When we first visited Dubai, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It turned out to be a beautiful trip with plenty of variation to keep the whole family happy and entertained for 10 days.
Dubai has so much to offer for all types of tourists that it might be overwhelming to know what to see and do first, and especially if you are short on time. So in this post, we are highlighting the very best Dubai tours and guided day trips to help you get the most out of your stay in Dubai.
No matter if you are visiting for a week or just making a short stopover in Dubai, consider booking at least a few of these tours. It’s the best way to see multiple facets of this extremely diverse city.
This is just a small hand-picked selection of the most popular Dubai tours and activities based on our personal experience, customer reviews, and price/quality ratio. Out of thousands of available tours in Dubai, we chose the very best ones. This should help you to save time and research and get the most out of your time in this fascinating city.
Best tours in Dubai:
Good to know: I recommend GetYourGuide for booking all your guided tours in Dubai because they have excellent customer service and the best cancelation policy on the market (better than anything you get if booking through other websites or directly). Some tours (like the water parks) aren’t available on GetYourGuide; those you can book via Viator. They also have a good cancelation policy; in most cases, better than when booking directly.
If you visit just one place in Dubai, make it Burj Khalifa. This huge tower rising high in the middle of the desert symbolizes all that Dubai has become in such a short time. There are several options for Burj Khalifa tickets, but it’s a very popular attraction so make sure to book in advance.
- Burj Khalifa Tickets: Level 124 & 125 This is the most popular option when it comes to visiting Burj Khalifa – the entrance tickets to the 124th and 125th floors. Prices vary depending on the time of the day you visit (the hour around sunset is the most expensive as it allows you to see Dubai from above in daylight as well as in the dark). We opted for the later tour and night views and loved this experience!
- Burj Khalifa Tickets and Tour: Level 124, 125, and 148. What makes this tour different from the first one is that you get to skip the lines, avoid the crowds and visit the 148th floor of the Burj Khalifa that includes access to the outdoor terrace of the world’s highest observation deck.
And then you also have all kinds of combination tickets that can save you some money and time. Here are some of the best-rated Burj Khalifa combo tours:
- Dubai City Tour with Burj Khalifa Experience
- Night City Tour with Burj Khalifa Tickets
- Burj Khalifa Ticket with 1-Way Transfer from Your Hotel. The one-way transfer gives you the flexibility to stay and explore the Dubai Mall area longer after visiting Burj Khalifa. Afterward, you can easily take a metro or a taxi to get back – here you can read more about Dubai public transport.
TIP: Just next to Burj Khalifa are the famous dancing fountains of Dubai. A popular way to see the music and light fountain show is from the water, by taking a traditional boat tour on the lake.
Best Dubai Desert Tours
No visit to Dubai would be complete without a visit to the desert. Dune bashing in a 4WD is one of the most fun experiences you can have in Dubai, but there are so many ways to experience the desert… From luxury private experiences to more touristy trips including camel rides, BBQ dinner under the stars, or a traditional dance performance… desert tours are a good way to experience a different side of Dubai.
Here are some of the most popular and best-rated Dubai desert tours, including the best Dubai desert safari deals:
- Dubai Red Dunes Safari: BBQ, Camel, Sandboarding & Falcon This is by far the most popular of Dubai safari tours. It’s really catered for mass tourism, but when in Dubai, you have to experience all of this… We all loved the thrilling 4WD drive and the kids truly enjoyed the short camel ride, sandboarding, bbq dinner, traditional Tanura and belly dance shows, and all the other activities that came with this tour. There are many companies organizing a very similar tour in Dubai. The tour linked above has the very best customer reviews on all the major websites.
- Dubai Morning Safari: Red Dunes, Sandboarding & Camel Ride. This is a shorter version of the above tour (and organized by the same highly rated tour company). It gives you the best experience of the desert (driving in the dunes) without all the other more tourist-oriented activities that you get in the evening. So if your main interest is to experience the Dubai desert, this might be a good option.
- Dubai Sunrise Balloon Flight with Breakfast & Falconry. This tour offers a more luxurious and truly unique way to experience the Dubai desert. If your budget allows it, I wouldn’t hesitate!
- Desert Adventure Safari, Quad Bike, Camel Ride & more. This is a more adventurous Dubai tour that includes all kinds of fun outdoor activities in the desert.
Dubai Water Parks
Dubai has two major water parks – the Aquaventure at Atlantis The Palm and Wild Wadi near Burj Al Arab and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. The price of the two parks is about the same and I really cannot say which one is better. We visited Aquaventure and loved it. If our kids had been taller, we would have definitely tried both parks (many water slides have 120cm (a bit less than 4ft) height limit, but there are still really nice water play areas for the younger kids too).
Whatever you decide, make sure to book your tickets in advance as they might cost twice the price at the entrance of the park…
TIP: It’s worth noting that the entrance to Aquaventure is included for all hotel guests of Atlantis The Palm. If your family really likes waterparks it might be worthwhile looking into booking this hotel. In a less busy season and for families with up to 2 kids this might be the very best option in Dubai. Here you can find the best deals for Atlantis The Palm accommodation.
TIP: Consider checking the prices for a family stay at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel as well. Guests of this hotel enjoy complimentary access to Wild Wadi waterpark. The same is true for the guests of Burj Al Arab hotel, however, this hotel is for the even more luxury travelers and in a bit different price category…
Dubai City Sightseeing Tours
While you can see most of Dubai attractions individually, taking a city tour is a nice way to see all the main sights in a short time. We did a city tour one day at the beginning of our trip and it gave us a good overview of the city and the places that were potentially worth to go back and explore more.
There are several options, ranging from hop-on hop-off busses, guided city tours, and private tours… Some tours focus on the modern city, while some others bring you to the old town, or offer a combination of both…
Old Dubai is so very different than the modern parts most of the tourists visit. If you want to get a taste of more traditional Dubai, the way it was just a few decennia ago, don’t miss it!
Here are some of the best Dubai city tours:
- Old Dubai Culture, History and Souks Walking Tour
- Dubai: Half-Day Old & Modern City Tour. This tour offers the quickest way to see some of the highlights you’d probably miss otherwise.
- Magical Dubai 8-Hour Tour with Burj Khalifa Experience. Similar tour to the previous one, but it also includes tickets to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Aquarium.
- Dubai: Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour (1 to 7 Days). Probably the best way to see Dubai at your own pace.
- Private Full-Day Sightseeing Tour with Driver. This private tour offers you the most flexibility as it can be completely adjusted to your interests.
Dubai Marina Dinner Cruise
Dubai Marina area is one of our favorites in the city. There are several ways to explore it: on foot, bicycle, by water bus, or by boat. The most popular option is the Dubai Marina cruise with dinner.
There are many companies running these tours. And yes, they are oriented towards tourists, but it’s a really nice experience. If you choose well, it may not cost that much more than just a regular dinner at the restaurant (check this post for more information about how much everything costs in Dubai).
Here are some of the best-rated Dubai Marina tours:
- Dubai Marina Sunset Cruise
- Luxury Dubai Marina Dinner Cruise
- Alexandra Dhow Cruise in Dubai Marina is one of the best options I found when looking for a more local experience. The boat is a traditional Arabic wooden dhow and you get to see a live traditional Tanura dance performance as well. Once again, it’s tailored for tourists, but so is everything in Dubai. We took this dinner cruise and really enjoyed it. There are many companies offering dhow dinner cruises, but most have really poor ratings. We chose this dinner cruise because of the good reviews and excellent price/quality ratio. It’s also one of the best options for families – kids under 6 travel free, and kids under 12 get a discount.
You can find similar dinner cruises on Dubai Creek as well. But we found that the Dubai Marina area is a much nicer and more spectacular place to be in the evening.
Dubai Sightseeing Boat Tours
Many sights of Dubai are best admired from the water. The best way to see the iconic sights like the Burj Al Arab, Atlantis Hotel and the Palm Jumeirah, is by taking a boat.
Here are some of the best sightseeing boat tours in Dubai:
- Speedboat Tour: Marina, Atlantis, Palm & Burj Al Arab. This is the best-rated speedboat tours in Dubai. It’s a great way to see many landmarks in a short time.
- Dubai Private Sightseeing Tour by Luxury Boat. A highly-rated private luxury boat tour. Depending on the number of people in your group, this luxury option may not be much more expensive than a regular boat tour. Worth taking a look!
- Self-Drive Boat Trip. If you rather combine the thrills of riding your own speedboat and sightseeing, this is a great option for you. And don’t worry about not knowing where to go or how to steer the boat, a guide escorts you all the way.
Camel Ride Tours
The above desert tours only include a very short ride on the camel. If you are looking for a longer camel ride in Dubai desert, consider one of these highly-rated options:
Abu-Dhabi Day Trip from Dubai
With a driving distance of just an hour and a half, Abu-Dhabi is a very popular day trip from Dubai. Here are the best-rated and the most popular options:
- Abu Dhabi Full-Day Sightseeing Tour from Dubai. This is the most popular/ best rated day tour to Abu-Dhabi.
- Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Mosque Half-Day Tour from Dubai. Great for those who want to see the main landmarks in just a few hours.
- Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi & Grand Mosque Day Trip from Dubai. If you want to visit the Abu-Dhabi Louvre Museum, this tour is the best option.
- Abu-Dhabi Highlights & Ferrari World. Combine a visit to the city with Ferrari World.
Other Great Activities in Dubai
Dubai is a truly unique place with so much going on in the city. The tours I listed above are very popular and really worth doing in order to see the best of Dubai. But if you have more time (and money) and are looking for something more extraordinary and unique, then take a look at some of these great activities in Dubai.
- Scenic Helicopter Flight
- Hot Air Balloon Ride & Desert Safari
- Seaplane Flight above Palm Jumeirah & Burj Khalifa
- Zip Line across the Marina
So, these are the 10 most popular types of tours and excursions that you can do in Dubai. It’s really difficult to say which activity was our favorite as they are all so different. As a minimum I recommend visiting the Burj Khalifa, taking a city tour that brings you to Old Dubai, visit the Dubai desert, and at least one water park.
Have you been to Dubai? What were your favorite tours?
READ ALSO: Dubai Stopover (itinerary ideas for 1/2, 1, or 2 days in Dubai)
More tips for your trip to Dubai:
- How Expensive is Dubai
- What to Wear in Dubai
- Interesting Facts about Dubai
- Dubai Public Transport
- Free & Cheap Things to Do in Dubai
- 20 Things to Do in Dubai for the Whole Family
- Review of DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Beach Hotel
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