First Time Dubai: 7 Things You Have To Do On Your First Trip

Dubai, the city of dreams, beckons travelers with its promise of glitz, glamour, and awe-inspiring attractions.


  • For first-time visitors, the vibrant metropolis offers an enchanting array of experiences that promise to leave a lasting impression.
  • From world-renowned landmarks that define the city’s skyline to thrilling desert adventures and luxurious escapades, Dubai is a destination like no other.
  • Whether you’re seeking exhilarating experiences, cultural encounters, or simply the ultimate luxury escape, Dubai has it all.
  • Visit for more stories.


Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery as we unveil the top seven experiences that are sure to make your first trip to Dubai an unforgettable adventure. So, pack your bags and get ready to Instagram your way through the wonders of Dubai – a city that never fails to captivate and inspire. Let’s dive into the extraordinary 7 Things You Have To Do On Your First Trip to Dubai:


1. Burj Khalifa – At The Top

The average visit time to At The Top is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, but guests are encouraged to take their time and savour every moment of this extraordinary journey. Image: Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism

Dubai boasts one of its most iconic destinations at a soaring height of 555 meters – At The Top Burj Khalifa SKY. A journey to this elevated wonderland promises an unforgettable experience that combines breath-taking views, cutting-edge technology, and the sheer magnificence of the Burj Khalifa.


Upon stepping into the At The Top Burj Khalifa SKY lounge, visitors are personally escorted to a dedicated elevator that adds a touch of exclusivity to the experience. As the elevator ascends at an impressive 10 meters per second, specially-designed projections captivate guests, preparing them for the awe that awaits at Level 125.


At Level 124, one of the world’s highest public observation decks, visitors are greeted with majestic panoramic views of Dubai. The outdoor terrace allows guests to immerse themselves in 360-degree vistas of the city’s surrounding emirate, an unparalleled sight that leaves a lasting impression. While taking in the stunning views, visitors can also use telescopes to gain insights into the design and technology behind this architectural wonder.


For those looking to witness the mesmerizing sunset from Level 124, it is recommended to book an entry time approximately 90-minutes prior.


A visit to At The Top Burj Khalifa SKY is an experience of a lifetime, where visitors are elevated both physically and emotionally.


For more information, visit the Burj Khalifa – At The Top website.


2. The Dubai Fountain

The unique design of The Dubai Fountain features five circles of varying sizes and two arcs, accompanied by powerful water nozzles that shoot water up to impressive heights. Image: Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism

In the heart of Downtown Dubai lies a captivating spectacle that enchants visitors from around the world – The Dubai Fountain, the tallest performing fountain on the planet. Stretching over 274 meters in length, equivalent to more than two football pitches, this grand masterpiece is set on the 12 hectares Burj Lake, dazzling audiences with its enchanting water, music, and light performances.


Over 6’600 WET Superlights and 25 colour projectors work in harmony to create a visual spectrum of over 1’000 different water expressions, while an additional 50 colour projectors provide a full spectrum of hues with a total output of 1.5-million lumens. This symphony of water and light transforms the fountain into a mesmerizing canvas that dances to the rhythm of different melodies.


The Dubai Fountain performs to an eclectic selection of songs, ranging from classical to contemporary Arabic and world music, creating a delightful and diverse experience for all who witness it. Each show leaves spectators in awe as they witness over 83’279 litres of water soaring high into the air, defying gravity with grace and precision.


To enhance the experience further, The Dubai Fountain offers two unique ways to witness its breath-taking performances up close. The Dubai Fountain Lake Ride allows visitors to set sail on a traditional Abra, granting front-row seats to the magnificent show. Glide along the Burj Lake while being serenaded by the synchronized water dances, a truly unforgettable experience.


For those seeking an even closer encounter with the fountain’s magic, The Dubai Fountain Boardwalk provides a brand-new floating platform within the fountain itself. Starting from Burj Park or Fountain promenade, guests can stroll down the 272-meter boardwalk, getting as close as 9-meters from the fountains. This unparalleled perspective offers an immersive encounter with the captivating performances, making every moment a memory to cherish.


So, if you find yourself in Dubai, make sure to witness the magic of The Dubai Fountain, where water, music, and light come together to create a symphony that will leave you in awe.


For more information, visit The Dubai Fountain website.


3. Malls: Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates

Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, a thrill-seeker, or a gourmet aficionado, these two malls promise an extraordinary journey that encapsulates the essence of Dubai’s vibrant and dynamic character. Image: Mall of the Emirates / Michael Kors

Dubai houses two of the most iconic and expansive shopping destinations in the world: Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. These retail giants offer visitors an unparalleled shopping, dining, and entertainment experience, making them must-visit attractions for tourists and residents alike.


At the heart of Downtown Dubai lies the crown jewel of retail therapy – Dubai Mall. With over 1’200 retail outlets, including prestigious anchor department stores like Galleries Lafayette and Bloomingdale’s, this mall has rightfully earned its title as the most visited retail and lifestyle destination globally, welcoming over 100-million visitors annually.


Apart from shopping and dining, Dubai Mall presents captivating entertainment attractions for families. Dive into a mesmerizing aquatic world at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, home to over 140 marine species, including awe-inspiring sharks and rays. For an adrenaline rush, head to VR Park, the Middle East’s first-of-its-kind attraction for virtual and augmented reality experiences. Children aged 2 to 16 years can explore KidZania, an edutainment destination that blends learning with entertainment.


And then there is Mall of the Emirates, a destination that stands as a testament to Dubai’s penchant for pushing the boundaries of imagination and innovation. With over 560 shops and an impressive ski slope, this mall promises an unforgettable experience. Stroll beneath the glamorous Fashion Dome, adorned with a wrought-iron ceiling reminiscent of European railways, and discover world-renowned brands like Apple, Chanel, and Burberry.


Mall of the Emirates doesn’t fall short on entertainment either. Dare to experience Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort that allows visitors to ski, snowboard, and engage in winter wonderland adventures. Immerse yourself in the fantastic VR experience Dreamscape or let the little ones enjoy Magic Planet’s exciting attractions.


Both Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are not just shopping destinations; they are full-fledged lifestyle experiences that celebrate the spirit of Dubai – where luxury, entertainment, and innovation converge.


So, if you’re planning a trip to Dubai, make sure to add Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates to your itinerary for an unforgettable retail and entertainment extravaganza.


For more information, visit the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates website.


4. Burj Al Arab

For travelers seeking the epitome of luxury and architectural wonder, a visit to this iconic landmark is an absolute must. Image: Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts

The Burj Al Arab Jumeirah – a global icon of Arabian luxury and architectural brilliance. Rising majestically out of the sea, this luxurious hotel is not just a place to stay; it’s a landmark.


At 180-meters high, Burj Al Arab boasts one of the tallest grand atriums in the world, showcasing cutting-edge engineering and architectural innovation. The hotel’s unique man-made beach and infinity pool terrace add to the allure, providing guests with an exclusive beachfront experience like no other.


Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the culinary offerings at Burj Al Arab. With nine exceptional restaurants helmed by Michelin-starred chefs, guests can embark on a gastronomic journey that satisfies every palate. From traditional Arabian delicacies to international cuisines, the dining options are as diverse as they are delectable.


Unwind in style on the overwater beach space, The Terrace, where guests can bask in the sun and enjoy the breath-taking views of the Arabian Gulf. For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, the world-class spa at Burj Al Arab offers unique wellness treatments 150-meters above the Gulf, providing a tranquil escape from the bustling city below.


Burj Al Arab is not just a destination for luxury; it is also a haven for wellness enthusiasts. The hotel offers state-of-the-art gyms, rejuvenating spa experiences, yoga sessions, and even paddle-boarding, ensuring that guests can nourish their mind, body, and soul during their stay. Burj Al Arab Jumeirah is more than just a hotel; it is a symbol of Dubai’s ambition, vision, and audacity.


For more information, visit the Burj Al Arab website.


5. The Lost Chambers Aquarium

Gain new perspectives as you explore the oceanic wonders first-hand and embrace the enchanting world beneath the waves. Image: Kerzner International

Immerse yourself in an under-the-sea adventure as you step into the themed Lost Chambers Aquarium, located within the mythical Atlantis, Dubai. With its immersive design and mesmerizing exhibits, The Lost Chambers offers a captivating journey through the depths of the ocean, home to a stunning array of marine life.


The Ambassador Lagoon, a magnificent 11-million-litre aquarium, takes center stage, housing over 65,000 marine animals. Here, you can witness the graceful movements of sharks, rays, and a myriad of colorful fish as they gracefully glide through the crystal-clear waters. Every corner of the aquarium features 21 exhibits, each presenting a different marine wonder waiting to be explored.


Moreover, adventure seekers can take their fascination with marine life to new depths by enrolling in the PADI Open Water program, the world’s most recognized dive certification course.


The Lost Chambers Aquarium promises an unforgettable journey through the mysteries of Atlantis and beyond. Come and unlock the secrets of the deep at this unparalleled underwater realm.


For more information, visit The Lost Chambers Aquarium website.


6. Aquaventure Waterpark

From epic heights and high-speed drops to dark tunnels and unexpected twists, each slide promises a rush of adrenaline like no other. Image: Kerzner International

Get ready to unleash your inner adventurer as you step into the world’s largest waterpark – Aquaventure Waterpark in Dubai. Prepare for an action-packed day filled with heart-pounding slides, exhilarating attractions, and endless water-based experiences that will leave you wanting more.


Aquaventure Waterpark is not just your average waterpark; it’s a thrilling oasis of fun and excitement for the whole family. With over 105 record-breaking slides, attractions, and experiences, there’s never a dull moment at this aquatic wonderland.


Embark on the Odyssey of Terror, the world’s tallest water slide, where you and your friends can race down as you accelerate before experiencing a near weightless feeling and free-falling down a curved wall. For a triple dose of excitement, take on the Shockwave, the longest family water coaster globally, where you’ll blast forward through a series of dark tunnels at lightning speed.


For the ultimate thrill, don’t miss the iconic Leap of Faith, where you’ll plunge from a height of nine storeys right through a shark-filled lagoon. If that’s not enough, dare to step into the Poseidon’s Revenge capsule and hit speeds of 60-kilometers per hour before looping upside-down.


Beyond the thrilling slides, Aquaventure offers a host of other attractions, including encounters with incredible marine animals and a 1-kilometer private beach where you can relax and soak up the sun.


Aquaventure Waterpark is the ultimate destination for water-based adventures, making it a must-visit attraction in Dubai for thrill-seekers of all ages.


For more information, visit the Aquaventure Waterpark website.


7. Dubai Marina

The neighbourhood seamlessly blends modern luxury with a warm community feel, making it a popular choice among young professionals and families alike. Image: Vida Dubai Marina & Yacht Club

Dubai Marina is a vibrant waterfront city that offers something for everyone – from soaring skyscrapers to thrilling water sports, family-friendly activities, and a delectable array of dining options. It’s no wonder that this bustling neighbourhood has been voted one of the 50 coolest in the world by Time Out’s global editors.


As you explore Dubai Marina, you’ll be mesmerized by the emerald-green waters, framed by some of the world’s tallest and most architecturally impressive residential towers.


For water enthusiasts, Dubai Marina is a paradise. Charter a yacht for the day and sail along the coastline, taking in the breath-taking views. Hero OdySEA offers a unique self-drive boat tour, allowing you to navigate the waters at your pace. Adventurers can try the Xline Dubai Marina, the world’s longest urban zipline, which takes you on a thrilling ride at up to 80 km/h along the marina.


For the ultimate adrenaline rush, head to Skydive Dubai, where you can experience a tandem skydive with an experienced instructor and witness Dubai Marina from thousands of feet above. And for a dining experience like no other, try Dinner in the Sky, where you can savor delicious food while suspended 50-meters in the air, with stunning views of the marina and Palm Jumeirah.


Dubai Marina Mall is a convenient hub for the neighborhood, offering high-end shopping, a food court, cinema, and various events throughout the year. The mall overlooks the marina, providing the perfect backdrop for a relaxing dining experience at the casual dining outlets.


Marina Walk, a pedestrian walkway stretching 7 km along both sides of Dubai Marina, is a popular spot for residents and visitors to stroll, jog, or cycle. Lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, it’s a great place to discover unique independent businesses and enjoy a variety of cuisines.


Speaking of dining, Dubai Marina boasts an impressive array of restaurants and cafes. Pier 7, a seven-storey tower, houses several fine dining establishments, offering stunning views over the water. Grosvenor House Hotel is another dining hotspot, hosting renowned restaurants like Indego by Vineet and City Social by Jason Atherton.


Throughout Dubai Marina, you’ll find countless eateries offering diverse cuisines, making it a food lover’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or a casual meal by the waterfront, Dubai Marina has it all.


For more information, visit the Dubai Marina website.


If these tips for your first trip to Dubai got you ready to pack your bags, stay calm, as we have some more ideas for you in our First Time Dubai: 7 More Things You Have To Do On Your First Trip article.


Get the best of The Sandton Times in your email inbox.


Advertise on The Sandton Times today!


Head back to The Sandton Times Home Page for more stories.


Picture of Sandton Times Correspondent

Sandton Times Correspondent

Curated content from The Sandton Times newsroom desks.


Related Posts