Dubai bucket list: 60 things you have to do in the city
How many have you ticked off?
Brand new to the city? About to hit that two-year mark? Or maybe you remember the city when it was just a desert. No matter how long you’ve been here, there are some classic Dubai experiences you need to tick off your bucket list.
So we’ve rounded up 60 things you have to do before you leave.
Eat a shawarma (and get most of it on your chin)
The best Arab export after oil, the shawarma is a Levantine wrap filled with chicken or lamb carved from a rotating spit. Top this with your choice of hummus, tahini, garlic sauce and tomato.
Wear a fancy dress to the Sevens
Dubai Rugby Sevens is a great excuse for a party whether you’re a rugby fan or not. Happening every December, it’s one of the biggest fancy dress parties there is.
Ride a camel
Plod along on this great humped beast and pretend you’re a desert explorer. Learn camel facts and drink camel milk while you’re there.
See a live concert at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre
Dubai Media City Amphitheater is one of the most popular venues for major events in Dubai. In the past, Mariah Carey and John Legend have performed here. The space also hosts major food festivals. Currently, you will be able to catch the World Cup matches here.
Haggle for a bargain in a souk
Textiles, spices, perfume and gold – they all have their own souk in Deira so get a taste of trade before heading over to one of the city’s very many malls.
Experience a desert safari
Go dune bashing in a 4×4, watch a falconry display, get a henna tattoo and eat Middle Eastern food while a belly dancer struts her stuff.
See a show at Dubai Opera
Squash, pop, musicals… Dubai Opera is no one trick pony. Glam up and head to one of the venue’s ever-changing shows. The venue was recently crowned as one of the world’s most beautiful theatres, so you really don’t want to miss checking it out.
Get your shoe fix at Sole
Dubai’s very own fashion and culture festival Sole DXB takes place in d3 every December. Heading into its tenth year, the three-day festival brings together top street culture across art, food, music, sport and style.
Hit the pause button for a day of extravagant pampering
In a city of opulence and extravagance, Dubai takes self-care and makes it ultra-luxe. Take a personal day and treat yourself to an extreme level of self-care including golden facials, caviar hammams and much more.
Take a ride on an abra across the Creek
For centuries, these 20-person wooden boats have served as water taxis across the Creek. Take the eight-minute trip and get a peek of Dubai as it was, for a single Dirham.
Stare at the aquarium wall in The Dubai Mall
All the wonders of the seven seas, are packed into a tank in the world’s biggest mall.
Get your pulse racing with skydiving
Strap yourself to a trained skydiver and jump from a plane at 13,000 feet. The one-minute freefall over the Palm is the closest you’ll get to flying, and the peaceful parachute descent lets you admire the view.
Visit the Jumeirah Mosque
The only mosque in Dubai open to the public, this proud edifice is a place to soak up the serenity of Islam.
Snap a shot at Dubai Frame
Dubai’s most picture-perfect landmark consists of two 150-metre high towers, connected by a 93-metre glass bridge at the top. Take a trip and admire the panoramic views over old and new Dubai.
Take a selfie in front of Burj Al Arab
Stand on the beach and snap yourself with Dubai’s iconic hotel behind you. The wittier can put out their hand and pretend to be holding the iconic structure in their fingers.
Upgrade to platinum tickets at the cinema
Enter an exclusive screening room, sink into a leather reclining seat, order food and drink during the film, and get cosy with a blanket and pillow.
Eat a really spicy shakshouka
Traditionally a North African dish, that is very much loved amongst the Dubai population. Shakshouka is a breakfast dish you must try, but beware as it can have quite a bite to it. There are plenty of breakfast venues in Dubai that have this delicious dish on their menu.
Watch the Dubai Fountain at night
Gawp at the world’s tallest water plumes as they shoot skyward to rousing music.
Buy something bizarre at Dragon Mart
A dentist’s chair, a Moroccan tagine, a masquerade mask – whatever pops into your head, you can probably buy it at this sprawling Chinese mall.
Soak up the sun at a famous beach club
It’s popular with stars including Justin Bieber, and no trip to Dubai is complete without a stop-off at Zero Gravity.
Brunch at Saffron
Lose your inhibitions, and a little self-respect, at the most bacchanalian brunch of them all.
Eat at Ravi Restaurant
This no-frills Pakistani restaurant keeps the crowds flocking with its good Punjabi food and cheap prices.
Zipline across Jebel Jais – the world’s longest zipline
The world’s longest zip line is conveniently located in the UAE and while it’s not technically in the city it is definitely something worth doing.
Get lost in Al Quoz
Roam the dusty streets of this industrial district in search of an art gallery, pop-up cinema or quirky cafe.
Cheer on a horse at the World Cup
Get dressed up to the nines and watch the richest horse race in the world.
Take a private ride in a Helicopter around the city
Who needs to charter a yacht when you can fly above the city and experience Dubai with an aerial view?
Learn to off-road
The experts at Offroad Zone will show you how to let loose in the desert in a 4×4.
Take a journey up the world’s tallest building
The Burj Khalifa is one of Dubai’s most iconic buildings, and for good reason, Take a journey in the super-fast elevator to reach the 125 floor and view the world from above.
Watch a camel race
You may think of camels as lumbering beasts but in fact, they can reach speeds of 65km per hour. See them thunder along a racetrack with mini robot jockeys on their humps in April at Al Marmoum Heritage Festival.
Run the Dubai Marathon
Overcome a huge challenge, give your training a focus and raise some money for charity – stop talking about it and enter this 42.195km race. It’s set to take place in February 2023.
Try your hand at kitesurfing at Kite Beach
Welcome to the fastest non-motorised watersport out there. Strap yourself to a board and let a big kite pull you across the water.
Find your zen with full moon yoga
Listen to the lapping waves, gaze at the pearly moon and contort yourself into a human pretzel.
Snowboard at Ski Dubai
Carve some turns in manufactured snow at this massive fridge for humans.
Bounce at Bounce
Join the free running craze at this 25,000-square-foot fun factory with more than 80 trampolines, a performance area, running walls, basketball hoops, a dodgeball court and a giant airbag.
Take a hot air balloon ride over the desert
Glide through the skies above rolling dunes and oases, and watch the sunrise behind the Hajar Mountains.
Lap up local culture at SMCCU
Learn about the culture, customs and religion of the UAE at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.
Camp in the desert
Set off independently with a group of experienced campers, or join an overnight desert safari for a spot of glamping.
Ride the Big (red) Bus
Hop on and off this open-top tour bus and visit all the essential Dubai landmarks in one day. The audio narration gives you a masterclass in everything Dubai has to offer so you’ll be ready for the local knowledge round at the next pub quiz.
Picnic in Zabeel Park
Green as far as the eye can see, farmers’ markets on weekends and live acoustic music events – welcome to Dubai’s answer to Hyde Park.
Enjoy a sundowner at Jetty Lounge
Order a fruity cocktail, nab a table on the beach and look out towards the calm Arabian Gulf at this swanky beach bar.
Visit a luxury spa for a traditional hammam
Indulge in an exotic Turkish hamman spa treatment where you’ll be scrubbed, rinsed, lathered and massaged while resting on a warm marble slab. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
See the sun set from JBR
It might be a tourist trap, but it’s no wonder why, JBR has some of the best sunsets the city has to offer.
Party on a yacht
Grab your friends, pretend you’re all millionaires for a few hours and hire a fancy yacht or catamaran. Don’t forget to take the obligatory selfie shot in front of Burj Al Arab, just to prove how awesome you are.
See a stunning water show
La Perle is Dubai’s permanent water-based theatre performance. The Habtoor City show is a must-see.
Drive a Formula 1 single seater
Strap into the cockpit of a 180 BHP race car and hit the gas.
Go on a mall crawl
From the world’s biggest (Dubai Mall) to the bargain-hunters Dubai Outlet Mall, spend the day trawling Dubai’s top Malls for bargains, and try not to pass out by the end.
Blag your way into a house party on The Palm
They’re known as some of the city’s best after-hours parties, start networking now to get yourself in.
Park, picnic and polo
Park your car alongside the grounds, pull out your blanket and picnic hamper, and enjoy a jolly good polo match during the cooler months. Tally ho!
Enjoy canapés and drinks 154 storeys in the sky
Head to The Lounge in the Burj Khalifa and watch the sun go down while you dine on gourmet canapés. The world’s highest lounge, 585 metres above ground offers tea and coffee as well as a glass of Prosecco or house drinks.
Take a peak into the future
Experience a world we haven’t seen yet. Take a journey to the year 2071 at the Museum of The Future where the possibilities are limitless and the building is worthy of a feed post on your Insta.
Party on a weekday
In a city spoilt for choice, there is a guaranteed ladies’ night every night of the week. If you’re looking for where to go out with the gals, or the guys, then click here for the ultimate guide to where to party on a dime.
Walk through Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood
Escape the skyscrapers and travel back in time with a trip to Al Fahidi, previously known as Bastakiya. This atmospheric area in Bur Dubai is one of the oldest heritage sites in the city, with its traditional wind towers, hidden courtyards and maze of winding alleyways.
Buy a gold bar from a vending machine
ATMs and food vending machines are so last century. Purchase anything from a 2.5-gram, 24-karat gold coin to a rather more substantial 31-gram (one-ounce) gold bar.
Witness Dubai in full bloom
With more than 45 million flowers and more than four kilometres of walkways, we dare you to walk through Dubai Miracle Gardens and leave without 50 or so photos on your phone.
See Dubai from the world’s tallest hotel
Gevora is one of the world’s tallest hotels located on Sheikh Zayed Road. It comes with a rooftop al fresco viewing platform offering spectacular views across the city.
Buy a bespoke outfit at a tailor
Complete the gentlemanly ritual of having a shirt made to measure.
Go on a multi-sensory culinary journey at Sublimotion
If you’re looking for exclusivity that can only be offered in Dubai then look no further than this intimate dining experience. Sublimotion offers a table of only 12 people an unmatched dining experience of culinary art and technological innovation.
Familiarise yourself with the local lingo beyond ‘inshallah’ and ‘habibi’.
Mix with royalty at Jebel Ali Shooting club
Try your hand at clay pigeon shooting at this fortress-styled building and you might even find yourself shooting alongside UAE Olympian Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who regularly trains here.
Buy your groceries from a boat
Carrefour, a French supermarket has released a ‘sail thru’ supermarket which is the world’s first supermarket that offers 300 items to customers near select beaches across Dubai. There is even a ‘seabin’ that vacuums any floating debris into the boat holding tank, so rubbish is collected and disposed of once the vessel returns to shore.