Dubai is wild. Everything’s the biggest, best, most luxurious or most eye-wateringly expensive. Some itineraries never show you the other side of the Emirate, but not mine! This 7 day Dubai itinerary explores the culture and heritage of the UAE. You’ll find recommendations for great tours, accommodation, food and even getting around on public transport!
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If you’re anything like me, Dubai was always that place you went through on your way to somewhere else. Spending 7 days in Dubai seemed totally excessive.
Kind of fitting for a city that’s the home of superlatives.
The tallest tower. The biggest wheel. The world’s only museum about the future. Luxury cars, air-conditioned malls the size of a small nation and temples to endless excess.
Dubai works so hard to be cutting edge that I assumed it was all sparkle and no soul.
Honestly though? Dubai turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
There’s loads of great stuff here that never makes it into those fancy adverts splashed across the pages of glossy international magazines. And that’s a real shame.
Follow your nose through the spice souq, and you walk the ancient routes of sailors and merchants who called the waters of the Arabian sea home. The floral notes of China’s roses, the earthy sweetness of Indian cardamom and the rich aroma of coffee from Ethiopia.
Board an abra in the old district of Bur Dubai and stroll down a gently swaying jetty to the sun-warmed deck. These boats once carried pearl divers and fishermen who put their lives in the hands of the ocean.
Venture into the desert, beneath the furious sun, and you understand that Bedouin people were forged in fire. Falcons and camels their weapons against an inhospitable world.
To get the best out of Dubai you need to harness their spirit of adventure.
Venture down streets where you’ll hear English, Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog and Russian create a whirlwind of sound that’ll make your head spin. Seek out humble restaurants that will transport you to the streets of Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq or Japan.
So how are you going to fit all of this Dubai fun into one week? That’s where I come in. I’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to! If you’re only in Dubai for three, four or five days, I’ve got you covered there too!
I’m definitely biased, but I think this itinerary is the best way to spend 7 days in Dubai.
3-day minimum but 7 days is best
Aim to visit from November to March for cooler temperatures
Easily accessible from all major international air hubs
Find culture beyond the skyscrapers
Fab for foodies and yes, alcohol is allowed
- 7 DAY DUBAI ITINERARY | HOW TO SPEND ONE WEEK IN DUBAI
- Itinerary for 7 Days in Dubai
- Day 1 | Jumeirah Mosque, Emirates Museum, Bur Dubai & Middle Eastern Food Tour
- Day 2 | Cultural Tour & Desert Adventure
- Day 3 | Spa, Shop & see Dubai from the Top
- Day 4 | Diving or Snorkelling & Sundowners
- Day 5 | Abu Dhabi Day Trip
- Day 6 | Dubai Design District, Ras Al Khoor Wildlife Sanctuary, the Museum of the Future & Dubai Marina
- Day 7 | Alserkal Avenue & Mirzam Chocolate Factory
- Who is this Dubai 7 day itinerary for?
- Dubai Itinerary 7 Days | Day 1
- 7 Days in Dubai Itinerary | Day 2
- Dubai Itinerary 7 Days | Day 3
- 7 Days in Dubai | Day 4 – Day Trip to Fujairah
- Dubai Itinerary for 7 Days | Day 5 – Day Trip to Abu Dhabi
- 7 Day Dubai Itinerary | Day 6
- 7 Days in Dubai Itinerary | Day 7
- Dubai Itinerary for 7 days Map
- How Many Days in Dubai is Enough?
- When is the Best Time to Visit Dubai?
- Where to Stay in Dubai
- How to Get to Dubai
- Getting to Dubai from the Airport
- Getting Around Dubai
- Day Trips and Guided Tours in Dubai
- What to Pack for 7 Days in Dubai
- FOLLOW & SHARE
7 DAY DUBAI ITINERARY | HOW TO SPEND ONE WEEK IN DUBAI
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Itinerary for 7 Days in Dubai
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll be doing each day. You don’t have to follow this exactly, but if you do want to do it exactly as written (hey my fellow Type A folks), you should start on a Wednesday.
Otherwise, you’ll need to shuffle things around. I’ve said which days are best for each activity in the relevant section. Just be sure not to arrange your Burj Khalifa visit within 24 hours of diving!
Day 1 | Jumeirah Mosque, Emirates Museum, Bur Dubai & Middle Eastern Food Tour
Your Dubai visit starts with an exploration of the food and culture of the region. Visit one of the only mosques in the United Arab Emirates to allow non-Muslims to enter, before learning about the formation of the UAE in 1971. Wander the streets of historic Dubai before embarking on a Middle Eastern Food Pilgrimage through one of the less touristy parts of town.
Day 2 | Cultural Tour & Desert Adventure
Start your day with a tour of Old Dubai and a meal at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. In the afternoon, head out into the desert to see the endangered Arabian Oryx, a falcon show and learn about Bedouin traditions
Day 3 | Spa, Shop & see Dubai from the Top
Head up the Burj Khalifa for breakfast, before indulging in some retail therapy at Dubai Mall. Then make your way to Madinat Jumeirah where you can opt for a waterpark adventure or, my choice, indulge at the spa.
Day 4 | Diving or Snorkelling & Sundowners
Get a taste of the beautiful underwater world of the Arabian Gulf on an adventure with Al Boom Diving. Finish your day with cocktails at one of Dubai’s many fantastic bars.
Day 5 | Abu Dhabi Day Trip
It would be a shame to be here for a week and miss out on seeing the UAE’s outpost of The Louvre Museum and the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. So you’re headed off on a day trip to Abu Dhabi!
Day 6 | Dubai Design District, Ras Al Khoor Wildlife Sanctuary, the Museum of the Future & Dubai Marina
Explore one of Dubai’s newest neighbourhoods before heading to the wildlife sanctuary where flamingoes congregate. Then go and see what to expect in 2071 at the world’s only museum about the future. End the day with a visit to Dubai Marina to watch the sunset.
Day 7 | Alserkal Avenue & Mirzam Chocolate Factory
Enjoy some up-and-coming artists before indulging in locally made chocolate and gelato before heading to the airport. The perfect way to end 7 days in Dubai!
Who is this Dubai 7 day itinerary for?
This Dubai itinerary has been curated for independent female travellers who want to find the soul of the city. There’s a focus on local culture, history and nature experiences because that’s what I like! The itinerary will also suit solo guys, couples and families.
My goal was to create something different from the dozens of other itineraries I’d seen. It’s less “Instagrammable places” and more “let’s go see some turtles and eat good food”.
Hopefully, this itinerary will give you a Dubai experience you wouldn’t expect. I think it’s perfect for first-time visitors. You’ll visit iconic sights like the Burj Khalifa, but it’ll also get you off the well-trodden tourist path and into other areas of the UAE.
If there’s an option to get involved with the local community, that’s what you’ll do.
I want to make it easy for you to do thoughtful travel in Dubai, and I’m sure this itinerary, with a focus on local experiences, will leave you feeling like you’ve had a great first taste of the city.
Here’s how to spend a week in Dubai, my way.
Dubai Itinerary 7 Days | Day 1
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Jumeirah, Old Dubai & Deira
DAY ONE TOP SIGHTS
Jumeirah Mosque | tours at 10am & 2pm
Etihad Museum | tours at noon & 5pm
Street Art on 2nd December St
Old Dubai | Abra ride
Food Tour in Deira
BEST DAYS | Saturday to Thursday
Get your week in Dubai off to the perfect start with coffee and a good breakfast. There are about a million cafes and coffee shops in Dubai to choose from, so you shouldn’t have a problem there! The Lime Tree Cafe & Kitchen is a good option since it’s close to your first stop for the day.
Make sure you get to Jumeirah Mosque for the tour that starts at 10am.
If you’re taking public transport get the red metro line to Max Station and then the X28 bus south at 9:15am to Jumeirah mosque. You’ll arrive at about 9:30am which gives you time for coffee and to explore the area.
If you prefer private transport, taxis are plentiful and will drop you right outside. Ride-share options are Uber and Careem. If you’ve got your own car there’s a large parking area beside the mosque.
Since Islam is the majority religion in Dubai, you’ll see a lot of mosques. The vast majority are only open to Muslims, so Jumeirah Mosque is pretty unique in allowing non-Muslims to enter.
The mosque itself is a gorgeous building, made entirely of pure white stone in the Fatimid style, but it’s the tours run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding that really put it on the list of best things to do in Dubai.
My tour was led by Tracey (also called Latifa) and was a really interesting discussion about the 5 pillars of Islam. You’ll get to hear and see a prayer ritual and are then encouraged to ask literally any question you’ve ever had about Islam or the culture of Dubai.
TIP | Dress modestly – both men and women should have their legs and shoulders covered. Women will be asked to wear a headscarf. There’s clothing available to both borrow and buy on-site if you don’t have anything appropriate.
Arrive about 30 minutes early to enjoy Arabic coffee and dates at the majlis (meeting room) next door to the mosque. You’ll need to register and pay here for your tour.
Where | Jumeirah Mosque
Hours | From 10am-8pm daily but avoid prayer times
Cost | 35 AED
Tours | At 10am & 2pm daily except Friday
Now you just need to take a quick 10-minute walk up the road to get to your second destination. You should be able to make it to the museum in time for the midday tour.
This is the site where the present-day UAE was born. The formation of the country, the signing of the constitution, and the raising of the first UAE flag all happened here.
The building itself is beautiful, meant to represent the shape of a manuscript. Seven supporting columns signify the pens used to sign the original declaration of the formation of the country.
Inside the museum, you’ll find a wealth of information about the Sheiks who signed that declaration, along with displays of their possessions. There are also several videos and interactive displays charting the history of the UAE.
This was one of the most interesting places I visited since my knowledge of the history of this region was pretty terrible. I think it’s a must-do during 7 days in Dubai.
Where | Etihad Museum
Hours | Daily 10am-8pm
Cost | 25 AED
Free Tours | noon & 5pm daily
Once you’ve finished at the museum, simply head outside to 2nd December Street which is directly opposite.
2nd December Street Art
This is one of the oldest parts of Dubai, and in cooler months makes for a lovely walk back to the metro station. In the heat of summer, you’ll probably want to catch a bus, taxi or return during the evening when it’s a more bearable temperature.
The street art here is part of the ‘Dubai Street Museum’ and is meant to show parts of the culture and heritage of the UAE.
There’s a really lovely guide to this area that you can follow for yourself. It explains what the art represents and also takes you to some of the best shops in the neighbourhood.
OPTION | If you want to visit the Dubai Frame, now is the time. You’ll find it in Zabeel Park, which is right beside the Max metro station. Get skip-the-line tickets here.
Head to The Sum of Us for a light lunch (trust me, you’re going to want to be very hungry for your food tour later), before making your way back to the red line at Max metro. Head north towards Centerpoint.
Get off at Burjuman and take exit 4, then walk up Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Street towards Dubai Creek and the neighbourhood of Al Seef.
Al Seef is where the historic heart of Dubai starts. Wander the streets of the district and take the opportunity to browse some of the shops that line the way.
Although the houses here aren’t actually that old, this is still the oldest part of Dubai. It’s a great place to get a feel for how it must have been here before the skyscrapers took over. The only things towering above you here are the wind towers of the houses.
Dubai gets incredibly hot in the summer, and these wind towers were a simple form of air conditioning. Hot air would rise out of the tower and cooler air gets drawn into the room below. I was pretty surprised to find out that it could actually make the room about 6 degrees cooler than the outside!
If you’re keen to learn a little more about the culture, then you’ve got time to pop into the Coffee Museum on your way through the district. It’s a lovely little space spread over 2 floors that describes the history of coffee. You can even roast your own!
Where | Coffee Museum
Open | 9am-5pm daily, closed Friday
Cost | 10 AED
I’ve heard really good things about the Dubai museum too, but unfortunately, it’s currently closed for refurbishment and there’s no news of when it will reopen. Let me know if you’ve visited and found it open!
Gradually make your way through the historic district until you reach the creek and the wharf for the traditional wooden abra boats that still cross here.
LOCAL TIP | You’ll need to have 1 AED in cash to pay the fare to transport you from Bur Dubai over to Deira Old Souk wharf.
From the wharf, it’s a short stroll to the Spice Souq where you can wander and marvel at the huge bins of vibrantly coloured spices. Make sure that you’ve got cash if you want to buy since most traders here won’t take cash.
If you’re not a fan of crowds or pushy salesmen then you might want to give this one a miss, but it sure is an experience! If you do want to buy then expect to be given an outrageous initial price – haggling here is an art form.
Depending on what time it is, you can also stop by the Gold Souq to have a look at the world’s largest gold ring. The gold here is all state certified and if you’re in the market for an entire dress made of gold, this is where you’ll find it!
If hectic markets and aggressive haggling aren’t really your thing, then I’d suggest that you make your way to the Bait Al Banat Women’s Museum instead. This little gem describes the role that women have played in the formation of the UAE.
There’s a beautiful exhibition on the top floor dedicated to Ousha Bint Khalifa, an Emirati poet. Although it’s entirely in Arabic without translations, it’s a gorgeous space.
Where | Women’s Museum
Open | 10am-6pm daily, closed Friday
Cost | 20 AED
Tip | If you can, get one of the guides to take you through the displays
Make sure that you make it to Al Rigga metro for the start of your food tour at around 6pm (times do vary so be sure to check). From the souq, you can take the green metro from Gold Souq station to Al Rigga, changing at Union to the red line. If you prefer, it’s easy to get a taxi.
Frying Pan Adventures Food Tour
Frying Pan Adventures is a locally owned and operated company run by sisters. They offer fantastic food tours into areas that you definitely wouldn’t think to visit on your own. I honestly think that this is the perfect way to end your first day in Dubai.
Other than some headphones so that you can hear your guide (also available to purchase for 24 AED cash), you don’t need to bring anything other than a very healthy appetite. My guide was called Nada and we had a great 4 hours exploring the cultural melting pot that is Dubai.
I don’t want to say too much, since part of the fun is the surprise of finding out what you’re eating at each stop. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say that you should expect to travel from Lebanon to Iraq via Syria, Turkey and a few other destinations along the way!
Who | Frying Pan Adventures Food Tours
Hours | variable, but most tours at 6pm
Cost | 425 AED
Tickets | book here
You’ll finish the night at around 10pm, by which point you’ll probably be in a food coma anyway, so it’s a good time to head back to the hotel to recharge for your second day of adventures in Dubai.
7 Days in Dubai Itinerary | Day 2
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Old Dubai & Desert
DAY TWO TOP SIGHTS
Centre for Cultural Understanding
Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
BEST DAYS | Tuesday & Thursday
Make your way to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for your tour this morning. You’ll need to be there by 10:30. The most convenient way is to take a taxi, but it’s also only a 10-minute walk from the nearest metro (Sharaf DG station).
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Book the Heritage Tour, Dagger Museum and mosque visit for this itinerary.
You’ll learn about the history of the district, see some of the major sites in the area and have a chance to ask your local guide literally any question you’ve ever wanted. The idea of the Centre is to promote conversation around different religions and cultures, and I found it to be a lovely way to explore Dubai’s heritage in a unique way.
I’d originally opted for the walking tour, having heard great things, but this was changed to the Heritage Bus tour a few days prior. I suspect that this was because it was a weekend in the summer and, actually, I was pretty glad about the air conditioning!
If you can’t manage to arrange for this day to fall on Tuesday or Thursday then you can book a meal at the Centre instead. Breakfast is available on Monday and Wednesday at 10am, and brunch on Saturday at 10:30am.
You should now have a bit of time to head back to your hotel for a swim or to freshen up before your afternoon activity. I’m about to send you off on what was one of my favourite excursions – a vintage landrover tour of a desert conservation area!
I spent a long time trying to work out which desert safari to do before eventually deciding on Platinum Heritage. They put a huge emphasis on sustainability, with a clear section on their website outlining their initiatives.
Rather than participating in dune bashing, which actually causes significant environmental degradation and loss of vegetation, you’ll go on a wilderness drive. Taking you through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, these drives are a chance to see the vulnerable Arabian oryx along with other native species.
We saw oryx, gazelles, gerbils and snakes, and it’s awesome to have the opportunity to see these species in their native environment whilst contributing to their preservation.
If you’re looking for something fun then opt for the Heritage Safari in a Vintage Landrover. It was an awesome experience heading out into the desert in these old cars, and the photo opportunities are awesome!
For something a little more special, there are also full-day trips into the mountains in the winter, as well as the Platinum Collection offerings of gourmet meals in the desert.
The pick-up from Dubai hotels happens in mid-afternoon and can take up to an hour depending on where the other guests in your car are staying. From the city, it’s about an hour of driving to the staging point of your tour.
TIPS | Be sure to wear clothing that will cover your arms from the harsh desert sun. In the winter months you’ll want to bring something warm as the temperature drops dramatically in the desert at night.
Here, you’ll get given a canvas tote, reusable water bottle and headscarf to take home with you. Have a quick photo session at the Landrovers and then you’re off into the desert. The drive is about an hour, followed by a sunset falconry display with refreshments.
From here you’ll head to the Bedouin village for dinner and dancing displays. Since this is a traditional activity, you won’t find any Bellydancing or alcohol on this trip. You’ll be dropped back at your hotel at around 10pm.
Where | Platinum Heritage
Hours | Hotel pick-up from 2:30pm (later in summer)
Cost | 595 AED
Add-ons | In winter, the overnight stay with hot air balloon ride comes highly recommended
Dubai Itinerary 7 Days | Day 3
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Downtown & Madinat Jumeirah
DAY THREE TOP SIGHTS
Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project
Burj Al Arab
BEST DAYS | Any
By now, you might have figured out that your week in Dubai consists of a few late nights! Today, you’re going to take it easy because you’ve got an early start tomorrow.
If I were a better blogger I’d be recommending you go up the Burj Khalifa to the lounge and have champagne. I’d stick up an affiliate link and make some sweet cash. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s remotely worth the expense.
Instead, go for breakfast at the world’s highest restaurant from ground level. Because I couldn’t construct a Dubai itinerary for 7 days and not send you up the Burj Khalifa at all!
At.mosphere at Burj Khalifa
Make sure that you book in advance to enjoy breakfast up on the 122nd floor of the impressive Burj Khalifa. You’ll want to book in for the restaurant and make you can request a window table at the time of making your reservation.
I’d suggest booking some time between 9am and 9:30am. You can either opt for the Decadence menu, with a buffet, main course, dessert, juice, tea and coffee for 375 AED or order a la carte. The menu can be viewed here.
Where | At.mosphere Restaurant
Hours | Breakfast from 7am-11am
Cost | Set breakfast menu 375 AED, a la carte minimum spend 200 AED
Obviously, if you’re dead set on going up to the viewing decks at the Burj Khalifa, you can do that after breakfast. I doubt you’ll feel like it’s necessary though! Instead, just head down from the restaurant to the Dubai Mall.
Have a wander through the mall if you want – there’s pretty much any shop that you could imagine and it’s a good place to pick up some quality goods without the aggravation of haggling that you get in the souqs!
If you’re not here to shop, then just make your way to Madinat Jumeirah, which is the area where you’ll be spending the rest of today.
Madinat Jumeirah is a resort complex, constructed to resemble the old district of Dubai. It comes complete with canals, abra rides, a waterpark and views of the world’s only self-proclaimed 7-star hotel. In other words, peak OTT Dubai.
Decide how you want to spend your time here for the rest of the day. There’s a pretty huge variety of options for you to choose from – after all, part of the fun of building a Dubai itinerary is getting to choose your own adventure!
Wild Wadi Waterpark
If you’re a fan of waterparks then Wild Wadi will be right up your alley. I’m not going to lie, I do find it hard to pass up the opportunity to enjoy a lazy river!
Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project that’s housed at the Jumeirah Al Naseem. There’s an outdoor turtle enclosure that’s open to the public every day of the week. Sick turtles from surrounding beaches are brought here by members of the public.
Rehabilitation consists of anything from feeding juveniles to piecing shattered shells back together with steel wire. The project has released over 1600 turtles back into the wild to date, including several critically endangered Hawksbills.
TIP | Come on a Wednesday at 11am for turtle feeding time at the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. Visiting the project is free.
What we’re really here for though, is the fun that awaits at the Burj Al-Arab.
Burj Al Arab – Talise Spa
If you, like me, are totally addicted to spas, then now’s your chance to really indulge. The Talise Spa is an absolutely stunning space with tiled pillars and mosaics leading you to an indoor infinity pool overlooking Downtown Dubai.
Where | Talise Spa
Hours | 9am-9pm
Cost | from 950 AED
Tip | Book your treatment for about an hour after your planned arrival time so that you get a chance to enjoy the facilities first
Splash out and get the Burj Al Arab signature massage for an absolutely heavenly 90-minutes of decadence.
Burj Al Arab – SAL
If you’re not a fan of a massage then there’s an alternative way to enjoy everything that the Burj Al Arab has to offer, and that’s by getting a day pass to the gorgeous SAL Beachclub pool and lounge area.
The saltwater infinity pool seems to drop off into the ocean, and the sand has been imported from Saudi Arabia where, apparently, sand doesn’t blow away in the wind. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure about this claim, but let me know what you think!
Either way, with 2 pools, a man-made beach, private cabanas and a stunning restaurant, what’s not to love?
Head back to your hotel at a reasonable hour because you’ve got an early start tomorrow!
7 Days in Dubai | Day 4 – Day Trip to Fujairah
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Fujairah
DAY THREE TOP SIGHTS
The Gulf of Oman
BEST DAYS | Any
If you’re a diver then you’ll definitely want to make sure you put this on your 7 day Dubai itinerary. This day trip with Al Boom Diving out to the Gulf of Oman was one of the best things I did during my time in Dubai.
TIP | Make sure that you wait at least 24 hours before going up the Burj Khalifa if you’ve been diving!
You’ll need to book in advance, but there’s a huge range of options from reef to wreck dives, and they also offer the standard PADI Dive courses if you’re not certified. If you’re not keen on the options for scuba diving while you’re in Dubai, then you should still take a look at the snorkelling trips run at the same sites.
Al Boom Diving Trip to Fujairah
You can either arrange for a pick-up from your hotel, meet at the centre in Dubai, or make your own way out to the diving shop at the Al Aqah resort. I opted to be collected and, although it was a 6am pick up, it meant that I didn’t have to worry about the details. The resort is about a 2-hour drive from Downtown Dubai.
I’ve written a full review of my trip so you can see what to expect. I’m not sure any blog post could do justice to the moment a sea turtle swam right past me and nearly hit me on the nose though!
Who | Al Boom Diving
Cost | 485 AED for 2 dives with full gear
You’ll return to Dubai at around 5pm, so there’s still plenty of time for you to go out for dinner and drinks.
Sundowners & Dinner
At the Madinat Jumeirah, where you were yesterday, Bahri Bar gets rave reviews for its cocktails and the beautiful location, particularly at sunset. Nearby Folly has stellar food, but it’s the views from the upstairs bar, The Rooftop, that are a real feast for the senses!
For a combination of drinks and spectacular dining, you don’t need to look much further than Zuma, which regularly features on Dubai’s best restaurant lists. Pop upstairs and you’ll find the fantastic Zuma Bar. Reservations are required far in advance for both venues so organise this early if you want to visit.
Just over the road is Level 43 Sky Lounge, which has one of the best views of the Burj Khalifa. They do a special sunset session for photographers which you can book in advance on their website. Otherwise, just head up here for a drink after dark.
For more of a curated experience, check out the Dubai pub crawl meetup group here. If you’re looking for Michelin star cuisine, then you’ll be thrilled to hear that the first Michelin guide for Dubai will be out shortly.
Dubai Itinerary for 7 Days | Day 5 – Day Trip to Abu Dhabi
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Abu Dhabi
DAY THREE TOP SIGHTS
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | closed Friday lunchtime
Louvre Abu Dhabi
BEST DAYS | Tuesday to
Ok, I know, it’s not technically in Dubai, but you’re coming all this way so it would be a shame to miss out on a couple of really beautiful sights.
There are several options to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai. The first is taking the E100 bus from Al Ghubaiba bus station in Old Dubai. It’ll only cost 25 AED, but it’ll take you about 3 hours to get there. So that’s 6 hours there and back. Although I’m usually a big advocate for public transport, on this occasion, I just don’t think it’s the best use of your time.
Option 2 is to hire a car. It’ll only take about 90 minutes to drive to Abu Dhabi, depending on your pick-up point. Although you’ve got the bother of driving, this is really the best way to maximise your time at each venue.
Check rentalcars.com for the best deals. For a single day of car hire, you’re looking at about 150 AED.
The final option is the best if you’re not keen to drive in Dubai. This tour from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is the best there is. You get door to door service and 2 hours each at the mosque and the museum.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
You’ve almost certainly seen it on Instagram. The beautiful white domes and the stunning inlaid mosaics of the courtyard lead to the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and massive crystal chandeliers. It’s an architectural beauty.
To get the most out of your visit I highly recommend that you take one of the free tours offered by the mosque. You’ll need to book a time to visit if you’re making your own way here, but it’s free to enter. Make sure that you wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders, and women will need to bring a headscarf.
The mosque is really beautiful lit up at night, so if you’re doing this independently be sure to return after dark. There’s ample parking on site.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Another absolutely beautiful building, the museum is worth visiting just for a look at the stunning dome. You might as well pop inside though since you’re here!
This outpost of the Louvre has 700 artworks from every period and civilisation. The collection is unique in that it’s arranged by theme rather than more traditional geography. It’s a really lovely way of showing how connected we all are.
Although it’s undoubtedly smaller than its sister outpost in Paris, you can’t do morning yoga or take a kayak paddle around the big Louvre!
Currently, your ticket for the museum allows you to spend 3 hours inside and that’s more than enough to have a good look at the exhibitions on display here. The cafe at the museum has a lovely sun deck and the food’s pretty good too. You’ll also find plenty of parking here.
Where | Louvre Abu Dhabi
Hours | 10am-5:30pm
Cost | 60 AED
Tickets | Book here
Tours | Get your audio guide for the museum here in advance and check out the available yoga and kayaking activities here
7 Day Dubai Itinerary | Day 6
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | D3, Downtown & Dubai Marina
DAY THREE TOP SIGHTS
Dubai Design District aka D3
Ras Al Khoor Wildlife Sanctuary
Museum of the Future
BEST DAYS | Sunday to Thursday
Unless you’re keen on taking the bus, the best way to get to D3 is by taxi. Once you’re here you can seek out the cool views back towards Downtown Dubai. I honestly think that this is where you’ll find some of the best in the whole city.
You’re also going to want to come hungry!
There are loads of great bakeries and cafes to choose from here, as well as arty shops to explore. The Espresso Lab is the place for coffee addicts, and Bageri Form around the corner does some wonderful pastries. If you’re looking for something more substantial then Otaku’s Japanese style breakfasts are absolutely delicious.
Once you’ve finished eating, grab a coffee to go and head for The Block. Sit creekside and watch the world go by before heading over to the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary.
Ras Al Khoor Wildlife Sanctuary
This might be one of the most surprising things that you see during your week in Dubai – wetlands full of flamingos in the middle of the city!
LOCAL TIP | The flamingos are present in larger numbers during winter months and get closest to the hides during morning feeding times.
Time limits were recently imposed on the hides in the wetlands, but if you’re the only person there then these don’t seem to be strictly enforced. You won’t need to spend long here anyway, unless you’re a keen twitcher!
Where | Ras Al Khoor Wildlife Sanctuary
Hours | 7:30am-5:30pm, closed Friday & Saturday
Cost | free
Once you’ve finished here, take a taxi or drive back to Downtown where it’s time for you to take a visit to the future!
Museum of the Future
Unfortunately, nothing can really compare to the stunning exterior of the museum. It’s absolutely beautiful, especially at night when the calligraphy is lit up and the entire building glows.
Although it’s not going to make it into my top museums of all time, Dubai’s Museum of the Future is a thought-provoking experience. There’s definitely no other museum like it in the world!
Like many of the other Dubai attractions, you’re first corralled into a waiting area along with dozens of other people, before being shuffled along in a huge group for much of your visit. There are opportunities to break off and explore, but they don’t really come until later in your visit.
My favourite floor was the spa and healing concept, where there’s the opportunity for some fun and interactive futuristic spa experiences. Also interesting is the section of the museum that shows off current inventions that aim to make the future a better place to live.
Once you’ve finished at the museum, make your way to the red line metro station and go south to DMCC station, the closest to Dubai Marina.
There are so many activities to do here that you’re really spoiled for choice. but I’d recommend that you just take a walk along the lovely Promenade. Just take some time to enjoy the many bars, eateries and shops that line the area and end up at JBR beach if you like.
What you’re really here for though, is an afternoon cruise in the marina. Book yourself a private cruise to get the full Dubai experience, although you’ll need to bring your own food and drink. For something a bit different, book this trip that includes a BBQ and time for swimming as well as sightseeing.
Head to Bliss Lounge to finish your day with views of the world’s largest Ferris wheel!
7 Days in Dubai Itinerary | Day 7
AREAS YOU’LL VISIT | Al Quoz
DAY THREE TOP SIGHTS
Mirzam Chocolate Factory
BEST DAYS | Any
I highly recommend that you start today by making your way to RAW Coffee Company for your morning caffeine fix. You’ll also find good pastries and delicious shakshuka here. You’re aiming to get to Alserkal Avenue at around 10am, which is when most of the stores open.
On your way here, you’ll feel like you’re entering the industrial heartland of Dubai. Construction sites and warehouses line the road and you’re probably wondering where the hell I’m sending you.
It’s ok. I promise it’s worth it.
Alserkal Ave is actually an art hub in the most unexpected area of the city. You’ll find art galleries, cafes and indie Cinema Akil, although you’re probably not going to be able to make it to a screening today!
Visit Green Art Gallery and Carbon 12 to see works by up-and-coming Arab artists. At Gulf Photo Plus you’ll find photography exhibits as well as everything you need to create your own masterpieces.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE | Gulf Photo Plus will develop rolls of film and also run some great photography workshops throughout the city
Be sure to pop into KAVE Cafe, the home of upcycling in Dubai. If you’re lucky, you might be able to make it to one of their workshops. Hopefully, you’ve worked up an appetite because they’re one of several great lunch spots in the area.
Where | Alserkal Avenue
Hours | 10am-7pm daily
Cost | free
Tip | Art week in early March is a great time to visit for cool pop-up exhibits
Once you’ve finished here, you’re on to your final stop on this 7 day Dubai itinerary.
Mirzam Chocolate Factory
Fair warning, chocoholics will struggle to get out of here with their sanity intact.
You absolutely must try and get to one of the tours at the factory. Running hourly from 9am until 3pm, each one offers something slightly different. Rest assured though, you’ll get a factory tour and a tasting at all of them.
Mirzam chocolate sources their beans from around the world and then lovingly crafts them into single-origin bars. When the time comes for tasting, you can actually see how unique the flavours are to the place the beans originated.
The bar wrappers are themselves, little pieces of art (and my downfall since I wanted all the pretty things). After your tour, you can grab a coffee, chocolate, locally made pastries or local gelato. I can vouch for the chocolate and pistachio as being among the best I’ve ever tasted!
Dubai Itinerary for 7 days Map
To make things easy for you when you follow this itinerary, I’ve created a map with all the locations mentioned.
To save this map to your own account, just click on the little star next to the title.
How Many Days in Dubai is Enough?
I know what you’re thinking – isn’t 7 days in Dubai actually too many?
Actually, I think this is the best way to see everything without feeling rushed, and I hope the itinerary above proves that. You can definitely get a taste of Dubai in 3 days, but then you’d have to miss out on some activities.
In my opinion, longer is always better, but even if you’ve only got time for a day trip to Dubai during transit, it’s still worth a visit.
When is the Best Time to Visit Dubai?
Winter. For the love of all things do not go in the summer.
The best time to visit Dubai is when the temperatures are bearable and you can actually walk around outside without feeling like you’re in a steam bath. I visited in late May, before the summer heat, and it was already 42°C.
For my American friends, I can’t really be bothered to Google that, but just know it’s hot enough to cook an egg on your car.
BEST TIME TO VISIT DUBAI | November to March
December and January are the coolest months, but I’d hardly classify them as cold, with daytime temperatures in the mid-twenties (again, °C). They’re also peak season for tourism in Dubai.
If you can handle things slightly hotter, but want to avoid the crowds then November or late February and March are a good compromise. Daytime temperatures may reach the low thirties, but it’s still totally possible to walk around without having to stop every 5 minutes to stand in somebody’s air conditioning.
Where to Stay in Dubai
The first thing to do is decide which area you want to stay in. Bur Dubai has old city charm, but you might find a few mosquitoes due to the creek that runs through the area. Downtown has good transport links and is an easy location for exploring. If you’re a beach lover then you’ll probably want to pick one of the waterside properties.
Here are my selections for a great stay in Dubai.
25hours One Central Dubai
This is where I stayed on my visit to Dubai and it was great. You can read about it here. The swimming pool has stunning views over the Museum of the Future, there’s a great spa, and the breakfast shakshuka is aces.
Transport links are fantastic, with the hotel just a 10 minute walk from the metro. You’ve also got access to the hotel’s electric Minis for a complimentary 4 hours, which means you can get to somewhere like D3 without worrying about taxis!
Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai
A Curio Collection by Hilton property, this is in the heart of Bur Dubai and immerses you in the heart of the Souq. The hotel is spread across several traditional Emirati houses and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
If you’re staying for a full week and don’t mind moving, I would recommend staying here for 2-3 nights and then moving to one of the Downtown or beachfront hotels for the remainder of your stay.
If it’s Burj Khalifa views and convenience that you’re after, then this is one of the best properties in Dubai. Located right beside Dubai Mall, it’s an easy drive to the airport and also has good public transport links.
For those who don’t want to travel far for entertainment and dinner, you could easily spend every night at a different venue without ever having to get in a taxi. There’s even a spa on site.
Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah
For beachside luxury, it doesn’t get much better than this. With 5 swimming pools and multiple restaurants, including the renowned Sublimotion, it’s possible you’ll never want to leave the hotel.
If you want to use public transport then this hotel, like all of the oceanfront properties, isn’t that conveniently located. They do, however, provide an airport shuttle.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper without compromising on location and facilities, then this is the hotel for you. You’ve got Burj Khalifa views from the pool, and there’s even a cinema on site! It’s within walking distance of Dubai Mall and also provides an airport shuttle.
How to Get to Dubai
The vast majority of people travelling to Dubai will arrive at Dubai’s main international airport (DBX). If you’re coming from one of the Gulf Countries then it’s possible your flight will arrive at DWC. FlyDubai, Gulf Air and El Al currently land at DWC.
Getting to Dubai from the Airport
From DBX you’ve got loads of options. The red metro line has a stop at the airport, so if you select a hotel that’s near a metro station this is a good option. It also means that if you’ve only got a few hours in the city you can easily make your way Downtown.
You can also grab a taxi from outside the station or order an Uber or Careem. Taxis are plentiful, cheap and convenient for getting around the city. Unless it’s rush hour.
Many of the hotels provide shuttles, but you’ll need to book these in advance by contacting the hotel.
Getting Around Dubai
It can seem a bit daunting to get around Dubai if you don’t have a car, but let me assure you that it’s perfectly possible. I used public transport my entire time in Dubai. Whilst it’s not always the fastest option, it keeps transport accessible for everyone, and you see a side of the city that you otherwise wouldn’t.
Currently, Dubai has only 2 metro lines. The red and the green. The red runs north to south and the green from east to west through the old part of the city. There’s no metro service to many of the beachside locations.
You’ll need to purchase a Nol card to use the metro. Trips are split into zones and charged accordingly. You should ensure you don’t let your credit drop below 8 AED just to be on the safe side. It’s easy to top up at machines at the stations.
Women should aim for the women and children carriage at one end of the train since it’s a much more pleasant experience. Especially during rush hour.
I’d recommend that couples or guys travelling alone get the Gold Nol card to allow travel in the carriage at the other end of the train if you’ll be using the metro during peak hours.
Buses in Dubai are air-conditioned and not too crowded. There are even air-conditioned bus stops! If you’re planning trips to the beach then you’ll find that you need to connect with the bus. Just like the metro, the bus takes your Nol card and charges by zone.
Taxis are pretty cheap and plentiful in Dubai. They’re not shy to honk at you if they think you look like you need a ride! Make sure that the metre is running and be aware that you might need cash.
Uber and Careem are ride-sharing services in Dubai and a good option if you don’t like hailing cabs and prefer to pay by card.
There are limited ferry times, but if they suit you then it’s an inexpensive way to get a cruise around the city! The Abra ride across the creek in Old Dubai is the cheapest and easiest way to get from one side to the other.
Dubai is not a city for walkers. Sure, you can enjoy a stroll around a district but, quite apart from the heat, the city’s designers seem determined to create multi-lane highways you just can’t cross. It’s not unheard of for people to hail a taxi just to get to the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road.
If you do want to have a walk, then the old part of the city is a good option, as well as JBR, the Marina Promenade and the waterfront at Dubai Design District.
Day Trips and Guided Tours in Dubai
There are a huge number of great tours in Dubai, and it would be impossible to list them all. Have a browse of the most popular here, and see what takes your fancy!
What to Pack for 7 Days in Dubai
What to pack for a trip to Dubai will vary very little depending on what time of the year you go. Dubai is warm all year round, and hot for half the year. You will, however, need to account for culturally sensitive clothing and icy air conditioning.
Don’t worry if you forget something since you’ll definitely be able to pick it up in one of Dubai’s many shopping malls!
What you’ll always need for 7 days in Dubai:
- A camera to capture all of your best Dubai moments!
- A cute day bag so that you don’t have to make trips back to the hotel.
- Comfortable shoes for desert and beach days
- A smart outfit for dining and drinks at night. Some clubs have a formal dress code so check when you book
- A scarf or pashmina. Not only are these great for staying warm if you end up under the AC unit, but they double as a head covering for mosque visits. I also found mine really helpful to keep the sun off me when I was walking around.
- A long skirt or loose-fitting trousers and long-sleeved top for mosque visits
- Bikinis are fine at resorts and hotel swimming pools, but for all its International flair, Dubai is still a Muslim country. Be mindful of this and consider dressing more conservatively as a way of respecting culture.
I really hope that you found this Dubai itinerary for 7 days useful for planning your own visit. Please let me know if you find that any of this information is out of date or you’ve got a great option that you’d love to see here!
Here are some other posts to help you if you’re planning your own visit:
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t go anywhere without it! I use and recommend Safety Wing.
THOUGHTFUL TRAVEL | No matter where you go, try to always be aware of the fact that travel impacts the place and people that live there. Being a thoughtful traveller is more important than ever. Here are my top tips to make your trip a mindful one.
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love my photos and want to know how to take better shots on your own trips? Then my photography guide is for you. Here’s all the photography gear I use too. Want to buy one of my images? Head to the Print Store.
ESSENTIAL GEAR | You’ll find my travel essentials here, and a complete guide to all my hiking gear here.
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