The United Arab Emirates are a popular destination to flee from the European winter and to get some well deserved sunshine to recharge. We usually travel to Dubai and Abu Dhabi at least once per year and always find something new to see.
These are best places to visit in Dubai & Abu Dhabi:
- Burj Khalifa
- old town of Dubai
- sunset at Burj Al Arab
- Jumeirah Beach
- Desert Tour
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI
With a height of 828 m the Burj Khalifa is the highest building in the world. Visiting the terrace to enjoy the view over the city is definitely a Must Do for every visitor! The first platform is located 452 m above sea level. From this height all the other skyscrapers look like small LEGO buildings. The entrance is 30,- EUR during the day and 50,- EUR after 3pm to see the sunset from up here. I can highly recommend you to book the tickets online a few days before your trip since the ones before 3 pm are booked out very quickly.
The entrance to the Burj Khalifa is located in the huge Dubai Mall. This giant center offers not only countless shopping and dining options but even has a huge Aquarium and an ice rink in it.
A fountain is located right in front of the Burj Khalifa. It is so huge that you can even drive with a gondola on it. The popular water show is starting at 6pm. Be sure you don’t miss this incredible show of water, music and a light show in front of the highest building in the world! Every 30 minutes there will be a different show but the first one at 6pm is the longest and most impressive.
The best spots to shoot the Burj Khalifa:
Due to the extreme height it’s not easy to frame the whole Burj Khalifa in one picture but there are a few spots which offer a great perspective for it:
- the walkway in front of the Dubai Opera / the Burj Park by Emaar
- the pool area of the Address Sky View Hotel
If you’re not staying at the hotel you can still enjoy the view when visiting the CÉ LA VI restaurant of the hotel.
- the entrance area of the Palace Hotel
If you wanna shoot at the Palace Hotel please note that you’re not allowed to bring „professional gear“ like DSLR cameras with huge objectives or tripods. „Private Shootings“ with your phone or smaller cameras are allowed but for any other shootings a permission is needed.
the old town of Dubai
Dubai is famous for all it’s sky scrapers and never stopping development, but there is a part of the city which offers a great contrast to it. The district Deira gives you a good feeling of the early time of the metropolis. You can easily reach it by Taxi or the Metro. On the „Old Souk“ you will find different kind of souvenirs, spices and so much more.
After walking over the souk you will end up at the Dubai Creek where you can take a traditional boat called „Abra“ to reach the other side.
Here you will find the Dubai Museum – the oldest building of Dubai. Inside you will find a small but really informative exhibition about the history of the city for an entry fee of less than 1 EUR.
Not far from the Museum is a really beautiful Iranian mosque located. The entrance area is covered with blue tiles and colorful patterns. It really makes a beautiful setting for pictures. If you wanna visit the mosque it’s called the Imam Hussein Mosque close to the well known Jumeirah Mosque. Make sure you don’t come during the Friday prayer since the area in front of the mosque will be full of cars then.
SUNSET AT BURJ AL ARAB
One of my favorite sunset spots is the Public Beach right at the legendary luxury hotel Burj al Arab. From here you can see the sun setting right behind the unique sail shape of the building. The Beach on the left side of the hotel is only accessible for hotel guests but the free public beach is a great alternative and even a better spot to take photos in the evening. If the waves are stronger you can even watch some surfers while the sky is turning into an intense orange.
The Souk Medinat is a modern reconstruction of a traditional market. It’s a great place for shopping and dining or simply to stroll around to enjoy the atmosphere. It also offers a nice view to the Burj Al Arab. The most famous photo spot is only accessible during a boat ride through the Medinat. It’s a nice but very expensive 15 minutes ride: We paid around 20 EUR per Person.
The Jumeirah Beach is perfect to spend a sunny day! You can take a stroll on the promenade or enjoy a Shisha at the beach.
Several Bars & Restaurants make Jumeirah Beach to the ideal place to go out in the evening!
Several companies offer a safari tour to the desert of Dubai. If you want to make sure you don’t fall for a tourist trap ask your hotel concierge for some trustworthy companies or check it on Tripadvisor. A Jeep picked us up in the early afternoon and we drove for one hour until we reached the endless desert. From here we left the street to start the safari through the dunes. Our driver definitely had a lot of fun to give us some adrenaline kicks while speeding through the sand. We made a few photo stops at really beautiful dunes to enjoy the endless views.
Later we reached a camp in the middle of the desert to drive with Quads (for an additional charge), ride camels or simply relax while enjoying a traditional Shisha and some tea.
Sunsets in the desert are definitely one of a kind – the dusty air turns the sky into a colorful orange while the sun is setting.
After a delicious BBQ and a dancing show we made our way back to the hotel in the complete darkness. We booked our tour directly with the hotel and paid around 70 Euros per person for the 6 hours tour including dinner and drinks.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi is a one hour drive from Dubai and definitely worth a visit. With a taxi you will pay around 50 EUR for the ride. Simply ask a taxi driver for a package price and negotiate it before leaving. I would recommend you to spend two or three nights in Abu Dhabi to see some incredible Must See places:
Yes, Abu Dhabi has a Louvre too! The legendary museum just opened up in November 2017 and the architecture is completely different from the original in Paris. The whole building is a piece of art itself and inside you will see artifacts, paintings & statues from different eras of humanity just like in France.
The entry fee is 15 EUR for adults while visitors between the age 13 -22 enter the museum for 7,50 EUR.
THE SHEIKH ZAYED MOSQUE
Due to its impressive size the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is also just called the Grand Mosque. The huge white building already sparkles from far away and it definitely is my favorite sight in the UAE. At the entrance you have to pass a security control and your outfit will be checked before you are allowed to enter. Women can rent a Abaya for free to wear it over your regular clothes. It covers the whole body and the hair. Also Men should make sure to cover shoulders and knees with appropriate clothes.
The whole building is made of the finest materials: white marble, gold and colorful gems let the mosque sparkle. The courtyard and one of the halls is open for tourists. Inside you will find the biggest hand-knotted carpet and see huge chandeliers made out of Swarovski crystals.
I would recommend you to visit the mosque in the late afternoon to see it during daylight and after sunset with the lights. The entrance is free for all visitors but make sure to check when the mosque is closed for praying. The opening hours are 9 am – 10 pm Saturday-Thursday and 4.30 pm – 10 pm Fridays. During Ramadan the opening times change to 9 am – 2 pm Saturday-Thursday and the mosque will be completely closed on Fridays.