How to plan a trip to Dubai – and why to visit? Glitzy skyscrapers, beautfiul beaches and megamalls for one, to name a few reasons. Setting is another: Dubai springs out of the desert like a futuristic city — one that’s been built up only within the last 40 years. It should be on your bucket list, even if you’re just curious to see what the future looks like in the present. Looking to make the journey? Here’s how to plan a trip to Dubai, one of the most exciting Middle Eastern destinations.
When to Visit
It’s hot here, let’s face it. And no matter when you go, the temps will likely soar into triple digits. But if you’re looking to experience the most pleasant weather, one important consideration in how to plan trip to Dubai is to think about going from mid-November through March. The catch is that Dubai’s high season for tourists is from mid-December through February, particularly January and early February, because of the Dubai Shopping Festival, according to Santorini Dave. If you don’t want crowds, consider booking a trip from mid-November to early December, or mid-March.
Dubai’s transportation options are as futuristic as its skyline. The automated driverless Metro offers great views of the city’s landmarks, as well as beautifully designed metro stops. A Nol card can be used to pay for metro, bus, tram and even taxis. The 1,500 buses in the city (and air-conditioned shelters) are also an option for transportation and touring, as you can hop on and hop off the open-topped buses, too. You can even tour the city by boat, using ferries, boat taxis and yacht rentals. Yes, that’s right —yacht rentals.
Tourin’ Tourin’ Tourin’
It’s always a good idea to orient yourself by going on a tour once you’re in Dubai. Trip Advisor details a rundown of some of the best: you can see the city by seaplane, take an afternoon desert safari and barbecue tour in luxury vehicles, or even travel by camel through the desert. (This last may be best for those who like roughing it.) Food tours, hop-on-and-off bus tours, fishing tours, boat tours and Arabian adventures round out the list. You can even swim with the dolphins.
Can’t Miss, Won’t Miss
If it’s your first time in Dubai, there are some bona-fide can’t-miss sites. At the top of the list is heading to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Then head to the world’s biggest shopping spot, the Dubai Mall, where you could spend your entire vacation shopping, skating at the indoor ice rink, going to the cinema, visiting the aquarium, and more. Just outside the mall, in front of the Burj Kahlifa, are the Dubai Fountains, where water dances along to music every night. For more of a cultural experience, however, make the trip to the Jumeira Mosque. And if you’re looking for something that sparkles, head to the Dubai Gold Souk.
Like the rest of Dubai, the food is exotic and over the top. Just about every international cuisine is represented — and some of the best chefs in the world are manning Dubai’s restaurants. For a romantic seafood restaurant, try Pierchic. For seafood with an experience (faux submarine, etc.) helmed by a Michelin-starred chef, head to Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara.There are also Mediterranean options — think French and Italian — so if you’re interested, go to La Petite Maison. Elite Traveler compiled more dining recommendations in Dubai—give it a once-over.
Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and
drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. She's written for TheKitchn.com, Four Seasons Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur.com, and dozens more publications.