Dubai is a mesmerizing city, and you will fall in love with it regardless of how much time you spend there – even if it is just 3 days.
Although you might not have much time, I will give you a range of activities that Dubai has to offer.
After all, different types of people enjoy different things, and while scouting spices at the Spice Souk might sound like an amazing way to spend an afternoon to someone, it might also sound mind-numbingly boring to someone else.
Therefore, I divided this guide into 3 sections: for adventure lovers, for my fellow shopaholics, and for those who want to feel like VIPs for at least a day.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to carefully plan out your time in Dubai (vs Abu Dhabi). If you do it properly, you’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have in Dubai, even if you only have 3 days!
Scroll down to read this guide and find out what you must do in Dubai, even if you are there for only 3 days!
If you are afraid of heights, then just skip over this section. :>
If you are brave and are not afraid of heights, then you will love this activity. A hot air balloon will lift you high up in the sky, and take you across the desert. You get to enjoy the sunrise and really take in all the beauty of nature. Since the ride takes place early in the morning (before sunrise) and lasts for about 6 hours when you land you will still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your day. Sounds like a perfect way to start your morning in Dubai!
Photographers, in particular, will enjoy this activity. Just imagine all the beautiful sights you could capture from the air! One downside is that it might get a little crowded in the balloon, so you’ll have to elbow your way to its edges. However, regardless of the crowd, no true adventure lover should miss out on this experience.
This is a great experience for anyone who loves trying new things. You can go dune bashing in 4×4 cars, but don’t worry; you won’t be the one driving. Professionals will drive you around the desert, while you get to sit back and just enjoy the experience. After the ride, you get to try sandboarding – maybe it turns out that you’re really good at it! Additionally, you can also visit a camel farm, and learn about their importance for the region, as well as ride one.
At the end of the day, you can relax in the tent in the desert. There will be dinner, as well as shisha – if you haven’t smoked it before, give it a go. In addition to that, you can also see a belly dancing show, as well as some other pretty cool performances and even get a henna tattoo. All in all, this sounds like an amazing way to spend an entire day in Dubai, and for less than a $100!
Photo Courtesy of Timo Tervo
Who wouldn’t want to escape the scorching heat of Dubai in the summer for a little ski-break? If that sounds good to you, then go to the Dubai Snow Park in the Dubai Mall of Emirates. Ski Dubai is the third largest indoor skiing slope in the world, and the largest one in the Middle East. It is very well suited for beginners, and there are many skiing instructors that will help you get seriously good at skiing. Additionally, the skiing equipment and appropriate clothes will be given to you in the park.
The instructors can teach you how to do tricks and jumps, which sounds really cool. Your kids in particular will enjoy this activity, but be sure to dress them appropriately; after a while, it gets cold in there. However, those of you who are more experienced might get a little bored here. In that case, you’ll be glad to hear about the best part of this experience: you can actually see the Snow Penguins up close (and even meet them)! In addition to that, you can also see the March of the Penguins up close; it happens several times a day.
If you ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins, this is a perfect opportunity to actually do that. The Dubai Dolphin Bay is one of the largest dolphin habitats in the entire world. They have several different types of interactions with dolphins that you can choose from, which are suitable for people of all ages, and for different swimming abilities.
You can stand next to dolphins in shallow water, but you could also swim or even scuba dive with dolphins if you wish. Children, and even toddlers, are also welcome to enjoy this activity, as there are several interactions specifically designed for them. There will also be a photographer present, who will commemorate this wonderful adventure. Additionally, whichever package you choose to get, access to Aquaventure Waterpark will be included in the purchase.
The Aquaventure Waterpark is actually the largest waterpark in the Middle East. There is a ton of different things you could do here – there are a lot of different rides you could go on, and there is also an aquarium for those who prefer to observe, rather than do. The rides are very elaborate, and one even includes you plummeting through a tunnel that goes through an aquarium full of sharks! This one is definitely not for those with a weak heart, but true adventure lovers will enjoy it!
If you like an adrenaline rush, you will love this tour. You get to ride your own jet ski (provide that you are at least 16), and get to experience Dubai from the water. Since this is a guided tour, it is also suitable for people who have zero experience when it comes to riding jet skis. There are certified instructors there, who will show you how to operate them, as well as brief you on the safety practices.
The instructors will also guide you on the water, but you can ride at whatever speed you want to. The tour lasts for about 30 minutes, and you get to see the Burj Al Arab from the water, as well as the Dubai’s Sheik Island. You don’t want to miss those photo opportunities, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Image Courtesy of Vellut
A true shopaholic will know that is the largest mall in the entire world. With over 1200 of shops from high-street to couture, you will have plenty of choices when it comes to spending your money. In addition to that, there is also a ton of other cool attractions in the mall. There is a cinema, a flight simulator, an ice rink and plenty of other ways to entertain your entourage while you are swiping your credit card away.
When you get tired from all the shopping, you can also grab something to eat in the mall. From traditional Arabian food to KFC – you can find whatever your heart (or stomach) desires. Additionally, there is also a large aquarium in the center of the mall, which is a must-see if you are on a family trip. If you want to be time-efficient, I would suggest that you plan out which shops you would like to visit here. After all, this is the biggest mall in the world, and roaming around could eat up all of your time.
Image Courtesy of Vellut
For all of you that love to cook, the Spice Souk will feel like paradise. You can get any spice imaginable here, from plain old oregano to Madagascar bourbon vanilla pods! If you want to literally spice up your cooking game, then this is the place to check out in Dubai for you.
Apart from the spices, you can also get a ton of other cool stuff here, like tobacco, pashminas, fruit, makeup, and many more. The best part is that you can haggle with everyone, and the salespeople kind of expect you to do so. It is an overall great experience for any shopaholic, so don’t miss out on it on your trip to Dubai!
Pro Tip: Just be aware that you can’t dress like you do at home, and you should dress appropriately when in Dubai.
Image Courtesy of Serrao
If you are a fan of anything gold or if you want to see the largest gold ring in the world, then definitely check out the Gold Souk. It is full of shops that sell gold jewelry, but also other items made of gold – like shoes! If you want to buy something, you should know that you can always haggle, and get a better price. Additionally, these shops will also buy gold from you, or exchange any gold jewelry you have for something new.
All jewelry in the souk is completely authentic, and 100% gold. Also, this place is about a 5-minute walk away from the spice souk, so if you are on a tour of the souks, it will not be too much out of your way. However, beware that men might approach you offering to sell you fake designer bags and watches. This is illegal in Dubai, so be sure to stay as far away from them as possible.
If the above activities sound a little mundane to you, then how about a private yacht cruise? There are several different cruise tours you can choose from. You can also choose the duration of the cruise as well as the size of the yacht. All will take you on a tour of Dubai’s most beautiful landmarks, and some will even stop at your request, so that you can fish or swim, or just take in the sun.
You’ll get some snacks and some sodas, but you won’t get a proper meal. If you choose a longer cruise, be sure to bring along some food. You will be able to access the kitchen on the yacht, and some even have a grill! Seriously, a barbecue on a yacht sounds like an amazing experience for both a family and a group of friends.
The best way to fully experience any place is to see it from above. If a hot air balloon ride sounds a little boring to you, then you’ll probably love the idea of a helicopter tour. It lasts for about 15-25 minutes (you can choose), so it won’t take up much of your time, but it is still an experience you don’t want to miss out on.
Dubai has so many towers that this tour is worth it, just to be able to properly see its entire skyline. Additionally, the sight of the Palm Jumeirah from the sky is definitely one to remember. And, for the photographers out there, imagine all the gorgeous photos you could take. Aerial photographs are always mesmerizing so don’t forget to bring your camera (or drone)!
If you decide to try out any of these activities, I would love to see some first-hand photos (especially the aerial ones)! :>
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!