Dubai is a land of splendour and opulence, well-known for being a hotspot for luxury travel. But outside the incredible man-made beaches of the Palm Jumeirah, the wondrous views from the Burj Khalifa and the many fine stores of Dubai Mall, there are plenty of other little gems that make this part of the world unique and interesting.

Read on to find out about some of the hidden treats that Dubai has to offer.

Dubai’s oldest district

Think Dubai and your mind usually conjures up images of shiny chrome and polished glass. However, over in the Bastakiya Area of the city you are able to see a more traditional type of architecture, more akin with the Middle East.

This residential area is filled with little, narrow streets and wind towers as well as being home to some of the oldest structures in the entire city. Here, you will also find the Al Fahidi Fort – once the home of Dubai’s rulers – which now houses the Dubai Museum. The museum itself is an excellent place to find out about the city’s rise from a small fishing village to one of the most important emirates in the region.

Go camel shopping

Although you might struggle to get a fully grown camel in your suitcase to take home with you, visiting Dubai’s camel market is about much more than picking up a dromedary bargain. As you approach, you’ll see hundreds of the beasts loitering outside. Within the market itself, you’ll witness vendors buying and selling these bizarre-looking animals for racing and other purposes. There’s also a number of small craft stalls and places to buy refreshments in the market.

Head to the little town of Lisaili, next to the Dubai Racing and Camel Club to experience this one-of-a-kind market.

Ras al Khor wildlife sanctuary

An oasis of calm in the heart of a hectic city, Ras al Khor wildlife sanctuary offers you the chance to see some of the emirate’s fascinating wildlife (other than camels). The first thing you’ll notice about the sanctuary is that it is absolutely rammed full of birds. There are over 270 species here, the most impressive and iconic being the flamingo.

Spread out across the tepid lagoons and mudflats of the park, this graceful pink animal can be seen roosting in relative peace among the many other birds that stop off here on their migration routes. There are two platforms equipped with high-quality binoculars to ensure that you can see the birds clearly without scaring them away.

Antique museum

The curiously named Antique museum is the ideal place to spend an afternoon gawking at ornate goods from all over the world. Just remember one thing during your visit: it’s not a actually a museum, it’s a shop.

Located in Al Quoz, this 65,000sq ft expanse of maze-like passages filled with intricate ornaments, hand-made furniture, jewel-studded weaponry, and much more besides. From the outside, it looks like a place you might pass on the M62, but once you step within you’ll have the pick of Dubai’s finest keepsakes and souvenirs.

Ice skating in the desert

While the ice rink isn’t really hidden – it’s in the Dubai Mall, one of the city’s biggest attractions – the novelty of ice skating in 30 degree heat is just too good to miss off the list.
It’s open every day from 10am until 12am, making it the perfect place to escape the fierce Dubai heat. As Dubai never does anything by halves, the rink is of Olympic-sized proportions – well, every shopping centre has one, don’t they?

After, you can check out the other incredible attractions in the Mall – besides the shops – namely, the aquarium, which is home to the world’s largest piece of perspex glass.

Sharjah

Just outside of Dubai, this emirate is well worth a visit if you have a day to spare during your trip. The highlight of Sharjah has to be the Blue Souk, a huge market housed in stunning, azul-tiled buildings. The emirate also has its fair share of world-class museums, letting you explore everything from archaeology to science to marine life.

As well as this, Sharjah is blessed with a number of naturally beautiful areas including the Al Jazira Park-, the Khalid Lagoon and the Arabian Wildlife Centre.

More tips on Dubai

For more tips on making the most out of Dubai, get in touch with our experts today.

Mathew Woodward Travel Consultant

Matt has been working for eShores since 2012. He has worked in the industry for the last 24 years and has extensively travelled the globe, so has a wealth of experience when it comes to giving advice on holidays. Matt knows everything there is to know about the USA but he is also very knowledgeable of the Caribbean, Asia and Australia. Matt’s an easy-going guy, a fun member of the team who is always up for a laugh, he loves to shop and is a secret fan of the Karaoke!