We spent seven days in Dubai in February 2023. We did a lot of research about the best places to visit, must-do experiences, how to use public transportation, where to stay, and much more.
In this article, we’ll share with you our detailed 7-day itinerary with tips, costs, and our honest opinion about the places we’ve visited, so that you can take out the most of your visit to Dubai.
Visiting Dubai: Practical Information
- Best time to visit: winter (from November to February)
- Currency: AED
- Language: UAE’s official language is Arabic, but English is spoken by almost everyone in Dubai
- Visa: check visa requirements
- How to get there: Dubai Airport or Abu Dhabi Airport
- How to get around: taxi (check the Careem app) and public transportation
- How to pay for stuff: cash and card are widely accepted
- Plugs: plug type is G (like in the UK)
- Safety: one of the safest places in the world when it comes to crime
Summary of Dubai 7-Day Itinerary
- Visiting The View At the Palm
- Ride at the Palm Monorail
- The Pointe – Best Place for Pictures of the Atlantis
- Visiting Jumeirah Souk Madinat
- Dinner and Stroll at Dubai Marina
- Cultural Tour at Jumeirah Mosque
- Ethiad Museum (alternative)
- Dubai Mall
- At the Top of Burj Kalifha
- Dubai Fountain Show
- Dubai Downtown
- Ski at Mall of the Emirates
- Explore Old Dubai and Visit the Souks
- Stroll JBR Walk – Jumeirah Beach Residences
Day 0 in Dubai – Arrive and Check-in at your Accommodation
We assume that your flight will arrive later in the afternoon like ours. So you won’t have much time to explore and you’ll go straight to your accommodation. If your flight arrives early in the morning or in the afternoon, you can skip to the next day.
How to Get To Dubai?
We arrived at the Abu Dhabi airport from Bari (Italy) at 18:30. The flight cost 39.99€ per person with Wizz Air (only a small bag). You can get similar prices with Wizz Air from other European cities.
Depending on where you’re flying from, you might want to go to Dubai Airport (DXB) instead. You can use Skyscanner to check the best prices for flights to Dubai.
Do you need a Visa to travel to Dubai?
We have Portuguese passports, so we got our visa on Arrival. The process was super simple and quick. Check the following website to see the visa requirement for your passport.
How to Get a SIM card in UAE?
After that, we got a SIM card from Virgin right after passport control. We paid 150 AED for 21 GBs for 7 days (limited to 3GB per day).
There’s also another popular internet provider called du. If you arrive at Dubai airport, you’ll get a free SIM card with 1GB.
You’ll find counters to buy SIM cards in most malls and some metro stations as well.
Alternatively, you may opt to buy an e-SIM using the airalo app. If you use my referral code, you’ll get a 3$ credit. Use the referral code below on your first purchase:
How to Get from Abu Dhabi Airport to Dubai?
- Abu Dhabi Airport Express Bus: the cheapest and most practical way to go from Abu Dhabi Airport to Dubai is using the Abu Dhabi Express Bus. It runs every hour 24/7 and the journey takes approximately one hour. The price is 35 AED per person.
- Taxi: you can get a taxi from Abu Dhabi airport direct to your accommodation in Dubai.
- Private transfer: you can book a private transfer in advance using GetYourGuide, for example.
Once we got to the arrivals hall, we purchased a ticket to the Abu Dhabi Airport Express Bus to Dubai. This is the most convenient way to get to Dubai from Abu Dhabi. At the moment, there are no machines to buy tickets. You buy the ticket at the counter when you arrive. The ticket is valid for a certain departure hour. It costs 35 AED per person and the journey takes approximately one hour.
There are buses every hour 24/7. We recommended checking the Abu Dhabi Airport Express bus website for more information.
The bus arrives at Battuta Mall in Dubai, where you can get the metro from there to your accommodation, or get a taxi if that’s more convenient.
Once in Buttuta Mall, we catch the metro to our hotel’s nearest metro station. From the metro station to our apartment was a 20-minute walk. On the way there, we stopped at the Marina Mall to have some dinner. A 20-minute walk was possible because we traveled in the winter. Otherwise, it might be impossible to walk such a distance in Dubai’s summer temperatures.
Using Dubai’s public transportation is super cheap and easy (with the help of Google Maps).
How to Get from Dubai Airport (DXB) to your accommodation?
If you’re arriving at Dubai international airport (DXB), there are several ways to get to your accommodation:
- by taxi: you can get a Taxi to your accommodation. Taxis in Dubai are super affordable. For example, a ride from Dubai Airport to Dubai Mall should cost approximately 55 AED.
- by metro: there are stations on Terminals 1 and 3, with both stations on the Red Line. The trains are safe, modern, and comfortable. To ride the metro, you need a nol card. Learn more about nol card here.
- by bus: depending on where you’re staying, it might be more convenient to go by bus. You need to buy a nol card in advance to use the bus—you can’t pay directly to the driver.
Where to Stay in Dubai?
If you’re in Dubai for the first time, we recommend staying near Dubai Marina, JBR, or the area around Burj Khalifa. Those are lively zones where you’ll always have something going on at night with plenty of restaurants and great access to public transportation to all the most important highlights. If you’re on a budget, you can stay in Deira or Bur Dubai where you’ll find the most affordable stays.
Try to book your accommodation in advance so that you can get better options for a better price. We booked our accommodation using Booking and besides receiving 10% back to use in future stays, we also got 40€ to spend on attractions.
We stayed in an apartHotel in Dubai Marina—the Royal Regency Suites. We booked a studio apartment, but we were upgraded to a one-bedroom apartment. The staff was great. The apartment was huge and with a great view of Dubai Marina (see picture above). It was only a 5-minute walk to the Marina Walk, a promenade with shops, restaurants, and views of super modern skyscrapers.
We also had access to the hotel pool and gym, but we were so busy visiting all the city highlights that we didn’t even step foot there.
How to Use Dubai’s Public Transportation?
To use Dubais’s public transportation as a tourist you need to buy a nol card. There are several options for nol cards. As a tourist, we recommend getting a red nol card. A red nol card costs 2 AED. You can get a card from ticket machines at metro stations. You can top-up your nol card with different products:
- Trips (1-zone, 2-zone, or 3-zones);
- Cash: you tap your card when you enter and exit the metro/bus. It will automatically calculate the amount to deduct from your card.
- Day ticket: unlimited travel using public transportation like metro, tram, and bus (the monorail at Palm Jumeirah is not included)
Once you buy a product on your nol card, you can only top up with the same product. If you have a day ticket, and on the following day you only want a trip, you’ll need to get a new nol card.
You can top-up your nol card up to five times. After that, you’ll need to get a new nol card. The ticket machines accept cash and card. Please note that bus stops don’t have ticket machines (at least we didn’t see any on the ones we used).
Here’s a summary of the costs:
- Nol card price: 2 AED
- Day ticket: 20 AED
- 1-zone trip: 4 AED
- 2-zone trip: 6 AED
- 3-zone trip: 8.50 AED
These are the prices for the economic class. You may opt to get the same products but in gold class, which is double the price.
For the most up-to-date information and prices, check the RTA website.
Cost of day 0 in Dubai
Food: Dinner at Marina Mall (2pp): 35€
- Abu Dhabi Airport Express to Dubai (2pp): 18€
- nol card + 1-zone trip (2pp): 3€
Virgin SIM card 21GB: 38€
TOTAL: 94€ (2pp) → 47€ per person
Day 1 in Dubai: Palm Jumeirah and Madinat Jumeirah
On this day, we visited Palm Jumeirah, the famous tree-shaped artificial island, and Madinat Jumeirah, a promenade with great views of Burj Al Arab.
Day 1 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities:
- The View at the Palm
- Monorail ride at Palm Jumeirah
- The Pointe (best view to Atlantis hotel)
- Souk Madinat
- Burj Al Arab
- Marina Walk
Visiting The View At the Palm
The best way to see Palm Jumeirah is from The View at the Palm. We got a taxi ride from our apartment to The View at the Palm. The entrance is done through the Nakheel Mall. We recommend buying your tickets in advance to avoid spending time in lines. Check the links below to get your tickets to the View at the Palm. Your ticket will be valid for the day and time you specify.
The visit starts with an animation projected on the floor with an explanation of the construction of the island by a guide. The audio was quite bad, so it was a little difficult to understand what was being said.
After that, you’ll watch a short video (that seems like an inspirational video) about the dream of creating the island. When the video is over, you’ll get to a room with several facts and curiosities about the island and its construction. In my opinion, this room was very interesting, but I saw many people going straight to the next part, without even looking at this room. Don’t rush your visit. You can spend any time you need before going to the actual viewpoint.
Finally, you’ll enter an elevator to go to the top of the building to actually see the Palm. From the top, you can see the shape of the island and the famous Atlantis Hotel on the opposite side. You can also see several other interesting sights. You can see Burj Al Arab (the famous seven-star hotel), the Ain Dubai Ferris wheel on the Bluewaters island, and if you’re lucky and there isn’t much fog, you can also see Burj Khalifa.
Taking good pictures in this place might be quite challenging because there are some metal bars all around the windows. Additionally, we visited near midday and the sun was not helping to get a good light.
We spent approximately one hour at the top to take some pictures and soak up the views and we think that was more than enough.
If you don’t want to spend much money on food for lunch, take the time to lunch at the Nakheel Mall after you visit the Palm. We went to the Waitrose supermarket. You can get super cheap pastries and other already-made meal options.
Ride at the Palm Monorail
Now that you are at the Nakheel Mall, it is super convenient to catch a ride on the Palm Monorail. From the Monorail, you can get very interesting sights along the journey. So, in our opinion, this ride is an attraction in itself. Additionally, it’s also a cheap way to get to the Pointe. A nice beach with a great view of the Atlantis Hotel.
You can get to the Monorail from the Nakheel mall. Just follow the signs for the Monorail. Buy a one-way ticket to the Pointe. You need to buy the tickets from the counter. There aren’t ticket machines. The ticket from Nakheel Mall to The Pointe costs 5 AED per person.
Try to go in the front of the monorail to get the best views. I was a bit disappointed because the front windows are quite small and there were too many people so that we could get a nice view at the front.
The Pointe – Best Place for Pictures of the Atlantis
We got out at The Pointe Station and we took some pictures from the monorail station. It actually has a great view of the Atlantis Hotel. From there, we went to The Pointe beach where we eat ice cream and relaxed a bit on the beach with some views of the Atlantis Hotel. This is a very nice place to get those insta-worthy pictures.
This beach is public and you can lay down on the puffs provided for free. It’s nice to visit this place, but I don’t recommend it if you have the idea of actually going to the beach and the water. This is a super touristic place, there are always people coming, going and taking pictures. The beach is small and the water is very shallow.
Visiting Jumeirah Souk Madinat
Once we’ve had enough of that place, we caught the monorail back to the Palm Gateway. It costs 10 AED per person. From there, you can get a bus or a taxi to Souk Madinat Jumeirah (use Google Maps to see the best route). We caught a bus, and we had to walk for about 10 minutes.
Jumeirah Souk Madinat is like a mall with an old style resembling the old souks. It has a promenade with restaurants and stores and great views of the Burj Al Arab hotel.
If you want to see Burj Al Arab from close, you can walk from there. It’s approximately 10 minutes on foot. It was already dark when we got there. So, we weren’t able to get good pictures. If you want to get good pictures, we recommend getting there earlier.
If you want to experience the luxury of the seven-star hotel from the inside, you can get a guided tour of the hotel. Check the tickets to the Burj Al Arab guided visit here.
Dinner and Stroll at Dubai Marina
Because we were staying at Dubai Marina, we caught a taxi to our accommodation. You can go to Dubai Marina to have dinner, or decide to have dinner at Souk Madinat if it’s more convenient for you.
We had dinner at Habib Beirut and the food was really good. After that, we went for a stroll on Marina Walk.
Alternatively, you can also book a yacht cruise along Dubai marina with dinner included. Check the different alternatives on Get Your Guide.
We like to book our activities in Get Your Guide because you can cancel up to 24 hours if your plans change and you can check the reviews of hundreds of other people. Additionally, you get 10% off on your first bookings.
Cost of day 1 in Dubai
- Breakfast: at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Lunch at the supermarket (2 pp): 4€
- Ice cream at The Pointe (2pp): 7.50€
- Dinner Habib Beirute (2pp): 44€
- The View at the Palm (2pp): 49.90€
- Taxi ride (Dubai Marina to The View at the Palm): 11.50€
- Palm monorail ride (2pp): 7.5€
- Palm Gateway to Souk Madinat Bus (nol card + ride) (2pp): 5€
- Taxi ride (Burj Al Arab to Dubai Marina): 10€
TOTAL: 143€ (2pp) → 71.5€ per person
Day 2 in Dubai: Jumeirah Mosque and Burj Khalifa
On our second full day in Dubai, we went to visit Jumeirah Mosque, went to the top of Burj Khalifa, and explored Dubai downtown.
On this day, we would make a lot of trips by public transportation. So, we decided to get a nol day ticket. The card costs 2 AED and the daily ticket costs 20 AED. Getting a day ticket is super convenient to get around because you don’t have to worry about the balance on your card and you can take any type of public transportation.
Day 2 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities:
- Jumeirah Mosque and/or Ethiad Museum
- Dubai Mall
- At the Top of Burj Khalifa
- Dubai Fountain Show
- Dubai Downtown
Jumeirah Mosque Visit
Jumeirah Mosque is the only Mosque in Dubai that can be visited by non-muslims. They offer cultural tours every day, except Fridays, at 10:00 and 14:00. No prior booking is required. Just make sure you get there half an hour earlier to register and eat some breakfast at the included buffet. It costs 15 AED per person. For more information, check the Jumeirah Mosque website here.
To visit Jumeirah mosque make sure you dress appropriately. Women and men must cover their legs and shoulders and women must cover the head. If you don’t have a scarf to cover your hair, you can buy one there. Additionally, they provide an abaya for women or kandora for men, if you are not dressed appropriately.
During this visit, they explain the basics of the Islamic religion including the purification ritual. You can also ask any questions about their culture and religion. This visit was very interesting, and I totally recommend it to anyone that wants to know more about their culture.
Ethiad Museum (alternative)
Next to Jumeirah Mosque is Ethiad Museum. This museum explains the founding of the UAE and information about the founding fathers of the seven different Emirates. It also includes a visit to the Union House, the birthplace of the UAE in 1971, and the Guest Palace.
The museum is huge and the building is a beautiful piece of architecture.
We didn’t have the time to visit this museum on this day because we had already a booking for Burj Khalifa in a couple of hours. So, we ended up visiting this museum on another day. If you have the time and want to know more about the foundation of UAE and its founding fathers, take a visit to this place. Admission costs 25 AED. You can buy the tickets when you arrive.
The next stop on our itinerary is Burj Khalifa—the highest building in the world with 828 meters.
The best way to get there is by metro. The entrance to the Burj Khalifa is made through Dubai Mall. There’s a metro station that stops at Dubai mall. So, this is a very convenient way to get there.
Dubai Mall is huge, so take some time to visit the mall and its attractions.
It is home to the biggest aquarium. You can see the aquarium from the outside for free. You can also get tickets for the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Make sure you get your tickets in advance. There’s a combo ticket that includes a visit to the Top of Burj Khalifa and a visit to the Aquarium and underwater zoo.
In the Dubai Mall, there’s also a very interesting waterfall that it’s worth visiting.
We ended up not visiting these attractions on this day, but make sure you take a look at them on the same day you visit Burj Khalifa if you have fewer days in Dubai.
At the Top of Burj Khalifa
If you want to go to the top of Burj Khalifa, make sure you buy your tickets in advance. You need to choose the day and time of your visit. Some hours are more expensive than others. You can get a ticket to floors 124 and 125 or a ticket that also includes floor 148. The ticket to floor 148 is almost four times more expensive than the other ticket. But, it may be worth it if you want to get a premium experience with fewer people.
You can get tickets to At The Top of Burj Khalifa using the Get Your Guide app. You can get a 10% discount code to use on your first purchase.
The Dubai Mall is huge and it might be a little difficult to get to the entrance of Burj Khalifa. Once you get into the mall, go down to the ground level, then catch the elevator to the lower ground (LG). After that, just follow the signs to At the top of Burj Khalifa. The visit to the Burj Khalifa might take some time. So, don’t go there hungry. You can eat something at the Mall food court. Or if you want to save some money like us, go to the Waitrose supermarket and eat something from there.
There were many people at the entrance to Burj Khalifa, but it was pretty quick to get to the elevators, around 20 minutes. The elevator is pretty fast and you can feel the changes in pressure on your ears.
Once you reach level 124, you can soak up the views around the building. There were many people at the top, all wanting to take pictures in the windows. It is pretty difficult to get some decent pictures with so many people and the reflections on the windows (depending on the time of the day).
Don’t forget to also go to level 125 using the stairs. The views are almost the same, but there are few people there, so it might be better to take some pictures.
We spent about one hour at the top and it was more than enough. The line for the elevator to go down took about 10 minutes.
If you don’t want to spend so much money to visit the top of Burj Khalifa, seeing it from the ground level, outside Dubai Mall is also a great experience.
Dubai Fountain Show
Right outside the Dubai Mall, it’s where the famous Dubai Fountain Show takes place every day every 30 minutes from 6 PM to 10:30 PM (weekdays) or to 11:00 (weekends). It’s the world’s tallest performing fountain (as high as 140 meters). It takes about three minutes and it’s accompanied by different songs.
The show is free to watch. There are plenty of people waiting to see the show, but we were always able to get a good place.
If you want a better experience of the Dubai Fountain show, you can go on a traditional abra boat ride during the show.
There are plenty of restaurants around the fountain. We ended up having dinner at KFC with a great view of the fountain.
The whole area around the Dubai Fountain is worth visiting and exploring. We took some nice pictures at Downtown Palace and at the Burj Park at night and we saw the fountain show from several different angles.
We also visited the place where the famous Wings of Mexico are located. There was a line of people that wanted to take a picture there. To be honest, I didn’t find it much interesting, so I didn’t take a picture there.
After a long day, we took the bus and the metro to get back to our accommodation at Dubai Marina.
Cost of day 2 in Dubai:
- Breakfast: at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Lunch at the supermarket (2 pp): 9.5€
- Dinner KFC (2pp): 15€
- Jumeirah Mosque Visit (2pp): 7.5€
- At the top of Burj Khalifa level 124, and 125 (2pp): 88.50€
- Nol card + daily ticket (2pp): 11€
TOTAL: 129€ (2pp) → 64.5€ per person
Day 3 in Dubai: Mall of the Emirates, Old Dubai, and JBR
On our third day in Dubai, we visited the Mall of Emirates, the area of Old Dubai, and the JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences) area. While we don’t think the Mall of the Emirates is worth a detour, Old Dubai is a must that you should not skip.
For this day, we topped up our nol card with a day ticket—the most convenient for all the trips we did on this day.
Day 2 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities
- Mall of the Emirates (Ski Dubai)
- Old Dubai:
- Al Seef, Al Fahidi, and Al Bastakiya Historic Neighbourhood, and traditional souks
- Dubai Museum
- Traditional Abra boat from Bur Dubai to Deira
- Traditional Deira souks: gold souk, spice souk, textile souk, and perfume souk
- JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences)
- Bluewaters Island (Ain Dubai – World’s biggest and tallest Ferris Wheel)
Ski at Mall of the Emirates
On this day, we needed to buy a power adapter. Because the Mall of the Emirates was on the way, we decided to make a stop there.
The Mall of the Emirates is house to the Ski Dubai. An indoor ski resort where you can ski, snowboard and experience other winter activities. You can actually see the ski slopes without having to actually enter Ski Dubai. In my opinion, the place was quite disappointing. You can’t see much from the outside, and the place seems quite small. Probably the experience is different if you pay to actually go there skiing. The prices are quite affordable for such an activity and they even provide all the gear.
As in other Malls in Dubai, there are plenty of places to eat. We eat at a super cheap Lebanese restaurant in the Mall. One menu was more than enough for the two of us.
In my opinion, this wasn’t worth the detour and there are better attractions in Dubai.
Explore Old Dubai and Visit the Souks
This part of Dubai is super interesting and different from all the other attractions and places. So, we really recommend visiting this area. To get there by public transportation, exit at the Bujurman Metro station.
After getting out of the metro station, we walked for about 15 minutes to Al Seef.
From there, we explored Al Fahidi and Al Bastakia Historic Neighbourhood. These places are super beautiful and showcase the old traditional Arabic houses and wind towers made of sandstone. There are plenty of places to take great pictures and souks where you can buy some souvenirs.
We also suggest taking a look at the Wall of Old Dubai and visiting Dubai Museum. The Dubai Museum is housed on the Al Fahidi Fort and it showcases Dubai’s history and its original heritage. Basically, you can see how people used to live before the discovery of oil in the UAE. The entrance fee is just 3 AED. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, the museum was temporarily closed. But, we think it is well worth the visit. Combining this museum with the Ethiad museum will give you a better idea of Dubai’s history (both old and most recent events).
If you’re hungry, stop by the Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Cafe. This place is super well-rated and with great decoration for awesome pictures. We didn’t go there, we just passed by and it was almost full. If you want to take some good pictures, they have a set outside of the cafe where you can take pictures for free.
We continued walking to Deira Creek until Bur Dubai Station to ride a traditional abra boat to Bur Dubai at the other side of the creek. The journey takes about 5 minutes, and only costs 1 AED per person (you pay directly on board to the driver)—absolutely recommended. You can also book a private abra boat for a tour around Dubai Creek. While you’re waiting for the next boat, get some juice from the street sellers. We bought a pineapple juice (10 AED) and it was delicious.
Once we arrived at the Deira district, we explored the traditional souks: perfume souks, textile souks, spice souks, and the famous gold souk. The sellers are a bit pushy on these souks, but nothing out of this world, just say “no, thanks” and continue walking. If you don’t want to be bothered too much by the sellers on the souks, go in the late afternoon, after 4 PM for example. The sellers are already tired and won’t bother you too much. At least, that was what we experienced.
If you prefer, you can also take a guided tour of the souks and old Dubai. I think it must be a rich cultural experience.
If you want to buy something, don’t forget to haggle over the price. They will always start with a price that is way higher than it is worth—make sure you have an idea of the price of the things you want to buy so that you don’t end up paying more. For example, I’m sure I paid too much for a bracelet in a gemstone store, even though I could reduce the price to half. If you want to buy some simple souvenirs like magnets, little purses, and bookmarks, you’ll find plenty of options at very affordable prices.
At sunset, we returned to Bur Dubai, also by abra boat. We were presented with a magnificent sunset with seagulls flying over the water. You can also opt to catch a ferry to another part of Dubai. For example, we could have caught a Ferry to Dubai Marina. It would have been a good experience to see Dubai’s coastline from a different perspective.
Stroll JBR Walk – Jumeirah Beach Residences
After visiting old Dubai, we got back to Dubai Marina. From there, it’s just a 15-minute walk to JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences).
This is a lively area by the coast along Marina beach and The Beach. It’s bordered by a promenade, the JBR Walk. The JBR Walk is filled with restaurants, stores, and perfume vendors. It’s also where you’ll see some people riding their luxury cars. We had dinner there at an Indian restaurant. If you fancy something more adventurous, you can have Dinner in The Sky. You’ll eat on a dining platform suspended by a crane—I’m sure you’ll get great views from there and a wonderful experience.
From JBR you have a lovely view of Ain Dubai, the world’s biggest and tallest Ferris wheel located on Bluewaters Island. If you like walking and you’re visiting in the winter, we recommend walking there and admiring the scenery of the super modern JBR skyscrapers. You can also opt for dining or eating ice cream at Bluewaters Island instead of JBR.
Cost of day 3 in Dubai
- Breakfast at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Lunch at Dubai of the Emirates (2pp): 7.40€
- Pineapple juice: 2.50€
- Dinner at India Palace (2pp): 38.50€
- Souvenirs: 45€
- Top up Nol card with daily ticket (2pp): 10€
- Abra boat from Bur Dubai to Deira and return (2pp): 1€
Total: 108€ (2pp) → 54€ per person
Day 4 in Dubai: Desert Adventure
This is one of the top experiences you cannot miss in Dubai: a desert experience. You’ll need to book a guided tour to visit the desert. We book ours using Get Your Guide. There are many tour providers with different packages to choose from. All tours that I’ve seen will pick you up at your hotel or a place nearby. Choose yours accordingly to what you want to experience.
Here’s a list of the activities provided by most tour operators:
- Dune bashing: you go on a jeep that drives at different speeds over the soft dunes—this was our favorite part of the experience;
- Sandboarding: it’s similar to snowboarding but you go down on sand dunes—it was fun and not scary at all;
- Camel ride;
- Quad bike;
- Bedouin Camp visit with dinner included;
- Camp activities: shisha, henna painting, photos with falcons, and shows (tanoura, belly dance, and fire shows).
Dubai Desert Safari – How much does it cost?
The cost of a desert tour in Dubai will greatly vary depending on what’s included in the package. Group tours can start as low as around 30€ per person to 150€ depending on the tour operator and the activities included.
The cheapest Dubai desert tours usually include dune bashing, sandboarding, and camel ride. It’s a great option if you want to have a desert experience without spending a lot of money.
Most complete tours include all the activities like dune bashing, sandboarding, camel riding, quad biking, a visit to a bedouin camp with dinner or lunch, and camp activities.
The tour we booked costed around 50€ per person and it included dune bashing, sandboarding, camel ride, quad bike (for an extra cost), visit to a bedouin camp with dinner and camp activities (free and extra cost activities).
For you to have an idea of what a desert tour looks like, we’ll describe our experience. Please note that it might be different from other tour providers.
Dubai Desert Safari – What it’s like? Overview and our Opinion
When you book your tour, you need to provide the place where you’re staying and they will pick you up at your accommodation or at a place nearby. Our guide picked us up at around 2 PM. The car was a 4×4 Toyota Landrover and it takes 6 people plus the driver.
After picking up everyone, he drove for about 50 minutes to a meeting point with other cars from the same and other tour operators. The meeting point was basically a place on the road next to the desert with a cafe, restrooms, and several vendors selling the typical desert head scarf and souvenirs.
Quad Bike Ride
At the meeting point, there was a closed track if you wanted to ride a quad bike for an additional cost.
Some tours already have the quad bike option included (of course, they are more expensive). We opt not to do the quad bike activity. To be honest it didn’t seem worth it because it was in an enclosed flat terrain. I believe there are other tours with different quad-biking experiences where you actually ride in the desert. We stayed at this place for approximately 40 minutes. After that, all cars departed at the same time to the desert.
Stop for Pictures
We finally entered the desert terrain and just after three minutes, we made a stop to take some pictures. To be honest, there wasn’t much opportunity for nice pictures because all cars started arriving with people that also wanted to take pictures. So, it was a bit difficult to get some decent photos without cars or people in the background. Our guide was super nice and took some pictures of me and my boyfriend, even though they didn’t turn out that well.
The place is very different compared to what you see on Instagram pictures. You’re not that far from the road, you can see the buildings at the side of the road; there are some green bushes on the sand; there are many other people also having the same experience.
After approximately a 20-minute stop for pictures, the actual dune bashing started. This part was my favorite, the driver turned on some super cool music remixes while driving through the dunes. This is way more fun than it seems. When talking to the other guests on our tour, this was also their favorite part.
Next, we stopped for sandboarding (our car and all the other cars on the tour). Our car was the first one to arrive at the sandboarding point, so we didn’t have to wait to experiment sandboarding for the first time. It was easy and super fun, so make sure you give it a try—it’s included in almost all desert experiences. While we waited for the others, we took a few more pictures.
It was time to go to the camp to ride the camels and have dinner. But before that, the drivers stopped in a place to adjust the tire pressure and clean the sand from the car. There were also some simple stores in this place. They will clean the sand from your feet and footwear for free but will push you into their stores to buy something.
Sunset and Camel Ride
After approximately 20 minutes, we headed to the camp for the sunset, camel ride, and dinner. The camel ride was included in our package, but we preferred not to do it and just watch the camels. I’m not a fan of riding animals, but these seemed very well looked after.
Additionally, the ride was pretty short, about two minutes. The line to ride the camels was not that long, so there’s no excuse if you really want to do it. They take a picture of you on the camels and will try to sell it during the dinner.
I was pretty disappointed with the sunset. The view from the camp wasn’t the best, and when we arrived the sun was already too low. I believe watching the sunset from the actual desert would be more interesting or if we have arrived earlier it would have been better.
Diner and Bedouin Camp Activities
Finally, we entered the camp. The camp looks pretty good with a nice decoration from the inside and there are some camp activities that you can do.
There was a designed shisha place where you can smoke for free (already included in the package). If you wanted to take it to your table you had to pay a small amount. You have access to unlimited soft drinks, but you’ll need to pay for alcohol. You can do a small (pretty small) henna tattoo for free. If you want something bigger, you’ll have to pay. You can also take pictures with a falcon for a small fee (there were other tour operators that already included this in the price).
When you entered the camp, you can get Arabic coffee and tea and you can go straight to the starters. To be honest I don’t know the name of what we eat. But you can take a look at the picture above.
After a while, the tanoura dance started. This is a folkloric dance performed by men with big skirts. The performer spins throughout the whole show without stopping. It’s pretty impressive and I really enjoyed this show. This was followed by a fire performance that was also pretty good.
Finally, it was time for dinner. There was a vegetable, salad, and sidedishes buffet and some traditional barbecue. There were plenty of options in the buffet. We were served generous portions and the barbecue was pretty good, especially the chicken skewers.
The dessert included some traditional pastries and food. Some of the cakes were good and others I didn’t appreciate that much.
The last performance was a belly dance show, which in my opinion wasn’t that good. The dancer was good, but the show was a bit awkward. Once the belly dance show was over we headed back to the car for our 50-minute drive to our accommodation. We arrived at our hotel around 10 PM.
Dubai Desert Safari — is it Worth it?
So, was the Dubai Desert Safari worth it? Absolutely. It’s a must, especially if you’ve never been to in the desert before. I described in detail our Dubai Desert Safari experience. Please note that it might be different depending on the tour provider. This was one of the highlights of our visit to Dubai and for the price (only 50€ per person with dinner included), it was well worth it.
There were some things that were not exactly as I was expecting, but that’s also part of the experience. The red sand dunes were beautiful and the colors are amazing. There are many camps spread throughout the desert land for different tour operators. Something that disappointed me a lot was the number of small plastics and plastic bottles on the sand dunes next to the camps.
There are other more complete and more expensive tours that include more activities. For example, some tours already include falcon pictures and Arabic attire, as well as quad biking. On our tour, this was not included in the price (it was available for a small fee). Those were not activities that we were interested in, so we thought it wasn’t worth it to pay more than 100€ per person.
See what the different tours have to offer and choose wisely. Some tours also offer spending the night in the desert with the possibility of stargazing—I believe this should be an amazing experience.
Cost of day 4 in Dubai
- Breakfast at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Dinner (included in the desert tour)
- Dubai desert tour (2pp): 100€
Total: 104€ (2pp) → 52€ per person
Day 5 in Dubai: Etihad Museum, Museum of the Future, Dubai Frame, and Global Village
On this day we visited the Etihad museum, the Dubai Frame (the largest frame in the world), and the Global Village. An alternative to this itinerary is to visit the Museum of the Future instead of Dubai Frame and Miracle Garden instead of the Global Village.
Day 5 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities
- Ethiad Museum
- Dubai Frame and/or Museum of the Future
- Global Village and/or Miracle Garden
If you’re visiting Jumeirah Mosque, we recommend visiting the Etihad museum on the same day because they are very close to each other. We didn’t have the time to visit on that day, so we decided to include it on this day. This museum explains the founding of the UAE and information about the founding fathers of the seven Emirates. You can visit the Union House and the Guest Palace. To go there you can catch the metro and then the bus. There’s a bus stop just a 5-minute’s walk from there.
The next stop on our day was the Dubai Frame. There’s a bus next to the Ethiad Museum that stops right at the entrance of the Dubai Frame. We had already bought our tickets in advance so we went straight to the entrance. We went on a Friday afternoon and it was pretty crowded. We had to wait approximately 30 minutes before entering the frame.
The visit starts by showing some representations of the craftsman in old Dubai and how life was to look like in the old days.
After that, you go by elevator to the top of the frame. It has a big glass wall, so you can actually see it going up. Once you reach the top, you can walk on a glass floor and see old Dubai on one side of the frame and modern Dubai on the other side. It’s quite interesting to see the differences between those places. You can also see the famous Sheik Zaeyd picture from there. We spent about 40 minutes at the top of the frame and it was more than enough.
Going down to the ground floor, you’ll be presented with some modern 3D projections showing what Dubai can look like in the future with modern technology. Right before going out, there is some information with statistics about the constructions of the frame.
Is Dubai Frame worth visiting? In my opinion, it depends. Dubai Frame is a great piece of architecture and the visit is a great experience. From the top, you can see old Dubai on one side of the frame, and modern Dubai on the other side. Even though I liked the visit, I don’t think it is a must, especially if you’ve already gotten to the top of Burj Khalifa and The View at the Palm. However, I absolutely recommend stopping by the frame to appreciate its nice architecture and taking some great pictures with the frame for free without having to go to the top.
We didn’t have to pay to go to the frame, because we’ve received credits to spend on attractions on Booking.com.
Museum of the Future
Instead of Dubai Frame, you may opt to go to the Museum of The Future. Or you can visit both. The Museum of the Future opened in February 2022, so it is a very recent attraction. It features several interactive exhibits about what Earth and our lives would look like in the future. I recommend booking your tickets way in advance. We really wanted to visit this museum and it was already sold out a month in advance. I’ve heard very good reviews about this museum, so don’t miss it.
Make sure you also take a look at the museum from the outside. The building’s architecture is unique and absolutely marvelous
After our visit to the Dubai frame, we got a taxi to Global Village. In our opinion, the best way to get there is by taxi. There are some packages that already include transportation when you book your tickets to the Global Village.
The Global Village is a themed park that features several pavilions representing different countries or continents of the world. You’ll find typical products, food, and dance shows from different countries. The park also features different amusement rides, that are not included in the ticket price.
There are many food stalls selling street food from different countries. We tried several different foods and everything was delicious. The park only opens in the late afternoon and is most beautiful after sunset, when they turn on all light decorations.
We really enjoyed our visit to Global Village and the admission ticket is super affordable, less than 6€. This is a great place, especially for those who have kids.
To get back to your accommodation, you can get a taxi when you exit. There’s a huge car park with a huge line of taxis (I’ve never seen so many taxis in the same place before).
Instead of Global Village, you may opt to visit the Miracle Garden. It’s only open during the winter and spring months. It is one of the world’s largest flower gardens and it features numerous flowers arranged in different shapes and patterns, one of the most famous is the A380 airbus, the Mickey Mouse sculpture, and the path with the heart-shaped decorations.
Here you’ll also find a butterfly garden, a floral castle, and various themed areas. We didn’t have the time to visit this place, but from the pictures we’ve seen, it seems out of this world.
Like the Global Village, the best way to get there is by taxi. You can also get packages with tickets and transportation included.
Cost of day 5 in Dubai
- Breakfast at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Food at Global Village (2pp): 22.50€
- Top up Nol card with daily ticket (2pp):: 10€
- Taxi from Dubai Frame to Global Village: 19€
- Taxi from Global Village to Dubai Marina: 17.50€
- Ethiad Museum (2pp): 12.50€
- Dubai Frame: 0€ (paid with credits on Booking.com)
- Global Village: 0€ (paid with credits on Booking.com)
Total: 85€ (2pp) → 42.50€ per person
Day 6 in Dubai: Aquaventure Waterpark
On this day we visited the World’s largest waterpark, the Aquaventure Waterpark. We also visited the Dubai Mall Aquarium that we didn’t have the time to visit on the other days.
Day 6 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities
- Aquaventure Waterpark
- Dubai Mall Aquarium
- Dubai Fountain Show
A Day at the Aquaventure Waterpark – What it’s Like
We love waterparks and amusement parks, so we shouldn’t miss a visit to the World’s Largest Waterpark, the Aquaventure Waterpark located at the Atlantis Hotel in Palm Jumeirah. If you’re staying at the Atlantis hotel, you can get free access to the waterpark. You can also get free access on the week of your anniversary.
The entrance to the Aquaventure Waterpark was not cheap. It cost approximately 80€ per person. There are other affordable options like the Wild Wadi waterpark, or Legoland aimed at the younger crowds.
If you’re not a fan of waterparks, you may opt to go to an amusement park, some of the best options are MotionGate and Warner Bros, Bollywood, or IMG Worlds of Adventure.
We arrived at the Aquaventure Waterpark before the opening time, and there were just a few people. You can rent a locker to save your most valuable stuff, but most people just let their bags on the sunbeds. We also left our stuff on the sunbeds without any problem. Because we like to travel light, we diddn’t bring our watershoes, but no problem, we can get water socks for free from the Guest Services stalls along the park.
The best rides are divided around three main towers: Tower of Neptune, Tower of Poseidon, and Trident Tower. We experimented almost all rides on these towers in the morning without any crowds. We even repeated some of the rides.
There are also two great areas for the little ones: the Splashers Island & Mountain, and the Splashers Lagoon & Cove. You can also find experiences with dolphins and sea lions. Additionally, you also get access to the Aquaventure Beach. To be honest, with such a big waterpark, I don’t think it’s worth to spend your time on the beach when you paid so much for the waterpark entrance.
There are several places where you can eat. We ordered a hot dog menu for the two of us and it was just the right amount so that we could get back to the slides right after.
In the afternoon the lines were bigger and sometimes the waiting times were up to 45 minutes. If you don’t want to wait in the lines you can buy a Aquaexpress pass to skip the lines.
We visited the waterpark in the Winter (February 2023) and around 4 PM it started to get a little bit chilly. Even though, we stayed in the water until closing time.
There are changing rooms next to the exit, where you can change clothes and have a shower, but it was super crowded at closing time.
After your visit to the Aquaventure Waterpark, you can visit the Lost Chamber Aquarium. You can get a combined ticket for both attractions. We did not visit the Aquarium but we’ve seen beautiful pictures of it.
At the exit of the Atlantis, we got a free shuttle bus to Marina Mall. We didn’t even know this kind of shuttle existed, it was pure luck that we found it at the exit.
How to Visit Aquaventure Waterpark? Our tips
After visiting Aquaventure Waterpark, here are our best tips to make the most out of your visit:
- Go on a weekday for fewer crowds (except Friday);
- Buy your tickets in advance;
- Arrive early, around 30 minutes before opening time;
- When you arrive (early), go straight to the rides. We were able to experience all the best rides without waiting in line;
- Get free water socks in the Guest Services stalls for free to protect your feet;
- Food portions are big. Share a portion with your partner. It will save money and you’ll be able to go back to the rides after a few minutes;
Dubai Downtown (Again)
Since it was still early when we left the Waterpark, we decided to visit Dubai Downtown (Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, and Fountain Show) again. We visited the Dubai Mall Aquarium (just from the outside, but you can buy tickets for a complete experience), and watched the Fountain Show several more times. We had Dinner at Five Guys with a view of the Dubai Fountain.
Cost of day 6 in Dubai
- Breakfast at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Lunch at Aquaventure Aquapark (2pp): 18€
- Dinner at Five Guys (2pp): 38€
- Ice cream at Dubai Mall: 4.80€
- Taxi from Dubai Marina to Aquaventure: 12.50€
- 2-zone ticket nol card (2 trips) (2pp): 6€
- Aquaventure Waterpark (2pp): 160€
Total: 243€ (2pp) → 121.50€ per person
Day 7 in Dubai: Day Trip to Abu Dhabi and Going Back Home
Our flight back home departed from Abu Dhabi airport around 10 PM, so we decided to visit the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque on this day.
If your flight is from Dubai airport, maybe it is better to go on a complete guided tour of Abu Dhabi. It includes the most famous Abu Dhabi highlights including the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. There are plenty of tour options to choose from.
Day 7 in Dubai: Visited Places and Activities
- Battuta Mall
- Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Visiting Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Visiting the Sheik Zayed Grande Mosque is free, but you need to register before. You can register on site or in advance. We registered when we arrived. The entrance to the mosque is done via a shopping mall. There, you can register for your visit. There are plenty of stores where you can buy a hijab and abaya or have something to eat. There’s also a cloakroom where you can leave your belongings. We didn’t know this beforehand and we paid to store our backpacks at the airport.
To visit the Mosque both men and women need to cover their shoulders and legs. Additionally, women need to cover the head. If you’re visiting during the day, we also recommend using sunglasses, the light reflection on the white marble makes it difficult to open your eyes.
I don’t have words to describe the beauty of the Mosque and the attention to detail that was put into building this place. It’s absolutely breathtaking. You can take pictures at the mosque without any problem. The best places for pictures are even marked with a photo stop sign.
There are free guided visits to the mosque. Check the timetable at the entrance. We took the guided visit and we enjoyed it very much. The guide explains some interesting facts about the Mosque’s architecture and you can also walk on the carpet inside the Mosque while he explains all the details. Did you know that it has the largest hand-woven carpet in the world?
We recommend spending some time in the Mosque and waiting for the sunset so that you can see the Mosque at night.
After our visit to the Mosque, we headed to the airport, which was just 15 minutes by taxi.
Qasr Al Watan (if you still have time)
If you still have time in Abu Dhabi, consider visiting the Qasr Al Watan, a beautiful presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates. The entrance is not free. Prices start at around 17€. I’ve seen some pictures of the Palace and it is stunning. A visit not to miss if you have more time in Abu Dhabi.
Most Abu Dhabi day tours already include this in their itinerary.
Cost of day 7 in Dubai:
- Breakfast at the apartment (2pp): 3.5€
- Lunch at Battuta Mall (2pp): 17€
- Dinner at the Abu Dhabi Airport (1 menu for 2): 15€
- 1-zone nol ticket (2pp): 2€
- Bus from Battuta Mall to Abu Dhabi Airport (2pp): 18€
- Taxi from Abu Dhabi Airport to Sheik Zayed Mosque: 15€
- Taxi from Sheik Zayed Mosque to Abu Dhabi Airport: 15€
- Luggage storage at the airport: 14€
Total: 99.50€ (2pp) → 50€ per person
Itinerary Suggestions for 1, 2, and 3 Days in Dubai
If you’ll spend fewer days in Dubai, adjust the itinerary accordingly to the activities you would like to do. The places we recommend if you just have a few days are Burj Khalifa and the whole Dubai Downtown area, Old Dubai, and a Desert Adventure.
1-Day Dubai Itinerary
If this is your first time in Dubai, and you only have one day, we recommend visiting Burj Khalifa and the whole nearby area. You’ll find plenty of things to do to keep you busy all day.
Here’s our suggestion of things to do if you only have one day in Dubai:
- Go to At The Top of Burj Khalifa
- Visit Dubai Mall and the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
- Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
- Explore the whole Dubai Downtown area
2-Days Dubai Itinerary
If you have two days to spend in Dubai, and you’re a first-time visitor, we recommend visiting Burj Khalifa and the whole nearby area and Old Dubai. Alternatively, you can also visit Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina instead of Old Dubai.
Here’s our suggestion for a 2-day itinerary in Dubai:
- Day 1: Dubai Downtown
- Go to At The Top of Burj Khalifa
- Visit Dubai Mall and the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
- Watch the Dubai Fountain Show
- Explore the whole Dubai Downtown area
- Day 2: Jumeirah Mosque and Old Dubai
- Learn about arabic culture and Islam on a visit to Jumeirah Mosque
- Explore Al Seef, Al Fahidi, and Al Bastakia Historic Neighbourhood
- Shop on traditional souks: gold souk, spice souk, textile souk, and perfume souk
- Visit Dubai Museum
- Go on a Traditional Abra boat from Bur Dubai to Deira
- Day 2 (alternative): Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina
- See Palm Jumeirah from The View at the Palm
- Go on a Monorail ride at Palm Jumeirah
- Relax at the Pointe (best view to Atlantis hotel)
- Explore Souk Madinat and appreciate the views of Burj Al Arab
- Go for a stroll on Marina Walk
3-Days Dubai Itinerary
If you have three days in Dubai, we recommend adding a desert tour to the previous suggestions.
7 Days in Dubai – Total Cost Breakdown
How much did we spend on our seven-day trip to Dubai? In total, we spent approximately 2760€ for the two of us. Which means 1380€ per person. This price will greatly vary depending on where you’re flying from, what type of accommodation you’re staying in, and the places you’re eating.
We went on low-cost flights with layovers in European cities. We went with Ryanair and with WizzAir (basic option, only personal item).
Our accommodation was a bit on the expensive side because we didn’t book in advance. You’ll find better prices if you book in advance. Of course, you can spend way more if you want to stay in luxury hotels, or way less if you stay in more affordable areas like Bur Dubai or Deira.
We used mostly public transportation, we had breakfast at the apartment with what we bought from the grocery store. We skipped lunch many days and on other days we ate something from the supermarket. For dinner, we ate mostly at fast-food and low-cost restaurants.
As for the activities, we did all the activities we wanted, including a day in the Aquaventure Waterpark, which was a bit more expensive than the other activities.
See the detailed costs in the table below:
Cost of 7 days in Dubai
Flights way and back from Portugal with layover in European cities (Ryanair + WizzAir)
308€ per person
Accommodation (7 nights in Dubai Marina)
207€ per person
32.50€ per person for seven days
Approximately 1380€ per person
In this travel guide, we shared with you our detailed 7-day Dubai itinerary. We also suggested other itinerary options if you have fewer days in Dubai. In our opinion, the whole area around Burj Khalifa should not be missed, you can visit it if you have a 24-hour layover in Dubai. Besides that area, I really liked visiting Old Dubai. The desert experience was one of the highlights of our trip.
We shared our honest opinion about the places we visited, our top tips, and the total cost breakdown of our trip. Finally, we would like to share a summary of our best tips:
Tips For Visiting Dubai
After visiting Dubai, here are some of our best tips:
- Visit Dubai in the Winter months.
- Use public transportation—it’s very affordable.
- Install the Careem app to get a taxi. You can also get a taxi from the street—the starting fee is cheaper than in the Careem app. Getting a taxi is cheaper than Uber.
- If you’re going to a lot of different places in one day, get a nol day ticket.
- If you’re on a budget, have lunch at the supermarkets. They provide several options at very affordable prices.
- Eat at the Mall. All Malls we’ve been to in Dubai have a wide range of restaurant chains. You’ll save some money if you eat at the Mall rather than at a “real” restaurant.
- Book your activities in advance to avoid waiting in lines and to secure your spot.
Have you been to Dubai? Share with us your best tips. Do you have any doubts about our itinerary? You can write a comment down below.
We hope you found this travel guide useful.
Thanks for reading.