Best Things To Do In Dubai
By Sarah Grubb
Following up my article on NYC, I thought I would give some recommendations for Dubai. I lived there on and off for a few years. I haven’t been back for a while, but I made sure to double check all of the links to make sure the places still exist!
I should mention that living in Dubai is a different experience than just visiting, but for a long-ish term gig, I think you will find these places full of a lot of ex-pats enjoying their sunny lifestyles.
Thus begins My Favourite Spots: Dubai
I think nearly everyone is aware of the Friday Brunch of the Middle East. If not, it is basically a lovely day of eating all you can and usually drinking lots of Champagne for a decent all-inclusive price. As Friday is the start of the weekend, they are usually big hits for birthdays, going away celebrations and just general catch up with friends and/or family. Dubai has lots of options for these, but some of my favs are:
- My favourite is probably the Vida Hotel’s Picnic Brunch in Downtown Dubai. It is so cute. Poolside so you can even reserve a Cabana which includes Pool Access for the afternoon. Really lovely day out.
- The Westin Dubai has Bubbalicious. This one is famous. Worth checking out.
- I spent several Fridays at Yalumba at the Airport Meridien. That dangerous poolside after party keeps you rocking for a long time. The Christmas time brunch was particularly fun.
- Not exactly Brunch, but amazing breakfasts can be had at The Farm. It totally makes you feel like you are in a whole other country which is lovely sometimes!
- A couple other nice options for breakfast are Jones the Grocer (several Dubai, AD locations) and Tom&Serg. Both have great real Aussie style Flat Whites which was always helpful when missing home.
- I also like Comptoir 102 for breakfast or lunch. It has a really swanky gift shop attached to it as well. Near the beach.
- It is out of town, but they do a great weekend stay offer at Olea at the St Regis on Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi. I used to go down for brunch with at least one other person, stay Fri night and have a late check out on Saturday for a really decent price. Great escape/brunch package for sure.
I spent a lot of time heading out to sort of the same places over and over again, but here are a few of my go-to places to spend the day or evening when you have some spare time. Also great places for visiting guests.
OUT AND ABOUT
- Atmosphere is fabulous for the view (123 Floor of Burj Khalifa). I have never been for dinner so I can’t say anything about the food, but it would be amazing up there at night. I have been to the bar for drinks and high tea. Awesome. Inside the Armani Hotel (which is also home to what I feel is the best coffee in all of Dubai). Definitely need a booking.
- Thai Kitchen is probably my favourite place in Dubai. It’s on Dubai Creek at the Park Hyatt. Near the Airport and never disappoints. Serves Thai in tapas-like portions so you can try everything.
- I also love the Sea Fire Steakhouse at Atlantis on the Palm. The food is ridiculously good. Nice wine. Worth the money.
- For something just a bit different, I love Vintage. Not a giant food menu, but they have cheese fondue, charcuterie platters and really good wine. Some nights they have all you can eat and drink packages as well.
- I love The Irish Village. I have probably drunk more Guinness here than in any other pub in the world. It is a great place, however, not so amazing in the real serious heat as the bulk of it is outside. But when there are large events happening, they often build tents with AC which helps. I enjoyed watching the 2014 Football World Cup here in lovely comfortable air. Probably 9 months of the year, it is the best. Love the bangers and mash and live music nightly.
- For an amazing cultural music experience, head to the Music Hall at Zabeel Saray on the Palm. It’s a fabulous night. Drinks are expensive and there is a minimum spend, but no cover. It guarantees to be some of the best mix of musicians you will see on one stage in an evening. The venue is based on some place in Beirut apparently. You need to book though. It is unforgettable for sure. Great night out for groups, in particular, because of the minimum spend per table.
- Since I was definitely a child of the 80s and danced the nights away in the 90s, Societe is always a good time. We often would head there after seeing a concert at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre as it isn’t very far away.
- I also joined the Pullman Dubai Creek City Centre Pool/Spa. The rooftop pool is lovely. The food at the bar there is really decent. The membership prices were good. It’s always nice to have access to a pool, spa and gym for other ways to spend your afternoons off. I couldn’t find any updated info on membership, but if you inquire at the hotel I am sure they can let you know. They also had day passes at a very affordable rate. Lots of hotels do this, but I found this to be really good value. The hotel is also connected to Deira City Centre in case you have any quick shopping to do.
- Obviously, malls are a big deal in Dubai. Dubai Mall is massive and has all the favs. Mall of the Emirates has the famous Ski Dubai, which is worth having a look at for spectacle’s sake I suppose. For everyday shopping, I really enjoyed Mirdif City Centre. It has all the usual suspects and way less people than Dubai Mall. But I do suppose it depends on where you are living.
- Madinat Jumeirah is good for a fake souk. It is expensive but worth having a look at.
- The Gold Souk is fun for bargaining on jewellery. They often do special orders, but for a last-minute bit of bling you can talk them down quite substantially. Not just gold either.
- Karama is where I always go to get good quality seconds designer handbags. I recommend a shop called Flamingo and their cousin’s shop which is in the road behind. This area on the whole is overwhelming because they are all trying to get you to buy, but if you stick to the 2 shops I know, you will get good quality.
- I used to refer to Cherry Pick Dubai for a good resource on what’s new and exciting. It seems a bit of out date now, but might still have some good recommendations on there.
- Dubai is also a big user of Time Out. The awards always have the latest and greatest.
- There are plenty of new art things opening in the area. The Dubai Opera, The Louvre Abu Dhabi and The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are either open, opening soon or under construction.
- The Water Park at Atlantis on the Palm is a nice way too cool off when it’s not so hot that you can’t be outside.
- The Dubai Miracle Garden is unbelievable.
- Theme parks have also opened since I was last in Dubai and seem to be visited by a lot of my friends there. More to come I am sure.
- If you do head to Abu Dhabi, I recommend seeing the Sheik Zayed Mosque. It’s a bit more touristy than it once was, but it is stunning.
There are a lot of amazing hotels in the area, but since I am aiming this article on the longer-term visitor, I won’t name them all. But these would at least be worth visiting for a night if you had some time to ‘zhuzz’ it up…
- I never made it to Al Maha – the famous all-inclusive desert resort, but that would be a great little place to hit if you can.
- Other lovely hotels in Dubai include Park Hyatt, The Sofitel on the Palm, The Oberoi or Al Qasr.
- Four Seasons also opened a property at Jumeriah Beach and in the International Financial Centre. Both sound lovely.
I am quite sure that Dubai has changed a lot as it seems to be forever changing. But these were some of my favs. Would love to hear from others as to where the best places are now as I know I will get there again soon. I miss a lot of people there for sure!
Also by Sarah Grubb:
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