Did You Know? “Dubai’s population hovers around 2.5 million — and more than 80 percent of that number is foreign-born.” (via)
I would argue one of the best things about Dubai, if not the best, is how much you can explore & simply see. Without having to pay anything or work very hard. Not without effort, Dubai sets records & created a visual piece of artwork. You can fill your entire trip just driving around exploring the different landscapes – for FREE. Sometimes paying for the view, isn’t as good as actually searching for it yourself.
I wanted to show you how to make a trip adventurous without spending a ton of money! I feel like I’m a master at going on budget friendly trips, including Dubai. Food & drink is expensive, but there’s SO much to do for free, or nearly free – if you can just get yourself there. You wouldn’t even be able to finish this list in one trip! And if you do, I can add to it 🙂
This is MY checklist when I go back – things to go stare at. And they never get old. Even when I lived there, going to stare at the items on this list was one of my favorite things to do. And a way to ensure I won’t waste my precious money.
1- Burj Khalifa
This twinkly building still takes my breathe away. Because it’s right outside the Dubai Mall there’s plenty of space to go walk around the building & look at it yourself – without paying a dime. Get yourself to the Dubai Mall & walk outside. You can eat near it, shop near it, walk near it, or just sit down & stare at it. The fountain show that plays outside the building at night will also take your breathe away. Go check it out during the day & at night for completely different views. Until Dubai builds their next world record setting building, this is the top spot for me. And you absolutely need a GoPro to fit the whole damn thing in a photo, OR spend $$$$ to have a tourey sales man take one measly photo for you…
2- Burj Al Arab
There’s definitely less hustle & bustle when you’re off to view Burj Al Arab, the beautifully insane 7 star hotel perched off the beach. There’s a long walkway out to a little restaurant/lounge (360) that you can use to see this hotel, which I didn’t discover until the end of my last trip – but it’s perfect. Every time we go it’s nearing sunset so we stop by the lounge afterwords, which is also a cute little place with unbelievable views – including the ginormous yachts parked outside the hotel. You don’t have to stay in these hotels to visit, keep that in mind!
3- Palm Jumeirah
The Palm Jumeirah is a must during the day – at night you can’t see very much from it & you can’t see much when you’re looking at it. Skydiving anyone? As I’m writing this I’m realizing that’s definitely the best way to see the palm – but fuck-no-never-ever-in-1-million-years-for-100-million-dollars. IF you’re willing to risk your life like that, sign up early and get in line. I can’t imagine there’s a better way to view the palm. OTHERWISE, for sane people, drive all the way out to the edge of the palm where there’s a walk/bike path and take in the views of the marina or walk through the Atlantis Hotel. To view the palm itself, go to a lounge/restaurant on the beach side in the JBR area that’s up a few floors and you’ll get an excellent view of the entire palm shape!
And outside all the buildings – the desert! You know that relaxing feeling you have when you get an entire beach to yourself? Or you’re sitting starring out at the ocean that goes on forever? Desert is same same. It goes on forever & somehow gives you that same overwhelming peaceful feeling. The best way to do the desert is one of the many desert safari trips or renting a buggy and taking it out yourself. Taking a regular car you rented and trying to find open sand dunes might be a little tricky – unless you’re the type that enjoys that adventure. Either way, you can’t go to the Middle East and not take the desert adventure!
5- Dubai Marina
Dubai Marina is 20-ish minutes from downtown Dubai but it offers the same breathtaking views downtown does. You have to get inside the marina, walk around near the water and across the bridges. Go for a walk along the beach. EXPLORE. The tallest residential block is located in the Marina & it’s shocking, to say the least, when you see buildings x buildings topping the clouds.
6- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This beauty is something everyone has to see once, right?! Grand is the correct word. And it’s incredibly inviting to walk through, truly a structural masterpiece & with the tour you’ll get a little insight into the Muslim religion. You’ll have to either rent a car, pay an uber, or join a tour to get to the mosque because it’s about 40 min from Dubai – but I consider it a must!
How can you stay in your hotel with all of these free things to see!?! The hotels are just as grand as anything else on this list so I can see how it’s easy to explore where you’re staying, but I can’t imagine not knocking these items off your checklist. They’re too grand to skip – and for free! Eat or drink? Your budget better be accommodating, but this list can help cushion the blow a little 🙂
In my opinion, you visit Dubai to SEE. Eating & drinking just can’t match that.
Have a great day, and be thoughtful