The Ultimate Dubai Travel Guide

4 October 2016

Often described as the 'Vegas of the Middle East', Dubai is a truly magical city. A distinct mix of old and new, this futuristic city knows how to look to the future without forgetting where it came from, which is in my opinion, what makes Dubai so special. I've been to Dubai twice now as I couldn't get enough the first time, and every time I visit I get lots of questions about the same things, so today I thought I'd share my complete travel guide with you. As always, if you have any more specific questions, don't hesitate to tweet or email me - all of my links are in the top right of this page! 

The Basics

Currency: Dubai trades in Dirhams (AED), at the moment the exchange rate is 4.67 AED for every £1. Things in Dubai can be fairly expensive though, so don't be fooled by the exchange rate, and I'd really recommend taking cash. 

Temperate: Needless to say, Dubai is hot. In the summer temperatures can reach up to 45 degrees with a sea temperature of up to 37 degrees. In the winter it's still hot, but it's a more manageable heat with temperatures of around 30 degrees. It can also be surprisingly humid, so watch out for that! 

Dress code: Dubai has really relaxed it's dress code in the past few years, so you can pretty much get away with anything in tourist areas, but it's sensible to pack a shawl to cover your shoulders and a few long skirts/trousers to cover your knees - especially if you plan on venturing out of town. 

Drinking: Dubai is a predominantly dry country, however you can now get alcohol in the tourist areas (mainly hotels), just be prepared to pay over the odds for it. 

Getting Around

Dubai is a modern city, which makes getting around really easy. The easiest way to get from a to b is by taxi. Taxis are everywhere in Dubai and for the most part, they aren't too pricey (especially if there's a few of you). The different areas of Dubai are pretty spread out, so you're getting bang for your buck in terms of mileage. If you're a female travelling alone, you can also get in one of the pink taxis, which will have female drivers, which will put you at ease if you're worried about travelling alone. 

The metro is also a really handy way of getting around - don't worry, it's way swankier than the London Underground. They do have a no drinking or eating rule on the metro though, and different cabins (female only, etc) so watch out for the signs. 

It's also worth checking whether your hotel offers a free shuttle service. I stayed at the JA Ocean View, which offered a free bus service to popular tourist destinations like the Mall or Souks, which was a great way to save money. 

Where to Stay

Where you stay really depends on what type of holiday you're after. If your a family, I'd really recommend staying somewhere like Atlantis on the Palm, as the adjoining watermarks would be perfect for kids and adults alike. 

If you're after more of a party holiday, then definitely stay in the marina or downtown areas, as whilst there are clubs and bars all over Dubai, there's definitely more nightlife in these areas. 

Both times I've been to Dubai, I've stayed in the Jumierah Beach area. It's perfect for a relaxing holiday as it's a little more 'out of town', whilst still being surrounded by things to do, and not too far from the city. If you're looking at this area, I'd definitely recommend the JA Ocean View or the Sheraton, both are perfect for a luxe holiday and the staff went above and beyond to make sure we had the perfect stay. 

Top 5 things to do 

1. Desert Safari - A desert safari is a must for any first-time travellers in Dubai. The experience allows you to get out of town, experience the desert, feast on a traditional arabic barbecue, ride a camel, and so much more. There's more info about my desert safari experience here

2. Burj Khalifa, At the Top - A trip to Dubai wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Burj Khalifa. The building itself is extremely impressive, even just standing by it you realise the sheer height of the structure, but there's honestly nothing in this world like the view. Seeing all of the buildings you were just wandering through appear so small beneath your feet is something you have to experience in Dubai. 

3. The Dubai Mall - I know, I know, what's so good about a mall? The Dubai Mall is the biggest shopping mall in the world, and it's so much more than a mall. The Dubai Mall comes complete with ski slope, ice skating rink, an impressive fountain, aquarium, and pretty much every shop in the world. 

4. The Souk - If you've travelled all the way to the middle east, I'd definitely recommend visiting a traditional souk. The alleyways of the souk are filled with so many treasures and traditional nik naks which make perfect gifts and little memories of your trip, just remember to barter! 

5. See the Dubai Fountain - The first time I went to Dubai I missed out on the fountain, and I'm so glad I made the effort to see it this time around. The fountain was designed by the same people who did the Bellagio Fountain in Vegas, so you know it's something to see. Get there early though if you want a good view, as it fills up pretty quickly! 

Where to Eat

On a Budget: There's a myth that eating out is seriously expensive in Dubai, and whilst that may not be too far from the truth, there are plenty of places to visit if you're watching the pennies. If you're on a budget theres loads of places either in the mall or along Jumierah Beach Walk. I actually had one of the best curries I've ever had along Jumierah Beach at House of Curry, and of course I had to visit the Cheesecake Factory while I was out there! 

Brunch: Weekends in the UAE start on a Friday which means one thing, boozy brunch. Most places in Dubai offer some form of bottomless brunch, but the best by far has to be Saffron at Atlantis. Saffron is an asian restaurant, but on Fridays it has over 20 live cooking stations serving dishes from across the world, and of course enough bubbles to float a boat. 

Romantic: If you're looking for a nice romantic meal, I'd definitely recommend sitting outside at Segreto, an Italian restaurant at the Madinat Jumierah. It was honestly one of the best italian meals I've ever had, the staff were doting and the view of the Burj al Arab was perfect. 

Dinner and Drinks: If you're looking for dinner and a few drinks then I'd recommend Pier 7 at the Dubai Marina. Pier 7 has a few restaurants on each floor, most of which have accompanying bars and terraces overlooking the marina (yacht spotting anyone?) which are perfect for a cocktail or two. On Tuesdays the bars in Pier 7 also have ladies night, which means ladies are given a few free drinks tokens at the bar - winning!

Cheap Drinks: If you're looking for cheaper cocktails (trust me, you'll need to seek out cheaper drinks where you can!) then I'd recommend Trader Vics at the Madinat. They offer a large range of cocktails and they have happy hour a few times a week where you can get them for 50% off. 

Bon Voyage! 


  1. Oooh very complete, thanks for this! :-D

  2. Evening Dubai Desert Safari – Getting the Best of the Desert That Dubai Has to Offer Nothing can be more magnificent than watching the sun set across a wide span of endless sand followed by a clear sky on a starry night. If you are looking to experience a beautiful sunset while having the time of your life, the best activity for you is to join us on our evening desert safari. We promise to help you create a memory worth remembering for years to come. Bring along your friends to enhance the experience and enjoy the spectacular night laden with stars and the moon. Dubai Evening Safari


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