The emirate is home to some of the most lavish hotels in existence, a smorgasbord of top restaurants, and the shopping is quite simply on another level.
Add this to the atmospheric souks, perfect beaches and the allure of the surrounding desert, and you really do have the total package.
But what to do in 48 hours? Well, where to start?! There’s plenty going on in Dubai to keep you occupied over two days, it just depends what you’re after – here’s a couple of things we suggest.
See the city from the top down
What better way to get your bearings in a city than to see it from one of the world’s largest buildings? The viewing platform at the Burj Khalifa is 124 floors up and the lift is a worthy experience in its own right. From here you can see for miles in all directions – just don’t look down. While it’s not free to get to the observation deck (it costs just under £20), it’s well worth the price and a great way to start your time in the city.
Dubai Mall and Gold Souk
Once you’re safely back down on terra firma, take a trip to two of Dubai’s best shopping areas: the Dubai Mall and the Golden Souk. Both are completely different, but intriguing in their own way.
The first is a massive expanse of luxury, complete with 1,200 stores and its own three-storey waterfall. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s worth seeing this temple of retail extravagance to be awed by its size. It’s also worth coming back here at night to see the Fountain in action – if you think the Bellagio fountains are impressive, wait until you see this.
For a shopping experience with a more traditional feel, head over to Deira and the Gold Souk. This marketplace is known for its cheap gold, but be prepared to haggle hard for it. The hustle and bustle of the area makes for a very entertaining afternoon out in Dubai.
Sample Dubai’s excellent restaurants
The city is packed full of sensational places to eat, so if you’ve only got two days here you need to pick wisely.
For seafood and a setting that just inspires romance, Pierchic is an excellent choice. Set out in the gulf on its own jetty, this place consistently tops best restaurants in Dubai lists. The food is exquisite; the setting, second to none.
If you want to sample food with a Middle Eastern flavour, Majlis Al Bahar could be the place for you. Simply set on the sand of the Burj Al Arab’s private island, intimacy and atmosphere will accompany any fine meal you have here.
On a side note, alcohol is not widely consumed in Dubai and it’s likely your hotel will be the only place licensed to serve it.
Head to the beach
Start off your day with a morning on the beach for a little relaxation time. Dubai has plenty of options to choose from in this respect, but if you want to go to the most spectacular, head over to Atlantis, The Palm’s beach. Jutting out into the ocean before the resplendent backdrop of the hotel itself, this beach is quite unlike any other you’ve bathed on before.
Aside from the remarkable views and setting, there’s also the Aquaventure water park, a gigantic complex of ridiculous slides, for when you get a little bored of laying on the sand.
Take in some culture
Dubai Museum tells you the interesting story about how the city rose up from a tiny fishing village to a destination of international prestige. Complete with artifacts and intriguing stories, the museum is a must for anyone who wants to look past the sparkling lights and flashy cars to understand the humble origins of Dubai.
Next door, you will find the remains of the old Wall of Dubai, which used to encircle the city in the 20th century. Today, all that remains is a 600m stretch, but it still offers you the chance to see what the architecture of the city was once like.
End your time in Dubai with an inspiring trip out to the desert. There are multiple options as to what you can do here, but most safaris include a 4×4 journey over the dunes, camel ride and evening show and meal in the middle of the vast sands.
The highlight of the entire thing, however, is always the sunset. It’s something you’ve witnessed thousands of times before in your life, but never have you truly seen the sun go down until you’ve seen it in the desert.
Once the night is ushered in and the evening dance show has finished, the lamps are generally extinguished to reveal the stars in all their blazing glory – these are the moments you can’t do justice with a picture.
If Dubai takes your fancy, take a look at our page to view our collection of recommended luxury hotels.