Dubai is the number one destination if you want to escape for a few days of sun during winter. The destination is accessible through direct flights, the jet-lag is reasonable and the city allows for a perfect change of scenery, without being too disoriented. Honestly, you’ll never get bored in Dubai! There are tons of things to do, for everyone and every budget. In this article, you can read about our itinerary, in the next article I’m writing, you’ll be able to read about the good places tested out. This was my second trip to Dubai, I went a first time last year and wrote this article where I talk about my first experience in the city!
We got there very early in the morning, we were coming to Dubai with Emirates Airways. We had the whole day ahead of us, which was kind of nice because we got to relax and fight the jet-lag. So, the program of the day was: FARNIENTE! we arrived in our hotel, the Amwaj Rotana, where we checked in and had breakfast. The hotel was very big (like any other hotel in Dubai) and very family-friendly. The location was ideal and the rooms were very spacious! However, the hotel has a very “business-y” feel and lacks charm and authenticity. It would be the only negative thing I have to say about it because for the rest everything was perfect (especially the breakfast and the amazing bedding, I’ve rarely slept this well).
After a little nap, we headed over to Nikki Beach to have breakfast and spend the afternoon in the sun. I think you’re all familiar with the concept of Nikki Beach by now, seen as it is notorious enough: pools filled with inflatable animals, loud music, sublime clientele, small pool-side shows…Nikki Beach in all its splendor! It was the ideal place to spend this first day in Dubai: we enjoyed the sun-rays from there sunbeds with a view on the ocean, we had the pleasure of seeing concerts and shows, the mood was very fun, we had good food…all in all, perfect!
Afters a good night’s sleep, we decided to to the top of the Burj Khalifa, this impressive tower is the symbol of Dubai’s “grandness”. About 800 meters tall, it was built in only…5 years. Pretty impressive, just like the view from the top. You can purchase fast track tickets to skip lines, however these cost double the normal entry fee, so that’s up to you! You should know, though, that VIP tickets offer access to a second less crowded rooftop, about 15 floors above, and also includes a few drinks.
We took the opportunity of being in the neighborhood to take a look at the famous Dubai Mall. Trust me, if you’re looking for something…they have it! You could tour this mall for days on end, it is just SO BIG. It’s clearly worth a look. For the price, the clothes are more expensive than in Europe, but tech and luxury watches are less!
We then took an Uber and headed over the La Mer District. If you ask me, Uber is the best way to circulate in Dubai, because taxis don’t speak English very well, even though they are less expensive. The only time we took a taxi, they tried to rip us off saying that the credit card machine didn’t work – which is apparently a classic we found out by talking to people there – and they took us to 3 different banks for us to withdraw cash. Know that if this happens to you, you can simply refuse to pay because they are obligated to let you pay via card. With Uber, none of these problems emerge and as a plus, there is WiFi available throughout the city to order them!
La Mer is a district entirely created to enjoy the beach in all comfort. If you’re travelling with kids, I highly recommend spending the day here! You can enjoy all the comfort you need on the beach: showers, towels, sunbeds, nautical sports etc…Once you are finished relaxing, you can engage in other activities such as shopping, kids games, bars, restaurants…it is really a fun way to spend a day with the whole family!
The third day was devoted to the discovery of Dubai and its culture. We started our day at the Dubai Frame: a huge frame, representing a window on Dubai’s past, into Dubai’s future. Pretty cool if you ask me! On the ground floor, you can visit a little museum that tells you about Dubai’s history and how the city developed itself in the last decades. You can then go up to the top of the frame to admire the present town of Dubai, before coming back down and taking a look into Dubai’s future in a dedicated room.
We then went for a walk in the old down and its souks. Dress accordingly for this par of town! You can start off with the visit of the Gold & Spice souks and then take an Abra to Old Town. Like in every souk, you need a certain mental strength to get through the dozens of clingy sellers, but it is worth getting lost in these little streets to wander around in between the little shops of spices and gold. Next, head over to Dubai Creek to take an Abra into the old part of the city. Be aware, don’t get ripped off! Abra’s work very easily: you get on the boat and you give a piece of 1AED to the captain, who will transport you. But if you don’t know this and are hesitant, they will approach you on the quay and tell you that for “only” 120 AED they can take you anywhere! Luckily, we were told this story in advance so we knew better! Once you get to the other side, you can wander some more in the more commercial souks before getting into old town (curiously very calm and not too touristy).
The day started off with a jet-ski tour at Popeye Jet-Ski. I highly recommend this company if you’re looking for this activity in Dubai! These lovely French people will take care of you and are suuuuper nice. I’m not a big fan of nautical activities because I’m a little afraid of the sea, so TBH I was kind of worried on my jet-ski. We were supposed to go all the way to The Palm on them, but we only made it to the Burj Al Arab because of my slowness and mini-panic attacks^^. To sum up, the trip is worth it, the view is incredible and, when the sea is calm, it really is a magical experience. I have to tell you, for us it was more of a workout because our jet-ski’s made huge jumps at every wave!
The afternoon was a little more fun for me because we went to the famous Atlantis hotel to spend the afternoon. We went to the aquatic park and it was soooo funny! There aren’t a lot of attractions, but still, we had a good time (even if it was really crowded). With kids, this is a really great place to spend some time. We then enjoyed the sunset on the beach before visiting the famous aquariums of the hotel. Surprising and magical!
In the morning, we packed our bags and left our hotel, the Amwaj Rotana, to head over to our second hotel: the One and Only Mirage! I had stayed with them in the past, during my last visit to Dubai, and completely fell in love with this place. So, it was only natural I go back for this trip! You can read all about my experience there in this article and, really, after a second stay there, I can again say I am still completely in love! It is truly one of the best hotels I’ve stayed at in my life.
After switching hotels, we took the road for to desert with Golden Desert Dubai. They picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the desert for a buggy ride (about 1 hour away). They also offer other activities like quad rides etc. We chose to do it at sunset and I don’y regret that choice: it was absolutely splendid. The guide really took us to the most beautiful part of the desert, preserved from all human activity! I think that if you had to book only one activity during your stay in Dubai, it should be this one, it’s amazing.
After a first half of the trip that was intense, we decided to enjoy the rest of the day, just the two of us in our sumptuous hotel. It was time for a well-deserved relaxing few days: sleeping in, sitting by the pool, eating out and massages. We almost didn’t leave our hotel during the next 3 days because we really wanted to disconnect and enjoy our hotel !