A modern city that is surrounded by desert, Dubai is one of the United Arab Emirates’ premier tourist destinations. Luxurious and exotic, the city continues to grow and develop at a breathtaking pace. Famous for being a shopper’s paradise and for its ambitious skyscrapers, Dubai exudes opulence and splendour. Many visitors are, however, surprised to learn that there is much more to the city than dazzling malls and tall buildings. Use this Finnair travel guide to Dubai and plan your trip to one of the most exciting destinations in the Middle East.
Sights in Dubai
The wealth originating from the oil industry is clear wherever you go. Skyscrapers rise higher and higher up in the city centre, exclusive golf courses spread out to the desert and deluxe hotels line the beaches. In this lavish city it is easy to forget ordinary life, and simply soak up the splendour. No first-time visit to Dubai is complete without craning your neck to gaze up to the top of the towering Burj Khalifa. Standing at 828 metres (2716 feet) tall, it is the tallest structure in the world. Take a ride up to the observation deck, located around halfway up the gigantic tower, to feel as though you’re up in the clouds (some days, you may actually be in the mists) and enjoy far-reaching vistas. Another iconic sight is the magnificent Burj Al Arab hotel, designed to look like a boat’s sail. Said to be the only seven-star hotel on the planet, it’s a true example of decadence. Atlantis, on the artificial Palm Islands, is another modern architectural marvel. The magical Dubai Fountain is a sight to behold, with lights, colours, lasers, music and, of course, high water jets.
Get a taste of the Arabia of times gone by in Old Dubai with a stroll past the reconstructed traditional buildings in the Bastakiya District, a photo stop at the impressive and lavish Jumeirah Mosque and a visit to Dubai Museum. The white-sand beaches offer days of relaxation in the sunshine and diverse water sports. Activities include fishing trips, parasailing and banana boat rides. If the idea of snow sports in the middle of a desert is appealing, check out the indoor skiing and snowboarding centre. Feeling flashy? Why not charter a yacht for the day. Alternatively, watch vessels coming and going at the swanky Dubai Marina. Golf is a popular pastime and the winter camel races offer a unique experience. For a thrilling time, try your hand at dune bashing or join a desert safari. There are plenty of family-friendly attractions in Dubai too, including Al Safa Park, Dubai Dolphinarium, Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and the water park of Wild Wadi.
Things to See and Do Near Dubai
- Sharjah – See the impressive Al Noor Mosque, wander the Heritage Area, visit Al Hisn Fort, shop at Souq al-Arsah, the oldest souk in the UAE, stroll along the beaches and discover diverse museums.
- Abu Dhabi – Take a tour of the huge Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the world, join locals and visitors alike for a walk along the Corniche, see the towering flagpole, have fun at Khalifa Park and visit the theme park, water park, museum, mall and race track of Yas Island.
- Al Ain – Located close to the border with Oman and referred to as the UAE’s “Garden City”, highlights include the lush Al Ain Oasis, the views from atop the mountain of Jebel Hafeet and the historic Al Ain Museum and Fort. Take children to the zoo and safari park and shop in the souks.
Shopping in Dubai
Dubai has earned a reputation for being a shopper’s dream: over 70 shopping centres are spread throughout the city, and each is filled with the most prestigious international luxury brands, as well as more affordable choices. If you’re looking for an alternative to these western shopping paradises, try the traditional souks, where you can find anything from silk rugs to spices and gold jewellery. Souks are generally organised by product. Haggling is the norm in the souks, while malls have fixed prices.
- The Dubai Mall – The biggest mall in Dubai, offering a mammoth selection of more than 1200 shops with international brands from all corners of the planet. Even if you do not plan on making any purchases, a visit here is something of a must-do when in Dubai.
- Mall of the Emirates – Another huge shopping centre in Dubai, the 200 plus shops sell a mixture of designer brands and high-street labels.
- Ibn Battuta Mall – As well as housing a large selection of diverse stores, this shopping centre is interesting for its themed areas, with six zones centred around different parts of the world.
- Dubai Outlet Mall – A great place for visitors who wish to hunt for bargains.
- Al Ain Plaza – One of the best places for computers and related goods, this centre has many PCs, laptops, mobile devices, monitors, a large selection of hardware and software and computer accessories.
- Deira City Centre – The blend of establishments here make it one of the most popular shopping centres in Dubai. You’ll find many high-street stores, a large hypermarket, exclusive boutiques and an Arabian-themed area that sells traditional souvenirs and rugs.
- Mercato – The Renaissance theme makes shopping here a unique experience, and you’ll find high-class items from across Europe and beyond.
- Gold Souk – This historic market has a huge collection of gold. Jewellery of all types can be found here and you can see craftspeople skilfully working in their workshops.
- Perfume Souk – Exotic scents fill the air and you can either choose from hundreds of ready-made fragrances or have your own perfume custom created. Oils, resin, room sprays, incense, aftershaves, eau de toilettes and pure perfumes are among the aromatic goods here.
- Fabric Souk – A top place to source traditional Arab clothing, handmade pashminas, and cut fabrics off the roll. There are also plentiful tailors to create customised garments.
- Spice Souk – Inhale the heady aromas and marvel at the colours as you explore this bustling traditional market.
- Souk Madinat – Part of a replicated Arabian town from times gone by, this souk has a variety of boutiques and stores selling clothing, souvenirs, crafts and more.
- Dubai Shopping Festival – Visit the city at the start of the year for massive sales and huge discounts in many of the stores.
Food and Drink
- Shawarma – Strips of grilled meat fill a pita bread, with salad, pickles and sauces. Cheap, filling, tasty and popular, it can be found on almost every street.
- Falafel – These deep-fried balls of ground chickpeas are popular when it comes to snacking in Dubai. They are also a great option for vegetarian visitors.
- Al harees – Rather similar to porridge, this meal combines wheat and meat with a small amount of salt to season.
- Marak samak – This spicy fish stew makes the most of the fresh fish caught around Dubai.
- Biryani – Consisting of rice with chunks of meat, vegetables or seafood, spices add plenty of flavour to this filling meal.
- Esh asaraya – Sweet and satisfying, this dessert is quite similar to cheesecake in texture. Cinnamon adds lots of flavour and it’s made from sweet bread, syrup and cream.
Transport in Dubai
Although Dubai has one of the best public transportation systems in the Middle East, the car is still very much the preferred transport option for locals. The intense heat and long distances can make walking uncomfortable.
- By foot – Naturally, walking is the main way to get around the huge shopping centres, although some do have small shuttle services to help you cope with large and heavy bags.
- Buses – The local bus network is extensive, running between the city’s different districts. The most affordable method of public transportation in Dubai, buses are fairly regular on many routes and typically reliable. Vehicles are clean and modern. Payment is by top-up card, which can be used on buses and the metro. Alternatively, single-ride tickets and day passes are also available. Cards and tickets can be bought and topped up at bus stations and metro stations. On some services, the drivers also sell travel cards. Fares are discounted for people paying by travel card. Do note that the front seats on buses are reserved for female passengers. Hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses are ideal for tourists who want to see a lot of sights in a limited period of time.
- Metro – The Red Line of Dubai’s metro system stretches for more than 50 kilometres (31 miles) and has over 20 stops. It connects destinations like the airport, Burj Khalifa and the Mall of the Emirates. The Green Line travels through the heart of the city. Single-ride tickets are available or you can use the integrated top-up travel cards.
- Trams – The modern tram connects Dubai Marina and Burj Al Arab. Services are regular throughout the day and there are interchange stations with the metro. Fixed fares apply, regardless of the number of stops.
- Monorail – A short monorail travels across Palm Jumeirah.
- Boats – Small ferries, known locally as abra, and waterbuses cross the Dubai Creek. Services run around the clock and are regular, and the costs are low. As well as being a practical way of crossing the water, the trip is very scenic. Payment for abras is to the driver, and you can negotiate for private trips too. The integrated public transport travel card can be used to pay for the waterbus.
- Taxis – Taxis are widely available in Dubai. Although they can be flagged down on the road, travellers stand more chance of quickly getting a cab if they go to one of the designated taxi stands around the city. Alternatively, you can book a ride by telephone or via mobile application. Prices are charged according to the meter and standardised rates apply to all companies. You can also negotiate prices for sightseeing trips and a day’s charter. Surcharges apply for nighttime rides.
The Prices displayed are the lowest available in the previous 48 hours on Finnair.com and valid for travel dates as shown above.
Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking online with Finnair.com. Finnair reserves the right to change prices at any time.
Prices include return flights in Economy Class for one person as well as applicable taxes and fuel surcharges. The break down will be shown during your booking process.
Please check the individual fare rules for detailed terms and conditions during your booking process.
Advance purchase up to 60 days may apply and impact the available fares.