With an impressive skyline that is the object of envy of many a city, Dubai is every inch the well-heeled diva that it’s often made out to be. The city has much in store to wow the first time visitor; the tallest skyscraper, the tallest residential tower, the biggest mall in the world, a man made island shaped like a palm tree and another like the map of the world. Dubai is home to some of the finest hotels, most outstanding restaurants and exclusive nightclubs in the world so get ready for a whirlwind weekend because there’s no such thing as a dull moment in Dubai.
9AM PANTRY CAFÉ
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Pantry Café, a cozy neighborhood café with an extensive breakfast menu serving everything from classic omelets and Benedicts to Shakshouka, a Middle Eastern favorite and Mexican style Huevos Rancheros. The calorie conscious will appreciate the healthy breakfast options such as muesli, oats and fresh fruits. And if you’re not already spoilt for choice, one of their breakfast sandwiches, creamy milkshake, iced coffees or fresh juice will make it legendary!
11AM SWIM WITH DOLPHINS AT ATLANTIS THE PALM
Begin your Dubai vacation in style by heading to Atlantis, The Palm and experiencing the Royal Swim in Dolphin Bay. Feel the adrenaline kick in as you’re propelled through the water on a boogie board being pulled across the lagoon by a pair of dolphins. The 30-minute swim takes place in both deep and shallow water, requiring participants to be confident swimmers.
1PM HOUSE OF CURRY
Experience the international cuisine of a city home to many expats by heading to this quirky Indian restaurant that serves the best curry in town. While it’s easy to mistake the lavish courtyard for a palatial home in North India, make no mistake that the beautiful ornate details and tasteful décor of the House of Curry is an authentic UAE gem. Tuck into the flavorsome Fish Tikka, spicy Mutton Seekh Kebab or the deliciously creamy Butter Chicken with Naan and wash it all down with a glass of cumin-spiced lemonade.
2PM GODIVA CHOCOLATE CAFÉ
To burn off those calories and make room for dessert, stroll around The Walk before heading to Godiva Chocolate Café to treat yourself to some sinfully delicious chocolate ice cream. Afterwards, soak in the year-round sunshine that Dubai is blessed with at one of the town’s most happening beaches.
3PM THE DUBAI MALL
If you’re craving some serious retail therapy, The Dubai Mall is the biggest mall in the world and home to flashy designer labels such as Alexander McQueen, Prada and Louis Vuitton. But the really unique aspect of this shopping haven is the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, where you can simply walk in to cage snorkel, dive with Sand Tiger sharks, scuba dive or even get your full PADI certification. Who would’ve thought a trip to the mall could be so adventurous?
5PM AT THE TOP, BURJ KHALIFA
No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the sparkliest jewel in the skyline. Take the exhilarating ride in high-speed elevators to the 124th floor to enjoy breathtaking views of the city from the Observation Deck. Spend an hour or two after sunset to see how the city lights up under a million glittering lights.
7PM THIPTARA, THE PALACE DOWNTOWN & THE DUBAI FOUNTAIN
Enjoy the best view of the spectacular Dubai Fountain at Burj Khalifa Lake as you dine al fresco at this romantic waterfront Thai restaurant at the opulent Palace Downtown. Fountain shows run every 30 minutes from 6:00 pm until 11:00 pm so you have plenty of time to hang around, as the ambience is ideal for lingering for a few lakeside drinks and conversation.
9PM THE VAULT, JW MARIOTT MARQUIS
The party’s just getting started in a city that likes to go out every night of the week. The Vault, located on the 71st and 72nd floors of the plush JW Mariott Marquis is one of the city’s classiest bars and is the perfect place to enjoy a nightcap and panoramic views of Sheikh Zayed Road.
11PM CIRQUE LE SOIR, FAIRMONT
One of Dubai’s most exclusive clubs, Cirque Le Soir offers a truly unique party experience with the city’s social elite. Aerialists, fire eaters, jugglers, acrobats, burlesque dancers, contortionists and stilt walkers entertain revelers as you drink and dance the night away with everything from EDM to R&B.
8AM ZAATAR W ZEIT
Begin your day with a modern Middle Eastern breakfast at this busy eatery with impeccable service. Come hungry because you’ll want to sample everything from the baked Halloumi cheese to Manakeesh, freshly baked dough topped with Zaatar, cheese, minced meat, and sundried tomatoes and Labneh, Lebanese yogurt cheese. They also specialize in Arabic wraps stuffed with chicken, turkey, tuna, bacon or meat, pickles and vegetables.
10AM SPICE SOUK
SIKKAT AL KHAIL RD. DEIRA DUBAI, UAE
Take a taxi to the Bur Dubai Creek and from there an Abra or traditional wooden ferry to the Old Souk Marine Station. Follow your nose to the Spice Souk, a traditional Arabic market as the aromas of saffron, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chilies and other Middle Eastern spices guide you through the alleys. This is a great place to shop, but remember to brush up on your haggling skills before you arrive.
11AM GOLD SOUK
If you still haven’t gotten your shopping fill, head to the Gold Souk, a market of over 300 shops selling gold and silver jewelry right next to the Spice Market. Designs range from traditional Arabic wedding styles to intricate classic and bold modern pieces. The quality of gold and workmanship is believed to be very high; yet bargaining is acceptable and even expected so you may want to take home some new arm candy.
1PM SHABESTAN, RADISSON BLU
For a memorable introduction to Persian cuisine, lunch at the prestigious and authentic Iranian restaurant is a must that comes with stunning views of Deira Creek. The use of nuts, fruits, rice, and yogurt is common even in meat preparations, but vegetarian dishes abound with many eggplant based dips and appetizers. Be sure to save room for dessert because their use of rose water and saffron is a multi-sensory experience.
3PM AL BASTAKIYA QUARTER
Take the Abra back to Bur Dubai and walk along the creek until you reach the historic area of Al Bastakiya in Al Fahidi. Built in the late 19th century, the district was once home to wealthy Iranian merchants who settled here and showcases a completely different side of the city. The restored buildings along the cobblestone alleys were originally made of coral, limestone, mud, and plaster and are typical of the traditional architecture with large wind towers. Today, these buildings house art galleries, stores, boutique hotels, cafés, and restaurants. When you need a rest, head to the Arabian Tea House for a wide range of teas and enjoy your cuppa in their beautiful courtyard.
5PM DUBAI MUSEUM
Delve into the city’s history by visiting the Dubai Museum, a stone’s throw from Bastakiya. The museum is housed in the city’s oldest building; Al Fahidi Fort built in 1787 that also holds significance for once being the seat of the government. The museum offers insight into the heritage of Dubai that was once no more than a mere pearl and fishing village. Displays include a collection of weapons and instruments used in the old days, a wooden dhow, a souk, a madrassa or school, a mosque, a date farm, and a desert camp. You’ll get a sense of traditional livelihoods such as tailoring, carpentry, and blacksmithing, and a model home takes visitors through a family’s basic living quarters with simple kitchens and floor seating.
SOUK MADINAT JUMEIRAH, UMM SUQEIM, JUMEIRAH DUBAI, UAE
Take a ferry ride through the beautiful canals of Madinat Jumeirah for an intimate dining affair at this award-winning Italian restaurant. Request a table outside to enjoy a meal with a view of the waterways. Specialties such as Beef Carpaccio, Pumpkin Risotto with Gulf Prawns, and Gamberoni make for a scrumptious meal finished off with a decadent chocolate hazelnut parfait.
10PM 360° JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL
True to its name, this rooftop lounge offers 360° views of the sea, the iconic Burj Al Arab and the city’s skyline. One of Dubai’s most stylish venues, 360° is a fantastic place for cocktails, shisha and House music to celebrate your last night in the city.
WHERE TO STAY: MINA A'SALAM
MADINAT JURNEIRAH, UMM SUQEUIM DUBAI, UAE
To experience Middle Eastern opulence and true Arabic hospitality, this boutique luxury hotel is in one of the most striking neighborhoods of Dubai. Conveniently located between old Dubai and the newer, more modern areas, it’s in perfect proximity to a number of favorite cafés, restaurants and nightlife.