The 5 Best Dubai Bus and Private Car Tours & Tickets [2024 Reviews]

No matter what you know about Dubai, this glittering jewel sitting in the middle of a vast desert calls travelers who love glamor, innovation, and mesmerizing contradictions. Step into a world where barrier-breaking architecture pierces the sky, where traditional Arabian heritage melds with cutting-edge modernity, and experience a city like no other.

One of the best ways to do so is by embarking on a bus or private car tours, where you’ll get to see and learn about the city in-depth from experts. We’ve carefully curated the following 5, which are currently the best bus and private car tours in Dubai! Let’s jump right in.

Best Dubai Bus and Private Car Tours & Tickets

Big Bus Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off TourCity Sightseeing Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus TourDubai: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour 24, 48 or 72 Hours
editors choice
Departure:Dubai MallDubai MallDubai Mall
Duration:1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes1 hour and 10 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutesVaries
Includes:Audio commentary in 12 languages, Dhow Cruise, Desert Sunset Tour, Lost Chambers Aquarium, Ambassador Lagoon, 1, 2, or 5-day hop-on, hop-off pass1, 2, or 5-day hop-on, hop-off pass, sunset and night tour, 1-day premium ticket includes 1-day HOHO and Dhow Cruise24-hour, 48-hour, or 72-hour tickets, audio guide, kids’ commentary, sunset and night tour, Dhow cruise (if premium option selected), entry to The Lost Chambers Aquarium (if premium option selected)

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Dubai Bus and Private Car Tours & Tickets For 2024

  1. Big Bus Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
  2. City Sightseeing Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
  3. Dubai: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour 24, 48 or 72 Hours
  4. Dubai City Tour
  5. Private Car with Driver at Disposal in Dubai

Best Dubai Bus and Private Car Tours & Tickets Reviews

#1 Big Bus Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Dubai Mall
  • Departure Time: Varies
  • Duration: 1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Includes: Audio commentary in 12 languages, Dhow Cruise, Desert Sunset Tour, Lost Chambers Aquarium, Ambassador Lagoon, 1, 2, or 5-day hop-on, hop-off pass

Contrary to what many may think, you don’t have to have a huge budget in order to see Dubai. The Big Bus Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Tour is exemplary of that, offering you the freedom to explore this amazing metropolis at your own pace. Whether you’re drawn in by a specific attraction or stumble upon a hidden gem, you have the power to customize your itinerary completely.

This is also a great opportunity to check out the city without having to spend a lot. It’s a very budget-friendly way of seeing the top Dubai attractions, including the towering Burj Khalifa, Burj Al-Arab, and Old Dubai. Old Dubai offers a very different experience, with a rich history and charm that will take you back in time through its labyrinthine streets, traditional wind towers, and mud-brick houses.

With this tour, you get to choose form a 1-day Classic, 2-day Premium, or Deluxe 5-day unlimited attraction pass. Depending on which one you select, you’ll have admission to the Dubai Museum, will enjoy a fun Dubai Creek cruise, a free night tour, and much more. For the hop-on hop-off part of the tour, you’ll get to ride in an open-top Big Bus where you get to kick back and relax, with prime, unobstructed views of each sight.

As soon as you’re finished at one sight, you can simply get back on the bus and head on over to the next zone or attraction. However, on a traditional tour you’ll have 11 stops on a route with a 30-minute frequency. You can download the free app so you can see when the bus is coming, but the staff are all very helpful, too!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

#2 City Sightseeing Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Dubai Mall
  • Departure Time: Varies
  • Duration: 1 hour and 10 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Includes: 1, 2, or 5-day hop-on, hop-off pass, sunset and night tour, 1-day premium ticket includes 1-day HOHO and Dhow Cruise
I know I’m not alone when I say that walking tours aren’t ideal for everybody. Sometimes they’re just too tiring – especially when the sun is blaring, and you’re covering a lot of ground. With the City Sightseeing Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, you don’t have to worry about that because you’ll get to relax on a double-decker bus with the wind in your hair and a panorama of Dubai’s iconic landmarks right before your eyes!

Before anything else, make sure you decide on a 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day pass, which lets you curate your own adventure and opt for specific extras like a QE2 Heritage Tour, a dhow cruise, a visit to the Dubai Museum, or a Palm Jumeirah Cruise! Do yourself a favor and don’t miss out on the exhilarating Flying Cup ride, which offers incredible views of the skyscrapers and the Gulf.

As you cruise on through the city, the onboard commentary comes alive, offering all kinds of interesting facts and historical anecdotes about the sights passing by in real time. This multi-sensory experience was honestly way more fun than I expected, with the staff there to answer any questions you may have. Whether you’re enthralled by the soaring Burj Khalifa or drawn in by the winding souks of Deira, this is one tour you can’t miss.

While the average tour lasts around 2 hours, the buses do run regularly and offer extended operating hours, so you aren’t limited by anyone else’s schedule. If you’re limited on time, this is a fantastic way to explore the sights of Dubai while learning about the history of this magnificent place.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

#3 Dubai: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour 24, 48 or 72 Hours

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Dubai Mall
  • Departure Time: Varies
  • Duration: Varies
  • Includes: 24-hour, 48-hour, or 72-hour tickets, audio guide, kids’ commentary, sunset and night tour, Dhow cruise (if premium option selected), entry to The Lost Chambers Aquarium (if premium option selected)
Another one of the most common misconceptions about Dubai is that it’s some kind of adult playground, much like Vegas. While there are a lot of activities that kids probably wouldn’t find fun, that’s definitely not the case. With the Dubai: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour 24, 48 or 72 Hours tour, you’ll see that your kids will fall in love with this metropolis just as much as any adult can!

This hop-on-hop off tour is the best one I’ve seen if you’re bringing the entire family along for the ride. With a convenient kids’ commentary in both English and Arabic, they’ll get to experience each site from a perspective that they may find more intriguing than their older family members. Not only that, but you’re offered the ability to completely customize your itinerary to include the stops best for you and your family and leave out those you’re not as interested in.

With passes available for 24, 48, or 72 hours, you hold the key to exploring this extraordinary destination at you and your family’s own pace. There are 2 different sightseeing routes which both showcase the vary best of Dubai, including the Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, and the amazing Dubai Frame, which is the largest frame in the world (much cooler than it sounds). You can choose to either sit inside on the lower level or head up to the open-top deck to let the breeze blow through your hair as you’re enveloped by the rich culture on all sides.

With the multilingual audio tour commentary, you’ll hear tales of triumph as this modern metropolis essentially rises from the desert sands. If you want my recommendation, go ahead and indulge in the premium option which gets you on the Al Seef Dhow Cruise, the Lost Chambers Aquarium, and much more.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

#4 Dubai City Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off available
  • Departure Time: 9:00 am
  • Duration: 4 to 5 hours
  • Includes: Photo stop at Dubai Creek, Dubai Museum, Jumeirah Mosque visit, Tour of Palm Jumeria and Atlantis photo stop, bottled water
Perhaps you’re not quite into the idea of participating in a hop-on, hop-off tour, or you are looking for a more “traditional” tour of Dubai. Trust me when I say that the city can easily overload you and can be a bit of a daunting challenge to tackle if it’s your first time there. However, with a stress-free, comprehensive tour like the Dubai City Tour, you’ll be taken on a breathtaking journey through the heart and soul of this place.

While you don’t have as much flexibility when it comes to start times and tour length, if you have a morning free, you have to try this one out. Starting out at 9:00 am, your air-conditioned bus or coach will come and pick you and the rest of your party up right from the convenience of your hotel lobby! There’s no need to worry about booking separate transportation or getting to the tour offices on time.

After you’re picked up, relax in the plush, air-conditioned vehicle as you’re transported from one marvel to the next. I appreciated the ample legroom, the large windows, and the overall detail and organization from every staff member. The beachside Burj Al Arab hotel was one of the most impressive attractions for me, with the incredible architectural detail and contrast against the blue skies.

The Grand Mosque of Jumeirah is a must-see for anyone – particularly if you’re looking for a spiritual, tranquil place where you can really just soak in this culture and unique atmosphere. The vibrant Al Bastikiya neighborhood was a place I hadn’t heard of prior to this tour, but gave us a glimpse into Dubai’s more “humble past”. The narrow, winding streets, traditional mud-brick homes, and locals all evoke a kind of nostalgia that I’m glad I was able to experience.

The Dubai Museum housed within the ancient Al Fahidi Fort, textile markets, and the Spice and Gold Souk are all fascinating, as well. Don’t sleep on this tour!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

#5 Private Car with Driver at Disposal in Dubai

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off available
  • Departure Time: Varies
  • Duration: 5 to 10 hours
  • Includes: Bottled water, air-conditioned vehicle, private transportation
One of the things that many travelers are attracted to about Dubai, is its opulence and overall kind of “VIP” attitude. While that doesn’t represent all of Dubai, if that’s the vibe you’re going for, the Private Car with Driver at Disposal in Dubai tour is perfect for you. You are going to be traveling through the city completely hassle-free, without the need for taxis, tour buses, or anything else of the sort.

This completely customizable tour is based all on you and your party’s interests, and your guide will create a fascinating experience going off of that. You’ll be able to book your driver for anywhere from 5 to 10 hours, depending on everything you’d like to experience. If you have the budget for it, this was one of my favorite tours as it’s simply the easiest and most personalized.

You won’t be traveling with anyone you don’t know (aside from your guide/driver), and will ride comfortably in a private vehicle which is usually a luxury brand. I was blown away by how professional and knowledgeable our guide was, offering insights, providing recommendations, and answering literally any question we had. We really had the freedom to explore, lingering at places that we really were captivated by and he even let us adjust the itinerary spontaneously (within reason, of course).

I felt like it was like I had a local best friend who took us to all of the main tourist sites along with the “hidden gems” that the vast majority of visitors don’t get to experience. He knew the best times to visit each one in order to avoid the biggest crowds, which allowed for more intimate moments and a better time at each location. If you want convenience and exclusivity, this tour can’t be beat.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Dubai Travel Guide

Dubai Travel Guide

Dubai is a modern city of unparalleled expansion. Over a period of 50 years, the population has grown from 60,000 people to 3,188,000. Obviously, with that growth over 98% of the city’s buildings and infrastructure is brand new. Here’s where you’ll find the tallest building, the tallest hotel, and the busiest international passenger airport in the world.

But the history of Old Dubai goes back over 3,000 years and the desert wilderness is only a short drive away. Today, there’s lots for everyone to see and do in this fascinating global supercity.

Airports & Entry

Although the Emirate of Dubai is a small kingdom within a country of fewer than 10 million people, Dubai International Airport is a major transportation hub and the world’s third busiest airport. That means the airport is huge and offers some great facilities. There are 3 terminals and 4 concourses. However, while Terminal 3 is modern and the largest airport terminal building in the world, Terminals 1 and 2 are dated and not so plush.

Inside the airport, you’ll find a broad range of stores and eating outlets—like Costa Coffee, Baskin Robbins, and McDonald’s—many open 24 hours. There’s free Wi-Fi on the “DXB Free WiFi” and “DWC Free WiFi” networks and abundant mobile charging stations. If you require internet access but don’t have a mobile device, there are internet kiosks beside Connect and Global Link (Gate C16).

There are Information Desks near the Duty-Free stores Airside, and assistants wandering around the airport wearing blue polo shirts with a “May I Help You?” logo. You can find 24-hour currency exchange counters in all 3 terminals as well as ATMs.

If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a Children’s Play Area in Terminal 3 Airside. You’ll also find Baby Care Facilities throughout the airport. To gain access, visit one of the Information Desks or ask a “May I Help You?” assistant for help.

For passengers stranded at the airport for a long time, there’s a Health Club with a gym, showers, swimming pool, steam room, and jacuzzi Airside behind the Dubai International Hotel. This is accessed from Terminal 1, Gate 115, or Terminal 3, Concourse 2. For the less health-conscious, there are smoking rooms in Terminal 1 Airside, Gate D12, Terminal 2 Airside, and multiple locations in Terminal 3.

In case of medical emergencies, Medical Care Centers are found in Terminal 1, Gate C13, and Terminal 3, Level 0. There are pharmacies in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 Departures. Muslim prayer rooms are available in the car park and throughout the airport.

The airport is only 3 miles from the center of Dubai and getting there is simple by public transport. To use public transport, purchase a rechargeable NOL Card at the airport. NOL cards are used in Dubai to pay for buses, Metro, water buses, Dubai tram, and parking in RTA car parks.

The most efficient method is by Metro. Starting at 5.30 am and ending at midnight, services run every 10 minutes from Terminals 1 and 3. However, note that on Friday services don’t begin until 1 pm. Note there is a special “Gold Class” carriage at the front of the train if you want a scenic front window view during your journey. There are also designated carriages for women traveling alone and children.

Despite the distance being only 3 miles, the Metro journey to the city center takes 40 minutes. Because many hotels are situated next to Metro stations, it will be better for you to know where your hotel is and to plan your journey to go straight to that station rather than traveling to the city center. The cost is around $2.

The buses are operated by RTA and depart from bus stands opposite all 3 terminals. A special SkyBus service (also RTA) connects the airport directly to the most popular hotels. You’ll need a NOL Card to ride on a bus. Bus services are every 7 minutes during the day and 20 minutes at night. When the Metro is closed, you can still take a bus. The journey takes a minimum of 1 hour and may be much longer if there’s a traffic jam. The journey costs around $1.

The taxi rank is situated in the ground transportation area of the airport. Taxis driven by men are cream-colored, and taxis driven by women are pink trimmed. The ride into the city costs around $42 and usually takes less than 45 minutes. If you’re traveling with kids or elderly people, taking a taxi might be your best option to get quickly and safely to the hotel doorstep.

If you want the freedom of a hire car, note that there are more car rental companies represented at Terminal 1 Arrivals than at Terminals 2 and 3 Arrivals. You’ll need an International Drivers’ License and passport to hire a vehicle. You can hire a car for as little as $25 per day. Note that you may have to deal with traffic jams. I’d recommend using the Metro or a taxi rather than driving yourself in an unfamiliar city.

Planning Tips

Dubai is a popular destination, and the local people do their best to make visitors feel welcome. However, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Here are 5 tips for a trouble-free visit.

Tip #1: Decide what you want to do before planning when to go to Dubai

The weather is super hot in the summer. There’s a good chance you’ll feel uncomfortable on the beach if you try to visit during summer. Spring and fall are the best times to visit to enjoy the beach. And if you’re mainly interested in sightseeing, why not come in winter? However, note that December through February is the high season in Dubai, so the queues will be long.

Tip #2: Buy unique art and crafts

For unique souvenirs and gifts, visit the souks in Deira. This is the traditional market area in the city, and the Deira Gold Souk is famous.

Tip #3: Be careful not to offend with your clothing

Dubai is a liberal city where 70% of the residents are ex-pats. However, it is still an Islamic city. You don’t have to cover your head or wear traditional Arabic clothes (unless you’re visiting a mosque) but you are expected to be respectful. Avoid showing cleavage and midriff (unless in a nightclub or on a beach). Don’t wear super short shorts or skirts in public places where you’re likely to mix with locals, such as the shopping malls and museums. It’s not that it’s against the law…it’s being respectful of local customs and traditions.

Tip #4: Book in advance, especially during winter

Dubai is an especially popular destination. You won’t get into most nightclubs unless you book in advance. Many popular activities, such as going to the top of the world’s tallest building, can be booked in advance to avoid queues. Reputable tour companies offer refunds for tours tickets canceled with reasonable notice, so you’re not risking much when you book in advance.

Tip #5: Avoid visiting during Ramadan OR be patient and thoughtful

The timing of the month of Ramadan changes every year, but for 2020 it is around 23rd April through 23rd May. During Ramadan, you will find that many local people slow down and businesses close in the middle of the day for rests or early at night when the staff are due to break their fast. It is prohibited to eat in public during Ramadan, so you’ll only be able to eat in designated areas. You’ll be expected to dress more modestly during Ramadan and be especially polite.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Dubai is a fantastic place to sample Middle Eastern cuisine. Because of its central location in the Persian Gulf, the local fare is a tasty combination of Arabic, Iranian, and Lebanese food.

For breakfast, you could try margoogat. This is a rich vegetable stew with added Arab spices, such as bezar, cumin, and turmeric. Often made with tomato, squash, and eggplant, Dubaites often eat this dish to end their daily fast during Ramadan. Alternatively, manousheh is a popular breakfast dish from Lebanon composed of dough or flatbread topped with Akkawi cheese, olive oil, and za’atar herbs (thyme, oregano, and marjoram). It’s like a kind of pizza! You can sample Lebanese food like this at Enab Beirut, an eclectic food outlet near Al Khazzan Park.

Makbus, also known as kabsa, is a popular rice dish originating in Saudi Arabia and popular in Dubai. The rice, usually basmati, is mixed with chicken, lamb, or seafood and prepared in large pots with plenty of Arab spices, dried lemon, and salt. A popular restaurant to try this traditional rice dish is Al Barza Restaurant and Café on Jumeirah Street.

If you want to eat a traditional Bedouin dish, why not sample some camel milk and eat camel meat? Camel milk is saltier than cow’s milk but lower in cholesterol, richer in protein, and with more iron and Vitamin C. Dubaite chefs like to use camel’s meat in stews and burgers because of its exotic and robust flavor. You can sample camel steaks, kebabs, and chocolate camel milkshakes in Al Bastakiya Restaurant and Café on Al Fahidi Street.

Dubaite people have their own varieties of bread to eat with their meals. These include khameer, which is a date-sweetened bread you can eat on its own or filled with anything from chicken to cheese. Many eat traditional Iranian sangak, which is a leavened flatbread made from wheat. And main dishes are often accompanied by a zesty salad of cucumber, green onions, tomatoes, and mint called tabbouleh.

Speaking of salads, Dubai actually offers a wide range of traditional vegetarian dishes. Kousa mahshi is zucchini or courgettes stuffed with rice. Shirin polo is a delicious rice dish made from nuts, raisins, carrots, and basmati rice. However, be aware that there’s a non-vegetarian version of shirin polo with chicken added. And fatteh is a popular evening dish consisting of bread covered with chickpeas and topped with yogurt and tahini sauce.

For dessert, try kanafeh. This is a Levantine filo pastry coated in honey or syrup and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. Or assidat al-Boubar is a popular pumpkin porridge with almond flour, butter, sugar, milk, and raisins. And you may be offered luqaimat dumplings made from flour, starch, sugar, and cardamom powder and rolled in syrup.

But no meal is complete without gahwa. This is Arabic coffee offered to guests as an essential matter of hospitality. Unlike western coffee, this is seasoned with cloves and cardamom and tastes more bitter than the varieties you may be accustomed to. You may find it served to you in tiny cups without handles from ornate coffee pots.

Nightlife & Entertainment

Despite being an Islamic city on the edge of the desert, Dubai has an extremely wild and active nightlife with modern superclubs and international DJs. It’s like the Ibiza of the Muslim world. However, there are obviously many legal and cultural restrictions to be aware of.

The nightlife in Dubai starts earlier and ends earlier than in European or American cities. Nightclubs open between 10 pm and 3 am, and they are busy throughout this time with a peak around 1 am. All nightclubs and bars must close by 3 am.

All bars, nightclubs, and restaurants serving alcohol are inside hotel complexes. Legally, only hotels are allowed to serve alcohol.

You’ll find the dress code in the more exclusive nightclubs much stricter than in Europe and America. You won’t get in wearing shorts and crocks. You won’t even gain entry wearing jeans. Bouncers typically refuse entry to large groups of men. Mixed groups of men and women and small groups find easier entry into nightclubs.

To get into many clubs, you must already be on the guest list. So, research the clubs you’re interested in before setting out and make arrangements online using the club’s website or Facebook page. The best way to ensure entry is to reserve a table, but this is expensive.

The legal age to drink is 21 and drinking in the street is illegal. Many clubs only admit people over 25. Patrons must show their passport at the entrance to bars or nightclubs to gain entry. Never drive back to your hotel from a bar, club, or restaurant where you had a drink because if there’s an accident, even if it’s not your fault, you’ll be taken straight to jail. The United Arab Emirates has a zero-tolerance policy toward drink driving.

The busiest nights for nightlife are Thursday and Friday (because Friday is the Islamic Sunday). Tuesday is “ladies’ night” when women gain free entry into clubs and are offered discounts and free drinks. Don’t be too judgmental about “economic tourists”, but the nightclubs of Dubai are renowned for the large number of beautiful Russian women guests. Many are there to work in the businesses of this busy cosmopolitan city, but a few are seeking a wealthy spouse or patron.

You’ll find the nightlife where the hotels congregate, such as Medinat Jumeirah and Dubai Marina. The marina is a great place for romantic restaurant dates followed by an evening stroll along the canal.

Because Dubai is such a “Mecca” for businesspeople around the Middle East to escape the restrictions of their own city and let their hair down, you’ll find literally hundreds of nightclubs and bars. Many you will struggle to enter because they all have relatively low capacities and complete to attract the many millionaires and celebrities who frequent the city. Perhaps avoid the most exclusive nightclubs unless you happen to be a billionaire or movie star.

For example, Armani/Privé is one of the most famous clubs in Dubai and located inside the world’s tallest skyscraper. The dress code is super strict, and the entry and drink prices probably more than you earn in a month. If you do gain entry, you’ll find a raised VIP area, a dance floor, and a balcony overlooking the Dubai Fountain. Oh, and the interior décor was designed by Giorgio Armani.

White Dubai is the largest club in the city and sits on the rooftop of the ultra-modern Meydan Racecourse Grandstand. Here’s where you’ll find such famous names as Jason Derulo, Akon, and Nelly. There are incredible views, amazing light shows, and a dance floor open to the stars. But this is definitely a venue you’ll only get into if you’re on the guest list.

A slightly less exclusive nightclub is the N’Dulge Club in the Atlantis Dubai Hotel on the famous Palm Island artificial island. This superclub features an outdoor terrace and the N’Dulge Arena. The Lounge area operates alongside Nobu, a popular restaurant.

If you’re looking for a bar rather than a nightclub, you’ll find a good selection around the hotels of Dubai. For example, the Lock, Stock & Barrel is a large, New-York-style bar with exposed brick walls and pool tables. They offer live music and TV sports channels. The Treehouse is a rooftop bar with a garden terrace and an ambiance aimed at romantic couples. And Fibber Magee’s is a replica Irish pub designed to make you forget you’re in the desert. Everything is authentically Irish, including the live Irish folk music.

Getting Around

Because of the way Dubai has developed over the past fifty years, there are multiple centers dotted all over the city at considerable distances from one another. This means it’s not convenient to get around on foot. If you want to sightsee, you’ll find it easiest to get around by Metro or bus. To use the Metro, buses, water buses, and the Dubai tram you’ll need a rechargeable NOL Card.

Dubai’s modern Metro is fully automated, so you won’t see any drivers. Most of the Metro lines are above ground, so you’ll get great views of the city while getting around. But the Metro doesn’t reach everywhere. In New Dubai, you’ll sometimes have to use the Dubai Tram. And the Palm Island has its own monorail service.

The public bus service is the most affordable option to get around the city. There are 1,500 air-conditioned buses in the city. They go everywhere and run during the night when the Metro has closed.

It’s always an option to hail a taxi. While they aren’t super expensive, they’re pricier than the bus or the Metro. And, to be honest, you can probably get to most places on the Metro quicker than in a taxi. For ultimate freedom, you can always rent a car. To do this, you’ll require an International Driver’s License, passport, credit card, and insurance.


With its artificial islands and glitzy modern skyscrapers, you might expect Dubai to be an expensive place to stay. Yes, there are many exclusive 5-star luxury hotels and billionaires’ penthouses, but there are also affordable hotels and self-catering apartments suitable for travelers on a budget.

As a general rule, the further south you go, the newer and more expensive the accommodation becomes. Since most of the more interesting attractions are to the north, I’d recommend you stay in one of the Old Neighborhoods or nearby Downtown unless you’re only here for the beaches and nightlife and have a fat billfold.

The Old Neighborhoods

The older parts of the city are where you’ll find traditional butchers and bakers, street food, family restaurants, tailors, cobblers, and older residential buildings. These include Bur Dubai, Deira, Karama, Jumeirah, and Satwa.

In this area, you’ll also find the historic district of Bastakiya where old merchants’ mansions built using coral and mud have barjeel wind towers for natural air-conditioning. Some of these interesting structures now contain cultural centers and museums.

These neighborhoods are old, but they’re not run-down. And although they’re the cultural heart of the city, you’ll find accommodation in these areas generally cheaper than the recently developed areas. If you’re planning to self-cater, this is definitely the best area for you because the shops and markets in the old neighborhoods are cheaper than in the new city.

The Novotel in central Deira provides comfy rooms, tennis courts, and both adults’ and children’s swimming pools within easy walking distance of the Deira Metro Station. This is a good choice for solo women, families, and couples. And if you’re self-catering, consider the highly rated J5 RIMAL Hotel Apartments in Deira. The apartments come with living rooms and kitchenettes, so you can prepare your own meals and cut costs. Some of the higher-spec apartments also offer washing machines.

Business Bay and Downtown Dubai

This is the most central area of Dubai situated around the Dubai Mall between Old Dubai and Dubai Marina. It’s a convenient place to stay for visiting all the attractions because it’s so central and close to both Old Dubai and New Dubai by Metro.

In fact, some of the main attractions are found around the Dubai Mall, like the Dubai Aquarium and Dubai Fountain. Here you’ll find a good selection of restaurants, cafés, and bars as well as some of the more upmarket hotels with a lively nightlife.

Check out hotels like the Vida Downtown Dubai, which offers modern rooms a short walk from the Dubai Mall and Metro Station. The Manzil Downtown Dubai is even closer to the Dubai Mall and Metro and located in the liveliest part of Downtown Dubai.

Mall of the Emirates and Surrounding Area

Here you’ll find cosmopolitan Dubai where the mix of nationalities living and working in this area leads to a diverse range of food outlets and stores. It’s central and convenient for Metro Stations.

If you want to stay in luxury, there are plenty of 5-star options in this area, such as the Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel, with its plush rooms and rooftop pool. But there are still budget options, such as Centro Barsha by Rotana, which offers comfortable rooms within walking distance of the Metro and Mall of the Emirates.

New Dubai

This is that shiny area to the south of the city around Dubai Marina and the famous artificial islands of Palm Jumeirah and Bluewaters Island. This is where some of the glitziest buildings of Dubai are found. It’s the place to go if you want luxury hotels with Michelin-starred chefs and gold-plated faucets.

However, since billionaires and celebrities don’t use the Metro, you won’t find using the Metro so convenient in this area. There are no Metro stations on the artificial islands, for example. Dubai Marina does have a Metro station and offers a promenade for keen joggers and cyclists.

This is a great area to stay if you love beaches and want to spend much of your time sunbathing or swimming. But, the whole of New Dubai is a little distant from the main attractions and the lack of Metro stations makes it inconvenient for sightseeing.

The Movenpick Hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers is a 5-star hotel, but it’s one of the more affordable ones in this area. It’s in Dubai Marina, so it’s convenient for the Metro and the beaches. But if you want to stat in this area on a “budget”, consider an apartment at Marina View Deluxe Hotel. I use quotation marks around “budget” because this is the most expensive area, so even the budget options are relatively expensive. All suites come with refrigerators, microwaves, and kitchenettes for self-catering options, and it’s only a short walk from the Dubai Marina and Metro station.


Dubai has a hot desert climate. Unless you’re from Death Valley, take what you think of as hot and double it to imagine August in Dubai. You might think that swimming in temperatures of 1000F sounds great, but by the end of the day, you may envy lobsters. Midwinter temperatures in Dubai are similar to early summer in Massachusetts.

The weather in Dubai is coldest in January, with an average daily high of 750F and a low of 580F. It’s still sunny in winter. It’s not too cold to hit the beach and it’s a great time to go sightseeing. In April, the average high is 910F and low of 700F, which makes spring a perfect time of year for the beach.

It’s hottest in August, with an average high of 1060F and low of 870F. In the afternoon, it’s too hot for the beach, but it’s okay before 11 am and late in the evening. By November, the average high drops to 870F and the low is 680F, making the weather much better for the beach.


Many come to Dubai to admire the fantastic modern architecture and amazing monuments built over the past few decades, but the city also has a fascinating history.

The Dubai museum is a great place to visit to learn all about Dubai’s past. The museum is housed inside the Al-Fahidi Fort, which is the oldest building in the city built in 1787. The fort’s construction is entirely traditional using locally sourced materials. The walls are coral blocks cemented together with lime, and the ceilings are made from palm fronds and mud.

Inside the museum, you can learn about Dubaite cultural history through exhibitions like the traditional boats and palm-leaf house with a barjeel wind tower. Discover about Bedouin desert life and coastal pearl fishing. You’ll find the museum in the Bur Dubai area of the Old City.

In the nearby Bastakia Quarter, you can see historic homes built in the 19th century for wealthy Iranian merchants who came here to deal in textiles and pearls. The traditional buildings are built from coral and lime and feature barjeel wind towers that provided natural air-conditioning.

The best-known house is one built for Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum, former ruler of Dubai. The building is considered an excellent example of Arabian architecture and now houses The Dubai Museum of Historical Photographs and Documents.

On the opposite side of Dubai Creek is the area of Deira. Here’s where you’ll find the traditional souks (markets) including the Deira Gold Souk, the biggest gold bazaar in the world. There are many historic houses in this part of the Old City including Heritage House, an Iranian merchant’s house from 1890, and the Al-Ahmadiya School of 1912, which is the Museum of Public Education.

Among these historic neighborhoods is an amazing modern building called the Dubai Frame. This is a series of galleries exploring the history of Dubai housed inside a building shaped like a 492-feet-high picture frame. The empty frame is intended to “frame” both the Old City and the New City as it frames one or the other depending upon where you stand in relation to the frame.

And there are many new buildings in Downtown and New Dubai, including the iconic Burj al-Arab, which is the world’s tallest hotel. The hotel stands on its own artificial island and is shaped like a dhow sail. Its underwater Al-Mahara restaurant enables diners to view the surrounding sea life while they eat, while the Skyview Bar at the top of the hotel provides fantastic panoramic views of the city.

But the most famous building in the city is the 2722-feet-high Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest skyscraper in the world. Much like outside the Empire State Building in NYC, tourists queue to visit the observation deck on the 124th floor. To avoid a long wait, buy your “At the Top” entrance ticket in advance.

Many visitors to Dubai come to admire its huge shopping malls. The Dubai Mall is an interesting place to visit not only for the stores. It houses one of the most popular attractions in Dubai—the Dubai Aquarium. The aquarium features 140 species of sea life inside a huge tank on the ground floor of the mall. You can enter the Underwater Zoo to view this tank from underneath through aquarium tunnels.

If you want to get out of the city, the Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve is an interesting place to visit. There you’ll find bird and animal observation platforms and other attractions. At night, the Dubai Astronomy Group holds stargazing events in the reserve because the remote desert location boasts low light pollution.


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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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