Transformed from a barren desert to a bustling city with a record-breaking skyline, Dubai is a city gilded with a sense of luxury.
The year round sunshine and excellent beaches make Dubai the perfect winter sun destination where you can feel like a King straight out of the Arabian Nights.
We have the ultimate guide on where to stock up on brunch, laze by the pool, shop the boutiques or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of the Golden City.
The Jumeirah Mosque
[caption id="attachment_9132" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Jumeirah Mosque[/caption]
With its pure white marble and tall minarets, this iconic mosque is a wonder of Middle Eastern architecture and surely not to be missed. Visit in the early evening, just as the sun is setting, to appreciate the amazing views and take some vibrant photos of the white marble contrasting against the softened sky. Be sure to dress in modest clothing – cover bare limbs and women will need to wear a head scarf.
Burj Khalifa[caption id="attachment_9133" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Burj Khalifa. Photo by: Colin Capelle (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
At a whopping 828 metres and with no fewer than 124 floors, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and quite a sight to behold. The elevator rockets at a rate of 10 metres per second eventually revealing one of the best views of the city, looking down on the other skyscrapers and out across the Persian Gulf. The tickets can be bought at the ground floor close to the Dubai mall – incidentally the largest mall in the world.
Bastakia[caption id="attachment_9202" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Bastakia district, Dubai. Photo by Leandro Neumann Ciuffo (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
If you are looking to experience Dubai’s old town then head to Bastakia, an old-world market squeezed into an old fortress and known as the Gold Souk – the gold market. Wander through the narrow lanes and take in the exotic scents of frankincense, cinnamon, saffron and cumin on sale alongside rich textiles and souvenirs. You can also catch a ferry along the river in a traditional boat known as an Abra for just a few pounds.
Jumeirah Beach Residence[caption id="attachment_9140" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Jumeirah Beach Residence[/caption]
The Jumeirah Beach Residence is about 2 kilometres of pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Along the seafront you will find many bars, restaurants and shops, there are also cabins, changing facilities, Wi-Fi, showers, activities for kids and tennis.
Kite Beach[caption id="attachment_9212" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Kite surfer, Dubai. Photo by: Fernando Bandillo (CC BY-ND 2.0)[/caption]
Kite Beach is a beach of pure white sand that also offers an array of activities such as surfing, kayaking, beach tennis and soap football.
Atlantis Hotel Waterpark[caption id="attachment_9130" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Atlantis Waterpark[/caption]
Atlantis Hotel Waterpark is one of the biggest water parks in the Middle East and includes 17 hectares of rapids, slides and rides, all centered on the theme Atlantis – perfect for family days out.elope201 (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]
The Armani hotel[caption id="attachment_9217" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Armani table setting. Photo by: Stephan Geyer (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)[/caption]
Dubai has a wealth of restaurants offering exquisite cuisine. For al fresco dining try the terrace at the Armani hotel which mainly serves Mediterranean-style food with a few more exotic options thrown in. All of which are accompanied by the extensive wine list and incredible views.
Burj Khalifa[caption id="attachment_9218" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Fountain display at the Burj Khalifa. Photo by: Bertrand Duperrin (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)[/caption]
Dinner at the Burj Khalifa is a similarly luxurious affair, but with the added spectacle of the dancing fountain, shooting water 150 metres into the air to the beat of music.
Awtar at the Park Hyatt
For some true Arabian cuisine, try Awtar at the Park Hyatt. With opulent surroundings, a tent-style ceiling and warm friendly hosts, this is one way to experience true Arabic hospitality.
Remember: in small bars scattered around the city and the waterfront you cannot buy nor consume alcohol, it is served only in hotels.
360 Jumeirah Beach Hotel[caption id="attachment_9221" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] 360 Bar Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Photo by: mathrong (CC BY-NC 2.0)[/caption]
The 360 Jumeirah Beach Hotel is considered one of the best clubs in the city, with famous DJ nights you won’t forget. Upon entering the hotel guests can stroll through the gardens and pool to the club, alternatively you can be chauffeured by the staff aboard a golf buggy. From inside the club you can enjoy a privileged view of the Burj Al Arab, dance and sip on cocktails.
The Address Dubai Marina[caption id="attachment_9142" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The Address Dubai Marina[/caption]
Shades at The Address Dubai Marina features a lit-up infinity pool set amongst the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina, the perfect setting for a relaxing evening with friends. Here you can order cocktails, tea or smoke some traditional shisha with different fragrances.
Brunch[caption id="attachment_9230" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Elaborate Dubai brunch. Photo by: NKCPhoto (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)[/caption]
Brunch is a big deal in Dubai. The best days for brunch are Friday and Saturday, they start around 11am and have been known to continue well into the day. With all-you-can-eat buffets accompanied by all-you-can-drink cocktails there really is no reason not to indulge.
The Mariott Observatory of Dubai Marina[caption id="attachment_9220" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] View from the Marriott Observatory. Photo by: Toni Almodóvar Escuder (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)[/caption]
The favourite spot for brunch is The Mariott Observatory of Dubai Marina. Perched on the 52nd floor with a mesmerizing view of the Marina below, this is definitely more of a splurge than save option costing between £40 and £60 per person – depending on whether you want alcoholic beverages. However it will quite possibly be, the highlight of your holiday.
The best areas in Dubai are the Marina and Downtown. These locations offer easy access to beaches, luxury hotels, shopping and many of the city’s tourist sites. Alternatively, slightly further out from the center you’ll find the Tecom district and Al Barsha both of which are well connected by metro.
Burj Al Arab
[caption id="attachment_9137" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Burj Al Arab[/caption]
The world’s first 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab is the lap of luxury. Its exclusivity is underscored by it being on its very own private island, which is found offshore from Jumeirah beach. Shaped like a sail, the hotel has become another iconic symbol of Dubai and proudly stands out amongst the crowd of skyscrapers.
The Majestic Tower Hotel[caption id="attachment_9224" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Rooms at the Majestic Tower Hotel[/caption]
For a stay that offers luxury at an affordable price, check out the 4 star Majestic Tower Hotel , located in Bur Dubai – just 15 minutes from the airport and walking distance to the Al Fahidi metro station. A classic room will set you up nicely with all the usual amenities including free Wi-Fi and the most important: tea and coffee making facilities.
The Tamani Marina Hotel[caption id="attachment_9225" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Tamani Hotel Tower[/caption]
Situated close to the beach in the Marina, The Tamani Marina Hotel is a budget-friendly hotel, which is ideal for families and business travellers alike. The rooms emanate warmth with classic decoration and original art works. The staff are extremely friendly and most are multilingual.
Click here for more exciting deals in Dubai.
Lead image by: Frank Kehren (CC BY-ND 2.0)