Dubai is a city like no other. One of the world’s fastest-growing metropolises, it has been transformed from a small Gulf trading centre into a glamorous and futuristic destination.

Astonishing developments like the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) and Palm Jumeirah (the world’s largest artificial island) are just a few of the impressive attractions. Not sure where to start? Our day-by-day itinerary from the Pocket Rough Guide to Dubai will ensure you have a perfect weekend in this sprawling city.

Day one

1. Deira Gold Souk

Browse the shop windows of Deira’s most famous souk, stuffed with vast quantities of gold and precious stones.

2. Heritage House and Al Ahmadiya School

Founded in 1912 by pearl merchant Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Dalmouk, the Al Ahmadiya School is one of the city’s finest surviving examples of traditional Emirati architecture.

3. Dhow Wharfage

A fascinating glimpse into the maritime traditions of old Dubai, Dhow Wharfage is home to dozens of beautiful wooden dhows which berth here to load and unload cargo – hence the great tarpaulin-covered mounds of merchandise lying stacked up along the waterfront.

4. Cross the Creek to Bur Dubai by abra

Take a break from contemporary Dubai and hop across the Creek on one of the charmingly old fashioned abras, which take passengers between Deira and Bur Dubai.

Lunch

Relax over a light lunch in the beautiful garden of the Arabian Tea House Café. The menu features a good range of sandwiches and salads, plus assorted Arabian-style breakfasts and mains and a good choice of juices and coffees.

5. Bastakiya

Get lost in the beautiful old quarter of Bastakiya, a tight warren of alleyways lined by a picturesque muddle of traditional houses topped with wind towers.

6. Dubai Museum

Explore the emirate’s history at this enjoyable museum, housed in the city’s oldest building: the sandcastle-like Al Fahidi Fort.

7. A walk along the Creek

Walk past the Grand Mosque and through the Textile Souk and out along the breezy creekside to Shindagha – once the most exclusive address in the city.

8. Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House

Standing on the beautiful Shindagha waterfront, the Sheikh Saeed al Maktoum House is one of Dubai’s most interesting museums. A fascinating collection of historical photographs showcases the rapidly changing face of Dubai.

Dinner

Head to Barjeel Al Arab for a camel burger. There’s plenty of old-school Arabian atmosphere in this appealing restaurant, set in a traditional house right on the Shindagha waterfront.

Pixabay / CC0

Day two

1. Walk down Sheikh Zayed Road

Start at the stunning Emirates Towers and wander south along Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s most flamboyantly futuristic architectural parade.

2. Dubai Mall

Right next to the Burj Khalifa is the super-sized Dubai Mall, with over 1200 shops spread across four floors and covering over a million square metres – making it easily the largest mall in the world measured by total area.

3. At the Top, Burj Khalifa

Rising imperiously skywards at the southern end of Sheikh Zayed Road stands the needle-thin Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Ride the world’s fastest elevators to the spectacular observation deck on the 124th floor.

Pixabay / CC0

Lunch

Grab an outside table at the London-themed Rivington Grill, with sweeping views of the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa. The seasonally changing menu features things like pie of the day, Abroath Smokie fishcakes and Brick Lane Curry.

4. Wild Wadi

Swim, splash and slide your way around the pools, rivers and rapids of the entertaining Wild Wadi water park.

Afternoon tea

Indulge in an opulent afternoon tea in the iconic, “seven-star” Burj al Arab’s Skyview Bar or Sahn Eddar lounge.

5. Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Walk over to the stunning Madinat Jumeirah complex, with its picture-perfect waterways and old-fashioned souk.

Dinner

Eat a memorable meal above the Madinat waterways at the gorgeously romantic Pai Thai. Then head on to the picture-perfect Bahri Bar for a drink or two, perhaps rounded off with a visit to the city’s Pacha super-club.

Explore more of Dubai with the Pocket Rough Guide to Dubai or – for in-depth coverage – the full Rough Guide to Dubai

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