Dubai has evolved into one of the most important financial and transportation hub between Asia and Europe over the last decades. With the development of its infrastructure, Dubai has also become one of the most fascinating tourist destination in the world. While you could spend weeks exploring the main attractions of Dubai, you can visit the most important sights of Dubai in a day. Just follow our one day in Dubai itinerary and our Dubai travel tips and you will end up having the perfect day in Dubai.
Getting Around Dubai
One Day in Dubai Itinerary
– Morning – The Gold Souq, Spice Souq and Dubai Creek – Explore the Traditional Dubai
– Late Morning – Ride along the skyscrapers of Sheik Zayed Road in the metro
– Lunch Time – Food and fun at the ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates
– Afternoon – Jumeirah Beach and the perfect photo opportunity of Burj al Arab
– Late afternoon and evening – Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall
– Optional: Late Evening – Nightlife in Dubai Marina
One Day in Dubai Itinerary – Map Overview
Dubai in a day – Summary
Getting Around Dubai
The fastest, cheapest and most comfortable way to get around Dubai is the metro. With our one day itinerary for Dubai, we recommend you to buy a Dubai Metro day pass with a “Red Ticket” fare card. This will cost you 22 Dirham (6 USD) for all zones of the Dubai Metro. Tickets can be purchased at any metro station.
The Dubai Metro also connects Dubai International Airport to the city and the main sights. Therefore, the day pass is especially great if you have a one-day Dubai stopover with Emirates.
Taxis are plentiful, cheap, reliable and safe in Dubai. If you find yourself far from a metro station at any time, you will never have to wait long to find a taxi. As opposed to most other countries, Uber is usually more expensive than a standard street taxi.
One Day in Dubai Itinerary
Dubai is an amazing city with so many exciting things to see and do. We will guide you through the best things to do in Dubai for a day. We assume that you will have one full day starting in the morning until the evening. If you are only on a shorter Dubai stopover, you can pick the attractions you prefer. We have highlighted the absolute must-dos to help you pick.
Morning – The Gold Souq, Spice Souq and Dubai Creek – Explore the Traditional Dubai
The perfect breakfast in Dubai
The morning is the perfect time to explore the traditional side of Dubai. Cross the Dubai Creek on a traditional boat before visiting the spice souq and the gold souq.
If you haven’t had breakfast yet, take the metro to Al Fahidi Metro Station and walk around 10 minutes to XVA Café. This is the perfect spot to start the day in a traditional and yet modern way. They serve delicious breakfast plates in a beautiful Arabic courtyard from 7am onwards. Make sure to taste a glass of their traditional mint lemonade.
Opening Hours: 7am-9pm
Address: XVA Art Hotel, Al Fahidi Neighborhood, Bur Dubai
Cross the Dubai Creek on a traditional boat
After breakfast, take a 15-minute stroll through the Bur Dubai neighborhood to the Bur Dubai Abra Station. Alternatively, if you want to skip breakfast, take the metro to Al Ghubaiba Station and then walk for about 10 minutes.
An abra is a traditional wooden boat that serves as a passenger ferry between Bur Dubai and Deira on the other side of Dubai Creek. The abras are part of the public transport network in Dubai. Therefore, a boat ride across Dubai Creek is very cheap and costs only one Dirham (around 0.3 USD).
Once you get to Bur Dubai Abra Station (location can be found on the map below), ask for the boats to Deira Old Souq. They run very frequently and you can pay the fare once you are onboard. Make sure to carry exact change or at least some small denomination notes. The boat ride takes less than 10 minutes and offers some great views over the Creek and Bur Dubai. The abra station in Deira is right in front of the spice souq – the next stop.
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Dubai Spice Souq
Deira is Dubai’s most traditional area and home to several traditional Arabic markets, called souq. One of the largest and most fascinating souqs in Dubai is the spice souq. Take some time to stroll through the narrow and busy alleys and soak up the exotic scents.
Dubai Spice Souq Pracitcal Information
Opening Hours: Saturday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday 4pm-10pm
Entrance is free
Visit the Dubai Gold Souq
The next stop is the Dubai Gold Souq – the largest gold market in the world. Even if you are not a gold or jewellery lover, a visit the the gold souq is an absolute must for every Dubai visitor. You will be absolutely amazed by the shining colors in the countless stores all around you. Make sure to haggle for a better price if you decide to buy something.
Dubai Gold Souq Practical Information
Closest Metro Station to the gold souq: Al Ras
The main entrance to the souq is at Sikkat Al-Khail Street.
Opening Hours: Saturday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday 5pm-10pm
After visiting the gold souq, head back to Al Ras metro station. It is now time to visit the modern Dubai.
Late Morning – Ride along the skyscrapers of Sheik Zayed Road in the metro
Sheikh Zayed Road is Dubai’s main road, connecting the modern areas of Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach to Deira, Bur Dubai and the airport in the east. Both sides of the highway are lined with beautiful modern skyscrapers. Luckily, the Dubai runs on elevated tracks right along Sheikh Zayed Road instead of underground. Therefore, a ride on the Dubai metro along Sheik Zayed Road is a must-do even if you only have one day in Dubai.
Are you also planning a visit to Abu Dhabi? Check out our post about how to travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Get a Golden Ticket on the Dubai Metro for the best views
There are two ways to enjoy the best views from the metro ride. My preferred option is to buy a first class ticket for the metro ride, called Golden Ticket. The unmanned metro in Dubai offers large panoramic windows in the front and in the back of the train. Golden Ticket holders get exclusive access to the first carriage. The price to get from Al Ras in Deira to Dubai Marina on a Golden Ticket is 13 Dirham (around 3.5 USD). Due to the higher price, there are fewer people in the first class compartment and you can enjoy the views without too many people around you.
Alternatively, you can also ride on a standard ticket and board the train in the last carriage. From there, can enjoy the views out the rear of the train. If you are traveling during peak hours, you may have a hard time fighting your way through to the window. A standard ticket costs half the price of the Golden Ticket or is included if you got the Day Pass.
During the ride, you will also pass by Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building. Resist the urge to get off at Burj Khalifa station and ride the metro until Mall of the Emirates station. You will be back later with plenty of time to explore Burj Khalifa.
Lunch Time – Food and fun at the ski slope in the Mall of the Emirates
No Dubai one day tour is complete without a visit to the Mall of the Emirates. Since you are probably starving by now, your first stop should be the food court inside the mall. In case you prefer some more upscale food, you will find number great restaurants in the nearby Jumeirah Beach or Marina area.
After a filling lunch, you will have the energy for a stroll through the exciting mall. The most exotic feature of the Mall of the Emirates is the ski slope inside the mall. Depending on how active you feel, you may decide to watch others ski down the slopes or try it yourself. I have never tried skiing in Dubai but I love looking at the people who are trying to get down the slopes safely. Most people here have never skied before which makes the slopes quite a fun place for people watching. If you do decide to give it a try, tickets for a 2-hour slope pass including equipment are 200 Dirham (55 USD).
Afternoon – Jumeirah Beach and the perfect photo opportunity of Burj al Arab
Once you’ve had enough of the mall, grab a taxi and ask your driver to bring you to Jumeirah Public Beach. The ride takes between 5-10 minutes and should cost less than 10 USD. Tell the driver to bring you to Jumeirah Public Beach near Burj al Arab and make sure he really knows where you want to go. Jumeirah Beach is a rather large area and you may end up somewhere you don’t want to. You can also see the location on the map below.
Jumeirah Public Beach is one of the best public beaches in Dubai. The best thing are the views over the iconic Burj al Arab hotel in the background. If you are lucky and the wind is great, there will be some kite surfers around. This will make your photo opportunity even more perfect. Take your time on the beach and go for a refreshing swim before heading to your last stop on your Dubai in a day itinerary.
Late afternoon and evening – Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Fountain and Dubai Mall
Burj Khalifa – world’s tallest building
Make sure to get to Burj Khalifa before sunset. Even if you only have one day in Dubai, you shouldn’t miss seeing world’s tallest building during daylight. The feeling of looking up the 830 meter (2,722 ft) building is just incredible. If you are standing right below, it feels like it never ends. It is even hard to take a picture of the entire structure.
There is also an observation deck on the 124th and 125th floor of Burj Khalifa (at 450 m/1,500 ft) offering some amazing views over Downtown Dubai and Sheikh Zayed Road. Tickets are around 40 USD and need to be booked in advance. Click here if you want to reserve your time slot. However, if you only have a day in Dubai, I personally would say that you can skip the Dubai At the Top observation deck.
The Dubai Fountain – the best attraction in Dubai
One of the most incredible experiences in Dubai is the Dubai Fountain. The Dubai Fountain is a water and light show in front of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall. The daily evening shows are every 30 minutes between 6pm and 11pm. Over 6,500 lights illuminate the fountains that shoot water up to 150m (500 ft) in the air. All while standing at the bottom of world’s largest building. The shows last around 5 minutes and the accompanying music and the choreography changes after every show. So if you find the time, stay for more than one show.
Below you can find a video of the fountain show during sunset. Even though the video is amazing, it still doesn’t justice to the real show when you are surrounded by the tallest buildings in the world.
The Dubai Fountain is located right outside of Dubai Mall so you can head back for some more shopping or dinner between shows. While you are inside, make sure to stop by the Dubai Aquarium. Even if you decide not to buy a ticket, you can watch the incredible creatures swimming in the massive water tank at the entrance of the aquarium.
Dubai Fountain Practical Information
Daytime Shows: 1pm & 1:30pm (1:30 & 2pm on Fridays)
Evening Shows: Every 30 minutes between 6pm & 11pm
Show Length: Around 5 minutes
Entrance Fee: Free, no tickets required
Optional: Late Evening – Nightlife in Dubai Marina
Depending on the weekday and your idea of a perfect evening, you may head to Dubai Marina for some drinks in the evening. Bar 44 in the 44th floor of the Grosvenor House offers some incredible views over the Marina and the Jumeirah Palm. And of course some great drinks too.
One Day in Dubai Itinerary – Map Overview
The map below shows all the attractions, food tips and areas we recommended in our one day Dubai itinerary. Just click on the blue tags to find out details.
Dubai in a day – Summary
Dubai is an ideal place to spend a few days on a stopover from Europe to Asia or Australia. But if you only have a Dubai stopover of one day, we created this itinerary for you. In your day in Dubai, you will experience the traditional side of Dubai with its exciting souqs.
But you will also see the modern side with the Burj al Arab hotel and the tallest building in the world: Burj Khalifa. My absolute favourite attraction in Dubai is the water and light show at the Dubai Fountain. And you should definitely not miss it either.
And the best thing: even though Dubai is known as a luxury destination, most of the must-see attractions in Dubai are free of charge and public transport is cheap. So even if you are on a budget, you can make the most of your day in Dubai.
Have you been to Dubai and think we missed something on our itinerary? Let us know in the comment section.
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