Why You Should Visit Dubai at Least Once

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Dubai is a city that straddles the line between ancient traditions and future fantasies. Think bustling souks overflowing with spices and shimmering silks next to the world’s largest indoor ski slope. It’s a place where you can haggle for a rug one minute and be sipping cocktails on a rooftop overlooking the cityscape the next. Intrigued? Here’s why you should visit Dubai at least once.

Sandboarding down a slope in Dubai desert.
Sandboarding down a slope in Dubai desert. Photo credit: Zuzana Paar.

Ever flipped through a travel magazine and been smacked in the face by a photo of Dubai’s skyline — all Burj Khalifa and chrome giants reaching for the sun? Yeah, me too. For a while, Dubai seemed like a place ripped straight out of science fiction, a playground for the rich and flashy. But here’s the thing: Dubai deserves a spot on your bucket list, and not just for the outrageous architecture.

Living in Dubai for 15 years has been like living in a dream. It’s been my home, a place I’ve loved dearly. Even now, after all these years, I can’t stay away for too long. I make sure to visit at least once a year, sometimes even more often if I can manage. Dubai holds a special place in my heart – it’s the only city in the world that I feel drawn to again and again, no matter where life takes me.

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A Modern Marvel with a Deep-Rooted History

Dubai’s all about pushing boundaries, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten its roots. The city’s heart lies in Bur Dubai and Deira, where traditional souks overflow with treasures. Wander through the maze-like alleys of the Spice Souk, inhaling the heady aroma of cardamom and saffron. Haggling is practically an art form here, so put on your best negotiating smile and see what gems you can unearth.

Next, hop on an abra, a traditional wooden boat, and cross Dubai Creek. Deira is where you’ll find the Gold Souk, a dazzling display of everything from delicate chains to chunky statement pieces. It’s sensory overload in the best way possible, with the glint of gold competing with the calls of shopkeepers.

But Dubai’s history goes beyond the souks. Pay your respects at the Jumeirah Mosque, a beautiful example of Islamic architecture with its pink stone and towering minarets. Learn about the city’s pearl diving heritage at the Dubai Museum, housed in the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai. A visit here will give you a glimpse into Dubai’s past before the oil boom and the rise of the skyscrapers.

A long swimming pool in Dubai, lined with palm trees.
A long swimming pool in Dubai, lined with palm trees.

Man-Made Wonders That Will Blow Your Mind

Dubai isn’t afraid to dream big, and that’s evident in its architectural marvels. The undisputed king of the skyline is, of course, the Burj Khalifa. Soaring over 828 meters, it’s the tallest building in the world, offering unparalleled views from its observation decks. Imagine feeling like you can touch the clouds as you gaze out at the miniature city sprawled beneath you.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walk (don’t worry, there are air-conditioned walkways!) across the top of the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island shaped like a palm tree. Fancy a spot of luxury shopping? Head to the Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping centers, home to everything from designer boutiques to an aquarium so big it houses sharks.

And speaking of aquariums, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is a must-see for marine life enthusiasts. Walk through a tunnel and marvel at the diversity of aquatic creatures, from colorful clownfish to majestic stingrays. You can even book a cage diving experience and come face-to-face with sharks!

Beyond the Glitz: Desert Delights and Thrill-Seeking Adventures

Dubai isn’t just about chrome and glass. The vast Arabian Desert lies just outside the city limits, offering a chance to experience a completely different side of Dubai. Embark on a thrilling desert safari, bouncing over sand dunes in a 4WD and feeling the adrenaline rush. As the sun dips below the horizon, settle into a Bedouin camp for a traditional meal under a canopy of stars.

If you’re looking for a more chilled desert experience, try hot air ballooning. Drifting silently over the dunes at sunrise is a truly magical way to witness the beauty of the desert landscape. For the ultimate thrill-seekers, there’s even skydiving available, allowing you to freefall over the desert with the iconic Dubai skyline in the distance.

Entrance adorned with yellow arch structures and greenery.
Entrance adorned with yellow arch structures and greenery.

A Foodie Paradise for Every Palate

Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, and that’s reflected in its incredible food scene. From Michelin-starred restaurants to hole-in-the-wall cafes serving steaming plates of falafel, your taste buds will be on a journey. Indulge in a luxurious Emirati feast, savor fresh seafood by the Dubai Marina, or enjoy fragrant curries and aromatic Lebanese mezze.

Don’t miss out on Dubai’s hidden culinary gems! Wander through bustling neighborhoods like Satwa or Al Dhiyafah and grab a plate of freshly baked knafeh, a sweet cheese pastry soaked in syrup. For a taste of Persia, head to a local Iranian restaurant and savor melt-in-your-mouth chelo kebabs (grilled meat skewers served with saffron rice). Dubai even features a thriving homegrown restaurant scene, where innovative chefs are putting their own unique spin on traditional dishes.

Retail Therapy: From Souks to Malls and Everything in Between

Dubai is a shopper’s paradise, catering to every budget and style. We’ve already mentioned the souks, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The aforementioned Dubai Mall is a retail wonderland, housing everything from high-end fashion brands like Chanel and Dior to more affordable stores like H&M and Zara. There’s even an indoor waterfall and an Olympic-sized ice rink for some retail therapy with a twist.

If you’re looking for something a little more unique, explore the boutiques in neighborhoods like SoHo Dubai or Dubai Design District. Here you’ll find independent stores showcasing local and regional designers, alongside art galleries and quirky cafes. For a touch of tradition, head to Madinat Jumeirah, a sprawling complex that combines a luxurious resort with a traditional souk selling everything from handcrafted souvenirs to pashminas.

A skyline view of the modern city of Dubai.
A skyline view of the modern city of Dubai.

Dubai After Dark: A Glittering Metropolis That Never Sleeps

Dubai’s nightlife is as vibrant and diverse as its daytime offerings. For rooftop cocktails with breathtaking views, head to bars perched atop some of the city’s tallest skyscrapers. If you’re looking to dance the night away, there are world-renowned nightclubs featuring international DJs. Catch a live music performance at a jazz bar, or experience a traditional Arabic dinner show complete with belly dancers and whirling dervishes.

The options are endless, and whether you’re in the mood for a sophisticated evening or a night of letting loose, Dubai’s nightlife has something for everyone. Remember, many bars and clubs are attached to hotels, so you might need to show ID or pay a cover charge.

Family Fun: Activities to Keep Everyone Entertained

Dubai isn’t just for couples and thrill-seekers. The city offers a surprising amount of family-friendly activities. Spend a day and a night at Legoland Dubai Hotel, Wild Wadi Waterpark, screaming down water slides and floating in lazy rivers. For something a little more educational, head to Dubai Parks and Resorts, home to themed zones featuring characters from popular movies and cartoons.

If your kids love animals, don’t miss Dubai Dolphinarium, where you can watch playful dolphins perform tricks. They even offer interactive programs where you can get up close and personal with these amazing creatures. And of course, no trip to Dubai would be complete without a visit to the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, where kids can marvel at the wonders of the ocean world.

Final Words

Dubai often gets labeled as a stopover destination, a flashy city to break up a long-haul flight. But trust me, Dubai deserves more than just a quick pitstop. It’s a city that offers something for everyone, from history buffs and culture vultures to adrenaline junkies and foodies. Next time you’re planning a trip, consider Dubai for sure. You might just surprise yourself with how much you love this city of towering ambitions and ancient charm.

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Dubai Adventures: Why Visit Once.
Dubai Adventures: Why Visit Once.

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About the author
Zuzana Paar
Zuzana, the adventurer at the helm of Amazing Travel Life. As a globetrotter, storyteller, and explorer, she wear many hats – from capturing breathtaking moments to unraveling the beauty of diverse cultures. Join her on this journey, where her goal is to share travel tales and inspire you to embark on your own incredible adventures.

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