From glamorous shopping malls to adventurous safaris, here is a two-day Dubai itinerary to plan your perfect weekend getaway.
If you’re planning a weekend in Dubai, here’s your perfect two-day itinerary to dive into this glamorous and fascinating city.
From glitzy skyscrapers to traditional Arabian markets and desert landscapes, Dubai has a lot to offer – whether you’re a foodie, an adventurer or arts lover.
I live in Cairo and I love a good weekend getaway in Dubai for world-class shopping, a bustling art scene and hidden gems. I’ve also visited Dubai a few times on work trips – and I’ve always discovered something new!
You can unwind on the beach, learn about local fishing traditions and have a Michelin-star dinner with a glittering city view. You’ll never get bored in Dubai.
So where do you begin to plan your perfect weekend?
Here is my optimized itinerary for 2 days in Dubai:
MORNING: Dubai Marina
Start your weekend with a morning stroll at the Dubai Marina to take in the world’s tallest block of skyscrapers – and the city’s most beautiful skyline.
Walk down the beautiful palm-dotted promenade, browse the Dubai Marina Mall or hit the beach at this impressive spot. The marina boasts buildings that measure more than 300 m and it’s definitely a must-see on your Dubai itinerary.
The modern, glimmering glass architecture here is stunning.
And the marina is packed with restaurants and beach resorts perfect for a morning cappuccino overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
Here are the best things to do at Dubai Marina:
Take a ride on the world’s longest urban zip line.
Visit the beach (I recommend the sandy Jumeirah Beach).
Book a yacht tour with breakfast.
Take in the views on a lux helicopter ride.
Sail on a traditional abra taxi.
Dubai Marina is a city within a city – and development is still ongoing. Once it’s finished, Dubai Marina will house more than 120,000 residents in villas and residential towers.
Like many places in the city, Dubai Marina is known for its luxury. You’ll find rows of yachts and some of the city’s most luxurious apartments and hotels. If you’re a lover of fine dining, the marina is packed with incredible restaurants and superb views.
– contributed by Laura of Laure Wanders
AFTERNOON: Souk Madinat
Do some afternoon browsing at the nearby Souk Madinat, a luxury Arabian-style bazaar at the Madinat Jumeirah resort.
Stroll through more than 75 shops, galleries and restaurants in a quaint, old-town setting.
This Middle Eastern souk offers fine silks, high-end fashion, home ware and jewelry. Splurge on a beaded handbag, silk scarf, enticing oud perfume, spices and camel milk soap packaged in gold wrapping.
Souk Madinat boasts traditional architecture with all the comforts of a modern-day shopping mall. There are restaurants with glowing lanterns and ice cream shops. And there’s a lovely outdoor terrace with a view.
It’s also a great place to shop for unique souvenirs – and a perfect spot to spend a stop-over in Dubai.
Stop at one of the incredible restaurants for lunch. And don’t miss The Theatre of Digital Art, which tells the story of famous artworks and hosts live performances.
– contributed by Linda of Muy Linda Travels
EVENING: Burj Khalifa
Finish your first day in Dubai at the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building with stunning views of the city.
Burj Khalifa is one of the top attractions in Dubai with lightning-fast elevators and dizzying observation decks. And it’s absolutely stunning at sunset.
Rising above the clouds at the height of 829.8 meters, this architectural masterpiece opened in 2010 after 5 years of construction.
The tower features 160 floors and two observation decks on level 124 and 125.
Ride to the decks for incredible 360-views of Dubai, the Persian Gulf and the surrounding desert. And stop by Level 125, which is dedicated to local culture with an interior inspired by mashrabiya, or traditional lattice windows.
Take a breather at At the Top on Level 148, a lounge with Dubai views from the comforts of an outdoor terrace and premium lounge.
Tickets are available for Levels 124/125 or for all three levels. Pre-book your tickets online to get all the options and avoid waiting lines.
Book about 90 minutes before closing time to experience the sunset from atop the Burj Khalifa, one of Dubai’s most unforgettable experiences.
And treat yourself to dinner on level 122 at At.mosphere, the world’s tallest restaurant. The restaurant offers high tea, light lunches and a dinner menu of European cuisine.
– contributed by Elena of Passion for Dubai
EVENING: Dubai Mall
Spend the rest of your night at Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping mall packed with dancing fountains, aquariums and traditional souqs.
You could easily spend the whole evening exploring Dubai Mall – and it’s an absolute must on your Dubai itinerary. It’s a short walk from Burj Khalifa with a doorway to the stunning skyscraper right inside the mall.
Catch the musical Dubai Fountain Show, the world’s largest choreographed fountain. Or experience the illuminated evening water show from an abra, a traditional wooden boat floating on the waters of Burj Lake.
And don’t miss the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, home to more than 33,000 beautiful marine creatures including a 700-kilogram King Cros.
Stop for a snack at Candylicious, the region’s largest candy shop.
Explore Souk Al-Bahar, a traditional market that features Arabian style architecture. And shop until you drop at the 1,200 other stores carrying brands from fast fashion to high-end designer.
Insider’s tip: A fun fact about Dubai is that the Dubai Dino, A 155-million-year-old fossil of a Diplodocus Longus is on display inside the mall. It’s very unique because few fossils anywhere in the world are in such great condition.
If it’s hot in the city, teleport yourself to a winter wonderland and ski or snowboard at Ski Dubai.
Then settle down for an amazing meal. There are restaurants at Dubai Mall to fit every budget and the food courts offer a wide variety of cuisine. No other shopping mall has so much incredible food along with impeccable customer service.
There are some fantastic luxury hotels right inside Dubai Mall. The best one is Palace Downtown, which looks like a royal palace and has stunning views of the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa.
– contributed by Diana from The Globetrotting Detective
The Dubai Ice Rink at Dubai Mall is an adventure with prices starting from AED 93.50 per person for 90 minutes of skating, including the skates. Book your time slot online to avoid waiting lines. And rent extra equipment like a gliding aid or helmet on the spot.
Or just watch from the balcony as the local talent practice their skills.
The Dubai Ice Rink is a great spot to escape Dubai’s summer heat.
– contributed by Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
MORNING: Hot air balloon OR desert safari
Option 1: Hot Air Balloon
The rolling sand dunes just outside the city are Dubai’s playground. From dune bashing to quad biking, there are many activities for desert adventurers.
A sunrise hot air balloon requires a very early start. Pick-up is at 4am from your hotel – and it’s a good two-hour drive to the launch site.
But trust me – it’s worth the sleep deprivation when you’re gliding over the desert.
Drift over the dunes in a blanket of silence punctuated by the sharp blast of the burner firing. The dawn light picks out a thousand golden hues as it illuminates the dunes.
The skyscrapers light up in the distance as the sun slowly rises.
And if you’re lucky you might spot some wildlife. Camels, goats and snakes make their way across the sand while hawks circle overhead in search of prey. Herds of oryx and gazelle also roam the area in search of food.
Once the balloon comes to a gentle stop, enjoy a traditional Bedouin breakfast and watch the sun making its ascent. There’s nothing like hot coffee and dates as you witness a desert sunrise.
– contributed by Julianna of The Discoveries Of
Option 2: Desert safari
A desert safari lets you to experience the magic of the vast sand and teaches you about Bedouin culture. It’s a great chance to discover the region’s rich heritage.
Morning safaris are more activity-focused and perfect for those who don’t want to spend all day in the desert. Options include dune-bashing, ATV tours, sand boarding, falconry demonstrations, camel rides and sunset photography sessions.
The drive to and from the desert takes about an hour.
– contributed by Sarah of CosmopoliClan
AFTERNOON: Jumeirah Mosque
Dive into some local culture with a visit to Jumeirah Mosque, one of the city’s most beautiful and the only mosque open to non-Muslims.
Jumeirah Mosque is built in the style of the Fatimids, the 8th-century conquerors of North Africa, and opened in 1976.
Take a guided tour of Jumeirah Mosque for an insight into Emirati culture and traditions. The 75-minute tour is offered by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding. And it’s held daily at 10 am and 2 pm except Fridays.
There’s no need to book in advance. Just arrive at the mosque a half hour before the tour starts to register. The fee of 35 AED includes Arabic tea and coffee.
There’s a great American guide who’s a convert to Islam and married to an Emirati. She offers insight into the mosque, the pilgrimage to Mecca and women’s rights in Islam. Though each guide will add their own touch and personal stories to the tour.
– contributed by Vanessa of The Travelling Colognian
EVENING: Al Bastakiya
Finish your last day in Dubai at Al Bastakiya, a historic district that once housed Persian merchants and is now home to art studios and galleries.
This old part of the city, known as the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, dates back to the 1890s. About half the original homes were demolished to make way for offices, but the remainder were preserved thanks to the lobbying of a British architect.
Al Bastakiya is now a booming art and cultural district with cafes, museums, shops and boutique hotels.
Take a walk along the waterside promenades and get a breather from the city’s skyscrapers.
Most buildings in Al Fahidi recall an era before the creation of the emirates. There are wind towers and wooden beams around interior courtyards with shaded patios and quiet cafes.
Have some mint tea and relax at XVA Cafe and Gallery, one of the first artsy spots in this neighborhood, for a refresher.
And don’t miss the Dubai Museum to learn about the history of this Emirate from its humble pearl trade origins to today’s business hub. Check out the impressive aerial photos of Dubai that show the city’s development over the past four decades.
And stop at the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, where the grandfather of today’s ruler of Dubai was raised. The house is filled with family portraits and beautiful local architecture.