Dubai is one of those cities unlike anywhere else in the world. With it being a popular layover spot in the Middle East, I was easily tempted to fly out a few days before my Egypt trip to see what I could in that time frame. Here’s what I was able to do with two days in Dubai.
What you have to see:
Touring Dubai can be overwhelming at first, with its towering buildings and futuristic ambiance. However with only two days there, I actually felt like I was able to see a lot of Dubai. And even better, I was able to take my time to relax and enjoy my stay, without rushing through a never-ending list of places to check off. Let’s start with the obvious here:
The Burj Khalifa – Tallest building in the world. Standing at 160 stories high, the Burj Khalifa is the best way to have a 360 degree view of Dubai. You can either buy a ticket to the 124th floor or go all the way up to the 148th floor, they call “At the Top.” Both of these tickets are expensive (hello, Dubai), and I figured I might as well go to the very top as I was going to have a panic attack at floor 124 or 148 regardless.
A comparison of the two options: Both floors have outdoor decks (yeah… didn’t know that when I booked – as if I wasn’t scared enough). With the cheaper option, you get access to levels 124 and also 125. With the “At the Top” package, you get access to 148, 124, and 125. Both options have different vibes – the cheaper package is definitely a lot busier and touristy, making it near impossible to get a nice picture without somebody else in it. There’s a gift shop and professional photos taken of you on a green screen if you want a cheesy picture to take home.
I am so glad I paid for level 148 as there’s access to a beautiful lounge. Here you’ll find servers waiting on you (non-alcoholic drinks included in the price of your ticket). It’s also not very busy in comparison to the lower levels, so you have space for some amazing pictures and time to enjoy the scenery without being pushed out of the way by other tourists. If you want to feel classy af, buy the “At the Top” ticket. Time spent at the Burj was around an hour and a half. But we really took our time enjoying the lounge at the top, so this could be done quicker if you’re pressed for time. Tickets vary by “prime hours” so for the most updated prices, click here.
The Dubai Fountains – If I admit how many water shows I watched here you might think I have a problem, but once you’ve seen the biggest water and light show on earth you’ll understand why. Right outside the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall is the Burj Lake – a manmade lake where the fountain shows take place. They happen every evening starting at 6pm and occur every half hour, with different music and choreography each time (thus the 5 shows we watched). It gets crowded around the lake, so we enjoyed watching it over dinner with a perfect view on the patio.
The Dubai Mall – Impossible to conquer in one day. This mall is MASSIVE. Biggest in the world again, since that’s kind of Dubai’s thing. This mall has 1200 stores!! AND an aquarium and ice rink…It’s even open late (11pm Sunday – Wednesday, and midnight Thursday-Saturday), so it’s a nice place to go after you tackle your touristy checklist during the day.
The Burj Al Arab – So you can’t go inside this hotel unless you are staying there. And, every hotel on the water surrounding this gorgeous building has private beaches – making a photo-op very difficult. I was determined to get closer to get a picture, so we ended up going to Club 360 at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and found an amazing view! We were able to take pictures on the beach of this hotel before taking a golf cart to 360, and after we got kicked off the beach by security (worth it).
360 – This award-winning bar offers exactly what it states – a 360 degree view including the Burj Al Arab, Arabian gulf, and even the Burj Khalifa in the distance. 360 is surrounded by water with a long pathway to it – and you can get there by golf cart that’s provided by the Jumeirah Hotel. We went for Happy Hour at sunset and it was beautiful! Drinks were still expensive as is everything in Dubai, but was well worth the price for a delicious drink (or three) and a perfect view of the sunset. More info here.
I landed in Dubai in the late evening, and for any woman in a foreign country, you want to make sure your airport pickup is safe. In Dubai they have exclusive women/family taxis. These look like normal taxi cabs with a pink top and are driven only by women. They were very easy to find in the taxi pickup area at the airport, however not as common once you’re in the busy tourist areas. I never ended up using another one of these cabs, only because I never saw many of them outside of the airport. I used their regular taxis multiple times and felt safe every ride. Most of the drivers speak some English, but I also rode with a few that didn’t understand any. Just show them your GPS and you’ll be on your way. Or you can just point and shout in different directions like I did half the time.
If you want to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, you have a few options. You can take a taxi there and back which will cost you around $100 USD. Or, you can buy a bus pass and save some $$$. We ended up taking a taxi from our hotel to the “Ibn Battuta” bus station. From there, it takes about an hour and twenty minutes to get to Abu Dhabi. The bus felt very safe, so I’m glad we did this option to save money, while not adding much extra travel time in comparison to a taxi.
The bus station in Abu Dhabi will place you ten minutes away from the Grand Mosque, in which I took a taxi from there. The total cost of the bus round trip was 50 AED, or about $14. You will have to be completely covered up to enter the mosque. Fashionable attire I’m wearing provided free. This day trip is completely worth it if you have the time. It’s one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.
We stayed at the W Dubai Al Habtoor – which was absolutely incredible and I recommend it highly. It had a colorful spaceship vibe, and was the perfect location as it was a quick taxi ride away from everything.
A quick note on culture and dress-code
Dubai is a Muslim country. You definitely will stand out if you’re female and not completely covered. However, the locals realize Dubai is a huge tourist destination and don’t make you feel uncomfortable in any way. With that being said, I kept my shoulders and knees covered the entire trip out of respect, and yes, it’s hot.
So that’s it! It’s very possible to see lots of what Dubai has to offer with little time. Definitely add this city to your bucket list, as the culture and innovation are mesmerizing. It’s like a mini trip into the future. Ask me any questions below!