Travelling between Europe and Asia in recent years, I have become the master of making the most of the day in between in Dubai, which breaks up the journey perfectly. Dubai is almost unrecognisable nowadays as the destination I first visited over a decade ago, with so many things to do and see, you have to be ruthless in your planning or you’re not going to get anything done. I prefer to have a mix or new and old and do a little researching on the flight on my way to Dubai.
An early start is always a plus, giving you more time to fill. My last drop-in started at the Dubai Creek, where you can enjoy a completely different perspective from the water. You can either wait until the abra (wooden boat with motor and a single bench seat across the middle) is full and take the five-minute trip across the Creek but I would suggest chartering the abra for an hour and exploring the creek more fully. The skyline makes for an interesting contrast as you cruise through the water and discover the hive of activity that still goes on along the river. Afterwards, chill in one of the waterside cafes and grab a snack as you watch the world go by.
Stay in authentic Dubai a little longer and enjoy the unique experience of shopping at a Souk. It’s a great place to pick up a cool gift, as well as practising your bartering abilities with the local vendors. They are a lively bunch, with a great sense of humour, who enjoy the interaction with tourists. The energy, the different smells and colours from the spices, the colours and textures of the textiles and the volume of gold is astounding. When you look around, you can’t help but make the comparison to the world-class shopping malls that are peppered across the city, offering the very latest trends from world-famous brands and designers. Having got the shopping bug, the only logical next stop is one of those retail cities.
The Dubai mall is a favourite of mine, there are a stack of the very best brands for those that want to test the flexibility of their credit card but there are other highlights to experience too. The Dubai Aquarium offers a huge glass wall that you can’t walk past without stopping for a while. Evem if you don’t enter the aquarium and underwater zoo itself, you can catch a glimpse of some weird and wonderful underwater inhabitants. The dancing fountain show is worth a look, at night, with the added lighting is probably better but it is still impressive during the day. Grab a table on the terrace of one of the restaurants on the edge of the mall overlooking the fountain – the show starts at 1.00 and 1.30 during the afternoon except Friday when it is 1.30 and 2.00 – and enjoy the spectacle from the comfort of your seat.
Wherever you are on the planet, when the sun goes down, it’s the perfect time to take a break and enjoy the experience and Dubai is no different. There are numerous amazing destinations for sunset but we opted for a tried and tested favourite, 360. Part of the Jumeirah Beach hotel it has spectacular views of the sun disappearing and sets a cool, lounge vibe musically as the sun works its way below the horizon. After a couple of cocktails, it was time for dinner and we headed to the Marina and Pier 7, a tower packed with gastronomic delights. We are big fans of award winning The Scene by Simon Rimmer. The terrace offers a spectacular view across the Marina, as well as a menu packed with hearty gastro-food. The atmosphere is always vibrant, the crowd is friendly and, with talented DJs setting a very cool musical soundtrack, it’s the perfect spot to round off a day on the move in this busting metropolis! Of course, the answer to taking in more of this fantastic destination is simple, spend more time here. Every day can be packed with adventure or luxurious chill-out spots, whatever your preference, Dubai is more than capable of exceeding expectations.