Make the Most of 72 Hours in Dubai
Just because you’re not in Dubai for a long time, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a good time! This cosmopolitan city in the middle of the Arabian Desert offers some serious awe-inspiring experiences, even if you’re here for an extended stopover or a long weekend. To be honest, you can tick more things off your bucket list during 72 hours in Dubai than you could in a month soaking up the sun at a beach resort in the Caribbean.
We realise coming to a place where you can see and try pretty much everything, coming up with the perfect itinerary may be a little overwhelming. I mean, where are you supposed to start when you can literally kick the day off laying by the pool dipped in SPF 50, and end the night, two minutes down the road, skiing down the slopes and building snowmen?
That’s where we come in!
Our city experts have put together the perfect itinerary to help you make the most of Dubai in 72 hours. So, without further ado…
Catch the sunrise from the top of Burj Khalifa
Start your stay off on a high note by visiting the world’s tallest building, bright and early. Standing at 828 meters, the views from the top of the Burj Khalifa really are worth the hype! Opt for a visit in the early hours, to catch the first rays lighting up the skyline like you’ve never seen before. You can visit the observation deck on the 124th and 125th floor by taking a 35-second elevator ride, or go the full nine yards and take in the breath-taking views from the world’s highest observation deck on the 148th floor.
If you’re more of a sunset lover or prefer to admire the night-time skyline of the buzzing city, schedule your visit for the later hours. Whilst you’re there, you can also enjoy the world’s largest choreographed fountain show at the Dubai Fountain. Go for a spectacular angle from high above, or if you’re a music lover — head down. The magnificent show takes place every 30 minutes starting from 6pm daily and is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.
If you decide to tick this must-try experience off your list, we suggest getting your tickets to At the Top online before the planned visit, to avoid disappointment due to sell out, or wasting time standing in line.
Shop until you drop
Once you’ve got your fix of the record-breaking heights, descend back to earth to visit the world’s largest mall. The Dubai Mall is so much more than just a Holy Grail for self-proclaimed shopaholics. Covering an area equivalent to 200 football pitches, the mall offers something for everyone. Visit any of the more than 1200 retail stores, fuel up at one of the hundreds of food and beverage outlets or enjoy countless attractions and activities. Check out the incredible indoor waterfall and explore marine life at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. If you’re looking to cool off, head for the Olympic-sized ice rink for a quick spin. Escape the hustle and bustle and embark on a truly unique art adventure at Infinity des Lumières. The immersive digital art gallery on level 2 will send you on a cultural journey filled with world-class art like you’ve never seen it before. Enjoy classical melodies as you admire masterpieces by renowned artists in this calming oasis in the middle of the Dubai mall.
In case you’re travelling with kids, KidZania is the place to be. Once the enticing popcorn smells get the best of you, give your feet a well-deserved break and check out the huge cinema complex before heading for further explorations.
Bear in mind that since time is of the essence, you will have to pick and choose which activities you’re going to go with this time. On the bright side – you’ll have plenty of reasons to come back!
Hop on a souk adventure
For those looking to get from point A to point B, Dubai has an amazing metro system, but to make the most of your exploration time, we suggest going for a Hop On, Hop Off City Sightseeing bus tour. You can get a ticket valid for 24, 48 hours or 72 hours, which gives you the chance to see and learn about all the most popular sights in Dubai. Hop on the bus from the Dubai Mall and head for the Al Fahidi Historical District. Once you’re done exploring, grab the next bus and discover the Old Souk, Heritage Village and the amazing Gold and Spice Souks.
Smelling the incredible aromas at the Spice Souk as you try and decide what to bring home, you’re transported into the heart of the Arabian culture after leaving the state-of-the-art skyscrapers behind. As you enter the Gold Souk, you’ll get to experience the wealth Dubai is known for first hand. It is the biggest gold market in the region and it is here that you can witness the world’s largest gold ring – 64 kilograms of it to be exact.
Leave your average jewellery store etiquette at the door however, as it is expected for the customers to haggle over the price. In some cases, you can get as much as 50 percent off the initial offer. That’s quite the bargain if you ask us!
Jumeirah Beach near Burj Al Arab.
It’s showtime at La Perle
Once you’ve filled your bags with gold and spice and everything nice, it’s time to end your first day in Dubai with a real treat.
Now is your chance to dress up and make your way to the Al Habtoor City for a one-of-a-kind aqua theatre experience. La Perle is the region’s first permanent show, created by director Franco Dragone. The spectacle includes nail-biting stunts, exceptional choreography, a gripping storyline and a mind-blowing water show.
When the show is over and you’ve regained your ability to speak, go over all the unforgettable highlights with your companions at one of the amazing restaurants on site. With over 20 food outlets to choose from, there’s a treat for every taste bud.
As you head for your accommodation, you may want to enjoy the unbeatable view of the gorgeous creek from a different angle. In that case, we suggest taking a traditional dhow boat cruise along the waterfront.
Ready for day two
Find the stop closest to you and hop back on to your tour bus. As you reach Madinat Jumeirah, an Arabian bazaar, here’s your chance to hop off and carry on with your adventure. Stroll along the beautiful streets to the white sands of the Sunset Beach. Now it’s time to grab your camera to snap pictures of one of the most known Dubai landmarks – Burj al Arab. Built on a man-made island, this sail-shaped luxury hotel is often referred to as the world’s first seven-star hotel.
If you want to get your foot in the door and take a closer look, you can book an afternoon tea at the hotel’s restaurant Sahn Eddar. A heads up — be sure to book in advance as you can only enter this exclusive establishment with a reservation.
When you’re done snapping pictures and enjoying the beach, head back to the Souk Madinat for some treasure hunting. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even approach the market on a traditional abra boat. The shops and stalls are filled with amazing finds from traditional dresses and shoes to enticing perfumes and souvenirs.
Before getting back on the bus, treat yourself to some incredible culinary experiences at any of the restaurants located at the Souk Madinat. Opt for outdoor seating for the best views and some sunshine.
Discover the Atlantis
The next stop will take you to the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island – home of the breath-taking Atlantis hotel.
The Atlantis is known for a number of Michelin star restaurants and its famous underwater hotel suites. For your own glimpse of the underwater action, discover the marine life at The Lost Chambers Aquarium, grab some lunch at one of the on-the-spot cafes or opt for more formal dining — the choice is yours!
For those of you looking to pick up the pace — whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, or a family, your itinerary should definitely include the Aquaventure Waterpark at the Atlantis hotel. Newly crowned the largest waterpark in the world, due to its recent expansion, you can choose from 79 different slides and attractions. There’s something for everyone, however brave or cautious you are! Get your heart pumping as you speed down the Poseidon’s revenge and calm your nerves on the lazy river or on the beautiful private beach.
The desert awaits
To visit the UAE and not go to the desert is like going to Paris and never seeing the Eiffel tower – did you really even go?
Finish the second day off strong by booking a sunset safari and heading to the desert. Just a 45-minute drive from the bustling city centre, you’ll find a calming oasis bringing you back to the nature.
If you’re looking for some thrills, the dune drive will do the trick. Then it’s time to calm things down a bit, whilst enjoying the gorgeous Arabian sunset accompanied by a few adorable gazelles here and there.
As you head for the desert camp, you’ll be welcomed with juicy dates and smooth Arabic coffee to get the must-try cultural experience going.
Take a ride on a camel to channel your inner Emirati and find your balance sandboarding down the beautiful dunes.
To finish off the night, enjoy a flavourful barbeque dinner with your companions. Whilst enjoying the feast, you’ll be taken on a head-spinning journey by the local entertainers. Clap along with the amazing Tanoura dancer and admire the outstanding performances of the belly dancer and fire dancer.
Don’t forget to get a Henna painting before you leave the camp to make the memories last longer.
The ultimate Expo experience
If you’re visiting Dubai during the months of Expo 2020 (from the 1st of October until the 31st of March), this once-in-a-lifetime experience is one you won’t want to miss. So, naturally, if you only have 72 hours in Dubai, we would recommend dedicating one of those days to visit the Expo 2020. However, as there is so much to see, we have dedicated an entire “Make the most of EXPO” page to this topic.
If you’re ready to get your Dubai discoveries started, you can book any of the mentioned experiences here. Don’t forget to reach out to us if you need any assistance or have any questions.