Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture, and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline.
At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks.
Iconic Burj Al Arab, a sail-shaped hotel, is near the public Jumeirah Beach, a popular stretch of sand. Of the many enormous shopping centers, Dubai Mall has an Olympic-size ice-skating rink, while Mall of the Emirates features the indoor slopes of Ski Dubai. Prestigious international restaurants and outdoor and building-top nightclubs abound.
Traditional gold, spice, and textile souks are located around Dubai Creek, where Dubai’s past as a sleepy fishing village is on view in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, a restored quarter of late-1800s houses with wind towers, and at Dubai Museum, housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort.
Dubai is one of the most opulent cities not only in the Middle East but the entire world. Often mistaken for the capital of the United Arab Emirates, due to the fact that millions of tourists flock here to stay in its luxury hotels, be inspired by its ultra-modern architecture, and visit the tallest tower in the world – the Burj Khalifa.
However, there’s another side to Dubai. What is now a megacity used to be a humble fishing village on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Visit the old quarter to discover traditional souks, old mosques, and traditional Arabic tea houses.
Now that the city’s covered, think about heading out of it. There, you have miles of unspoiled desert, the beautiful blue waters of the Persian Gulf (perfect for scuba diving), and the Emirates mountains, all within easy reach of Dubai.
Here are the best tours on offer in Dubai.
1. Dubai Safari: Dune Drive, Bikes, Camels & Meal at Al Khayma
An adrenaline-filled day is something you shouldn’t miss in and around Dubai; this action-packed tour will show you the best that the desert has to offer.
Take advantage of hotel pickup in a luxury Land Cruiser, which will take you a short distance out of the city. You’ll sample quad biking, dune bashing (in the 4×4), and sandboarding.
You’re bound to be exhausted after all of this, so the perfect antidote is a meal and a camel ride around the luxurious Al Khayma camp before heading back to your central Dubai hotel.
2. Magical Dubai 8-Hour Tour with Burj Khalifa Experience
This eight-hour tour will give you a fantastic overview of both new and old parts of Dubai, accompanied by a friendly and knowledgeable local guide.
First, you’ll head to the old town, where you’ll learn about Arabic culture and history as you take in museums and mosques.
Then it’s into modern Dubai, where you’ll visit the world’s most luxurious hotel – the 7-star Burj Al Arab – before heading on to the man-made islands of Atlantis the Palm. Round off the day at the Dubai Mall, where there’s some great retail therapy and fine dining. Oh, and of course, the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.
3. Morning Safari with Quad Bikes, Sandboarding & Camel Ride
This four-hour tour is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of central Dubai and get out into the Arabian desert.
You’ll be picked up at your hotel and driven out of the city in a 4WD to where the fun starts. First, marvel at the picturesque Lahbab area before your driver takes some of the air out of your tires to create the perfect dune-bashing vehicle.
Before you head back to Dubai, have a go at sandboarding and take a ride on the desert’s original mode of transport – the trusty camel. It’s sure to be an unforgettable morning.
4. Abu Dhabi Full-Day Sightseeing Tour from Dubai
It’s actually Abu Dhabi, not Dubai, that is the capital and largest city of the United Arab Emirates. Happily, it’s only 1 ½ hour away in the air-conditioned vehicle included in your trip.
You’ll be led by a bilingual tour guide, who’ll show you the sights of Abu Dhabi – the highlight undoubtedly being the exquisite Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the 4th largest mosque in the world. Before the drive back to Dubai, you’ll visit the Marina mall and learn about the country’s history at the UAE heritage village.
Because you’re visiting a mosque, be sure to wear appropriate clothing. If in doubt on what that is, your hotel will be able to help.
5. From Dubai: Sunset Camel Trek with BBQ, Belly Dancer & Tanoura
Perfect for couples or honeymooners, this sunset trek on a camel is an unforgettable experience that you’ll talk about for years after.
Get out of the city and immerse yourself in the peace of the Arabian desert as you ride your ‘ship of the desert’ for 45 minutes before your caravan arrives at a traditional Bedouin camp.
Here, you’ll have the opportunity to get a henna tattoo, smoke a shisha pipe, and come face to face with a much smaller animal: a falcon. Enjoy a BBQ buffet and belly dancing show before journeying back to Dubai in comfort.
6. Heritage Desert Safari from Dubai
Yes, riding a Land Cruiser through the desert is cool, but sometimes they have a bit too much roof. No problem here, though; you’ll ride through the desert in a classic 50’s open-top Land Rover, feeling the wind in your hair.
The open top jeep gives you more chance to spot local wildlife in a conservation reserve before heading to a Bedouin camp. There are a number of cultural activities on offer here, such as falconry. You might even learn how to cook some Arabic dishes before your starlit dinner is served.
This unforgettable way to see the desert is one of the top experiences in Dubai, and you shouldn’t miss it.
7. From Dubai: Al Ain Garden City Full-Day Sightseeing Tour
This eight-hour tour will see you transported to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Al Ain – also known as the garden city – under the watchful eye of an expert bilingual guide.
Not only will you wander around the garden, but you’ll also visit a key place in Emirati history – the birthplace of its first president. If that’s not enough, you’ll also visit a functioning camel market, although you’ll have to bring extra money if you want to buy one.
After a buffet lunch, see the hot springs by Jebel Hafeet mountain before heading back to Dubai in your air-conditioned vehicle.
8. Luxury Shared Yacht Guided Tour
This unforgettable experience will give you a true taste of luxury as you take in some of Dubai’s most impressive and exciting locations.
You’ll feel like a film star as you’re welcomed onto your luxury yacht via a red carpet, before either a delicious buffet breakfast or a smoky BBQ, depending on whether you take the morning or afternoon tour.
You’ll see Dubai Marina, Dubai Eye, Blue Water Island, and the Palm Atlantis on all tours. However, there are some variations in what else you’ll see depending on the time of day you choose.
9. Old Dubai Culture, History and Souks Walking Tour
Forget you’re in a huge, ultra-modern city by stepping back in time and exploring the Old Quarter of Dubai.
You’ll start your tour with a guided visit to the city’s oldest port, Bastakiya. Your guide will tell you lots about the history and culture of Dubai before you head to three different museums dedicated to coffee, coins, and the city itself.
In keeping with the rule of three, you’ll also visit three souks – the old souk, the spice souk, and the golden souk. Make sure if you want to buy anything that you’ve got your best haggling techniques ready.
10. Dubai Helicopter Flight from The Palm to The Burj Khalifa
The helipads at the Palm Atlantis and the Burj Al Arab aren’t just there for show. Choose from three flights of either 12, 15, or 25 minutes to get a bird’s eye view of the city and make a memory that will linger for a long, long time.
Each tour offers a different perspective of the city, but all of them will give you an opportunity to see the skyline, the Burj Al Arab, the Burj Khalifa, and the Dubai coastline. Longer flights allow you to see the mesmerizing World Islands.
For the longer flights, hotel pick-up and drop-off are included in the price of the tour.
11. From Dubai: Abu Dhabi Day Tour with Ferrari World Ticket
Another trip to the capital Abu Dhabi from Dubai, this one takes you to one of the world’s most thrilling and specialist theme parks – Ferrari World.
Fittingly, Ferrari world is home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, Formula Rossa, which is sure to get your hairs standing on end. There’s also an opportunity to put yourself in the drivers’ seat – not that it’ll be a real Ferrari, but a simulator comes pretty close.
Ferrari world is only half the day though; in the morning, you’ll visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the UAE Heritage Museum.
12. From Dubai: Red Dunes and Camel Safari with Overnight Camp
Spending the day in the desert is great, but some might say you haven’t really experienced it until you’ve spent a night there. Luckily, this tour offers you the opportunity to do just that.
This is not regular camping, you’ll be in a large Bedouin tent sleeping on a comfortable bed. You’ll have the best sleep of your life – if you can tear yourself away from staring at the millions of stars twinkling overhead.
There are huge numbers of activities on offer during your trip, including camel trekking, belly dancing shows, and of course you will be fed with delicious traditional Arabic food for both dinner and breakfast.
13. Dubai: Full-Day Sea Safari to Musandam
Bring your passport as this full day tour will take you out of the United Arab Emirates and into neighboring Oman aboard a traditional dhow boat, complete with comfortable seats, carpets, cushions, and a tasty buffet lunch.
The landscape of Musandam will astound you, and you would be forgiven for thinking you were traveling through the Norwegian fjords if only the turquoise blue waters weren’t such a giveaway.
Don’t spend all your time looking at the stunning Hajar mountains though, you’ll miss the dolphins, turtles, and tropical fish that are waiting for you to find them.
14. Emirates Mountains – Private Full Day Hatta and Kalba
Enjoy the pick-up service from your central Dubai hotel which takes you all the way out of the city for a scenic drive along the east coast into the Emirates mountains.
Accompanied by a friendly and experienced guide, you’ll stop at the Lehab sand dunes before visiting the village of Hetta, home to the Heritage Village. Take the UAE’s longest tunnel, which goes right through a mountain before emerging in the coastal village of Kalba and the old village of Fujairah, watched over by a fort.
On the way back to Dubai, you’ll stop in the mountains to take in the atmosphere and buy some souvenirs at the ‘Friday Market.’ Then, it’s back to the city in your comfortable transport.
15. Dubai: Private East Coast Tour with Snorkeling & Lunch
Another tour of the east coast; however, this one has a difference. Instead of heading into the Emirates mountains, you’ll head out to Snoopy Island, where you’ll witness turtles and tropical fish through your goggles as you snorkel.
It’s a great day for wildlife lovers; your first stop will be at the Arabian Wildlife Park, where you’ll find many animals that live in the Arabian desert. From there, you’ll head to Fujairah, which has over 70km of beautiful coastline. There are a number of other exciting stops on the tour, including the ‘Friday Souk,’ a great chance to buy souvenirs.
When heading back to Dubai in your comfortable transport, you’ll hopefully witness a breath-taking sunset.