I recently had a 12 hour stop-over in Dubai on my way back to Australia to surprise my family. As always, I think that long stop-overs are the perfect excuse to get out of the airport and explore a new city and so I made no exception when it came to my wait in Dubai.
Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates, is known for its modern architecture, luxury shopping and immaculate hotels. Dubai also has a thing for having the biggest and best attractions in the world, from the second largest mall, the worlds tallest building, the worlds best hotel (the Burj Al Arab) and the worlds biggest diamond ring…. to name a few. Whilst you could easily spend a few days wining and dining in the luxury that is Dubai you can also tick off many of the main attractions in only a few hours, making Dubai the perfect spot to explore during a long stop-over.
THE PERFECT ONE DAY ITINERARY FOR DUBAI…
You can’t visit Dubai without visiting the traditional Souks. Stepping into the narrow alleyways of the Souks is like stepping into the Dubai of the past, before the skyscrapers and tourism boom changed it forever. The two Souks I recommend visiting the most are the Spice and Gold Souks.
As Dubai is one of the most luxurious and expensive cities in the world it is no surprise that Gold and Dubai go hand in hand. The Gold Souk is like nowhere else, with the windows of the stalls filled with the most extravagant and expensive gold in all of the world, including the worlds biggest ring (verified by Guinness World Records)- though no one would ever actually be able to wear it, it’s huge.
The passageways of the Spice Souks are lined with mounds of herbs and spices outside every stall. The air is filled with the aroma of cinnamon, turmeric and nutmeg. Spend some time walking around and smelling the products and watching the light spill in from the rafters.
Don’t forget to barter for a better price, especially if paying cash.
Both of these Souks are located in Deira. The closest metro station is Al Ras, less than 400 metres away.
DUBAI CREEK & MOSQUE
The Dubai Creek is directly out the front of the Souks, so you can’t miss it. It is a gorgeous little spot to take some photos and admire the city. I recommend catching a ‘Abra’ (a long-boat), across the creek to the other side to explore some laneways, do some shopping and visit a Mosque.
We visited the Sheikh Mohammed Mosque, which was small but beautiful. However, don’t make the mistakes we did. We walked into and explored the male side of the mosque accidentally. In our defence there was absolutely no signs stating this fact and no indication that we couldn’t go in… until we walked around the other side of the mosque and noticed the sign saying ‘woman entrance.’ At least no one saw us and we didn’t get in trouble…
Being a hot and dry desert, the middle east is one of the hardest places to grow plants and flowers in the world, which is why the Dubai Miracle Garden is so impressive. Filled with 100 million blooming and colourful flowers it truly is a ‘miracle.’ The flowers have been designed into extravagant sculptures and pieces of art.
You will either have to catch a bus or taxi to get here and it’s quite a distance from the airport so if you’re short on time you may have to give this a skip…
VISIT A ROOFTOP BAR
On the way back from the Miracle Gardens stop at the ‘Level 43 Rooftop Sky Lounge,’ at the 4 Points by Sheraton Hotel. Boasting an incredible view of the Dubai skyline it is the perfect place to eat some reasonably priced food, drink a cocktail and watch the sunset over the city and the sea. It’s so good even a tourism board were filming from there!
The Dubai mall is the largest mall in all of Dubai with over 1000 stores across 4 levels. Apparently it is the second largest mall in the world (on total area) after the West Edmonton Mall in Canada. I have also been to the Edmonton Mall and I am surprised by this figure as I felt like the Dubai Mall was much larger (though as my boyfriend likes to point out, when I visited the Edmonton Mall I had a sprained ankle and got pushed around in a wheelchair by my caring boyfriend all day long, so I may be forgetting just how big it is haha).
You will find almost every store you can imagine in this complex and could easily spend a whole day here if you wished. Besides the shopping the mall is also home to an indoor Theme Park, an Aquarium and an Ice Rink.
The closest metro station is the Burj Khalifa Metro Station.
The Dubai Fountain is the worlds largest choreographed fountain system. The jets of water reach as high as 140 metres, which is the equivalent of a 45 story building. There is a ‘show’ every thirty minutes between 6pm and 11pm, with a different song and different design each time. I wasn’t expecting too much from this and so almost skipped it in order to get back to the airport in time but it was actually really cool and I’m glad I stayed behind twenty extra minutes to watch the five-minute masterpiece (for the record I still made my fight, I’m just super cautious and always get to the airport with hours to spare).
The fountains are right outside the Dubai Mall and featured in the Burj Lake, right in front of the Burj Khalifa.
The Burj Khalifa is the worlds tallest building, standing at over 828 metres high. Tickets to visit the observation deck vary in price from $50 AUD to $130 AUD. I skipped the visit this time as I was short on both time and cash but I enjoyed photographing it from the fountains. It truly is a gorgeous and impressive building.
I loved exploring the best that Dubai has to offer over my twelve-hour stopover and am looking forward to exploring even more of it in the future! If you are ever lucky enough to have a long stopover in Dubai be sure to leave the airport and make the most of the opportunity to explore this luxurious and unique Middle-Eastern city by following the itinerary above!
Over to you. Which of the above places would you want to visit the most?
Or what places should have I visited as well/instead?
Let me know in the comments below!