Who needs sleep when there’s so much to see and do? Whether you’re in Dubai on a stopover or you just fancy squeezing as much as possible out of your trip, there’s always a host of things to experience no matter what time it is. Read on for our 24-hour guide to the city that never sleeps.
5am – Al Aweer Central Fruit and Vegetable Market
Kick-start your day at Al Aweer Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, home to the country’s freshest fruit and vegetables, all available at bargain prices. This buzzing market is full of sights, colours, sounds and smells, offering an experience far removed from your average supermarket. Don’t forget your camera!
6.30am – Al Qudra Cycling Track
Offering breath-taking sunrise views, Al Qudra Cycling Track is a must-visit for adventure seekers. The 86-kilometre-long bike track boasts amazing vistas of Dubai’s desert dunes, and as you make your way along the path you may even get a glimpse of the local wildlife.
8.30am – Breakfast by the waves at Kite Beach
Kite Beach’s promenade boasts some picturesque spots to relax and tuck into tasty fare while feeling the sand between your toes – including Park House, The Surf Café and Al Ijaza Cafeteria, which serves up old-school classics to grab and go.
11am – Visit the viewing deck of Burj Khalifa
No visit to Dubai is complete without a visit to the top of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – offering unobstructed, 360-degree views of the city, desert and ocean through a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled perimeter.
1pm – Lunch at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) serves traditional Emirati lunch in the ambience of a beautifully restored wind-tower house where visitors can enjoy a meal with local flair while chatting with an Emirati host about UAE culture, customs and religion.
3pm – Cool off at Aquaventure
Recently named the Best Waterpark in Dubai by TripAdvisor, Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm offers the perfect splash-filled break for the entire family. Choose from record-breaking rides and slides, close encounters with sharks and rays, or spread out and relax on 700 metres of private beach.
8pm – Dinner by the dancing fountains
Watch the mesmerising Dubai Fountain from a number of dining options in Downtown Dubai. Whether you opt for the faux-French feel at Madeleine Café & Boulangerie, the relaxing ambience at Thai eatery Thiptara, or delicious Italian dishes enjoyed on the outdoor terrace at Serafina, the picturesque settings are prime spots to take in the beauty and charm of Dubai’s most popular son-et-lumière show.
10.30pm – Drinks with a view at Madinat Jumeirah
Panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf, the billowing ‘sail’ of the Burj al Arab and a beautiful man- made creek make Madinat Jumeirah one of Dubai’s top locations to take in the splendour and charm of the city. With more than 40 world-class restaurants and lounges to choose from, visitors can enjoy the views and an accompanying drink at Kalsa Pool Bar, Bahri Bar and The Agency, or groove to the live music at Polynesian-themed Trader Vic’s.
12am – Karaoke at Lucky Voice
Head to Lucky Voice and belt out your favourite tunes in a private karaoke booth, with more than 15,000 tracks to choose from. The venue has a ’70s disco feel complete with dozens of glowing orbs hanging from the ceiling – undulating, pulsing and changing colour.
2am – Post-midnight meals
Dubai boasts all manner of after-hour options for a quick bite or even a full-blown meal in the small hours of the night. Bite into a classic cheese manakish at Al Reef Lebanese Bakery, chow down on Levantine street food and shawarmas at Zaroob, or head to SALT for a tasty menu of burgers (the Cheetos Chicken Burger is a must), fries and shakes.
4am – Sunrise hot air balloon ride over the desert
If you’re still awake, take in the sunrise and see the golden hues of the desert as you drift 1,200 metres above the dunes, over emerald-green oases with oryx, gazelles and wandering camels in their natural habitat below. Soar the skies with the teams at Balloon Adventures, Sindbad Balloons or Platinum Heritage for a mesmerising sky-high tour, from pick-up to take-off.