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Finally! Dubai, the City of Gold, is open to U.S. citizens once again!
If you’re looking for a luxurious vacation with a perfect balance of old and new world adventures, Dubai should be right at the top of your bucket list. Plus, as colder weather takes over the U.S., Dubai stays toasty, with temperatures in the high 70s and 80s through December, making it the perfect winter destination.
There are hundreds of things to do in this sprawling desert city, but don’t be overwhelmed. We’ve narrowed it down to the best 10 things to do for your first time in Dubai!
1. Shop at the Gold Souk
A visit to this gold-centric city wouldn’t be complete without a stroll through its renowned Gold Souk on Dubai Creek’s south bank. This traditional market is one of the most famous gold trading centers in the entire world. However, you can also shop for diamonds, silver, and more. You can easily spend hours walking through row after row of glittering jewelry, so leave plenty of time to explore, and don’t be afraid to barter for lower prices!
2. See the world from Burj Khalifa
Take your trip to new heights (literally) with a ride to the top of Burj Khalifa. Famous for being “The World’s Tallest Building,” the Burj Khalifa also features the world’s highest outdoor observation deck! While the world is always unique from 148 floors high, we recommend scheduling your visit to coincide with the sunset for the ultimate view of the city.
3. Soar on the XLine Dubai
For another incredibly unique view of Dubai, take a ride on the XLine! This urban zipline is the longest in the world and reaches up to 50 mph. You can take the trip alone or grab a friend and go in tandem as you soar through the city and above the marina!
4. Make waves at Aquaventure Waterpark
Dubai is all about having the biggest and best—and the Aquaventure Waterpark is no different. Aquaventure is the world’s largest waterpark, featuring nearly 80 slides and other attractions, plus a private beach. And for sea-creature enthusiasts, Aquaventure offers several bucket list experiences that let you get close and personal with dolphins, sea lions, and even sharks!
5. Hit the slopes at Ski Dubai
A city in the middle of the desert is probably the last place you’d expect to go skiing. But Dubai is all about the unexpected! Ski Dubai offers 5 ski runs, a snowboard zone, a chairlift, and a penguin colony. While the slopes may not be a challenge for avid skiers, there are additional options to tube, try a toboggan run, or have a snowball fight. Plus, it’s a great place to escape the heat.
6. Watch a Camel Race
Set yourself an early alarm and get your blood pumping at the camel races! The Al Marmoom Camel Race Track is a fantastic place to glimpse traditional Middle Eastern culture with this pastime that dates back to the 7th century. Races last around 15 minutes long as anywhere from 15 to 60 camels compete with robotic jockeys on their back. While the races start as early as 7 a.m., they’re worth losing a bit of sleep over in exchange for the incredible experience!
7. Shop at the Dubai Mall
Home to 1300 shops, the Dubai Mall serves over 100 million customers each year—and it isn’t hard to see why! No matter what you’re shopping for, the Dubai Mall has it somewhere, although the prices are a bit heavy on the luxury end. However, December–February marks the Dubai Shopping Festival, meaning you’ll find lots of deals if you visit then. But even if you don’t plan to buy anything, go for the experience! Besides having incredible architecture, the mall also has an aquarium, a movie theater, and a 22,000-gallon fountain synced for musical shows!
8. Visit the Jumeirah Mosque
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the beautiful Jumeirah Mosque during your visit! This is the only mosque in Dubai that’s open to non-Muslims. It’s an absolutely stunning building, carved from white stone and topped with multiple domes and spires. Just be sure to dress appropriately and be respectful while you’re there!
9. Check Out the Global Village
The Global Village is like Disney’s Epcot on steroids…and then some. This incredible park is open from late October through May and features shows and experiences from all around the world. The 2021 lineup boasts 40,000 shows and events, from traditional performances to a stunt show. But don’t skip the cultural pavilions, where you can shop in exotic bazaars and try food from many different countries, or their Carnival with nearly 200 rides and attractions!
10. Walk across the Dubai Frame
Nearly 500 feet tall and over 300 feet wide, the Dubai Frame is the world’s largest picture frame. But that’s not all! The structure has glass lifts that will take you all the way to the top, where you can access a clear glass walkway. From this vantage point, you’ll have panoramic views whichever way you look!