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Lindsay Eagan

Top 10 Things to Do in Dubai for First Time Visitors - Must See & Do Attractions

Dubai ranks at the top of a list of the world's must-visit destinations. The city is a treasure trove for tourists, combining the mystique and history of the Arabian Desert with the gleaming amenities of a modern metropolis. The top attractions in the Emirate are a great place to start when planning a trip to Dubai.

Though many cities have come close to rivaling its variety of awe-inspiring top attractions, few have been able to surpass the sheer number of outlets and types of sites that the small Emirate has to offer. If you and your family are looking for the top things to do in Dubai during your trip, check out our list of some of the best attractions, including:

  • At The Top - Burj Khalifa
  • Royal Arabian Safari at Sahara Desert Resort
  • Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm
  • Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Sightseeing Tour
  • The Dubai Mall
  • and more...

At The Top - Burj Khalifa

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In a city of record breakers, the Burj Khalifa could be considered Dubai's most famous landmark and is certainly a must-visit during your trip. Rising gracefully out of the desert, the Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building. You'll enjoy stunning views and dramatic vistas from the top of this 163-floor structure. No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to At The Top, the tower's exclusive viewing deck.

Spanning floors 125 and 148, At The Top gives visitors a full view of the city from the vantage point of the world's highest outdoor observatory. From this perch, you can take in the Dubai Fountain show, enjoying the synchronized water spectacle from a bird's eye of view. With panoramic visibility on the rest of the Emirate, it's the perfect spot for taking photos to remember your trip.

Getting In: At The Top - Burj Khalifa tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Dubai Sightseeing Tour

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Dubai is a well-connected city, with most major sites and attractions branching off from its main highway, Sheikh Zayed Road. The Big Bus Dubai travels down SZR to connect you with all the top places to visit. Whether you're interested in the traditional culture of the city's early trading ports and souks, or the iconic modern architecture of the Burj Khalifa, the hop-on/hop-off bus lets you explore the city at your own pace.

Enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin and open-top seating as you traverse the desert city. Buses come every five to 15 minutes, so you never have to worry about waiting around for long. With more than 35 stops on the entire tour and commentary offered in 12 languages, Big Bus Dubai provides interesting and entertaining information on the journey through this fascinating city.

Getting In: Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Dubai tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

Royal Arabian Safari & 5 Star Dinner at Sahara Desert Resort

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Another bucket-list item in Dubai is a desert safari. Experience the majesty and beauty of the desert just the way the traditional Bedouins have done for generations. Climb aboard a luxurious Hummer H2 or Land Cruiser and set out on your captivating nature drive. Enjoy onboard refreshments as you travel over the rolling sand dunes. Once in the desert, you can explore your surroundings further with a camel ride. Or, experience traditional Bedouin culture with henna painting before you savor a five-star buffet set-up at an Arabian fortress.

Getting In: Dubai Royal Desert Arabian Safari tickets are not included on Go Dubai passes.

4x4 Quad Bike Ride in the Desert

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This action-packed activity is the most fun way of seeing what Dubai has to offer. Escape the city and head into the swirling sands for an afternoon of racing about on four wheels. You'll be geared up with a helmet and your very own ATV and then give it some revs up the dunes!

What's more, you'll even ride out to the specialized quad bike track on camelback for the full Arabian desert experience.

Getting in: 4x4 Quad Bike Ride in the Desert tickets are available with the Go Dubai pass.

Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis The Palm

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Ride the thrills and spills at Aquaventure Waterpark on Atlantis The Palm. The Palm is Dubai's extraordinary hotel built in the center of a manmade island. It's one of the only places on earth where you can zip through a water tunnel while sharks and stingrays swim above you.

If you're after hair-raising drops and rushing rapids, you'll find your buzz at Aquaventure. Aquaventure also has you covered if you're interested in lazy sunbathing on a pristine, private beach. This waterpark caters to all aquatic desires!

Getting In: Aquaventure Waterpark tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

Lost Chambers Aquarium at Atlantis The Palm

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After you've splashed your way through Aquaventure, further your marine-inspired journey with a visit to the Lost Chambers Aquarium, also located at the same resort. Wind your way through the aquarium's 10 glass-tunneled chambers to get up close with sharks, stingrays, piranhas, lobsters, seahorses, tropical fish, and other sea life.

Marvel in a spellbinding underwater world designed around the myth of Atlantis, the lost civilization of ruins and shipwrecks. More than 20 different marine exhibits wait for you to explore. You can even feel a real starfish in the aquarium's touch tank or learn about the different types of fish from the aquatic center's experts.

Getting In: Lost Chambers Aquarium tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

RIB Speed Boat Sightseeing Tour

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Xclusive Yachts, one of the city's most popular boat services providers, offers a chance to view the wonders of Dubai from the water. On a RIB speed boat tour, you can take in the Emirate's various famous landmarks. Top sites on this tour include:

  • Burj Al Arab
  • Atlantis The Palm
  • Jumeirah Beach Hotel
  • Dubai Marina
  • Jumeirah Beach Residence
  • and Bluewater Island

While the vessel does travel at high speeds for most of the trip, your boat will slow down enough for photos at select locations.

Getting In: Dubai Speed Boat Tour tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

Ski Dubai

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Dubai topped the record books again with the opening of the region's largest indoor ski resort (in one of the world's biggest malls, of course). Ski Dubai has five slopes of differing difficulties and inclines for skiers of any skill, from beginners to seasoned veterans. It's also the home of the world's first indoor black diamond run for those who dare to conquer the demands of the snow.

A ski lift ferries skiers up the runs, while an adjoining Snow Park includes sled routes and toboggan runs, climbing towers, and an ice cave to entertain little ones. The recent introduction of live penguin encounters at the resort adds an extra element of fun to your visit to Ski Dubai.

Getting In: Ski Dubai tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.

Green Planet Indoor Rainforest

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Dubai recently added an indoor rainforest to its list of attractions you might be surprised to find in a desert. Delve into an exotic world of flora and fauna in this vertical tropical rain forest. A place for all ages, the rainforest encourages increased education and knowledge about the natural world through a first-hand experience of the beauty of nature. Learn about all the layers of a rainforest and the plants and animals that call it home with a visit to this top attraction.

Getting In: The Green Planet Dubai tickets are not included with the Go Dubai pass.

Motiongate Dubai

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Motiongate is one of the largest themed entertainment parks in the region, combining three of the largest and most prolific Hollywood studios – Dreamworks, Lionsgate, and Columbia Pictures. Motiongate brings your favorite animated stories and characters to life.

You can immerse yourself in the golden age of filmmaking by going behind the scenes to experience real-life movie sets and the inner workings of a production studio. Or you can step into the action of your favorite films in the Green Hornet ride, a Ghostbusters battle, the interactive Smurfs village, or Shrek's fairy tale journey. If you're not too tired of the rides and attractions, sit back and take in a high-energy live-action stage show based on films like The Hunger Games or Step Up.

Getting In: 1 Day 2 Park Hopper tickets are included with the Go Dubai pass.


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If you're traveling to Dubai with young ones, you'll want to include a visit to KidZania in your itinerary. This play club, based in Dubai Mall, offers children from the ages of four to 16 a safe place to live out their play dreams. Pint-sized guests can take part in role-playing activities that mimic their real-world counterparts. Whether it's working as a doctor, or fireman, police officer, pilot, or beautician, kids are given the chance to play out their roles in an actual small-scale city built specifically for them to enjoy.

Getting In: Admission to KidZania is separately ticketed and is included with the Go Dubai® Card.

Other Ideas for Top Things to do in Dubai

The below are popular activities to do in Dubai. Please note, that some of these items may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Dubai pass.

  • Take an abra ride - a traditional wooden boat that fits around 20 passengers on the Dubai Creek - (included in the Big Bus Dubai Tour). See how old and new Dubai come together from the best view of the city: on the water.
  • Visit the traditional Bastakiya Quarter, which squeezes itself between the Dubai Creek and the buzzing Bur Dubai district.
  • Explore & bargain at the Gold Souk and buy exotic herbs & spices at the Spice Souk.
  • Visit Dubai Museum, Shindagha Museum ('Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's House') and the Heritage Village and learn how Dubai was once a small fishing village.
  • Go shopping at the Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Burjuman, Deira City Center, Marina Mall, Dubai Festival City, WAFI, or Mercato Mall.
  • Stroll along 'The Beach' at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and have lunch at one of the many outlets along the beach, or sunbathe and take a swim at Kite Surf Beach.
  • Enjoy a Beach Day access at any of the 5-star resorts along the coast (Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, Westin Hotel) or at the hotels on Palm Island.
  • Dine at the beautiful Souk Madinat with stunning views of the Burj Al Arab hotel and Arabian sea
  • Enjoy a Friday (Champagne) Brunch at one of the many 5 star hotels - a Dubai weekend tradition!
  • Book a luxury spa treatment at one of the many 5 star hotels or pamper yourself at a beauty salon (manicure, pedicure, massage, etc.)
  • If you enjoy golf, tee off at the courses designed by Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els. Head to the city's most famous course, the 18th hole Emirates Golf Club or at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
  • Enjoy sundowners at the many outdoor bars and clubs with sunshine all year round (Barasti bar, 360 at Jumeirah Beach Hotel etc.) or at the stunning rooftop bars of 5-star hotels in town.

Let's Recap

So there you have it. Our picks for some of the most popular and top things to do in Dubai for first-time visitors during their vacation. Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with kids, teens, or just adults, we're sure you and your family will have a great time. Pick up a Go Dubai pass and save up to 52% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.

Save on Admission to Top Things to Do in Dubai

Many of these must-see attractions are available on the Go Dubai pass. Choose as you go from dozens of popular Dubai attractions and save up to 52% off combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more. Please keep in mind that some of the attractions listed in this post are separately ticketed and may not be currently included with the Go Dubai pass.
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