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Dubai Itinerary – How to Spend From 3 to 7 EPIC Days in Dubai!

Dubai is the city of skyscrapers, of huge malls, of pristine white sand beaches, of busy souks and magical sunsets in the desert.

It’s a city that offers a huge variety of things to do, so it’s only normal that planning a Dubai itinerary can be challenging.

Lucky for you, I’ve been to Dubai so many times I’ve lost track (I think I’m on trip number 6) and have plenty of experience discovering this unique Emirati city.

I have put all my travel knowledge into this ultimate Dubai itinerary.

Enjoying the view over Burj Khalifa and Dubai from Sky Views Observatory

Enjoying the view over Burj Khalifa and Dubai from Sky Views Observatory

In this Dubai itinerary I have outlined everything you need to know to plan your perfect Dubai trip.

Starting with exactly how many days you need in Dubai, a day-by-day outline of all the best things to do in Dubai, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around the city, what to pack and much more.

I always build my itineraries in the most travel effective way, so that you don’t have to waste time constantly travelling from one of the city to the other. I do all the research and planning so you don’t have to!

This thorough and complete itinerary for Dubai will help you plan the perfect trip to this unique Emirati city. So without further ado, let’s dive in and start planning your ideal Dubai itinerary!

The sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

The sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

The iconic Dubai skyline during golden hour

The iconic Dubai skyline at golden hour

Key things to know to plan the best Dubai itinerary

Before diving into the day-by-day breakdown of this Dubai itinerary, I want to go over some crucial logistics information for your trip. This is the information you need to ensure your Dubai trip runs smoothly.

How many days in Dubai?

First questions first, how many days do you actually need in Dubai?

Being a city, many travellers think Dubai doesn’t need that long to be discovered, but they couldn’t be more wrong! The city is huge, and transfers between places can take their time.

Personally, I think the bare minimum amount of time you should spend in Dubai is three days.

This will allow you to see all the main sights, have time to relax on the beach and properly get a feel for the unique vibe of this city.

The iconic pink Atlantis The Palm as seen from The Pointe, Dubai

The iconic pink Atlantis The Palm as seen from The Pointe, Dubai

If you want to go beyond the main tourist attractions of Dubai, and live unique experiences like spending a night in the desert or seeing the Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi, then you will need longer in Dubai.

In this article I have outlined my core Dubai 3-day itinerary, and then built on top of that to form itineraries for four days, five days, six days and even seven days in Dubai.

Depending on how long you have, and your personal interests, you can expand your trip to the full Dubai 7-day itinerary, or maybe just pick and choose specific days to form a Dubai 5-day itinerary.

Although three days is enough, if you have the time for a Dubai 7-day itinerary, that is what I would personally go for, as it will allow you to really see everything this unique city, and its surroundings, have to offer.

The entrance of Palace Hotel and Burj Khalifa in Dubai

The entrance of Palace Hotel and Burj Khalifa in Dubai

How to get around Dubai

Dubai is a huge city, and making your way around it can be complicated, but don’t let that deter you. Between public transport and taxis, you can easily make your way around Dubai.

Dubai has an efficient metro system, the Dubai Metro. It runs mostly parallel to the sea and Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s a rapid transit rail network that does 53 stops and covers most of the main areas of Dubai.

Fares for the Dubai Metro depend on how far you’re travelling. You can purchase tickets at every metro station, get daily passes or get a Nol card to top up. 

It’s perfect for getting to the main spots (for example the malls have entrances directly connected to the Metro system, so you don’t have to walk outside in the heat), but if you’re trying to go smaller side streets, walking from the Metro station can be annoying.

For short distances, or for journeys to places that aren’t on the Metro line, I recommend either an Uber or taxi. I was surprised to find that taxis in Dubai are comparatively cheap (a 20km journey is around 50 AED).

Discovering Al Seef, the historical area of Dubai

Discovering Al Seef, the historical area of Dubai

Best time to visit Dubai

Dubai is a very popular winter sun destination. 

Being located in the middle of the desert, Dubai has a hot and dry climate all year round. In winter that means temperatures around 20-25°C, but in summer it can go up to over 40°C. 

Generally speaking, the best time of the year to visit Dubai is from early November to end of March. Perfect if you’re looking to escape from winter in Europe!

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm - a must-see viewpoint on any Dubai itinerary

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm

Where to stay in Dubai

There are loads of cool places to stay in Dubai, and the perfect place for you ultimately depends on your travel style and budget. I have listed below some cool options for every budget.

Budget: Rove Dubai Marina – This is a perfect option for budget travellers. It’s just a short stroll from Jumeirah Beach, as well as shopping and dining options. The hotel also has a chic outdoor pool and restaurant.

Click here to book your stay at Rove Dubai Marina!

Mid-range: 25hours Hotel One Central – I spent one night here and loved it. This hotel has an epic rooftop pool with a view of the Museum of the Future, and the interior design is truly unique.

Click here to book your stay at 25hours Hotel One Central!

Luxury: Address Downtown Dubai – Among other things, this luxury hotel features an incredible infinity pool with an equally incredible view of Burj Khalifa: the world’s tallest building. The location in Downtown Dubai is prime for exploring top sights, and the spacious rooms offer a luxurious experience.

Click here to book your stay at Address Downtown Dubai!

Enjoying the pool with view over the Museum of the Future at 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai - the best hotel for your Dubai itinerary

Enjoying the pool with view over the Museum of the Future at 25hours Hotel One Central in Dubai

Best tours in Dubai

If you follow the advice in this Dubai itinerary, you’ll easily be able to discover Dubai independently without having to join a tour.

Having said that, there are definitely some experiences worth splurging for, or entrance tickets to certain attractions that you have to book online beforehand. I have listed the most popular below.

Helicopter Flight from The Palm to Burj Khalifa – The tour name is pretty self explanatory, if you want a truly adrenaline inducing and unique experience, this is it! See the iconic Dubai skyline from the sky!

Dubai Old Town, Souks & Street Food Guided Tour – Discover the historical parts of Dubai with a knowledgeable local guide, from the souks to the street food, you won’t be disappointed.

Enjoying the Dubai skyline lit up for the night from Burj Khalifa

Enjoying the Dubai skyline lit up for the night from Burj Khalifa

From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Premium Full-Day Sightseeing Tour – The most complete Dubai to Abu Dhabi day trip, it includes all of the major sights, transfers and lunch.

Burj Khalifa Ticket & Tour: Level 124, 125 & 148 – See the amazing view from Burj Khalifa, without having to waste hours queueing! 

From Dubai: Red Dunes and Camel Safari with Overnight Camp – Want to do something truly unique and spend a night in the desert? This is your opportunity to do so!

Atlantis Aquaventure & Los Chambers Aquarium Ticket – A popular one with families, this is the entrance ticket to one of the most famous water parks and aquariums in Dubai!

The iconic red dunes of Dubai desert

The iconic red dunes of Dubai desert

The exterior of Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

The exterior of Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

Do you need travel insurance for Dubai?

After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.

You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with  Heymondo.

Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).

Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.

As a Greta’s Travels reader, you get 5% off your Heymondo travel insurance!

Click here to get your 5% off Heymondo travel insurance!

Exploring the Spice Souk of Dubai

Exploring the Spice Souk of Dubai

What to pack for Dubai

When planning what to pack for Dubai you’ll soon realise it’s not as simple as the usual travel essentials. Being a Muslim country, you will have to dress more conservatively in certain occasions.

However, Dubai is famous for its malls, so if you do realise you’re missing something, you can just buy it once there! That said, here are the things I would make sure to pack.

Head scarf for women – If you plan on visiting the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (which you really should be) then you have to remember to bring a scarf to cover your hair. You won’t be allowed in without one.

Modest clothing that fully covers you – This goes for both men and women.

Dress codes in Dubai vary depending on the situations, but it’s good to have some long loose trousers and breathable long sleeved shirts, so as to comply with the dress code but also not overheat in the hot Emirati weather! 

The Wings of Mexico statue in Downtown Dubai

The Wings of Mexico statue in Downtown Dubai

Camera – Given how beautiful Dubai is, you want to make sure you capture it in all its beauty!

Reusable water bottle – Especially if you plan to do a lot of walking, bring a bottle you can refill and ensure you stay hydrated. It will save you money and you’ll also waste less plastic, it’s a win-win!

Power bank – Whether it’s while snapping some pictures, while google mapping your way around the city or ordering an uber, you don’t want your phone to run out of battery during a crucial moment!

International adapter – In Dubai you’ll find type G sockets and plugs (like the UK ones). Depending on where you’re from, you might need an adapter to charge your electronics.

The famous Palm of Dubai at sunset

The famous Palm of Dubai at sunset

Dubai itinerary 3 days

Let’s start with my core Dubai 3-day itinerary! If you can’t stay long in Dubai, make sure to stay at least three days, and hit all the highlights I’ve outlined below.

Dubai itinerary day 1 – Dubai Marina

Morning – Discover Dubai Marina

I couldn’t start a Dubai itinerary in any other location. Dubai Marina is one of the most iconic areas of Dubai.

With its white sand beach, tall skyscrapers, fun beach clubs, and countless dining and drinking opportunities, it’s what everyone imagines when they think of Dubai.

I recommend wandering around Dubai Marina in the morning, before it gets too hot.

You can walk along the man-made marina, enjoying the views of traditional dhow boats and modern yachts cruising past, with the iconic Dubai skyscrapers as backdrop.

Walking along Dubai Marina - the highlight of any Dubai itinerary

Walking along Dubai Marina

There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and shops where you can stop for a quick breakfast, and maybe a bit of shopping throughout the morning.

From the food court of Dubai Marina Mall you will get an incredible view over Dubai Marina, and the best part, it’s completely free!

As the morning turns into afternoon and the day grows hotter, you can head to the beach to cool down! If you want to try some truly unique experiences, I have listed some popular tours below.

Dubai Marina Yacht Tour with Breakfast or BBQ – This is perfect for a group of friends or a special occasion, as you’ll get to cruise past the iconic Dubai Marina skyline on a luxury yacht!

Helicopter Flight from The Palm to Burj Khalifa – The tour name is pretty self explanatory, if you want a truly adrenaline inducing and unique experience, this is it! See the iconic Dubai skyline from the sky!

Iconic views of Dubai Marina

Iconic views of Dubai Marina

Afternoon – Relax at JBR & Marina Beach

Just beyond the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina, you will find JBR Beach and Marina Beach waiting for you.

Being the first day in Dubai, I imagine you will also want to relax after your flight, and what better place to do so?

Here you will find both private beach clubs, as well as public stretches of beach. If you plan to stay here a while, I definitely recommend investing in a sun bed and umbrella, as the beaches in Dubai can get very hot!

There are also plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes on the seaside walk behind the beach, so you don’t need to worry about going hungry or thirsty while you’re at the beach.

A traditional wooden dhow boat in Dubai Marina

A traditional wooden dhow boat in Dubai Marina

JBR & Dubai Marina as seen from The View at The Palm

JBR & Dubai Marina as seen from The View at The Palm

If you’re travelling with children, you’ll find plenty of fun activities at JBR and Marina Beach also for them. 

From inflatable slides to banana boat tours, or from camel rides to jet skis, these beaches offer plenty of activities.

You could just lie there and tan all afternoon, but if you’re afraid of getting bored, no need to worry as there’s plenty to do!

You could also cross the bridge to Bluewaters, a man-made island with loads of bars, restaurants and shops, as well as the new wheel and viewpoint of Dubai; Ain Dubai.

I love Bluewaters also because it offers a great view of the Dubai Marina skyline.

Enjoying the view over Dubai Marina & JBR at sunset from Bluewaters

Enjoying the view over Dubai Marina & JBR at sunset from Bluewaters

Dinner – Dhow Dinner Cruise in Dubai Marina

After a quick stop at your hotel to wash off the salt and sand, it’s time to get all dressed up and head back to Dubai Marina, for a traditional dhow cruise and dinner.

I went on a dhow cruise and dinner in Dubai Marina on my last trip to Dubai, and I don’t know why I waited six trips to finally do so!

Dhows are the traditional wooden boats of the UAE. Today, they are mostly used for tourist cruises, especially for dinner or afternoon tea.

Doing a dhow dinner cruise in Dubai Marina is obviously a very touristy activity, but like I always say, touristy things are popular for a reason.

Wooden dhow boats cruising in Dubai Marina

The top deck of our Dubai dhow cruise, where you will enjoy your dinner - a traditional experience for your Dubai itinerary

The top deck of our Dubai dhow cruise, where you will enjoy your dinner

You can’t travel to Rome and skip the Colosseum just because it’s “touristy”. It’s a must on every travel bucket list, and rightly so.

The same goes for dhow dinner cruises in Dubai. Seeing the skyline of Dubai lit up for the night, while cruising along the sea and eating delicious local food, is an experience like no other.

Most dhow cruises will include also pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, so you don’t have to worry about transfers.

Click here to book your dhow dinner cruise in Dubai!

Enjoying the view over Bluewaters Island and Ain Dubai from the top deck of our dhow cruise

Dubai itinerary day 2 – Old Dubai Meets Modern

Morning – Discover old Dubai

After the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina, get ready to discover an older and more traditional side of Dubai. This morning we will head to Deira and Al Fahidi, the older areas of Dubai, which are also home to the souks.

In Deira you will find the Gold Souk and Spice Souk, two of the most iconic souks of Dubai. The sprawling souks are characterised by countless winding alleys, lined with all sorts of shops.

As the names suggest, you can expect to find jewellery and spices, but there are also many shops in the souks selling souvenirs, clothing, fine silks and more.

It’s the perfect place to go for a wander, and discover a less known side of Dubai.

Exploring the souqs of Dubai, close to Deira

Exploring the souqs of Dubai, close to Deira

Some of the gold shops in the gold souk in Dubai

Some of the gold shops in the gold souk in Dubai

Just across the creek (which you can cross in a traditional abra wooden boat for around 1 AED) you will find Bur Dubai.

This is another area with souks and shops, where you can find everything from clothing to souvenirs. As you walk through the souks you will emerge next to Al Fahidi, the historical district of Dubai.

There are less shops present here, but you can spend a bit of time wandering around the traditional streets, and getting a feel for what old Dubai was like.

Crossing the Creek of Dubai in a traditional Abra wooden boat

Crossing the Creek of Dubai in a traditional Abra wooden boat

Discovering the streets of Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

Discovering the streets of Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

In Al Fahidi we had lunch at Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Cafe. It’s a lovely traditional restaurant, with a beautiful interior decor and delicious dishes like fattoush, falafel or meat wraps, and main dishes like Biryani.

Before leaving the magical atmosphere of old Dubai, you can pop by Al Seef, another historical area of Dubai. It’s very similar to Al Fahidi, so if you’re short on time, you don’t necessarily have to visit both.

Dubai is a super safe city, but if you don’t feel like wandering around the souks alone, then you can join a guided tour like this one.

Discover the souks, old town, creek and even some delicious local street food with this guided tour!

Click here to book your Dubai Old Town, Souks & Street Food tour!

The gorgeous exterior of Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

The gorgeous exterior of Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi historical district in Dubai

Afternoon – Sky Views Observatory & Dubai Mall

After your morning exploring old Dubai, it’s time to head to some of the most modern and unique sights in Dubai. Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall!

Located in Address Sky View (accessible from the Dubai Mall metro station), you will find Sky Views Observatory, the latest viewpoint in Dubai.

Entrance costs around 20 EUR per person, I recommend purchasing it online beforehand so you don’t have to queue once there.

From Sky Views you get an epic view of Burj Khalifa, as well as the surrounding cityscapes of Dubai. But what makes this viewpoint special, is the glass slide, the glass walkway and the Sky Edge Walk.

This isn’t just a place where you go and look at a view, you can truly engage with it in unique and adrenaline pumping ways. It’s not every day that you get to hang off the side of a 53-floor building!

Click here to purchase your Sky Views Skip-the-Line Entry Ticket!

Sliding down the glass slide of Sky Views Observatory in Dubai - a thrilling plus on any Dubai itinerary

Sliding down the glass slide of Sky Views Observatory in Dubai

Once you’ve had your epic views and adrenaline fix, you can go for a wander inside Dubai Mall. 

Dubai Mall is the second largest mall in the world, home to over 1,200 retail stores. Whatever it is you’re searching for, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it here. It’s even home to Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo!

Just outside Dubai Mall you’ll find the Burj Khalifa water fountains. You actually get the best view of the fountains from the Apple Store inside Dubai Mall!

The fountains are on every 30 minutes from 6PM to 11PM, every day of the week, although it can vary depending on the time of the year or if there are public holidays on.

I was last in Dubai during Ramadan, and then fountain show started later than usual.

Time your sightseeing, viewpoint admiring and shopping so as to arrive at the fountains in time for one of the shows!

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, inside Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, inside Dubai Mall

The ice skating rink inside Dubai Mall

The ice skating rink inside Dubai Mall

Sunset & Evening – Burj Khalifa

After enjoying the Burj Khalifa fountain show, head over to Burj Khalifa (the entrance is inside Dubai Mall).

With its 828 metres, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, wanting to admire the view from its top is only natural!

Seeing the view from the top of Burj Khalifa is one of the most popular things to do in Dubai, and as such, it can get incredibly busy.

I’ve been twice before on separate Dubai trips, and have a few pointers to ensure you have the best visit possible.

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the Burj Khalifa

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the Burj Khalifa

If you can, I 100% recommend splurging on one of the premium experiences like the skip-the-line ticket, visiting floor 148 or the ticket with lunch or dinner at the Burj Club.

The normal ticket with entrance to floors 124 and 125 is what everyone does, and the queue gets gigantic.

On my last trip, we had to queue for over an hour just to get to the lift! We spent a few hours enjoying the view and taking photos, and then had to queue a good 30 minutes to get back down.

The premium skip-the-line tickets will avoid you this hassle. The best time to go to the top of Burj Khalifa is at sunset, as you can see the whole change in the colours of the sky and Dubai skyline.

The view over Dubai at night from Burj Khalifa

The view over Dubai at night from Burj Khalifa

Standing at 452m (the height of floor 124), watching the sky turn pink and then dark, and the skyscrapers of Dubai light up below you is a unique experience.

Even if you purchase a skip-the-line entrance, it can take a while to get to the viewing platform, so make sure to time your visit accordingly and don’t miss the sunset!

Dubai Burj Khalifa Level 124 & 125 Entry Ticket – This is the basic entrance ticket to Burj Khalifa. With this you can go up to the viewing platform, and enjoy the stunning views.

Burj Khalifa Ticket & Tour: Level 124, 125 & 148 – Here you’ll find the skip-the-line entrance, as well as access to the higher viewing deck at level 148, and a guided tour experience to top it all off!

Burj Khalifa 124 & Lunch or Dinner at The Burj Club – The premium experience, which goes beyond the viewing deck and includes a delicious meal!

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the top of Burj Khalifa

Enjoying the view over Dubai at night from the top of Burj Khalifa

After spending some time enjoying the view, if you don’t go for the Burj Khalifa entrance with dinner, you can head back down and eat at Dubai Mall.

We ate at Al Hallab, a tasty Lebanese restaurant with outdoor seating and a view of the Burj Khalifa fountains.

The Burj Khalifa and Fountain Show as seen from the Al Hallab outdoor terrace

The Burj Khalifa and Fountain Show as seen from the Al Hallab outdoor terrace

Day 3 – Barasti Beach & The Palm

Morning – Mall of the Emirates

When it comes to malls, there are countless malls in Dubai that you could visit. Having visited Dubai Mall already, I think the next one that can’t miss on any Dubai itinerary is Mall of the Emirates.

Mall of the Emirates is famous for being home to Ski Dubai; an indoor ski resort. You read that right, you could be baking under the hot desert sun one day, and then skiing at -1°C the next on the same trip!

Besides skiing, you can spend some time shopping, chilling and eating at one of the many food court restaurants. 

Ski Dubai; the indoor ski resort inside Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

Ski Dubai; the indoor ski resort inside Mall of the Emirates, Dubai

Afternoon – Barasti Beach

Once you’ve made the most of your shopping spree, it’s time to head to Barasti Beach! Located between Dubai Marina and The Palm, Barasti Beach is one of the most iconic beach bars in Dubai.

My personal favourite thing about it is that entry and use of the sun beds and umbrellas is free (unlike most beach bars in Dubai which charge 30+ EUR for the day).

They will check your bag on arrival as you’re not allowed to bring any food or drinks inside.

Chilling at Barasti Beach in Dubai

You don’t have to pay for sun beds, but if you plan on spending a whole afternoon or day there, they count on you probably spending something on food and drinks.

These can be a bit pricey, but when compared to average prices in Dubai, are actually pretty reasonable.

Barasti Beach has a really cool vibe, with hammocks hanging just over the water, a pool, a stage for live music and a wide array of food and drink choices.

Plus, it’s lined by the iconic view of Dubai Marina skyscrapers behind it.

Enjoying a drink at Barasti Beach Club in Dubai

Enjoying a drink at Barasti Beach Club in Dubai

Sunset – The view at The Palm at sunset

Once you’ve had your fill of sea and sunshine, head over to Palm Jumeirah for one of the best sunset views you’ll have ever seen.

That might seem hard to top after Burj Khalifa yesterday, but in my opinion, The View at The Palm is more fascinating. 

Palm Jumeirah is a palm-shaped artificial group of islands built just off the coast of Dubai.

It’s one of the most incredible engineering feats you will ever see, and it’s unique in its kind. You hear a lot of talk about The Palm, but rarely have a chance to see it properly.

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm

View over the Dubai Marina & JBR skyline from The View at The Palm

The sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

The sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

The View at The Palm is located on the 52nd floor above The Palm, and offers 360 views over, you’ve guessed it, The Palm, as well as the Dubai Marina skyline, Burj Al Arab and even Burj Khalifa in the distance.

Entrance ranges from 100-160 AED depending on if its prime hours or not. I recommend visiting at sunset, even though the price tag is higher as its at prime hours, it will honestly be worth the extra money.

Watching the sun sink towards the ocean, pain the sky orange and turn golden as The Palm and Dubai skyline light up, was honestly one of the highlights of all my Dubai trips.

It doesn’t get as busy as Burj Khalifa, so you don’t need to arrive too much earlier than your ticket entrance.

Click here to purchase your entry ticket to The View at The Palm!

Enjoying the sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

Enjoying the sunset from The View at The Palm in Dubai

Evening – Dinner at The Pointe

Since you’re already at The Palm, once the sun goes down you can just head over to The Pointe, a new iconic waterfront destination with views of the famous Atlantis Hotel, lined with shops, bars and restaurants.

Here you can walk the Palm Jumeirah Fountain Show, while eating at one of the many waterfront restaurants. It’s a slightly off the beaten track, with less tourists compared to other malls or beach areas in Dubai.

The Palm Fountain show as seen from The Pointe, with the famous Atlantis behind it

Dubai itinerary 4 days

As I already mentioned, three days is the bare minimum amount of time you need to spend in Dubai to enjoy it and see the sights.

Now that you’ve seen the main sights, you can go beyond, and spend your fourth day in Dubai doing something unique.

Desert safari

With all the beaches, malls, glitz and glam of Dubai, you might have forgotten that you’re actually in the middle of the desert.

I didn’t actually make it out to the desert until my third or fourth trip to Dubai, and I wish I’d made it sooner.

Enjoying a camel ride in Dubai desert

Enjoying a camel ride in Dubai desert

One of our cars got stuck in the Dubai desert while dune bashing

One of our cars got stuck in the Dubai desert while dune bashing

On a desert safari you can go beyond the souks and historical neighbourhoods of Dubai, and get a feel for what bedouin desert life was truly like. 

There are loads of desert safaris in Dubai, mostly offering similar things, but also with unique twists or special selling points.

Pretty much all safaris will include pick-up, drop-off, dune bashing, sand boarding, and a meal in the desert.

Depending on whether you join a morning or afternoon tour, the meal will usually be a breakfast, lunch or dinner. I recommend joining an afternoon tour, since sunsets in the desert are absolutely magical!

Beautiful sunset views in Dubai desert

Beautiful sunset views in Dubai desert

Spending a day away from the skyscrapers and beach clubs of Dubai is, in my opinion, a must on any Dubai itinerary. It gives you the opportunity to experience something truly unique, which you can’t do just anywhere.

Between the adrenaline pumping dune bashing, the endless golden dunes, the magical golden sunset and the distinctive local culture, you’re guaranteed to spend a truly thrilling day.

Dubai Red Dunes Safari, Camel Ride, BBQ & Al Marmoom Oasis – The most popular and complete desert safari out there, it includes all the fun desert activities, transfers and a BBQ dinner feast.

From Dubai: Red Dunes and Camel Safari with Overnight Camp – Want to do something truly unique and spend a night in the desert? This is your opportunity to do so!

The pool at Bedouin Oasis Camp - the camp for our Dubai desert safari

The pool at Bedouin Oasis Camp – the camp for our Dubai desert safari

The evening show on an overnight desert safari in Dubai

The evening show during our desert safari

Dubai itinerary 5 days

Morning – Extend your desert safari

If you have five days in Dubai, I highly recommend extending your desert safari and spending one night in the desert. If visiting the desert by day is magical, seeing it under the stars is even more so.

Sleeping in a bedouin tent (or fancy desert resort, that’s up to you) is a once in a lifetime experience.

The overnight desert safaris will include both breakfast and dinner, and you can expect a traditional performance during dinner.

After your magical night in the desert, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and energised. You can spend some time in the morning relaxing at your bedouin camp, and then get ready to head back to the city.

Going on a camel ride in the desert in Dubai

Going on a camel ride in the desert in Dubai

Afternoon – Chill at the Beach & see the Burj Al Arab

Once you return to the city from your desert adventure, you can head back to the sea, and discover some new Dubai beaches you haven’t yet visited.

For example Kite Beach; a long stretch of fine white sand and turquoise water.

This beach can get quite windy, which makes it perfect for kitesurfing and other water sports, hence the name. It’s a fun beach to spend an afternoon, go for a dip, and maybe even try some kitesurfing!

Nearby you’ll also see the famous Burj Al Arab, the iconic sail-shaped luxury hotel in Dubai.

Burj Al Arab and the iconic Dubai skyline as seen from The View at The Palm

Burj Al Arab and the iconic Dubai skyline as seen from The View at The Palm

You can pop over to Public Beach (it doesn’t seem to have a name, that’s how it comes up on Google Maps) if you want to get a closer look.

Just bear in mind that, as of April 2022, there was a construction site by the beach, which blocked the view of Burj Al Arab.

I don’t know at what stage the construction is now, or if it will be blocking the Burj Al Arab view permanently once completed.

If you want to continue your local Emirati experience, you can head over to Bu Qtair Restaurant for dinner (located half way between Kite Beach & the Burj Al Arab).

It’s a very local and traditional fish restaurant, it’s not fancy, but the fish is delicious!

The iconic sail shape of Burj al Arab in Dubai

The iconic sail shape of Burj al Arab in Dubai

Dubai itinerary 6 days

If you can spend at least six days in Dubai, then for your final day I recommend actually getting out of Dubai, and exploring the Emirati capital; Abu Dhabi.

Many travellers don’t know whether to choose Dubai or Abu Dhabi for their trips, but if you can spend at least six days in Dubai, you won’t have to! Just follow this Dubai itinerary and you’ll be able to see both.

Day trip to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is only a 1-hour drive away from Dubai, meaning you can easily do a day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.

One day isn’t a lot, but it’s enough to see all the main sights of Abu Dhabi, and get a feel for this unique city.

Many travellers often wonder if they should visit Dubai or Abu Dhabi, and while the answer ultimately depends on your travel style and mood, I definitely think Dubai has more going for it, and you can just visit Abu Dhabi for a day or two.

Exploring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi - getting out of Dubai is also important for any Dubai itinerary!

Exploring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

You can easily visit Abu Dhabi independently, just rent a car or hop on a bus and head over!

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like driving in the UAE or figuring out public transport, there are many organised day tours you can join. I have listed the best ones below.

From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Premium Full-Day Sightseeing Tour – The most complete Dubai to Abu Dhabi day trip, it includes all of the major sights, transfer and lunch.

From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque Guided Tour – A shorter tour for those who only want to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Full-Day Trip with Grand Mosque & Louvre – For the arts and culture lovers, this tour focuses on the Grand Mosque and Louvre Museum.

The "Power of Words" piece inside Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

The “Power of Words” piece inside Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

If you do choose to visit Abu Dhabi independently, I have outlined below the must-see sights that you can’t miss.

Emirates Heritage Club

Emirates Heritage Club is a reconstruction of a traditional desert village. It’s a cool place to wander around, but after the souks and historical areas of Dubai and the desert experience, it probably won’t wow you.

What is wow about Emirates Heritage Club is the view of the Abu Dhabi skyline. You’ll be right across from Corniche Beach, and will be able to enjoy the views of this unique skyline.

Enjoying the view over the Abu Dhabi Skyline

Enjoying the view over the Abu Dhabi Skyline

Qasr al Watan

The Presidential Palace was completed in 2017, but only opened to the public in 2019.

Entrance is 60 AED, and trust me when I saw, it’s well worth the price tag. Qasr al Watan is one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever seen.

The white granite facade only hints at the sumptuous interior, where you will find absolutely breath taking rooms and decorations. Walking through its halls, you understand what real grandeur is.

The exterior of Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

The exterior of Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

The grand interior of Qasr Al-Watan in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Completed in 2007, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (often referred to as just Grand Mosque) is one of the largest mosques in the world, and home to the largest hand-woven carpet in the world.

It’s an elaborate display of Islamic architecture and design. With its domes, columns, details and spires, this imposing white building will leave you breathless.

Entrance if free, just make sure to register online for a specific time slot, and make sure to dress appropriately or you won’t be allowed in.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Sunset from What AlKarama

What AlKarama is a war memorial just across the road from the Grand Mosque.

In and of itself it might not be a Abu Dhabi highlight, but what makes it special is the shallow pool in front of it, where you can see a perfect reflection of the Grand Mosque.

It’s especially stunning at sunset, when the mosque starts to light, the sky turns pink and the reflection is perfectly defined.

Enjoying the view over Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at sunset

Enjoying the view over Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at sunset

In my opinion, these are the four places you absolutely have to visit in Abu Dhabi.

There are many other famous and popular sights, such as Ferrari World, The Louvre, Saadiyat Island and Emirates Palace, but seeing all of them in one day would be a bit of a stretch.

After all, this is a Dubai itinerary, not an Abu Dhabi one. If you can extend your Dubai trip and spend a night in Abu Dhabi that would be a great opportunity to see more of this unique city.

It also allows you to see the Abu Dhabi skyline lit for the night, which is quite the sight.

If you just want to get a feel for the Abu Dhabi vibe, a day trip is more than enough, and you can head back to Dubai for the last day of your Dubai itinerary.

The unique skyline of Abu Dhabi

The unique skyline of Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi lit up for the night

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi lit up for the night

Dubai itinerary 7 days

If you’re lucky enough to spend seven days in Dubai, here is the final day of your Dubai 1-week itinerary! To be entirely honest, I don’t have specific recommendations for this final day in Dubai.

If you follow all my suggestions for the previous six days, by this point you’ll have seen all the key highlights of Dubai and its surroundings.

And let’s be real, you’ll probably also be a bit tired from all the sightseeing and travelling around.

The "fronds" of the Palm at sunset, as seen from The View at The Palm

The “fronds” of the Palm at sunset, as seen from The View at The Palm

The reason I suggest spending at least one week in Dubai, is because it gives you time to absorb everything you’re seeing, without rushing too much.

You could see everything in less (as I said already, three days in Dubai are the bare minimum to see it all) but you’ll be knackered by the end of it.

On this final day in Dubai you can head back to spots you particularly liked, maybe go back to Barasti Beach Club for some beach chilling, or head over to Dubai Mall for some final shopping.

There are also plenty of other attractions in Dubai that I haven’t mentioned yet.

Like the famous water parks at Atlantis or Burj Al Arab, the pool club at The View at the Palm, seeing the sunset from Dubai Creek, the Museum of the Future, or exploring the new Blueswater water front.

I haven’t included them in my core Dubai travel itinerary because, even though they’re all great, I don’t think they’re a core part of a Dubai trip.

Depending on your personal interests, you can choose to visit one or more of them on this final day.

The Museum of the Future in Dubai

The Museum of the Future in Dubai

Final thoughts on the best Dubai holiday itinerary

There you have it, the ultimate Dubai itinerary! Have you been to Dubai before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!

I know Dubai isn’t for everyone, but there’s no denying it’s a unique place and there’s nowhere else quite like it. I truly believe everyone should visit Dubai at least once in their life, and experience what all the buzz is about.

With its huge malls, tall skyscrapers, glam lifestyle, fascinating desert and stunning sunsets, I know you’ll love these Dubai itineraries.

As I already mentioned, you need seven days in Dubai to see everything, but if that’s too long for you, then three days in Dubai is the bare minimum.

In this article I outlined day-by-day everything you should do and see in Dubai, building a Dubai itinerary for three days, four days, five days, six days and even seven days.

Regardless of how long you have, one of these itineraries will fit your trip.

I tried to include everything you need to know about planning your perfect Dubai itinerary, including the best activities, how to get around, where to stay, what to pack and more. I hope you will find it useful in planning your own Dubai trip!

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Photo collage of the view from Burj Khalifa, from Sky Views Observatory, from The View at The Palm and a a blonde girl walking along Dubai Marina with text overlay saying "The best Dubai itinerary"

Photo of a blonde girl in a white jumpsuit standing in front of the sunset with Palm Jumeirah behind her with text overlay saying "Plan a perfect Dubai itinerary"