No time to waste! If you only have 1 day in Dubai, fear not!
This Dubai one day itinerary will help you make the most of your time and see the best of what this dazzling city has to offer.
From its world-famous skyline and luxurious hotels to its glittering malls and fascinating culture, Dubai is a city that’s sure to amaze you.
In this post, I’ll show you some of the best places to visit in Dubai in 1 day. I called this city my home for a bit, so I know a thing or two about where to go and what to do!
But, before we dive into this Dubai in one day guide, let’s talk a bit about what to expect and how to make the most of your time in Dubai.
In This Post:
1 Day in Dubai: What to Expect and Important Things to Know
In general, 1 day in Dubai is not enough time to explore everything this city offers.
However, if you’re visiting as a Dubai stopover on your way to another destination (which is what most travelers do) or if you’re traveling to Dubai for a short vacation, there are still plenty of things that you can do to get a taste of the city.
Here are a few Dubai travel tips you should remember when planning your 1 day in Dubai itinerary.
Quick Facts About Dubai
- Dubai is a very safe country. It’s one of the safest countries in the world. The crime rate is very low, and you can feel safe walking around the city at night.
- Most people in Dubai speak English. You’ll find that many signs and menus are in English, which makes it easy to get around.
- Dubai is a Muslim country; therefore, it has strict alcohol laws. You can consume alcohol in licensed bars or hotels only. You cannot bring alcohol on the streets or other public areas. And there is zero tolerance for public intoxication.
- Dubai is a very clean city. You won’t see litter on the streets or graffiti on buildings. Please dispose of your trash properly to help keep Dubai clean.
- Dubai is more relaxed compared to other Middle East countries when it comes to attire, but you are a guest of this country so err on the side of caution. For example, don’t wear anything too revealing. If your mom would be disappointed in your wardrobe choices, you’re probably not dressed appropriately for Dubai. I recommend wearing a maxi dress or a long skirt. It’s stylish, comfortable, and respectful.
- Dubai is a city of contrasts, so you’ll find both traditional Arabic culture and modern Western influences.
- Dubai is an extremely popular tourist destination, so be prepared for crowds at some of the city’s most popular attractions.
- The currency in Dubai is the Emirati Dirham (AED). It’s fixed to the U.S. Dollar and is one of the strongest currencies in the world. 1 USD = 3.6725 AED.
- If you’re visiting Dubai during Ramadan, eating, smoking, and drinking in public are prohibited during daylight hours. You can still eat in restaurants and hotels, though.
- Dubai is one of the world’s richest cities, known for its luxury and opulence. You’ll see this in the architecture, the shopping, and the overall lifestyle of the city. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bugattis will zoom past you on the streets.
Best Time to Visit Dubai
The weather in Dubai is hot and humid for most of the year. From June to September, temperatures can reach over 104 degrees Fahrenheit with a real feel of 120+ degrees.
It literally feels like a sauna outside and it’s hard to want to do anything other than sit in air-conditioned buildings or take a dip in the pool.
If you’re tackling your Dubai one day itinerary during this time, be sure to stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks in the shade.
The winter months (November through March) are the best time to visit Dubai.
Temperatures are more moderate (the 70s and 80s), and you can actually enjoy being outside without feeling like you’re going to melt.
Keep in mind though that this is considered peak tourist season so hotel prices will be higher and attractions will be more crowded.
No matter when you visit Dubai, be sure to pack light and loose clothing as well as sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
How to Get Around Dubai in One Day
The cheapest way to get around Dubai is via the metro. The metro system runs seven days a week and is easy to navigate.
To use the metro, you’ll have to purchase a Nol card. You’ll scan this card when jumping on and off the metro.
There are two classes to choose from — silver and gold. Gold is first class. Honestly, first class isn’t much different from regular so save your money.
For more information about the Dubai metro, click here.
The downsides to using the metro are that it can get very crowded during rush hour, and you’ll have to take some time to figure out the routes.
Since you’re only spending 1 day in Dubai, I recommend using a rideshare app such as Uber or Careem.
This is the easiest and most convenient way to get around Dubai. Simply open up the app, request a ride, and you’ll be picked up within minutes.
Where to Stay for Your Dubai One Day Itinerary
Since you’re only spending 24 hours in Dubai, it’s important to position yourself in a bustling part of the city.
This way you’ll get a good feel for the city and be in all the action.
I recommend staying in one of these two areas:
- Downtown Dubai
- Jumeirah Beach
Downtown Dubai is an iconic skyline filled with skyscrapers and modern architecture. It’s home to the Burj Khalifa, luxury hotels, Michelin-star restaurants, and other popular attractions.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is a stretch of beachfront property that’s home to luxury hotels, high-end shopping, and plenty of activities.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, JBR is the place for you. JBR/Dubai Marina are my digs when I visit Dubai.
Tips for Visiting Dubai in 1 Day
Here are a few helpful tips to help you make the most of your 1 day in Dubai:
- Start your day early. The earlier you can get started, the more you’ll be able to see and do.
- Plan your route in advance. Decide which attractions you want to see and plan your route accordingly. This will help you make the most of your time.
- If you want a stress-free option to see the best of Dubai in 1 day, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is a great option. 👉 Buy tickets here for the hop-on hop-off bus tour here!
- I know I said this before, but make sure you stay hydrated! The heat in Dubai can be brutal, and you don’t want to get dehydrated.
Is 1 Day in Dubai Worth It?
Absolutely! Even a single day in Dubai is an unforgettable experience!
Dubai is one of those places where there’s something new to see and do around every corner, so I recommend staying at least three to four days.
(Later in the post, I’ll provide some recommendations for things to do if you have more than 1 day in Dubai).
But, 1 day in Dubai is better than no days in Dubai, right?
The Perfect Dubai in 1 Day Itinerary
Now that you know what to expect, let’s look at the best things to do in Dubai in one day.
1 Day in Dubai Morning Itinerary:
Dubai Marina is one of the world’s largest manmade marinas and one of the most popular places to live, work and play in Dubai.
Located on an almost two-mile stretch along the Persian Gulf, the Dubai Marina is a beautiful place, with its clear blue waters and towering skyscrapers.
There’s always something going on, whether it’s people strolling along the promenade, enjoying a meal at one of the many world-class restaurants, or simply taking in the stunning views.
And when the sun goes down, the Dubai Marina comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene.
For the sake of this itinerary, you’re going to start your Dubai in 1 day adventure at the Dubai Marina.
I recommend this Dubai Marina yacht tour with breakfast. It’s a great way to see the Dubai Marina and some of Dubai’s other iconic landmarks.
👉 Book your Dubai Marina yacht tour with breakfast here!
Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, symbolizing Dubai’s modernity and prosperity.
It’s touted as the world’s only seven star hotel.
The exterior of the Burj Al Arab is designed to resemble the sail of a ship, and it stands on an artificial island and is connected to the mainland by a private bridge.
The interior of the hotel is just as luxurious as the exterior, with a jaw-dropping atrium and lavish suites that offer stunning views of the city.
With its own fleet of Rolls-Royces, private beach, and helicopter landing pad, the Burj Al Arab provides its guests with unrivaled luxury and service.
Unfortunately, you can’t go inside the Burj Al Arab unless you’re a hotel guest or have a reservation at one of the restaurants.
But, you can get great views of the exterior from Souk Madinat Jumeirah (more than that below) around the corner.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Dubai.
The souk, which means “market” in Arabic, is located in the heart of the city and offers a wide variety of goods and services.
You can find everything from a perfume souk, textile souk, gold souk, spice souk, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes.
In addition to its shopping options, you can also go on an abra (pretty much like a gondola) ride and explore the beautiful canals.
If you want a picture-perfect photo of the Burj Al Arab, you’ll get it on the abra ride.
1 Day in Dubai Afternoon Itinerary:
Dubai Creek, also known as Khor Dubai, is a saltwater creek that runs through the city of Dubai.
It was once an important transport route for trade and pearling, and today it is a popular spot for fishing and tourist boats.
The creek is divided into two parts: the Deira side and the Bur Dubai side.
The Deira side is home to the city’s main port, while the Bur Dubai side is where most of the city’s historical sites are located.
In recent years, the creek has become a popular spot for tourists to glide through the water on an abra for epic views of the city skyline.
If you want to truly experience Emirati culture and step back in time before Dubai became the city it is today, then a visit to Dubai Creek is a must.
The Dubai Frame
Located in Zabeel Park, the Dubai Frame is a must-visit during your one day in Dubai.
The Dubai Frame represents Dubai’s past, present, and future and is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
You can take the elevator to the top of the frame, where you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Dubai, and on a clear day, you can even see the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah.
After taking in the views, make your way to the bottom of the frame, where you’ll find a small museum that chronicles the history of Dubai.
Even if you don’t want to go inside the frame, it’s worth it to see the Dubai Frame from the outside. It’s one of the most Instagrammable spots in Dubai!
👉 Purchase your tickets for the Dubai Frame.
1 Day in Dubai Evening Itinerary:
No 1 day in Dubai itinerary would be complete without visiting the Dubai Mall, and when it comes to Abu Dhabi vs Dubai malls, Dubai is the clear winner here.
The Dubai Mall is the largest shopping mall in the world at over 12 million square feet and is home to more than 1,200 stores.
In addition to its many shops, it’s also home to the Dubai aquarium, a five-star luxury hotel, a cinema complex, an ice skating rink, a special illusion waterfall, a theme park, and a number of restaurants.
Since the mall is so big, it’s easy to get lost. You can download the Dubai Mall app, and it’ll help you navigate your way around the mall.
Also, the mall’s top floor is dedicated to luxury stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, and more.
My favorite thing about hanging out at Dubai Mall is people-watching. Most people are dressed to the nines, and there’s always something going on.
Even if you’re not a big shopper, the Dubai Mall is worth a visit for its sheer size and spectacular sights.
The Dubai Fountain
The Dubai Fountain is right outside of the Dubai Mall and is the world’s largest choreographed fountain system.
Do you see a theme here? Everything in Dubai is the biggest and best!
Anyway, the fountains provide a spectacular show of water, light, and sound.
The fountains shoot up to 500 feet into the air and dance along with popular songs. They’re also illuminated by more than 6000 lights.
The Dubai fountain show takes place every 30 minutes from 6 pm to 11 pm, and it’s free to watch this incredible show.
The nightly light and fountain show are truly breathtaking, and they’re sure to leave you awestruck!
👉 You can also avoid the crowds and get an up-close experience of the fountains with this fountain show lake ride.
Right next to the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountains lies the infamous Burj Khalifa.
Though it was only opened in 2010, the Burj Khalifa has already become one of the most iconic skylines in the world.
It towers over Dubai at an astounding 2,772 feet, making it the tallest building in the world!
The world’s tallest building contains 160 stories, and its exterior is covered in over 26,000 glass panels.
In addition to offices and residences, the Burj Khalifa also houses the world’s highest observation deck, offering breathtaking views of the city below.
Whether you’re admiring its soaring height or marveling at its cutting-edge design, there’s no doubt that the Burj Khalifa is an extraordinary feat of engineering!
Things to Do With More Than One Day in Dubai
If you’re lucky enough to have more than 1 day in Dubai, there are plenty of other Dubai attractions you can add to your itinerary.
Alternatively, you can swap out one of the above activities for one of the below.
If you’re looking for a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert, look no further than Ski Dubai.
This indoor ski resort is located in the Mall of the Emirates and features 5.5 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain.
Ski Dubai offers a variety of slopes for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, as well as lessons for those who are just getting started.
There’s also a freestyle zone for those who want to practice their tricks and a chairlift that takes skiers up to the top of the slopes.
Whether you’re a winter enthusiast or just looking for a unique experience, Ski Dubai is sure to leave you impressed.
👉 Escape the heat and cool off on the indoor slopes at Ski Dubai!
Going on a Dubai desert safari is an amazing and unique experience that will give you the opportunity to see the city’s iconic sand dunes and get a taste of traditional Bedouin culture.
You’ll get to explore in a 4×4 and you can also try out sandboarding!
You can enjoy a delicious barbecue dinner under the stars in the evening before returning to your hotel.
Desert safaris are a great way to experience the true beauty of Dubai’s desert landscape.
Skydiving is an exhilarating experience, and there’s no better place to do it than Dubai!
Home to some of the tallest buildings in the world, Dubai is the perfect place to take a leap of faith.
With its beautiful weather, you can enjoy stunning views of the cityscape as you plunge through the air.
I personally think that Dubai is the perfect place to go skydiving because you’ll be in safe hands and the views of Palm Jumeirah are epic.
Dinner in the Sky
By now, you should know that Dubai is a city that likes to do things big — and that includes dinner!
You can now enjoy a luxurious three-course meal in the sky, suspended 165 feet above the ground.
This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s an exciting thing to add to your 1 day in Dubai guide if you have time.
👉 Book your dinner in the sky experience here!
Taking a helicopter ride is one of the best ways to see Dubai, a constantly evolving and expanding city.
From high above, you can see the impressive skyline, with its towering skyscrapers and glittering glass facades.
You can also get a bird’s eye view of the sprawling desert scape with its dunes and oasis.
You’ll also see some of the city’s iconic landmarks, like the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah.
Helicopter tours are the perfect way to see Dubai in all its glory!
👉 Book your epic Dubai helicopter tour here!
Day Trip to Abu Dhabi
Just a short drive from the bustling city of Dubai lies the quieter emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Although it may lack the glitz and glamour of its more famous neighbor, Abu Dhabi is well worth a visit.
Abu Dhabi is home to a number of world-class museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
The main draw to visiting Abu Dhabi is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest mosques.
Last but not least, you can also visit Yas Island and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Whether you’re looking for culture or relaxation, Abu Dhabi is the perfect day trip destination from Dubai.
1 Day in Dubai Summary
If you’re looking for an action-packed itinerary, 1 day in Dubai is perfect for you.
From the Dubai Marina to the Burj Khalifa, there’s plenty to see and do on a Dubai trip/Dubai layover.
Make sure to check out the Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Creek, The Dubai Frame, and Dubai Mall.
And in the evening, don’t forget to catch the Dubai Fountains and visit Burj Khalifa for the light show.
With so much to see and do, Dubai in one day is sure to be a memorable experience.
What are you most looking forward to doing on this Dubai one day itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.