Where to stay
- Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana, Omar Bin Al-Khattab Rd; +971 4 293 3333; www.rotana.com. Plush rooms located in the buzzing district of Deira. Do note that the hotel has an alcohol-free policy.
- Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Crescent Rd, Palm Jumeirah; +971 4 567 8999; www.dubai-palm.anantara.com. A top-notch resort situated on the man-made marvel that is Palm Jumeirah. It also houses three swimming pools and seven restaurants.
- Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, The Walk, Dubai Marina; +971 4 399 1111; www.hilton.com. A stylish hotel with a private beach facing the famed Palm Islands. Also on hand are a whopping 15 onsite restaurants and bars.
- Hotel Ibis Deira City Center Hotel, 8th St, Port Saeed District, Deira; +971 4 292 5000; www.accorhotels.com. For a more economical stay, check into this two-star hotel located across the road from Deira City Center Mall.
- Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Al Sufouh Rd, PO Box 213084; +971 4 399 3333; www.lemeridien-minaseyahi.com. A luxurious resort located on the Jumeirah coastline, alongside Dubai’s largest private white sand beach.
- Madinat Jumeirah, 6 Al Sufouh Rd; +971 4 366 8888, www.jumeirah.com. Experience authentic Arab hospitality at this upscale resort complex, which actually comprises two boutique hotels – Jumeirah Al Qasr and Jumeirah Mina A’ Salam.
- Orient Guest House, Historic Bastakiya Area, Al Fahidi St. You’ll almost feel as though you’re traveling back in time at this swanky hotel, what with its wooden ceilings and antique furniture. But its 11 rooms are comfortably furnished with modern conveniences. It’s a splurge for an average of AED460 per stay, but one worth indulging in.
- Shangri-La Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed, Trade Center 1, Sheikh Zayed Rd; +971 4 343 8888; www.shangri-la.com/dubai/shangrila. A five-star hotel located near the Financial Metro Station, with luxuriously appointed rooms.
Where to eat
- Al Mahara, G/F Burj Al Arab Hotel, Jumeirah Beach Rd. A romantic seafood restaurant with a floor-to-ceiling aquarium and a submarine-themed elevator to boot.
- Aroos Damascus, Al Muraqqabat Rd; +971 4 221 9825. Dine on authentic, reasonably-priced Syrian fare, like stuffed vine leaves with olive oil, mixed grilled meats, and hummus with warm pita bread.
- Barasti Beach Bar, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, Al Sufouh Rd; +971 4 318 1313; barastibeach.com. Unwind at this chic beach bar, which draws a hip crowd day and night.
- Bushman’s Restaurant & Bar, Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Crescent Rd, Palm Jumeirah; www.dubai-palm.anantara.com/dining.aspx. Specializes in Australian cuisine, especially cuts of prime meat and fresh seafood.
- China Times, Level 1, Deira City Center; +974 4 295 2515. This Chinese restaurant also serves up Japanese fare like salmon nishoku (a type of sushi comprising raw salmon, fish roe and mayonnaise).
- Le Pain Quotidian, Various locations, including The Walk, Jumeirah Beach Residence; +971 4 437 0141; www.lepainquotidien.ae. You’ll get freshly-baked artisan bread, organic meals and more at this elegant boulangerie.
- Qbara, Wafi Fort Complex, Oud Metha; +971 4 709 2500, www.qbara.ae. A fancy fine-dining restaurant specializing in Levant, Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisines.
- Ravi Restaurant, Shop #245, Al Dhiyafa Rd, Satwa. This resto dishes out incredibly mouthwatering Pakistani fare at surprisingly low prices. For just AED4, you can enjoy a plate of aloo paratha (potato-stuffed flatbread), or a hearty bowl of brain nihari stew for AED20.
- Reem Al Bawadi, Marina Walk, Dubai Marina; +971 4 452 2525; www.reemalbawadi.com. For upscale Arabic fare. We’d especially recommend the hummus and fattoush (bread salad).
- Thai Kitchen, Park Hyatt, Dubai Creek Club St; +971 4 602 1234. Feast on authentic Thai fare, cooked fresh at three open kitchen stations.
- The Meat Co., Souk Al Bahar; +971 4 420 0737; www.themeatco.com. Find great steaks at this waterfront restaurant, which boasts lovely views of the Dubai fountains.
- Toro Toro, Grosvenor House, Dubai Rd; +971 4 3176000; www.torotoro-dubai.com. This award-winning Pan-Latin restaurant, helmed by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, is the first of its kind in the UAE. It serves up sophisticated South American fare, with a focus on small plates for sharing.
- XVA Cafe, XVA Art Hotel, Al Fahidi St; +971 4 353 5383; www.xvahotel.com/cafe. Set in a beautiful courtyard, this cafe serves up a range of Middle Eastern-inspired vegetarian options like eggplant burgers.
- Zaatar w Zeit, Sheikh Zayed Rd; +971 4 343 6265; www.zaatarwzeit.net. The jebneh manakeesh (traditional melted cheese wrap) at this casual eatery will fill you up nicely.
- Zaroob, Shop #1, G/F, Jumeirah Tower Building, Sheikh Zayed Rd; +971 4 327 6060; www.zaroob.com. Sink your teeth into a delicious garlic chicken-wrapped man’oushe (flatbread sandwich) at this Arabic resto with a market setting,
What to do
- Atlantis Marine & Waterpark, Crescent Rd, The Palm; www.atlantisthepalm.com/marine-water-park. Spend an entire day at this enormous waterpark, where you can feed cownose rays, scuba dive alongside dolphins, get up close and personal with sea lions, and more.
- Bastakia Quarter, Bur Dubai. You’ll find art galleries, cafés, boutique hotels and more in the winding lanes of this tiny but atmospheric neighborhood.
- Burj Khalifa, 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd; +971 4 366 1655; www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/index.aspx. A trip to Dubai isn’t complete without a visit to the tallest skyscraper in the world. Get tickets to the observation decks for unparalleled views of the city.
- Desert safari, For a novel experience, book an evening desert safari (+971 50 2768 111; www.desertsafaridubai.com), where you’ll get to drive across dunes, ride camels and enjoy a barbecue dinner under the stars.
- Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai; www.thedubaimall.com. The world’s largest shopping mall (based on floor area) is home to more than 1,200 mid- and high-fashion retail outlets.
- Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai Marina; +971 4 362 7900; www.dubaimarinayachtclub.com. Charter a yacht and embark on a three-hour cruise of the Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Atlantis.
- Dubai Miracle Garden, Al Barsha South 3, Barsha/Dubailand Area; +971 4 422 8902; www.dubaimiraclegarden.com. The world’s biggest natural flower garden is home to approximately 100 million flowers, some of which are fashioned into structures like houses and pyramids. Do note that the garden is closed during summer.
- Fruit and Vegetable Market, Ras Al Khor Industrial Area 3; 971 4 320 0001. Visit this bustling wholesale market for a colorful array of fruits and other fresh produce. The chocolate enrobed dates pitted with almonds make for a good souvenir for family and friends!
- Global Village, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Rd, Exit No. 37; +971 4 362 4114; globalvillage.ae/en. Open during the winter months, this themed village features dozens of pavilions, each showcasing a different country’s handicrafts and cuisine.
- Sandboarding. Enjoy the thrills of surfing down Dubai’s sand dunes with Dubai’s desert alternative to snowboarding. Book with operators like Explorer Tours (+971 4 286 1991; explorertours.ae).
- Ski Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Rd. Is the desert heat getting too hot to handle? Consider stopping by this enormous indoor ski resort conveniently located in the Mall of the Emirates.
- Skydiving. Adventure junkies shouldn’t miss the opportunity to skydive over the Palm. Tandem jumps are also available. Contact Skydive Dubai (+971 4 377 8888, www.skydivedubai.ae) for more info.
- Souk Madinat Jumeirah, 6 Al Sufouh Rd. A modern recreation of the traditional marketplace, with restaurants, bars, boutiques and galleries.
- The Yellow Boats tour, theyellowboats.com. Take a scenic 90-minute cruise around Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and the iconic Burj Al Arab luxury hotel.
- Wild Wadi Waterpark, Jumeirah Rd; +971 4 348 4444. An outdoor water park with over 30 rides and attractions, such as the Jumeirah Sceirah, a whopping 32m-high tandem tube slide.