Last Updated on January 25, 2022 by hungryoungwoman
Although I grew up in Dubai, the city still amazes me with its new developments and projects. True, a city’s worth is not just in its technology and even culture should take the limelight, but it is interesting to note how the UAE was nothing like this around 15 years ago. This time frame is spectacular for a country to grow as much. And, this is why you should visit Dubai at least once in your life. Below, I show you the best itinerary for Dubai 7 days.
If you’re traveling to Dubai for the first time, you’ll have to do some research about the clothing there, rules and regulations, and how to respect the country you are traveling to. Or, read my tips for travelling to Dubai for the first time which will save you some time.
NOTE: Dubai has opened up to tourists but under the light of recent events, I urge you to be careful and travel responsibly which will just benefit the country and yourself. To know the best places to visit in Dubai during Coronavirus, click here.
This is the most important stage of planning for a Dubai itinerary 7 days to ensure that you have everything you need and that you will not be missing out on anything.
If you’re here for Dubai Expo 2020, here’s my guide on things to do before visiting Expo 2020 until March 2022
Planning a Trip to Dubai for 7 days Dubai
If this is your first time in Dubai, I encourage you to take a look at my Dubai packing list essentials from a local. The things mentioned are top recommendations of everything you should pack and carry to Dubai.
Other than the things you should have in your suitcase, it is very important to take a look at your travel documents and flights to Dubai before planning your 7 days in Dubai.
Want to know exactly what to wear in Dubai? FAQ’s answered here!
The United Arab Emirates’ local currency is Dirhams (written AED in short) and it is valued at AED 3.65 per US$. This makes it very affordable if you are traveling from the West if you are mindful of your expenses. I have to admit, Dubai can easily become very expensive if you are just not careful enough!
The main seasons in the UAE are summer and winter. The country is mostly hot throughout the year and attracts the most visitors from November to February since that’s when it’s wintertime in Dubai. You might want to look at what exactly to do according to which season you are visiting in this article for the best season to visit Dubai
Additionally, if you do happen to come in during the Holy month of Ramadan, there are some things to keep in mind. Ramadan is a Holy month for Muslims where they sacrifice food and drink throughout the day as a reminder of the good things we have in life as opposed to the less fortunate. The country is very different during this month and it is probably the best time to visit Dubai if you are really interested in Islamic religion and culture. Here is a full guide about visiting Dubai during Ramadan.
Are you a traveler with an adventurous side? Here’s a kickass adventurous guide to spending 2 days in Dubai
Itinerary for Dubai: 7 Days
Day 1 – Arrival and exploring Old Dubai
Street food in Dubai is the best way to explore any city locally. As a country that is home to more than 80% of expatriates and only housing around 20% of the local population, you will find cuisines here that are a mix of Indian, Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, Pakistani, and Filipino food.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the foods you MUST try while you’re in Dubai, then click here for a list of street food and where to eat in Dubai.
To understand the culture better, head to the old part of Dubai (easily accessible from Creek or Deira City Centre metro stations) Back then, when my sister and I were kids, shopping for clothes and abaya would mean heading to the popular Naif Souq. While mum shopped, dad and we stopped at the cafeteria right next to the bazaar and would tuck into a juicy shawarma.
An Old Dubai tour can be easily done if you plan it well. Start your tour at the quarter of Bastakhiya. If you would like to sample a taste of Middle Eastern food, the Arabian Tea House is a well-known place providing some instagrammable places in Dubai too.
Bastakhiya is filled with sandy brown buildings built like the olden days when the UAE was only a desert. As you continue to walk you will find the Coffee Museum, Dubai Museum, Grand Bur Dubai Masjid (mosque), Bur Dubai Abra Station, and then Dubai Spice Souq. You are free to miss or add anything on your tour according to your requirements.
Want to explore Dubai on a budget? (yes, it’s possible!) Here are 16 cheap things to do in Dubai that will keep your pocket light
This walking tour map of Old Dubai is a simple 23-minute walk to cover all the locations mentioned above. But first, let me tell you what to expect in each of the places before actually visiting them!
- Coffee Museum – For coffee connoisseurs and enthusiasts, this museum holds the history of coffee and its making. Expect to find different types of brewing and various equipment like syphon, latte art pens, and grinders both traditional and modern are available for purchase. There is also a cafe if you’d like to sit and have a cup of coffee
- Dubai Museum – Everything about how the country originated, grew, and developed to what it is today can be learned at the Dubai Museum
- Grand Bur Dubai Masjid (optional)
- Abra Ride – Ride the abra, a traditional boat made of wood used during olden times in Arab history, and get to the other side
- Spice Souq – Carpets, spices, perfumes galore! The souq is a bazaar filled with sellers selling their best fares. Bear in mind to haggle and keep your possessions safe although we don’t have too much of a robbery rate in Dubai
Day 2 – Seeing Downtown Dubai
The Dubai Mall is the second well-known attraction in Dubai, after Burj Khalifa. If you have to visit only one mall during your trip to Dubai, I would suggest making this the one.
Housing the biggest aquarium in the world and dancing fountains that would make your dancing skills look petty, The Dubai Mall is currently the second-largest shopping mall in the world! If you aren’t there for shopping, at least do stop by the two mentioned activities which are popular both by kids and adults alike.
If you are planning a 2 day trip to Dubai, this is pretty much what I would recommend to you so you see the old and new side of the city.
The Dubai Aquarium is a large glass tank filled with sea creatures. You will also be able to spot a shark and stingray! Since the mall is huge, I am only able to see the aquarium if I am heading to that part of the mall. The tickets are a little expensive but I found a nice deal that combines a visit to the Dubai Aquarium as well as a tour of At The Top Burj Khalifa, Dubai.
Click here to view the tickets and reviews
Just opposite the aquarium is a large store of Candilicious. Just warning you ahead in case you are visiting Dubai with kids, they are sure to drag you there and ask you to buy their favorite candy. If your kid is like mine, instead, they would drag you to Cheesecake Factory also nearby to buy a cheesecake after visiting the Dubai famous attraction!
Next up, are the dancing fountains which look different during the day (only at 1pm and 1.30 pm) and in the evening. If I HAD to choose, I would go for the evening show with a stunning view of the Burj Khalifa that will tire your necks due to its height! The show is on every half an hour. The dancing fountains show timings are from 6-11 pm every day.
The show is completely free which becomes a must visit in Dubai automatically. ‘Cause we like free things, right? I totally recommend this to anyone even if they are here for a layover or if you want to explore Dubai in one day.
Now, the question arises if you just want to visit At The Top Burj Khalifa or dine at the highest restaurant in the world, At.mosphere. From someone who has done both, I recommend spending your time and buck on the latter. A reservation at At.mosphere will ensure no queues, going up to level 123, and you get food! If you’d like to know about my experience, click here for At.mosphere Burj Khalifa review
If you don’t want to spend those 3 hours there for the extra cost, I have another option for you. Click for the tickets below!
CLICK HERE TO BOOK A TOUR TO VISIT AT THE TOP of BURJ KHALIFA AND SKIP THE LINE!
Visiting the best of things to do in Dubai, At The Top Burj Khalifa is accessible from The Dubai Mall at the lower ground level.
Day 3 – Desert Safari
Next on our Dubai itinerary is the Desert Safari. It is almost unmissable in the list of things to do in Dubai which is why I suggest you head thereafter you’ve experienced two of the best places to go in Dubai.
To give you a brief description of what exactly happens in a desert safari is that you are first taken to the desert. The real desert. Without buildings and shops and full of sand everywhere. There is an itinerary planned by the guide you have chosen or the tour company.
Activities include dune bashing; driving up the sand dunes in a 4×4, belly dancing, henna arts for the women, and some packages also include meals with an overnight stay.
Check out reviews, pictures, and prices here
While I can’t recommend one exact tour to take, I leave that to you to select one for yourself according to your budget, time, and level of tiredness on this 7 days in Dubai trip
Day 4 – Jumeirah Mosque and The Beach
On day 4 of the best places to visit in Dubai with family, couples, or solo is to get educated about the religion of the country. Islam is followed majorly in Dubai and the laws are made according to Shariah.
Jumeirah Mosque located in Jumeirah area hosts tours for tourists and residents alike to help them understand the culture and religion of the Emiratis. Tickets are only priced at AED 25 (approx $7) including a light breakfast. Jumeirah mosque tour timings are 10 am and 2 pm every day except Fridays. For more information, here’s their website.
Bear in mind that the United Arab Emirates is a modest country and visiting a religious place should be done so in respectable clothing covering the arms, legs, and hair for ladies. To know about how to dress for the mosque visit, read my Dubai packing list
After the tour, head to Kite Beach nearby which is only a 20-minute drive by taxi. You can grab lunch at one of the restaurants there and enjoy the beach with a nice view of Burj Al Arab. Of course, this depends on the weather because summertime in Dubai is almost unbearable.
If the heat gets to you, some indoor spots are Mercato Shopping Mall and Dar Al Wasl. Both very nearby and with lots of restaurants to choose from. The other option would be to visit Burj Al Arab instead. Unfortunately, they don’t allow tourists unless they have a reservation.
But let me give you a hack. Order something from their lobby cafe and get to see the hotel from inside too! Let me tell you, it is beautiful!
Day 5 – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
Of course, you cannot visit the United Arab Emirates and miss out on the capital of our country! While Abu Dhabi is the capital, Dubai is more popularly known. However, there is a range of activities and sights to see in Abu Dhabi which you will find in this ultimate Abu Dhabi guide.
You can either choose to explore the emirate on your own or book a tour for a guide to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This is the eighth largest mosque in the world and it large enough to take at least 3 hours to explore. The architecture is surely one to marvel at. Let me give you a teaser here!
To get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, there are local public buses which cost only AED 25 (approx $7 per trip) Getting to these pick up points can be easily done with this metro map
- Ibn Battuta Metro Station 4 – Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station with bus E101
Al Ghubaiba Bus Station – Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station with bus E100
The alternative option would be to either hire a rented car or take a tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. The tour includes pick up and drop from your hotel in Dubai along with a guided tour of the splendid Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Louvre.
Click here to view the prices, reviews, and details
In my opinion, this again depends on your time constraints and if you are more of an explorer on your own. Going by local transport will let you choose where to visit and timings although taxis must be hired to travel to every Abu Dhabi tourist spot.
If you wouldn’t like all that hassle, take the tour! Alternatively, look at some ways you can use this day for a day tour here.
Day 6 – Atlantis/ Dubai Parks and Resorts
Day 6 again depends on your decision. If you start to list the attractions in Dubai or create a Dubai sightseeing list, you will have too many things to do but not enough days.
Atlantis is a major tourist spot in Dubai and known for some celebrity chef owned restaurants and the lost chambers. In my opinion, a great option if you’re looking for things to do in Dubai with kids. They will really enjoy the dolphin encounters and looking at sea creatures during the Lost Chambers tour
For a more budget-friendly option, The Pointe is one of the cool places in Dubai to hang out. Not only are there fast-food chains and restaurants to choose from, but the view of Atlantis is also beautiful. If you’re there on a weekend, you might just be lucky to experience a couple of performances by local artists and activities for children.
Or, Dubai Parks and Resorts if you want a more fun-filled adventurous day! You will find it convenient to book yourself into one of the hotels nearby to make it easy for you to head back after a tiring day. From what I’ve experienced, Rove Hotels are very affordable and offer great service.
For a more luxurious staycation, Lapita Resorts are well known, photogenic, and has nice dining outlets.
Day 7 – Shopping/ Dubai Miracle Garden and departure
End your holiday in Dubai with either a trip to Dubai Miracle Garden or shop for souvenirs!
Dubai Miracle Garden is quite popular given that the United Arab Emirates is literally a desert. Which is why it is called a miracle garden. It is one of the top instagrammable places in Dubai in our guide. Read it to mark all the photogenic locations to automatically look better than your friends 😉
According to your departure time, head to the airport and leave with beautiful memories from your Dubai trip!
Where to Stay in Dubai:
Just so you can have a few recommendations on some of the best hotels in Dubai from a local resident. I’ve had my fair share of staycations here when I couldn’t travel (read: couldn’t afford to travel internationally *coughs*)
For full info on the best places to stay in Dubai, read my ultimate guide with locations that you can choose according to your budget
Find below some of my favorite hotels personally visited and recommended by me with the reasons for each:
- Rove Hotels (budget-friendly) – The Rove Hotels are a collaboration of Meraas and Emaar so the service, properties, and food are top-notch even though it is only a 3 star. The hotels are located in very accessible locations throughout Dubai and very close to metro stations to guarantee easy traveling. They are at City Centre Deira, Healthcare City, Trade Centre, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, and The Parks
- First Central Hotel & Apartments (budget-friendly + serviced apartments) – This may be the most convenient for a long stay in Dubai and those with families. All rooms come with a kitchenette where you can make your meals.
There is a convenience store just downstairs that has free delivery to order your supplies. In addition to that, there are connecting rooms for bigger families and a walkable distance from the metro station
- Emirates Grand Hotel (mid-range) – Again, at a walkable distance from the metro station. Emirates Grand Hotel is located in the Trade Centre Area which is literally the center of everything you need to visit in Dubai. The kitchenette comes with a microwave and refrigerator but you cannot cook your meals
- Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa (luxury) – This is quite a luxurious place with a number of fantastic restaurants, a nice beach, and a view of the Dubai skyline. If you book this for yourself during your stay in Dubai, you can just skip the beach day!
The hotel isn’t near any metro station but located quite near famous Dubai attractions like Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and Jumeirah Mosque
All in all, it will be an unforgettable Dubai tour vacation if you manage to do all of these things in Dubai. Even if you don’t, it doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy yourself.
Take in the culture, sit and enjoy a karak, people watch, embrace the traditions of the country, and just drink in the sights and sounds of my home; Dubai!
Until then, happy traveling! xx
P.S. If you’d like to save and read later, here are some pinnable versions 🙂
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10 thoughts on “The Best Itinerary for Dubai: 7 Days (with one day in Abu Dhabi)”
Dubai is a place you should visit at least once in a life time. I loved desert of Emirates. It’s just awesome. Thanks for detailed itinerary and awesome pictures.
This article made me think twice about Dubai. Maybe one day I will give it a go.
I love Dubai! This is a fantastic article!! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
You managed to make Dubai look so amazing. I have mostly seen it portrayed as a place to *just* shop, so it never appealed to me! I’m so glad to see it presented as a whole destination.
I had a great solo trip to Dubai few years ago. Thanks for sharing this great blog.
I visited Dubai about 8 years ago and know that it is always growing and changing. I think my favourite thing to do was visiting Bastakiya. I would now visit the coffee museum (I don’t even know if it was around when I visited). I also enjoyed crossing the creek on an abra.
I had the chance to visit Dubai last January and it was such a dream! I definitely agree that people should strive to visit at least once if they’re able. It’s such a complex city in terms of old meeting new, and I think it’s the perfect balance. I enjoyed many of the attractions / experiences you mentioned, including the day trip to Abu Dhabi. I even stayed in the Rove hotel, the Downtown one. Such a great place with the friendliest staff!
I went to Dubai before the pandemic and loved it very much. I hope the city must have added a few more tourist attractions since it always comes up with new surprising things every year.