Palm Jumeriah is often voted as the best area in Dubai. However, to get those iconic views of the palm shaped island, you really have to take a helicopter ride. As some accessible alternatives, here are my suggestions for the best areas in Dubai:
Best Areas in Dubai
Downtown Dubai is the hub of the city – this is where it’s all going on. Plus, it’s home to three record-breaking structures.
Firstly, the multiple world record breaking Burj Khalifa. At over 828m, it truly is a sight to behold. In fact, it’s rather difficult to really grasp the scale of this mega building. When in Dubai, the least you can do is visit downtown and crane your neck up to the top of the tallest building in the world. If you fancy a visit up to one of Burj Khalifa’s observation decks, prices start at 141 Dirham (£30/US$38).
Just next door to the Burj Khalifa sits the world’s largest shopping centre – the Dubai Mall. This centre of retail, entertainment and dining is one of staggering proportions. With over 1500 shops and restaurants spread out over 7 floors, it’s quite easy to lose your bearing when exploring the Dubai Mall!
Thirdly, in the area of land connecting the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall sits a water fountain of world record proportion. When active, these are the world’s tallest performing fountains, acting as a centrepiece to Downtown Dubai. The fountain shows start daily at 6pm and occur every 30 mins (each water show is to a song and lasts up to 5 mins).
South of downtown, and situated on the coast, is Dubai Marina. With plenty of high-rise buildings offering Airbnb accommodation, this is a popular area for budget conscious travellers to stay whilst in Dubai. It’s also well serviced by buses, trains and light rail from the city. The marina itself is a nice area to walk around – just not in the middle of the day (too hot)!
Dubai Marina has multiple beaches – a number of private ones for hotel guests only plus a large public one called JBR Beach (Jumeirah Beach Residence). JBR Beach has pretty much everything you could want: soft sand; warm water; plenty of amenities; great views and watersports activities. At the southern end of JBR Beach (technically called Marina Beach), there is occasionally a DJ playing summer house music to coincide with the sunset – quite an immersive experience!
Although the drinking laws are quite strict in Dubai (drinking age 21, tourists only allowed to buy/consume alcohol in restaurants/clubs etc) there are still places where you can have a good time. One of those places in the Dubai Marina area is Barasti Beach bar. This beachfront sports bar has plenty of chilling space for individuals or small groups of friends. Football and other sports are shown live on the big screens whilst waiters come around offering shisha. If you want a real party, head down on a Thursday night – there’s usually a pool party happening or a DJ playing tunes on the beach!
As well as visiting these two unmissable areas of Dubai, I’d also recommend attending an event whilst in the city. There are hundreds of options year-round, so just keep an eye on the event calendars such as this one on the Visit Dubai website.
When I was in Dubai, I was lucky enough to stumble across the annual International Beach Soccer Cup. Dubai hosts this prestigious competition every November, so if you like footy then maybe consider visiting whilst it’s on! Entrance is free and the arenas are small so you can get pretty close to the action.