Alongside its glamorous malls and futuristic skyscrapers, Dubai is full of unique attractions showcasing every aspect of its culture. From a garden with millions of blooming flowers to the city’s trendy art district, take a look at ROL Cruise’s top attractions to visit in Dubai.
As the tallest building in the world, it’s difficult to miss the Burj Khalifa on a cruise to Dubai. At 828 metres, this iconic building towers over the city. While it looks impressive from the landscaped gardens surrounding it, a visit to the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck is undoubtedly the best way to admire the skyscraper. On the 124th floor, look across the city skyline for a spectacular birds-eye view. As part of the experience, you can discover the unique history of the building through a multimedia presentation.
Dubai Miracle Garden
Amid the desert sands and towering buildings, Dubai Miracle Garden is an oasis in this bustling city. With 100 million blooming flowers, the vibrant garden holds the Guinness World Record for the largest flower arrangement, which forms the shape of an Airbus A380. It’s little wonder why 55,000 visitors wander the gardens each week, the spectacular displays are not to be missed on a cruise to Dubai.
The Bastakia Quarter (Old Dubai)
Also known as the Al-Fahidi neighbourhood, the Bastakia Quarter was built in the 19th century, housing wealthy Persian merchants. Today, Bastakia’s coral and limestone buildings have been perfectly preserved and offer a unique insight into Dubai’s history. Wander through the streets in the eastern part of Bur Dubai and admire the Arabian architecture. If you’re looking for art in the historic neighbourhood, head to XVA Gallery.
Eleanor Smith, gallery director, said: “XVA Gallery is a must see on your visit to Dubai. XVA is one of the leading galleries in the Middle East that specialises in contemporary art from the Arab world, Iran and the sub-continent.
“Exhibitions focus on works by the region’s foremost artists as well as those emerging onto the scene. As well as this, the gallery offers a design store and in-house tailor. XVA shares three tree-shaded and tranquil courtyards, wind towers and roof terraces, with the award-winning XVA Art Hotel and Café, which are open for visitors to enjoy. The mint lemonade is a must!”
Dubai Mall is the gateway to the Burj Khalifa and the world-famous Dubai Aquarium. With an ice-skating rink, cinema complex, enticing eateries and shops, this is a far-cry from your average UK shopping centre. Browse the likes of Chanel, Cartier and Tiffany & Co before dining on fine Middle Eastern and international cuisine. Dubai Mall’s modern, even futuristic features make it a worthwhile experience.
Considered to be the most beautiful mosque in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque is an exact replica of Cairo’s Al-azhar Mosque that is eight times its size. If you are seeking to discover more about Dubai’s culture and religion, Jumeirah Mosque is an excellent place to visit. Admire the intricate stonework and take part in a tour to learn more about the structure.
For art enthusiasts, the Alserkal Avenue is a must-see on a cruise to Dubai. Established galleries such as Green Art Gallery, The Third Line and the Ayyam Gallery have all made a base here alongside smaller contemporary start-ups. The district showcases local artists as well as fashion boutiques run by local designers, so this is the place to pick up a unique piece of art or a souvenir accessory.
Vilma Jurkute, director of Alserkal Avenue, said: “Over the years, the Avenue has grown to house 15 concepts dedicated to contemporary art, including regional and international art galleries, private museums and not-for-profit initiatives. Between them they represent and show some of the most prolific emerging, mid-career and established artists from the MENASA region and further afield. As the popularity of the galleries has grown, they have steadily attracted collectors and curators looking to grow their collections.
“A vibrant, creative community supports the contemporary art scene within the Avenue. Unique food and beverage concepts flourish next to co-working spaces, performing arts venues that support music, dance and theatre, design concept stores and even a chocolate factory.”
Wafi Mall Light Show
Although not as well-known as the Burj Khalifa or the Mall of the Emirates, the Wafi Mall Light Show is one of the most spectacular attractions in Dubai. Its visual journey on the theme of the Return of the Pharaohs is beautifully synchronised to music and is free to enjoy. This is an excellent way to spend an evening after a meal and some retail therapy at the Wafi Mall.
Deira spice and gold souk
On the northern bank of the Dubai Creek, Deira is famous for its colourful souks. The area’s Gold Souk is renowned for being the largest gold bazaar in the world, and is definitely worth visiting. Pick up some spices as a souvenir at the spice souk, which offers plenty of saffron, oud wood, cumin, frankincense, paprika and more. For an authentic experience, venture to the fish market. When visiting the district of Deira, don’t miss out on a trip to Heritage House, which was built in 1890 for a wealthy Iranian merchant.
It’s impossible to talk about Dubai without mentioning Dubai Aquarium. Housing 140 species of sea life, the 10 million litre aquarium can be found on the ground floor of the Dubai Mall. In the Underwater Zoo, experience the real magic of the aquarium as sharks and rays swim overhead. Entry to the aquarium is free from the mall, but if you want to make your visit even more special, why not consider one of the aquarium’s encounter experiences?
With white sand and beautiful blue water, Jumeirah Beach is the place to go in Dubai for a beach day. Kick back on a sun lounger, take in the views and stop for lunch at one of the many exclusive restaurants and cafés lining the sand. You’ll have a great view of one of Dubai’s most famous buildings, the Burj al-Arab, and the architecturally magnificent Jumeirah Beach Hotel.
Mall of the Emirates
Complete with an indoor ski slope, cinema complex and luxury shops, Mall of the Emirates is one of the most famous in the city, and arguably, the world. Browse the likes of Gucci, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Christian Louboutin and Marc Jacobs, before indulging in a luxurious meal at one of the mall’s many exclusive Middle Eastern and international restaurants. If you want to experience the luxury without breaking the bank, there are plenty of cafés and shops for those on a budget.
There is so much more to Dubai than skyscrapers and shopping. If you look closely you’ll find traces of the city’s unique history, remarkable gardens and pristine beaches. Have you found any hidden gems on your visit to Dubai? If so, let us know!
Image credit: Sakena Ali, Olva Eskola, jensimon7, McKay Savage, Athena Lao, Sam valadi, Peter Gronemann, Alserkal Avenue, XVA Gallery