city guide

city guide

Thirty years ago Dubai was just a small fishing village on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, but as the duckling turns into the swan, this little village has grown up like no other. Pushed the boundaries with the largest, tallest, and best, Dubai has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world and a top tourist destination. Dubai has expanded exponentially into numerous districts, each known for its unique attractions and contributions to the city’s growth. Here’s our guide to the various districts and what they have to offer:

  • Dubai City Guide to Dubai Creek (Deira and Bur Dubai)

  • Dubai City Guide to Festival City

  • Dubai City Guide to Downtown Dubai and DIFC

  • Dubai City Guide to Jumeirah Beach

  • Dubai City Guide to Al Barsha

  • Dubai City Guide to Palm Jumeirah

  • Dubai City Guide to Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

  • Dubai City Guide to Jebel Ali

  • Dubai City Guide to the Desert

Dubai City Guide to Dubai Creek (Deira and Bur Dubai):

Dubai Creek (Deira and Bur Dubai) – In past years, life in Dubai was focused around Dubai Creek, the heart of Dubai’s trade industry. To this day, Dubai Creek is bustling with life as local merchants load their Dhows (local sailing ships) with goods to ship off to faraway lands. It is here where you will find what is considered historical Dubai, with the Dubai Museum, the old Gold and Spice Souks, and the Bastikiya, giving visitors a glimpse into the Dubai of yesteryear.

Main Attractions:

  • Dhow Dinner Cruise on Dubai Creek – Dine on a Dhow (local sail ship) as the sunsets over the creek.

  • Gold and Spice Souks – Traditional Arabian-Style Souks.

  • Dubai Museum (Al Fahidi Fort) – Local artifacts and dioramas of what life was like in early Dubai. The museum is inside Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai’s oldest building.

  • Bastikiya -Historical Dubai Neighborhood and its Famous Wind Towers. Great way to learn about the Dubai of yesteryear.

  • Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House – Tour the house of Dubai’s Ruler from 1912 – 1958.

  • Clock Tower – A popular Dubai landmark located near Al Rigga in Deira

  • Deira City Centre and Bur Juman Mall – Deira City Centre is a popular mall in the heart of Deira. Bur Juman Mall houses a number of high-end designer shops in the business district of Bur Dubai.

  • Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club – One of Dubai’s best golf clubs, floodlit so visitors can enjoy play well into the night.

  • Creekside Park and Dolphinarium – A popular Dubai park and the Dolphinarium Water Show

Popular Hotels:

  • Grand Hyatt

  • Raffles

  • Bur Juman Arjaan by Rotana

  • Dhow Palace

  • Moevenpick Hotel Bur Dubai

  • Crowne Plaza Deira

  • Hilton

  • Hyatt Regency

  • JW Marriott

  • Park Hyatt

  • Radisson Blu

  • Sheraton Dubai Creek

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs:

  • JW’s Steakhouse – Mouthwatering steaks at JW Marriott.

  • Verre – Owned by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. Need we say more?

  • Traiteur – Fine French cuisine at the Park Hyatt.

  • The Thai Kitchen – Thai cuisine at its finest at the Park Hyatt.

  • Miyako – One of the best Japanese/Sushi restaurants in Dubai at the Hyatt Regency.

  • Fakhredine Lebanese Restaurant – Highly regarded for its authentic Lebanese fare at the Moevenpick.

  • Aquarium – One of the best restaurants for seafood in Dubai.

  • Fire and Ice – Raffles’ signature restaurant uses an innovative cooking style that uses liquid nitrogen.

  • Boardwalk – One of the best restaurants to offer an International fare.

  • Elia – Classic Greek cooking at the Majestic Hotel Tower.

  • George & Dragon Pub – Popular British Pub at the oldest hotel in Dubai, the Ambassador Hotel.

  • Queens Quay – A popular Dubai ‘watering hole’ in Dhow Palace.

  • The Music Room – One of the best venues for live music at the Majestic Hotel Tower.

  • QD’s – On the banks of Dubai Creek, QD’s offers an amazing ambiance and spectacular views of the creek.

Dubai City Guide to Festival City:

Festival City – Just south of Deira and Bur Dubai, but still positioned on the creek is Festival City. A 1300 acre premier waterfront community offers great shopping and a beautiful marina that resides on Dubai Creek. Close enough to Dubai’s business district, Bur Dubai, but far enough to enjoy its suburbia setting.

Main Attractions:

  • Festival Marina – A yachting club reminiscent of the French Riviera.

  • Al Badia Golf Club – A golf club that features an 18-hole championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones II.

  • Festival City Mall – Over 400 shops, 75 restaurants, including the Hard Rock Café Dubai and Trader Vic’s, and several entertainment venues, including a 12-screen CinePlex and Bowling City,

  • Festival City Promenade – Take a stroll along this popular 2 km boardwalk or dine “al fresco” at one of it’s many outdoor cafés.

Popular Hotels :

  • InterContinental Festival City

  • Crowne Plaza Festival City

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs:

  • Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire – One of the city’s most popular French restaurants by 3 Michelin-Star Chef Pierre at the InterContinental Festival City.

  • Al Sultan Brahim Beirut – One of Lebanon’s most famous restaurants is now at the InterContinental Festival City.

  • Terra Firma Steakhouse – Considered one of the best steakhouses in Dubai , Terra Firma is located inside the InterContinental.

  • Belgian Beer Café – An authentic Euro-style café in the Crowne Plaza.

  • Trader Vic’s – This Trader Vic’s is the largest in the country.

  • Vista Lounge – Some of the best view of the harbor and Bur Dubai Skyline are found here inside the InterContinental Festival City.

  • Hard Rock Café – Housing the largest set of guitars in the world.

Dubai City Guide to Downtown Dubai and DIFC:

Old Town (Downtown Dubai) – Since the development of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, and the world’s largest mall, Dubai Mall, Old Town, also known as Downtown Dubai, has become one of the most popular districts in Dubai. Downtown offers the finest attractions in world within its 2 km² area. The World Trade Centre and the Dubai International Financial Centre are also in close proximity to Downtown. DIFC is where Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, has his offices.

Main Attractions:

  • Burj Khalifa – The world’s tallest building.

  • Dubai Fountain – Designed by the company that created the fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas only bigger and better.

  • Dubai Mall – The world’s largest mall with over 1200 shops and 12 entertainment venues

  • Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo –View over 33,000 aquatic animals through the world’s largest acrylic panel of its 10-million litre tank.

  • Entertainment Zone- Includes a 22-screen CinePlex, and KidZania and SEGA Republic, indoor amusement parks geared towards children and young adults.

  • Dubai Ice Rink – Olympic size ice rink inside the Dubai Mall.

  • Emirates Towers – Famous Dubai landmark where Sheikh Mohammad’s (Ruler of Dubai) offices are located.

  • World Trade Centre – A business complex that houses 8 exhibition halls and the Dubai International Convention Centre.

Popular Hotels:

  • The Address

  • Giorgio Armani Hotel (Inside the Burj Khalifa)

  • Radisson Blu

  • Al Manzil

  • Emirates Towers

  • Al Murooj Rotana

  • Dusit Thani

  • Shangri-La Hotel

  • Fairmont

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs:

  • Amal – Armani’s signature restaurant is known for its award-winning Indian cuisine.

  • Ristorante – Inside the Burj Khalifa is Armani’s Ristorante is serving up the best Italian food in all of Dubai.

  • At.Mosphere – Dining on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa offers some of the best views of the Dubai skyline. There is also a lounge where guests can relax and enjoy a nightcap.

  • Thiptara – Delicious Thai food in a romantic setting, located inside The Palace Hotel.

  • Calabar – A trendy nightclub located in The Address serving a wide range of tapas.

  • Fuego – Offering fine Mexican cuisine inside the Souk al Bahar.

  • Gaucho – Fine Argentinean food is served at Gaucho’s in DIFC.

  • La Petite Maison – Located at DIFC, La Petite Maison is considered one of Dubai’s best French restaurants and a favorite of HH Sheikh Mohammad. Who knows, you might even see him there as he likes to dine there frequently.

  • Vu’s Restaurant – This sophisticated restaurant inside Emirates Towers offers award-winning contemporary cuisine.

  • The Exchange Grill – Fare grilled to perfection and an amazing wine list at The Fairmont

  • Amwaj Restaurant – Outstanding seafood dishes are offered at this award-winning restaurant inside the Shangri-La.

  • Vu’s Bar – An ultra-chic bar on the 51st floor of Emirates Towers provides some of the most beautiful views of the Dubai skyline.

  • Harry Ghatto’s – A popular karaoke bar in the Emirates Towers

Dubai City Guide to Jumeirah Beach:

Jumeirah Beach – A white sandy beach along the coast of Dubai is known for its luxury hotels and resorts. It includes the infamous Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7-star hotel and the iconic structure, in the shape of a Dhow sail (sail of a local sailing ship), that is synonymous with Dubai.

Main Attractions:

  • Burj Al Arab – The world’s only 7-star hotel and the iconic symbol that represents Dubai.

  • Wild Wadi Waterpark – This Arabian themed waterpark next to the Burj Al Arab hosts a speedslide that catapult’s riders to speeds over 80 km/hr. and surfing simulator flowriders.

  • Jumeirah Beach – Enjoy a picnic or barbeque on one of Dubai’s most popular public beaches.

  • Madinat Jumeirah – The city of Jumeirah includes a modern-day Arabian Souk. Take a ride on an abra through its meandering waterways.

Popular Hotels :

  • Burj Al Arab

  • Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Resort

  • Madinat Jumeirah (Beit Al Bahar, Al Qasr, Min Al Salam, and Dar Al Masyaf)

  • One & Only Royal Mirage

  • Le Royal Meridien

  • Ritz Carlton

  • Sheraton Jumeirah Beach

Popular Restuarants and NightClubs:

  • Al Mahara – Inside the famous Burj Al Arab, take a 3 minute submarine ride to Al Mahara, considered one of the top 10 restaurants of the world.

  • Al Muntaha – Experience the ultimate dining experience extended 200 metres above the Arabian Gulf in the Burj Al Arab.

  • Al Khayal – An award-winning Lebanese restaurant offers great food and belly dancing at Jumeirah Beach Resort.

  • Beachcombers – Breathtaking views, delicious Southeast Asian cuisine and live Samba music can be found at this Jumeirah Beach restaurant.

  • PaiThai – Contemporary award-winning Thai cuisine in the Madinat Jumeirah.

  • Pierchic Restaurant – Located in Madinat Jumeirah , Pierchic is considered to be one of the most romantic restaurants in the city.

  • Zheng He – Madinat’s Zheng He has been rated as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Dubai.

  • Barasti – With a lively beach venue and international cuisine, Barasti is popular on the social scene.

  • BiCE Restaurant – Found in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, BiCE is a world-renown Italian restaurant.

  • Apartment Lounge and Club – Enjoy the authentic sounds of jazz music from jazz pianist Dwight Dickerson.

  • 360 Degrees – Enjoy an afternoon or evening cocktail while soaking in the astonishing views of the Arabian Gulf coastline and the city skyline.

  • Serai – At the Dubai marine Beach Resort & Spa, Serai is considered one of Dubai’s classiest night spots.

  • Bar Below –The Bar Below at Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort is a popular night spot offering some of the finest in champagne and wine.

Dubai City Guide to Al Barsha:

Al Barsha – The Al Barsha district is probably Dubai’s most central district offering easy access to most areas of Dubai. In the heart of Al Barsha is the famous Mall of the Emirates and world-renown Ski Dubai, the largest indoor ski resort. Al Barsha is a popular district for business travelers because of its close proximity to Dubai Internet and Media Cities, as well as TECOM and the Jebel Ali Free Zones.

Main Attractions:

  • Mall of the Emirates – Dubai’s second most popular mall.

  • Ski Dubai – The largest indoor ski resort in the world. 5 runs with varying difficulty and a snow park for tubing and tobogganing.

  • Chill Out Lounge (Times Square Shopping Mall) – A lounge where everything, including the table and chairs is made of ice.

  • Dubai Miracle Garden – Just down Umm Suquiem Road is Dubai Miracle Garden, one of the largest flower gardens in the world.

  • Emirates Golf Club – A short distance away is the Emirates Golf Club, one of the top PGA championship courses in the world, and home to the Dubai Desert Classic

Popular Hotels:

  • Kempinski Hotel

  • Media Rotana

  • Grand Millennium Hotel

  • Auris Plaza

Popular Restaurant and NightClubs:

  • Sezzam Restaurant – This award-winning restaurant inside the Kempinski has earned a reputation for the cooking methods used in prepare their delectable dishes.

  • Dante Restaurant – Dine “Al Fresco” on the terrace of the Grand Millennium’s new Italian cuisine hot spot.

  • Toshi – This Grand Millenium restaurants offers live cooking areas serving up fares from China, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. It also delivers some spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf coastline.

  • Salmontini – Inside the Mall of the Emirates proffers delicious seafood and international cuisine.

  • The Mosiac Bar – Guests of the Mosiac Bar at the Kempinski can enjoy a cocktail with some traditional “Sheesha” under the Arabian stars.

Dubai City Guide to Palm Jumeirah:

Palm Jumeirah – This man-made island in the shape of a palm tree is considered the 8th Wonder of the World. As one of Dubai’s most luxurious and sought after property, the Palm has earned it reputation as one of the world’s most elite residential communities.

Main Attractions:

  • AquaVenture WaterPark – Atlantis – The Palms famous waterpark which includes the “Leap of Faith”, a 61-metre vertical waterslide.

  • Dolphin Bay – Get up close and personal with these amazingly docile creatures.

  • The Golden Mile – A development that houses fashionable shops and trendy restaurants and cafés.

Popular Hotels:

  • Atlantis – The Palm

  • Fairmont – The Palm

  • Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

  • Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah

  • One & Only The Palm Dubai

  • Rixos – The Palm

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs

  • STAY – A popular restaurant by the famous chef Yannick Alléno, located in the One & Only The Palm

  • Ronda Locatelli – An award-winning trattoria-style Italian restaurant in Atlantis – The Palm by Italian celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli.

  • Lalezar – As the first Anatolian restaurant in Dubai, Lalezar’s dishes can easily be called Turkish delights. Found inside the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

  • Voi – Serving up Vietnamese and French Colonial fare in an elegantly chic setting.

  • Nobu – From world-renown Chef Matsuhisa Nobu this Atlantis – The Palm restaurant with its fusion of Asian flavors has reached celebrity status on the island.

  • Ossiano – Catalan cuisine from 3-star Michelin Chef Santi Santamaria at Atlantis – The Palm.

  • Rostang – Another popular restaurant inside Atlantis – The Palm is this French Brasserie by 2-Star Michelin Chef Michel Rostang.

  • K-West Bar – For classic cocktails and rare cigars at the One & Only The Palm

  • The Cigar Room – The Cigar Room inside the Fairmont – The Palm services up the finest malt whiskies, wines and chocolates to enjoy.

  • MusicHall – This famed Beirut club inside Jumeirah Zabeel Saray has become Dubai’s new “it spot” with its eclectic style of music.

  • 101 – The One & Only – The Palm’s most secluded drinking spots is ideal for those wanting to enjoy an evening on the jetty after the sun goes down.

Dubai City Guide to Dubai Marina and JBR:

Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)– Dubai Marina is the largest man-made marina in the world, and is considered to be the heart of “New Dubai”. This popular district draws the young urbanite crowd. With plenty of shops, restaurants and outdoor cafes this area exudes a chic European air about it.

Main Attractions

  • Dubai Marina Yacht Club – Hosting several fine restaurants and a state-of-the-art facility for berthing your boat.

  • The Walk – The uber-chic development of boutiques and outdoor cafés is a big attraction for young urban professionals.

  • JBR Beach – Enjoy a day of fun in the sun at JBR’s public beach.

  • Dubai Marina Mall – One of Dubai’s top 5 malls.

  • Deep-sea Fishing Excursion – Charter a yacht for a day of deep-sea fishing on the Arabian Gulf.

  • WaterSport Rentals – There are several locations in Dubai Marina for sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, parasailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, and so much more.

Popular Hotels:

  • Amwaj Rotana

  • Grosvenor House

  • Habtoor Grand Resort & Spa

  • Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort

  • Moevenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach Residence

  • Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs:

  • Buddha Bar – Located in Grosvenor House, the world-renown Buddha Bar is one of Dubai’s most popular “night spots” for dining and socializing.

  • Fogueira – From the 35th floor of the Ramada Plaza, Fogueira serves up all-you-can-eat Brazilian fare.

  • Indego – Delectable Indian dishes by Michelin Chef Vineet Bhatia in Grosvenor House.

  • Rhodes Mezzanine – British cuisine with a French flair by Celebrity Michelin Chef Gary Rhodes.

  • The Hunters Room and Grill – Grilling up the finest beef and game from around the world at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort

  • The Underground Pub – Experience a bit of London in Habtoor Grand’s The Underground Pub.

  • The Falls – Enjoy the ambiance of this café located in the Moevenpick’s palm tree filled lobby overlooking The Walk and JBR Beach.

  • Bliss Lounge – An award-winning beach bar in JBR.

  • I2 – Habtoor Grand’s artsy bar with retro-style music.

  • Speakeasy Bar – Classic Americana bar in the Ramada Plaza JBR.

  • Rosso – Also known as The Red Bar, Rosso offers generous happy hours and ladies nights throughout the week.

  • West Beach Bistro & Sports Lounge – Sports fans will love its giant concave screen that stretches from floor to ceiling, located at the Moevenpick.

Dubai City Guide to Jebel Ali:

Jebel Ali: Located just 35 km southwest of Dubai, Jebel Ali is the world’s largest free zone. Its port is the most frequently visited port outside the United States by the US Navy, and it has become home to over 5500 companies from over 120 countries. With an increasing number of expats taking up residency, Jebel Ali has become a growing and thriving community.

Main Attractions:

  • Palm Jebel Ali – The second of three man-made islands in the shape of a palm off the coast of Dubai.

  • Ibn Battuta Mall – This unique mall a short distance away from Jebel Ali reflects the travels of the ancient mariner, Ibn Battuta.

  • Jumeirah Golf Estates – Offering two 18-hole championship golf courses, Fire and Ice, both designed by the famous Australian golfer, Greg Norman.

  • Jebel Ali Golf Course and Shooting Club – Championship golf course and shooting club at the Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort

  • Dubai World Central – As Dubai’s new second airport, this aerotropolis is soon to become the aviation and logistics hub for Dubai and the Middle East.

Popular Hotels:

  • Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Club Resort

  • Jebel Ali Hotel – Palm Tree Court Dubai

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs:

  • The White Orchid – A fusion of exotic Far East flavors and views of luscious gardens in this Pan Asian restaurant.

  • Shooters – A western-style, American steakhouse.

  • Signatures Restaurant – This elegant restaurant brings fine French cuisine to Jebel Ali.

  • The White Orchid Lounge – A chic lounge inside the Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort

Dubai City Guide to the Desert:

Desert – The desert on the outskirts of Dubai offers visitors a unique experience. The beauty of the desert is something to behold, whether its watching the orange hues of the sun rise over the dunes or dining under the evening stars, Bedouin-style, a trip to the desert is a once in a lifetime experience.

Main Attractions:

  • Desert Safari – Experience the thrills of dune bashing in a 4×4 and sandboarding.

  • Hot Air Ballooning – Experience the amazing views of a desert sunrise from the tranquility of a hot air balloon.

  • Dining Under the Stars Bedouin-Style – The restaurant at the Bab Al Shams Resort is a popular venue for dining and traditional Arabian entertainment under the evening stars.

Popular Hotels:

  • Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

  • Desert Palm Dubai

Popular Restaurants and NightClubs

  • Al Hadheerah Desert Restaurant – An outdoor desert restaurant serving traditional Middle Eastern cuisine and live entertainment, including belly dancers, folk dancers, camel rides, and henna painting.

  • Rare – An award-winning restaurant serving wood-fired steak and rare-breed game and fresh seafood at the Desert Palm Dubai.

  • Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge – Enjoy sheesha and cocktails from the rooftop of Bab Al Shams and take in the amazing kaleidoscope of colors as the sun sets on the vistas.

  • RedBar & Lounge – Pouring up the bar’s special blend of cocktails in the relaxing atmosphere inside the Desert Palm Dubai.

We hope that this Dubai City Guide gives you a better feel for Dubai’s various districts and their popular attractions, hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. Follow the link to learn more about our Dubai hotels, or check out our other Dubai accommodation. Our representatives are available 24/7 via Live Chat or by phone at 971 4 421 4988 to assist you in answering your question or booking the right holiday for you.