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7 days in Dubai & surrounding areas - the best tips for your vacation in the city of superlatives

Updated: May 23, 2022

Dubai is undoubtedly the city of superlatives for us. Because besides the currently tallest building in the world, this metropolis has so much more to offer! From the lights of the city and adventurous outdoor activities to romantic sunsets in the desert.

In this article you will find our tips for an unforgettable week in Dubai and its surrounding area as well as many helpful recommendations for your trip to the United Arab Emirates.

1. Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world

With 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is by far the tallest building in the world. By comparison, the tallest building in Europe (the Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg) is only half as high at 462 meters.

Beleuchteter Burj Khalifa während des Sonnenuntergangs

So it is only understandable that the "Burj" is the landmark of Dubai and thus the pride of this gigantic city.

If you want to enjoy an exclusive view of Dubai from the Burj Khalifa, you should buy tickets the day before - we recommend a time slot in the late afternoon, so you can admire the sunset from the highest building in the world or alternatively directly in the early morning.

Ausblick von Burj Khalifa auf Dubai Downtown

Tickets for the ascent at Burj Khalifa cost round about 40€ and are thus certainly no bargain - but the cost is definitely worth it.

We were particularly impressed by how pleasantly smooth the elevator ride was. With 600m/min it is the third fastest in the world.

Once at the top, you can enjoy the view of Dubai on a platform from either from the inside or from the outside.

2. Dubai Mall and Dubai Fountains

With 1,200 stores and boutiques and 350,000 square meters, the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world. In addition to numerous luxury brands, you will find here pretty much everything of distinction or everything your heart desires and so much more.

Indoor Wasserfall in der Dubai Mall

In principle, the Dubai Mall is a huge adventure world for the whole family.

There is a huge indoor aquarium, which extends over several floors, an ice rink for skating, a cinema, cafes, restaurants, fast food, a 100-150 million year old dinosaur skeleton, an indoor waterfall and much more.

The Dubai Fountains, a breathtaking fountain show in the "courtyard" between the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, deserve special mentioning.

Between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., a water choreography takes place in the artificially created Burj Khalifa lake every 20 minutes.

The performances change regularly and different choreographies take place one after the other.

The Dubai Fountain Shows are absolutely impressive and a "must-see" for every Dubai tourist.

3. Sunset at Dubai Creek Harbour

A sunset of the extra class with a view of the skyline of Dubai you can experience at Dubai Creek Harbour.

Dubai Skyline Burj Khalifa

Dubai Creek Harbour is a new neighborhood in Dubai, which is still under construction and will be home to the new tallest building in the world, the Creek Tower (the Dubai Creek Tower will apparently be 1,300m high!).

In the meantime, several buildings are already standing in Creek Harbour, the first residents have already moved in and the harbour complex offers an incomparable view of Dubai Downtown.

The best way to get to Dubai Creek Harbour is by cab or rental car, because currently the public transport is not yet developed well enough to go by bus.

In the future, there will also be a Metro connection between Downtown and Creek Harbour.

You can find the exact photo spot for the sunset view in our map above.

Our restaurant recommendation for a visit at Creek Harbour is the Vida Hotel. Here you can enjoy a delicious meal on the hotel terrace (the menu includes pasta, burgers and some tasty appetizers) and a super nice view of Dubai Downtown, including Burj Khalifa.

4. Old Dubai - the traditional Dubai

In the historic part of the now modern metropolis, you can take a little trip back in time. In the quarters of Old Dubai, directly at the harbour, there are traditional markets, some museums and architecture from days gone by.

Gewürzmarkt Old Dubai

Instead of shiny facades, buildings made of sandstone and plaster dominate here. Spices, fabrics, perfume and many Arabic delicacies are traded in the narrow alleys of the Dubai Souk.

Händler auf dem Gewürzmarkt in Dubai vor Gewürzen

Tourists should look here particularly closely at the prices - the dealers are quite crafty and offer already once or other extortionate price - so make sure to negotiate the prices! :-)

5. Hatta - Green Oasis and Outdoor Mecca

Only an hour away from Dubai, the emirate shows a completely different side: Hatta, an exclave of Dubai on the border of Oman, a popular outdoor Mecca.

Here you have versatile possibilities for an adventure away from the big city. From camping or glamping at the lake, hiking in the mountains or kayaking at the Hatta Dam - the small town of 12,000 inhabitants really has a lot to offer!

Hatta Heritage Village, verschleierte Frau

A few years ago, Hatta was a vacation area for locals during the very hot summer months, as it is often cooler in the mountains than in the city of Dubai.

Now Hatta's main source of income is tourism and it is becoming increasingly popular with visitors from all over the world.

In the "Heritage Village" in Hatta, you can also see how the inhabitants of the small town lived many years ago, before oil was discovered in the Emirates, in a faithfully reproduced mountain village.

6. "Ghost Village" in Al Madam

If you are on your way to Hatta you can make a short stop in Al Madam to visit an impressive photo spot.

Only a few kilometers from Al Madam you will find a small abandoned town in the desert, the so-called "ghost village".

It is a village half buried in the sand, which has become a popular photo spot for photographers and tourists.

However, the ghost town near Al Madam is not easy to reach.

Therefore, we have written a separate article about this location and how you can get there. You can find it here.

7. About Country and People

There is actually never a separate section about "country and people" in our blog articles. But since we were so impressed by the people in and around Dubai and we were asked again and again how it was, for example, as a woman in the Emirates, we decided to add a few words here :-)

Dubai is an exceptionally open city. We have rarely felt as safe in the world as we did here.

Everyone seems to follow the rules here and all people were extremely friendly and helpful.

What struck us most positively was that we were often actively approached, whether in the restaurant (a couple at the table next to us, for example, recommended their favorite dish to us), in the elevator or during our photo sessions.

Even outside the partly very "westernized" city, we encountered many respectful and extremely eager and above all helpful people.

Wüste bei Al Madam mit Geländewagen und zwei Männern im Vordergrund

How to dress in Dubai and the surrounding area

Although, there are many different nations living in Dubai and therefore also many different clothing styles - we decided to dress rather covered (especially outside the city) - but that is of course up to you.

On the beach you can of course wear your swimwear as usual.

8. What does vacationing in Dubai cost?

The biggest cost factors for your Dubai vacation are certainly flight and hotel. The earlier you book, the more money you can save here.

You can book a return flight from Germany to Dubai for as little as €500. Also with hotels you can make super bargains.

Even if your hotel is located a little outside of downtown, that is non of a problem. We recommend a maximum distance of 9 km to the Burj Khalifa - because you can take a cab (the cab price in Dubai is about 0,45€/km plus 3€ basic fee) or use the metro or buses.

We rented a car for a few days and drove around Dubai. This is also much cheaper than for example in Germany - not to mention the gas prices (which are under 1€/liter).

Eating out in Dubai is comparable to the prices in Germany - but: from cheap to expensive everything is possible - read in this article a bit further down, why you should definitely also test smaller restaurants away from the city center.

A week's vacation in Dubai costs about 2,000 € per person, but is certainly also possible cheaper. Of course, the travel time also plays a role. The summer months are not recommended because of the extremely warm temperatures.

9. Helpful tips for you trip to Dubai

We recommend buying a SIM card directly upon arrival. The probably biggest provider you will find directly in the arrival hall (called Etisalat). For 4GB data volume and 30 international free minutes you pay just under 20€ (more info on the rates can be found here).

If you rent a car with a GPS, it can happen that the GPS was not updated by the provider (happened to us, for example, with SIXT). Since Dubai is constantly under construction, the roads are constantly changing - a not updated GPS can then become a problem.

Ideally, you have a sufficient data volume for your cell phone to use Google Maps or similar, alternatively you can download an offline map (download the app "2GIS" in the AppStore).

Secret Restaurant tip in Dubai

Pakistanisches Essen Chicken Handi

Be sure to try the small restaurants a bit away from the center. Here you can eat incredibly delicious and even at a small price (for 2 people a lunch costs about 10€-15€).

Our favorite restaurant which we now visit every time we visit Dubai is the "Des Pardes". We recommend the Chicken Handi as main course and a tea as "dessert".

If you have a car, you can park directly across the street in the parking lot of the American Hospital (1€/hour). You can find the exact address of the restaurant in our map above.

Are drones permitted in Dubai?

No, you are not allowed to take your drone to Dubai - unless you have a passport from the United Arab Emirates. We speak from experience here, because our drone was confiscated by customs at the airport.

In this case, the drone will be kept at the airport in Dubai until your return and you can pick it up one hour before departure - so it's not worth it :-)


Have you ever been to Dubai? If so, what are your hotspots? Tell us below in the comments, write us an email or use the contact form and share your experiences with us!


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