The truth of the matter is that there is no one way to see Dubai. Old and new, land and sea, Dubai caters to the millions of visitors from around the world with unique ways to see the elaborate city.
Thanks to its multicultural, cosmopolitan DNA, Dubai reveals a different facet of its personality at every turn, and if you dig deep enough, you will encounter a city that infuses variety and authenticity into every experience. Whether it’s a quick stopover or a weeklong holiday, here are five of the best experiences for visitors to catch a glimpse of the different shades of Dubai.
Frying Pan Adventures – for the Foodie
With sisters and self-confessed “intrepid eaters” Arva and Farida Ahmed at the helm, Frying Pan Adventures is a delicious journey through the backstreets and forgotten corners of Dubai in search of the best street eats and culinary experiences. The tours tap into Dubai’s historical role as a port of call for traders from around the globe, who left behind not just goods but a gastronomic heritage. The food trails, carefully crafted by the sisters, are tasty expeditions that take in piquant Moroccan tagines, giant Iraqi fire-grilled carps, Indian street snacks and many more. It also includes immersive experiences like trips to the market to buy local produce to be cooked, served and eaten in the traditional way.
Dubai Historical District Heritage Tours – for the Culture Vulture
Among the awe-inspiring sights of the world’s tallest tower, a huge indoor ski slope in the desert, the world’s biggest mall and the world’s largest performing fountain, it can be easy to forget that Dubai was a humble fishing and pearl diving village in the not-too-distant past. A settlement home to merchants, traders and craftsmen for more than 100 years, Dubai has grown into a modern cosmopolis that continues to bring cultures, near and far, into the fold.
Tales from the Past, a heritage tour of Dubai Historical District, delves into Dubai’s earliest days and traces its historical significance and cultural richness. The tour takes in key landmarks such as Dubai’s Heritage Village, where potters and weavers practice their traditional crafts; Sheikh Saeed House, the residence of the ruling Al Maktoum family until 1958; as well as the Textile and Spice Souqs. The tour also takes in Al Ahmadiya School, one of the oldest schools in the emirate, and includes a traditional Emirati lunch.
Big Bus Dubai Tours – for the 48-hour visitor
If time is of the essence and a couple of days is all one has to enjoy a slice of Dubai, a hop on and off Big Bus Dubai’s ubiquitous red buses should do the trick. With over 11 stops at landmarks including Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Mosque and Atlantis, the Palm, this convenient option is best suited to short and sweet trips to the city. Ideal if you want to take in Dubai’s stunning architecture, marvel at its urban layout or try your hand at the age-old tradition of haggling, the bus tour packs in Dubai’s most exhilarating experiences. Also available is the Night Tour, taking in the city’s spectacular skyline that lights up as the sun goes down; and the Sunset Desert Tour, a complimentary guided foray into an Arabian-style fort, deep within the desert.
Yellow Boats – for the Seafarer
Skip the traffic and bustle of the mainland to discover the city from another perspective – on the water. See-it-all tours cover The Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina, guaranteed to give you the ultimate selfie backdrop or picture-perfect panoramic family moment, offering great views and ambience. Ranging from 30-minute thrill rides with high speeds, twists and turns, to slow-paced meanderings that allow you to admire the Dubai skyline in all its glory, the Yellow Boats are a distinct and memorable option for the nautically-inclined.
Seawings – for the Aviator
Discover the city from a bird’s eye view, looping over the shoreline and skyline. These scenic tours offer the ultimate private journey, carefully crafted to include all of Dubai’s iconic attractions, including a magnificent take-off from the water at Dubai Creek or Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa, followed by a gentle cruise along the coastline. Offering views of The World islands and wonderful vistas of the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, it gives visitors and residents a sense of the scale, diversity and unique layout of the city.
About Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism)
With the ultimate vision of positioning Dubai as the world’s leading tourism destination and commercial hub, Dubai Tourism’s mission is to increase the awareness of Dubai among global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment into the emirate.
Dubai Tourism is the principal authority for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of Dubai’s tourism sector. It markets and promotes the Emirate’s commerce sector, and is responsible for the licensing and classification of all tourism services, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents. Brands and departments within the Dubai Tourism portfolio include Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, Dubai Calendar, and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (formerly known as Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment).