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With its countless record-breaking attractions, vast Arabian desert, and glimmering beaches, Dubai doesn’t make it easy to see it all in one trip. If you want to properly explore the city and check out some of its best and most famous attractions, we recommend spending five days in Dubai. To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve created the following Dubai travel itinerary, jam-packed with exciting adventures and unique sightseeing opportunities.
- 1 Best Time to Visit Dubai
- 2 How to Get Around Dubai
- 3 Where to Stay in Dubai
- 4 The Perfect 5-Day Dubai Itinerary
Best Time to Visit Dubai
The best time to visit Dubai is in the winter or sometime between November and April, when the weather is most pleasant. The rest of the year can get extremely hot, regularly crossing 100°F in July and August. The annual Dubai Shopping Festival is held in January and February, making this peak tourist season, so if you’re looking to beat the heat and the crowds, the last two months of the year are the perfect time to check out Dubai. Although the city boasts a ton of modern air-conditioned facilities and indoor attractions, outdoor activities and beaches are far more enjoyable during the winter months.
How to Get Around Dubai
Although renting a car may be useful for day trips and excursions, Dubai has a very convenient, modern, and affordable public transportation system that enables you to explore the city with ease. The Dubai Metro is safe and fully air-conditioned and costs about $1 USD per trip. There are two lines, red and green, that will zip you to most major attractions, and you can buy a card to refill or a single-use ticket right from the station. There are also plenty of convenient bus routes that connect the city and start at around $1USD for a short trip.
Provided by the Dubai RTA, taxis are also safe, clean, pretty affordable, and easy to find outside of any main station, mall, or hotel. You can also call a taxi over the phone or on the Careem App. Be careful when looking for a ride outside of busy tourist spots and shopping centers, as there are usually several premium car services that will try to shuffle you into a nice car for a ride that is double or triple the price of an RTA taxi.
Recommendation: Another great way to get around Dubai as a tourist is on the hop-on hop-off bus. With a 24-hour, 48-hour, or 72-hour pass, you’ll have access to two sightseeing routes, which showcase all the main sights of this fabulous city. You can purchase tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus here.
Where to Stay in Dubai
If you’re looking for a convenient stay near popular attractions, book a place in Downtown Dubai or near Dubai Marina. The Address Dubai Marina is an ideal choice for a luxurious stay just steps away from the beach. The hotel is conveniently connected to Dubai Marina Mall and offers high-end amenities like an infinity pool with dazzling skyline views.
For a super-unique stay in a floating hotel, check out the Queen Elizabeth 2, a famous retired ocean liner. The budget-friendly hotel is close to the Dubai Museum and the Dubai Mall in Downtown Dubai, and it has received stellar reviews for its gorgeous historic interior and great dining and nightlife venues.
Another unique spot for a luxurious stay, the Palm is Dubai’s palm tree-shaped, man-made island. World-class accommodation awaits at Atlantis, the super-luxurious hotel and famous focal point of the island where you’ll find a waterpark, an aquarium, and countless fine-dining and shopping opportunities.
For a convenient stay with an affordable price tag, consider staying in the historic district of Bur Dubai or Al Barsha. Rove Downtown is a perfect option in Bur Dubai, conveniently located near popular souks and museums and just a short drive away from Downtown Dubai. The hotel is clean, comfy, and stylish, even offering a luxurious swimming pool with unobstructed views of the Burj Khalifa.
We also recommend checking out Airbnb. For recommendations, take a look at our list of the best Airbnbs in Dubai.
For even more accommodation options in Dubai check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 5-Day Dubai Itinerary
Dubai is a very diverse city with enough activities to keep you entertained for a lifetime. While some of the most popular attractions are known around the world, there are plenty of hidden gems in this magnificent emirate that are also worth checking out. This 5-day itinerary will help you hit all of the best spots, from glistening urban wonders to mesmerizing natural attractions.
However, before we get to our Dubai itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
We personally use and recommend SafetyWing. For only around $10 a week, it’s really a no-brainer. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with SafetyWing, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere. One popular alternative, for example, is World Nomads.
Day 1: Downtown Dubai
Packed with some of the most famous and prestigious attractions in the city, Downtown Dubai is the emirate’s main tourist hub and the perfect place to spend the first of five days in Dubai.
Start the day off with a trip to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The jaw-dropping structure stands at 830 meters (2,723 feet) tall and makes an iconic focal point within Dubai’s futuristic skyline. Visitors can take a quick trip to the Burj’s observation decks or rent a day pass for the rooftop pool and make a reservation to enjoy coffee and cocktails in the high-end lounge.
We recommend this multilevel experience from GetYourGuide, which comes with an introductory tour and entrance to observation decks on the 124th, 125th, and 148th floors. The 1.5-hour tour also grants you access to express elevators so you can skip the long lines, which can take an hour or two to get through during peak season.
Just a few steps away from the Burj is the Dubai Mall, the largest mall in the world and an impressive playground filled with endless activities. Children and adults alike can spend the day skating at the mall’s ice rink, hitting the slopes in the indoor ski resort, walking through an underwater tunnel in the aquarium, or checking out a fraction of the over 1,200 shops. The mall also offers spacious outdoor viewing decks that provide up-close views of the Burj Khalifa and regular water shows put on by the Dubai Fountain.
You could easily spend the rest of your day and evening exploring the mall or just stroll around for an hour and two. When you’re done shopping, you can grab dinner at any of the 200+ restaurants in the mall and get ready to catch an evening show at the Dubai Opera House. The theater is just a short train or taxi ride away from the mall and offers plenty of operas and non-opera productions, including musicals, plays, and comedy shows. There is also a luxurious rooftop bar with views of the nearby Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain.
Day 2: Sightseeing and Desert Safari
If you’re visiting Dubai for the first time, you’ll probably want to reserve a day to embark on a famous Dubai Desert Safari. However, since most tours will pick you up in the late afternoon, you’ll still have the morning free to check out some of Dubai’s smaller but definitely worthwhile attractions.
Depending on the season, the Dubai Miracle Gardens may be the perfect way to spend your morning. With over 50 million flowers and 250 million plants, the record-breaking attraction is the world’s largest natural flower garden. The gardens are only open when the weather is mild, between October and April, and tickets cost just $15 USD. Unfortunately, there are no metro stations that put you very close to the gardens, but they can easily be reached by a taxi and are just a 15-minute drive away from downtown Dubai. Skip-the-line tickets to the Miracle Gardens can be purchased here.
If the season isn’t right for the Miracle Gardens, consider checking out the Dubai Frame, a structure shaped like a picture frame and splitting the new city and the old city. For $14 USD, guests can access the glass walkway at the top and compare the city’s ultramodern skyline with its historic section.
Just be sure to make it back to your hotel or rental in time to head out for your Desert Safari. Most tours pick you up in an SUV and take you into the desert for fun activities like dune bashing, camel riding, and ATV riding. This premium desert safari tour from GetYourGuide also offers shisha, henna painting, and falconry demonstrations. At sunset, you can watch traditional dance shows and feast on a BBQ dinner as you watch the sun go down in the desert. If you’re interested in spending the night, you can also extend your trip and camp out under the stars.
Day 3: Old Dubai and Night Swimming
If you haven’t explored both the old city and the new city, you haven’t seen the best of Dubai. So it’s definitely worth spending a full day in Old Dubai for a look at the city’s rich history and prevalent Arabic culture. Start the morning off at a traditional Arabic teahouse before heading out to explore the stunning architecture of the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood. Here visitors can also check out the Coffee Museum and the Dubai Museum to learn about the local culture and get a sense of the traditional way of life in the emirate.
Pick up some souvenirs or just marvel at the stunning displays of jewelry and hypnotic fragrances in the famous Gold Souk and Spice Souk. Grab dinner at one of the many traditional or international restaurants in the area, and wind down for the evening with a traditional abra ride along Dubai Creek at sunset.
Recommendation: Discover the old-world charms of Dubai on a guided walking tour of the Old Town with a local guide. Learn more about Dubai’s history and culture, and cruise down Dubai Creek on a traditional Abra boat to soak up the aromas of the spice souk.
Umm Suqeim Night Beach is one of the best places to visit in Dubai after dark, especially if you’re traveling in the hotter months. The beach is free, clean, and absolutely gorgeous, and there are spotlights and lifeguards available in case you want to take a dip in the warm waters. There is a convenient bus stop right near the beach; restrooms, showers, and snack stands are open until midnight; and the shore provides stunning views of the color-changing lights on the nearby Burj Al Arab.
Day 4: Jumeirah Mosque and the Palm
Jumeirah Mosque is the only mosque in the emirate that is open to non-Muslim tourists, and it is well worth a spot on your Dubai itinerary. The medieval white stone facade and intricate interior design will take your breath away, and there are plenty of tour guides available to help you delve into the history of Islam and of the mosque itself. Tours take place starting from 10:00am every day except for Friday, and they last about 75 minutes.
While it’s still early, head over to the man-made island shaped like a palm tree and known as the Palm for an adventure-filled afternoon and evening. You can drive or take a taxi directly onto the island or save some money and opt for the scenic route by hopping on the Palm Jumeirah Monorail from the mainland. For $5 USD, you can enjoy panoramic views of the coast as you approach this one-of-a-kind island.
The monorail will take you all the way to the famed Atlantis Hotel, where you can swim with dolphins and check out Atlantis Aquaventure & Lost Chambers Aquarium (You can purchase tickets here). The hotel is also filled with a plethora of world-class dining options if you’re in the mood for a lavish dinner. Wavehouse is the restaurant that overlooks the waterpark and makes the perfect spot to grab a casual meal after a day filled with waterslides. They also offer regular live music, a fun-filled arcade, and an awesome happy hour menu with discounted beachy cocktails.
At sunset, or before heading back to the mainland, you might enjoy a stroll along the waterfront pier for stunning views of the water and the iconic palatial hotel.
Day 5: Popular Attractions and the Marina
You’re going to want to stick to a tight schedule if you’re planning to see the best of Dubai in five days, but be sure and reserve some time on the last day to check out some of the city’s smaller museums and attractions that interest you.
Built in the exact spot where the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates was signed in 1971, the Etihad Museum only costs about $7 USD to enter and is the perfect destination for anyone interested in learning more about the UAE.
The world’s largest and tallest Ferris wheel, the Ain Dubai, is another quick attraction worth checking out for the incredible views that it provides of the city. Tickets can be purchased here.
In the afternoon, head to Dubai Marina for shopping, boat tours, and even skydiving at Skydive Dubai. Depending on your preference, you can take a daytime boat tour out of the marina for some coastal sightseeing or you can book a dinner cruise with drinks and live music to round off the trip after a day of shopping and skydiving.
Dubai Marina is also known for its vibrant nightlife at Pier 7, a harborside tower that connects to Dubai Marina Mall and features a ton of great restaurants and fun nightclubs.
The famous Dinner in the Sky excursion also lifts off nearby and offers a three-course dinner at a floating table suspended above the marina.
Day 6 and Beyond
If you find yourself lucky enough to extend your stay beyond five days, here are a few more things to add to your Dubai itinerary:
- Spend the Day at Kite Beach: If you’re visiting in the winter, the perfectly warm and sunny weather will undoubtedly warrant a day spent at one of Dubai’s pristine white-sand beaches. Kite Beach is one of the best around, offering glistening views of the skyline and plenty of family-friendly activities to choose from.
- Go Kayaking at Hatta : More waterfront fun awaits in the nearby exclave of Hatta, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, and kayaking along the calm turquoise waters. Hatta is about a 90-minute drive or bus ride away from downtown Dubai, so you’ll want to give yourself a full day for this exhilarating day trip.
- Spend the Night at Dubai Garden Glow: Twinkling light sculptures and mesmerizing shows illuminate the night at this unique family-friendly theme park. Entrance costs just around $18 USD and makes an exciting nighttime activity for children and adults alike.
For even more exciting options, check out our lists of the best things to do in Dubai and the best day trips from Dubai.
The city’s enticing atmosphere and endless attractions will undoubtedly leave you wanting more, but hopefully this itinerary helps you choose what to do in Dubai in five days so that you can make the most of your trip!