Dubai is the city of flashy cars, 5* hotels, skyscrapers and designer shopping. That’s what we see from the outside, right? But there’s so much more to see and do. From water sports, to Arabian cuisine to gold souks, my 7-day Dubai itinerary shows you the very best of Dubai.
Is 7 days enough in Dubai? Absolutely. You can definitely pack in the most popular sights during a week in Dubai. Obviously, if you have more time, you’ll get to see and do more (especially some of the more ‘out of the box’ things), but I’ll cover everything you need for a week in this 7-day Dubai itinerary.
On a short stopover in Dubai and only have a couple of days to explore? Check out my 2-day Dubai itinerary for the very best of Dubai in just two days.
Oh! And if you come across something in the itinerary that you’ve already done or don’t fancy doing this time, stay tuned to the end of the post where I’ll fill you in on some other exciting things to do in Dubai.
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In a nutshell, here's what your 7-day Dubai itinerary looks like:
Day 1 – Souk Madinat, Dubai Marina, Speedboats and Dubai Garden Glow
Day 2 – Dubai Old Town, Souks, Abra Ride, Museums and the Dubai Frame
Day 3 – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, the Louvre and Abu Dhabi Corniche
Day 4 – Trip to the beach, dune bashing, camel rides and BBQ in the desert
Day 5 – The Palm Jumeirah, Aquaventure Water Park and the Lost Chambers Aquarium
Day 6 – Burj Khalifa, Ski Dubai and Dubai Marina Dinner Cruise
Day 7 – The Walk JBR, Miracle Gardens & Dubai Fountains
Table of Contents
- When to visit
- Where to stay
- How to get around
- Need to know
- 7-day Dubai itinerary
- Day 1: Dubai Marina & Garden Glow
- Day 2: Dubai Old Town
- Day 3: Day trip to Abu Dhabi
- Day 4: Beach & Desert Safari
- Day 5: The Lost City of Atlantis
- Day 6: Burj Khalifa & Cruising
- Day 7: Downtown Dubai & Magical Fountains
When to visit
January to April
Temperatures from January to April are just right for exploring or laying on the beach. While skies are generally blue, there is a very small possibility of rain during these months. However, you would be very unlucky to have more than 2 days of rain during your visit.
May to September
Temperatures start to drastically rise from May, right through to September. So if you can’t take the heat, then this might not be the best time for you to visit Dubai.
While it might be too hot to do a lot of the outdoor activities, some outdoor areas have A/C and there are still lots of indoor activities to keep you busy during your stay.
October to December
From October, the weather becomes so much more bearable to enjoy outdoor activities and to work on that tan.
The end of the year is a great time to head out of the city for some fun in the desert.
Where to stay
Contrary to what people may think, there are in fact hostels and budget accommodation in Dubai! My recommendation if you’re visiting Dubai on a budget is the Green Sky Hostel in Dubai Marina. It’s situated on a small private beach area and guests have access to a fitness centre, swimming pool and terrace area.
A 5* luxury family hotel, Jumeirah Beach Hotel is one of Dubai’s most recognizable landmarks, with a wave-like design, which is fitting as it’s a beachfront hotel with tons of water sports to enjoy.
You also have unlimited access to Wild Wadi Water Park. Dine at one of the many international restaurants and enjoy a stunning skyline sunset at their rooftop bar.
How to get around
Dubai isn’t the type of place where you can leave your hotel in the morning and just spend the day walking around exploring. While it’s getting more pedestrian friendly, it’s not quite there yet.
The good news is that transport in Dubai is quite cheap and easily found. Here’s how you can get around Dubai.
Dubai Metro is the fastest way to travel through the city. There are two lines – the Red Line and the Green Line – and it runs the length of Sheikh Zayed Road as far as Dubai International Airport.
Simply buy a single trip ticket or a Nol Card which you can top up and use on the tram and RTA taxis also.
There are three different types of carriages on the Metro:
- Standard – anyone can ride in this carriage
- Women & children – men are not allowed in this carriage
- Gold class – only those who have paid for a gold ticket or have a gold Nol Card can use this carriage.
You may get stung with a fine if caught in the wrong carriage.
Eating and drinking is not allowed on the platforms or on the metro. Neither is chewing gum.
If you plan to do more than one trip on the metro, it’s recommended that you buy a Nol Card as fares are cheaper than single tickets. The price of a standard single ride on the metro costs between AED3 ($0.80 cent) and AED8 ($2.20), depending on how many zones you cross.
The tram runs in a loop around the Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), from The Walk to Al Sufouh. It’s a one way system only.
The tram has the same rules as the metro in terms of the different carriage types and the consumption of food and drink. Gum is also not allowed on the tram.
The monorail is an iconic way of exploring the Palm Jumeirah. It runs from Gateway Station at the entrance of the Palm to Atlantis Resort on the outer rim of the Palm. Stops along the way include Nakheel Mall, Al Ittihad Park and Atlantis Aquaventure.
Tickets can be purchased at any monorail station or online. Ticket prices start from AED10.
The Dubai Ferry, also operated by the RTA, is the newest form of transport around the city. These modern air-conditioned ferries run from Dubai Marina to Dubai Canal.
RTA taxis are easy to hail outside of hotels, restaurants or on the street. In most taxis, you can pay by cash, card or with a NOL card.
Be aware that outside the airport and hotels, you may be offered a ‘private taxi’. These will set you back 2-3 times more than an RTA taxi and we don’t recommend using these.
Uber / Careem
If you’re in an area that may not have a steady stream of RTA taxis, it can be handy to have either the Uber or Careem Apps downloaded on your phone.
If you’re feeling extra fancy, book the Uber Chopper!
Hop-on hop-off bus
A fun way to get around and explore Dubai is on a hop-on hop-off bus. Not only is it a great mode of transport, especially during winter months when you can sit upstairs on the open top double-decker bus, but you get to see all the popular attractions along the way. Hop off the bus to get a better view and hop back on at your leisure.
Need to know
- Short shorts and tank tops are acceptable clothing for women in tourist areas
- In certain public places, such as shopping malls and government buildings, women are expected to cover their shoulders and knees
- During winter months it can get cool in the evenings so bring a shawl or sweater when you go out and about
- Bikinis may be worn at the pool or beach. Just be sure to use a cover up when heading back into your hotel
During the holy month of Ramadan, some restaurants close their outdoor seating and cover the windows and doors so food isn’t visible. It’s business as usual in the more touristy areas though.
While it’s getting more and more relaxed each year, it’s still important to be respectful of the local culture. During Ramadan, you shouldn’t eat, drink or smoke outdoors and women should wear more conservative clothing, such as covering shoulders and knees.
Currency & Money
The currency used in the United Arab Emirates is the Arab Emirate Dirham (AED). AED1 is equal to USD0.27
Credit cards are widely used everywhere in Dubai and ATMs are available in all shopping malls, tourist areas and hotels. Let your bank know you’re going abroad to ensure your cash will be accessible.
Tips are accepted everywhere and in fact a lot of restaurant workers / taxi drivers depend on tips
While Arabic is the official language of the UAE, English is widely spoken by everyone. But it’s still nice to have a few Arabic phrases to throw around here and there.
- Shukran = Thank you
- Marhaba = Hello
- La = No
- Na’am = Yes
- Khalaas = Finish/Done
- Yalla = Let’s Go
- Mae Alsalama = Goodbye
There’s often misconceptions about alcohol rules in Dubai. However, alcohol is readily available in pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels for over 21s tourists.
7-day Dubai itinerary
Day 1: Dubai Marina & Garden Glow
Welcome to Dubai! Hopefully you’ve had a great rest and you’re ready to get out and explore.
Your 7-day Dubai itinerary starts with a stroll around the Madinat Jumeirah. Have breakfast with a view at McGettigan’s Irish Bar & Restaurant. Sitting outside, with a backdrop of the Burj Al Arab, you’ll be able to watch traditional Arabian abras meander through the waterways of the Madinat.
If you fancy taking an abra ride after breakfast, guests of the Jumeirah Group (including the Jumeirah Beach Hotel) ride for free. Otherwise, tickets cost AED100 for adults or AED50 for kids.
Next you’ll head to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah to test your haggling skills. Here you’ll find everything from souvenirs and spices to jewelry in this Arabian bazaar.
Next its time to head over to Dubai Marina where you’ll see the tallest cluster of skyscrapers in the world.
There’s an abundance of restaurants to choose from for lunch where you can watch the luxury yachts sailing in and out of the marina. There’s also the Marina Mall if you fancy a spot of shopping.
The next activity for the day is the exciting Speadboat Tour. You’ll start your tour at Marina Walk and slowly head out of the Marina. Here’s where the fun begins as the boat speeds up and crashes over the water. You’ll make some stops along the way to take pictures at the Burj Al Arab and The Palm Jumeirah. Our favorite speedboat tour is the Yellow Boats. Book here!
Depending on the time of year, your first choice for this evening is the world’s largest glow garden, Dubai Garden Glow (open from October to May). The park’s opening hours are from 4pm to 11pm.
Inside the park you’ll find:
- Glow Park – with over 10 million LED lights, this is the largest glow park in the world
- Dinosaur Park – over 120 animatronic dinosaurs are featured in the Dinosaur Park, from Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
- Ice Park – here you’ll see incredible ice-sculptured animals
- Magic Park – with over 25 exhibits, the Magic Park is a world of science, optical illusions and visual arts
- Art Park – A unique eco-friendly park which is made up of thousands of recyclables
Alternatively, you can go see a spectacular show at La Perle by Dragone. There’s heart stopping acrobatics, spectacular arial dancers and you’ll watch the stage flood with water before disappearing within seconds. Book your La Perle tickets here.
Day 2: Dubai Old Town
Day 2 of our 7-day Dubai itinerary brings us to Old Dubai. People always associate Dubai with skyscrapers, shopping and luxury beach resorts, but Dubai, especially Dubai Creek, used to be a fishing village.
You’ll start your day in Dubai’s Old Town by putting your haggling skills to the test in the souks. For those wanting to purchase inexpensive gold, this is the place to do it. Take in the scents of the spice souk and the vibrant colours of the textile souk. The souks are a great place to pick up some Arabic souvenirs.
If you’d rather not navigate your way around the souks, book a private walking tour with your very own guide.
Once you’ve had your fix of shopping, you’ll take the famous Abra ride over to the other side of Dubai Creek. An Abra is a traditional Arabic wooden boat and the ride costs an incredible AED1 (that’s about 0.27c!).
Once you’ve crossed the creek, you’ll be in Bur Dubai and the next stop is Dubai Heritage Village. Here you’ll be taken on a journey back in time where you’ll learn about the history and culture of Dubai. Public workshops showcase artists creating pottery, glass and fabric.
Your cultural trip continues with a trip to Dubai Museum, built inside Al Fahidi Fort, which dates back to the 1700s. The museum gives visitors an insight into the history of Dubai and how it transformed into what it is today.
After you’ve had something to eat in one of the traditional Arabic eateries in Dubai Old Town, it’s time to head to see one of the most incredible skyline views in the city, from the top of the Dubai Frame.
Named because of its architectural ‘picture frame’ design, the building has been described as the ‘biggest picture frame on the planet’. The Frame is positioned in a way that, from one side, you have a view of modern Dubai and the other side, a view of old Dubai.
At the top of the Frame (48 floors high) is a glass sky bridge, giving those who dare to walk across it, a bird’s eye 360 degree view of Dubai.
Day 3: Day trip to Abu Dhabi
Today, we head out of Dubai for a day trip to Abu Dhabi!
First stop is the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most beautiful and largest mosques in the world. So large, that it can accommodate up to 55,000 worshipers at any given time.
The Grand Mosque has the largest carpet in the world, hand knotted by 1200 people, and one of the largest chandeliers in the world, weighing almost 12 tonnes.
Entry to the mosque is free and open to all tourists from 9am (3pm on Friday) to 10pm daily.
Both men and women are required to dress respectfully when visiting the mosque. This means no shorts, short skirts, sleeveless tops, tight clothing, transparent clothing, or clothing with profanity is allowed. Women must cover their hair with a scarf. Abayas are also available for women to borrow for free at the entrance if required.
Your day trip to Abu Dhabi continues with a visit to Emirates Palace. You must have a reservation to go explore inside, but the grounds are stunningly picturesque it’s still worth the stop.
If you have time, treat yourself to afternoon tea in Le Café. It’s said to be the best afternoon tea in Abu Dhabi and, while I haven’t been to all the afternoon teas in Abu Dhabi, it’s certainly the best from the ones I’ve tried!
It may not be as big as the Paris one, but your next stop is the largest museum in the Middle East and known as the “archipelago out at sea” – the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The museum is 8000 sq ft and features 12 galleries of historic and modern art from all over the world. There are often pieces on loan from the original Louvre in Paris. There’s also a children’s museum which is fun for us big kids too!
Even if museums aren’t your thing, the structure of this incredible building is something in itself. You can even take a kayak tour around the outside of the museum and learn about the architecture for a unique perspective.
After the Louvre, head to Abu Dhabi Corniche for a relaxing stroll or take a dip to cool down. There are numerous places to dine along the Corniche for an evening meal.
If you have time before heading back to Dubai, make your way to Ray’s Bar on the 62nd floor of Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers for spectacular views of the city. And if you plan on staying in Abu Dhabi overnight, you can book a room at the hotel here.
Alternative things to do in Abu Dhabi
If you have more time in Abu Dhabi or would prefer to switch out some of the activities above, here are other options of places to visit:
Ferrari World: This amusement park on Yas Island is all about Ferrari! You can shop, dine or ride the world’s fastest roller-coaster, which goes from 0 to 240km in less than 5 seconds! There are 40 thrilling rides and experiences to enjoy there.
Warner Bros. World: From the Jetsons and Bugs Bunny to Tom & Jerry, you’ll find all your favorite characters at Warner Bros. World. Also located on Yas Island, this park features 29 rides, attractions and entertainment shows.
Yas Waterworld: Who doesn’t love a water park?! Cool down from the Abu Dhabi heat and humidity on over 40 rides, slides and attractions at Yas Waterworld. The rides are split up between four different categories: Adrenaline Rush, Moving & Grooving, Exciting Adventures, and Young Fun.
Emirates Park Zoo: Have breakfast with the giraffes or brunch with a big cat at Emirates Park Zoo. There’s also elephant and hippo feeding, a play park for the juniors and more interaction sessions.
Day 4: Beach & Desert Safari
You’ve had a busy few days of exploring so today you’ll take it easy. Day 4 of our 7-day Dubai itinerary starts with a relaxing trip to the beach.
Jumeirah Beach is located adjacent to Dubai Marina and is famous for the row of yellow towers known as Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). Just off the beach are shops, restaurants and stalls selling souvenirs and Arabic clothing. You’ll have a view of the largest of observation wheel in the world from Jumeirah Beach, Ain Dubai on Bluewaters Island.
With stunning views of the Burj Al Arab, Kite Beach is great for all the family, whether you want to soak up the sun, taste all the food or partake in water sports, such as wakeboarding, kitesurfing or paddleboarding.
Of course, if you’re staying at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, or most other hotels along the beach, you’ll be able to relax on their private beach and have cocktails brought right to you!
Afternoon & Evening
A desert safari is on most people’s Dubai bucket list. You’ll be picked up at your hotel in the afternoon and driven an hour or so out into the Dubai desert.
After a short restroom and snacks stop, the dune bashing starts! This is an adrenaline inducing ride up and down the ginormous sand dunes at almost alarming speeds! It’s a lot of fun, if not a little scary.
While you try to catch your breath after dune bashing, you’ll watch the sunset over the desert and then head to the campsite for an Arabic style BBQ dinner, camel rides, sand dunes and henna tattoos.
Entertainment is provided by belly dancers, fire breathers and traditional Tanoura Arabic dance. Once the entertainment finishes, you’ll be brought back to your hotel.
Day 5: The Lost City of Atlantis
This morning, you’ll travel in style on the monorail out to The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s man-made island. It’s one of the best ways to travel to The Palm, as you get a bird’s eye view of the island from the front cabin.
Your first stop is The Pointe, a unique waterfront destination. There are over 80 restaurants, shopping outlets and entertainment activities to enjoy, as well as scenic landscape.
After breakfast at one of the many restaurants, treat yourself to some shopping!
You’ll then head back on the monorail and continue on to the tip of the Palm Jumeirah to the luxury resort of Atlantis for an afternoon at Aquaventure Water Park.
Take the Leap of Faith where you’ll plunge the 27.5 meters in height and speed down a tube and through a pool full of sharks and rays. Or zip down the Atlantean Zipline and take in panoramic views of the water park and Dubai skyline.
If you happen to be staying in Atlantis Resort, then you’ll have free access to Aquaventure!
Once you’ve dried off and got your heart rate back down after the excitement of the water park, you’ll head to the Lost Chambers Aquarium where you’ll find over 65,000 marine species, learn what goes into caring for all the marine life and have the opportunity to snorkel or dive with sharks.
Last stop on today’s agenda, you’ll head back to The Pointe to watch the spectacular light and water show. The fountains rise to 105 meters, and lights up the sky of Dubai with an impressive 3,000 LED lights.
Day 6: Burj Khalifa & Cruising
We’re nearing the end of our 7-day Dubai itinerary, and this morning is a very early start to watch the sunrise from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Aim to arrive at around 5.30am so you can get the night time view as well as the day time view after sunrise. A small breakfsat is also included in the price of your Burj Khalifa sunrise ticket.
After breakfast, head to the Dubai Mall metro stop and take the metro to Mall of the Emirates, where you’ll find an indoor Ski Resort, Ski Dubai (that’s right, skiing in 40 degree heat!).
Ski Dubai is one of Dubai’s favorite family attractions, whether you’re an avid skier or just like to play in the snow. For those who want to learn how to ski, book a lesson with one of the instructors at Ski Dubai.
In the snow park, there’s tobogganing, sledding, zorbing, and the snow bullet to keep you well entertained. For an extra special experience, book an encounter with the penguins.
This evening, you’ll head back to Dubai Marina for a spectacular dinner cruise aboard a traditional Arabian dhow.
Lined with lit up skyscrapers, you’ll have the best view of Dubai as you cruise through the Marina.
Enjoy a 5* experience starting with a red carpet laid out on arrival, a welcome drink, international buffet dinner and live entertainment.
Day 7: Downtown Dubai & Magical Fountains
Your last day of the 7-day Dubai itinerary has come upon us (I know, I know, it’s sad!).
This morning you’ll take a leisurely stroll down The Walk, JBR, a bustling waterfront promenade where you can dine, shop and take in the sea air. From here, keep walking over the bridge to Bluewaters Island and take a ride on Ain Dubai, the largest observation wheel in the world (due to open October 2021).
Bluewaters Island has many restaurants for you to have a late breakfast, with views of the infamous yellow towers that make up Jumeirah Beach Residence.
After breakfast, grab a taxi to Dubai Miracle Garden, a floral wonderland featuring over 150 million flowers and 250 million plants.
The heart-shaped entrance is incredibly inviting and is the perfect picture opportunity.
Perhaps the most unique flower display at Dubai Miracle Garden is the life size Emirates double-decker A380, the world’s largest floral installation, which is covered in more than 500,000 fresh flowers and weighs a whopping 100 tonnes.
Some of the other unmissable displays are the floating lady, the sunflower field, the umbrella tunnel and Disney avenue.
Your last evening in Dubai should be an extra special one. This evening, after a bit of shopping in Dubai Mall, book a table at one of the restaurants with spectacular views of the Dubai fountains.
The Social House is located on the lower level of Dubai Mall. International dining with a casual vibe, it’s a popular choice for fountain viewers.
Located in Souk Al Bahar, Serafina offers delicious Italian bites and incredible views of the Dubai fountains from their outdoor terrace.
At the Palace Downtown, Thiptara, which means ‘magic at the water’, has a romantic feel to it. Situated right next to the Burj Lake, you’ll have uninterrupted views of the dancing fountains and Burj Khalifa.
For an extra special Dubai Fountains experience, book a Burj Lake ride by traditional Arabic boat.
PIN FOR LATER!
And there you have your 7-day Dubai itinerary where you have all the best things to see and do in Dubai. Don’t forget to check out my 2-day Dubai itinerary if you only have a short stopover.
If you have more time to explore, here are some other great things to do in Dubai.