Luxurious modernity and ancient simplicity are the two extreme worlds that succeed in co-existing harmoniously in Dubai . This metropolis is home to the Burj Khalifa (the tallest skyscraper in the world) and the Burj Al Arab- the first hotel in the world to become truly synonymous with the place itself.
There is no limit to human imagination when it comes to Palm Jumeirah, a huge artificial island in the shape of a palm tree. But of course, Dubai managed to go that bit further with the World - a series of 300 separate islets that mimic the shape of the Earth.
This city continues to break records with Dubai Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world, as well as the massive Dubai Marina. And that’s not forgetting remarkable places such as the Emirates Towers and Mall of the Emirates. If you’re looking to let your hair down, the best place to visit is definitely Aquaventure, an amazing Atlantis water park . While nearby, in Dolphin Bay, you can enjoy a truly remarkable experience swimming with dolphins.
The Dubai of times gone by still lives on in Dubai Museum (the city’s oldest building), in its souks and on the banks of the Creek, where this city first laid its roots. When venturing out of the city, Dubai Desert offers tourists a more natural and simple experience, while Jumeirah Mosque is incredibly welcoming and is definitely worth a visit.
Let Costa Cruises take you on an adventure to Dubai with a number of planned excursions that will allow you to truly appreciate this unique place. Embark on a journey to the luxurious, technological future, while also appreciating the city’s ever-lasting history.
Here are 15 things to see and do in Dubai.
15 must-see places to visit in Dubai
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world and also has the most floors. Yes, that’s right. It is 828 metres tall, has 163 floors, and took six years and more than 12,000 workers to build.
This mammoth undertaking was made possible by some of the advanced design and construction technologies in the world. Architects had to pay careful attention to safety, wind direction and solar radiation. Inside, you’ll find shops, hotels and even a mosque.
Its futuristic Y-shape is inspired by the Hymenocallis flower, which is local to Dubai. You can of course travel to the top to admire the view from two different observation decks on the 124th and 148th floors. Here, you’ll find powerful telescopes so that you can take a peek at the farthest points of the city. The observation deck also offers you the chance to see what these areas were like back in the 80s. Visiting this building is an incredible experience and embarking on a Costa Cruises trip is guaranteed to be a truly unique adventure.
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is more than just a hotel, it’s a real icon. At this hotel, you can admire the incredible wealth both inside and out. Its unmistakable shape, designed by the architect Tom Wright in the ‘90s, is reminiscent of a dhow’s sail, which is a traditional Arabian boat, and its shape gives a sense of lightness to this very solid structure.
Its 60 floors exude absolute luxury, with interiors featuring materials such as gold leaf, crystals, marbles and mosaics, as well as some truly amazing water features.
In order to build the Burj Al Arab, construction workers first had to build an artificial island connected to the mainland via a bridge. Architects also had to implement a series of special measures to make sure the building could withstand rough tides.
Although this palace is extraordinary to admire from afar, we really do recommend venturing inside on a Costa Cruises trip so that you can truly appreciate its charm and admire the amazing views.
Palm Jumeirah is a feat of construction that really proves that in Dubai, anything is possible.
If Dubai can successfully design the tallest skyscraper in the world, it can also design an island and build it in the shape of a palm tree. Ta-da! Say hello to Palm Jumeirah. This island features a central 2km-wide trunk and sixteen individual branches, all protected by a semi-circular breakwater barrier measuring eleven kilometres.
Wonders exist in nature, but humankind can also try its hand at creating them from scratch, and this is definitely concrete proof of the fact. Make sure you visit with Costa. It really is an amazing experience.
Dolphin Bay and Hotel Atlantis
Visiting Dolphin Bay at the Atlantis is one of the most extraordinary experiences you can have while on a holiday. Welcome to one of the world's most beautiful dolphin habitats.
It's magical enough to see dolphins swimming and jumping into the sea, but imagine what it would be like to have a chance to swim alongside them, not just near them. Here you can touch, hug and even kiss a dolphin.
Everyone is allowed to interact with these adorable mammals and they are always happy to oblige. All of this is possible at Dolphin Bay. Those who try it, love it. And it is not just an experience for children.
Costa Cruises organises experiences to suit all visitors. You can dive into the water, swim with the dolphins, or alternatively, you can enjoy this magical encounter in shallower waters.
Dubai's water parks
Water really is the star of the show in Dubai for both the young and old alike. When visiting the emirate city, you mustn’t miss a trip to Aquaventure, Dubai’s best water park and one of the world’s most spectacular attractions.
The park spans seventeen hectares and is filled with record-breaking water slides, such as those leading off the Tower of Poseidon and Tower of Neptune. The facility also boasts a number of other attractions, such as Aquaconda and Zoomerango, not to mention an aquatic rollercoaster!
Aquaventure is also home to a 1.5km ‘water snake’ featuring waves and waterfalls. Have fun! The park also features a beautiful 700-metre beach where you can relax between rides. This Costa Cruises trip is the perfect way to enjoy unforgettable moments with the whole family.
In this truly futuristic place, filled with amazing buildings and attractions, you can also learn about the city’s roots. From the water.
The Creek, whose Arabic name was originally Al Khor, is a waterway that was fundamental to Dubai's development. Without this creek, Dubai wouldn’t have been able to develop its fishing or perl hunting industries, both of which played a key role in the local economy. Back in the 1960s, the creek bed was dredged to make room for larger ships, which gave new impetus to the local area’s economic development.
Today, you can cross the Creek via one of four bridges or embark on a lovely trip aboard a local abra boat. Perhaps you’ll get the chance to enjoy an amazing boat ride while on your Costa Cruises trip!
Near Dubai, with all its glitz, glamour and record-breaking skyscrapers, exists another side to the local area, an older, more barren side. This area is much more diverse and natural than the city, which is dotted with futuristic skyscrapers and artificial constructions.
While in Dubai, make sure to visit the desert. You’re guaranteed to have an immersive experience in a truly charming setting. where you can travel by camel or maybe even go sand-skiing across the dunes.
To really give your trip that wow factor, Costa Cruises organises special excursions to the desert. Visiting this particular area is all about watching the sun set behind the dunes. It’s about embracing the welcoming atmosphere of a Bedouin camp while dining on a sumptuous banquet in true Arabic style. And it’s about bringing the evening to a close with local music accompanied by belly dancing under a magical starry sky.
Welcome to the world's largest shopping mall with 1,200 shops and 150 restaurants. This place is guaranteed to please even the most demanding customers. But calling it ‘big’ is fairly limiting. Dubai Mall is much larger than that!
In addition to shops, it’s also home to a number of impressive attractions, including Dubai Aquarium , which houses more than 140 different species of fish and is destined to amaze you with its three-story tank located right in the heart of the shopping centre. Make sure you stop by for a visit on your Costa Cruises trip.
You’ll also spot a very rare 24-metre-long dinosaur skeleton here on display in Dubai Mall. What’s more, the shopping centre boasts theme parks and a beautiful Olympic ice-skating rink. Among the additional attractions to admire is a dancing fountain featuring 140-metre-high jets that move to the rhythm of music. These fountains are particularly romantic in the evening when they blend in with the sunset. And this is the best spot to admire them from.
Dubai Museum is housed in Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest building in the city (1787). It was formerly a royal abode, arsenal and prison. The museum was opened in 1971, the year that the United Arab Emirates were founded, with the aim of exhibiting its local history. The museum takes a look back at what life was like in the city before oil was discovered. Dubai’s origins date back to a village of fishermen and pearl hunters and the museum serves to highlight the contrast between the city’s history and futuristic present.
The exhibition also houses local antiquities dating back to 3000BC, along with artisanal products that were once traded with the rest of the world, and primarily with neighbouring countries in Asia and Africa. Here, you’ll also find ancient boats along with a traditional house. Discover the Dubai of yesteryear on a Costa Cruises trip today.
Dubai is a forward-looking metropolis, but its avant-garde soul coexists in harmony with ancient traditions, such as its local markets. The souks continue to be part of daily life in this city, with their scents, colours and rich and varied products, which you’re invited to explore on a Costa Cruises excursion. But what is there to buy in Dubai’s souks?
Handcrafted fabrics, oud perfumes and gold jewellery. It’s worth pointing out that you can buy gold in Dubai at very competitive prices. In these souks, and as is ancient tradition, you can haggle. It's all part of the fun. You are not obliged to buy anything but haggling with local merchants may be one of the best things to try in the souks.
Jumeirah, which unsurprisingly means ‘beautiful,’ is also home to an amazing mosque. Jumeirah’s White Mosque features two minarets that rise from a central dome.
The sacred building stands out thanks to its fine decor and details. This mosque is one of the few open to non-Muslims. This means that visitors can enjoy a guided tour to deepen their knowledge of Islam and the local culture.
This is a great opportunity to find out about Islamic holidays, rituals and customs, such as Ramadan.
Of course, Costa Cruises has naturally included this rich cultural experience in its list of potential excursions.
In Dubai, marvelling at the surroundings soon becomes a habit, and the aquarium is no exception, given that it’s one of the largest in the world. The aquarium’s pièce de résistance is a huge tank filled with ten million litres of water, which you can also admire while strolling through Dubai Mall - yet another record-breaking attraction.
Dubai Aquarium is home to 33,000 different aquatic animals and 140 species, including a large school of bull sharks. It’s usually rare to see so many together. One of the most memorable areas to explore in the aquarium is its 48-metre tunnel, which is utterly mesmerising. Here, you can walk along as fish swim overhead or around you. And you can enjoy all of this and more with Costa Cruises!
You can also marvel at the waters while on board a glass-bottomed boat, or even try your hand at being a mermaid! You absolutely have to visit this aquarium. It will definitely be an experience to remember!
What is Dubai Marina like? Majestic, of course, which is a bit of a given in these parts. Dubai Marina is one of the largest tourist ports in the world, it sits in a 3km canal surrounded by futuristic skyscrapers.
The Walk is the name of the 1.6km-long walkway overlooking shops, clubs and restaurants. And Costa Cruises can take you right there for a mesmerising stroll. You can also enjoy great views from Cayan Tower, which is twisted at a 90-degree angle and features a 75-story spiral. Alternatively when the sun sets and the natural colours blend in with the spectacular light emanating from yachts and buildings, you might want to enjoy the view with a drink by the marina.
Mall of the Emirates
Mall of the Emirates has more than 600 hundred shops and a myriad of attractions, from a multiplex cinema to Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski park in the Middle East, complete with a ski-lift. Just to reiterate: the sky really is the limit in Dubai.
You can visit this mall for a great day out with Costa Cruises, too. A number of amazing luxury fashion brands are on display in the Fashion Dome, which is a must-see for the fashion lovers among you.
Four kilometres off the coast of Dubai is The World, another attraction that could only ever belong here. The World is an artificial archipelago made up of around 300 islets that mimic the shape of the earth.
This ‘flat earth’ covers an area measuring nine kilometres by six and is surrounded by an oval-shaped breakwater. By building the World, Dubai has created 230 kilometres of new coastline.
You can see it from the Buri Khalifa’s panoramic terrace, but it might be more fun to admire it from a helicopter on a Costa Cruises trip.
The Emirates Towers are another iconic Dubai attraction, consisting of the Emirates Office Tower on one side and the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel on the other, which is a five-star facility featuring forty luxury suites. The two towers seem to be looking each other in the eye, and really stand out in the Dubai skyline thanks to their unmistakable silhouettes. They’re similar yet different. One has 54 floors, while the other has 56. They are also connected to each other by The Boulevard mall and are surrounded by public gardens featuring lakes and waterfalls.