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17+ TOP Dubai Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

17+ TOP Dubai Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

Looking for the best things to do in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and feeling overwhelmed? Deciding which of the most popular Dubai attractions to visit is indeed not easy, especially if you are visiting the city for the first time and have limited time, not even to mention the budget.

From gleaming skyscrapers and modern landmarks to the desert and historic souks, Dubai has something for everyone. But it’s also a rapidly growing city with countless new tourist attractions springing up like mushrooms and choosing which places to visit and which ones to skip might look like a daunting task…

So to help you figure out where to go and what to see in Dubai, in this guide we share the VERY BEST sights and TOP tourist attractions in Dubai that are worth your time the most. In addition, we also include a few fun experiences for those looking to experience Dubai beyond the ‘musts’.

We also created a map of all the top places that should help you plan your Dubai sightseeing itinerary. You can find it at the bottom of this article. In addition, for every place featured in this guide, we include some practical tips that will help you make the most of your visit. Take a look!


Good to know: We list the must-see places and experiences first, followed by some additional tips for things to do in Dubai further down the list.

If you are short on time, concentrate on the top sights indicated as ‘must-see’ first. In addition, see if you can also fit in some of the ‘highly recommended’ experiences listed further down.

But if you have more time and are looking for even more ideas for places to visit and interesting tourist attractions beyond the most popular sights, be sure to check the complete list.

TIP: If you are not sure how to plan your trip, on our blog, you can also find sample itineraries for first-time visitors: a Dubai stopover itinerary (from 6 hours to 1-2 days) and a detailed Dubai itinerary for up to one week.

Best things to do in Dubai and top places to visit

Here are the main landmarks, best sights, and top tourist attractions in Dubai:

1. Burj Khalifa


If there is one place you have to see in Dubai, it’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This iconic skyscraper is the most visited landmark in Dubai.

While you will see Burj Khalifa from all over the city, it’s most impressive when seen from the bottom. So don’t miss that!

In addition, no trip to Dubai would be complete without ascending to the 124th and 125th floors for breathtaking views of the city skyline, coastline, and desert. For an extra price, you can also visit the SKY Level on the 148th floor.

Good to know: Standard tickets include timed-entry access to 124-125th floors. However, even with a dedicated time slot, be prepared to queue for a long time. The SKY Level 124,125, and 148th floors ticket is more expensive, but includes skip-the-line access for the security check and elevator. It also includes access to the lounge with snacks and drinks.

PRO TIP: Whatever option you choose, be sure to book your tickets online in advance or you may not be able to visit at all. If you want to catch the sunset at the top, be sure to book a time slot at least 1.5 hours before the sunset time (just beware that those time slots are also more expensive).

Burj Khalifa - must see in Dubai
Burj Khalifa is a must-see in Dubai!

2. Dubai Mall


You might be wondering why in the world we list a shopping mall as one of the must-see places in Dubai… Well, the Dubai Mall is not just a shopping paradise, but a destination in itself. Plus, it’s located right at the Burj Khalifa so you’ll come here anyway.

The largest shopping mall in the world, Dubai Mall has over 1,200 shops, including high-end designer stores and flagship fashion brands. In addition, you can choose from more than 200 restaurants and food outlets. But it’s worth coming here even if you are not interested in shopping and dining.

You can’t miss the gigantic Dubai Aquarium – the centerpiece of the Mall, or you can get a ticket and visit inside. There are also huge waterfalls, a 155 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton, an Olympic-size ice skating rink, a mini-city for kids KidZania, and countless other attractions. You could literally spend several days in here and still not see it all…

TIP: If you want to visit the aquarium, opt for a combo ticket that includes Burj Khalifa + Dubai Aquarium. Otherwise, the aquarium price is really steep for what it is.

Waterfalls inside the Dubai Mall - top places to visit in Dubai
These huge waterfalls are just one of the countless attractions inside the Dubai Mall.

3. Dubai Fountain Show


The captivating Dubai Fountain Show can be seen on the Burj Lake right outside the Dubai Mall, at the foot of Burj Khalifa. It’s a mesmerizing water, music, and light show that takes place multiple times a day and is FREE to watch.

The world’s tallest performing fountain, it dances for a few minutes to a selection of different melodies ranging from popular hits to traditional Arabic and classical music.

Good to know: The Dubai Fountain shows run every half an hour from 6 PM to 11 PM. There is also a performance at 1.30 PM, plus at 1 PM on weekdays and 2 PM on weekends.

PRO TIP: If you are looking for something nice to do in Dubai, book a boat ride on Burj Lake during a fountain show. It takes just 30 minutes and is not expensive (definitely for Dubai standards). Everyone in our family really enjoyed it.

Dubai Fountain Show - top things to do in Dubai
Dubai Fountain Show.

4. Old Dubai & Traditional Souks


Dubai has more to offer than its modern landmarks and one of the best places to experience the authentic side of Dubai is its Old Town.

Be sure to visit the historic neighborhood of Al Fahidi (formerly known as Bastakiya), cross Dubai Creek on a traditional Abra boat, and don’t miss the best traditional markets in Dubai – the Gold Souk and Spice Souk.

To be completely honest, the Al Fahidi neighborhood is not that authentic, but has the feel of an overly nicely restored open-air museum. You can wander through a few picturesque narrow alleyways lined with wind-tower houses, art galleries, and quaint cafes. There are also several tiny museums and some traditional shops selling souvenirs to tourists.

Nevertheless, it’s the best place to catch a glimpse of old Dubai and get a better understanding of the fascinating journey of the fascinating expansion of the UAE in just a few decades. The transformation of a few tiny fishing villages in the desert to the global metropolises of the 21st century is nothing short of remarkable.

PRO TIP: Visit the old town with a local guide! That way, you can be sure to see all the musts but also learn more about the history of Dubai. The tours are very affordable and some also include local food and drinks. We visited the Dubai old town and traditional markets on different occasions, most recently with this highly-rated tour and I can highly recommend it as one of the top experiences in Dubai.

Dubai Spice Souk in the old town - top places in Dubai
Dubai Spice Souk is not to be missed!

5. Dubai Marina


Surrounded by towering skyscrapers and filled with luxury yachts, Dubai Marina is one of the must-see places where you can experience the glitz and glamour of Dubai.

The best way to explore the area is by taking a leisurely stroll along the promenade known as Marina Walk. It’s almost 3 kilometers long and is lined with upscale restaurants, trendy cafes, and luxury boutiques. If you don’t want to walk the entire length, focus on the area close to Marina Mall or join a guided e-scooter tour.

For a unique perspective, hop on a luxury yacht cruise – it’s a great and very relaxing way to see some of the most impressive skylines. If you are looking for a more traditional experience, you can also opt for a dhow dinner cruise to admire the dazzling skyline illuminated against the night sky.

There is so much more to do at the Dubai Marina than just enjoy the scenery! You can go jet skiing, parasailing, zip line across the Marina, or even dine in the sky.

Dubai Marina at night - best things to do in Dubai
Dubai Marina.

6. Dubai Desert


Dubai has grown into a huge ultra-modern metropolis, but its roots are still in the desert. So no trip would be complete without seeing the Dubai desert. Even if just for the contrast and to get a better understanding of how remarkable the journey of the UAE has been.

Let me be very honest with you – the desert around Dubai is not that impressive, especially if we compare it to places like e.g. Sossusvlei in Namibia or Death Valley in the USA. However, there are many exhilarating desert safari experiences, such as dune bashing in a 4×4, quad rides, camel riding, hot-air balloon flights, etc. and these are well worth your time.

In addition, most Dubai safari tours include a visit to a desert camp, built in a traditional Bedouin style. Here, you can indulge in Arabian BBQ dinner and taste all kinds of local food, see the national bird of the UAE – the falcon, or get a henna tattoo. In the evenings, you can also see all kinds of traditional performances such as Tanoura dance, belly dancing, or fire shows.

Good to know: There are many desert tour options and most of them last 4 to 7 hours. The desert camp experience is similar on all evening tours, but be sure to read the tour description to choose the main activity (jeep, quad, camel, etc.) that best aligns with your interests. For example, most desert tours include a very short camel ride (for a picture), but only a few offer a longer camel ride experience.

Our experience: We have been on two desert tours in Dubai (on different trips) and really enjoyed them both. One of them included dune bashing in a jeep and the other one – camel riding. They both included dinner and other desert camp experiences.

READ ALSO: Best Tours in Dubai

Camels in Dubai desert - best things to do in Dubai
Dubai desert tours are always fun and well worth your time.

7. Dubai Museum Of The Future


The Museum of the Future is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai. The remarkable building is a must-see, but the museum itself is quite interesting and well worth a few hours of your time.

The museum is very interactive and showcases Dubai’s vision of the future and what it will look like some 50 years from now. They cover all kinds of topics like space travel, artificial intelligence, and robotics, but also climate change, healthcare, spirituality, etc.

PRO TIP: Reserve tickets for the museum at least a few weeks before your trip. When we traveled, they were sold out for almost 3 weeks, not even to mention being able to pick a time slot that fits your itinerary. Also, if you can, book the first time slot in the morning so that you can enjoy the interactive exhibits before it gets too crowded.

Dubai Museum of the Future - top tourist attractions in Dubai UAE
Dubai Museum of the Future.

8. Sky Views Observatory & Sky Edge Walk


Sky Views Observatory offers a great view of Dubai’s Downtown. It’s also one of the best places to admire the iconic Burj Khalifa from a higher angle at a rather close distance.

In addition, you can also walk over a glass-bottom walkway, slide down a transparent tube at the side of the building, or – for an additional fee – do the Sky Edge Walk on an open-air platform on the 52nd floor.

Good to know: Regular tickets are very affordable and much cheaper than the Burj Khalifa tickets. But if you are not afraid of heights and have some extra time, we highly recommend a ticket that also includes the Edge Walk – it’s one of the most unique things to do in Dubai!

Sky View Observatory - best things to do in Dubai
Views from the Sky Views Observatory.

9. Global Village


Global Village Dubai is one of the most popular attractions in Dubai, popular with locals as well as international visitors. Just as the name suggests, it’s a place where you can experience a wide variety of cultures from all over the world.

With over 90 countries represented, it’s a unique opportunity to get acquainted with different countries, sample traditional foods, or purchase some interesting souvenirs. There are also cultural shows and live performances.

It’s a bit like a big country fair, but very unique because of its global character.

Good to know: A visit to Global Village is very affordable and entry tickets cost just around $6. However, you’ll have to pay extra for most of the rides and attractions inside.

PRO TIP: Avoid weekends and try to arrive around the opening time (usually around 4 pm, but during Ramadan around 6 pm). Friday and Saturday evenings are the busiest.

Global Village Dubai - most popular attractions in Dubai UAE
Global Village Dubai – Photo efesenko/

10. Palm Jumeirah


The Palm Jumeirah is a man-made palm-tree-shaped island in the Arabian Gulf and connected to the city via tunnels and bridges and tunnels. The Palm is home to upscale residences, luxury hotels, and beachfront resorts, including the famous Atlantis, The Palm.

There are several places of interest to see at the Palm including the best water park in Dubai, Atlantis Aquaventure and Dolphin Bay, Lost Chambers Aquarium, and several luxurious sky pool experiences.

If you just want to catch a glimpse of this remarkable feat of engineering, visit The View at The Palm Observatory. From here, you can enjoy 360° views of the city and the Arabian Gulf, including an elevated view of this unique palm island.

PRO TIP: For the best aerial views and to fully appreciate The Palm, opt for a sightseeing helicopter tour.

Palm Jumeirah - top places to see in Dubai
Palm Jumeirah.

11. Burj Al Arab


Burj Al Arab is one of the most recognizable symbols of Dubai. The sail-shaped luxury hotel was opened in December 1999 and was the first one in a series of Dubai’s most remarkable landmarks that were built in the 21st century.

One of the world’s most luxurious and most expensive hotels, Burj Al Arab is not only impressive from the outside. Inside, you can admire its lavish interiors and find some extravagant experiences such as its world-famous gold cappuccino.

Good to know: A stay at this hotel will quickly cost you over $1,500 per night. But a tour of the interior is much more affordable. For an additional fee, you can upgrade to the luxury tour to include a visit to the 25th floor (where the Royal Suites are located) and a sip of the gold cappuccino.

Burj Al Arab - top sights in Dubai
Burj Al Arab.

12. Souk Madinat Jumeirah


Located just near the Burj Al Arab, Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a bustling indoor market that combines traditional Arabian architecture and Middle Eastern charm with modern-day comforts such as air conditioning and meticulously clean facilities.

You will find an array of little shops here selling all kinds of traditional merchandise and souvenirs. There are also bakeries, cafes, and a variety of restaurants.

With small rivers, little bridges, and traditional Arabian architecture, the area feels like a charming little town. You can walk around or take a boat on the picturesque waterways offering nice views of the Burj Al Arab.

Good to know: You can easily combine a visit to the Souk with that of Burj Al Arab. Boat rides can just be booked and paid at the spot.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah - top places in Dubai
Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

13. Dubai Frame


The Dubai Frame is another remarkable landmark that you have to see in Dubai. This colossal picture frame is visible from afar so you can’t really miss it. But it’s also possible to visit it inside.

The 150-meter-high observation deck has a glass-bottomed walkway and also offers panoramic 360° views of both old and new Dubai.

The views are quite nice, but not nearly comparable to those from Burj Khalifa, Sky Views, or the View at The Palm. On the other hand, the structure is absolutely unique and we personally found it worth a visit.

Good to know: Depending on the season and time of day, it can be very busy here. Be sure to book tickets online and if you can, try to visit either early in the morning or in the evening.

Dubai Frame - one of the most popular tourist attractions in Dubai
Dubai Frame.

14. Miracle Garden


Miracle Garden is a must-see in Dubai for everyone who loves flowers, colors, and all kinds of quirky displays. From cartoon characters like the Smurfs to gigantic swans and from colorful castles to a life-size A380 Airbus plane – everything here is covered in flowers.

The world’s largest natural flower garden, Dubai Miracle Garden features over 150 million flowers. However, don’t expect a big variety of flowers here. There are not many plants that do well in such a hot and dry climate, so the majority of floral displays are created using petunias.

Good to know: Buy skip-the-line tickets online and plan an hour or two for a visit. It’s quietest in the morning. However, many people combine a visit here to that of the nearby Global Village, and the latter only opens late in the afternoon, so keep that in mind if you want to visit both attractions on the same day.

Miracle Garden - best things to do in Dubai
Miracle Garden Dubai.

15. Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark & Lost Chambers Aquarium

NICE TO SEE (MUST DO if visiting with kids)

Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark is the biggest water park in the world and by far the best one in Dubai. Featuring over 100 water rides and attractions from splash pools to adrenaline-rushing water slides, Aquaventure is great for all ages.

In addition, you can also meet sea lions or swim with dolphins, and enjoy all kinds of water sports. You can visit the Lost Chambers Aquarium which is located at the same place.

This is a must-do if you are visiting Dubai with kids (especially teenagers!), but it’s definitely not just for families.

PRO TIP: Atlantis Aquaventure tickets are cheaper if booked online, and you can save a bit more if you book at least a week in advance. We recommend a combo ticket that includes entry to the Lost Chambers Aquarium. Here you can find more ticket options, including dolphin experiences.

LEARN MORE: Tips & Tricks for Visiting Atlantis Aquaventure

Lost Chambers Aquarium - top places in Dubai
Lost Chambers Aquarium.

16. AYA Universe


AYA Universe is one of our family’s favorite places to visit in Dubai. It’s not a must-do, but it’s also a very unique experience that will leave you speechless.

A visit to AYA is like stepping into a series of different fairytale-like worlds, with colorful light displays and captivating high-tech experiences. Some of the rooms reminded us of the beautiful dreamy universe created in Avatar films.

We visited AYA Universe with our teens who are hard to impress, and they loved it. We spent much more time than expected here, wandering through different rooms and simply sitting down and enjoying the moment. It’s such a nice and positive experience. We loved it!

Good to know: Book your tickets online and count about 45-60 minutes for a visit. If you want to enjoy it without too many people around, we recommend booking the earliest time slot.

Interesting places to visit in Dubai - AYA Universe
This is just one of the many enchanting rooms at AYA Universe.

17. Dubai Beaches


Dubai has many beaches and since the temperatures are suitable for swimming the whole year round, you may want to plan to spend some time at the beach. By far the best way to do this is by choosing a hotel that has its own private beach or is located near one of the public beaches.

One of the nicest public beaches in Dubai is Marina Beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence. There is a very nice waterfront area here with tons of cafes and restaurants and lots of hotels. Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach is one of the most popular options here.

We once stayed at Doubletree by Hilton JBR Beach nearby which has its own private beach, but we walked to this area all the time because it was so nice. We had most of our lunches and dinners at Marina Beach unless we were away sightseeing.

Jumeirah Public Beach is another beautiful Dubai beach that is well worth visiting. In addition to white sands and swimming, here you can also enjoy a view of the iconic Burj Al Arab which makes a great backdrop for your vacation pictures. Jumeirah Beach Hotel is a very nice place to stay in this area and all guests enjoy free access to the adjacent Wild Wadi Waterpark.

La Mer Beach further north and closer to the city center is also worth checking out. This area is still developing but already has a nice hip feel. We recently stayed at the Rove La Mer Beach Hotel and really enjoyed it. The location is also great for sightseeing since it’s so close to the downtown area.

Dubai Marina Beach JBR
Dubai Marina Beach JBR

More Ideas for Things to Do in Dubai

There is SO MUCH to see and do in Dubai that it’s impossible to cover all those experiences in one article (or visit in one trip). Nevertheless, I want to highlight some additional places and attractions that I think are certainly worth it.

So here are some additional recommendations for fun things to do in Dubai:

  • La Perle by Dragone is the #1 show in Dubai. This is a mind-blowing acrobatic show in, on, and above water and in the air. If you enjoy Cirque de Soleil shows, you’ll love this one!
  • The Green Planet is an indoor rainforest with a wide variety of tropical plants, birds, and animals such as sloths, squirrel monkeys, etc. It’s great for families but is enjoyable for all age groups.
  • Dubai Butterfly Garden is a great place to see all kinds of colorful butterflies from all over the world. It’s located just next to the earlier-mentioned Miracle Garden so you can easily visit both.
  • iFly Dubai is an indoor skydiving center. If you ever wanted to try skydiving but didn’t dare, this is your chance to give it a try in a safe and controlled environment. Our kids loved this!
  • Skydiving. If you rather try the real thing, there are quite a few possibilities to go skydiving in Dubai. The views are amazing!
  • Skiing and snow experiences. If you want to experience winter in the desert, you can go skiing in Dubai. But that’s not it! They have other snow experiences as well such as a Giant Ball, Bobsled, Tubing Run, and Bump Car to mention a few.
  • Theme parks and water parks. There is no shortage of all kinds of theme parks in Dubai. Some of the best include IMG Worlds of Adventure and LEGOLAND Dubai (this one also has a water park). If you are looking for more water parks, check out Wild Wadi as well – it’s a lot smaller than Aquaventure if you want to avoid the big crowds.

READ ALSO: Best Abu Dhabi Day Tour from Dubai

Traditional Arabic lamps in Dubai UAE
Traditional Arabic lamps at a souk in Dubai.

Map of Top Dubai Attractions

To help you get a better idea of where all the main Dubai attractions are located, we created a map indicating all the main points of interest and top sights mentioned in this article.

This should help you plan your time in Dubai. However, please keep in mind that distances between places are big and traffic is very busy. Even with the skip-the-line tickets, you’ll often need several hours for the main attractions and can only visit a few of them per day. So plan your time well!

In addition, remember that Dubai can get scorching hot, and not just during the summer months. So dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day.

TIP: For more information and helpful tips, please also see our guide with top travel tips and things we wish we had known before visiting Dubai via the link below. It’s an essential read when planning a first trip!

READ ALSO: Dubai Travel Tips

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.


So, this is our guide to the very best things to do in Dubai. I hope it gives you a better idea of what to expect and helps you plan an unforgettable trip.

If you are still wondering whether Dubai is worth a trip… Yes, it is! Even though it feels quite artificial and polished, it’s also a very unique destination that will impress even the biggest skeptics. It’s well worth seeing (and experiencing), at least once!

More tips for visiting Dubai:

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Top places to visit and tourist attractions in Dubai UAE

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