Things to do and excursions
A city for shopping
Dubai is one of the world’s ultimate shopping experiences. If you ever manage to tire of the swanky malls and the brand names, you can just as easily find rustic markets and historical souks.
The utterly massive Dubai Mall is a unique shopping experience – more of an entertainment complex than a mall. With its indoor theme park, 22-screen cinema and enormous aquarium, it can sometimes feel like shopping aspect of the mall is overshadowed, even though there are more than 1,200 stores. To put this in perspective, the UK’s largest shopping centre (MetroCentre in Newcastle) has around 350 stores. Other malls of note include the massive Mall of the Emirates and the Ibn Battuta Mall.
There are a number of smaller markets and souks too, offering an authentic Middle Eastern shopping environment. The Gold Souk and the Spice Souk are two of the most famous – no prizes for guessing what is on sale in either of them. There’s also a textile souk if you’d like to delve into Arabian magic carpet cliché while on your travels. And the fish market, while perhaps not ideal for the squeamish, is a fun experience.
Dubai is a beachside city – and what beaches! Most are owned by hotels, and depending on where you are staying there will likely be a private beach for you to enjoy. If this is not the case, don’t worry there are plenty of stretches of glorious white sand that are open to the public too. Jumeirah Beach Park and Mamzer Beach Park are public beaches with only a small entrance fee. They are truly beautiful and usually not too crowded.
If you’re visiting Dubai, your first thought might not be that it’s an ideal skiing destination. But if you’re hankering for the white slopes you can get your fix through Ski Dubai, a huge indoor ski slope in a temperature-controlled environment.
If the idea of the cold slopes doesn’t do anything for you, maybe you’d prefer to go to the opposite extreme – the desert. There are a number of companies offering ‘desert safaris’ which are essentially a fun-packed day of adventure in the desert usually consisting of some combination of dune bashing, quad biking, camel rides and sand skiing.
Dubai has two of the world’s premier waterparks – whether you’re looking to the entertain kids or just want some light hearted fun of your own. Aquaventure, based at Atlantis The Palm, and Wild Wadi, which is part of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.