Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world today. Tracing its origins back to 3,000 BC, Dubai's inhabitants made their livelihood from fishing, pearl diving, boat building and sea trading, before the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. In 1971, Dubai joined its neighbours to form the United Arab Emirates, safeguarding the area's prosperity.

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With year-round sun and a dramatic combination of both the desert and beach, Dubai is the perfect setting to be swept away by high-adrenaline activities. Rocket across the Arabian Gulf in a speedboat or roar along the circuit in a race car, skydive over Palm Jumeirah, ski around The World, paddleboard along the coast or swim with dolphins and sharks. You can even leave the city and dune bash in the desert or soar above the sand in a hot air balloon. Fasten your seatbelt, harness or helmet — it’s going to be an exciting ride.

Top attractions in Dubai

Planning Your Dubai Visit

How many days should you spend in Dubai?

For non-architects, three to four days will be plenty of time to see everything you need to see. Be very mindful of when you choose to visit. The weather gets very hot between May and September, and uncomfortable if you aren’t used to the desert heat.

Where should you stay in Dubai?

You will have your choice of impressive hotel rooms in this city. For the more budget-conscious travelers, know that you won’t have to miss out just because you can’t afford to stay at the fancier places! Plan ahead for experiences at Dubai’s luxury hotels. Make dinner reservations at Burj Al-Arab, or stop by for an afternoon cocktail (and view of the Burj Khalifa) at The Address Downtown Dubai.

Be conscious of cultural differences

If you are heading to Dubai for the first time, you may have questions about the laws that Western tourists consider unusual. In short, be respectful. Dress conservatively and make sure your shoulders are covered. Public displays of affection are considered unlawful. Also, the consumption of alcohol in public is illegal, except in specified bars.

What people are saying about Dubai

★★★★★ Essential activity for first-time Dubai visitors

My family and I enjoyed the half-day city tour very much. It gave a coarse overview of the history of the city, the old and the new areas of the town. We went to a cultural center, which displayed the local traditions in a very accessible way. When we went to the Atlantis Hotel on the artificial palm island, it began to rain heavily (lasted only for 20 minutes), everybody was cheering and welcoming the blessing. The spice souk was overwhelming with cents of the various oriental spices. Bargaining is expected. Overall an experience well worth the time and money.

★★★★★ Excellent day trip to Abu Dhabi, a MUST SEE!

We very much enjoyed Mounir and our tour of Abu Dhabi with Ferrari World. The world's fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World was one of our top highlights from our trip. The mosque is beautiful and Mounir was able to answer any questions we had about it. He was one of the best tour guides we have had and was very friendly and open. Thank you for an excellent time! If we visit again, we will definitely be using him again.

★★★★★ Thrill-ride meets 1001 nights in the desert.

The desert safari with OceanAir Travels was a true thrill ride. My family and I had lots of fun. Our driver - Noman - did an excellent job. He really knows what he is doing behind the wheel. Dune bashing is a bit like roller coaster riding. We did some sand surfing, I fell twice, my daughter not. I did not know that this worked so well. The sights and atmosphere in this desert are truly amazing. The sand is redish and powdery the grain roundish, thats why the surfing worked. Our driver was very friendly and helpful and patiently answered all questions of my curious daughter (aged 10). The camel ride in the camp was fun - you have to be careful, when they get down for you to climb off - sudden drop. The shows in the camp were really spectacular and we enjoyed the traditional food (do not miss the dates!). One of the best things we did during our visit to Dubai.

Other Sightseeing Options in Dubai

Want to discover all there is to do in Dubai? Click here for a full list.

Top Hotels in Dubai