In this article, you will learn about the best things to do in Dubai, whether you are just stopping over on your journey or you are looking for some frugal ideas to spend one day in Dubai and make the most of it. Our one day Dubai trip itinerary may seem quite intense, but we took into consideration Dubai heat and the distance between the Dubai tourist places. We will also focus on the places to visit in Dubai for free or for cheap.
Is one day in Dubai enough?
Not really as there are so many things to do in Dubai! If possible plan to spend here at least two days. We visited many of the Dubai attractions and chose our favorite ones, therefore, we hope that you enjoy and find useful our 1 day in Dubai itinerary.
Why Dubai and why only one day?
Dubai is a popular stopping point for long-haul flights, connected with six continents. Dubai airport took third place in terms of the number of passengers in 2017. Due to the continually increasing traffic, it was decided to build another airport and additional terminals.
If you have a long stopover in Dubai (at least 8 hours), check the visa requirements for your country, leave the airport, and don’t hesitate to spend the time visiting the largest city in the Arab Emirates.
The best time to visit Dubai
The best months to visit Dubai and avoid the worst of the heat are from November till early April. Dubai experiences a desert climate – hot temperatures and little rain.
One day in Dubai in a glance
|10 AM – 11:30 AM||Golden Souk, Spice Souq||Free|
|11:30 AM – 12:30 PM||Dubai Creek||1 AED [$0.3]|
|1 PM – 2 PM||The Dubai Frame||50 AED [$13]|
|2:30 PM – 4:30 PM||La Mer beach||Free|
|5 PM – 6:30 PM||Dubai Mall||Free|
|6:30 PM – 7:00 PM||Burj Khalifa||Free / >150 AED [$40]|
|7:30 PM –||Dubai Fountain||Free|
Top things to do in Dubai in one day
Time to spend here: 1.5 hours
How to get here: Ride the green metro line and stop at the Al Rais metro station or take the abra ride from the Bur Dubai.
Let’s start our journey in Deira, which historically has been the commercial center of Dubai. We think that it is one of the unique places to see in Dubai, full of scents, aromas, and flavors. In Gold Souq or Spice Market, you can buy the best souvenirs from Dubai, practice your bargaining skills, and have a delicious cup of tea.
Deira Gold Souq
You don’t need to buy tons of gold to enjoy your visit in Gold Souq. As we are traveling on the budget, we decided to do some window shopping just for eye candy. The Gold Souq is one of the Dubai best places where you can find a countless amount of gold (approximately 10 tons of gold!) and other jewelry. Dubai indeed offers the lowest gold prices, and you can be sure that the gold in the Gold Souq is real and good quality.
Walk among the shops, take photos, and make sure that you don’t miss the Najmat Taiba which has a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records. The Star of Taiba is the heaviest ring in the world (63.8 kg), and it is estimated to cost $3 million.
TIP: You can get a better bargain in the Gold Souq when you pay in cash.
Dubai Spice Souq
Dubai Spice Market is just 3 minutes walk from the Gold Souk. In the Spice Souq, you can travel back in time and feel like in a different century for a while. There are plenty of smells and colorful mountains of spices. Additionally, you can buy here dried fruits and vegetables, toys, clothes, and gadgets. If you decide to purchase anything here, you have to remember about a few things:
- Although the Spice Market is unique and worth visiting place, prices are not always the lowest in the market. Don’t buy without bargaining.
- Buy carefully, especially more expensive spices, such as saffron, as some salesmen tend to sell low-quality products. If you are looking for the best quality saffron, ask for “negin” type.
- Some traders may aggressively hassle the tourists (especially single women) forcing them to enter their shop.
TIP: Avoid visiting Spice Souq on Fridays.
Time to spend here: 30 minutes
How to get here: 2 minute walk from the Spice Souq
Before we leave the old part of Dubai, let’s stay here for a few minutes more, stroll along the river, enjoy the natural beauty of Dubai, and maybe grab some coffee. When you are ready to go, head to the docks and hop on the abra (wooden water taxi) and cross the river together with the locals.
The Abra ride across Dubai Creek is very cheap costs only 1 AED per person (~0.27$). The journey takes about 10 minutes, and the boat stops at Bur Dubai Souk Market. Once crossing the river, spot the difference between the big hotels and skyscrapers on the one side, and small houses, shops, and restaurants on the other side.
The Dubai Frame
Time to spend here: 30 minutes – 1 hour
How to get here: Ride the green metro line from Al Ghubaiba and on the 2nd station at Burjuman change for red line and get off at Al Jafiliya (2nd station).
The Frame is a 150 meters high iconic structure of Dubai. The attraction is reasonably priced at 50 AED (~13$). Firstly, you visit the small museum where you can learn about the history of Dubai. Secondly, you go up in a glass front lift to the top of the Frame. It is worth standing by the window in the elevator to have a great view of the city. Once on the top of the Frame, you can walk the glass floor, which when you take a step, becomes transparent. Don’t miss impressive views of Old and New Dubai and take as many pictures as you want. By the end of your tour, you will learn how Dubai will look like in 2050.
La Mer beach
Time to spend here: 2 hours
How to get here: you can use public transport (the journey make take up to 40 minutes). But as the time is limited, we recommend taking a taxi. You can check the rates here.
It is now an excellent time to enjoy some relaxing activities in Dubai and lie down on the small, but clean and not very crowdy beach. La Mer offers charming views of the city skyline, golden sand, and it looks like a small town in the metropolis. You can soak up the sun, swim in the sea, walk the palm tree-lined boulevard and visit one of the restaurants and cafes.
Time to spend here: 2 hours
How to get here: from La Mer beach the most convenient way to get to the Dubai Mall is taking a taxi.
It is time to escape from the heat and visit one of the largest shopping centers in the world. You don’t need to do any shopping to enjoy your stay in Dubai Mall. Here are our proposals:
- Dubai Dino is a 155-million-year-old dinosaur. The skeleton of this dinosaur was discovered in 2008 in Wyoming, USA, and transported to Dubai via air-freight. If you want to know more about Dino, don’t hesitate to ask the staff in the mall. You can find Dubai Dino in the heart of Souk.
- Dubai Aquarium is the largest suspended aquarium in the world. You can watch it for free from the outside, but if you want to discover more, walk through the tunnel, see sharks or king croc, you will need to buy the ticket. This is a great place to visit if you are visiting Dubai with kids.
- Human Waterfalls is often used as the meeting point in the mall. Human Waterfall is a breathtaking feature traversing all the mall’s four levels with fiberglass sculptures of human divers.
- Grab your lunch in the Dining section of the Dubai Mall. You will find restaurants with good quality Asian and world cuisine.
- Watch the spectacle called Melodies of the Village. This art installation is located in The Village. Melodies of the Village features LED lights with a musical system that responds to touch.
- See the colorful umbrellas displayed overhead at the denim street.
Time to spend here: 30 minutes – 1 hour
Once visiting Dubai Mall, it is almost impossible not to spot Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world and one of the most popular places in Dubai. You may consider buying the Observation Decks ticket [prices start from 149 AED] or enjoy the free view from the ground. Did you know that the Burj Khalifa’s design was inspired by a local desert flower – Spider Lilly? You can learn more fun and interesting facts about Dubai reading our comprehensive blog post.
Time to spend here: 30 minutes
Dubai Fountain is located in the Dubai Mall area and like many things in the city is the world’s LARGEST performing fountain. In our opinion, it is a Dubai must-see. You can watch the spectacle for free. There is also a possibility to enter the inflatable boardwalk situated in the fountain pool area (cost 20 AED) or set sail on the traditional Abra ride (cost 68.25 AED). Evening shows are performed every 30 minutes, from 6 pm to 11 pm.
If you are wondering what to do in Dubai after dusk and what Dubai tourist attractions are better to visit when it is dark, read our blog post with the best places to visit in Dubai at night.
Dubai Shopping Festival 2020
Dubai Shopping Festival starts from 26 December 2019 to 1 February 2020. It is a unique event, when all the city malls and shopping destinations in Dubai offers unique deals on almost everything from fashion and jewelry to electronics and accessories. You can expect 25%-70% discounts on everything.
Every weekend there will be spectacular fireworks displayed across several locations in Dubai and all the malls will be packed with musical performances, stage shows and many family activities. Click here to read more about Dubai Shopping Festival 2020.
Interesting facts about Dubai
- Dubai does not have any zip codes or Postal Code. If zip code is required, 00000 is used as a zip code of UAE / Dubai.
- Dubai is the 6th safest city in the world, according to CEOWORLD magazine (2018).
- In 2018, Dubai visited 16.66 million tourists from around the world – it was the fourth most visited city in the world after Bangkok, London, and Paris.
- Burj Khalifa has the tallest service elevator in the world.
- Click here to read more interesting facts about Dubai
Getting around Dubai
There are 119 bus lines and the network covers 82% of the Dubai’s urban area. You can wait for the bus in one of the 554 air-contidioned bus stops. Buses are frequent and air-conditioned. They also have separated women compartment.
There are two metro lines: Red line and Green line. Dubai metro is one of the most modern rail system in the world. There are various types of cabins in Dubai metro, including private Gold Class cabins for gold class tickets holders only. You can use WiFi while traveling the metro
The tram service links Dubai Metro and the Palm Monorail and runs along Al Sufouh Road and Jumeirah Beach Road. There are also Gold Class cabins for gold class tickets holders as well as separate cabins for women & children.
Abra is Dubai’s most traditional mode of transport. Traditional abras are cruising around the Dubai Creek and are quite popular amongs the tourists (1 AED per passenger). Air-conditioned abras are more comfortable and runs every 10 minutes (2 AED per passenger).
A Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour is the most convenient way to see the top Dubai attractions. There are 41 stops and you can be sure that you don’t miss any of the best Dubai sights. You can choose between 24, 48 or 72-hours pass with free entry to Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Museum and more. Click here to check the prices.
We recommend taking a taxi while getting out from the airport. It is the most convenient and the fastest way to getting around the city. Keep in mind that if the taxi driver forgets to turn on the taximeter, you are entitled to a free ride.
When ordering a taxi from the DTC, women can ask for a Pink Taxi. This is a special type of taxi, also cream-colored, but with a pink roof, which is only run by women. They can be ordered by ladies or by families with children.
There are also black and white taxis which can be ordered only by the phone or through the application. They are equipped with a free WiFi, ready-to-use tablets and possibility to pay with a credit card.
Nol Card is a pre-paid e-wallet card that let you pay for the use of the Dubai public transport: metro, buses, trams, water tram as well as pay for the parking. There are various types of the Nol Cards and they are also available for smartphone users:
- Silver Card (25 AED) – anonymous card that can be loaded up to 1,000 AED. Perfect for the tourists and available to immediate use.
- Gold Card (25 AED) – similar to Silver Card but it gives the access to Metro’s Gold Class seats.
- Blue Card (70 AED) – personal card that can be loaded up to 5,000 AED. Suitable for frequent travellers, students and seniors.
- Red Card (2 AED) – paper-based ticket (not e-purse) that can be loaded with 10 trips. Good choice for short-term tourists.
Prices in Dubai
- A meal in the inexpensive restaurant: 8$
- Beer 0.5 liter in a restaurant: 12$
- Water 1.5 liter in the market: 5$
- Cappuccino: 5$
- Local transport – one-way ticket: 1.36$
- Gasoline 1 liter: 0.63$
- Cigarettes 20 pack: 5.72$
What to eat in Dubai
Lamb, mutton, fish, and rice are the most popular ingredients of Emirate cuisine. All the dishes are full of flavors thanks to the spices such as cardamom, saffron, anise, cinnamon, and many more. The most popular beverages are sweet and robust coffee and tea. Add the below dishes to your list and don’t forget to try one of those:
- Al Machboos – a spiced chicken and rice dish, originated from Bahrain
- Camel meat
- Al Harees – a traditional Arabic dish made of wheat, chicken, and salt.
- Luqaimat – crunchy and sweet dessert
- Fresh dates
- Gahwa – Arabic coffee
Where to stay in Dubai
In Dubai, you will find a hotel for every budget, from luxury hotels to smaller family pensions and cheap hostels. The average prices for 1 night in four-star hotel is around $100. Below you can find the cheapest option we found so far:
California Hostel Dubai Beach
This four-star hostel is located close to the beach, and it is one of the most affordable options to stay in Dubai. The hostel offers a shared kitchen, free Wi-Fi, and a seasonal outdoor swimming pool. An American breakfast is available every morning ($14). There are dormitory rooms (male-only and female-only).
Price: $22-$29 for a bunk or single bed. Some rooms have a private bathroom. Click here to check the availability.
One Day in Dubai – few word from us
We hope that you find our 1 day in Dubai itinerary useful. Now you should know where to go in Dubai, what to do in Dubai for a day and how to plan your Dubai trip cost. We were carefully preparing this guide and including only top things to do in Dubai in a day.