Your Perfect Dubai 2-Day Itinerary: Things to do in a Weekend
Planning to spend a weekend in Dubai?
It’s quite challenging to experience all of Dubai in 2 days, but that doesn’t mean this is impossible.
In other words, it gives you enough amount of time to discover its obvious attractions, especially if this is your debut trip to Dubai.
So let’s help you to plan out your perfect 48 hours in Dubai; this guide also covers some useful tips on how to get around in the city plus where to stay and dine.
Best Time To Visit Dubai
While Dubai can be visited throughout the year, it’s best to visit the city during winter months from November to March, especially if you want to engage in outdoor activities and make the most of Dubai’s most awaited seasonal attractions and events such as Dubai Shopping Festival DSF, Global Village, Miracle Garden etc.
That said, summer months are ideal for those looking for a super budget holiday. You may not be able to get outdoors during these months, but its many indoor attractions and events including Ski Dubai, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Shopping Malls, and Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) make up for it.
Dubai Holiday Planning Tips
- It’s always recommended planning your Dubai holidays at least a month or two in advance. This allows you to secure the best rates and deals on airline tickets, hotel accommodation etc.
- Know your visa requirements; apply for your visa (if applicable) and get it approved much before your travel date.
- Pack comfortable clothing for your Dubai trip.
- Carry a light jacket even if you’re traveling to Dubai during summer months, as indoor attractions are exceptionally air-conditioned.
- Sunlight in the UAE is intense throughout the year. No matter you’re traveling to Dubai in summer or winter, make sure that you carry essentials like sunscreen and accessories like sunglasses, hats etc.
- Don’t forget to take your important documents including passport, travel insurance and international driving license (particularly if you plan to drive here).
- Carry enough money or alternatively use international debit/credit cards.
- Dirham is the UAE currency and you can get your currency exchanged in ATMs or banks across the city.
- Don’t eat or drink in public during Ramadan.
- Avoid PDA and be careful while taking pictures of government offices and locals (mainly Emirati women).
- Alcohol consumption in public is not allowed.
- While Dubai International Airport is one of the world’s busiest airports, you can enter Dubai through any of the UAE’s international airports.
- There are metro and convenient bus services available from Dubai airport.
- If you’re traveling to Dubai for the first time, it’s advisable to sign up for a meet and greet service inclusive of prompt and comfortable transfer to your Dubai accommodation.
How To Get Around In Dubai?
But, if you’re conscious about what you spend, it’s advisable to use an NOL card – a smart card which allows you to use all of Dubai’s public transport system operated by RTA (Road and Transport Authority).
The most prominent among them is Dubai Metro which is beyond an option to get from one point to another. Being fully automated and driverless, it’s the region’s fastest transport system and also an attraction in its own right.
Then, there are Dubai ferry, monorails, trams, and buses – all spotless and air-conditioned with ample space. Refer to RTA website to know more about the routes, timings, and other details.
The best option for your 2-day visit to Dubai would be an iVenture card which allows you to visit most of the attractions in Dubai and access public transportation with a discount.
Where To Stay In Dubai
Well, this would largely depend on your preferences, budget and of course, the location you choose to stay in Dubai.
You will find the best choice of hotels in Dubai on Booking.com.
You can also check apartment options on Airbnb. If you don’t have an account yet, use this link to get a $30 discount off your first booking.
If you’re in Dubai to experience its old-world charm and charming culture, then the hotels across Al Seef and Al Fahidi are certain to delight you. Besides some high-end five-star accommodations, there is also a string of decent inexpensive options like XVA Art Hotel.
If refined luxury and the glitzy environment are what you’re looking for, choose to stay in Dubai’s hotspots like Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah or Dubai Marina. Accommodation in one of these areas will put you right in the heart of all actions and entertainment.
Despite its uber classy ambiances, these places offer some pocket-friendly options including Rove Downtown Dubai and Zabeel House MINI by Jumeirah.
Finally, Dubai is absolutely the place to be, if you’re here to splurge. Experience sheer opulence and grandeur by considering accommodation in Atlantis, The Palm or the expensive and luxurious ever Burj Al Arab which is rightly acknowledged as the world’s only seven-star hotel.
Where To Dine In Dubai
Dubai’s multicultural culinary scene, along with an endless parade of dining options, ensures that there is something to suit every taste bud and pocket.
For those looking to dine on the go, there are plenty of cafés, food outlets, and outdoor dining venues all over the city.
You can also go in with some mid-range yet captivating options if you really want to sit down for a great meal.
Now if you fancy lavish dining within an extraordinary ambiance surrounded by unparalleled views, the dining venues in Armani Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Atlantis, The Palm, Al Habtoor City, and City Walk are sure to blow you away.
Best Dubai Attractions And Experiences
Just before we go into our suggested Dubai two-day itinerary, have a look at this list of top attractions and best things to do in Dubai.
As we break down this list into several categories, it allows you to swap out the attractions / experiences in our proposed itinerary with your desired attraction / activity.
Top Dubai Attractions for Sightseers
- Burj Khalifa: Being the world’s tallest building at a height of over 828 meters, this is one sight that tops the list of any Dubai travel program.
- Burj Al Arab: This sail-shaped hotel in Dubai is everything that defines luxury. If you’re not able to enter here, be sure to take a picture against its backdrop.
- Palm Island: As a man-made island designed like a giant tree with a crescent on its top, this is a true engineering feat which you shouldn’t miss in Dubai.
- Atlantis, The Palm: Beyond its luxurious accommodation, it’s themed around the Lost City of Atlantis and boasts of some amazing leisure and entertainment attractions too. Aquaventure Water Park, Lost Chambers Aquarium, and Dolphin Bay are just a few of them.
- Sheik Zayed Road: A drive across Sheik Zayed Road will introduce you to some of Dubai’s most glamorous structures.
- Dubai Frame: Modeled after a giant picture frame, this resplendent structure is the largest of its kind in the world. Moreover, it also gives you the rare chance to see both old and new Dubai from a single viewpoint.
- Bluewaters Island: This is one of Dubai’s newest waterfront hotspots. It’s home to attractions like the world’s largest observation wheel (Ain Dubai) plus the Middle East’s first Madame Tussauds Museum, among others.
Top Activities in Dubai for Adventurists and Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Desert Safari: Desert safari with 4X4 dune bash is definite to satiate hardcore thrill-seekers. But it’s more than that – great food, Bedouin-inspired activities, and traditional entertainment like Tanura show and belly dance round out a desert trip in Dubai.
- Sky Dubai: With this sky-high activity that involves jumping from an aircraft at a height of over 12,000 feet (3.66 km), you’ll get to enjoy unparalleled and unobstructed views over Dubai’s Palm Islands and beyond.
- Dubai Autodrome: This is one of Dubai’s main highlights for motor enthusiasts. And yes, you can look forward to drive your favorite car here.
- Water Activities: From jetskiing and flyboarding to parasailing, banana boat ride and fly fish, Dubai is a real paradise for water sport lovers.
Top Experiences for Culture Lovers
- Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood: A stroll along the preserved neighborhood of Al Fahidi or Bastakiya lets you discover some of the region’s quaint structures dating back to early 19th century.
- Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding: This is one of the best places to enlighten yourself about the region’s authentic culture and traditions.
- Dubai Museum: It’s located inside the city’s oldest fort at Al Fahidi Fort. On your visit here, know what was like the lifestyle of Dubai prior to the oil era.
- Souks: Be it to get a dose of Emirati culture or experience the Arabian retail scene, Dubai’s souks are both striking and unmissable. Gold Souk is probably the must-experience among them.
- Alserkal Avenue: This complex in Dubai’s Al Qouz is a firm favorite of contemporary art and culture lovers.
- Dhow Cruise: This takes on a marvelous dinner cruise along Dubai Marina or Dubai Creek. It allows you to appreciate Dubai’s stunning views from water aboard a traditional Arabian vessel, known as dhow, which interestingly was once used for pearl farming and fishing before the discovery of oil.
Top Shopping Spots
- Dubai Mall: There are close to 70 malls in Dubai; each of them is massive and unique in terms of its offerings. Most popular among them is undoubtedly the biggest of its kind Dubai Mall with over 1200 outlets under its roof.
- Majid Al Futtaim Malls: This includes Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Deira, City Centre Mirdif etc.
- Karama and Deira: For bargain shopping, head to the outlets across Karama. Moreover, Naif Souk in Deira lets you show some unique souvenirs and dress materials at unbelievable rates.
Top Attractions for Theme Park Lovers
- IMG Worlds of Adventure: It’s one of the world’s biggest theme park with four interactive zones such as IMG Boulevard, Marvel, Cartoon Network and Lost Valley based on dinosaurs.
- Dubai Parks and Resorts: This is the region’s first integrated resort, boasting three theme parks and a water park. You can visit Hollywood inspired Motiongate Dubai, Hindi cinema based Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai and LEGOLAND Water Park.
- Aquaventure Water Park: Located inside Atlantis, The Palm, it’s one of Dubai’s ultimate attractions for water sport lovers.
- Ski Dubai: This is a true wonder in the desert city as you’ll get to enjoy all winter or snow activities here even when the outside summer heat is at its peak. It’s located inside Mall of the Emirates.
Top Places to Visit in Dubai for Families & Kids
- KidZania: This edutainment park in Dubai Mall is specially designed for kids aged between 2 and 16 years. But don’t expect this to be your usual theme park; it’s where your little ones will get to role-play their favorite adult job.
- LEGOLAND Dubai & Water Park: The LEGO-based attractions in Dubai Parks and Resorts are certain to enthrall families of kids from 2 to 12 years.
- Dubai Ice Rink: Located in Dubai Mall, this is one of the best places in Dubai to beat summer heat.
Top Seasonal Attractions
These attractions are open or available only during winter months.
- Global Village: This ultimate leisure venue in Dubai is also the place to experience culture, traditions, and gastronomic delights of different parts of the world. With pavilions representing about 80 countries, it runs from October to April.
- DSF: The one-month long Dubai Shopping Festival mostly kicks off in December and lasts through the end of January. Come Dubai during DSF; you’ll get to enjoy discount shopping and even participate in raffles offering jaw-dropping prizes.
- Dubai Miracle Garden: It’s the world’s biggest natural flower garden means you can expect to see here floral arrangements of all designs, shapes and colors imaginable.
Dubai 2-Day Itinerary
And now, here is our two-day Dubai itinerary!
Day 1: Old Downtown Dubai
Experience Dubai’s sheer contrast as you set out to explore Old and New Dubai.
- Start with a healthy breakfast.
- Make your way to Al Bastakiya Quarter or Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood. Wander across its narrow labyrinth and be in awe at its ancient structures with charming courtyards and wooden wind towers.
- Next, visit Dubai Creek which divides the city into Bur Dubai and Deira. As now you’re in Bur Dubai, make your way to Deira with an abra ride. A ride aboard this traditional vessel won’t cost you more than AED 1.
- Once you’re in Deira, take time to explore its souks, mainly Gold Souk. It’s an absolute treat to check out the alleys crammed with gold shops selling jewelry pieces of almost designs and weight imaginable.
- Walk into one of the many restaurants dotted across the region or take a quick bite with the region’s favorite street foods like shawarma, falafel wrap etc.
- Take metro or a cab that would straight head you to Downtown Dubai.
- Discover its main attractions, starting with Burj Khalifa. If you’re planning to take to its observation deck on 124th or 148th level, be sure to reach here before sunset.
- Back on the ground, get ready to spectacle the stunning ever Dubai Fountain show – the breathtaking choreographed performance of water, music and light.
- Now continue to Dubai Mall. If you don’t have plans for shopping here, enjoy a look at its attractions such as Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (you can watch its aquarium part for free).
- Right outside is Souk Al Bahar which recreates the ambiance of a traditional Arabian bazaar.
- If time permits set out to explore Downtown Dubai aboard a classic red Double-deck tram. You can enjoy the ride for free.
- Before you return to your Dubai hotel, you can choose to dine within the enormous food court at Dubai Mall or one of the many restaurants overlooking Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain.
Day 2: Palm Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab & Desert Safari
Today, you’ll see some of Dubai’s most distinguished landmarks and finally take a desert safari.
- After breakfast, take a drive to Jumeirah where you can take in some of its top attractions like Jumeirah Mosque, Jumeirah Beach, Madinat Jumeirah and most importantly, Burj Al Arab.
- Following this, travel to the man-made Palm Jumeirah Islands. You can opt to spend time till 3 pm here by visiting some of the region’s top attractions such as Aquaventure Water Park (Atlantis, The Palm) and Boardwalk – the 11-kilometer-long waterfront promenade which not only treats you with the exquisite views of Arabian Gulf, but also some offers amazing dining options with its food trucks.
- To catch a glimpse of the super striking structures across the island, you can also take a monorail ride from the Atlantis Hotel to the Gateway Station.
- By 3:30 pm to 4 pm, get ready to be picked up for the desert safari from your pre-agreed Dubai spot. (Make sure that you’ve booked your desert safari).
- Upon your arrival at the desert, you’ll board a 4X4 vehicle like Land Cruiser or Hummer (depending on your booking terms). With an expert driver-guide, you’ll enjoy an exhilarating ride over Dubai’s high and low desert dunes.
- Take in desert sunset views before you proceed to the Bedouin-style campsite.
- More activities and experiences await you here.
- Relax in modest desert tents, smoke Shisha and take part in many activities including camel ride, henna painting, photographic chance in traditional Emirati attire etc.
- Amidst all experiences, you’ll be treated to a BBQ style dinner complete with starters, main course delights, and traditional desserts.
- Spectacle mindblowing belly dance and Tanura show as you enjoy great food.
- Once your desert safari comes to an end, your service provider will transfer you back to the hotel.
Two days in Dubai may not be enough but it’s still an ideal time frame to cover Dubai’s main attractions.
And we’re sure that this itinerary will give some inspiration and ideas for those who don’t know what to do in Dubai in 2 days.
So don’t delay; plan your dream Dubai holiday now.