Dubai has been on the touristic rise for years already. As one of the countries open for tourism lately (during Rona ;-)), I thought I’d create a little itinerary for spending 3 days in Dubai.
Since Emirates made DXB (Dubai International Airport) one of the most essential turnstiles for international travel, many stay in Dubai for a quick stopover before heading on to another destination. And let me tell you…Dubai is absolutely perfect for a short stay!
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What are the most important things to consider when you’re only spending 3 days in a city?
In general, we want to see the most important attractions and sights and use the time wisely to maximize your experience, right?!. I always like to look at opening hours and distances between my desired places before setting up an itinerary for my time there.
Now, what are the most important places to visit in Dubai in 3 days? That’s not an easy question. Dubai has a lot to offer, and you could spend many days in this city exploring it all, for sure. This Dubai 3 Day Itinerary right here concentrates on the most iconic sights you should have seen once you’re there. Nevertheless, feel free to switch out some attractions depending on your interest. This one is just a suggestion from me to you 🙂
How to get around
If you’ve never been to Dubai, you’ll probably ask yourself if you can reach all of those things by public transport or if you need to rent a car, right? The answer to this question is: However you’d prefer! The main attractions are all reachable with the Dubai Metro, which is absolutely clean, on time, and comfortable to take. Nevertheless, cars are the primary way of transport here, and you’ll find parking spots everywhere. We traveled both ways, and it didn’t really make a difference. (Only Exception: Dubai Miracle Gardens. If you don’t want to ride several busses for hours, a car would be a lot more comfortable.)
The perfect 3 day itinerary
The first day will be exploring all the main attractions in the central area around Burj Khalifa & Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall itself isn’t just a Mall. It’s like a small cosmos. You’ll have shops, restaurants, and everything else that’s typical for a mall. Still, you’ll also find the entrance to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Aquarium here. Once you step outside, you’ll stand in front of the Fountains and the Burj Khalifa.
We’re starting the day in the Dubai Mall. If you didn’t have breakfast yet, you could, e.g., try the IHOP Restaurant for great pancakes and more delicious food. Once you’re ready to conquer the day, I’d recommend getting the tickets for the Burj Khalifa (if you haven’t done that yet).
You can buy them in the Mall or online via the official website or on Get your Guide¹, for example. There are several options to choose from, and you will pick a time slot for your visit. If you want to be up there for sunset, I’d recommend booking them a few days in advance. (We ended up buying a combo ticket that also included the Aquarium, which was AED 229 per person.)
Depending on your time slot for the “At The Top – Burj Khalifa “experience, you’d plan the rest of your day around this. (The Burj Khalifa will take approx 1,5 – 2hrs, including the waiting line and the time up there).
So, either before or after the Burj Khalifa, you’d visit the Dubai Aquarium and the Underwater Zoo.
The Aquarium is already included in the ticket and offers you the iconic underwater tunnel. To be honest, it wasn’t as tremendous as we expected. The underwater Zoo is a lot bigger and really interesting, so I’d recommend getting the extra ticket for the Zoo. It’s better than the Aquarium only!
Since you’re already in the Dubai Mall, take your time in-between the attractions to (window-)shop a little and make sure not to miss the “the Souk “part of the Dubai Mall. You can reach it from the outside after crossing the bridge next to the Fountains or through a tunnel in the Mall.
Then, it’s time to watch the famous Dubai Fountains. The water spectacle is accompanied by music and absolutely fascinating to see! If you want to have a great view, you either need to be early or try the Apple Store’s terrace in the Mall which faces the fountains. Keep in mind, though, that it can get incredibly crowded, especially for the evening shows.
PS: Watching the Fountains from the Burj Khalifa itself isn’t that spectacular since you’re on such high elevation. You really don’t see much, and you don’t hear the music.
In case you still have some spare time because you’re not that much of a shopping queen, you can check out one of the newest attractions in Dubai, the Dubai Frame. The observation deck with the glass walk will offer a great view!
The second day will be a little more traditional after diving into the glamorous world of fountain shows, skyscrapers, and exclusive shops in the Dubai Mall. This day will show you the old part of Dubai and get you in the mood for 1001 nights while spending the afternoon/evening in the desert.
Let’s start in the morning:
Our destination is the traditional part of Dubai, the Deira area. Here, along Dubai Creek, you’ll find the famous Souks. I’d recommend starting at the Textile Souk and slowly dive into the culture. After strolling through this area, take one of the “Abra “boats to cross the creek.
On the other side, you’ll find the Gold and Spice Souk. Take your time, shop, and stroll around. Maybe you even sit down for a tea? The area is such a fascinating contrast to the sparkling, luxurious parts of Dubai and lets you learn more about its origin.
If you’re still having some spare time, check out the Heritage Village before heading back to the hotel. The Heritage Village is a museum city offering insights into tradition, housing, architecture, and Dubai’s history.
In the afternoon, it’s time for a desert safari.
Usually, the guides will pick you up at your hotel at around 3pm or 4pm for the afternoon tours. Depending on the kind of adventure you booked, you will be taken to the camp directly or have another experience before that (camel riding, quad tours,..). We went for the quad tour, and I would 100% recommend it. You can book such tours online, for example, on Airbnb adventures, TripAdvisor, or GetYourGuide¹. We booked our tour via AirBnB and were incredibly happy with our guide Sandy from Ocean Air Tours and the Lahab desert tour. (Definitely not sponsored, just a recommendation from the bottom of my heart. You can find our tour here.)
The guides will bring you back to your hotel after your night in the camp at around 9 pm.
If you want to learn more about the desert safaris and why you should go there in the afternoon, make sure to read my blogpost about the Dubai Desert Safari Experience.
On the last day, we’re heading to another noteworthy building, the Burj Al Arab. While you can’t really visit it like the Burj Khalifa, you can get a charming view from the beaches surrounding it.
Talking about beaches: If you’re up for a relaxed morning at the beach, make sure to head to JBR Beach, where you can also go Parasailing or Wakeboarding, for example. JBR Beach is located directly across the Dubai Marina and very well known amongst locals and tourists, so the infrastructure (shopping, restaurants, parking,..) is excellent.
If you’re not in the mood for tanning at the beach, visit the famous Palm Jumeirah. You can take a little train called Monorail up and down the Palm to get a closer look. It ends at the Atlantis the Palm, where you’ll also find the Lost Chambers Aquarium and the Aquaventure Water Park.
After your beach morning, you head to another mall: The Mall of the Emirates. This Mall is famous for its indoor skiing area called Ski Dubai. You can try it yourself, of course, and buy one of the packages, including hot chocolate, or you can just look at the spectacle from the outside.
The Mall Itself has various shops to offer where you can definitely spend quite some time (and money, lol.)
If you happen to have no more space in your luggage and skip the shopping spree, drive down to the Dubai Miracle Gardens. This outdoor exhibition has over 150 million flowers, which you might have seen around Instagram because of their A380 airplane flower imitation. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend this in the summer months due to the high temperatures.
That’s it for the things to do in Dubai in 3 days. Of course, it’s up to you how you plan your stay, but I hope this helps you a little in guiding you through the time in the city. If you would like to know more about Dubai’s highlights: I wrote a blog post about it which might help you plan your itinerary. Make sure to check it out here!
Whether you’re just having a quick Dubai Stopover or you’re staying more than 3 days in Dubai, I hope you’ll have a fantastic time.
Let me know in the comments if you liked this post and found it helpful. Also, make sure to read the other Dubai related blogposts in preparation for your stay 🙂
As always, stay happy and healthy!
See you soon,
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