In this guide, I will go through a few places to see and some amazing spots to check out!
You should know that cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not exactly on budget trips, as tourist destination prices are higher than the rest of the EAU (Emirates Arabic Unites). Starting from a normal coffee on average 15 DHM, to 295 DHM for general admission to Ferrari World.
The best way to visit EAU is by renting a car. It will be easy to move around, as you need to cover a big distance even inside the cities! In big cities as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, parking is everywhere, mostly free on the weekend. The easy thing to do if you don’t want to pay a lot of money for parking is to use white lines on the street! Those are way cheaper and easy to use! Make sure you buy one sim and you put some dirham in, I will recommend around 20 DHM, so you don’t have to worry for a while as they charge 4 DHM for every hour, for a maximum of 4 hours.
How to Pay parking on the street.
Every parking place has a unique reference number by side of the street. Once you park on white lines, check for a parking signal in orange, usually at the beginning of the parking line. At the bottom, you will see a phone and a unique number of 3 numbers and a letter (ex. 313 A). You need to send a text to 7275 number with :
Full license plate – location ( 313A) – duration of your stay
You will get a text back with the time up to you are covered, and a reminder when your time is almost ending. So you can keep wandering around without worrying too much!
Day 1: The old City
Dubai is the biggest city of EAU, you can see the beauty of the old city and the new one blending beautifully together!
I went to visit The Etihad Museum first thing in the morning. It will explain to you more about Emirates history, in an interactive way, showing all the influence that the population had during the years. You can visit also The Union House, which functioned as the place of origin of the United Arab Emirates in 1971.
After that, go down visit the old medina, park your car and start walking around the old Dubai! Starting from the wall of old Dubai to all Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. From here you can go to Bur Dubai Abra station and take an Abra, which is typical wooden boats used as a ferry to bring passengers across the Dubai Creek. The road is just 1 DHMeach way, you can feel the breeze and move around like a local. There are different lines, but not to worry, at every station there are info points which will guide you in the direction what you would like! There are also tours departing from every station, but in my opinion, there are only tourists and it’s quite pricy compare to the normal fare. I went down exploring all the rest of the creek within the stations available and exploring all the markets like the Al Ras market area, for then making my way back.
Day 2: Explore Jumeira & downtown Dubai
The part south of the city, the new part, full of technology and beautiful buildings. I started my second day exploring Jumeirah, I went driving to Palm Jumeirah, and from there, stopping in Sufouh Beach, where you can take one great spot of the Burj al-Arab, the most iconic Hotel in Dubai, did you know that has a helicopter landing pad on the roof? Insane! Then I went to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, which is similar to a shopping center, ! be aware! Is a tourist spot, so everything you would like to buy that doesn’t have a price attached is overpriced! The view outside is nice and you can still see another amazing spot of the Burj al-Arab. The restaurants are really expensive in the Medinat, so if you don’t want to stop there to eat something, wait to get to Dubai Mall only 20 min drive!
Here you can park in the parking under the shopping center and start exploring The Dubai mall, which is one of the biggest malls in the EAU. Includes most of the attractions, like the Burj Khalifa, The Underwater aquarium, the Dubai Opera, and much more attractions. Do not miss the Fountain show in front of the Burji Khalifa, every 30 minutes. From here you can take also an awesome picture with a frame and the Burj Khalifa at the back. The real name is “Wings of Mexico”, but the spot is called “Burj Plaza by Emaar” on google maps, in case you cannot find it, it’s at the most southern part of the fountain, on Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd.
Day 3: Extra activities & Daily trip on the desert!
Dubai is one of the cities that you enjoy more from the top! As you can see from different pictures, it’s full of buildings, towers, and particular shapes like Palm Jumeira that are not easy to see from the ground level, so I decided to do a helicopter tour. It was the first time for me and I enjoyed it! This wasn’t cheap, but was on my bucket list, so who cares?
There are many other activities that the city recommends, 100% every hotel you will stay in, has some offers or works with some other agency, but do your research, the average price is the same but you can find cheaper versions. Famous also Skydive activity, and Desert trip with sandboard, Quad and camel safari!
The agency I booked the trip with, picked me up from the hotel, he drove about 2 hours outside Dubai, on red sand area, bring us to a small city in the desert, where you could do an activity like a Quad experience (with extra pay), then we did a Safari pick-up experience in the desert, watching the sunset from the summit of a towering dune, optional (always with extra pay) you could enjoy camel rides or get a henna painting on your hands. To end the night on a barbecue dinner under the desert night sky, watching traditional belly dancing and tannora dance performances.
Day 4: Wildlife & Global Village
Start your day with Ras al Khor, a Wildlife Sanctuary where most birds are in the natural habit, called also the Cape of the Creek, it is among the few urban protected areas of the world, where you can also take pictures of flamingos!
After, still in contact with nature and visit the Miracle garden. The garden preserves around 150 million flowers arranged in colorful arches and patterns, with different shapes, it’s beautiful! The landscape of the garden earned two GuinnessWorld Records and every year reinvent itself with a new and different concept. Only 13 minutes away from the Miracle Garden, there is the massive Global Village, this place has all products and food from all over the world! So you can find from the Thailand floating market recreated, to the beautiful Egyptian architectures. It was an interesting place to visit, especially if you are in love with all the different cultures!
End up your day to Dubai Marina, or JBR, the artificial canal city! That’s on the “new” part of the city, down Palm Jumeira. Beautifull at night, easy parking, full of restaurants on the beach, and along the main street. Amazing also in the morning, just to go to the beach or have a look at the different shops and markets.
Day 5: daily trip to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the capital of Emirates, as Dubai, a modern city!
I did a daily trip driving from Dubai and visited the Louvre of Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque!
They both easy to reach by car, I visited the Louvre in the morning and the Mosque in the afternoon. The Louvre has differents highlight as the Dancing shiva statue and different installations featured expressly for the Abu Dhabi Louvre.
Then after lunch, make your way to one of the most beautiful highlights of the EAU: Sheikh Zayed Mosque. There are a lot of people ready to visit the mosque, you are required to book a ticket online, (you can do it from here), completely for free, another tip, bring your kaftan and headscarf so you don’t have to use the one they provide for your best pictures! It’s required for a woman to be completely cover, and at the entry, if your outfit doesn’t fit this requirement they will indirect you to the dressing room. The view is outstanding, inside and outside! The Mosque is the idea of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of uniting the Islam world with modern architecture and art. And I think he accomplished that!
There are so many things to see in Abu Dhabi that you definitely can spend another 2 days! So enjoy your trip to this beautiful country and I would love to hear some of your experiences.