in the largest mall in the world

 Dubai Aquarium & Underwater ZooDubai, United Arab EmiratesVisit the aquarium in the zoo and you can watch the stingrays being fed or you can put on a jumper and feed them at your waist!

You can get lost in this mall but the aquarium is quite large and hard to miss. You can see from the outside the workers who get in to feed the many animals or even take your hand at putting on a suit waist deep and getting in to feed the stingrays.

Hit up the Marina to see the tallest block of residential buildings

 Marina PinnacleDubai, United Arab EmiratesVisit the tallest block of residential buildings next to the marina. The height alone is mesmerizing.

The marina will blow you away with the large yachts and even larger residential buildings.

Dine among the fish at Al Mahara

 Burj Al Arab JumeirahDubai, United Arab EmiratesDone at Al Mahara among the fish!

A luxury dining experience in the Burj Al Arab. You do need a reservation to even enter the hotel, so book in advance. The chef, Nathan Outlaw, is a two-time Michelin Star recipient.

Spend a day at Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark

 Aquaventure WaterparkDubai, United Arab EmiratesSpend a day riding the rapids and exploring the water park at Atlantis. There are so many slides and pools you will never want to leave!

Located on the palm crescent, this is where you go to be a kid for a day. Grab your inner tube, SPF and get ready to ride the rapids and waterslides until your body prunes.

Ride an Abra across the Dubai Creek

 Dubai Creek harbourDubai, United Arab EmiratesRiding an Abra across the creek in Dubai is a must do! It costs 1 dirham and takes about 5 minutes. The creek connects the souks and you can bypass traffic.

One the best experiences in my opinion. The cost is 1 dirham to ride this wooden boat across the creek and there are several of them leaving every minute connecting the souks.

Visit the Spice Souk

 Spice SoukDubai, United Arab EmiratesThe spice souk is located with the gold souk in the older area of Dubai. Make sure to stop in and talk with the locals and get some spices to take home.

This souk is located with the gold souks and reminiscent of old Dubai. You won’t see the sky high buildings and luxe of the city here.

map: Drinking in Dubai


[Flickr/Gary McGovern]

The City of Gold for those who can afford it, Dubai is rightfully considered a Middle Eastern Las Vegas (minus the legalized prostitution and families of oversized Americans). Like its splashier inbred cousin to the west, excesses are still very much in abundance despite economic woes, and since you need a permit to purchase alcohol directly, hotel bars and restaurants are your best bet for finding a stiff drink. You might try swaying with the crowds at Club Africana, downing a pint at Churchill’s or peacocking at the weeks-old Chameleon Club. Unlike Vegas, what happens in Dubai needn’t be kept a secret, and also unlike Vegas, there’s a Shake Shack to quell your hangover. All the legal prostitution in the world still can’t top a Shack Stack.

Zachary Feldman