International travel is in full swing. Making a strong recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, the global tourism sector saw tourism receipts hitting $1.4 trillion in 2023. This is according to recent data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In Dubai — one of the best Middle Eastern cities with numerous places to visit — the Department of Economy and Tourism revealed that in the first 11 months of last year, it welcomed 15.37 million overnight international visitors. This is 2.5 percent higher than its 2019 or pre-pandemic figures.
Heading to Dubai? This article rounds up attractions you must not miss.
Dubai is the world’s top destination
Dubai has secured the title of being the top global destination according to Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best 2024 awards. This marks the third year that the city got the recognition — and the first time that a city has accomplished such a milestone.
“Travelers from around the world seeking a safe, secure and easily accessible destination have embraced Dubai’s diverse offerings for all segments, from families and thrill seekers to business visitors and cultural explorers, recognizing the unique experiences that can only be found in the city,” stated Issam Kazim. He is the chief executive officer of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
Dubai is not only appealing to tourists but to remote workers as well. In 2023, financial services provider Remitly named it the number one city for relocation, while property consultancy Savills ranked it as the best city for remote workers in its Executive Nomad Index. Additionally, Euromonitor International placed Dubai as the world’s second-best city destination in its Top 100 City Destinations Index 2023.
Exploring Dubai: The best places to visit
If you’ll be visiting Dubai, make sure to add these places to your itinerary.
A glistening gem in Dubai’s skyline, the 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. It symbolizes the city’s architectural prowess and forward-thinking vision, holding several other titles — including having the highest observation deck and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world. It welcomes 17 million visitors annually. If you want to get a picturesque view of the metropolis, you have two observation decks to choose from: The two-story At the Top (located on the 124th and 125th floors) and the one on the 148th floor.
The Dubai Fountain
Downtown Dubai, touting itself as the world’s most prestigious square kilometer, is home to Burj Khalifa and many other landmarks. These include the beautiful Dubai Fountain, which is the tallest performing mountain globally. A true aural spectacle, it features water, music and light performing to the tune of various melodies, ranging from classical pieces to contemporary Arab music. This one-of-a-kind show is powered by quality nozzles, color projectors and over 6,600 lights. For the best views of the performance, book a Dubai Fountain Lake Ride or stroll along the Boardwalk.
At the heart of Downtown Dubai, you can find the most visited retail and lifestyle hub worldwide: the Dubai Mall. The mall, attracting over 100 million visitors year after year, houses over 1,200 retail outlets and over 200 dining options. It’s also home to the immersive Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Its Fashion Avenue appeals to luxury brand enthusiasts, with over 150 shops and restaurants to choose from. Adjacent to the mall is the Soul Al Bahar, an Arabesque marketplace that offers stunning views of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain.
The View at The Palm
If you’re into breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of cities, then The View at the Palm is a place you mustn’t miss. Located at level 52 of The Palm Tower, this observation deck stands 240 meters high. It allows visitors like you to marvel at Palm Jumeirah, an iconic artificial island shaped like a palm tree. You can also see the Dubai skyline and the Arabian Gulf from here. This attraction is more than just impressive vistas; it also has a café, an exhibition on the island’s development, interactive aquarium-themed tunnels and a gift shop.
Dubai boasts many superlatives. In addition to the things mentioned above, it also has the world’s largest waterpark: the Aquaventure. Located next to the luxury hotel Atlantis, the Palm, this waterpark offers a thrilling experience with 105 slides and rides. Beyond the rides, it lets visitors immerse themselves in numerous watersports. They also facilitate animal encounters and have a dedicated area for children. Moreover, it has a serene private beachfront for when you want to wind down or take a leisurely walk.
Want to add a super beach destination to your Dubai itinerary? Kite Beach, a favorite among the city’s beaches, is an awesome place to soak up the sun. One of the best Dubai places to visit, this vibrant spot is also ideal for food enthusiasts and sports lovers. You can find this haven in the Jumeirah area. The things you can do here include kitesurfing, wakeboarding, stand-up paddleboarding and beach volleyball. You can also walk or jog along its 14-kilometer track. It’s safe to swim even at night as it has vigilant lifeguards on watch.
Legoland Dubai Resort and Legoland Water Park
Dubai Parks and Resorts is another ultimate destination for family travelers. Some of the must-visits in this place are the Legoland Dubai Resort and the neighboring Legoland Water Park. These two feature adventurous rides, rollercoasters, building experiences, interactive play and several other kid-friendly attractions. Want to elevate your experience? Consider staying at the region’s first Legoland Hotel, offering 250 family-friendly rooms for a Lego-themed holiday.
For a tranquil desert escape, Dubai’s Sonora Camp is the place to be. It’s a place where you can enjoy fine dining while indulging in live entertainment. The ambient lighting, desert backdrop and delectable menu all combine to give you a unique experience. However, make no mistake: Sonora Camp isn’t just for tasting regional and Western cuisine. Beyond dining, it offers activities that range from archery and sandboarding to drumming and astronomy lessons.
No Dubai experience is complete without a trip to the world-famous Gold Souk. Located in the historical Deira, near Dubai Creek, this is considered one of the oldest gold markets in the world. This market shines with stalls with gold and other precious metals. These metals come in various carats, shapes and designs. Whether you’re browsing or searching for a unique find, you’re bound to have a fascinating time exploring the area. It’s free to enter, easily accessible and well-regulated by the Dubai government. This means you can ensure the authenticity and quality of all items.
Museum of the Future
Step into the future with this modern museum gracing the Sheikh Zayed Road. Unveiled in February 2022 by the Dubai Future Foundation, the Museum of the Future offers a wonderful blend of traditional exhibitions, immersive theater and themed attractions. These features collectively showcase future societies’ potential through science and technology. According to National Geographic, the is one of the most beautiful museums across the world. It also serves as the home of the “Great Arab Minds” initiative, which seeks to gather 1,000 Arab talents from key fields.
There’s more to Dubai than these attractions that we mentioned. There are many more places to visit. For instance, the Global Village is a mega-attraction that blends shopping, dining, and entertainment — featuring 27 international pavilions. This year, it’s open until April 28.
With landmarks like all this, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable journey. Your trip to Dubai will surely be filled with diverse experiences highlighting its status as the world’s leading destination.
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