Between Meetings: The Top Things To Do in Dubai

By: Jimmy Dawson

November 19, 2013

Dubai is relatively painless to get around if you’re not the one driving. The metro runs up and down the city’s main artery, Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR), and for those places just out of reach of the metro, cabs float around as freely as sand particles. So when you do have an hour or two to spare between meetings, you can check out the top things to do in Dubai with ease.

You’ll no doubt visit the Burj Khalifa while you’re in town, especially if you’re a first-time visitor: seeing the skyscraper is one of the top things to do in Dubai. But surrounding the building you’ll find the Souk Al Bahar marketplace and the Dubai Mall (the world’s largest shopping centre), both of which make for eye-opening local experiences. Take the metro to Burj Khalifa Station and follow the infamous tower. You really can’t miss it.

Burj Khalifa | Top Things to Do in Dubai

The viewing platform at the sky-high Burj Khalifa © Fabio Achilli

Just a five-minute drive east, The Gate Village welcomes you with wide walkways, eateries and art galleries. By metro, take the Emirates Towers Station and follow signs for the Dubai International Financial Centre. The Gate Village is adjacent to the DIFC.

Safa Park, north of SZR, offers fabulous green fields to unwind in if you just want to get away from the bustle of the city. Within the grounds (just inside Gate 5, on the park’s south end) you’ll find The Archive, a library and café stocked with Middle Eastern artisan books. As no metro runs directly past the park, a taxi is recommended.

Chill Out | Top Things to Do in Dubai

The icy confines of Chill Out © Chill Out

Leave behind Dubai’s arid climate for a bit and try Chill Out. No café in Dubai has their air conditioner cranked lower than this eatery in Times Square Centre on SZR. Everything inside, from the seats to the plates and drinking glasses, is made of ice. But you don’t need to dress for the occasion; Chill Out provides the warm wear to assure you get a bite to eat without the frost biting back. It’s a long walk from the nearest metro station so flag a cab.

Dubai Creek | Top Things to Do in Dubai

Boating along the Dubai Creek © Jimmy Dawson

If you find yourself in Dubai’s historic areas of Deira or Bur Dubai, take an abra ride down the Dubai Creek. Whether you take a short trip across the creek or an hour-long private cruise, it’ll feel more like vacation than a business trip. By metro from SZR, transfer at Burjuman Station to Al Fahidi Station. The abras are located on the creek next to the Bur Dubai market.

Al Fahidi | Top Things To Do in Dubai

The ship-topped Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort © Qudsiya Karrim

While you’re in the area, The Al Fahidi Historic District (formerly Al Bastikiya) takes you back in time as you stroll along narrow walkways where traditional architecture clashes with Dubai’s glitzy, jet-set reputation. Home to several museums, this is a cultural hotspot.

Jumeirah Mosque | Top Things to Do in Dubai

The glittering Jumeirah Mosque © Susanne Nilsson

The name “Jumeirah” in Dubai represents opulence and style, but The Jumeirah Mosque, beautiful in its own right, could teach you a thing or two about the religion the city was built on. Take this 75-minute tour in the only Dubai mosque open to non-Muslims. Cameras are welcome, too.

Stretch your legs and go for a stroll on The Walk. This 1.7 km promenade along Jumeirah Beach is lined with shops and cafés, and with a high concentration of tourists from all over the world, The Walk is one of Dubai’s best places to people-watch. If the weather’s right and you’ve got enough time, you can always walk over and dip your toes in the Persian Gulf.

Header photo of the view from Burj Khalifa © Rob Young on Flickr.

Written by Jimmy Dawson

Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Dubai from London Heathrow. Book your flight today.

Have you visited Dubai on business? What are your favourite things to do between meetings?


Jimmy Dawson

Jimmy Dawson is a freelance writer living in Dubai. He has written for We Are Here Dubai, The Randomer, and Discover. He runs long distances, travels even further and when his two kids and wife allow it, cranks the guitar amp up to eleven.

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