When we travelled to Dubai a couple of months back (check out our 6D5N itinerary for exploring Dubai!), one thing about the city we quickly noticed was its beautifully unique scenery. Dubai is a fascinating blend of traditional and modern, from the stunning desert landscapes and vibrant souks to the architectural gems of its skyscrapers. There were so many moments during our trip that made us pause to soak in the view.
We’ve rounded up some of the best places in Dubai that not only will captivate you (plus look awesome on your Instagram feed ?) but will surely inspire you to go see the city for yourself.
1. The magnificent desert
We have to start off with an obvious one - Dubai’s amazing desert sands. There truly isn’t anything like this in our part of the world, and our excursion to the desert (which we booked on Klook!) was easily a highlight of our trip. The excursion not only comes with a BBQ dinner but even includes pick-up and drop-off directly from our hotel, which we found super convenient!
Our excursion was for half a day, beginning from late afternoon until night time which meant that we got to see the desert in full daylight all the way to the majestic sunset setting. It was fascinating to wonder how the Arab tribes of old lived in this harsh and dry landscape, but it was also easy to get swept up in the stunning views.
Don’t forget to also snap some shots while doing some awesome activities in the desert. Our package booked with Klook included a camel ride as well as quad-biking!
2. Old Dubai
From the vast desert sands, we go to another area that was an important facet of Dubai’s history - the traditional and heritage-rich Old Dubai. Old Dubai refers to an area to the north of the city. Here, along the banks of the Dubai Creek, fishermen and pearl divers first settled and built the area as it became a trading hub. These days, many aspects of this historical part of town have been preserved, with souks and traditional-style buildings become iconic elements of Old Dubai.
To put it simply, Old Dubai is a feast for the eyes. As we explored the Deira area (north of the creek), walking around famous marketplaces like the dazzling Gold Souk and the vibrant Grand Souk Deira, we were captivated by the exotic colours and the hustle and bustle of the area. The area is, admittedly, a famous tourist attraction, but that in no way detracts from the interesting things you’ll see here, like the mountains of colourful spices or the dazzling displays of gold jewellery.
In the area south of the creek (known as Bur Dubai), we explored more souks filled with various wares. This area is also home the Al Fahidi neighbourhood (also known as the Bastakiya Quarter), one of the oldest areas of the city dating back to the 19th century. Here, you can walk along alleyways filled with buildings in the traditional style, which make for a striking backdrop.
P.S. If you’re looking for an even more immersive way to explore Old Dubai, check out the walking tour offered on Klook, where you’ll be guided by an English-speaking guide as you explore the area.
3. Burj Khalifa
From the souks of Old Dubai, we head downtown of the city, where the desert landscape has been transformed into a city of skyscrapers. And no other skyscraper in Dubai is as famous as the iconic Burj Khalifa. Standing at about 830m tall, this remarkable feat of engineering and architecture is a sight to behold, both from the ground as well as from above on its famous observation deck, At The Top Burj Khalifa.
The views from At The Top (which are on the 124th floor) are mesmerising - you’ll be able to see the full glory of the downtown Dubai area filled with buildings, hotels, aqua-coloured water features and more, but also still see the surrounding desert sands at the outskirts of the city. It’s a striking reminder of Dubai’s original landscapes and how much it has been developed over the last few decades.
We booked our tickets for At The Top on Klook, where we were able to choose the time slot to visit the deck (we chose 8.30am, one of the earliest slots. The deck wasn’t crowded when we visited and we got to see the morning views of the city!). The deck has an outdoor area where you’ll be able to take some stunning shots of the city - great for Instagram or simply memorable photos ?
We also loved looking up at the building from the deck - the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors (while the observation deck is located on the 124th floor), so prepare to be mesmerised by the sight of the building shooting up to the sky. Given the glass exterior of the Burj Khalifa, you’ll even see the sky and the clouds reflected on the building ?
Don’t forget to take advantage of the photo spots scattered on the deck - there are two sets of angel wings imprinted on the glass around the deck which have become a popular place to snap pictures. You can also climb up the stairs to access the 125th floor, where you’ll find hanging chairs that face the views.
Opening hours: 8.30am - 11pm daily
Admission fee: From AED141 (General Admission) onwards. Book the combo ticket with Dubai Aquarium on Klook for a cheaper price!
Address: 1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates (entrance is located in Dubai Mall)
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4. Dubai Aquarium
Our At The Top tickets that we booked on Klook came with a combo ticket to Dubai Aquarium and the Underwater Zoo, which are both located in Dubai Mall. After we had visited At The Top, we headed straight to Dubai Aquarium, which is pretty amazing in its own right.
For one thing, it’s the largest indoor aquarium in the world, holding about 10 million litres of water. It’s also home to some pretty amazing sea creatures, including a variety of sharks and rays that you can’t possibly miss snapping photos of. It’s also pretty surreal to see, considering it’s in the middle of a shopping mall!
But the highlight (and most picture-worthy!) element has to be the underwater tunnel. It’s not particularly long, but when we visited (around 9.30am on a weekday), it was empty and we had it all to ourselves ? It was lovely for taking photos and admiring the beauty of the sharks and manta rays swimming around majestically.
Opening hours: 10am - 12am daily
Admission fee: From AED130 onwards. Book the combo ticket with At The Top Burj Khalifa on Klook for a cheaper price!
Address: Dubai Mall, Financial Center Rd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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5. Dubai Miracle Garden
Credit: Dubai Miracle Garden on Facebook
Dubai Miracle Garden is a flower garden, but in true Dubai fashion, it’s a garden like no other. Covering a space of over 72,000 sqm, this garden comes to life during the cooler months in Dubai, from November to April or May each year, boasting 150 million flowers and lush greenery landscaped to perfection.
Credit: @hijabiontour on Facebook
Be prepared to be blown away by the displays of floral perfection, shaped and arranged into intricate patterns and structures. Dubai Miracle Garden closes during the hot summer months and reinvents itself every year, often including bigger and greater structures - in 2018 it unveiled an 18-meter statue of Mickey Mouse made from almost 100,000 plants and flowers. It also has an Emirates Airbus A380 flower structure that was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the biggest flower structure in the world forming the shape of an Airbus.
Credit: @annika.x.x on Instagram
Dubai Miracle Garden is also home to the Dubai Butterfly Parks, the world’s largest butterfly garden featuring 15,000 butterflies (though please note you’ll require a separate ticket, and the entrance to the butterfly park is located separately). Whatever the case, you’ll be blown away by the sheer fact that such a vast and lush display of greenery in the Arabian desert. It’s a miracle garden indeed!
Opening hours: November to April, 10am - 10pm daily
Admission fee: Adults- 50AED, 12 Years and below - 40AED; 2 Years - free
Address: Al Barsha South 3, Dubailand, Dubai
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6. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Number 6 and 7 on our list are found in Abu Dhabi, located less than 1.5 hours drive away from Dubai. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE and home to its own fair of impressive sights. One of them is easily the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is the largest mosque in the country.
This imposing structure has 82 domes and 1,000 columns, covering an area of around 30 acres in total. We had visited the mosque during our trip through a day tour of Abu Dhabi that we had booked on Klook, and our tour guide had helpfully provided insightful info about the mosque - for example, did you know that the carpet in the main prayer is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world?
On top of the fascinating details about the mosque, we were simply blown away by the sight of the mosque. The white domes and the marble floors of the mosque made for a blindingly bright view (make sure to bring sunglasses!), and the sheer size of the mosque (it can fit up to 41,000 worshippers) was something to behold.
P.S. The mosque has dress codes for visitors (including headscarves and loose-fitting clothes that cover up to the ankles for women, as well as no shorts or sleeveless tops for men), so do make sure to dress accordingly. For other tips on visiting Dubai, check out this guide!
Opening hours (for visitors): Mon - Thu (9am - 10pm); Fri (4.30pm - 10pm)
Admission fee: Free. Book a day trip to Abu Dhabi with Klook to visit the mosque as well as the Louvre Abu Dhabi on a guided tour.
Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
7. Louvre Abu Dhabi
During our day trip to Abu Dhabi, we also visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi, an art and civilisation museum housed in a beautiful, one-of-a-kind building that makes it to number 7 on our list of picture-perfect spots.
This building, designed by the famed architecture company Foster and Partners, is quite remarkable. It was inspired by sunlight shining through the leaves of a date palm tree in a desert oasis, which was translated to an intricate webbed dome roof that creates the same sunlit effect. It makes for a captivating view when exploring inside the museum.
In addition to the domed roof, the museum also has water features, which combined with the industrial and chic design of the museum makes for a sleek and modern feast for the eyes.
Opening hours: Sat, Sun, Tue & Wed (10am - 8pm); Thu - Fri (10am - 10pm); closed on Mon
Admission fee: Adults - AED63, children 13 - 22 years - 31.50AED; children under 13 years - free (if you book your day tour to Abu Dhabi on Klook, admission is included).
Address: Saadiyat Cultural District 1, Abu Dhabi
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8. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a display of Dubai’s prosperity with a nod to its heritage - this waterfront development which is adjacent to the popular luxury hotel Madinat Jumeirah features shops, eateries, and retail offerings styled in a traditional Middle-Eastern setting. It’s a popular place to hang out, go for a boat ride along the water canals, or browse among wooden covered arcade filled with shops and stalls.
Credit: @feliciasonti on Instagram
The mix of modern and traditional design makes for an interesting juxtaposition. Here, you’ll get a great view of another iconic Dubai building, the Burj Al-Arab. Enjoy the view while dining at the many alfresco eateries available.
Credit: @cahthrynannchan on Instagram
And if you come here at night, you’ll be rewarded with dreamy views of the souk lit up with soft lights that make for a romantic atmosphere and the perfect photo.
Opening hours: 10am - 11pm daily
Admission fee: Free
Address: Al Sufouh Rd, United Arab Emirates
9. Arabian Tea House
Photo-worthy spots aren’t just limited to Dubai’s stunning scenery and luxury developments. For this list, we had to include the pretty Arabian Tea House located in the Al Fahidi neighbourhood. This popular eatery is well known for being a beautiful place to dine on authentic local food.
We had to try it for ourselves and managed to drop by on our last day in Dubai. It did not disappoint! We were charmed by the restaurant, which sits in a traditional-style shop decorated with a pretty white and blue interior.
But the main star of the show had to be the food - we ordered a few dishes like hummus, salad, and falafel off the extensive menu along with tea, and were pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the food looked. It made for a perfect flat lay, but best of all the food was quite delicious! We loved the hummus especially, which was freshly made and served with loads of flatbread to enjoy it with.
Opening hours: 7am - 10pm daily
Address: Al Fahidi Street, Bur Dubai, Bastakiya Opposite Musalla Post Office
10. Dubai Frame
Credit: Dubai Frame on Facebook
The Dubai Frame is exactly that - a frame, but a giant one. This 150m structure is an imposing one. It’s located slightly away from the cluster of skyscrapers in downtown Dubai and as such, it catches the eye quite easily.
Credit: @its_kuchong on Instagram
The frame also has a more poetic meaning behind its intriguing design. The structure is meant to frame views of both Old Dubai to the north and New Dubai (i.e. downtown Dubai) to the south, serving as a figurative bridge between Dubai’s past and its present.
Credit: @aljohnnava on Instagram
Besides admiring the frame from Zabeel Park (which is free!), you can also enter the frame for a fee. Inside, the frame has exhibits which walk you through Dubai’s history and its development boom over the years. The highlight is the sky deck located at the top of the frame, where you can admire Dubai in its present form, with views of Old and New Dubai.
Your visit of the frame ends back down on the mezzanine floor where you’ll witness an exhibit on the future plans for Dubai.
Opening hours: 9am - 9pm daily
Admission fee: Adults - AED50, children 3 - 12 years - AED20; children under 3 years - free
Address: Zabeel Park, Dubai
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And that wraps up our list! 10 stunning spots in Dubai that will enchant you with its beauty. But don’t just take our word for it, it’s time to head to Dubai to see it for yourself! Check out our itinerary and our handy tips for first-timers to Dubai to get you started on your journey to discovering the stunning wonders of this city.