Where to stay in Dubai in 2024? Our guide to the best areas of the emirate

Al Mamzar beach Dubai

No matter the weather (or reason for visiting), our stay in Dubai usually lasts about a week, meaning that we always come one hundred percent prepared to Veni Vidi Vici it all. What does that entail? Well, figuring out the best area to stay in Dubai, as well as finding the perfect hotel, way before we set foot on the UAE’s soil (or sand, rather) is the main goal of our travel planning.

Because of the significant volume of research we do and the sheer amount of time we’ve spent in Dubai — spoiler alert: It’s a lot! — we consider ourselves experts on the topic of Dubai neighborhoods and accommodation options!

Let’s get into all the nitty-gritty details of the seven of the most popular and tourist-friendly areas in Dubai, with an added bonus exploration of Sharjah — the neighboring Emirate you should not leave out as an option.

Article contents

  1. Rundown of tried and tested hotels in Dubai
  2. 7 popular neighborhoods of Dubai:
    2.1. Downtown Dubai
    2.2. Dubai Marina
    2.3. Palm Jumeirah
    2.4. Umm Suqeim
    2.5. Deira
    2.6. Bur Dubai
    2.7. Al Barsha
    2.8. Dubai Hills
  3. What about Sharjah?
  4. Some things to know before traveling to Dubai
  5. Dubai activities you shouldn’t miss

Our rundown of tried and tested hotels in Dubai

DoubleTree by Hilton Al Barsha our room

When planning a trip, any trip, be it a staycation on the other side of your home town or an international holiday thousands of miles away from your country of origin, — very few of us want to spend too much of our time figuring out the specifics of the potential destination’s neighborhood grid and infrastructure. Sometimes all you want to do is rely on someone else’s experiences and recommendations — preferably the experiences of someone whose trip was more budget-friendly than lavish.

Before diving into our detailed guide on Dubai neighborhoods, we want to simply start with a list of trusted hotels that we would happily return to. None of them are pricey, so they might pique your interest if you’re planning a trip on a budget:

  • 4* DoubleTree by Hilton Al Barsha (Al Barsha; from $50 a night) — the hotel’s main appeal is its location right next to the Mall of the Emirates, famous for its many attractions such as Ski Dubai and a whole lot of shops and cafes. The mall is also connected to a metro station, so your hotel choice will guarantee you a particular ease in navigating Dubai’s other notable landmarks. In 20 minutes, you can get to either Burj Khalifa or Dubai Marina with its gorgeous Marina Beach. The hotel provides you with an exemplary Hilton experience that is characterized by meticulous levels of service, exceptional cleanliness and contemporary interior design.
  • 5* Avani Hotel (Deira; from $60 per night) — the main catch here is that it’s one of the few affordable five-star Dubai hotels, although admittedly, the Deira neighborhood has plenty of such cases. Avani Hotel is located in the residential yet very tourist-friendly area of Deira that is clad with amazing transport infrastructure, affordable restaurants, and one of the best beaches you can find in Dubai — Al Mamzar Beach.
  • 4* Marina View Hotel Apartments (Dubai Marina; from $70 per night) — one of the most low-cost options you can find in the luxurious Dubai Marina neighborhood. You are provided with a classic hotel experience while also having access to the standard apartment amenities most hotels lack (like a kitchen, for example). Sobha Realty, the nearest metro station, is right across the street from the hotel and Marina Beach is only 15 minutes away. Hotel facilities include a fitness center with a sauna, plus a restaurant and a heated pool. The main downsides of the hotel would be its general wear and tear and the absence of a private equipped beach zone; the latter can be fixed by simply bringing a towel for sunbathing, commoners-style.
Centro Sharjah by Rotana breakfast Centro Sharjah by Rotana our room
  • 4* Centro Sharjah by Rotana (Sharjah; from $80 a night) — this is as good as it gets for when you’re planning an affordable trip to the general Dubai area. This business hotel is part of the world-renowned Rotana Hotels chain, so high quality service is a given. Great breakfast options, a heated pool and many other amenities are certainly worth the pretty humble price tag. The hotel’s most apparent downside is the location — the only thing you can find nearby is the Sharjah Airport, and that’s it. To compensate for its unfortunate whereabouts, the hotel provides its guests a free shuttle service to the beach and Dubai Mall. Staying here is best suited for those looking to rent a car (on-site parking is available at the hotel) or those traveling in big groups — splitting the cost of an Uber to Burj Khalifa will cost anywhere from 85 AED to 100 AED ($23–$27), which is more than a reasonable price in Dubai.
  • 3* Beach Walk Boutique Jumeirah (Umm Suqeim; from $150 a night) — our latest find in Dubai which we fell in love with and are planning to visit again on our February trip. If your ✨ vibe✨ is a beach vacation stripped off the hotel’s lavishness yet accompanied with the long seaside walks and a really tranquil area around… then you wanna be “friends” with this hotel.

7 popular neighborhoods of Dubai

Downtown Dubai

Being centered around tourism, it’s no wonder that Dubai has thousands of hotels scattered all throughout its limits. It would be a particularly long undertaking if we were to list all the decent ones you should consider for your next trip here, so we decided to rather focus our efforts on describing the main Dubai neighborhoods. If one stands out to you most, you can look into the hotel options in this particular area (we give you a few hotel choices at the end of each part).

Neighborhoods in Dubai run the gamut from luxurious and almost out of reach to especially budget-friendly and diverse. Here they are, in no particular order:

Downtown Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Downtown Dubai is hands down the coolest neighborhood in the entire emirate and the one that gets especially busy with tourists during peak season. The area is small, but it is jam-packed with things to do and see when in Dubai.

Despite its rather compact size, Dubai’s Downtown is hard to miss, and not because of its central location! The main landmark of the whole area is its particularly tall (world’s tallest structure level of tall) crown jewel — Burj Khalifa.

Downtown’s architectural marvels don’t stop here, and it is easy to get a strained neck when walking around the neighborhood. Some buildings are so awe-striking they require a good amount of marveling at, hence the potential neck injury.

When considering Downtown Dubai as the base for your next getaway, keep in mind that:

  • The prices for practically everything here are astronomical to say the least. We’ve made our peace with the fact that there are virtually no budget-friendly accommodation options in Downtown Dubai, but the food… Food and drink prices is where we draw the line. It is honestly unconstitutional that a small cappuccino in some hole-in-the-wall coffee shop here will cost you 30 AED ($8,1) a pop! Think about the sum you’ll spend if you want to stay properly caffeinated throughout your entire trip — scary numbers, aren’t they?
  • Downtown Dubai is landlocked, so it’s not really topping “best places to stay in Dubai for a beach vacation” listicles online. We all know and love Dubai’s beaches, so this fact is a big turn-off for many travelers that come here. And while you could theoretically reach the nearest waterfront in mere 20 minutes (if you take the cab to La Mer, which will cost you around 30 AED–40 AED / $8–$11), it feels like an entire hassle that kills the vibe of an ordinary beach outing. Plus, if you want to save money and take the subway to the beach, it will take way longer and be an even more uncomfortable experience, especially under the usual scorching Emirates sun.

Based on these characteristics alone, we would strongly discourage first-time Dubai visitors from staying in Downtown Dubai. Our advice, however, goes out the window the second people mention their more-than humble travel budget and plans to burn as much cash as possible during their short time in Dubai. If it sounds like you, remember that Downtown Dubai is a great place for:
✔️high-end shopping,
✔️fine dining (both of these activities can be done in close proximity by heading straight to Dubai Mall),
✔️and taking countless pictures with towering skyscrapers as the backdrop.

Still, any visitor of Downtown Dubai (no matter their financial situation) will greatly appreciate how smart and seemingly people-forward the area is. Most of its must-see attractions (Burj Khalifa, Dubai Opera, Dubai Fountain, and Dubai Aquarium & Zoo) are located close to each other. It’s a rare treat in Dubai, actually! There are plenty of open-air promenades for when you want to really commit to the weather by being outside (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard and City Walk are both amazing for a little after dinner stroll), and there’s a metro station that can take you to the airport or to Dubai Marina — another spectacular Dubai neighborhood from our list.

Side note: While the metro station is a great perk for people coming to see Burj Khalifa and watch the Dubai Fountain show, we feel that it’s not the main selling point for travelers who choose to stay at one of Downtown’s many lavish hotels. After all, if you’ve got it, flaunt it: Forget about the stuffy subway cars, rent yourself a Lambo, and paint the town red!

% Arabica Dubai

Where to eat in Downtown Dubai:

  • Hoof The Dubai Mall — imagine Kim Kardashian’s home style (beige, rounded corners, overall zen-y and vibe-y), but on a smaller scale, and you’ll get Hoof. It’s a small coffee shop at the mall, perfect for a pit stop of good specialty coffee and a sweet treat!
  • % Arabica Dubai Mall Fountains — look out for a wall adorned with coffee bags, as that’s where all the fun is happening! % Arabica likes to keep drinks simple, and yet elevated with premium levels of quality. Desserts here are pretty uncomplicated as well, and they balance out the bitterness of coffee-based beverages beautifully!
  • Wild & The Moon — L.A.-inspired establishment that has a menu full of yummy things that are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, unpasteurized, planet-friendly, with no refined sugar, no chemicals or additives… you get the gist. If you’re a Gwyneth Paltrow follower or just doing a juice cleanse, this is the place to go in Dubai!
  • Public — if, however, you are a believer that calories don’t count when you’re on holiday, Public is the destination for you. Pizza, pasta, dessert, — grease and sugar extravaganza that is followed by a mocktail or two is just what you need after a long day of walking around and shopping.

Downtown Dubai pros:
+ All-encompassing levels of luxury; you’re guaranteed to witness Hermes sandals galore, as well as pinpoint the next designer “it” bag of the season by simply walking around Dubai’s Downtown
+ World-class entertainment and shopping opportunities at Dubai Mall — one of the largest malls on the planet (!)
+ A metro station (pretty proletarian of one of the most lavish neighborhoods in Dubai to have something for the commoners)
+ Easy access to Dubai Fountain show and other fun activities.

Downtown Dubai cons:
— No beach in the immediate vicinity
— Prices mostly fit for Rockefeller’s descendants
— Can get very crowded!

Dubai downtown and Burj Khalifa

Where to stay in Downtown Dubai:

  • 4* Ramada Downtown Dubai (from $170 a night) — one of the very few cheaper accommodation options in Downtown Dubai. Located right next to Dubai Opera, Ramada Hotel offers unparalleled views of Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain. Elegantly designed rooms serve as a perfect atmosphere to download your day of sightseeing all around Dubai, and the top-notch amenities here guarantee a relaxing and stress-free stay.
  • 5* Address Downtown (from $470 a night) — a beautiful hotel with a design ethos of tasteful restraint. The service provided here is well deserving of a five-star title, and the facilities on-site make for a spectacular stay. The hotel is connected to Dubai Mall, so you don’t even have to venture outside to begin your shopping spree, — what more could you possibly ask for?
  • 5* Armani Hotel Dubai (from $600 a night) — the well-to-do crowd favorite hotel in Dubai, and with good reason. Staying inside Burj Khalifa (!) is a bucket-list experience for most people. As elegant and classy as Armani’s evening wear and as comfortable and fun as the brand’s ready-to-wear items, this hotel upholds the Italian designer’s standards. Get a fountain view room if you can, it does not disappoint!

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina

One of our personal favorite neighborhoods in Dubai, Dubai Marina gets better and better the more you explore it! Usually coined as one of the best places in Dubai to stay with kids — due to amazing infrastructure and heaps of fun activities — Dubai Marina is an entire world in and of itself.

Why such a pompous title? Well, apart from the fact that the neighborhood is literally a hideaway sequestered between the sea and a row of tall skyscrapers that guard the area from the hustle and bustle that is Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Marina also boasts:

  • Dubai’s best free beach — Marina Beach, where you can either relax or go nuts and burn some calories at the world’s largest inflatable waterpark — AquaFun Water Park.
  • A wide range of accommodations fit for every budget — from beachfront hotels to apartments for rent in one of the many high-rises.
  • Lots of entertainment options — from adrenaline-inducing skydiving experience to a leisurely day out on the water.
  • Plenty of sightseeing opportunities — Bluewaters Island and its magnificent Ain Dubai, just to name a few!
  • An absurd number of malls, shops of any and every kind, studios (both yoga and galleries), beauty parlors, cafes, restaurants… It’s no wonder Dubai Marina is home to a lot of expats from all over the world — anything you need is right here, at your fingertips.

All of these fun things are located quite close to each other, because the entirety of Dubai Marina is mere 3 miles in length (though it does look large in photos, possibly because of the grandiose background that are the towering skyscrapers). It also helps that getting around the neighborhood is pretty easy: The DMCC metro station is just nearby, and if you’re not big on walking, you can even catch a tram to get to the station.

The Bluewaters Island that is connected to Dubai Marina by a pedestrian bridge is a fun side quest you can set out on when in the area: We poke around the grounds during our last trip to Dubai. The Island gets mixed reviews online, and our experience didn’t sway us towards any particular side. It’s a nice place to walk around in, but it does emanate the “uncanny valley” feel. The Ain Dubai — world’s largest Ferris wheel — is definitely the highlight of the area (though it does not work, but it’s still nice to look at!). Another notable thing is a view of Dubai Marina from the water, but other than that, there’s not much else that can be said about Bluewaters. A 2-hour walk is more than enough to explore it in full!

Operation Falafel

Where to eat in Dubai Marina:

  • Pims — a perfect place for a refreshing pick-me-up when walking around Dubai Marina; they serve all the different kinds of tea you can imagine (fruit tea, sweet tea, boba, etc.). The interior of the cafe is integrated with a beach feel: Predominantly turquoise color palette and wavy metal bars that resemble the ocean waves will make you want to take up surfing lessons (as soon as you finish your delicious drink, of course!).
  • Eataly — a slice of Italy that got lost and found itself in front of the Arabian Gulf. The menu is pretty self-explanatory: Boozy drinks, saucy pasta and wood oven pizza, — don’t disregard Eataly because of its inherent simplicity! Trust us, you’ll order seconds and thirds: It’s pretty hard to stop eating at Eataly.
  • Buddha-Bar — a place reserved for special occasions that boasts eclectic and lavish ambiance, head-spinning cuisine, and exciting drinks to boot! Note that the restaurant is on the pricier side, but it’s worth every penny. As one of the reviews of Buddha-Bar read, it’s “fine dining on steroids”, and we couldn’t agree more!

Dubai Marina pros:
+ One of Dubai’s best beaches
+ Metro and tram access
+ All around beautiful area
+ Everything you could possibly need is here (well, except Burj Khalifa).

Dubai Marina cons:
— Hefty accommodation prices (from around $100 per night)
— Traffic can become unbearable because of the weird road planning, especially at rush hour
— Gets very crowded during peak tourist season

dubai eye wheel and Marina

Where to stay in Dubai Marina:

  • 3* Rove Dubai Marina (from $80 a night) — a quite new budget hotel in this upscale area. If staying at a three-star property in such an outrageously posh location is up your alley and you are thinking of where to stay in Dubai on a budget, this place is a perfect match for you. No-frills, a short walk to the beach, funky look, — what else is there to wish for?
  • 4* Tamani Marina Hotel and Apartments (from $180 a night) — a place to be if you’re thinking of where to stay in Dubai for the first time. This luxurious 55-story hotel is strategically located in the heart of the jaw-dropping Dubai Marina with the closest metro station being literally a stone’s throw away. The apartments are huge and offer commanding views and a sense of the Oriental opulence. Breakfast is plentiful and there is a Carrefour just around the corner (just in case, you know).
  • 5* Address Beach Resort (from $400 per night) — a hotel that’s on a more expensive side for sure, but it has all that it takes to cater to various groups. It is absolutely family friendly and has amenities to keep your kids entertained. However, if you are not excited about having feral children (that are not yours) running around, the 77th floor of the hotel features a nice adult-only bar.

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah viewpoint

Who here haven’t heard of Palm Jumeirah — an artificial offshore island in Dubai that’s shaped as — well, you’ve guessed it right — a palm tree? Now not such a novelty in the Emirates (they have created many more such islands, with different concepts), Palm Jumeirah still manages to attract millions of visitors each year.

The price tag for a stay on the island is even more absurd than the one for Downtown Dubai’s majorly acclaimed accommodations (at least most of the Palm Jumeirah options come with private beaches).

For the longest time, Atlantis Hotel Group had a monopoly on the island’s luxury accommodations: Palm Jumeirah is home to 5* Atlantis The Palm (from $530 per night) and 5* Atlantis The Royal (from $560 a night). The two manage to uphold the VIP status that comes with the territory, but they aren’t the only ones that can make your stay that of an Arabian prince — the island’s tree branches, as well as the outer crescent are now teeming with exciting new hotels.

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on the island:

  • There are no grocery stores here (so much for a late-night ice-cream run that doesn’t involve room service).
  • Few restaurants that are not part of some 5-star hotel (nothing on the cheaper side for sure).
  • No public transport that’s easily available! There’s a single monorail that connects the Palm to the mainland, but in all honesty, it looks like another tourist trap — the ride is certainly not worth the 20 AED ($5,5) price tag, when you can spend the same amount on getting a taxi and have a more comfortable experience.
  • Local beaches are not everybody’s cup of tea: The ones that are located between the branches suffer from poor quality of the water — it’s too stagnant, which impacts its color and smell. Because of this, try and find a hotel on the outer ring of the Palm — that way you’ll get the nicest beach experience possible.

Given the info, you can expect your whole stay on the island to revolve around these super fabulous hotels where you will be fed, entertained and escorted everywhere (which is not that crazy, but definitely a con for travelers who enjoy complete freedom of movement).

It is a bummer that you can’t really marvel at the palm-tree shape of the neighborhood from the ground! That was why we opted for what turned out to be the best tour ever — a helicopter flight over Dubai — to be able to see the island and so much more. In photos, the views from up there seem even more impressive, but nothing can ever compare to the adrenaline rush you get from flying in a helicopter for the first time. Another, more affordable, option is the observation deck at The View At the Palm. We’re complete suckers for Dubai’s many viewpoints, so much so that we created an entire guide solely on this topic.

Should Palm Jumeirah still be on your list of attractions to visit in Dubai even if you decide against staying here? We feel that if you’ve got time and resources, then go for it: After all, the helicopter ride and the observation deck, as well as the world-famous Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark were the only reasons we needed to put the island front and center in our 1-Day Dubai itinerary.

Palm Jumeirah at night

Where to eat on Palm Jumeirah:

  • % Arabica Dubai the Pointe East — get your morning coffee the way God intended: Hot, delicious, and with stunning views of Atlantis, The Palm. % Arabica is a trustworthy coffee shop chain in the UAE — you always get the best quality brew possible, at a pretty affordable price (at least, by Dubai standards).
  • The Byron Bathers Club — hidden away on the side of the palm’s “trunk”, this beach club is a place people go out of their way to visit at least once in their lifetime. Atmosphere, music, drinks, delicious food (very seafood forward, which we greatly appreciate; shrimp towers are always a yes in our book!), — everything here screams pleasure and luxury!
  • Signor Sassi — what is it with Dubai and Italian food? This opulent restaurant was, and the information came as a surprise to us as well, originally first opened in London! So, this European brainchild learned from its multicultural roots and came to Dubai in all its glory, with a price tag to match!

Palm Jumeirah pros:
+ Genuinely secluded beaches
+ The UAE’s coolest water park Atlantis — a sought-after destination for travelers of all ages
+ No risk of ending up at a lousy hotel — five-star treatment is the baseline here!
+ Around ten all-inclusive hotels (with their numbers steadily rising), which is a lot for Dubai
+ A unique experience of living on the palm-tree shaped island

Palm Jumeirah cons:
— The beaches are for hotel guests only (the status that comes with a significant price tag)
— Some of the beaches aren’t that nice; even though there are water circulation facilities at work here, the water still can get a tad stagnant, thus welcoming all sorts of algae and stuffy odors
— An insanely high price tag for the most basic accommodations: During peak tourist season, even a shabby studio apartment on the island runs for well over $220 per night
— Poor infrastructure

atlantis the royal

Where to stay on Palm Jumeirah:

  • 4* Aloft Palm Jumeirah (from $200 a night) — some would say it’s far from everything else, but we believe that most of the iconic views are more enjoyable from afar, be it 5* Burj Al Arab on the shore or 5* Atlantis at the outmost part of the Palm. And while it’s not too convenient to have no public transport, the Aloft Hotel alleviates that by providing a free shuttle to Dubai Mall.
  • 4* Adagio Premium The Palm (from $100 a night) — unlike other accommodation options we’ve provided, this one is located on the “trunk” of the Palm, not far from the mainland. And, more importantly, not far from the bars and parties of the West Beach, — so if you’re into that sort of thing (partying well into the night), it’s a no-brainer. Oh, did we mention the hotel’s private beach?
  • 5* Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (from $300 a night) — apart from the two Atlantis hotels, this is another well-off travelers’ favorite five-star accommodation on the island. The levels of service here keep getting better, there is this charming Oriental aura all around, the raving reviews are abound, and the real sea (who knew that actual moving water can be so cherished around here), is calling your name 24/7. With all these characteristics, you wouldn’t believe that the prices for a stay at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray are 1,5–2 times lower than at either of the Atlantis hotels!

Umm Suqeim

Umm Suqeim and burj al arab

Ever since we first explored the neighborhood (many moons ago), we believed that Umm Suqeim was pretty boring and not synonymous with either relaxing or having fun. That was when the world-famous Jumeirah Beach Hotel was still just one of Dubai’s ever going construction projects and when Dubai Marina was so expensive we could not afford staying there.

Luckily, before one of our routine Dubai visits (what a fun routine to have, let us tell you), we found a wonderful hotel in Umm Suqeim that offered a pretty tempting discount for a stay. Without too much hesitation, we packed the bags and the next thing you know — our taxi pulls up to the neighborhood we know very little about (we were familiar with its beaches, but that was it). The situation was truly serendipitous, because otherwise we’d never find out just how much this place came to flourish since our last visit!

  • Umm Suqeim stretches along the seashore, starting at the aforementioned Jumeirah Beach Hotel and going all the way down to the acclaimed burger place SALT (a true landmark in the area).

The iconic waterfront is what makes the neighborhood so great, and we are one hundred percent serious when we proclaim Umm Suqeim as the best beach area in Dubai (you’ve read that right — it even overshadows Dubai Marina and its beach).

Kite Beach — the longest and the best(est) beach in Umm Suqeim — is definitely worth writing home about! It’s long and wide, boasting a promenade that runs parallel to the waterfront. You can walk, jog, or cycle here — and many visitors do, but the road never gets too crowded, as each activity has its own lane. All of Umm Suqeim beaches are public, with plenty of lifeguards on duty, and the shore is always equipped with showers, restrooms, and changing rooms which are free (you hear that, Dubai Marina?). There’s even an Umm Suqeim Night Swimming Beach that is flooded with light deep into the night. The lifeguards stay up, too!

Umm Suqeim is all about true resort aura — laid-back, calm, idle. The area feels very open, since there are no towering buildings, just villas two or three stories high. These quaint little villas are popular among hotels, shops, and eateries, — they create a pretty grounded atmosphere, since they’re literally closer to the ground than the usual Dubai businesses hiding out in skyscrapers. But don’t get us wrong: Though mainly residential, Umm Suqeim is not too quiet, it even has a big mall — the center of all the buzz in the area — and a popular Wild Wadi Waterpark. Because of this winning duality, Umm Suqeim can definitely be heralded as one of the best neighborhoods in Dubai.

Beach Walk Boutique

Is it perfect, then? Well, no. There is one big downside: Not a single metro station nearby; the infrastructure is way poorer than it is in the aforementioned Dubai neighborhoods. Well, maybe that’s a good thing — otherwise everyone and their mother would come here, ruining this serene resort mood.

Where to eat in Umm Suqeim:

  • BookHero Cafe — while Hollywood movies have long made us believe that book nerds and beachgoers are two separate social groups, BookHero Cafe encourages you to question the status quo! Set right opposite the wide beach at Umm Suqeim, this cafe is a perfect place to read a book (they have a wide selection) and drink some coffee (the combination that is heavily Rory Gilmore-coded). The coffee is great and the vibes are truly unmatched!
  • Brew Café Jumeirah — another small coffee shop; this one located a little further inland. Minimalist design, amazing coffee (we particularly enjoyed their matcha), and scrumptious sweet treats, — it cannot get any better than that!
  • 21grams — Urban Balkan Bistro that will blow your socks off with their menu full of “soul food” (the name 21grams comes from the anecdote that the soul weighs 21 grams exactly). The warmth of the atmosphere here can be only matched by the filling and delicious dishes. All of the characteristics combined will make you forget you’re in the Emirates — Balkan vibes are that strong!
  • Heal — a testament to the idea that food can be satisfying and healing at the same time, the restaurant is a fan-favorite at Umm Suqeim. We love the combination of outdoor and indoor seating options at HEAL — you can create your own experience that will best suit your dining needs. We particularly loved coming here for breakfasts, as they make a mean espresso that goes well with all things breakfast and brunch.

Umm Suqeim pros:
+ Best beach area in Dubai (in our opinion)
+ Spacious, calm & peaceful
+ Amazing beach infrastructure
+ Long and wide promenade, perfect for evening strolls along the water
+ Coffee shops and restaurants just a few minutes’ walk away from the waterfront

Umm Suqeim cons:
— Really far from the subway, the nearest station (Mall of the Emirates) is a 15-minute taxi ride away
— Mostly private property, so there are only a few hotels
— No notable landmarks other than the beach

Beach Walk Boutique our room

Where to stay in Umm Suqeim:

  • 3* Beach Walk Boutique (from $150 per night) — our personal choice of a hotel in Umm Suqeim. It’s not just a simple accommodation option, but a true gem, design- and concept-wise: White tall ceilings with massive wood paneling, barn-style, and oriental motifs coexist in a beautiful marriage at Beach Walk Boutique. If you’re not sold on the idea yet, the hotel is located within a mere one minute walk from the beach, making it an obvious choice of a place to stay in Umm Suqeim.
  • 4* Beach Walk Hotel (from $190 per night) — same same, but different! Set on the far end of Umm Suqeim, this hotel (though existing under the same umbrella as the previous one) has an entirely different vibe to it: It’s sleeker, more modern, and overall more urban in concept. Kite Beach is a 15-minute walk away, but you can make the experience even more fun by renting a bike at the hotel’s desk.


Deira Dubai

Let’s move on to Dubai districts where you can stay without hurting your wallet. If you were wondering where to stay in Dubai on a budget, or, whether or not such a thing is even possible, here’s your answer: Deira!

We stayed here during our first few (particularly budget-friendly) trips to Dubai and examined this district through and through. It is located close to Dubai International Airport and borders Sharjah emirate on the far end. So this is quite literally the outskirts of Dubai, and yet Deira is still very popular with tourists. Why?

The reasons for that are threefold: Reasonable prices (that’s why a lot of local blue-collar workers live here), amazing infrastructure (both red and green subway lines go through Deira; and the airport is right there, within a 20-minute taxi ride), and two more-than-adequate beaches!

The beaches of Deira are named pretty peculiarly: Al-Mamzer and Al-Mamzar. Yes, these are two different places! Be careful not to confuse them:

  • Al-Mamzer is a free public beach, wide and long. We didn’t really like it, since you can’t even see the actual sea here (this inlet is even labeled as “lake” on Google Maps!).
  • The second one, Al-Mamzar Beach Park, offers three beaches with the real sea: Waters of Arabian Gulf go as far as you can see. There is a beach for everyone, one shallower and more suitable for children, while the other two satisfy the demands of more experienced swimmers. Al-Mamzar Beach Park entry fee is just 5 AED ($1,4) per person, meaning it won’t even cost you $10 to take a family of four here!

Deira, though exciting and magical at times, has its fair share of drawbacks. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Dubai for the first time, it’s definitely not the best option: The atmosphere is pretty haphazard, with trash in the streets and lots and lots of crowds. You cannot possibly take a leisurely and relaxing stroll through Deira: You’ll be surrounded by endless stalls with counterfeit goods, fake clothes and replica bags. Shop owners will invite you to numerous jewelry stores, each full of “real gold” at “real discounts”.

Ironically, the famed Dubai Gold Souk, aka the Gold Market, is in Deira as well. For me, a single visit was enough to never enter this chaotic, noisy nightmare of a place again. But we’re all different: If you enjoy the hustle and bustle, make sure to get a tour of Deira’s souks, you will not be disappointed!

So, is Deira a good place to stay in? It may sound like we label it as a no-go zone, but let’s do Deira justice: It’s not a bad district. It’s just a cheaper part of the city, with all the consequences.

You can counter most of the negatives by staying at a really nice hotel. It will cost you a fraction of what you’d have to pay for a similar room in the same hotel chain in a more luxurious area.

Where to eat in Deira:

  • Green City Star Restaurant — kebabs, chicken curry, fried rice, — a perfect Indian comfort food restaurant that will never let you down when you’re ravenous in Deira.
  • Paul Bakery & Restaurant — a fine specimen of a French restaurant that found itself in historic Deira in Dubai. While we do adore their savorier dishes on the menu, it is Paul’s baked goods that will make you come back again and again (you cannot leave without getting a cheesecake or a croissant — it’s a tie on the best dessert at Paul Bakery).
  • Denny’s Diner Middle East — classic American diner: Burgers, milkshakes, french fries, — the portions here are Yankee-approved as well. A good place for a cheat meal, or two, or three: Stop when you start getting the meat sweats and you’ll be okay!

Deira pros:
+ All-around affordable prices
+ Authentic UAE experience, for those who like it
+ Relatively easy public beach access
+ Easy access to both green (Old Souk, Dubai Museum) and red (Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Marina) metro lines
+ Not that far from the airport (DXB)

Deira cons:
— Some (if not most) hotels don’t even try to be luxurious (or at least on par with their star status); mostly negative reviews prove their lack of effort
— Poor air quality because of heavy traffic and lots of litter in the streets
— Far away from Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC); it will take you more than an hour to get there

Where to stay in Deira:

  • 5* Asiana Grand Hotel (from $90 per night) — one of the more affordable 5-star hotels in the area. It’s not quite as “Grand” as the name claims, it’s a relatively small building. No exceptional views, but still — a 5-star service on a budget, with rooms that some guests call “ginormous” and a free transfer to the beach make up for a fantastic experience when combined all together. Keep in mind that it’s not a part of any major hotel chain: Lower your expectations with the lowered room price.
  • 5* Hilton Dubai Creek Hotel & Residences (from $950 a night) — full-service studios within a short walking distance from the red metro line. In terms of service, expect Hilton standards — no surprises here. The best part about this place is its newness. Given that most hotels in Deira have a problem with tired furniture and other signs of wear and tear, it’s a nice alternative.
  • 5* Golden Sands Boutique Hotel-Dubai Creek (from $150 per night) — a great opportunity to get all the benefits of Deira while dodging most of its downsides. Fourteen floors might not be that high for Dubai, but it’s more than enough for you to stop seeing trash in the streets. The hotel roof is open for visitors, with panoramic views over the creek and a fairly large pool calling your name. As far as the rest goes, it’s a Golden Sands 5-star hotel — expect it to be OK at the very least.

Bur Dubai

Al Shindagha Museum

If you ever decide to search Dubai’s hotels by price (starting with cheapest), the first half of the results is guaranteed to be Deira-exclusive. The other half? Bur Dubai. If you’re not that into Deira, Bur Dubai is the second best answer to the question of where to stay in Dubai if you’re on a budget.

Bur Dubai was here before everything else. It was the original Dubai’s downtown at the time when there were zero skyscrapers in the UAE (and when nobody knew what the hell a skyscraper even was). When Burj Khalifa and the Palm could be imagined only in a fever dream, when locals raced camels instead of Ferraris and Lambos, Bur Dubai was at its prime.

It’s home to Dubai’s oldest buildings that together create the real historical part of the city. And Bur Dubai feels authentic, with all the hustle of that colorful, eclectic vibe. It’s closer to the city center than Deira (and it seemingly has the same level of infrastructure), but it’s just as far from “luxury” in a modern emirate sense of the word.

Compared to Deira, Bur Dubai has fewer buzzing (and at times chaotic) markets, but more actual places of interest:

  • Al Seef — a gorgeous waterfront district straight out of Disney’s “Aladdin” or the “Arabian Nights” tales
  • Al Shindagha Museum — one of our favorite museums in Dubai (and that’s saying a lot, since we’re not big museum people in general); its perfect for those who want a deep dive into the UAE’s rich history
  • Coffee Museum — a charming small place with free coffee included in the ticket price (10 AED / $3)

If you get bored in the center of Bur Dubai, plenty of other iconic locations are a 10-minute taxi ride away:
✔️ Dubai Frame — a gorgeous viewpoint in Dubai with famous light shows at night
✔️ Wafi City Mall and Al Karama — prime shopping destinations in the area
✔️ Museum of the Future — a sought-after museum that feels more like an adventure park: Flying robots, colorful models of living beings, and an elevator that doubles as a space rocket, — this is a place where you learn, but also have lots of fun! If you want to visit Museum of the Future during your next trip to Dubai, make sure to book your tickets well in advance (we’re talking weeks, not days!)

Dubai Frame

Where to eat in Bur Dubai:

  • Arabian Tea House — a white-and-blue oasis amongst ancient ruins, this restaurant is truly a breath of fresh air in the heart of historic Al Fahidi neighborhood in Bur Dubai. Boasting colorful dishes of traditional Arabic cuisine (you can never go wrong with freshly baked bread and warm hummus here), Arabian Tea House has claimed its spot as THE hangout spot in the area. Sitting on the outdoor terrace, surrounded by blooming trees is an out of body experience; especially if you add a beverage into the mix: Be it traditional Arabic coffee, iced mint tea, or date milkshake (yum)!
  • Al Ustad Special Kabab — did someone say colorful and over the top? Because this popular Persian restaurant is exactly that, and better — the atmosphere has managed to remain homey and welcoming, despite thousands of pictures of world-renowned celebrities that patronized the establishment adorning the walls. The service here is exquisite; each visitor is treated like a special guest here! You cannot leave this place without ordering a kebab (best in Dubai, in our opinion); and get a baklava for dessert!
  • Grub Shack — an Indian restaurant that’s a little more subdued in design, but way more dynamic in its menu! We love and appreciate Indian cuisine, and this restaurant is up there at the top of the list of best Indian restaurants in all of the UAE! There are plenty of vegetarian options here — with the menu section proudly named “For the Grass Eaters”!

Bur Dubai pros:
+ Low prices, pretty much as affordable as Deira
+ More places of interest that are actually worth checking out
+ Plenty of shopping opportunities, especially at the enormous BurJuman mall (one of the oldest shopping centers of Dubai)
+ Relative proximity to the center of Dubai
+ A ton of affordable hotels (with decent reviews)

Bur Dubai cons:
— No beaches within walking distance
— Noise and chaos during rush hours (part of that old world charm, eh?)
— Not the best place for those who want luxury

Al Ustad Special Kabab

Where to stay in Bur Dubai:

  • 3* Premier Inn Dubai Al Jaddaf (from $40 a night) — while not exactly being the frontrunner of Dubai’s ever-starrier hotel scene, this little number deserves a gander for the sheer quality of services provided with such a humble price tag. Apart from clean and nicely furnished rooms, Premier Inn provides an outdoor heated (!) pool and a rooftop terrace, both spaces perfect for a lite-night hangout with your travel buddies.
  • 3* Gateway Hotel (from $100 a night) — a standard middle-of-the-road hotel in the heart of Bur Dubai. The rooms here are always spick and span, with design choices lingering on the no-frills end of the spectrum. The hotel is truly a gateway into the neighborhood: Surrounded by streets on all sides, with notable landmarks located within walking distance, it encourages you to go out there and explore and not stay confined to four walls for too long.
  • 2* XVA Art Hotel (from $120 a night) — the most authentically beautiful hotel of the whole bunch; it is a testament to Persian traditional architecture and design efforts, with touches of modern cultural movements — there is a store here that lets you purchase works and merchandize of contemporary Emirates’ artists. The sandstone walls, wooden accents, lots of natural shade, and intricate adornments make up for a stay full of aesthetic contemplation and relaxation of the soul. Each room is individually decorated, so you can come back here many times and get a unique experience, which is such a treat in our universally carbon-copy world of hospitality standards.

Al Barsha

Mall of the Emirates close to DoubleTree by Hilton Al Barsha

While Bur Dubai might be a bargain, Al Barsha is a pure logistical gem. For those who want to live close enough to both Downtown AND Dubai Marina at a reasonable price, there’s no better option.

No illusions here though: Al Barsha is not on the list of the best neighborhoods in Dubai. It’s a bland, faceless, half-commercial, half-industrial district. The only place that’s truly worthy of your time here is the Mall of the Emirates.

Al Barsha is landlocked, so lower your beachgoer expectation: There are no waterfront attractions, no public beaches, no cute little promenades here. Still, it’s not a huge issue most sources online make it out to be: Most of the hotels in Al Barsha offer a free transfer to the beach and other notable Dubai landmarks.

Where to eat in Al Barsha:

  • Tashas — perfect spot for a late brunch/early lunch when in Al Barsha! This originally South African restaurant chain has made it their focus to bring the freshest and most high-quality ingredients to their guests. Anything from a light and tangy salad to a filling soul food-style dish, — at Tashas, each menu item, no matter how intricate, will be made fresh to order!
  • Maisan15 — from the outside, this restaurant’s terrace looks strikingly similar to a simple wooden shed with the name “maisan15” scribbled on the side. But wait, what lies inside is an exciting multidisciplinary space (it’s a restaurant/library/gallery/garden) that will blow your mind with both the beautiful setting and an inspired menu!
  • Falafil Al Rabiah Al Khadra — best falafel in Dubai, there’s no question about that! The restaurant specializes on delectable Jewish cuisine options, so if you’re ever in the area and have a desperate need for hummus all of a sudden (trust us, we’ve been there), — come here without hesitation.
  • Wawa Dining — it’s not often that you find a decent Japanese restaurant anywhere else in the world outside of Japan, but Wawa is here to remind you that it’s possible! Both the exterior and interior design at Wawa will make you do a double take: It’s like you’ve teleported straight to Tokyo! Lanterns and cherry blossoms create an atmosphere perfect for trying all kinds of sushi on offer, and then topping it all off with some ramen!

Al Barsha pros:
+ Plenty of high-rated international chain hotels that offer a wide variety of accommodation options for every budget
+ Tons of shopping opportunities at Mall of the Emirates — Dubai’s second most visited center after Dubai Mall
+ Mall of the Emirate’s very own Ski Dubai — an indoor (!) ski slope that you can visit in any season
+ Prized location: Al Barsha is located right between Downtown and Dubai Marina, equally close to both; and in general, red line metro access makes most of Dubai easy to reach

Al Barsha cons:
— A little far from the waterfront, not an ideal option for a beach vacation in Dubai
— Not a lot of outdoor spaces for recreation: No promenades or parks that we would consider to be worthy of your time and attention
— Not a lot of greenery in general; all around are residential streets full of glass and steel structures

Where to stay in Al Barsha:

  • 3* Studio M Al Barsha Hotel by Millennium (from $50 per night) — a strong option we’ve dug up from our heavily dog-eared list of budget-friendly hotels in Dubai; this one is an absolute dream! A modern look is a design swing that hits at Al Barsha — it doesn’t clash with the predominantly urban surroundings. The rooms are small but nice, and the levels of service are on par with four-star hotels (this one is a three-star hotel). The Mall of the Emirates is a brisk walk from the hotel, so you won’t have to lug all your purchases around all day — just make a detour to your hotel room and you’re good to go and do more damage to your credit card!
  • 4* Courtyard by Marriott Dubai (from $90 per night) — Marriott knows how to do “quiet luxury” rooms: Swathed in palettes of beiges and greys, with just the right amount of art and other adornments, they create an aura perfect for catching a break after a long day of a more obvious, in-your-face luxury of Dubai. The rooftop pool is a cherry on top that is often overlooked when deciding on a place to stay in the Emirates; but we believe it’s important to be able to start your day with some vitamin D and a quick dip!
  • 5* Sheraton Mall of the Emirates Hotel (from $150 per night) — a definition of luxury. This five-star business hotel is exactly what you need after a busy day of traveling or exploring the sights: They have SPA and fitness centers, as well as a gorgeous rooftop pool, — how can you not relax with such a first-class treatment? The hotel has a direct connection to the Mall of the Emirates metro station, so all of the most famous sights are within a few minutes’ reach, which is such a treat!

Dubai Hills

Dubai Hills sunset

Dubai Hills is a new natural oasis in Dubai — a space that was so necessary in the emirate. The area includes a gated community, a golf course, a ginormous park, and many other unique stretches of the verdant paradise right in the heart of the desert! Because of all the nature that’s been fabricated specifically for the residents’ recreation, it is nice to be outside in Dubai Hills: Whether it’s going for a run, walking your dog, or taking your family on an evening stroll.

While the name of the neighborhood suggests some elevation, your calves can breathe out with a sense of relief: There are no actual hills here! We haven’t dug too deep into the origin of the name, but can take a wild guess that it’s Dubai’s very own version of Beverly Hills (the same levels of glamour are to be expected).

Because it’s one of the youngest neighborhoods in Dubai, all of the buildings here look brand-new. Thankfully, there are little to no skyscrapers in the area: You can actually marvel at the view (with Burj Khalifa shining in the sun in the distance) without too many heavy-set tall structures spoiling the panorama.

One of the only apparent downsides of the area is its remote location. Dubai Hills neighborhood sits on the outskirts, with not much happening around. The infrastructure is in its beginning stages, so there’s no metro stations. Renting a car or getting a taxi are the only reliable transportation options when you stay in Dubai Hills. Still, the situation is not THAT dire: The location actually has a perk of opening up on the Al Khail Road, which is usually not as busy as the main Sheikh Zayed Road that most of the Dubai residents use daily. Because of this loophole, you can get from Dubai Hills to the airport in 25 minutes, and to Dubai Marina — in 15 minutes. By Dubai standards, it’s record time!

When it comes to other sources of entertainment and general daily leisure, the neighborhood is home to the new Dubai Hills Mall that is rumored to give its big brother — Dubai Mall — a run for its money! There’re countless shops and restaurants inside, as well as a giant cinema complex, — fun times all around!

We believe that Dubai Hills should be on the list of mandatory visits for travelers who believe that you cannot possibly enjoy going outside in Dubai. Staying here might be a different question, at least for now: Many hotels are just finding their footing in the neighborhood, so there’s not much to choose from. Most of the worthy options are located in South Al Barsha, so consult the section above for possible stays.

Where to eat in Dubai Hills:

  • ABC Coffee Roasters — a quaint little coffee shop nestled in Dubai Hills Mall: They serve amazing coffee and even better baked goods. It’s a perfect spot to get your energy levels back up during your retail extravaganza!
  • Shvili — authentic Georgian cuisine restaurant that we hold near and dear to our heart (you can actually feel our love for this beautiful country by reading our guide to Georgia’s best wineries and vineyards). Shvili’s khinkali and khachapuri are truly to die for!
  • Duo Gastrobar — a fusion of European and Asian cuisine, this gastrobar opens your taste buds to an entirely new gastronomic experience! The portions are small, but that can only mean that you can try as many items on the menu as humanly possible.

Dubai Hills pros:
+ A perfect place for long-term residence in Dubai, especially for families with children
+ A huge open green space that can’t be found anywhere else in Dubai
+ Very quiet and serene
+ All the possible comforts at your fingertips
+ Very convenient location if you do decide to rent and drive a car around Dubai

Dubai Hills cons:
— Still little to no hotels; so look for accommodation options in the neighboring Al Barsha
— Pretty expensive long-terms rentals
— Can’t actually walk anywhere (but it’s a con that can be attributed to most of Dubai)

Dubai or Sharjah?

Beach in Dubai

Is it better to stay in Dubai or Sharjah? While most consider Sharjah to be yet another Dubai neighborhood, it is actually it’s very own emirate. The border between Dubai and Sharjah runs through Sahara Centre, which is a fitting place considering the Emirates’ main pull.

Sharjah is one of the more budget-friendly areas in the UAE: Accommodation prices here are on the same level as the ones at Dubai’s Deira and Bur Dubai, so you know you’re getting a good bargain! But what’s the flipside to such a nice deal?

It will take at least 40–60 minutes to get to Dubai from Sharjah, which is a big turn off for people who are tired of the quotidian commute in their normal life, let alone on vacation. Still, the infrastructure between the two emirates works like a well-oiled machine: There are regular buses; some hotels in Sharjah offer free transfers to Dubai, and you can always count on the good old taxi services!

We believe that if your main focus is to save money on your accommodation when in the Emirates, Sharjah is a pretty good option: You can get a room at a luxury beachfront hotel for half the price (or more, at times) of what you would pay for the same accommodation in Dubai.

Where to stay in Sharjah:

  • TIME Express Hotel Al Khan (from $50 per night) — a veritable Sharjah institution of no-nonsense vibes; this hotel offers amazing service and state-of-the-art facilities for a very humble price. A good trusted option among the Emirates’ new hotels that are always a bit of a gamble!
  • 4* DoubleTree by Hilton Sharjah Waterfront Hotel And Residences (from $70 per night) — Hilton’s levels of service are always worth writing home about, and this particular hotel is no exception. You can choose a room with either a city or lake view (both high on ineffable charm and Sharjah’s particular magic); the facilities include an indoor lap pool and two separate fitness centers for men and women. Most DoubleTree guests claim that the staff makes your stay here that of a five-star hotel, no less!
  • 5* Pullman Sharjah (from $70 per night) — this five-star hotel in Central Sharjah is a real scene-stealer! Pullman offers a wide cache of perks: A huge terrace with a swimming pool for your general lounging needs, a restaurant that will satisfy your hunger in style, and a fitness center to keep your mood in check with a little physical activity. Value is a keyword at Pullman, so much so that you get the best possible treatment and facilities that have the power to make you forget about your real life travel concerns.

Some things to know before traveling to Dubai

Museum of the future

While finding a good hotel in a new country has always been at the top of our to-do list when planning our next trip, we also take the time to learn a few key things about the destination: All the Why’s, the When’s, the Where’s, and the How’s. And even though Dubai is best experienced with an open mind, there are some things you absolutely must know before traveling to the emirate:

  • When is the best time to visit Dubai? This topic is so nuanced and different that we have created a whole lot of extremely detailed guides (like these September, October, November, and December ones) to help you plan your perfect Dubai vacation — preferably the one where you don’t run the risk of getting a heatstroke when out and about in the emirate. But we can’t leave you hanging without at least giving you the gist of it: All around best months for a trip to Dubai are October and April, with December (up until Christmas, so the first half of the month) running a close third. Summer months are a definite no-go; with best periods for a beach vacation being the months of September through December and March through May.
  • Speaking of a beach holiday, you might’ve gathered by now that Dubai is full of all the different kinds of beaches and it might be hard to choose the one most suited to your wants and needs. Lucky for you, we have already put countless hours into choosing the crème de la crème of the emirate’s waterfront locations, with all of our findings listed in this Dubai beach guide. Same sentiment can be attributed to the best viewpoints in Dubai — it’s always better to learn the pros and cons of each particular destination before making the trek over (not arduous per se, but expensive — we’re in the Emirates, after all!).
  • When it comes to planning your travel budget, keep in mind that Dubai is generally very expensive. There’s no beating around the bush here, you might want to save up a little if you want your vacation to be as dreamy as you like it to be. However, prices in Dubai are usually justified: You get the best possible quality and treatment (though there are some exceptions, as anywhere else). A budget-friendly trip to Dubai is possible (we have made quite a few of them in our early travel days), but it proves to be harder to plan. However, you’ve already learned where to find the cheapest accommodation in Dubai, so that’s basically half the job done!
  • The UAE is a Muslim country, so there are a few things that come with that. First, alcohol consumption is strictly regulated here: You won’t be able to buy a couple of cold ones at the supermarket, and not all restaurants have an appropriate license to serve you drinks (you will have to look for the ones that do, if you do want to imbibe a little). Second, while Dubai is as modern as they come, we would still suggest you not wear clothes that are way too revealing (although short dresses and skirts flood the streets when it gets particularly hot outside). And third, keep a close eye on every year’s Ramadan dates — this religious holiday comes clad with a few restrictions for the travelers (you won’t be able to eat or drink outside during the day), making it not exactly an ideal time to experience Dubai for the first time.
  • Dubai’s public transport, though pretty efficient, is not as widespread and convenient as you’d expect. If you have the means, we strongly advice you rent a car in Dubai — that way, you’ll be more independent in your movements and will be able to make a few itinerary changes if you need to. Renting a car here is also how you can show off a little: Get yourself a Ferrari or a Lambo and show those wealthy Emiratis that you’re a force to be reckoned with!

Dubai activities you shouldn’t miss

Safari in Dubai

While we do get into more detail about Dubai’s must-visit landmarks in our one day itinerary, we cannot forget that Dubai can also be considered as the capital of fun and exciting activities for every type of traveler. Here are a few thrilling options to fill your pastime with when in Dubai, choose wisely (and don’t forget your travel insurance, just in case):

  • The emirate that’s surrounded by the never-ending desert… It would be a shame not to explore at least a little of Dubai’s sand dune surroundings, and doing it in an exhilarating way is a exactly how God intended it: Go on a safari ride (jeep or quad bike, whatever you’re most comfortable with) and lose yourself among the dunes; you will feel as alive as ever, that’s a guarantee!
  • Not a big fan of the fast and furious, especially when it comes to driving in the desert? Then shoot for a camel ride, — it’s a slower and more contemplative way to take in your surroundings (if you’re not afraid of camels, that is).
  • Now, forget the hot and scary desert activities: How about having some fun out on the water? Whether it’s saddling up a jet ski or partying into the wee hours of the morning on a superyacht, — your pick will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
  • Is that the adrenaline rush you’re after? In Dubai, there are more than a few ways to get your heart beating at its capacity: Ziplining across the Marina, as well as skydiving in a tandem are our personal kryptonite.
  • If the stunning views of Dubai are what you’re after, then you’re in luck: Sightseeing helicopter rides are very popular in Dubai, and there are always a few options to choose from.
  • When it comes to more traditionally touristy experiences in Dubai, we could not think of anything better than a good old walking tour. Throw some food into the mix (like this tour of Dubai’s souks), and you get yourself a fun outing!
  • Of course, you can easily explore other emirates when you’re staying in Dubai: Abu Dhabi sightseeing tour will cover all the major destinations of the capital, without you having to plan the itinerary yourself! However, if you do find yourself in Abu Dhabi on a self-planned trip, make sure to save a fraction of your day open for visiting Louvre Abu Dhabi — one of the most beautiful museums in the UAE.

Final thoughts

We hope that now you have a clear understanding of Dubai’s best neighborhoods and can make an informed decision on where to stay in Dubai for your next trip over. We have created a map with all things mentioned above for easy reference here:

Personally, we chose Dubai Marina as our base for the last few of our Dubai vacations, but we’re not immune to wanting to mix things up. Who knows, with Dubai’s rapid development efforts, our next pilgrimage to the UAE could be heralded by staying in an entirely new area. We’ll see!

If you have any questions regarding our list of Dubai’s neighborhoods, or if you want us to add your favorite Dubai hotel into the mix, feel free to reach out in the comment section down below.

Category: UAE

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